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THE DEAD SEA.
high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest, ... the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.'
The strange unique conformation of the country which we noticed as we approached Mar Saba becomes even more extraordinary as we continue our journey eastward. The soil consists of a soft chalk or white marl, furrowed in every direction by a labyrinth of valleys and pits from fifty to a hundred feet deep, cut, ages ago, by torrents long since dried up, leaving fantastic flat-topped mounds of every conceivable shape, which Maundrell aptly compares to gigantic limekilns.
In a little more than three hours we find ourselves descending into the VALLEY OF THE JORDAN and the DEAD SEA. Reaching the plain, we ride through an extensive cane brake, where the reeds are higher than our heads, and which is the haunt of wild boars, wolves, jackals, and leopards, and from which lions were driven out “from the swelling of Jordan.”.
From this point all vegetation ceases, for the bitter, acrid waters are fatal alike to animal and vegetable life. Even sea-fish turned into the lake die immediately. The beach is strewn with trunks of trees, bones of animals, and shells of fish brought down by the Jordan or by the winter torrents which 1 Isa. xxxii. 15, 17.
? Jer. xlix. 19 ; 1. 44. : In a few rare and exceptional cases living organisms are alleged to have been found in the Dead Sea. In every case, however, it has been near the mouth of the Jordan, the impetuous torrent of which, after heavy rains, penetrates into the sea for some distance without mingling with its waters.
come from the mountain-sides. After tossing, perhaps for centuries, in the bitter brine, they are cast ashore so saturated with salt that the wood will scarcely ignite, and if it burn at all, only gives a feeble blue fame. These gaunt skeletons of ancient trees are all the more ghastly from the fact that they are covered by a saline deposit of which the fine glittering crystals are found efflorescing all along the beach. It is caused by the evaporation either of the receding waters after the winter floods, or of the spray which is flung ashore by the winds, which rush with extraordinary violence between the rocky walls which liem in the valley.
Whilst the northern shore is thus a flat desolate waste, the view down
, the sea, looking southward, is not wanting in a solemn grandeur and beauty. The water, clear as crystal, is of a deep blue, almost purple ; its waves are crested with foam of a dazzling whiteness. Along the eastern shore the mountains of Moab stand like a mighty wall, the ridges and precipices of which slope down“ in wild confusion to the shore, terminating in a series of perpendicular cliffs, from twelve hundred to two thousand feet above the water."