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great battle with the hosts of Canaan. Jabin, king of Hazor, rallied round him all the chiefs who had not yet yielded. They came from “the plains south of Chinneroth,” the Jordan valley south of the Sea of Galilee, the Jebusite from the fortress of Jerusalem, the Hittite and the Amorite from the far south, to "the Hivite under Hermon," in the north. “And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many. And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the Waters of Merom to fight against Israel.” It was doubtless the multitude
of their horses and chariots, a force not possessed by Israel, which induced them to select this great plain as their battle-field. Suddenly Joshua and his men fell upon them from the heights above, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them and chased them far to the west, across the hills and valleys of Galilee, where their horses and chariots could only encumber them, right across the land to Zidon, utterly destroying them in the long pursuit, houghing their horses, and burning their chariots. Northward and eastward, too, Joshua chased the Hivites even to the Valley of Mizpeh, the plain of Cæle-Syria, which extends to the entering in of
THE NORTHERN SHORES OF LAKE HÛLEH.
Hamath. So utter was the rout, so complete the victory, that no cities attempted further resistance, as they had done in the south. Hazor, the capital, and probably the stronghold of King Jabin, was the only place which Joshua burned with fire when he turned back from the pursuit. The whole land was now secured to Israel to the base of Lebanon, and the four northern tribes were settled in their allotted possessions.
Soon after passing the northern end of the lake the snowy summit of Hermon, which has been previously visible at intervals for some days,
comes full into view, and forms a fine feature in the landscape. A cool, refreshing breeze flows down from its glittering heights, and is doubly welcome in the sultry plain over which we are toiling. The contrast between the near and the distant landscape is very striking. The Plain of Hûleh mignt be a portion of tropical Africa. Droves of black, hairless buffaloes wallow in the swamps. The Gawarineh Arabs, almost black and quite naked, live in reed huts like many negro tribes, and twist their hair into a tuft like the inhabitants of the Gold Coast. The intense heat pro. duces a semi-tropical vegetation. But we have only to turn our eyes to the northern horizon to see a long stretch of snow as bright, and clear, and cold as that of Switzerland.
We cross a fine old Roman bridge which spans the picturesque gorge of the Hasbany, and soon reach a remarkable mound or tell, from the foot of which gushes out a stream of water so broad and deep that we may almost call it a river. This is one of the SOURCES OF THE JORDAN. The mound 1
HERMON FROM NEAR TELL-EL-KADI. above it is called the Tell-el-Kadi (the Mound of the judge), a rare instance of a name being retained not in sound but in meaning. "Dan" in Hebrew, like “Kadi” in Arabic, means judge; and here stood the City Of Dan. The history of the conquest is graphically told in the book of Judges. The tribes,
THE SOURCES OF THE JORDAN.
finding their territory on the borders of Sharon too strait for them, sent spies northward, who reported that “the land was very good, a place where there is no want for anything that is in the earth.” The Zidonian colonists, far from their mother city, were leading lives of luxury and licentiousness; “they dwelt carelessly, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure ; and there was no magistrate in the land that might put them to shame in anything." The warlike Danites burst upon them, stormed their city of Laish, conquered the whole territory, and transferred the head-quarters of the tribe to their new home. The exquisite fertility and beauty of the country justified the report of the spies. But, like Lot under a similar temptation, they seem to have succumbed to the evil influences around them, and to have sunk down into a condition of semi-heathenism from which they never emerged. The mounds of ruins which mark the site of the city show that it covered a considerable extent of ground. But there remains no record of any noble deed wrought by the degenerate tribe, and, as we have seen, their name disappears from the roll both of the natural and of the spiritual Israel.
The other main source of the Jordan rises at the town of Banias, about ir miles from Tell-el-Kadi. At the foot of a limestone cliff is a large cave, formerly dedicated to the god Pan, from which the modern Arabic name of the town is derived. Several niches and dedicatory tablets, with Greek inscriptions cut in the face of the rock, yet remain. Masses of fallen rock and débris obstruct the entrance and bury the actual fountain-head. From beneath these a stream rushes forth in wonderful strength and volume. As at Tellel-Kadi, it is a river at its source. Only a few yards from the spot at which it emerges from its rocky birthplace, I plunged in, and found myself out of my depth in a current so strong that it was difficult to swim against it. The torrent rushes on over a rocky bed fringed with oleanders, past the ruins of the ancient city, and soon is joined by its sister-stream from Tell-elKadi. The Hasbany then falls into it a few miles above Lake Hûleh. The united waters from this point take the familiar name of the Jordan, to pursue their impetuous course till they are lost amid the arid shores of the Dead Sea.
The situation of Banias is one of unusual beauty. Robinson speaks of it as “unique : combining in an unusual degree the elements of grandeur and beauty. It nestles in its recess at the southern base of the mighty Hermon, which towers in majesty to an elevation of seven thousand or eight thousand feet above; whilst the abundant waters of the glorious fountain spread over the terrace luxuriant fertility, and the graceful interchange of copse, lawn, and waving fields." All travellers are struck by the park-like character of the surrounding district. Trees of great size and beauty stand in clumps upon the green turf. Innumerable rivulets and waterfalls give vivacity to the scene, and justify the epithet of Dean Stanley, who calls it “a Syrian Tivoli.” Massive remains of Roman fortifications give to the modern village an air of
venerable dignity. The ruined castle of Es-Subeibeh, on the peak of Hermon just above the town, is incomparably fine. Its situation, its extent, and the magnificent views which it commands over the fertile plains of the Upper Jordan on the one side, and the gorges of Hermon on the other, are perhaps unsurpassed in the world."
Banias does not appear in Scripture under its present name. Robinson suggests that it is the “Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon under Mount Hermon,"? up to which the conquests of Joshua extended in this direction. For us its chief interest is found in the fact that it was the CÆSAREA PHILIPPI which formed the northern limit of our Lord's ministry, and the neighbourhood See Frontispiece.
Joshua xi. 17.