Sir William Smith William Latham Bevan.

The student's manual of ancient geography online

. (page 23 of 82)
Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 23 of 82)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


at Jerusalem was supplied with water. On the heights overlookmg
the wilderness of Judah were situated the fortresses of Xodin, Hero^Uon,
and Xas&da : the site of Herodion is identified with the Frank Moun-



* The modern names of the towns of Palestine are generally identical with the
Biblical ones. Hence it is unnecessary to giye them, except in cases where there
Is considerable Tariation, or for the purpose of identifying the positions.



Digitized



by Google



186 JVDJKA, Book 11.

torn, E. of Bethlehem: Mas&da was above Engedi: the position of
Mod in is unknown.

§ 11. The district of FhlliitU comprised the southern portion of
the maritime plain of Palestine to Ekron in the N. This district is
divided into two belts— one consisting of a sandy strip of coast, and
the other of a cultivated district slightly elevated, and with occa-
sional eminences, on which the strongholds of the country were
built. This part of the country is remarkably fertile both in com
and in every kind of garden fruit. The five chief towns formed in
the early period of Jewish history a confederacy of five cities, viz.
Gaza, Ascalon, Ashdod, £kr6n, and Gath : the last has not been
identified, but the others are still in existence.

Oya, Ghuzzehf stands near the southern frontier, at present above
3 miles from the sea, but formerly (as some suppose) within 2 miles of
it. It ranked as one of the oldest towns of Palestine (Gen. x. 19);
though nominally within the borders of Judah, and conquered by them,
it was not retained : Samson's death took pla<>8 there. The position of
Gaea, as the *' key of Egypt," exposed it to various sieges : it was taken
with difficulty by Alexander the Great, and was twice ruined in the
Ist century of our era: it now contains about 15,noo inhabitants.
Aaoalon, on the sea coast, was similarly captui^ed but not retained by
the tribe of Judah, and was from an early period the .seat of the wor-
ship of DercetOf the Syrian Venus : the site is almost covered with sand,
ana ere long the words of Zephaniah (ii. 4) will be verified that ** Ash-
kelon shall be a desolation. Aihdod, Etdud^ the AiStui of the New
Testament, stands about 4 miles from the sea, and was the scene of the
fall of Dagon at the presence of the ark : it was strongly fortified, and
was dismantled by Uzsiah: Psammetichus of Egypt besieged it for
29 years : here Philip was found after his interview with the eunuch
(Acts viii.). Ekron, Ahir, stood more inland, on the borders of Dan ;
thither the ark was sent from Gath, and thence forwarded to Bethshe-
mesh (1 Sam. v.). Gkith is supposed to have stood near the frontier of
Judah, S.W. of Jerusalem.

§ 12. The tribe of Dan occupied a small district between the Medi-
terranean Sea and the hill country of Benjamin, about the point where
the two portions of the maritime plain, Sharon and Shephela, meet.

The chief town was Jo^pa, YSfay which has in all ages Ber\-ed as the
seaport of Jerusalem: its situation is remarkably l^autiful, as the
name itself, meaning *' beauty," implies — the surrounding district
being remarkable for its fertility and the brilliancy of its verdure : the
materials for the erection of the Temples under Solomon and Ezra were
landed here, and it was here that Jonah took ship for Tarshi^h : it was
visited by Peter, who received a remarkable vision there, and raised
Tabitha to life. Lydda, the later DiofpSlif , was centrally situated at
the point where the road from Jerusalem to Joppa crosses that which
follows the plain from S. to N.: it was the scene of the healing of
^neas. HiiM^lil stood between Lydda and Jerusalem ; it was a place
of military importance under the Maccabees, and the adjacent plain
was the scene' of the remarkable victory of Judas Maccabsus over the
Syrians fl Mac. iv.): it was regarded by early Christian writers as



Digitized



by Google



Chap. XI. TRIBE OF BENJAMIN —TOWNS. 187

identical with the Ezumaus (Luke xxiv. 13) whither the disciplea were
retumiDg from Jerusalem, and the place is still named Amwds; but
as the latter place was only 60 stades, and Nicopolis 160 from Jeru-
salem, the two places cannot be the same : the site of Emmaus is really
unknown. On the borders of Dan and Benjamin was Upper Beth-
hAron, Beit-ur-elrFckcL^ on the summit of a conical hill, commanding
the pass leading down to the maritime plain, through which Joshua
passed in his pursuit of the Amorites : the Roman road to Csraarea
passed this way, and down the same defile the Jews pursued the
Romans under Cestius: a little to the S. was Aj^oi^^ on ^ spur over-
looking a plain — the valley over which Joshua bade the moon to stand
still. The modem BavfiUk^ near Lydda, has been traditionally iden-
tified with the Arimathna of the New Testament, where Joseph lived,
as well as with the Ramathaim Zophim of the book of Samuel : the
grounds for this are very insufficient: Bamleh was probably not in
existence before the 8th century aa>,

§ 13. The tribe of Bei^ainm occupied that part of the mountainous
district which extends from Jerusalem in the S. to Bethel in the N.,
and from Bethhoron in the W. to Jordan in the E. Though this
district was insignificant in point of extent, it was important
through its central position, commanding the passes that lead down
to Jericho in one direction, and to the maritime plain in another, as
well as the great high-road that traverses central Palestine from N.
to 8. The nuinerous eminences* of this district offered almost
impregnable positions for fortresses ; and the defiles leading down to
the plains were easily defensible. Hence the tribe of Benjamin
acquired a warlike character, "ravening as a wolf (Gen. xlix. 27)
in his mountain fastnesses.

The towns of Benjamin possess much interest from thoir historical
associations. Jerusalem stood within its boundaries, but deserves a
separate notice as the capital of Palestine. The next in point of im«
poitance was Jericho, Riha^ in the plain of Jordan, and at the entrance
of the defile leading to Jerusalem. The road which connects it with
the capital ascends a steep and narrow ravine, and from the head
of this pass it traverses a remarkably savage and desolate region,
where the tmveller is still, as in our Saviour's time, in danger of
"fiilling among thieves." Jericho itself was the first city which the
Israelites took after crossing the Jordan : it was then destroyed, but
rebuilt about 500 years afterwards ; it then became the seat of a school
of prophets, and is illustrious from its connexion with the lives of
Elijah and Elisha: the town fell into decay, and was rebuilt on a new
site, about 1^ mile S. of the old town, by Herod the Q^eat: this was t^e
town which our Lord visited, and where 2iacch8euB lived. The sur-
rounding plain was in early ages remarkable for its fertility — a ** divine
region " as Josephus terms it; and Jericho was known as the " City of
Palm-Trees" (Deut. xxxiv. 3), from the luxuriant palm-groves about
it : this plain is now an utter wilderness. Between Jericho and the
Jordan was GHlgal, where the Israelites first set up the tabernacle.



* The BamM of the towns of Benjamin are frequently significant of this feature ;
as Gibeah, Oeba, Oibeon, " hOl ;" BiUpoh, ** look out ;" Ramah, " eminence."



Digitized



by Google



188 JUDiBA. Book 11.

and where in the time of Samuel the people were wont to meet for
purposes of public busineBs.

Returning to the hill country, we meet with a number of spots
of interest in connexion with the religious and military events of
Jewish history. In the N. was BatiiAl, ** the house of God/' the Lm
of the Canaanites, now Beilin, a short diBtance off the great northern
road; it stood on a low ridge, between two converging valleys; it was
the spot where Abraham first pitched his tent, and where Jacob was
favoured with his vision : in the time of the Judges it became a place
of congress, and was selected by Jeroboam as one of his idolatrous
sanctuaries, whence its name was changed into Bethaven, ''house of
idols " (Hos. z. 5) ; Josiah purified it by the destruction of the altar
and grove : it is now a heap of ruins, as predicted by Amos (v. 5;.
QibeoiLy El-Jib^ stood N. W. of Jerusalem on " the way that goeth up
to Bethhoron," posted on an isolated hill in the midst of a rich plain :
it was originally the chief town of the wily Qibeonites ; near it was the
'' great high place ** where the tabernacle was set up ajfter the destruc-
tion of Nob : the defeat of Abner and the murder of Amasa occurred
here ; and here Solomon was favoured with his vision. OibMh stood
about 4 miles N. of Jerusalem at a spot now called TvleH-drFiSL : it
must not be confounded with the Qibeah, or more properly the Geba, of
1 Sam. ziii. 15: Qibeah was the birth-place, and general abode of Sstul,
and on its hill the sons of Rizpah wereihung.

Places of less importance were— Hob, immediately N. of Jerusalem,
the city of the priests whither David fled, and where the priests were
in consequence massacred— Anithoth, further N., the birthplace of
Jeremiah, and on the road by which Sennacherib advanced to Jeru-
salem — Q«ba (also called " Gibeah" in A. V.), Jeba, the scene of Jona-
than's adventure against the Philistines — ift<»i>wia«ii on the edge of a
ravine leading down to the valley of the Jordan, named '' the passage
of Michmash;" it was garrisoned bv Saul against the Philistines, and
the latter people were encamped close to it at the time of Jonathan's
exploit: the hosts of Sennacherib selected it as the place to 'Hay up
their baggage" on their advance to Jerusalem— Ai, between Michmash
and Bethel, on a ridge overlooking the descent to Jordan, chiefly
famotis for its capture by Joshua; between it and Bethel was the
elevated spot, whence Abraham and Lot surveyed the land and chose
their respective quarters ; further on towards the N. rise the white
peak of Biamua, where the 600 Benjamites took refuge (Judg. xx. 47),
and the dark conical hill of Oplkimh, Taiyibeh, whither the Philistine^
sent out one of their bauds (1 Sam. xiii. 17), probably the same place as
is afterwards called Ephnim in 2 Chron. xiii. 19 and John xi. 54 —
Beeroth, S. of Bethel, one of the cities of the Gibeonites, and the place
where the caravans from Jerusalem to the N. generally make their
first halt ; it is thus reputed the place where our Lord was sousht by
his parents — lUinah ** of Benjamin," er-Ram, between Beeroth and
Oibeon, to which reference is probably made in Jer. xxxi. 15, the
captives being carried this way by the Babylonians : the Ramah at
which Samuel lived is a different place, and has not yet been identified
— Mlipfih, on a hill (now named Neby Samwilj from a tradition that
Samuel was buried there), which rises conspicuously above the plain of
Gibeon ; it was fortified by Asa, and was frequently used as a place of
national congress— Kiijath-jearim, W. of Jerusalem, whither the ark
was brought from Bethshemesh — lastly, Bethany, now called el-
Azartyeh, "the village of Lanrus," sittiated on the eastern slope of



Digitized



by Google



Chap. XI. JERUSALEM. 189

Olivet — a place consecrated to the mind of the Christian by the resi-
dence of our blessed Lord during the last trying scenes of his life.



Jerusalem trom the South.

§ 14. The chief town in Palestine was Jenualam, the Salem, *' city
of peace,^* of Ps. Ixxvi. 2, and probably of Gen. xiv. 18, the JebnB of
the Canaanites, the Ariel, " Lion of God," of Is. xxix. 1, the ffiero-
■djhom of the Greeks, the flia Capitolina of the Bomans, and the El-
KudSj " Holy Place," of the modem Arabs. Its situation is striking ;
it is neither on a hill-top as most of the Jewish strongholds, nor yet
in a valley, but on the edge of a rocky platform in the central ridge
between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. On three sides this
platform is severed from the adjacent high land ; viz., by the deep
defile of Ge-ben-Hinnom, " the cleft of the son of Hinnom," cor-
rupted into Gehenna by Greek writers, on the W. and S. ; and by the
still deeper vale of Jehoshaphat on the E., along which the Kedron
flowed, and which thence continues its course towards the Dead Sea.
On the N. Jerusalem lay open to the country, and in this direction
alone did the city admit of any extension. The elevation of its site
above the sea amounts to 2200 feet, and it stands at the highest
point of the ridge ; the ground rises towards the S.,but in other direc-
tions falls : towards the E., however, the Mount of Olives exceeds
the height of Zion by about IdO feet, and it is to this range, and
perhaps to the yet higher but more distant range of the hills of
Moab on the other side of Jordan, that the Psalmist alludes in the
well-known words, ** The hills stand about Jerusalem " (Ps. cxxv.



Digitized



by Google



190 JUDiEA. Book II.

2). Looking at its position in a political point of view, it will be
observed that it was situated centrally on the borders of the t^o
most powerful southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, and equally
accessible to persons traversing the land in its length through the
mountainous district, or in its breadth from the valley of the Jordan
to the maritime plain.

HilU of Jerusalem. — The site of Jerusalem itself was broken by
various elevations: the most conspicuous of these was in the S.W.,
and is now known as Xonnt ZioiL On the W. and S.W. it overlooks
the valley of Hinnom at a height of 150 feet, and at t1:e S.E. the
valley of Jehoshaphat at a height of 300 feet above the Kidron : on the
E. and N. it was separated from the rest of the city by a valley called
Tyropseon, which joins those of Hinnom and Jehoshaphat at Enrogel,
gradually deepening as it approaches this point. Whether this hill
was identical with the Zion of the Old Testament, must be considered
doubtful. Recent researches have made it probable that the ancient
Zion was on Moriah. In this case the modem Zion was the site of the
city of the Jebusites and of the Upper Market-PIace of Josephus, while
David's city and sepulchre would be on the opposite height. WuiMh
was the central portion of the eastern ridge, separated ft*om Zion on
the W. by the Tyropseon, and overlooking the valley of Jehoshaphat on
the E. at an elevation of about 150 feet. This was the spot where
Abraham offered up Isaac, where in David's time Oman had his
threshing floor, and where Solomon erected the Temple : the fortress
of Antonia was erected at the N.W. angle of the Temple. The site of
the Temple is now covered by the enclosure of the Mosque of Omar.
A remarkable rock, now named Sakrah^ rises in the centre of this space,
and has been supposed to mark the place of the altar. The southern
continuation of this ridge was named Ophel, which gradually came
to a point at the junction of the valleys Tyropseon and Jehoshaphat ;
and the northern, Mieiha, " the New City," first noticed by Josephus,
which was separated from Moriah by an artificial ditch, and overlooked
the valley of Kidron on the E. ; this hill was enclosed within the
walls of Herod Agrippa. Lastly, Aflra lay westward of Moriah and
northward of Zion, and formed the ''Lower City" in the time of
Josephus. In this portion of the town are the sites which tradition
has connected with the most awful events of our Saviour's life — Gol-
gotha,— and the sepulchre in which his body was laid. Tliese events
may, after all, have really taken place on the eastem hill, or Moriah.

Pools and Fountains. — Among the objects of interest about Jemsalem
the pools hold a conspicuous place. Outside the walls on the W. side
were the Upper and Lower Pools of OilUHi, the latter close under Zion,
the former more to the N.W; on the Jaffa road. At the junction of the
valleys of Hmnom and Jehoshaphat was Enrj^gel, the Wdl of Job, in the
midst of the king's gardens. Within the walls, immediately N. of 2Uon,
was the " Pool of Hezekiah." A lai^e pool existing beneath the Temple
(referred to in Ecclus. 1. 3), was probably supplied by some subter-
ranean aqueduct. The " King s Pool " was probably identical with
the Fountain of the Virgin, at the southern angle of Moriah. Jt pos-
sesses the peculiaritv that it rises and falls at irregular periods; it is
supposed to be fed from the cistern below the Temple. From this a
subterranean channel cut through the solid rock leads the water to the
pool of 8iI6ali, or Siltem, which has also acquired the character of



Digitized



by Google



CiiAP. XI. JERUSALEM. 191



PUnof Jernialem.

. Mmmt Zkm. %. Modab. S. The Tvmplr. 4. Aotonia. 5. rrobnbl« rite of OogMba. 8. Oi^ImJ.
7. Rritilia. 8. Chmrek </ tkt Half fiMnMra. r, 10. Th« Tpprr and Lowi-r I*ik.|s oI Olhoo. II.
EDro}!<4. It. rdol of ll<wki*h. 18. fbmmtain </ tkt ytrgin. 14. Silonm. lA. I'«UmkI«. 18.
Moant of OliTw. 17. Orttwcmao*.



Digitized



by Google



192 J ITD^A- SAMARIA. Book U

being an intermittent fountain. The pool to whioh tradition has
assigned the name of Bethetda is situated on the N. side of Moriah:
it is now named Birket IsraU, and appears from the character of the
mason-work about it to have been originally designed for a reservoir.

Buri€d Places. — Burial places were formed in the valleys surrounding
Jerusalem ; in the valley of Hinnom, where is the reputed site of
Aceldama — '* the field of blood ;*' in the valley of Jehoshaphat, where
the ancient tombs were excavated out of the rook in tiers ; and on the
Mount of Olives, where were the tombs of the prophets.

History of JerusaZem. — The earliest notice of Jerusalem in the Bible
is as the capital of Melchizedek, the Salem there noticed being now
recognised as identical with it. It next appears as the stronghold of
the Jebusites, who held out against the Israelites for above nve cen-
turies. David took it (about B.C. t049), and established it as his
capital. Solomon further enhanced its importance by erecting the
Temple there. Under the Jewish kings it was taken by the Philistines
and Arabs in the reign of Jehoram ; bv the Israelites in the reign of
Amaziah ; by Pharaoh Necho, king of Egjrpt (B.C. 609) ; and by Nebu-
chadnezzar on three occasions, in the years b.c. 607, 597, and 586 ; in
the last of which it was utterly destroyed. Its restoration commenced
under Cyrus (b.c. 538), and was completed under Artaxorxes I., who
issued commissions for this purpose to Ezra (b.c. 457) and Nehemiah
(B.C. 445). In B.C. 332 it was captured by Alexander the Great.
Under the Ptolemies and the Seleucidw the town was prosperous, until
Antiochus Epiphanes sacke«l it (B.C. 170). In consequence of his.
tyranny the Jews rose under the Maccabees, and Jerusalem became
again independent, and retained its position until its capture by the
Bomans under Pompey (b.c. 63). The Temple was subsequently plun-
dered by Crassus (b.c. 54), and the city by the Parthians (b.c. 40).
Herod took up his residence there as soon as he was appointed sove-
reign, and restored the Temple with great mac^nificenoe. On the death
of Herod it became the residence of the Roman procurators, who occu-
pied the fortress of Antonia. The greatest siege that it sustained, how-
ever, was at the hands of the Romans under Titus, when it held out
nearly five months, and when the town was completely destroyed (a.d.
70). Hadrian restored it as a Roman colony (a.d. 135), and among other
buildings erected a temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on the site of the
Temple. The emperor Constantine established its Christian chanicter
by the erection of a church on the supposed site of the hol^ sepulchre
(aj>. 336), and Justinian added several churches and hospitals ^about
A.D. 532).

II. Samaria.
§ 15. aamaiit embraced the central district of Palestine from the
borders of Benjamin on the S. to the plain of Esdraelon on the N.,
and from the Mediterranean on the W. to the Jordan on the E.
It was oo-extensive with the territories assigned to Ephraim and
the half tribe of Manasseh. Like Judaea it consists of tv7o districts
widely differing in character, the mountain region in the centre,
with the plain of Sharon on the one side and the valley of Jordan
on the other. The moimtainous region is more diversified than
that of Jndaea, broad plains and valleys frequently intervomng.
The maritime plain of Sharon has in all ages supplied abundant



Digitized



by Google



Chap. XI. . TRIBE OF EPHRAIM. 193

pasture for sheep, but possessed no towns of importance, probably
from its exposure to the inroads of the desert tribes of the south.



Caraaiea. (From a Sketch by Wm. Tipping, Esq.)

§ 16. The tribe of Ephraim occupied the greater part of Samaria,
and was one of the most powerful of the Jewish confederacy. Its
prosperity was due partly to the fertility, and partly to the security
of its district. The vales and plains are remarkably rich and well
sheltered, and the olive, fig, and vine, still flourish there : Scripture
speaks in glowing, yet not exaggerated, terms of the land which fell
to the lot of Joseph's younger son (Gen. xlix. 22 ; Deut. xxxiii.
13-16). Its security also was great: well protected on the N. by
the difiBcult ravines which lead to the plain of Esdraelon, and on
the E. by the deep valley of Jordan, it was only on the S. that it
was easily assailable; and in this direction its conmiand of the
high road through central Palestine gave it an advantage likely to
secure peaceful relations with its neighbours. The tribe of Manasieli
held a subordinate position to Ephraim, only half the tribe being
located on this side of Jordan, in the district adjacent to the plain
of Esdraelon.

ANO. QEOO. K



Digitized



by Google



194 OALILEE. Book If.

Totmu o/Sflwiaria.~flhecham, the original capital of Samaria (now
NahUiSt a corruptioQ of the name NeapoliB given to it by Veepasian),
stood in a remariutbly fertile valley, between the ranges of Gericim and
Ebal, and on the edge of a wide plain. It carries off the palm for beauty
of situation from all the towns of Palestine, and is not behind any in
historical interest. Abraham first pitched his tent under the tere-
binths of Moreh, probably at the entrance of the glen. Jacob >'i8ited
it on his return from Mesopotamia, and settled at Shalem, Sdlim, about
two miles distant. He bought the "parcel of the field/* and
sunk the well, which passes by his name to the present day, about
a mile and a half from the town— the scene of our Lord's con-
versation with the woman of Samaria. The adjacent heights of Ebal
and Qerizim witnessed the proclamations of the curses and blessings of
the Law. It was next the scene of Abimelech's conspiracy and of the
parable delivered by Jotham. At the divitdon of the kingdoms Jero-
boam established his government here, and after the return from
Babylon it became the head-quarters of the sectarian worship of the
Samaritans, who (about B.C. 420) erected a temple on the top of Qeri-
dm. Samaria, which succeeded Shechem as capital, was situated six
miles N.E. of it, on a steep flat -topped hill, which stands in a basin
encircled with hills ; the strength of its position was great, and it was
well chosen by Omri as the site of his capital. It was besieged, but not
taken, by the Syiians under Benhadad ( 1 Kings, xx.). It wa», however,
taken by the Assyrians (d.c. 720). Augustus gave it to Herod the
Great, who restored it with the name of Sebaste, still preserved in the
modem Sehuttieh, Philip preached there, and it was the abode of
Simon the Sorcerer. Osnrte, the capital not only of Samaria but of
Palestine under the Romans, stood on a rocky ledge running out into
the Mediterranean, at a spot formerly known as Stratonis Turris. It
was built by Herod the Great with a view to closer communication
with Rome. It was successively visited by Philip, who took up his
abode there — by Peter, at the time of Cornelius* baptism — and by
Paul, on his journey to Rome. The road to Jerusalem followed the
line of the plain through Antipatrii, Kefr Saba— also built by Herod
the Great, and noticed in Acts xxiii. 31 — ^to Lydda, where it fell into
the road from Joppa. The site of Tinalk, which preceded Samaria as
a royal residence, is supposed to have been at TuUuzah, about seven
miles E. of Samaria. The beauty of its situation was proverbial (Cant,
vi. 4). Shiloh, Seilun, stood on a plain just N. of the border of Ben-
iamin. Its site does not present any natural features of interest,
but it is connected with many of the events of Scripture. The
tabernacle was first set up there, and Eli died there ; it vras also the
abode of Ahijah the prophet. Dothan, or Dothain, ** the two wells,**



Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 23 of 82)