James Silk Buckingham.

Travels in Palestine, through the countries of Bashan and Cilead, east of the River Jordan; including a visit to the cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryJames Silk BuckinghamTravels in Palestine, through the countries of Bashan and Cilead, east of the River Jordan; including a visit to the cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis (Volume 2) → online text (page 22 of 26)
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the Syrians Jilled the country." The battle was
as fatal to their leader as before ; a hundred
thousand of his footmen were slain in one day ;
and of those that fled away to Aphek, a wall
fell and destroyed twenty-seven thousand of
them, t

The proud Ben-hadad, who had boasted that
all Samaria would not afford sufficient earth to
yield a handful to each of his followers, was re-
duced to sue for mercy, in sackcloth and ashes,
and bound with ropes about his head as a cap-
tive ; so that he must then have found the diffe-

* See I Kings, xx. throughout, and Joseph. Ant. Jud.
1. viii. c. 14.
f 1 KingSj xx.


rence between the boast at girding on his har-
ness, and that at putting it off. By this act of
humiliation he obtained, however, not only par-
don, but the honour of riding in the same chariot
with the king himself.

A covenant of peace was concluded, in which
Ben-hadad said unto Ahab, " The cities which
my father took from thy father, I will restore,
and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damas-
cus, as my father made in Samaria." The
learned are divided as to whether these were
streets, or palaces, or market-places, which were
thus to be permitted to the king of Samaria to
build in Damascus j but all are agreed that it
was a privilege which marked the subjection
of Ben-hadad to Ahab. *

Like more modern treaties of eternal friend-
ship and alliance, this covenant of peace was
soon broken, and in a terrible battle that was
fought for the recovery of Ramoth Gilead from
the Syrians, Ahab, though he had disguised
himself to avoid death, was slain by an arrow
from a bow drawn at a venture. His body was
brought, however, to Samaria, to be laid in the
sepulchre of Omri, his father, the founder of the
city ; and in a reference to the acts of his life,
the other cities which he built, and the ivory

1 Anq. Un. Hist. vol. ii. p. 306. 8vo.


house which lie made, (probably in this his
capital of Samaria itself',) are numbered among
the works recorded of him in the books of the
chronicles of the kings of Israel. *

The third time of this Ben-hadad, the Syrian
king, opposing himself to Samaria, was on the
occasion of Joram shutting himself up therein,
and depending on the strength of its walls.
"But Ben-hadad, " says the Jewish historian,
" supposed he should take the city, if not by his
engines of war, yet that he should overcome the
Samaritans by famine and the want of neces-
saries, and so he brought his army upon them,
and besieged the city." t The result indeed
was as had been anticipated ; for the Scriptures
say : " And there was a great famine in Samaria,
and behold they besieged it until an ass's head
was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the
fourth part of a cab of dove's dung { for five
pieces of silver." The incident related after-
wards, still heightens the picture of the distress
to which this siege must have reduced them :
" And as the king of Israel was passing by upon
the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying,
Help, my lord, O king. And he said, If the

* 1 Kings, xxii. 39.
f Joseph. Ant. Jud. 1. ix. c. 4. s. 4.

J Josephus says, that this dove's dung was used as a sub-
stitute for salt. — Ant. Jud. 1. 9. c. 4. s. 4.


Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee?
out of the barn-floor, or out of the winepress ?
And the king said unto her, What aileth thee ?
And she answered, This woman said unto me,
Give thy son, that we may eat him to-day, and
we will eat my son to-morrow. So we boiled
my son, and did cat him : and I said unto her
on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat
him : and she hath hid her son." *

In the reign of Hoshea, one of the subse-
quent kings of Samaria, and when Ahaz was
king of Judah, Shalmanezer, the Assyrian mo-
narch to whom Hoshea was tributary, came up
against Samaria to punish him for having sent
messengers to the king of Egypt, and for having
failed in making the yearly presents which he
had formerly done. The Scriptures, in relating
this event, briefly say, " Then the king of As-
syria came up throughout all the land, and went
up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria
took Samaria, and carried Israel away into As-
syria, and placed them in Halah, and in Habor,
by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the
Medes."t It is added, "And the king of

* 2 Kings, vi. 26 — 29. Josephus also quotes Nicolaus of
Damascus, who, in his History of Hadad, mentions this laying
waste of Samaria. Ant. 1. 7. c. i>. s. 2.

| 2 Kings, xvii. 5, 6*.


Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from
Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and
from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities
of Samaria, instead of the children of Israel ;
and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the
cities thereof.'* Josephus confirms this account
of the carrying away the ten tribes of Israel into
captivity by Shalmanezer, and adds also, that
" when he had removed these people out of this
their land, he transplanted other nations out of
Cuthah, a place so called, (for there is [still]
a river of that name in Persia,) into Samaria,
and into the country of the Israelites." *

The utter ruin of the power of Samaria in
this captivity of her people, seems to be alluded
to by the Prophet Hosea, when he says, " as for
Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon
the water." t It is thought by some, that the
city was then reduced to a heap of stones, and
Micah is referred to as saying so ; but though
this was the threat made against it by the word
which came to the Prophet in the days of Jo-
tham, Ahaz, and Ezekiah, kings of Judah, or
about the period of these sieges, its desolation
is not mentioned as being made so complete as
to " become as an heap of the field, and as

* Joseph. Ant. Jud. 1. ix. c. 14. s. 1. *
i Hosea, x. 7.


plantings of a vineyard *," by this conquest of
it, though it was by a much late?- one. The
Scriptures expressly say, that, after the carrying
away captive the children of Israel into Assyria,
the men that were brought from the countries
of the East before enumerated to supply their
places, " possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the
cities thereof." t Josephus calls them all Cu-
theans, " because," says he, fl they were brought
out of the country called Cutha, which is a
country of Persia, and there is a river of the
same name in it ; and that is the name," he
adds, " by which they have been called to this
time," though he acknowledges in the same place,
that they were composed of five different { na-
tions. He confirms, however, the fact of their
supplying the place of the Israelites led away
into captivity, and of their dwelling in Samaria,
and following the idolatrous worship of their
former gods, though Israelitish priests had
been sent back from among the captives in
Assyria to teach them the knowledge of the
true God. §

* Micab, 16. f 2 Kings, xvii. 24.

;£ See an able dissertation on the geographical positions of
the towns to which these captives were carried, and the nations
who replaced them, in Major Rennell's Illustrations of the
geography of Herodotus.

§ Joseph. Ant.Jud. 1. ix. c. 14. s. 3. ; and 2 Kings, xvii. 24
to 31.


In the time of Ezra, or subsequent to the re-
turn of the Israelites from their captivity, these
foreigners were still dwelling there; these are
they who were enumerated as the Dinaites, the
Afharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites,
the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites,
the Dehavites, the Elamites, and the rest of the
nations whom the great and noble Asnapper
brought over and set in the cities of Samaria.
These are they who wrote the letter to Artaxer-
xes, the king of Persia, telling him, that the
Jews whom he had set free from their captivity
had already gone up to Jerusalem, and were
rebuilding the walls of this rebellious and bad
city ; they advised the king to search the book
of records of his father, wherein he would find
that this was a rebellious city, and hurtful unto
kings and provinces, and that they had moved
sedition within the same of old time, for which
cause the city was destroyed ; and after telling
the king Artaxerxes it was because they still
had their maintenance from his palace, that
they could not see him thus dishonoured, they
assure him that if this city were to be rebuilt,
and the walls thereof set up again, he would not
only be deprived of the toll, tribute, and cus-
tom, which this country now brought to his
revenue, but that he would by this means, soon
have no portion on this side the river, or xvesl


of the Euphrates. The records were searched,
the proofs of insurrection, rebellion, and sedition,
were found, and the order of Artaxerxes put a
stop to the building. *

Until this period, therefore, it was inhabited
by this mixed race, and in the time of Amos,
they are characterized as a luxurious people, by
a figure that will be well understood by those
who are conversant with the manners of the
East. " Thus saith the Lord, As the shepherd
taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or
a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel
be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner
of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch / and I
will smite the winter-house, with the summer-
house, and the houses of ivory shall perish, and
the great houses shall have an end, saith the
Lord." t Nothing could be more indicative of
wealth and luxurious manners than these splen-
did mansions, suited to the different seasons,
and the manner of their reposing in them ; and
as such a state is too generally acquired by
laying heavy burdens on those who find them
grievous to be borne, they are most appropri-
ately addressed in the opening of the next
chapter. " Hear the word, ye kine ofBashant,

* Ezra, iv. 7—24. f Amos, iii. 12. 15.

J One must have seen the luxuriant pastures among the
hills and valleys of Gilead, on the other side of Jordan, to feel



that are in the mountain of Samaria, which
oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which
say to their masters, Bring and let us drink."

When Alexander the Great was occupied in
the siege of Tyre, it is said, that all the cities of
that part of Syria called Palestine, were sur-
rendered peaceably into his hands, excepting
Gaza. * On quitting Syria for Egypt, the
Macedonian king left Andromachus in the
government of the country ; but during his visit
to the Temple of Jupiter Hammon in Libya,
or, as others have it, after the taking of Tyre
and Gaza, these Samaritans, from their constant
enmity to the Jews, and jealousy of the superior
privileges granted to them by Alexander, put
Andromachus to a cruel death, t

The news reaching Alexander in Egypt, of
the Samaritans having burnt Andromachus
alive, he hastened to avenge this barbarous act
upon so perfidious a race, t These were, indeed,

the full force of this expression, and to understand what is
meant in other places by *' the fat bulls of Bashan," who
rioted at large in all the abundance which the most fertile
lands could bestow.

* Arrian. Exped. Alex. 1. ii. c. 25.

f Andromachnm iis regionibus praeposuit, quern Samaritani,
perpetui Judaeorum hostes, paulo post atrociter necaverunt.
Freihshemii Supp. in Quint. Curt. 1. ii. c. 11.

J Oneravit hune dolorem nuneius mortis Andromachi, quern
pnehccrei Syria?; vivum Samaritte eremaverunt. Ad cujus

TO Ji:\ T EI..\ AN'D SANHOOR. 403

either all executed, or swept away, and such of
them as escaped, established themselves in
Shechem as their capital, while Alexander
banished even those Samaritans w r ho had served
in his army ever since the siege of Tyre, as far
as into the Thebais, or Upper Egypt, to guard
that country.*

Samaria was now peopled by a new race,
though still foreigners ; and while the remains
of the mixed nations that had supplied the place
of the Israelites from the east were dispersed
thus abroad, their successors were an almost
equally mixed people from the west, composed
of Macedonians, and others who served in the
army of Alexander, while part of the adjoining
lands were given to the Jews, t

Hyrcanus, the first of the Jewish high priests
who had ventured to shake off the Syrian yoke,
was the next who came as an enemy against the
city of Samaria t: this was not for religious

inter itum vindicandum, quanta maxima ceh-ritate potuit, con-
tends, advenientique sunt traditi tanti sceleris auctores.
Quint. Curt. 1. iv. c. 8.

* Joseph. Ant. Jud. 1. xi. c. 8. s. 6.

f Anc. Univ. Hist. vol. viii. p. 544.

J The first of the Ptolemies, surnamed Lagus, who was the
friend and companion of Alexander, in his conquest of Asia,
and who, after his death, became king of Egypt, Libya, and
part of Arabia, is said to have laid waste Samaria, when lie

I) D c 2


differences with tlie Samaritans, properly so
called ; since they had been settled at Shechem
from the time of their being driven out of their
own city by the army of Alexander. The race
who at present inhabited it, was the Syro-Ma-
cedonian, or a mixture of Syrians, Macedo-
nians, and Greeks ; and, as these had all been
tutored in a warlike school, they had encom-
passed their town with a lofty double wall, a
deep ditch, and other fortifications, which,
added to the advantages of their natural situa-
tion, rendered it difficult to attack them with
success, * The Jewish historian admits that
this was now a very strong city, but adds, that
Hyrcanus, being greatly displeased with the
Samaritans for the injuries they had done to the
people of Marissa, a colony of the Jews and
confederate with them, and this in compliance
with the king of Syria, he made his attack
against it, and besieged it with a great deal of

The place being impregnable to the force of
arms, there was no other way of reducing it but
by cutting off all its supplies ; so that the be-

retired from Syria into Egypt at the approach of Antigoiuis in
the Syrian War. Diodorus Siculus, 1. xix. c. 6.
* A nc. Univ. Hist. vol. x. p. 342.


siegers themselves drew an outer ditch round the
city below, and built a double wall about it of
four-score furlongs, or ten miles in circuit. In
this manner they continued cooped up for a
whole year, during which time they were re-
duced to the necessity of feeding on the most
loathsome food, and at length to deliver up their
city. " And when Hyrcanus had thus taken the
city," says Josephus, "which was not done till
after a year's siege, he was not contented with
doing that only, but he demolished it entirely,
and brought rivulets to it to drown it, for he dug
such hollows as might let the water run under
it ; nay, he took away the very marks that there
had ever been such a city there. *

Not long after, Gabinius, who had succeeded
Scaurus as president of Syria, settled such cities
as had not been demolished, and rebuilt those
that had been destroyed, " while a great num-
ber of men," says the historian, " readily ran to
each of them, and became their inhabitants. " t
Samaria is numbered among these, and he is said
to have called this, after its restoration, from his
own name, Gabiniana. X

It did not rise to any thing like its former con-
sequence, however, until the time of Herod,

* Joseph. Ant. Jud. 1. xiii. c. 10. s. 3.
f Joseph.. Jewish Wars, 1. i. c. 8. s. 4,
I Anc. Univ. Hist. vol. x. p. 376'.

D D 3


whose magnificent works in honour of Caesar,
Agrippa, and Antony, have already been often
spoken of at large ; " yet," says the historian,
in describing the monuments which Herod had
reared to the memory of these his friends and
patrons, " he did not preserve their memory by
particular buildings only, with their names given
to them, but his generosity went as far as entire
cities ; for when he had built a most beautiful
wall round a country in Samaria, twenty fur-
longs long *, and had brought six thousand
inhabitants into it, and had allotted to it a most
fruitful piece of land, and in the midst of this
city thus built, had erected a very large'temple to
Caesar, and had laid round about it a portion of
sacred land of three furlongs and a half, he
called the city Sebaste, from Sebastus, or Au-
gustus t, and settled the affairs of the city, after
a most regular manner." t

The purpose of Herod's bringing many of the
people here who had assisted him in the wars,
and of his making them fellow-citizens with the
rest, was, says the same historian in another place,

* This is confounded by the authors of the Universal His-
tory, with the wall of JShechem, which they make Josephus
describe to be of this extent, though he evidently speaks only
of Sebaste. — Anc. Un. Hist. vol. ii. b. 1. c. 7. p. 440.

f Sebaste, in Greek, is literally Augustus in Latin.

1 Joseph. Jewish Wars, b. i. c, 21. s. 2.


"outjof an ambitious desire of building a tem-
ple, and out of a desire to make the city more
eminent than it had been before, principally
because he contrived that it might at once be for
his own security, and a monument of his magni-
ficence. He also changed its name, and called
it Sebaste. Moreover, he parted the adjoining
country, which was excellent in its kind, among
the inhabitants of Samaria, that they might be
in a happy condition upon their first coming to
inhabit. Besides all which, he encompassed the
city with a wall of great strength, and made use
of the acclivity of the place for making its forti-
fications stronger ; nor was the compass of the
place made now so small as it had been before,
but was such as rendered it not inferior to the
most famous cities, for it was twenty furlongs in
circumference. Now, within, and about the
middle of it, he built a sacred place, of a furlong
and half (in circuit), and adorned it with all sorts
of decorations, and therein erected a temple,
which was illustrious on account, of both its
largeness and beauty. And as to the several
parts of the city, he adorned them with decora-
tions of all sorts also ; and as to what was neces-
sary to provide for his own security, he made the
walls very strong for that purpose, and made it
for the greater part a citadel ; and as to the ele-
gance of its buildings, it was taken care of also,

D I) 1


that he might leave monuments of the fineness
of his taste and of his beneficence to future
ages." *

It is of this city of Herod that the remains
are now to be traced ; and both the relative dis-
tance, local position, and unaltered name of
Sebaste, leave no doubt as to the identity of its

Josephus calls it, in one place, " a day's jour-
ney distant from Jerusalem t ;" and, in another,
" a city not far from t Csesarea," both of which
are strictly true of Sebaste. Its position is marked
as on a hill, the acclivities of which were made
use of for fortifications. § Its strength is implied
in the denunciation of Amos. *' Woe to them
that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the moun-
tain of Samaria, which are named chief of the
nations to whom the house of Israel came." II
And its local features are equally shown in the
threat of Micah, " I will make Samaria as an
heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard,
and I will pour down the stones thereof into the
valley, and I will discover the foundations
thereof."^" Josephus, in describing the precau-

* Jewish Antiquities, b. xv. c. 9. s. 5.

-J- Ant. Jud. 1. xv. c. 8. s. 5.

% De Bello, I. i. c. 28. s. 6.

§ Antiq, Jud. I. xv. c. 1). s. 5.

|| Amos, vi. 1. ^i Micnh, i. 6*.


tions which Ahab had taken to shut up every
thing in the strongest cities he had, mentions
that he abode in Samaria itself, as the most inac-
cessible of them ; " for," says he, " the walls
about it were very strong, and it appeared to be
not easily to be taken in other respects." * Pliny
also calls it " Sebaste upon the mountains," and
reckons it among the chief cities of Palestine, t
The manner of investing it and walling it round
in all the sieges it underwent, proves it also to
have been an isolated hill, all of which charac-
teristics still unequivocally remain.

That the country about it was fruitful and
productive, has already been shown ; and that
it abounded with water, may be inferred from
the account of Hyrcanus bringing rivulets to
drown it, and causing waters to run under it.
Among the medals struck in this city, with the
figure of the goddess Astarte, (who was the
Venus of the Assyrians, and was so honoured as
a divinity, as to have a famous temple at Hiero-
polis, served by three hundred priests always
employed in sacrificing to her). This blessing
of abundance of water, is seemingly implied by
the goddess being represented as treading a river
under foot. And indeed this, as well as all the

* Ant. Jud. 1. viii. c. 14. s. 1.
t Pliny, Nat. Hist. 1. 5. c. 13.


other localities already detailed, being perma-
nently imprinted on the place by the hand of
Nature, remain unaltered.

It may be thought by some, to have been
quite unnecessary to collect them so much at
large as they are here shown ; but, it has been
thought well to bring them into one point of
view for the sake of elucidating the nature of
the present remains of Sebaste ; more particu-
larly as the latest, the most learned, and,
perhaps, deservedly, the most popular modern
traveller in these regions, has unaccountably
fixed on Sanhoor as the probable site of Sebaste,
though, in his way from Nazareth to Nablous,
or from Tiberias to the same place, he must have
passed in sight of the lull on which its ruins
stand ; and could scarcely fail, one would think,
to have often heard of it from his guides under
its present name of Subusta, as it is one of the
most well-known places, both to Mohammedans
and Christians, on all this road. *

* Dr. Clarke's Travels in the Holy Land. Sanhoor is called
by him Santorri, and he says of it, " We should have con-
sidered this as the site of the ancient Samaria, were it not for
the express mention made by Maundrell, and by others, of the
town of Sebaste, still preserving a name belonging to that city."
Quaresmius also mentions the city of Sebaste, sive Samaria,
as occurring in the route from Sichar to Jemni or Jennin :
although performing this journey, we found no other place
intervening, except Santorri ; and it is situated upon a hill,


It will be better, perhaps, to describe the re-
mains in the order of their importance, than in
the succession in which they are seen on ap"
proaching it from the east ; since, in that direc-
tion, the most modern of them is the most con-
spicuous. The first impression that the view of
the place makes is, that the form of the hill of
Shemer, as it now shows itself, is such as would
naturally suggest an idea of its fitness for a for-
tress, or a post of defence, to whoever might be
settled on it. In looking round for the ditch
and the wall, with which Hyrcanus is said to
have surrounded it when he invested it during
the year's siege, there are many places that
might have been found, perhaps, on more mature
examination of them, to mark the traces of it ;
but as we had not leisure to connect them, we
could not fix on any as unequivocal vestiges of
these works. The same might be said of the
inner walls and fortifications, though there were
many detached pieces of walls standing on the
edge of rocky prominences that might have been
fragments of such works, but in these we could
not discover any regular form. Indeed, from

according to the descriptions given of the ancient Samaria,
which D'Anville places midway between Ginsea and Napolose
and Sicham, vol. ii. c. 15. p. 503.


the very circumstances of these fortifications
being often made, as Josephus says, of the accli-
vity of the hill itself, nothing would be more
speedily demolished than masonry constructed
on them, and nothing more difficult to identify
than the acclivities on which such buildings
stood. In this respect, namely, the facility of
its destruction when once begun, arising chiefly
from the steepness of its site, it resembled the
fortress of Gamala on the other side of Jordan,
with which Pliny has coupled it, probably from

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Online LibraryJames Silk BuckinghamTravels in Palestine, through the countries of Bashan and Cilead, east of the River Jordan; including a visit to the cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis (Volume 2) → online text (page 22 of 26)