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" Church of the Ascension," alleged to be on the spot
whence the event took place. I have not the same
faith in the site which I have in the other holy places.
The evidence for it is of the weakest character, and it
certainly does not answer to St. Luke's words, " He
led them out as far as to Bethany." If by Bethany
be meant the village, this certainly does not answer,
for the church is not more than half-way thither.
However, we looked reverently on the site as a possible
one, and read the narratives of the Gospels, and said
the collects for Ascension Day and the following
Sunday. Close by is a Russian Church with an enor-
mously high tower, evidently intended in reality for a
place of military observation.

We walked down the further slope to the village of
Bethany, and soon found ourselves at the reputed
tomb of Lazarus. There is at least this in favour of
its genuineness, that it is the only rock-hewn tomb at



88 THE LETTERS OF

present known at Bethany. An attendant near at
hand produces a wax taper for each of us, and we
descend twenty-six steps into the cave. That it has
been a tomb is evident. At the bottom of this cave
is another, to which you enter by three or four steps
more, so low that you have to remain stooping. The
probability for this site seemed to me very great.
Emerging from it we went on to the "home of Martha
and Mary." It is a ruin, walls 3 or 4 feet high ; there
are three rooms on the ground. Thence we went up
to the " house of Simon the leper," also a ruin, but a
more imposing one, dominating the whole village
with a towering arch. Plucking a few wild flowers
from the ground around it, we went down to the
other side of the village, into a good road. And this
is the road by which our Blessed Lord made His
triumphal entry into Jerusalem. A master-hand has
brought out the great features of that event, the ride
past the olive and fig enclosures, the crowds before
and after, the sudden turn round the shoulder of the
mountain, the sudden view of the Holy City and of its
great Temple. Dean Stanley's description in his " Sinai
and Palestine" is familiar now to thousands of readers.

Another excursion was partly over the same ground.
We "went down from Jerusalem to Jericho." Our



PETER LOMBARD 89

Lord's expression is true to the letter. The journey
is a wonderful descent. We had to go over the same
ground by which we had returned from Bethany. All
of us were on horseback, the journey being one of
twenty miles. Murray says that there is a carriage
road all the way, but that it is very dangerous in
places. No doubt the editor thought, not unreason-
ably, that the said road would be finished by the time
his book was published. But if so he has been
disappointed, for it isn't. Foot or horseback is your
only way for quite half the distance.

When we came alongside Bethany I observed a
young man standing beside a great rock armed with
a long rifle, and a splendid Arab horse by his side.
He was a fine young fellow of dark olive complexion,
with a handsome abba (cloak), and a turban with a
gold band round it. Our dragoman and I had passed
him when he suddenly sprang on his horse and galloped
down towards us, slinging his rifle across his shoulders
as he did so. As he passed in front of us I said to
our dragoman " Who is he ? " He knew enough
English to understand me, and turning round with
rather a pleasant smile said " Khalil " (friend). He
was the Sheikh of the Bedouin tribe inhabiting the
Jordan valley, and had been engaged by our drago-



90 THE LETTERS OF

man to go with us. As in Christ's time, so now, this
Jericho road has a reputation for being infested with
thieves. If the Sheikh, however, be on our side we
are in no danger. He would shoot a robber with as
little compunction as he would a hare. His power is
almost absolute. There are places still where it is
well for a party to keep together, but we did not
trouble to do it here, for we were assured that our
Sheikh was a whole army of defence. Certainly all
the people we met were most civil to us. And he
was a charming acquisition to our party. He sat his
beautiful horse with perfect grace, galloped him up
awkward rocks and caracblled among the sand-hills,
took flying shots successfully at birds, and gave me a
beautiful bird like a partridge, only bigger, which he
had shot flying, and which we ate for dinner. The
descent is never uninteresting, though you scarcely
pass a village, or even house, after leaving Bethany.
In the first place, the scenery is very beautiful.
Rocky, indeed, the hills are everywhere. Now and
then I could have fancied myself on the Downs round
Hurslcy and Winchester, substituting chalk ranges
for the great rows of boulders, and firs and beeches
for olives, with now and then an ilex. But this was
rare. The hill country of Palestine is everywhere



PETER LOMBARD 91

infinitely more stony than the English hills and downs.
But more and more ever since I have been here I
have noticed that it is very fertile. A farmer from
the Midlands seeing for the first time the countless
flints which cover South Down soil would probably
stand aghast ; but neither he nor the Southerner
would be prepared for the first sight of a mountain
side which appears to be all rocks. But between
these rocks corn grows abundantly. You couldn't
cut it with an English scythe, and you couldn't even
get a reaping machine into the field. I didn't see them
reaping, of course, for it is not the season ; but I had
the process described to me. I have got the model of
a plough, doubtless such as Elijah found Elisha using,
and greatly would it astonish a farmer at home.

But the fields and the rich wild flowers were the
least interesting objects .we saw. I do not remember
more than two buildings all the way. One is a
simple basin, built to receive the flow of a mountain
stream, the other is an ancient khan, or inn, that is,
a large place where travellers can lie down under its
rough shelter, and also tie up their animals. Food
and drink they do not buy there, as at an English
inn. They bring it with them. What interest



92 THE LETTERS OF

attaches to these two spots ? The first is known
as " the Disciples' fountain " ; as we drank of it we
remembered Who must often have done so as He
came past in the heat of the day when He came up
to Jerusalem, for nearly always He did come this
way. And the Khan? They call it " the Good
Samaritan's Inn," and not without reason. Our Lord
must have had it in His mind when He spoke
His parable, for it is the only one all along that long
twenty miles, and it is to the last degree improbable
that there was ever another. It is very ancient,
built of large rough stones, about half way on the
road. The road is a long descent throughout. I
do not mean that there are no level places, or even
occasional ascents ; but as you journey along you
realise that you are going down, down into a deep
valley. At several places you are obliged to go in
single file, and to take care how you go. With care
you are quite safe. The horses are wonderfully
sure-footed, and step from boulder to boulder, up or
down, with the utmost confidence. If somebody will
cover all the steps up to the whispering gallery of
St. Paul's with enormous stones all thrown higgledy-
piggledy, and then ride down, he will get a very
good idea of a great deal of the Jericho road. It was



PETER LOMBARD 9S

a moment of great interest to us when our guide
was at length able to show us the hills of Moab, and
the highest point of them, Mount Nebo. Yet more
interesting it was when, after about five hours' ride,
we caught sight of the Dead Sea, still a good way
off, and very beautiful it looked under the cloudless
sun.

VII

Another turn of the long road, and the Jordan
valley lay stretched out before us. After having
been for some hours solely in sight of barren
mountains, it will easily be understood how we were
fascinated by a sudden vision of fertility. The river
itself was invisible by reason of the trees, the valley
was still far beneath us, but there were the rich fields
hundreds of feet down, encouraging us to continue
our still toilsome descent. Meanwhile another object
of interest was attracting us, a terrific gorge on our
left, more lonely and desolate than any I have ever
seen in Switzerland. We could not see the bottom,
only the bare rocks of the deep cleft, though we
could hear the hoarse murmur of the torrent below.
It was the Wady Kelt, the brook Cherith of I Kings
xvii. It was certainly a curious coincidence that



94 THE LETTERS OF

while we were looking down into the great chasm
with the deepest interest, a large raven lighted on
the rock within forty yards of us. M. and I both
exclaimed at the same moment, u Look at that
raven ! " I am quite aware that my friend, Sir
George Grove (art. "Elijah" in Smith's "B. D."),
thinks that the Oriebim who fed the prophet were
Bedaweens whose sheikh had a raven (Oreb) for his
crest. Very likely he may be right ; still I mention
the coincidence, which is matter of fact as I have
stated it.

At length we reached the level of the valley,
turned to the left and forded the Cherith. I had a
little trouble to get my horse over, for the stream is
rapid, and recent streams had swelled it, and he
did not much like it. One of the mules fell and
saturated one of our tents. Then once more we
ascended a little, went through another stream, and
a very interesting one. It came down from a fine
spring of beautiful water which burst out of the rock,
and which is known as M Elisha's Fountain." It
must be the water referred to in 2 Kings ii. 19-22,
for there is no other stream near. A lonely, treeless,
grassless mountain on our left is called the " Mountain
of the Temptation." It is easy to understand why



PETER LOMBARD 95

the instinct of Christendom has identified it with
that mysterious passage in the Lord's life. Our
guide pointed to some caves high up in the face of
the mountain, and told us that a few hermits live
there.

Immediately after fording Elisha's spring we found
ourselves among a lot of white tents, a sign that our
day's work was ended.

That was our first experience of camp life, and a
few lines may be given to it once for all. Your tents
are sent on before you at early morning, in such wise
that when you arrive at the end of your day's tramp
they are already pitched. There are first the
sleeping-tents, carpeted, chaired, washing-basined,
bedded, and assuredly well-ventilated. They are
comfortable as regards size, and, unless a very heavy
rain comes, are water-tight. But you will do well to
take plenty of wraps' and waterproofs; for I have
seen things soaked on a bright night with dew, and
of course nobody can control the wind. We had
taken all precautions, and up to the present moment
have found the benefit of them. In the month of
February you don't expect to escape rain and cold,
and I have been most thankful to find that rugs in
plenty have been provided. Then there is a big tent



96 THE LETTERS OF

for dinner, and adjacent to it is the tent-kitchen, with
two or three Moslems busy besides charcoal fires and
stewpans. They serve us up a dinner fit for an
Emperor every day at 7. Down in this valley it was
a warm night, and I quite enjoyed it all. It was so
strange to hear the muttered talk of our Bedaween
escort, who, wrapped up in their abbas, slept in the
open-air ; I heard them two or three times that
night beside their watch-fires. And from the jungle
in the valley just below us came the incessant
barking of the jackals. There are also hyaenas and
leopards there, but both are described as arrant
cowards.

At half-past six in the morning your dragoman
wakes you up with a big bell. And you must turn
out at once, or you are likely to be carried off tent
and all. Before you are well dressed the muleteers
are busy pulling your tent to pieces and packing up.
Whilst you are breakfasting they depart, carrying your
tents and luggage with them. Otherwise they would
not be ready for you at the next halting-place. In
the present instance we had a day's respite, for
this camping-ground was held by us for two successive
nights. Before turning in I took one look round upon
our camp. There were twenty-five horses and mules



PETER LOMBARD 97

Nine men were employed with the horses, and there
were the dragoman, the cook, and two waiters. When
we started on a larger expedition, we were a larger
company.

The sun was rising gloriously over the hills of
Moab when I turned out next morning. The horses
were picketed all around us, and the servants were
augmented by a few natives who came up to see if they
could get any employment out of us. Below us was
the rich green valley, thick with trees, none large, but
fine shrubs. Two of these shrubs at once became
deeply fascinating. First, there were "the apple of
Sodom," yellow fruit like small oranges to look upon,
and (so it used to be said) with bitter ashes inside,
the fact being that though they are certainly not
good to eat, the dust and ashes resolve themselves
into the black seeds of the plant with which the
yellow husk is filled. Secondly, there was the thorn,
known as the spina Christie from which, in all
probability, the crown of thorns was made. I cut
some branches of it to carry home, but it tears one's
hands all to pieces even in the gathering, and as to
packing it up it is impossible.

Next morning we started for the Dead Sea. In
the clear atmosphere it looks as if a ten minutes' ride

H



98 THE LETTERS OF

would bring us there. It took us two hours and a
half. For, in the first place, we had by no means
reached the Dead Sea level when we had got into
the green valley. Everybody who has seen two Swiss
peaks in the same landscape has thought some close
together which are really a day's march apart. And
this is something of the same kind.

There are three Jerichos. The place at which our
camp was pitched was that of Joshua. Enormous
mounds cover the ancient city. Further south, about
the same distance from the mountain range as the old,
stand the ruins of the Jericho of Christ's time. More
mounds, but smaller, a long piece of wall, and some
shapeless ruins, are all that remain of it As we
passed it this morning on our way down to the sea, I
looked wistfully at the path leading from it to the
pass up to Jerusalem, knowing that somewhere in that
path was the scene of the miracle of Bartimoeus.
And whilst I longed for the means of identifying the
very spot I felt that far better was it to have the
record in the Bible which I was holding in my hand,
" He is not here, He is risen." And His love and
care are the birthright, not only of those who saw
Him in the flesh, but of us who know that we are very
members of Him.



PETER LOMBARD 99

If we draw a straight line from these two Jerichos,
and on this as a base construct an equilateral
triangle, the modern Jericho will be on the apex. It
is a miserable village, mud hovels, and Bedaween
huts. Passing through it, and through the low forest
of brushwood and thorns, we emerge at length upon
a district of sand, hills and valleys of it, with no grass
at all, but still with stunted, poor-looking, grey
tamarisks dotted about. As we ride through this
region, our guide shows us a great mass of ruins, and
tells us that it is the ancient Gilgal, the first place of
the sanctuary after Israel had crossed the Jordan.
Then on the left is seen a great mound of rocks,
strange and peculiar to look upon ; it is impossible
to say whether they are ruins or natural features.
But the opinion has of late gained ground with
Palestine explorers that here are the ruins of the
doomed cities of the plain. We still continue to
descend, and I notice that even in this scene of
desolation the Cherith making its way towards the
lake has a margin of oleanders and reeds, long
after other vegetation has ceased. But even this
dies out as the stream approaches the Dead Lake ;
the sand all around is now encrusted with salt.
The shore is reached at last, and we are standing
on the lowest ground as yet discovered on the

H 2



100 THE LETTERS OF

globe. It is 1,300 feet below the level of the
Mediterranean.

And yet this wonderful lake has not itself any
aspect of death. Looked at from afar, it is, as I have
already said, of a lovely blue, and with the hills of
Moab in their soft verdure overlooking it, one is
reminded of Windermere. When you come to the
edge you see that the water is clear as crystal, and
the pebbles under it sparkle like jewels. Put your
finger in and taste. It quite makes you start. It is
said that 26 per cent, of the water consists of salt.
After a moment you are aware of a nauseous taste.
It is absolutely destructive to life. A heap of dead
wood and reeds lies all along the shore ; it has drifted
down from the Jordan, and all life has been quite
washed out of it. I picked up several pieces to carry
home.

Up to this time the Jordan itself had not been
visible. After half-an-hour's ramble by the sea we
mount our horses again, and ride away to the N.E.
A long spell of sand, then once more we are in a
forest of shrubs and brushwood, a little higher than
one's head, a labyrinth of paths going through them,
all like the "rides" in an English coppice. The



PETER LOMBAfef) 101

luxuriance of these shrubs and of the wild flowers,
apprises us that we are drawing near to the river, and
our hearts throb with expectation. Suddenly, we are
upon it вАФ there it is, that sacred stream, sweeping
rapidly, but majestically along, oleanders, tamarisks,
reeds, willows, luxuriantly clothing the banks. The
river is about the width of the Ouse at Olney, or the
Itchen between Winchester and St. Cross. It had
been overflowing, and the banks were so deep in
mud that we had some difficulty in getting close
enough to bathe our hands in it, and fill our bottles.
This is the traditional site of our Lord's baptism and
also of the escaping of the Israelites. I cannot help
doubting both. Our Lord was probably baptised
nearer to Galilee (St. John i.), and the bank on the
further side at this part of the river is a precipice
40 ft. high. Beneath the Moabite hills is a plain
where the whole multitude could easily have
encamped, but then to be on the river bank they
must have got the women and children, as well as
themselves, down this precipice. Unless the whole
aspect of the country has changed, which is certainly
possible in alluvial land, the crossing must have been
some miles higher.

Our return to Jerusalem need not detain us. I



'



102 THE LETTERS OF

hasten on to a second excursion which we made from
Jerusalem, namely, to Bethlehem and Hebron, an
excursion unlike any other if it were only for the fact
that there is a carriage road all the way. Bethlehem
is about five-and-a-half miles from Jerusalem, Hebron
twenty-four.

Past the well of Enrogel and through the plain of
Rephaim, scenes of two interesting incidents in
David's life (2 Sam. xvii. 17 ; v. 17-24), we were out
upon a road by the sides of which were fields, stony
of course, but giving signs of good corn crops by and
bye, and meanwhile rich with olive trees. Two
objects were shown us by our guide as we went
along ; the first I fear is mythical, " the well of the
wise men." The legend tells that when they were
dismissed from Herod's presence, they were at a loss
whither to go next, but stooping over this well to let
down a pitcher, one of them saw the star reflected
in the water, whereupon they all "rejoiced with
exceeding joy." About the other there is no sort of
doubt. It is Rachel's tomb, on the right hand of the
road, about ten minutes' distance from Bethlehem.
Without going into description, it may be sufficient
to mention that there is an exact copy of it at
Ramsgate. Sir Moses Montefiore had it copied,
exact size and all, to cover the grave of his wife.



PETER LOMBARD 103

And now we turn up the hill to our left, and are in
the City of Bethlehem. At the entrance of the town
we go down a yard past some cottages and are at
"the well of Bethlehem" (2 Sam. xxiii. 15). A girl
brought a pitcher and a rope and drew us up a bottle
of the water, which we are taking to England. Then
we went on to the Church of the Nativity. It would
take too long to describe what has been described in
many guide books. The Greeks, the Latins, the
Armenians, all have chapels contiguous to the sacred
spot, and a Greek service was going on as we went
through theirs. We passed down through the room
where St. Jerome did so much of his great work on
behalf of Bible exposition and criticism, saw his grave
and that of St. Paula, and both were deeply
interesting to us, though we were in quest of what
was far more touching. And so we came at length
to where it was written on a brass plate on the floor
in Latin, " On this spot Jesus Christ was born of the
Virgin Mary." Two or three persons were kneeling
there. I myself knelt and kissed the spot. I do not
know whether anybody will think me superstitious.
If they do I don't care. Two or three yards from it
is the place of the manger. The whole is in the hard
rock, and the authenticity of the site is vouched for
by the fact that, before any sort of honour was paid



104 THE LETTERS OF

to it in the way of decoration, Jerome found it as the
only " Inn " (Khan) in Bethlehem, and calls it ancient.
It is incredible that the inhabitants can have dis-
carded the old Khan, and established another in
the interval between the Nativity and the days of
Jerome.

Soon after leaving Bethlehem we pass three great
reservoirs, known as " Solomon's Pools." They are
not mentioned in Scripture, but are probably the
work of that king. For Josephus says that he made
in this neighbourhood " the gardens," in which we
know that he delighted. But I mention the place
specially because a foot-path from Jerusalem leads
past them to the village of Urtas ; and Urtas is very
probably to be identified with Emmaus. If it be so,
then let the reader conceive how we stood still on
that path, and remembered a conversation which was
once held along it. I read St. Luke xxiv. 13, 33,
and tried unsuccessfully to repeat to myself Cowper's
beautiful lines upon the passage. It is right to
mention that another village, Kubebei, on the west of
Jerusalem, is also claimed for Emmaus. I saw this
also, and can only say that I do not know which is
the right.

Hebron has the character of being the most



PETER LOMBARD 105

fanatical of Mahometan towns in Palestine. There
are Jews there, but the inhabitants boast that they
have kept out all Christians. I believe there is not
one Christian family there. We inspected the outside
of the cave of Machpelah, the oldest burial place
known In the world. The children hooted us as we
went round it, evidently enjoying our inability to
enter. One young gentleman made faces at me, and
told me (I had just picked up Arabic enough to
understand him) that I was the son of the devil.
Perhaps f I had given him a baksheesh, he might
have withheld the compliment, but no doubt he would
have thoight it none the less. We slept at the
Jewish hotel there, and next morning made a pil-
grimage to see the ancient tree known as Abraham's
oak. It stmds on a spot commanding a beautiful
view of the plain, and on the rising ground in front of
us we saw the old Jewish cemetery where are
preserved, ifthe account given be correct, the tombs
of Ruth and Jesse, and of Abner and Ishbosheth.



VIII

-
I NEED hardy say that we left the Holy City with
regret. Thre< of us went once more on the last



106 THE LETTERS OF

morning over the Temple area, so as to fix the details
in our memories. Murray says that the cost of such
a visit is about ios. a head ; ours cost us five francs
the first time and four the second, including back-
sheesh to officials. I may mention that at this second
visit we were shown, having missed it the first time,
the stone which is said to cover two of the murderers
of Becket. They died while on pilgrimage, and were
buried in a church of the Crusaders, built on the site
of Solomon's " ascent to the house of the Lord," now
the Mosque al Aksa.

At two o'clock we started. Our journey lay due
north. Nothing but a bridle path, and in some places
a very difficult one. I have never seen ii our Lake
country one so stony and steep as parts of this. On
Scopus (the hill on the north of the city) we turned
to take, as we mistakenly thought, our farewell look
at Jerusalem. First we passed Nob on our left
(i Sam. xxi.). In the distance on the summit of a


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