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than one would expect to find in this remote quarter; and the workmanship in some instances would not discredit the artists of Britain.
On leaving Bethlehem, after a ride of about two miles, we came to the valley of Urtâs, and called at the residence of Mr. Meshullam, who has some land here under cultivation, chiefly in garden and orchard, for the produce of which he finds a market at Jerusalem. The village of Urtás is situated in a narrow glen, with high shelving banks of limestone, naked and broken. The bed of the glen, not above fifty or sixty yards wide, is not a blooming garden, well stocked with fruit-trees, and plots of vegetables and esculent plants, which show that the industry of the West has here been grafted on the fertility of the East. This great improvement has been chiefly effected by the labours of Mr. Meshullam, a Christian Israelite, who tills a portion of the soil of his fatherland, and gathers an abundant return for his labour. Once a fortnight, one of the English Missionaries resident in Jerusalem comes hither to hold religious service with this convert and his family. In the vale of Urtâs once flourished the gardens of Solomon. “I planted me vineyards,” says the wise king ; " I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits : I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees.” (Eccles. ii. 4-6.) These gardens suggested much of the imagery of the Canticles. The great reservoirs still remain. It was while David's renowned son 923 thus testing the good the earth contained, only to find that without God it was naught, that he tells us, “I made me great works ; I builded me houses..........My wisdom remained with me; and whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour.”
The wealth of Solomon was almost boundless. He had a thousand chariots, and twelve thousand horses,--according to Josephus, twenty thousand,—which were ridden by young men admirably skilled to manage them. These equestrians were all dressed in purple; and when the sun shone on their hair, which was intermixed with threads of gold, the effect was most beautiful. Solomon himself rode, dressed in white, in a chariot attended by these men, having arms and quivers, to a pleasant house be had at Etham, near the city, in which he much delighted for the beauty of its gardens, walks, and fountains.
The delicious gardens to which, in the early sunlight of summer's morting, he was wont in his majesty to ride prosperously, were about fifty statis from Jerusalem. The palace gates, the city gates, fly open ; and, with all his glittering array, Solomon, "perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant,” drives forth, while the pavement echoes with the horses' hoofs of his gorgeous escort, and rattles with his wheels. “King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple.” With his spouse at his side, he goes forth “in the day of the gladness of his heart.” “ For, lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone ; the flowers appear on the earth ; the time of the singing of birds
is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land; the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.” The fifty furlongs are passed, and the “garden enclosed " receives its lord; the garden with pleasant fruits ; camphire with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankin. cense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices : a fountain of gardens, & well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon," where, when the south wind blew, the scent of the spices flowed out through the air. “I have gathered my myrrh with my spice ; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey ; I have drunk my wine with my milk.........I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.”
Such is a literal description of the splendour and luxury of Israel's monarch. But all this, so beautifully told in the glowing style of oriental expression, has a double meaning: for it is the voice of inspiration that speaks to us. All that we read was indeed, in a sense, true of Solomon : his wisdom and his magnificence were realities; but each exquisite passage has a figurative meaning as well, and refers to One “greater than Solomon." The wise king has been regarded as a type of Christ ; and his going forth with his “love,” his “sister,” his “spouse," as a figure of Christ's tenderness, watchfulness, and loving compassion for His church. That church includes all who, under either the old or the new dispensation, have in their hearts believed and worshipped the world's Redeemer. Their faith may have looked forward, centuries before, to His advent in Bethlehem; or it may have clung to Him when He wrought wonders before their eyes in Palestine ; or it may look back over centuries to His atoning sacrifice on the cross. But all faithful souls are alike included within the “garden enclosed,” where the Bridegroom rejoices over the bride.
The village of Urtâs is little better than a mass of ruins ; and the inhabitants look as if they had shared in the calamity. They are described as approaching the troglodytes, living half in caves, half in sheds,- for houses they cannot be called. But there are some remains that point to more prosperous ages. The massive foundations of a tower, a low wall of hewn stone, rocks excavated and scarped, and old, tomb-like grottos, may be seen in the glen, and along the precipitous bank. This is unquestionably the site of Etham, or Etam, built by Rehoboam, along with Bethlehem and Tekoa.* (2 Chron.
We proceeded along the vale, througlı which a fine stream of water was
* When Rehoboam, wise Solomon's foolish son, (son also of Naamah, the Ammonitess, one of those heathen beauties who had led wise Solomon astray,) had broken up the kingdom of his grandfather ; and when, of all the tribes, Judah and Benjamin alone, for David's sake, clung to David's heir ; “ he built cities for defence in Judah.” He also strengthened others of the fenced cities ; "he fortified the strongholds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine. And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong.” Among those whose fortifications he built was Etham; and, perhaps, the ruined tower may have been his work.
flowing, supplied from a copious spring; and shortly afterward we arrived at the far-famed Pools of Solomon. The lower pool, though not fall, had a good quantity of water, not quite clear, but yet free from that discoloration, that turbid yellow, which had been observed in the upper Pool of Gihon, and in the Pool of Hezekiah. The middle one of the three was empty; and the third, or uppermost one, was nearly so, having sufficient water only to cover a small portion of its area. I descended by some rude steps to the bottom of this last. The three pools are each on a different level
, of & quadrangular figure, but varying in size, and situate nearly in a row. They are partly built on the sides with hewn stones, and partly hewn out of the solid rock, the workmanship having an appearance of great antiquity. These reservoirs are worthy of the renowned monarch whose name they bear, though they are not directly mentioned in Seripture. They are designed to regulate the supply of the indispensable element of water, which of old was conducted to Jerusalem by way of Bethlehem. An aqueduct winds through bill and dale to the holy city, and ends in the Haram where of old the temple stood. The difficulties of the ground are great, and the distance is long ; the winding course being from twelve to fourteen miles. We know nothing of the appliances by which, in Solomon's age, levels were taken. That they were calculated correctly, is evident ; for water still flows through a considerable portion of the aqueduct. Some persons, slow to give due credit to the Jewish engineers, have offered a surmise which is disposed of by the fact, that there are several openings in the aqueduct. Now, from want of proper repairs, the water flows only as far as Bethlehem. The pools are constructed in a descending valley, so that the base of the upper pool is higher than the margin of the one next below it. The upper one is the smallest, and the lower one the largest. Their dimensions are said to be as follows :—The upper pool measures three hundred and eighty feet long, twenty-five feet deep, and two hundred and thirty-six feet wide at the eastern end. The western extremity is seven feet narrower. The middle pool is four bundred and twenty-three feet long, thirty-nine feet deep, two hundred and fifty feet wide at the eastern end, and one hundred and sixty feet at the western end : it is one hundred and sixty feet below the upper pool. The lower pool is two hundred and forty-eight feet farther down the valley than the middle one ; and is five hundred and eighty-two feet long, fifty feet deep, and two hundred and seven feet wide at its eastern extremity, being one hundred and forty-eight feet wide at its western end. There is a good fountain near the pools.
On leaving these, our course lay over wild hills, some being quite bare, while on others there was a slight covering of brushwood. Huge rounded masses of mountain scenery, for the most part desolate and dreary, formed the only prospect before us. A monotonous and inhospitable hue se stamped upon the whole, while the solitary grandeur was equally remarkable. Camels are still, as they were in Scripture times, the principal beasts of burden in Palestine ; the roads being not suited for carts or car
riages. A few of these patient animals wa met, loaded with brushwood, which is used for fuel, and which they were carrying probably to Bethlehem, if not to Jerusalem, this article being very scarce and dear in the season when it is most required. Charcoal is much used for fires. Of coal or coke I saw none. The camels, so laden, travel over very rough and stony roads, and up and down steep places one would almost suppose impassable to them. After alluding to their well-known habit of lying upon the breast to receive their burdens, Dr. Robinson adds: “ Hardly less wonderful is the adaptation of their broad-cushioned foot to the arid sands which it is their lot chiefly to traverse. As the carriers of the east, the ‘ships of the desert,' another important quality of the camel is their surefootedness. It is surprising to find them travelling with so much ease and safety up and down the most rugged mountain-passes. They do not choose their way with the like sagacity as the mule, or even as the horse ; but they tread much more surely and safely, and never either slip or stumble. In all our long journeys with them, I do not recollect a single instance ; and yet no roads can be worse than the passes in going and returning between Hebron and Wady-Mûsa.” Here and there, in some of the plains, there was some relief to the desolate landscape. We saw the plough in motion upon the land, and the rich soil of the plains bearing signs of cultivation. A few miles from the pools we passed a fountain, near which were the remains of a large building. On a hill rose a conspicuous structure, which, but for its lonely and elevated position, might have been taken for a mosque, or a church. It may be the remains of one of those massive towers of defence, or border-forts, with which some of these hills were of old crowned.
Our day's journey lay through the heart of the scenery of David's Psalms. With the sole exception of Hebron, however, destruction has fallen on all the edifices raised by man, from “ the tower of the watchman” to "the fenced city.” These towers, and those on a greater scale built as " towers of defence,” or “ houses of defence," on the tops of Judah's rocky heights,-those craggy hills themselves, with their caves and hiding-places, -furnished the sweet singer with many a similitude. And David's comparisons were all the more apposite and forcible, because, when he wrote many of his psalms in the wilderness of Judah, he was sorely pressed by his foes, and had much need of the literal defences afforded by the towers, and rocks, and caves. So, too, while admiring the aptness of his metaphor, and the vigour of his expression, we see the power and earnestness of his trust in the Lord. No man had more experience of the value of these defences, no man had more need of their protection, than had the royal psalmist, when he was driven about by Saul, and also after he had mounted the throne. “Be Thou my strong rock, for a house of defence to save me : for Thou art my rock and my fortress.” “Hear my cry, O God ; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed : lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy."
“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer ; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." “Be Thou my strong habitation, whereanto I may continually resort.” “ Thou art my hiding-place; Thou shalt preserve me from trouble ; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance." “ He only is my rock and ny salvation ; He is my defence ; I shall not be greatly moved.” “ The rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” And then, after giving in this last verse his own experience of God's dealings with him, he gives his counsel to the world at large for all time to
“Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us.” Many a time, when David poured forth his soul in these magnificent strains, so rich in the glowing imagery of oriental verse, he was weary of his life, from the ceaseless persecution of his foes, or oppressed by the sense of sin ; and it was against the assaults of spiritual enemies, as well as earthly ones, that God was his rock and his tower of defence. His prosperous son, who had known none of these troubles, perils, or anxieties, and whose peaceful hands, unstained with blood, were permitted to build the glorious temple of the Most High, wrote in like strain : “ The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”
As we drew nearer to Hebron, the country assumed a better appearance. We passed a great many bushes, not higher than a common hedge-fence, on which large crops of fine acorns were growing. They are called dwarf oaks, though they can hardly be said to be trees at all, in the common acceptation of the term. The road was very stony for a long distance. On either side the land was cultivated; there were more trees visible; and, as we camé still nearer to the town, the ground was for the most part divided off into plots, or small enclosures, which gave considerable variety, as well as improvement, to the scenery. This plain, which has a gentle fall towards Hebron, is evidently fertile, and would appear to much greater advantage when seen at a favourable season of the year, with the corn ripening, and the fruit-trees adorned with their produce. A slight descent brought us into the town, as the shades of evening were setting in, abost seven hours from the time we left Jerusalem. From the Pools of Solomon this place is distant about three hours. My accommodation for the night was in the house of a Jew. As there are no public lamps here to light op the streets, and as I arrived when daylight was fast disappearing, there was no inducement to venture forth into the town before the following morning. The way to my temporary abode was through a long, nartor, and by no means straight passage. During the evening I looked into one of the synagogues, which was in an obscure situation, hidden in & nartu alley or passage. It was lighted up at the time; and there were a few Jews in attendance. The Jewish quarter lies to the right as yeu enter the town. I had an upper room ” for my apartment, looking toward the valley of Eshcol. It was beautifully moonlight during the night.
The Sephardim Jews of Hebron are described by Dr. Wilson as a poet