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We had this time no guard, and no attendants save our muleteers and a guide. We made at first a slight detour, in order to pass by Beit Jâla, a christian village half an hour N. W. of Bethlehem; and then continued S. W. across the mountains to the direct ancient road from Jerusalem to Eleutheropolis and Gaza, through a region as yet unvisited by modern travellers. At a distance on our right was the deep valley of Turpentine, or, as it is here called by the Arabs, Wady Sŭrâr, which runs in a S. W. direction until it opens out into the great plain between the mountains and the Mediterranean. On our left was another similar valley, Wady Sumt. The whole region is full of ruined sites, and ruined villages, some deserted, and some partially inhabited. On our right, beyond Wady Surâr, we could see the hill and ruined village Soba, which it has pleased the monks to assume as the ancient Modin, the burial-place of the Maccabees, against the express testimony of Eusebius and Jerome. We came at night to Beit Nettîf, a large village on a high part of the ridge between the two vallies above mentioned.
The next day was devoted to a visit to Beit Jibrin, the ancient Betogabris of Greek and Roman writers, of which and its fortress we heard much from the Arabs; and to a search for the site of the ancient Eleutheropolis. From the elevated spot where we lodged, the Shekh of the village pointed out to us several places celebrated as the scenes of Samson's exploits and history, still bearing names in Arabic corresponding to their ancient Hebrew appellations. Such were Zorah, Timnath, Socho, and others. Four places were also pointed out, respecting which Eusebius and Jerome have specified their distances from Eleutheropolis, viz., Zorah and Bethshemesh towards Nicopolis, and Jarmuk and Socho on the way to Jerusalem. Following out the specified distances along the ancient road, we came directly upon Beit Jibrin, which lies among hills between the mountains and the plain. Here are the remains of a large Roman fortress of immense strength; which was built up again in the time of the crusades. Around it are the traces of an extensive city.
We had received the impression, that we must look for Eleutheropolis further West upon the plain; and accordingly turned our course that way to Safîyeh, a conspicuous village lying on an isolated hill. Here however we found no trace of any ancient site. We then proceeded to Gaza; whence after two days we returned by another route, searching diligently for the sites of ancient Lachish, Gath, and other cities; but finding none exSECOND SERIES, VOL. I. NO. II. 54
cept Eglon, on a mound strewed with stones, still called Ajlân. Again arrived at Beit Jibrin, we visited several very singular excavated caverns in the vicinity.-Eusebius and Jerome mention also Jedna and Nazib as being distant from Eleutheropolis, one six, and the other seven miles, on the way to Hebron. These names still exist; and taking the Hebron route, we found Jedna to be just six miles distant from Beit Jibrin. Nazib lies yet a little further, on another parallel road. This circumstance seems to decide the identity of Beit Jibrin with Eleutheropolis. The former was the ancient name; the latter was imposed by the Romans, and has been since forgotten. It is also remarkable, that those ancient writers who speak of Eleutheropolis, do not mention Betogabris; while those who speak of the latter, are silent as to the former.-Rejoicing in this result, we pursued our way to Hebron; and after a steep and toilsome ascent on a ridge between two deep vallies, we rested for a time at Taffuh, the Beth Tappuah of Judah, and arrived at Hebron in about six hours from Beit Jibrin. Here dismissing our muleteers, we engaged camels for Wady Mousa from the Shekh of the Jehâlin, a Bedawi tribe inhabiting the territory S. E. of Hebron.
We had long before formed the plan to proceed to Wady Mousa by way of the south end of the Dead Sea, and so southwards along Wady Araba, in the hope of being able to decide the pending question, whether the Jordan could ever have flowed through this valley to the Gulf of Akabah. Here too we had hoped again to have been the first; but were anticipated by the French Count Berthou, who preceded us by three or four weeks, and whom we had seen at Jerusalem after his return. After being detained two days at Hebron, we set off May 26th; and passing by Carmel and Maon, and then across a rolling desert in a S. E. direction, we came towards the close of the second day's journey to the brow of the steep descent leading down to the Dead Sea. This descent is in all not less than 1500 feet; but here and far to the South it is divided into two offsets of nearly equal height. Between these lies a terrace nearly three hours broad, the surface of which is covered with low ridges and conical hills of soft, chalky limestone, verging into marl. At the foot of the second descent is a small deserted Turkish fort, in the narrow Wady Zuweirah, (not Zoar,) which leads out to the sea in about half an hour. We reached the shore not far from the North end of Usdum, a low, long moun
tain ridge, running here from N. N. W. to S. S. E. and giving the same direction to the shore of the sea. This ridge, Usdum, is in general not far from 150 feet high, and continues in this direction for two hours to the extremity of the sea, where it tends to the S. S. W. for an hour more, and then terminates. The striking peculiarity of this mountain is, that the whole body. of it is a mass of rock salt; covered over indeed with layers of soft limestone and marl, or the like; through which the salt often breaks out, and appears on the sides in precipices, forty to fifty feet high, and several hundred feet long. Often also it is broken off in both large and small pieces, which are strewed like stones along the shore or fallen down as debris.
The South end of the sea is very shallow; and the shore continues quite flat for some distance further South; so that there are traces of its being overflowed by the sea for two or three miles South of the water-line, as we saw it. The western side of this southern valley or Ghor, is wholly naked of vegetation; but on the eastern side, where streams come down from the eastern mountains, there is a luxuriant vegetation and some tillage. We continued on the western side, along the base of Usdum; crossing several purling rills of transparent water flowing from the mountain towards the sea, but salt as the saltest brine. Before us, as we advanced southwards, appeared a line of cliffs, fifty to one hundred and fifty feet in height, stretching across the whole broad valley, and apparently barring all further progress. We approached the western end of these cliffs in two and a half hours from the South end of the sea. They proved to be of marl; and run off from this point in a general course S. S. E. across the valley. All along their base are fountains of brackish water oozing out and forming a tract of marshy land towards the North. Our route now lay along the base of the cliffs; and after resting for a time at a fine, gushing fountain, we came in two hours to the mouth of Wady Jib, a deep valley coming down from the South through the cliffs; and showing the latter to be only an offset between the lower plain which we had just crossed, and the higher level of the same great valley further South. The name El Ghor is applied to the valley between the Dead Sea and this offset; further South the whole of the broad valley takes the name El Araba, quite to Akabah. These apparent cliffs I take to be the Akrabbim of Scripture. The Wady Jib begins far to the South of Mount Hor, beyond Wady Ghurundel, and flows down in a
winding course through the midst of El Araba, draining off all its waters northwards to the Dead Sea. Where we entered Wady Jib at its northern end, it is half a mile broad, with precipitous banks of chalky earth or marl, 100 to 150 feet high, and exhibiting traces of an immense volume of water flowing northwards. It may be recollected, that the waters of Wady Jerâfeh in the western desert, which drains the S. E. part of that desert far to the southward of Akabab, also flow northwards into El Araba, and so of course through Wady Jib. Hence, instead of the Jordan flowing southwards to the Gulf of Akabah, we find the waters of the desert further South than Akabah flowing northwards into the Dead Sea. The very nature of the country shows, without measurement, that the surface of the Dead Sea must be lower than that of the Red Sea or the Mediterranean.
We continued our course up the Wady Jib for several hours; its banks becoming gradually lower, and at length permitting us to emerge from it. We were now not far from the eastern mountains, nearly opposite the broad Wady Ghuweir; while before us was Mount Hor, rising like a cone irregularly truncated. We turned into these mountains at some distance North of Mt. Hor, in order to approach Wady Mousa from the East, through its celebrated ancient entrance. A long and steep ascent, the pass of Nemella, brought us out upon the plateaus of the porphyry formation; above which are still the hills of sandstone among which Petra was situated. The entrance to this ancient city, through the long narrow chasm or cleft in the sandstone rock, is truly magnificent; and not less splendid and surprisingly beautiful, is the view of the Khuzna or temple hewn in the opposite rock, as the traveller emerges from the western extremity of the passage. Then follow long ranges of tombs hewn in the rocky sides of the valley, with ornamental façades in a style of striking, though florid architecture. What we sought in Wady Mousa, was more the general impression of the whole; since the details have been correctly given by the pencil of Laborde. We examined particularly, whether any of these excavations were perhaps intended as dwellings for the living; but could see no marks of such design,-nothing but habitations of the dead, or temples of the gods. There was indeed no need of their being thus used; for the numerous foundations of dwellings, show that a large city of houses built of stone once stood in the valley.
We had nearly completed our observations, and were preparing soon to set off on our return by way of Mt. Hor, when the old Shekh of Wady Mousa, Abu Zeitûn, who caused so much difficulty to Mr. Bankes and his party in 1817, came down upon us with thirty armed men, demanding a tribute of a thousand piastres for the privilege of visiting his territory. We declined payment, of course; but after long and repeated altercation it came to this result, that unless we paid this full sum, he would not suffer us to visit Mt. Hor. We attempted nevertheless to set off in this direction; our own Shekh leading the forward camel; but the hostile party closed around, and swords were drawn and brandished; which however among these Arabs means nothing more than to make a flourish. As it was in vain for us to use force against so large a party, we decided to set off on our return by the way we came. This took the old man by surprise, and thwarted his plans. Messengers soon followed us, saying we might return for the half; and at last, for nothing. We replied that he had driven us from Wady Mousa, and we should not return; but should report his conduct at Cairo. The old man then came himself, to get our good will, as he said, which was worth more to him than money. We thought it better to keep on our way; and suffered no further interruption. It was probably the fear of the Pasha of Egypt alone, that withheld these miscreants from plundering us outright; and we afterwards received compliments from the Arabs in and around Hebron, for the boldness and address with which we had extricated ourselves from the old Shekh's power.
Descending the pass of Nemella, we struck across El Araba in a W. N. W. direction, travelling for a great part of the night. In the morning we reached Wady Jib, here quite on the western side of El Araba; and stopped for a time at the fountain El-Weibi. Other fountains occur at intervals along the valley at the foot of the western hills, both North and South of ElWeibi. From here a path strikes up the western mountain in the direction of Hebron, which is used by the Southern Arabs. Our guides took a more northern road, leading up a very steep pass called Sufah, over a broad surface of shelving rock extending nearly from the bottom to the top, an elevation of 1000 or 1200 feet. This is probably the hill Zephath, afterwards Hormah, where the Israelites attempted to enter Palestine, and where they were attacked by the king Arad; Num. 14: 40 sq. 21: 1 sq. comp. Judg. 1: 17. Some miles N. N. W. of