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speak and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice, Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen” (Deut. 27. 11-26).
The scene of Elijah's contest.-At the northern end of the range is a mountain ridge called Mount Carmel, “the garden” or “vineyard of God,” noted in Bible times for its harvests. It was an abode of hermits and an asylum for fugitives. Amos says, “Though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence” (Amos 9. 3). It was a sanctuary from earliest times, and it was here that Elijah had his celebrated contest with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). Just north of this ridge is the fertile plain of Esdraelon, which, with the valley of Jezreel, divides Palestine and makes a broad pathway from the coast to the Jordan Valley.
The Roman generals Pompey, Mark Antony, and Titus, the latter the conqueror of Jerusalem, pitched their camps on this "war-path of the empires.” The last great campaign of the Crusades, in which the Christian strongholds were captured by the Saracens under Saladin, was fought here, where, six centuries later, Napoleon Bonaparte won a costly victory over the Turks. The last great battle fought on the plain of Esdraelon (Megiddo, or Armageddon) was during the World War, when General Allenby broke the power of the Turk in the land where Christ dwelt when on earth. (Read A Pilgrim in Palestine, John Finley, Chapters II and XI.)
Sacred waters.—This region on account of its dry climate has but few bodies of water within its borders. These few, however, are the most sacred waters on earth to millions of people. The Jordan and “blue Galilee” have been celebrated in song and story for centuries. All of us have studied about events that occurred on the banks of the Jabbok, Cherith, Kedron, and Kishon.
Viscount Brice says: "Religion, history, and nature conspire to make the Jordan the most famous river of the earth. Across it the hosts of Israel were led into the promised land; in its waters, the Christian rite of baptism had its birth; up and down its valley many civilizations in the morning of history rose and fell. Perhaps the strangest thing about this famous river is that none of the ancients ever guessed that its mouth
was below the level of the sea. It was not until 1874 that accurate measurements were made and the mouth of the river was found to be 1,292 feet below the Mediterranean, less than 60 miles away.”
Sources of the Jordan.—The River Jordan, “that which goes down," has three sources. The most northerly one is on
Mount Hermon. The largest stream flows from a great spring at a mound, “hill of the Judge,” which was probably the site of the ancient city of Dan (Judge). This was the northern boundary of the land of the children of Israel, who described the length of their country with the phrase "from Dan to Beersheba.” The source of the river recognized by the Jews, however, is at Banais, in a cavern surrounded by groves which were sanctuaries for nature worship. The earliest inhabitants wor
. shiped there and the Greeks planted groves for Pan, from which the town Panais (or Banais, as the people there call it, since they cannot sound the letter “p”) was named.
The Jews seldom speak of the stream as a river, but simply call it "Jordan.” The Jordan presents many picturesque views with its background of mountains, fringes of woods, and many rapids and waterfalls. It is not navigable. The stream deserves its name, as it goes down" three thousand feet in its entire length of two hundred and fifty miles.
Some historic brooks. There is little water in the streams of Palestine except during the rainy season. The entire land is drained by the Jordan and a few small tributaries. Among the more noted brooks flowing into the Jordan from the east are the Jarmuk, which waters the land of Og (Num. 21. 33); the Farah, or "waters of Enon," where John the Baptist was baptizing, “because there was much water there" (John 3. 23); the Jabbok, the brook by which Jacob wrestled with the angel (Gen. 32. 22-24).
Some of the streams flowing westward from the highlands to the Jordan are the brook Cherith, now Wady Kelt, near Jericho, where Elijah hid from the wrath of King Ahab (1 Kings 17. 3). Another is the Kedron, on whose banks Christ often went to rest (John 18. 1). A third is the Kishon, which in flood time was treacherous. It was this brook of which Deborah and Barak sang in their famous song, "The stars in their courses fought against Sisera. The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon" (Judg. 5. 20, 21).
The Dead Sea.--The three lakes of Palestine are Huleh, the sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea. Huleh is the waters of Merom” of the Old Testament, the place where Joshua led the children of Israel to victory when they were conquering Canaan (Josh. II. 5-9). It is a triangular sheet of water three miles across. South of it lies Lake Galilee, or ancient Chinnereth, a sheet of blue water fourteen miles long.
The Dead Sea, that strange body of water which is the mouth of the Jordan, lies in the southern part of a great rift in the mountains far below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. This body of water, nearly fifty miles in length, would be of great use to man if it were fresh, but it has no outlet and is eight times as salt as the ocean. No fish can live in it except at the mouth of the rivers and no animals can drink its waters. The swimmer will not sink in the Dead Sea, but will be covered with a thin, oily coating of salt; and if he happens to get water in his eyes, they will smart badly. The rocks, old tree trunks, and all objects on the shore are white from the salty spray, so the scene is a desolate one. 1. On an outline map of the Holy Land locate the highlands,
waterways, and all other places mentioned in this chapter. 2. If possible, have volunteers make a clay map of Palestine and
keep it until the study of the country is finished. Place pegs
or pins in it each day to locate the places studied. 3. Give the size and latitude and longitude of Palestine and its
distance and direction from your home. 4. Name and locate its chief ports. Why have they no good
harbors? 5. With what body of water in the United States can you compare
the Dead Sea? Why? 6. Read Mrs. Alexander's poem, “The Burial of Moses."
PALESTINE-GALILEE AND SAMARIA
That part of the Holy Land which lies west of the Jordan was for centuries divided into three provinces, namely, Galilee, Samaria, and Judæa. We shall start in Galilee and go southward through Samaria, leaving Judæa for our next lesson.
THE GREAT NORTHERN HIGHWAY
Galilee was the center for Greco-Roman civilization in New Testament times and was for that reason despised by the southern Jews. They called it “Galilee of the Gentiles," from "Galiel," which means "ring" or province, and the name was later changed to Galilee. Galilee was no shut-in mountain country like Judæa. It was the crossroads of the nations as they passed from the fertile valleys of the Nile to Mesopotamia, or from Greece and Rome eastward into Assyria or Babylonia. Far and wide it was famed for its wealthy cities and European culture.
A region of hills and valleys.-Upper Galilee is the most picturesque and healthful part of Palestine. It is a region of highlands, but is more fertile than Judæa. The highlands have growths of underbrush with occasional forests of small trees. The middle slopes furnish good pastures, while the valleys are covered with vineyards, fields of wheat, and orchards of olives. This region has a fine climate, and in ancient times no part of it lay idle.
Lower Galilee is an area of gentle hills and fertile valleys, where agriculture is the chief industry. This was a busy, populous agricultural region in the time of Christ. In those days great caravans passed through it, so every village on or near the route became a stopping place. Galilee to-day is full of