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light descends and diffuses itself in the valley, at the same time awakening the laggard clouds and sending them up whence they came. Peasants are met, now singly, now in twos, now in groups, with loaded mule or camel, on their way to the markets of the Phenician capital; others are seen coming out from their humble dwellings, or humbler tents, it may be, to begin the labor of the day. It is a region full of beauty. Now the sun is well up, and the most striking features of northern Syria begin to be revealed. Hills of considerable height abound, and remind one of the lower ridges of the Apennines, or of the New England Appalachians. Some are bare and rocky, but the majority are clothed with verdure. Far above the narrow road are the terraced vineyards, with the dwellings of the inhabitants scattered among them, the dwelling and the watchtower all in one. Wherever the prospect opens and the hills
Now the second climb begins. The outlooks from the narrow way are wonderfully impressive. One seems to be traveling in the center of the world. For there, far below, and each hour growing farther, lies spread all the world the eye can see, while upward the stupendous masses of what seem to be parts of another world pierce the clouds and invite the pilgrim on. As the higher points are gained, the expanses below widen and the glory of the scene increases. On the west is the sea, whose breakers carry the warm breath of the Orient to the shores of Europe; on the east is the wonderful desert, whose golden carpet stretches to the Persian Gulf.
The land westward, over which we have traveled, looks like a miniature landscape. The squatty woods, the glistening
streams, the steep inclines, the dots of villages, the feeble shouts of the fellahin, even the thunder as it rumbles among the clouds far belowall strike one as in
draw back, groups of homes are seen set closely together. As in southern Italy, so here the vines are often trailed from tree to tree, and from shrub to shrub, and so rich and red is their fruitage that they seem to be dripping with blood. If the vintage is in progress, the wild and merry songs of the laborers will be heard right and left, only silenced for a moment as you are greeted with their hearty "Salaam ahlaykoom!" ("Peace go with you!") and a free and abundant gift of the fruit is pressed upon you.
significant in comparison with the noble surrounding peaks.
Now we turn to the east. Away across a deep valley is another range of mountains, snow covered, stream scarred, broken by chasms and ravines through its great length. This is the Anti-Lebanon,- Mount Hermon its crown,- and runs almost parallel with the range of Lebanon itself. These two stupendous ranges have been pushed up from the earth-crust to an altitude, in some places, of thirteen thousand feet. The great depression between them is Cole-Syria, or "HollowSyria." Through it run the two great rivers of Syria: the Orontes flowing north and entering the Mediterranean at Antioch; and the Leontes, crossed on our way, and ending near Tyre.
The plain is nine miles wide, and for centu
ries has been the track of invading armies. Nearly every foot has been fought over by Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Greeks, Moslems, and Crusaders.
When the atmosphere is free from haze, one can see an incredible distance north and south
bec to Beyrout. When the plain is reached, the scenes of the western slope are repeated. The journey across is a delightful one. The whole way seems to be cultivated, and at places thick groves of poplar and walnut are seen. Villages are conspicuous on all sides;
almost from "Dan to Beersheba." Northward, the Leontes may be traced almost to Baalbec. South-eastward, the country of Bashan lies outspread with a surface undulating as gently as the waves of the summer seaGilead, dotted with its dark-green groves of oaks, rounded and inclined to suit the humor of its rising and falling expanses; the first swell of the Jordan at Lake Hûleh, the "waters of Merom"; the second widening of the sacred river-the Sea of Galilee - and the twisting of the connecting torrent-broken stream, with miles of country beyond, are in full view. If your geography serves you, there is no trouble in locating Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, in Samaria; Mount Tabor, at the head of the plain of Esdraelon; Mount Gilboa, far to the south; and Mount Carmel, by the Mediterranean.
The eastern incline of the Lebanon range is not so attractive as the side towards the sea, and traveling there is fatiguing. In some places the path is so narrow and runs so near the verge of frightful precipices, that one shudders every time his carefully-stepping animal grazes its side against the walls of rock. The views are magnificent. Here and there, on the left, bright golden lines are seen, strangely smooth in contrast with the rugged scenery. They are parts of the diligence road running from Baal
THE FOUNTAIN OF DAN.
the husbandmen are busy, and flocks of sheep and cattle are plenty.
There are khans, or inns, by the wayside. These the caravan merchant considers very desirable; but they have only an æsthetic attraction to the European or the American, and are without any comforts.
When the shades of evening come on, crowds of travelers, with their camels, asses, and other beasts of burden, throng the gateways of the khan. There is always a storm of bickering going on between the keeper of the khan and his patrons, or among the attachés of the caravan - merchants and servants. The khan is usually built around a court-yard, with sheds or booths for the animals occupying the ground floor, while the travelers may take what chance there is for sleep on the more elevated platforms.
Our route brings our crossing of the Leontes at the natural bridge, near the town of Belat. The bridge seems to be formed of immense
NATURAL BRIDGE OVER THE LEONTES.
rocks which have fallen from the sides of the chasm. It supplies a safe and easy passage across the stream, which here is very narrow and is broken up by tumbling cascades, but it is so hidden by the foliage that one uninformed as to its location would scarcely discover it. The length of the bridge is perhaps less than 100 feet. The width is barely ten feet, but its height above the stream is fully 100 feet. One's admiration for it increases when, after a difficult and dangerous descent, it is viewed from the level of the stream. The walls of the chasm are 400 to 500 feet high. In season, the oleanders reach out from their rocky hold and offer their pink flowers to any one who will be tempted to risk his life to obtain them. The view up the gorge towards Baalbec is grand and impress
ive. When standing upon any spur of Lebanon, one would hardly believe that what there appeared to be only a green, velvety line, like a length of soft chenille on edge, could in reality be such a deep-cut scar in the lovely valley, with a tumultuous, deafening warfare of waters going on between its walls.
A return to the caravan route brings the AntiLebanon range into full view. A few miles directly eastward is the Hasbany, the northernmost tributary of the Jordan, and Mount Hermon is in full view, its snowy range half hidden by the clouds. The river is but a passive stream, in comparison with the uneasy Leontes, and there is but little of interest attending it until, as we journey southward, the bridge over which we cross on the way to Cæsarea Philippi is reached. There quite a deep gorge has been cut by the Hasbany, for the descent is considerable and the water is turbulent. The bridge is one of the largest and strongest in the land, and yet it shows plainly that it has had some fierce struggles with the torrents which come down from Mount Hermon in the spring of the year; for its walls are broken, and many a stone has been carried away from the strong masonry of the parapet. The sides of the river are lined with oleanders, reeds, rushes, and wild flowers of infinite variety. The scenery hereabouts is as lovely as that of the St. Gothard Pass; but all thoughts of Switzerland are dissipated when
one sees an Arab caravan, with its fifty awkward camels laden with merchandise and as many dark-skinned attendants with their noisy bluster and pompous demeanor, crossing the bridge, on its way to Cæsarea Philippi. The music of the stream sounds all the sweeter when the caravan is lost in silence.
After crossing the bridge, we change our course to the right for a mile, and come upon the Fountain of Dan, which is the largest spring in Syria, if not in the world, and one of the loveliest spots in Palestine. Here is another source of the Jordan nestled among the wild flowers. Its waters once supplied the ancient city after which it is named. It also marks the northern border of Palestine. To possess its cool waters, more than one fierce combat has taken place. Here Lot was brought a prisoner from Sodom by the five kings of Mesopotamia, and hither came Abram to rescue him. The growth of flowers is charming. It includes our own red poppy, the daisy, white. and yellow roses, the thistle, the blue flag, and the "lily of the field." A few rods down the stream is a grove of oak trees of immense girth. These shade the grave of an Arab sheik, and are hung with rags the offerings of pilgrims. Upon a portion of the hill once stood the city of Dan. A search amidst the neighboring jungle of grasses, shrubs, and scrubs will reward the explorer with a sight of the broken-down walls of the old-time town and disclose some of the débris of its once splendid structures. Mount Hermon's snowy range is in full view, in strange contrast with the surrounding loveliness of the well-cultivated farms of Bashan which form the plain. From this plain rises the hill of Dan.
Bursting forth from the rocks, the water tumbles down the hill and then forms the "fountain," or lake. From this it hurries on southward, and is known as the Leddân until, four miles below, it joins a stream coming from Banias, which we are yet to visit. A mile farther on, these two are joined by the Hasbany, the largest of the three Jordan tributaries; then, together, they plunge through the
marshes and "waters of Merom" to Lake Hûleh. Thus the upper Jordan is created.
Four miles from Dan is Cæsarea Philippi. After the oaks of Bashan are left, the path winds towards the north-east. As we approach the city, the varying landscape presents some lovely views. A broad terrace is now seen, cut in the side of the mountain by some strange forces of Nature. Upon its rocky floor is located Banias,-the Paneas of old,- the Cæsarea Philippi of our Saviour's day, and the northernmost limit of his wanderings. The terrace is bounded by two deep, uninviting ravines, one on the north and the other on the
BRIDGE OVER THE HASBANY.
south. Between these, and beyond the city, rises an isolated peak a thousand feet high, crowned by the magnificent ruins of the castle of Subeibeh. By whom this wondrous pile was erected, no one can tell. It is attributed to the Crusaders, but there is evidence that the Phenicians erected at least a part. From the yawning, fractured mouth of a cave which covers a fathomless pit the waters gush with tremendous power and roar down the ravine through a portion of the city, supplying a magnificent, but almost unused, mill-power.
Cæsarea Philippi does not profit, however, by its superb site. Like nearly all the towns of Palestine, its houses are rude and out of repair; its people are shiftless and idle; and its bazars are scarcely worth a visit. Nature supplies the bric-à-brac; she also supplies the centipedes and scorpions which infest the houses in the wet season and cause the poor, suffering inhabitants to exercise sufficient industry to erect booths of tree branches upon their flat roofs, in which they may sleep until the plague ceases. The past holds the principal points of interest concerning Cæsarea Philippi. When the Phenicians were there, they established the idolatrous worship of Baal, and enjoyed their splendid possessions until Joshua drove them out. Then it was Baal-gad. When the Greeks came, the shrine of Pan, the god of the shepherd and of the huntsman, was located here. This gave it the name of Paneas. It is now called Banias by the Arab inhabitants.
In the course of time this region became part of the possessions of " Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis," son of Herod the Great, who rebuilt the city, enlarged it, and named it Cæsarea, in order to gain the favor of his emperor, Tiberius Cæsar. That it might not thus become confused with Cæsarea on the Mediterranean, he added his own name and called it Cæsarea Philippi.
All that now remains of the past are the ruins of the old citadel, and the shrines which, similar to those at Petra, are cut in the face of the rock.
At the base of a cliff, over one hundred feet high, is a cave as dark as the worship to which it was devoted. Near its mouth are many fragments of the splendid edifices which must have been erected near by, and doubtless some of the broken columns which adorned the cave itself, for it was the temple of Pan-so a Greek inscription on the
face of the cliff informs us. No wilder place could have been chosen for the worship of a pagan god. A pretty fluted roof with an arched canopy adds to the interest of one of the shrines, while several tablets with defaced inscriptions are found in another. The whole neighborhood has a wild, uncanny appearance. To the left is the tomb of the Moslem Saint George. The little white structure covers also a fragment of the white marble temple which, Josephus tells us, Herod the Great erected to the memory of Augustus.
Last of all is the momentous incident of the visit of our Lord to Cæsarea Philippi. "And after six days Jesus . . . bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them."
Authorities disagree as to the locality of this "high mountain apart." No record is given of the employment of the "six days." If they were filled with acts of mercy at Cæsarea Philippi, then undoubtedly the Transfiguration took place on one of the peaks of Mount Hermon. If the six days were occupied in crossing over to Galilee, a journey