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CHAP. 15. (14.)—JUDÆA.

Beyond Idumæa and Samaria, Judæa extends far and wide. That part of it which joins up to Syria1 is called Galilæa, while that which is nearest to Arabia and Egypt bears the name of Peræa2. This last is thickly covered with rugged mountains, and is separated from the rest of Judæa by the river Jordanes. The remaining part of Judæa is divided into ten Toparchies, which we will mention in the following order:—That of Hiericus3, covered with groves of palm-trees, and watered by numerous springs, and those of Emmaüs4, Lydda5, Joppe, Acrabatena6, Gophna7, Thamna8, Bethleptephene9, Orina10, in which formerly stood Hierosolyma11, by far the most famous city, not of Judæa only, but of the East, and Herodium12, with a celebrated town of the same name.

(15.) The river Jordanes13 rises from the spring of Panias14, which has given its surname to Cæsarea, of which we shall have occasion to speak15. This is a delightful stream, and, so far as the situation of the localities will allow of, winds along16 in its course and lingers among the dwellers upon its banks. With the greatest reluctance, as it were, it moves onward towards Asphaltites17, a lake of a gloomy and unpropitious nature, by which it is at last swallowed up, and its be praised waters are lost sight of on being mingled with the pestilential streams of the lake. For this reason it is that, as soon as ever the valleys through which it runs afford it the opportunity, it discharges itself into a lake, by many writers known as Genesara18, sixteen miles in length and six wide; which is skirted by the pleasant towns of Julias19 and Hippo20 on the east, of Tarichea21 on the south (a name which is by many persons given to the lake itself), and of Tiberias22 on the west, the hot springs23 of which are so conducive to the restoration of health.

(16.) Asphaltites24 produces nothing whatever except bitu- men, to which indeed it owes its name. The bodies of animals will not sink25 in its waters, and even those of bulls and camels float there. In length it exceeds 100 miles being at its greatest breadth twenty-five, and at its smallest six. Arabia of the Nomades26 faces it on the east, and Machærus on the south27, at one time, next to Hierosolyma, the most strongly fortified place in Judæa. On the same side lies Callirrhoë28, a warm spring, remarkable for its medicinal qualities, and which, by its name, indicates the celebrity its waters have gained.

(17.) Lying on the west of Asphaltites, and sufficiently distant to escape its noxious exhalations, are the Esseni29, a people that live apart from the world, and marvellous beyond all others throughout the whole earth, for they have no women among them; to sexual desire they are strangers; money they have none; the palm-trees are their only companions. Day after day, however, their numbers are fully recruited by multitudes of strangers that resort to them, driven thither to adopt their usages by the tempests of fortune, and wearied with the miseries of life. Thus it is, that through thousands of ages, incredible to relate, this people eternally prolongs its existence, without a single birth taking place there; so fruitful a source of population to it is that weariness of life which is felt by others. Below this people was formerly the town of Engadda30, second only to Hierosolyma in the fertility of its soil and its groves of palm-trees; now, like it, it is another heap of ashes. Next to it we come to Masada31, a fortress on a rock, not far from Lake Asphaltites. Thus much concerning Judæa.

1 Antiochian Syria.

2 Peræa was the general name of that part of Palæstina which lay east of the river Jordan; but more usually, in a restricted sense, it signified a part only of that region, namely the district between the rivers Hieromax on the north, and Arnon on the south.

3 Jericho, so often mentioned in Scripture. It was celebrated for its palm-grove, which was presented by Antony to Cleopatra. A Bedouin encampment called Riha is all that now occupies its site.

4 A city eight or ten miles from the village Emmaüs of the New Testament. It was called Nicopolis, in commemoration, it has been suggested, of the destruction of Jerusalem. Its site is still marked by a village called Ammious, on the road from Jerusalem to Jaffa.

5 So often mentioned in the New Testament. This town lay to the S.E. of Joppa, and N.W. of Jerusalem, at the junction of several roads which lead from the sea-coast. It was destroyed by the Romans in the Jewish war, but was soon after rebuilt, and called Diospolis. A village called Lud occupies its site.

6 So called from Acrabbim, its chief town, situate nine miles from Nicopolis. The toparchy of Acrabbim, which formerly formed part of Samaria, was the most northerly of those of Judæa.

7 Situate in the country of Benjamin. Josephus reckons it second in importance only to Jerusalem, from which, according to Eusebius, it was distant fifteen miles, on the road to the modern Nablous. That author also identifies it with the Eshcol of Scripture. Its site is marked by a small Christian village, called by the natives Jufia.

8 Like the two preceding ones, this toparchy for a long time belonged to Samaria. Thamna, or Thamnis, was the Timnath-Serah in Mount Ephraim, mentioned in Joshua xix. 50, and xxiv. 30, as the place where Joshua was buried.

9 The toparchy of Bethleptepha of other authors. It appears to have been situate in the south of Judæa, and in that part which is by Josephus commonly called Idumæa. Reland has remarked, that the name resembles Beth-lebaoth, a city of the tribe of Simeon, mentioned in Joshua xix. 6.

10 From the Greek, meaning the "mountain district," or the "hill country," as mentioned in Luke i. 39.

11 Or "Sacred Solyma."

12 A fortress of Palæstina, erected by Herod the Great, at a distance of about sixty stadia from Jerusalem, and not far from Tekoa. Its site has been identified by modern travellers with El-Furedis, or the Paradise; probably the same as the spot called the "Frank Mountain," on the top of which the ruined walls of the fortress are still to be seen.

13 Called by the Arabs Bahr-el-Arden.

14 Situate on Mount Panias, or Paneas, on the range of Anti-Libanus.

15 In C 16 of the present Book.

16 On the contrary, as Parisot observes, the Jordan runs in a straight line almost into the Dead Sea.

17 The Lake of Sodom, or the Dead Sea, in which the Cities of the Plain were swallowed up.

18 In Scripture also called the Lake Tiberias, and the Sea of Gennesareth, or Chinnereth. It is now called the Sea of Tabariah, or Tabarieh.

19 The one of the two Bethsaidas, which was situate on the north of the Sea of Tiberias. It was enlarged by Philip the Tetrarch, who greatly beautified it, and changed its name to Julias, in honour of the daughter of Augustus, the wife of Tiberius. It is generally supposed by the learned world, that this was not the Bethsaida mentioned so often in the New Testament. Its ruins are probably those now seen on a hill called Et-Tell, on the north-western extremity of the lake.

20 On the east of the lake. From it the district of Hippene took its name.

21 Its ruins are to be seen at El-Kereh, on the south side of the lake. It was strongly fortified, and made a vigorous resistance against the Romans in the Jewish War. It received its name from the great quantities of fish which were salted there, τάριχοι.

22 Now Tabariah, or Tabarieh, a miserable village. It was built by Herod Antipas, in honour of the Emperor Tiberius. After the destruction of Jerusalem, it became the seat of the Jewish Sanhedrim.

23 These hot springs are by Josephus called Emmaüs, probably a form of the Hebrew name Hammath. Dr. Robinson, in his Biblical Researches, identifies this with the town of Hammath, of the tribe of Naphthali, mentioned in Joshua xix. 35.

24 From the Greek ἄσφαλτος.

25 This is an exaggeration, though it is the fact that many heavy substances, which in ordinary water would sink immediately, will float on the surface of this lake. It has been suggested, that the story here mentioned arose from the circumstance of the name of 'bulls,' or 'cows,' having been applied by the ancient Nabatæi to the large masses of asphaltum which floated on its surface.

26 The country of the Arabian Scenitæ, or "tent people."

27 It lay on the east of the Dead Sea, and not the south, as here mentioned by Pliny, being a border fortress in the south of Peræa, and on the confines of the Nabatæi. There was a tradition that it was at this place that John the Baptist was beheaded. The city now bears the name of Mascra.

28 A Greek name, signifying the "Fine Stream." These were warm springs, situate on the eastern side of Jordan, to which Herod the Great resorted during his last illness, by the advice of his physicians. The valley of Callirhoë was visited by Captains Irby and Mangles in 1818, and an interesting account of it is to be found in their 'Travels,' pp. 467–469. The waters are sulphureous to the taste.

29 The Essenes, or Hessenes. These properly formed one of the great sects into which the Jews were divided in the time of Christ. They are not mentioned by name in the New Testament, but it has been conjectured that they are alluded to in Matt. xix. 12, and Col. ii. 18, 23. As stated here by Pliny, they generally lived at a distance from large towns, in communities which bore a great resemblance to the monkish societies of later times. They sent gifts to the Temple at Jerusalem, but never offered sacrifices there. They were divided into four classes, according to the time of their initiation. Their origin is uncertain. Some writers look upon them as the same as the Assidians, or Chasidim, mentioned in 1 Maccabees, ii. 42, vii. 13. Their principal society was probably the one mentioned by Pliny, and from this other smaller ones proceeded, and spread over Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. The Essenes of Egypt were divided into two sects; the practical Essenes, whose mode of life was the same as those of Palestine; and the contemplative Essenes, who were called Therapeutœ. Both sects maintained the same doctrines; but the latter were distinguished by a more rigid mode of life. It has been suggested by Taylor, the editor of 'Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible,' that John the Baptist belonged to this sect.

30 Or Engedi. Its ancient name was Hazezon-Tamar, when it was inhabited by the Amorites. See Gen. xiv. 7; 2 Chron. xx. 2. According to Josephus, it gave name to one of the fifteen toparchies of Judæa. It still retains its name, Ain-Jedey, or "Fountain of the Goats," and was so called from a spring which issued out of the limestone rock at the base of a lofty cliff.

31 Its site is now known as Sebbeh, on the south-west of the Dead Sea.

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