Page images
PDF
EPUB

troyed the whole multitude of its inhabitants as they ought to do, they should erect an altar that should face the rising sun, not far from the city of Shechem, between the two mountains, that of Gerizim situate on the right hand, and that called Ebal on the left; which, with reference to the sun-rising, fixes the former indisputably on the south, and the latter on the north. *

In the commands of Moses, delivered to the Israelites while yet on the other side of Jordan eastward, he expressly names Gerizim as the mountain from which the blessings are to be pronounced on the congregation, and Ebal as the one from which the curses are to be utteredt

; yet, in a subsequent chapter, the same lawgiver is made to order that an altar of unhewn stones, over which no iron was to pass, should be raised to the Lord, and the great stones set up plastered with plaster, on which the law was to be written ; and those reared on Mount Ebal, which had before been made the mountain of cursing. I Joshua, his successor, is afterwards represented as setting up the altar on Ebal, and offering burnt-offerings and peace-offerings to the Lord, and inscribing on the plastered stones, as directed, the law which Moses had left to the children of Israel. S

* Joseph. Ant. Jud: 1. iv, c. 8. s. 44. + Deut. xi. 29. | Deut, xxvii. 1-4.

§ Joshua, viii. 30-32.

The Samaritans have, in these places, substituted Gerizim for Ebal, and they accuse the Jews of having maliciously altered their text, out of odium to the Samaritans, putting for Gerizim, Ebal, upon no other account but only because the Samaritans worshipped in the former mountain, which they would have, for that reason, not to be the true place appointed by God for his worship and sacrifice. Such was the account of the chief priest of these people to Mr. Maundrell, who questioned him on the subject. To confirm this, says the same traveller, he pleaded that Ebal was the mountain of cursing, as we have seen before, and in its own nature an unpleasant place; but, on the contrary, Gerizim was the mountain of blessing by God's own appointment, and also in itself fertile and delightful; from whence he inferred a probability that this latter must have been the true mountain appointed for these religious festivals, and not, as the Jews have corruptly written it, Hebal. *

Mr. Maundrell thought that there was some truth in the Samaritan priest's observations on the superiority of Gerizim to Ebal ; for, says he, though neither of the mountains has much

* Maundrell's Journey, p. 81. 8vo.

to boast of as to their pleasantness, yet, as one passes between them, Gerizim seems to discover a more fruitful aspect than Ebal. My own impression, from seeing both these hills from several points of view, was, that Gerizim was by far the more agreeable, and might be made the more productive of the two, not only from its principal side, or that hanging over Nablous, having a northern aspect, and being therefore less burnt up by the sun in summer, but from its slope of ascent being less abrupt than that of Ebal, and from the soil being therefore more liable to accumulate, and less subject to be washed down by the vernal and autumnal rains. * Their altitudes appeared to be nearly equal, and neither of them exceeded seven or eight hundred feet from the level of the valley, though much higher from the sea, as the whole country here is elevated.

We had not an opportunity of ascending either of the hills ourselves; but from all the information I could collect regarding them, no one knew of any great stones or other vestiges of buildings remaining on them, though it must be confessed

* When Benjamin of Tudela visited this spot, he says that Mount Garizim was full of fountains and gardens ; while Ghebal, as he writes it, was arid and rocky, - Bergeron's Collection.

that we met with only two persons out of at least fifty whom we consulted, that had ever been on the summit of both these hills; and to these the subject, as well as the motive of our enquiry, was alike strange and unaccountable.

[blocks in formation]

CHAP. XXX:

RETURN FROM NABLOUS TO NAZARETH.

The call to afternoon prayers was heard as we re-entered Nablous, and as there was no time to be lost, we mounted and set out on our way back to Sanhoor. We now went out at a northern gate in the side of the town, and ascending a hill there, to go by a shorter road, we had a commanding view of the city, and of the valley in which it stands, from the heights above. Nothing could be more interesting than this sight; the lofty hills of Ebal and Gerizim approaching close to each other; the beautifully fertile valley at their feet, covered with olivewoods, and corn-fields of the freshest

green,

and the white mass of flat-roofed dwellings and tall minarehs, which the busy town offered in contrast to the rest of the scene, formed altogether a new and charming picture.

When we lost sight of the town, the remainder of our way was over rude and barren hills, almost constantly ascending and descending; and as it was altogether an unpractised road, we

« PreviousContinue »