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adds the Jewish historian, “that we are indebted for the root of that balsam, which our country still bears, to this woman's gift.
It was singular enough that a gift brought by a Queen of Ethiopia to the wealthiest monarch of Judea, should have fallen to the lot of'a Queen of Egypt, as given to her by one of the most extravagant even among Roman lovers. Philosophy and wisdom is said to have been the object of Sheba's visit to Judea ;
* Ibid. 1. viii. c. vi. 6.
Exuberant fruges nostrum ad morem; præterque eas, balsamum et palmæ. Palmetis proceritas et decor : balsamum modica arbor: ut quisque ramus intumuit, si vim ferri adhibeas, pavent venæ ; fragmine lapidis, aut testa aperiuntur. Humor in usu medentium est. —Tacitus, Hist. 1. v.
c. 6. de hac regione.
Hiericus est planities montibus circumdata, quæ in theatri speciem ad ipsam alicubi declinat.
Ibi est Palmetum, cui immixtæ sunt etiam aliæ stirpes hortenses ; locus ferax, palmis abundans, spatio centum stadiorum, totus irriguus est, et habitationibus plenus. Ibi et regia est, et Balsami Paradisus, quæ planta aromatica est fruticosa, cytiso et terebintho persimilis: hujus corticem scindentes, succum in vasis suscipiunt, tenaci lacti persimilem : susceptus autem in conchis coagulatur : capitis dolores, et suffusiones oculorum incipientes, et hebetudinem visus mirificè senat, quare in pretio est, eo præsertim quod hîc solùm nascitur.Strabo, l. xvi.
p. 763. Judæa reliqua dividetur in toparchias decem, quo decernis ordine: Hiericuntem palmetis consitam, fontibus irriguam, etc. Plinius, 1. v. c. 14.
Cleopatra's pursuits were of a very different kind, as may be learned from Josephus.
At the present time there is not a tree of any description, either of palm or balsam, and scarcely any verdure or bushes to be seen about the site of this abandoned city ; but the complete desolation with which its ruins are sur, rounded, is undoubtedly rather to be attributed to the cessation of the usual agricultural labours on the soil, and to the want of a distribution of water over it by the aqueducts, the remains of which evince that they were constructed chiefly for that purpose, than to any radical change in the climate or the soil.
On leaving these ruins, we thought that, in their greatest extent, they did not cover less than a square mile ; but its remains were not sufficiently marked to enable us to form a plan of it. As we continued our way across the plain to the eastward, the same parched soil appeared oyer every part of it, until after about an hour's ride at a moderate pace, going over a distance of perhaps four miles, in nearly an easterly direction, we reached the village of Rihhah.
As we rode through this, we perceived it to be a settlement of about fifty dwellings, all very mean in their appearance, and every one fenced
in front with thorny bushes, while a barrier of the same kind encircled the whole of the town. This was one of the most effectual defences which they could have raised against the incursions of horse Arabs, the only enemies whom they have to dread, as neither will the horse approach to entangle himself in these thickets of briar, nor could the rider, even if he dismounted, get over them, or remove them to clear a passage, without assistance from some within.
There was a fine brook flowing by the village, and emptying itself into the Jordan, the nearest part of which river is thought to be about three miles off; and from this brook the inhabitants are supplied with sufficient water for the irrigation of their lands, and for all domestic purposes. The grounds immediately in the vicinity of the village, are therefore fertilized by this stream, and are cultivated with dourra, Indian corn, rice, and onions, the soil and climate here resembling in many particulars that of Egypt.
This place, which is called Rihhah, or “ Odour," in modern Arabic, and “ Perfume” in the older dialect, has been thought to be on the site of Jericho, from its retaining nearly the same name, and exactly the same signification as the name of the harlot, who entertained the spies of Joshua here; Rahhab, in Hebrew,
meaning also a sweet smell.” * It would agree in the distance assigned to Jericho from the Jordan, and from Jerusalem, with sufficient accuracy, considering the want of exactness in ancient measurements, had there been any remains to induce an opinion of their being really those of that city ; but of this it shows no marks. The only things pointed out here, are a modern square tower, of Mohammedan work, which they pretend to be the house of Zaccheus, and an old tree into which they say he climbed up to obtain a sight of Jesus as he passed. This tree is not a sycamore, however, as the Evangelist describes that to have been, but a thorny one of the acacia family, so common in Egypt.
The population is all Mohammedan, and consists of from forty to fifty families only. Their habits are those of Bedouins and shepherds, rather than of cultivators of the soil, this last duty, indeed, when performed at all, is done chiefly by the women and children, as the men roam the plains on horseback, and live by robbery and plunder, which forms their chief and most gainful occupation. They are governed by a Sheick, whose influence among them is rather like that of a father of a family than of a magistrate ; and as even fathers can sometimes play
plural of ووباح *
odour, fragrance. Rich. vol. i. p. 488.
the tyrant, so does this chief, though there is always this check on his conduct, that he' owes his authority to the sufferance of his people, and could be not only removed from his power, but even deprived of his life, by declamation, on his surpassing the bounds which fortunately are set even to despotism.
This place is celebrated by many Mohammedan authors, as the “Dwelling of the Giants,' and tradition assigns the building of its seven walls to seven separate kings. Its deliverer, or its destroyer, Joshua, has been held by some among both Jews and Mohammedans, to have been a person elevated above human nature, and partaking in some degree of the divine, from the splendour of his victories. They conceive that he was sent by Jehovah to dispossess the giants of this their strong-hold and principal abode. According to the author of the Tarikh Montekheb, this first battle of Joshua in the Promised Land was fought on a Friday evening. As the night approached, and by the ordinances of Moses it was forbidden to labour on the Sabbath, he implored the Almighty to lengthen out the day, that he might have time to finish the combat. It was then, continues the same pious author, that by the order of the Divine Omni.
* Bibliothèque Orientale, tom. i. p. 248.