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potence, the sun was stayed in his course, and rested an hour and a half beyond his usual time above the horizon, giving to Joshua ample time to cut in pieces the army of his enemies. He adds, that this day having thus become longer than any other, by an hour and a half, enjoyed by this means a prerogative, which no other day besides itself could presume to; and he assures us, that this was one of the reasons why the Mussulmans had chosen Friday, above all the other days of the week, for their holy day, instead of the Sabbath of the Jews. *
These traditions are preserved here in full force, with some amplifications of detail, as we had an opportunity of noticing in the conversa. tion of the party to whom our guides had introduced us, at the house of the chief. These men, perceiving that we were strangers in the land, were glad to gratify our curiosity, and flatter their own vanity at the same time, by recounting to us the stories of which this place of their abode had been the scene,
The house, in which we had taken up our quarters for the night, was one belonging to the Sheick of the village, but at present it was not occupied by him. The whole male population of the place that was now in it, however,
* Bibliothèque Orientale, tom. ii. p. 330.
crouded around us to make a thousand enquiries regarding our journey, the motives which led to it, and the end it was accomplish. We insisted that we were going to Damascus, and assured them that our having taking this route to go up on the east side of the Jordan, rather than having followed the more direct road of the caravans by Nablous, was in the hope of being less interrupted by the Be. douins of these parts, than by the insolent soldiery of the Pashalics, who were now in great commotion on account of the expected changes in Syria.
Our tale was believed, though our hopes of passing securely were somewhat damped, by learning that, only on the preceding evening, a party of five hundred horsemen, from the Arabs of this same tribe, had halted at Rihhah on their way to the northward, whither they had gone on a plundering excursion, intending to sweep the whole range of the valley of Jordan. Mr. Bankes and his attendants had slept in this same house, and with nearly the same party as were here now, on his return from a visit to the shores of the Dead Sea ; and there then seemed to him to have been a consultation among them, about the detention of their guests, either with a view to plunder them, or to obtain a ransom for their liberation. In the present instance, however, they
treated us with all the hospitality for which the Arabs are so celebrated; and though our own fears might have conjured up appearances of an unfavourable nature, or given to common incidents an interpretation which they would not, under any other circumstances, have borne, we relied on the pledges of our conductors. After a rude but hearty meal, we stretched ourselves along on straw mats, by the side of the cattle which were driven in among us for shelter, and, surrounded by at least twenty of our visitors under the same shed, we soon sunk to sleep.
January 29th. We were stirring before the day had clearly opened, and after a morning pipe and coffee, served to us by our entertainers, we mounted our horses at sun-rise, and continued our journey.
On quitting Rihhah, we pursued a northerly course, keeping still on the western side of the Jordan. In our way, we noticed a thorny tree, which abounds in the neighbourhood of Jericho, and is said to be found on both banks of the river. Pococke calls this the zoccumtree, and says, “ The bark of it is like that of the holly ; it has very strong thorns, and the leaf is something like that of the barbary-tree; it bears a green nut, the skin or flesh over it is thin, and the nut is ribbed and has a thick shell and a very small kernel ; they grind the whole, and press an oil out of it, as they do out of olives, and call it a balsam. But I take it to be the Myrobalanum, mentioned by Josephus as grow
ing about Jericho *, especially as it answers very well to this fruit, described by Pliny as the produce of that part of Arabia which was between Judea and Egypt." +
The opinion that this was the tree from the branches of which Christ's crown of thorns was made, is very prevalent among the Christians of these parts ; but our Mohammedan guides professed their ignorance of this matter. Among them, however, it must have some traditional celebrity, as rosaries or chaplets are made of its berries, and sold at the door of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, both to Christians and Mohammedans. Those for the former have a cross at the top, and those for the latter consist of ninety-nine in number, divided by beads of a different colour into three parts, containing thirty-three in each, which is the only difference
* Josephus, Jewish Wars, b. iv. c. 8.
+ Myrobalanum Troglodytis, et Thebaidi, et Arabiæ, quæ Judæam ab Ægypto disterminat, commune est, nascens unguento, ut ipso nomine apparet. Quo item indicatur et glandem esse arboris, heliotropio quam dicemus inter herbas, simili folio. Fructus magnitudine avellanæ nucis. Ex his in Arabia nascens Syriaca appellatur. Sunt qui Æthiopicam iis præferant glandem nigram. E diverso Arabicam viridem ac tenuiorem, et quoniam sit montuosa spissiorem. Unguentarii autem tantum cortices premunt: medici nucleos tundentes affusa eis paulatim calida aqua. Plin. Nat. Hist. xii. 21.