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more fruitful by the cultivation its inhabitants introduced. And this also he called Phasaelus." * This was among the cities that enjoyed his peculiar protection, from the fraternal feelings which first prompted its dedication ; and, accordingly, it was relieved by Herod of those annual pen. sions or tributes which were paid by other cities. † At his death, too, he bequeathed this city by testament to Salome, his sister, with five hundred thousand drachmæ of silver that was coined. 1
From hence we now crossed over the plain towards the river, changing our course from north to nearly due east, and at the moment of our making this sharp angle, estimating ourselves to be little more than six miles to the northward of Rihhah. We found the plain here generally unfertile, the soil being in many places encrusted with salt, and having small heaps of a white powder, like sulphur, scattered at short intervals over its surface.
In about an hour after our turning to the eastward, we came to a ravine, apparently the bed of a torrent discharging itself from the north-west into the Jordan, perhaps either the
* Joseph. Antiq. Jud. l. xvi. c. 5. s. 2. Ibid. Jewish Wars, 1. i. c. 21. s. 10. + Jewish Wars, 1, i. c. 22.
Ant. Jud. 1, xyii. c. 8. §. 1. and c. 11. s. 5.
one marked as descending from Ai, or that from Phasaelus, though, in point of distance from Rihhah and Jericho, falling just between these two, or the places assigned them on the map. We descended into this, which was now perfectly dry, and it led us, after a course of a few hundred yards, into the valley of the Jordan itself. The whole of the plain, from the mountains of Judea on the west, to those of Arabia on the east, may be called the Vale of Jordan, in a general way ; but in the centre of the plain, which is at least ten miles broad, the Jordan runs in another still lower valley, perhaps a mile broad in some of the widest parts, and a furlong in the narrowest.
Into this we descended, and we thought the hills of white clayey soil on each side, to be about two hundred feet in height, the second or lower plain being about a mile broad, generally barren, and the Jordan flowing down through the middle of it, between banks which were now fourteen or fifteen feet high, while the river was at its lowest ebb. There are close thickets all along the edge of the stream, as well as upon this lower plain, which would afford ample shelter for wild beasts; and as the Jordan might overflow its banks, when swoln by rains, sufficiently to inundate this lower plain, though it could never reach the upper one, it was, most pro.
bably, from these that the lions were driven out by the inundation which gave rise to the prophet's simile, Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan, against the habitation of the strong.
The overflow ing is said to have been in the first month, which corresponds to our March, as, in the enumeration of the armies that came to David at Hebron, those are spoken of who went over Jordan in the first month, when he had overflowed all his banks. In the description of the passage of the priests with the ark, while the waters were divided and stood in a heap, as in the passage of the Red Sea, it is said too, that “ Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest t,' which would be both in the autumn and in the spring, as there are two harvests here, one succeeding the early, and the other the latter rains.
From our first descent into this lower plain, we went on northerly again for about half an hour, and finding a small party of Arabs encamped on the west bank of the river, we alighted at their tents to refresh. These were of the tribe of Zaliane, to which one of our guides belonged, and we met, therefore, with the most welcome reception. A meal of warm cakes and goat's milk was prepared for us, and
* Jeremiah, xlix. 19. and 1. 44. | Joshua, iii. 15.
t 1 Chron. xii. 15.
we were glad to shelter ourselves from the scorching heat of the sun, beneath the shade of these humble dwellings. Many enquiries were made of our guides as to the motives and object of our journey, yet, though we were in safety among this portion of the same tribe to which one of our guides belonged, neither of them would explain, but merely said that we were going to Sham, or Damascus, with which the rest seemed satisfied. As the road on the east of the Jordan was acknowledged by all to be dangerous, we took from the party here a third horseman, the chief aim seeming to be, to have our escort formed of those who were personally known among the Arabs on the other side of the river, and who could therefore ensure us a safe and unmolested passage through their territories.
We quitted this encampment about noon, our party now being composed of six horsemen, namely, three Arab guides, Mr. Bankes, Mohammed, his Albanian interpreter, and myself. We here crossed the Jordan, just opposite to the tents, which were pitched at the distance of a few yards only from the river. The stream appeared to us to be little more than twenty-five yards in breadth, and was so shallow in this part as to be easily fordable by our horses. The banks were thickly lined with tall rushes, olean
ders, and a few willows; the stream was exceedingly rapid ; the waters tolerably clear, from its flowing over a bed of pebbles ; and as we drank of the stream, while our horses were watering, we found it pure and sweet to the taste.
From the distance which we had come from Jericho northward, it seemed probable, that we had crossed the river pretty nearly at the same ford as that which was passed over by the Israelites, on their first entering the promised land. In the account of this passage given by the sacred writers, it is merely said, that they encamped afterwards in Gilgal, in the plains of Jericho. * But Josephus says, after describing their coming up out of Jordan, “So the Hebrews went on further fifty furlongs, and pitched their camp at the distance of ten furlongs from Jeri. cho." + This last was therefore sixty furlongs, or seven miles and a half from the place of crossing; and the first was ten furlongs, or a mile and a quarter from Jericho, and fifty furlongs, or six miles and a quarter from the passage of the river. “Now the place where Joshua pitched his camp,” says the historian, “was called Gilgal, which denotes liberty. For since they had now passed over the river Jordan, they
* Joshua, iv. 19.
1. sec. 4.