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still remain to attest the veracity of Moses, who describes the country as well-watered everywhere, even as the garden of the Lord,' the slime-pits have been overspread by the water, as appears from the masses of hardened asphaltum which, on any commotion of the earth, are still occasionally thrown up.
[Among the phenomena of this celebrated lake, not the least remarkable circumstance is, that although constantly receiving the contributions of the Jordan, which enters it on the north, pouring, according to Dr Shaw, a daily discharge of more than six million tuns of water; besides those of various other streams, which on the eastern side are more numerous than in any other part of this region; it has never been known to overflow, and yet it is impossible to discover any outlet through which its superfluous waters were discharged. In the absence of all visible and external
* Whatever conjectures may be formed as to the physical agents that were employed in effecting the overthrow of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain, the miraculous character of the transaction, and its being the direct infliction of Divine vengeance to punish the enormous wickedness of the inhabitants, is established beyond all controversy, both by the simple and minutely circumstantial narrative of Moses, and by other passages of Scripture in which this memorable catastrophe is alluded to. Great progress has undoubtedly been made of late years in the accuracy and extent of our knowledge of the interesting region in which they stood, and which still bears, in the deep gloom and awful solitude that reigns there, unequivocal traces of the Almighty's curse. The reader, who is desirous of more detailed information than our limits will admit of, is referred to Robinson's Biblical Researches, Henderson's Iceland, and Monro's Summer Ramble in Syria. But it may be confidently asserted, that all speculations as to the secondary causes and manner of the catastrophe must be vague hypothesis and uncertain conjecture, until the whole region shall have been carefully surveyed, the geology of the surrounding mountains examined by competent and unprejudiced observers, and all parts of the Dead Sea itself explored with sounding instruments, capable of penetrating its leaden waters. The only traveller who has hitherto undertaken this adventurous voyage, and whose affecting story is so touchingly told by Stephens in his ' Incidents of Travel,' suffered so much from want of water, that he died almost as soon as he regained the shore, and buried his observations with him in the grave.- Editor.
channels, it was long suspected that there must be some subterranean passage by which it communicated either with the Mediterranean or the Red Sea. But the deep depression of this sea, the level of which is ascertained to be at least 500 feet below that of the Mediterranean, as well as the inclination of the great southern plain of El Araba, which divides it from the Red Sea, in consequence of which the streams of that valley all flow northwards, show that such a supposition is not supported by the natural features of the country; and it is now fully established on scientific principles, that from its low position, and the broad expanse it exposes to the influence of a burning sun, evaporation carries off a quantity of water fully equal to the supply received from the rivers.* Provided the Dead Sea,' says Dr Shaw, 'should be seventy-two miles long and eighteen broad, then, by allowing, according to Dr Halley's observation, 6914 tuns of vapour for every square mile, there will be drawn up every day above 8,960,000 tuns.']
The rugged mountains and spacious caverns on the south-west shore of the lake Asphaltites, the chosen refuge of the oppressed in every age, acquired additional celebrity from the secure retreat which they afforded to David and his men from the lawless violence of Saul. To this dreary scene, the inspired historian alludes in his memoir of the wanderings and perils of that illustrious exile :- It was told Saul, saying, be hold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi. Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the mountains of the wild goats.'t In one of the capacious ex
*'As soon as we came,' says Captains Irby and Mangles, 'to the pass, which commands an extensive prospect of the Dead Sea, we could observe the effect of the evaporation arising from it, in broad transparent columns of vapour, not unlike water-spouts in appearance, but much larger.'-P. 447.-Editor.
f 1 Sam. xxiv. 1, 2. [Mountains of the wild goats, i.e. Engedi.) Editor.
cavations, for which that pile of desolate rocks and precipices is distinguished, David had an opportunity, when Saul went in to cover his feet, by cutting off the skirt of his robe, of proving, at once, the purity of his intentions, and the magnanimity of his heart. Such an act of genuine heroism, ought to have extinguished for ever the groundless resentment and cruel jealousy of his prince; but Saul was the slave of ambition, and therefore dead to every sentiment of justice and humanity.
Rivers.—The rivers that water the land of Promise are not so remarkable as the mountains and the lakes which diversify its surface. The greater part of them, as the Kidron, which winds along the valley of Jehoshaphat, are only brooks or mountain torrents, some of which are dry for the greater part of the year, or only run with a flowing stream during the melting of the snows on the peaks of Lebanon, or the fall of the former and latter rain. The Kishon, whose furious current swept away the routed legions of Sisera, though mentioned in Scripture as a river, is only a small stream, except when swelled by the rain or melting snow. That ancient river, the Kishon, now El-Mukŭtta, which rises on the southern side of Mount Tabor, pursues his course down the middle of the plain of Esdraelon, and then passing close by the side of mount Carmel falls into the sea at a place named Caypha. When Maundrell crossed this stream, on his way to Jerusalem, its waters were low and inconsiderable ; but in passing along the side of the plain, he observed the tracts of many tributary rivulets falling down into it from the mountains, by which it must be greatly swelled in the rainy season, It was undoubtedly at the season when the Kishon, replenished by the streams of Lebanon, becomes a deep and impetuous torrent, that the bands of Sisera perished in its waters. The Kishon, like several other streams in Palestine, does not run with a full current into the sea, except in the time of the rains, but
percolates through the sands which interpose between it and the Mediterranean.*
[It was somewhere in the narrow valley, where it winds along the base of Carmel, that Elijah slew the prophets of Baal. * This river,' says Carne, “is a blessing throughout its whole tract to man and beast, to the store and to the field, were there industry in the people to profit by its waters, which are rarely shrunken or dried up by the 'heats, at least in the latter part of its course; even when the brook is dried, and the mountain stream reduced to a few shallow pools in its stony bed, this ancient river still flows on, a joy to the eye that roves on the wide landscape of the plain of Esdraelon, and an inexpressible comfort to the wayfaring man.']
It has been immortalized in the song of Deborah and Barak :— The kings came and fought; then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money. They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.'The confederate kings took no gain for money; they were volunteers in the war, stimulated only by hatred and revenge. But they strove in vain; the hosts of heaven fought for Israel; the stars in their courses, against the powerful bands of Jabin. By the malignant influences of the heavenly bodies, by the storms of hail, thunder, and rain, produced, it is probable, by
power, and directed by the sagacity of holy angels, the confident hopes of Sisera were blasted, and a mark of eternal infamy stamped upon
From heaven, says the Chaldee Paraphrast, from heaven, the place where the stars go forth, war was commenced against Sisera; the God of heaven shot forth his arrows, and discomfited the hostile armies; and the river Kishon, swelled over all its banks by the furious tempests, engaged also in the warfare, by the com
* Maundrell's Journey, p. 86.
Judges v. 19, 20.
mand of its sovereign Lord, and swept the fugitives away. For this stroke of vengeance, the Kishon was ordained of old : and this is the reason why the inspired bard applies to it the distinguishing epithet in the text: · The river of Kishon swept them away; that ancient river, the river Kishon.' O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.*
[Sihor or Shihor-libnath,t the ancient Belus, now the Kardanah, takes its rise among the mountains of Galilee, and after flowing in a south-westerly direction through the plain of Acre, enters the Mediterranean at Akka. It is in size and volume of water a very inconsiderable stream, but in history and mythology is remarkable for two things. The first is, that on its banks the art of making glass was discovered by a ship's crew, who having gone ashore according to the custom of oriental sailors to cook their victuals, and propped their boiling vessel with sand and a few pieces of nitre that were lying around, were surprised to find that the action of the fire had produced a substance that attracted their attention both by its novelty and transparency. It was at first supposed that the production of glass was owing to some peculiar properties of the sand of this stream, in consequence of which it was quarried to supply not only Sidon, but all other places where manufactories were established, with materials for the composition of a substance which was soon found to be of the greatest use and importance in the economy of life. The second thing for which this river is celebrated is the occasionally sanguine colour of its waters, which the heathen mythologists ascribed to the grief of the river god for the death of Adonis, the favourite of Venus, who was killed by a wild boar among the mountains at its
The blood-red hue of the waters is well known to be occasioned by a minium or red earth, which,
* Wells' Hist. Geog. vol. i. p. 354.
† Joshua xix. 26.