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[The Holy Land successively fell into the hands of the Greeks, Syrians, Maccabees (who were native princes), and Romans, by a series of revolutions, extending over several centuries, but of which, although forming a most interesting chapter in ancient history, our limits will not admit of our attempting even a sketch ; and therefore we proceed at once to consider Palestine in the time of our Lord, when the Romans, to whom it had become tributary, divided it into those five provinces, Galilee, Samaria, Judea, Perea, and Idumea.
[Division in the time of our Lord.—1. Galilee comprehended the territories anciently possessed by the tribes of Asher, Naphthali, Issachar, and Zebulun. Josephus subdivides this district into Upper and Lower Galilee. In the former, which obtained its designation from the mountainous ridges which intersected it, a large proportion of the inhabitants were of foreign extraction, who had emigrated thither for the purposes of trade and commerce, in consequence of which it is sometimes called “Galilee of the Gentiles,' or ' nations, and at other times the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.'* Lower Galilee included that portion of the northern province which lay directly between the lake of Gennesareth and the Mediterranean, a rich and well cultivated country, and thickly studded with cities, towns, and villages.t In consequence of its great population, as well as from its being beyond the immediate presence and power of the priests, this canton was chosen by Christ as the principal and favourite scene of his ministry. The great influx of foreigners into this part of the country introduced a most vitiated dialect, insomuch that the inhabitants were noted for their strange peculiarities in language, of which a memorable instance occurs in the history of Peter, whose
* Isaiah ix. 1; Matthew iv. 15; Mark vii. 31.
† Josephus says it contained within its narrow limits more than 200.-Editor.
Galilean tongue rendered fruitless all his efforts to conceal his connexion with Jesus.
[The Galileans are described by Josephus as being strongly imbued with the spirit of disaffection to the Roman government. Nowhere were demagogues more successful in sowing the seeds of sedition, and at no time were occasions leading to popular outbreaks more frequent, than during the administration of Pilate, whose partial and vacillating government rendered him extremely obnoxious. One of those insurrections the procurator had avenged with indecent haste, by treacherously slaying some natives of this province, during their sojourn in Jerusalem, at one of the religious festivals ; and as the apprehension of Jesus, on a charge of teaching sedition, occurred shortly after on the eve of a similar solemnity, the knowledge of the turbulent character of the Galileans, and the recent disturbances which he had found it necessary to suppress in so summary a way, give singular significance to that part of the proceedings in the judgment-hall, where Pilate asked " whether the man were a Galilean.'*
The towns belonging to this province mentioned in the gospel history are chiefly these, -- Bethsaida, now Sheikh Said, situated on the north-west angle of the lake of Gennesareth, not far from the point where the Jordan pours its waters into that inland sea, was a small village, whence our Lord chose three of his disciples, and where he gave several miraculous attestations of his character and ministry ; notwithstanding which, the inhabitants remained in obstinate unbelief, and became in consequence the subjects of a prophetic denunciation, which not long after was carried into complete execution ; that city having been one of the first to suffer the ravages of the Roman army. Never since has it recovered that disaster ; a few paltry cottages, and a heap of ruins, being all that remain to mark the site of this once flourishing place.t
† Matt. xi. 21; Mark viii. 22; John i. 44.
* Luke xxiii. 6.
[Cana was a town situated on the brow of an eminence, and it is a beautiful instance of the minute accuracy of the sacred writer, that our Lord is twice said to have gone down thence to Capernaum. Monkish traditions have long fixed the site of this village about six miles north of Nazareth, where stands the present Kafr Kenna. Older writers unanimously placed it at Kânael-Jélil, a little westward of Capernaum; and Dr Robinson thinks the evidence is conclusive in favour of the latter being the Cana of the gospel history. Nathaniel was a native of this village, and our Lord performed his first miracle here. * • While walking along,' says Dr Clarke, 'we saw large massy stone water-pots, answering the description given of the ancient vessels of the country by John; not preserved nor exhibited as relics, but lying about disregarded by the present inhabitants, who were unaquainted with their original
From their appearance, and the number of them, it was quite evident that the practice of keeping water in large stone pots, each holding from eighteen to twenty gallons, was once common in the country. About a quarter of a mile from Cana, is a spring of a delicious limpid water, whence all the water is taken for the supply of the village. It is usual for pilgrims to halt at this spring, as the source of the water which our Saviour converted into wine.' These remarks of Dr Clarke, however, refer to the supposed Cana near Nazareth.
[Capernaum lay also on the north-west coast of the sea of Tiberias, in the spacious and fertile plain called the land of Gennesareth, now El-Guheir. At this city our Lord resided so much, and within its walls, or in its immediate neighbourhood, delivered so many of his most impressive discourses, and wrought such a variety of miracles, that it is called “his own city. In consequence of the rare privileges it possessed by the resi
* It is called Cana of Galilee to distinguish it from another Cana in the tribe of Asher. John ii. 11 ; iv. 46.—Editor.
dence of the Saviour, it was exalted to heaven, i.e. enjoyed a pre-eminence above all other cities. But continuing insensible to the extraordinary tokens he gave them of more than mortal power and benevolence, their obduracy was threatened with a proportionate severity of punishment, —-it should be brought low;' and so great has the humiliation been, that its site eannot be easily ascertained, and even its very name has perished. Most travellers have fixed it, on the authority of tradition, at Tel-hûm. Dr Robinson, rightly judging this locality to be too distant from the shore, has, for this and other weighty reasons, concluded it to have stood at Khân Miniyeh. But these discrepancies only show how completely the prophecy has been fulfilled.* Chorazin, along the shores of the lake of Gennesareth, about two Roman miles, according to Josephus, from Capernaum, a small town which formerly equalled that city in religious privileges, and for similar unbelief now shares its doom.
[Dalmanutha, a city in the same neighbourhood, but no trace of it exists. Magdala stood near it,—the city of Mary Magdalene, which, like all in its vicinity, has disappeared. Cesarea (of Palestine), formerly called the Tower of Strato, stood at an equal distance of thirty miles from the towns of Ptolemais and Joppa. The convenience of its situation attracted the attention of Herod, who, in continual fear of a revolt of his subjects, built a strong fortress here. The city itself he enlarged and embellished in the most magnificent style, and of the costliest materials, erecting all the edifices, not only his own palace and other public buildings, but private houses, of marble; and perceiving the great convenience of its situation as a harbour, constructed a port equal in size to the Piræus of Athens,'furnished it with towers raised in the sea, upon one side of a semicircular mole, the most splendid of which
* Matthew iv. 13; viii. 5; ix. 1; xi. 23; xvii, 24-27,
bore the name of Drusus, the adopted son of the emperor; the foundation stones of the mole being fifty feet long by eighteen wide and nine thick. Around the port was a series of buildings of the costliest marble; and in the centre, upon a mound, stood a temple of Cesar. It was here, during the festival celebrated every five years in honour of the emperor, that Herod Agrippa, for his pride in allowing the venal crowd to extol him as a god, was smitten by the angel with a mortal disease. It was here that Cornelius resided and received the ministrations of Peter, and it was here that Paul lay a prisoner for two years, in the course of which he made his noble speech before Festus.* Those palaces which heretofore were the resort of emperors—those courts which rested upon marble and glistened with gold, echoing with the revelry of princes,—the theatres,—the forums,—the temples, are now furrowed by the plough, or grazed upon by the beasts of the field. Imagination, still dwelling on the busy streets and stately colonnades, still inquires, Where is Cesarea ?'+
[Nain, on the banks of the Kishon, in the plain of Esdraelon, a few miles south of Tabor, was the scene of an affecting incident in the history of our Lord,—his restoration of the widow's son. It is still a hamlet consisting of a few huts.
[Nazareth was situated about six miles west of Mount Tabor, on the brow of a hill, which commands the prospect of the beautiful and fertile vale of the same name. This town had the honour of being the residence of Joseph and Mary, and of our Lord himself during the first thirty years of his life. The hill on which the town stands, terminates at several points in abrupt precipices, having the appearance of perpendicular walls forty or fifty feet high, from one of which the wicked inhabitants endeavoured, on one occasion, to
* Acts xii. 23; X.; XXV.