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which they are introduced by little currents, and conducted to every part of the wood. The distribution is so complete, that not a garden but has a fine quick stream running through it, which both waters the thirsty soil and supplies a number of artificial fountains and other water works, adding greatly to the beauty and convenience of the retreat. This skilful distribution of water is as old as the days of Homer: for he tells us that the gardener, with a spade in his hand, opening the furrow, conducts a stream into every garden and a rill to every plant.* But the consequence of the distribution is fatal to the river, which is almost wholly drunk up by the city and gardens. The small part of it which escapes, is united again into one channel on the south-east side of the city; and after a course of about three or four miles, finally loses itself in a morass, without reaching the sea.
The Greeks, and from them the Romans, gave to this river the name of Chrysorrhoas; but as for Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, mentioned by the sacred writer, not even the names are preserved. These must therefore have been only two branches of the Barrady; and one of them was probably the same stream that runs through the Ager Damascenus directly to the city, which seems by its serpentine course, to be a natural channel.t The other it is now difficult to find; but this will be no matter of surprise, when it is considered how often the Damascenes have altered the course of this river, to suit their own convenience and pleasure. I
The numerous and important advantages, which the winding streams of the Barrady confer on the city of Damascus and its adjacent fields, sufficiently account for the indignant reply of Naaman the Syrian, to the prophet :- Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel ? May I not wash in them and be clean? So he turned, and * Iliad, b. xxi. 1. 257. † Richardson's Travels, vol. iii. p. 477. † Maundrell's Journey, p. 117-132.
went away in a rage.' The haughty Syrian, piqued that the prophet treated him with so little ceremony, considered the command to go and wash in Jordan seven times, as a species of insult offered to his native
he did not know, or would not consider, that the word of Jehovah imparts efficacy to the most unpromising means.
[The chief towns of Syria, mentioned in Scripture, are Hamath, which the Orontes divided into two. This city experienced anciently repeated changes of masters,-having fallen, first, under the power of the kings of Judah,-being afterwards recovered, it was for a while reigned over by native kings, but was again wrested from them by Jeroboam II., and finally destroyed by Shalmanezer king of Assyria. A new city was long after erected on its site by Antiochus Epiphanes, under the name of Epiphania, which has now given place to the modern name of Hamah, which contains about 30,000 inhabitants.* Seleucia, a maritime town fifteen miles west of Antioch, and four north of the mouth of the Orontes. It was so strongly fortified, that Strabo describes it to be impregnable, through the favour of Pompey, and several of the Roman emperors, it enjoyed peculiar privileges. It was from that point Paul and Barnabas embarked on their voyage to Cyprus. It is now in ruins, although an inconsiderable village of the name of Kapel has risen close to the site of this celebrated sea-port.
[Antioch, “the queen of the east,' stood on the Orontes, which ran through it, at the distance of twenty miles from the coast of the Mediterranean. Some writers suppose
it to have been the ancient Riblath,the scene of the degradation of Zedekiah, and the massacre of his royal family,—at all events, it was the place where the Syrian monarchs, of the race of Seleucus Nicator, its founder, held their court, and where the Roman prefects established the seat of their pro
* 2 Sam. viii. 9; 2 Kings xiv 28 ; xvii. 24 xviii. 34.
vincial government;—the beauty of its situation and the salubrity of its climate being its great recommendations. In sacred history this city will ever be memorable as the place where the disciples of Jesus were first called Christians.* Its modern name is Antakia, and is said to occupy the southern site of the ancient city.
[Damascus, a city of great antiquity, t situated in a champaigne and well watered country, about 136 miles north of Jerusalem. Its first king fell under the victorious arms of David. In the reign of Solomon, however, Rezon made it the capital of an independent kingdom. But Rezin, one of his descendants, being vanquished by Tiglath-pileser, it fell from the rank of a kingdom, and was annexed as a province of the Assyrian empire. || By the Romans, into whose power it came along with the rest of Asia, it was made one of their strongest arsenals; but in the apostolic age, it was made over by that people to Aretas, who, as their tributary, reigned over Arabia Petræa. It was on his way to this city, with a commission to incarcerate all the Christians, that Paul met with the heavenly vision that occasioned his remarkable conversion. A large city of the same name still occupies this site ; and although its streets are narrow, and the houses in general somewhat mean in appearance, it is said to extend about two miles in length, and have many palaces, the splendour of which, however, is only known to those who visit the interior.]
The city itself is of a long straight figure, extending about two miles, and lying nearly in the direction of north-east and south-west. It is surrounded with gardens, stretching no less, according to common estimation, than thirty miles around; which gives it the appearance of a city in the midst of a vast wood. The
* Acts xi. 26.
+ Gen. xiv. 15; xv. 2.
gardens are thickly planted with fruit trees of all kinds, that are kept fresh and verdant by the waters of the Barrady. Numerous turrets and gilded steeples glittering in the blazing sun-beam among the green boughs, diversify and heighten the beauty of the prospect. On the north side of this vast wood, is a place called Solkas, crowded with beautiful summer-houses and gardens. *
This delightful scene, and even the city itself, may be considered as the creation of the Barrady, which supplies both the gardens and the city, diffusing beauty and fertility wherever it flows.
[Helbon, sometimes called also Haleb, or Halybon, the modern Aleppo, is a very ancient and still a beautiful town. It was celebrated for its wine and fine wool. The country on every side of it is laid out in the most beautiful grandeur.
[Rezeph was the Resepha of the classics, and is described by Ptolemy as in the neighbourhood of Palmyra. I
[Rehoboth, the birth-place of Saul, king of Edom, was situated on the Euphrates.s
[Tadmor, or Tamar, which signifies a palm-tree, called by Europeans Palmyra, and by the Arabs Thadmor, was built by Solomon, probably as a fortified place, on the borders of his dominions, to suppress the incursions of the Arabs.llIt is still famous for its architectural ruins.
[Baal-Gad is described as lying in the valley of Lebanon, under mount Hermon. It is thought to be the same as Heliopolis, the modern Baalbek.
[Hobah was a little north of Damascus, and is memorable as the place whither Abraham pursued the four kings who made a combined attack upon him. I
[Berothai, famous for its mines, belonged to the kingdom of Zobah.** It is by some supposed to be the
* Richardson's Travels, vol. ii. p. 474, # 2 Kings xix. 12. | 1 Kings ix 18; 2 Chron. viii. 4. ** 2 Sam. vih. 8.
+ Ezekiel xxvii. 18. $ Gen. xxxvi. 37.
Gen. xiv. 15.
modern Bir, and by others, though with little probability, to be Beyrout.
[Beth Eden, i. e. the house of Eden, where the ancient kings of Syria had a summer palace.*
[Helam, celebrated as the scene of a victory gained by David over the forces of Hadarezer.t]
Gaza lay in the southern extremity of that narrow slip of country which submitted to the arms of the Philistines ; and the city of Gaza, from which the lordship took its name, stood in the south-west angle of the land of Canaan. This was the city whose gates Samson carried away to the top of the hill, and where he was kept in prison by his cruel and ungenerous enemies. It was famous for the temple of Dagon, which the renowned Israelite pulled down upon himself and his unfeeling tormentors, in revenge for the loss of his sight and his liberty. This place was afterwards chosen by the Persians to be the treasury where they deposited the tribute of the western provinces of their immense empire ; whence all riches received, at length, among the people of those countries, the name of Gaza. It was destroyed by Alexander the Great, as the prophet had foretold, and consigned to perpetual desolation. The city built by Constantine, and called by the name of Gaza, is nearer to the sea than the ancient city, and by consequence does not affect the truth of the prediction.
Next to Gaza, northward, rose the city of Askelon, styled by the Greeks and Latins Ascalon, and situated also on the sea-shore-now a scene of silent desolation. So completely has the prediction been fulfilled :- The king shall perish from Gaza, and Askelon shall not be inhabited.'* Gaza contains between two and three thousand inhabitants, but has long been deprived of
# Zech. ix. 5.
* Amos i. 5.
+ 2 Sam. x. 16.