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natives—a very important consideration-while Dr. Robinson kept his separate diary, the contributions of both being digested at the close of each day, and subsequently prepared for publication by the Professor. Nor is it unworthy of being mentioned that the work was composed for the press while the author resided at Berlin; for it bears striking marks of German scholarly aids, without which we should most probably have had slenderer volumes, and less of that criticism that pursues words and ideas to the furthest limit to which they can possibly be carried.
But, along with much minute scholarship, Dr. Robinson gives us a narrative of his journey, interrupted by many ingenious and learned disquisitions, and varied also by historical sketches; a principal object being to ascertain the precise topographical position of localities rendered memorable in Scripture. And taken in this latter view, the work has no competitor; it supplies entirely new information, derived from researches conducted with consummate learning and judgment, and with all possible diligence.
It has hitherto been generally the practice of travellers in the Holy Land, and in regions identified with the early history of the Children of Israel, to accept more or less of the traditions and legends with which the monks so plentifully cater to the curiosity of strangers. In fact these authorities are not only remarkably ignorant and credulous, but they naturally, and for the sake of gain, incline to feed the amazement of those who come from a distance; few of the latter being competent to check the fabrications and absurdities. Not so Dr. Robinson; for he was not only resolved, but in a condition from previous acquirements and habits, to investigate thoroughly the geography of the Bible, without allowing himself to be led astray by superstitious and lying stories, or taking any one thing for granted merely because recorded by some earlier traveller. A single sentence will suffice to explain the principle and the mode of his examinations and surveys: he not merely carefully compared current traditions with ancient records, but with the evidences furnished by local features and positions; by no means overlooking the names used to this day by the natives, whose language does not differ essentially from that of the ancient Hebrews, and who also equally attend to prominent local characteristics in the adoption of these appellations. Former travellers in Palestine and Arabia have generally neglected this last-mentioned source of identification and correction; very often on account of their incapacity to hold familiar communications with the Arabs and Syrians, and because they were obliged to be beholden to the guides furnished by the convents, many of these being themselves foreigners, if not impostors.
It is perfectly obvious that the very slightest reliance can be placed on the legends and traditions of the monks in regard to
sites in Palestine, and the regions where miracles were wrought in relation to the Israelites. No sooner, indeed, did Christianity become the religion of the Roman empire, than flocks of zealous and often most credulous believers, took upon themselves to identify the spots most affecting to the imagination, in relation particularly to the life, crucifixion, and ascension of Jesus. The place of his death was thus identified, which, however, Dr. Robinson clearly shows to be a fabrication; just as the stories of many relics and of miracles wrought must be pronounced to be forgeries. In fact, so many centuries had elapsed from the time of our Saviour's sojourn and sufferings on earth, before any religious regard was shown by imperial authority to Christianity or its vestiges, that the local traces to this day pointed out by legends and traditions,—and after the terrible devastations of war that disfigured the Holy Land,ought to be viewed with the utmost distrust, even if the stories did not frequently carry with them ridiculous absurdities. The long reign of Mohamedanism, again, forbade such opportunities for correction as some Dr. Robinson might have supplied hundreds of years ago, had such a skilled, patient, and candid traveller visited and explored the scenes of Scriptural geography.
These "Biblical Researches" will unquestionably be henceforth regarded as one of the most precious contributions that have ever been made to Christian archæology. With a zeal as fresh and pure as it is ardent; with a judgment that is serene, and a charity that is as amiable as his criticism is close and erudite, does the Professor lay before the reader an immense storehouse crowded with materials that must excite the deepest interest. Even the descriptions of what he experienced, and of what he saw, are often awakening; carrying back the mind to periods that are sacred, or associated with our most devout aspirations and solemn imaginings. One obtains from these pages a satisfactory idea of oriental scenery, and also, if not of the venerable antiquities of scriptural times, at least of a mind filled with the images of them, and of a spirit fraught with religious lore and worship, discerning and enlightened; Protestant, but pleasantly tolerant. To be sure many parts of the bulky volumes are only calculated to instruct and interest scholars; and perhaps compression, as well as another arrangement, might have been adopted with advantage. Still, nothing can be said or thought of the production that will not redound to the reputation of its author, or that will prevent it from becoming a model of research, and a standard authority in all time coming.
We shall now call the attention of our readers to some of those passages which will not only convey a good idea of the characteristic contents of the work, but which also communicate information that must at any time be desirable; several of our extracts also being chosen on account of the special interest they possess at the
present time. First, then, let us attend to certain Biblical subjects, and where criticism is relieved by description of the actual and the existing: we alight at the traditionally-reputed Mount Sinai :
"My first and predominant feeling while upon this summit, was that of disappointment. Although from our examination of the plain er-Râhah below, and its correspondence to the Scriptural narrative, we had arrived at the general conviction that the people of Israel must have been collected on it to receive the law, yet we still had cherished a lingering hope or feeling, that there might after all be some foundation for the long series of monkish tradition, which for at least fifteen centuries has pointed out the summit on which we now stood as the spot where the Ten Commandments were so awfully proclaimed. But Scriptural narrative and monkish tradition are very different things; and while the former has a distinctness and definiteness, which through all our journeyings rendered the Bible our best guide-book, we found the latter not less usually and almost regularly to be but a baseless fabric. In the present case, there is not the slightest reason for supposing that Moses had anything to do with the summit which now bears his name. It is three miles distant from the plain on which the Israelites must have stood, and hidden from it by the intervening peaks of the modern Horeb. No part of the plain is visible from the summit; nor are the bottoms of the adjacent valleys; nor is any spot to be seen around it where the people could have been assembled. The only point in which it is not immediately surrounded by high mountains, is towards the S. E. where it sinks down precipitously to a tract of naked gravelly hills."
Dr. Robinson and his companion were not to be satisfied with such a tame and unlikely locality; and at length persuaded themselves that they discovered the true Mount.
"While the monks were here employed in lighting tapers and burning incense, we determined to scale the almost inaccessible peak of es-Sufsâfeh before us, in order to look out upon the plain, and judge for ourselves as to the adaptedness of this part of the mount to the circumstance of the Scriptural history. This cliff rises some five hundred feet above the basin; and the distance to the summit is more than half a mile. We first attempted to climb the side in a direct course; but found the rock so smooth and precipitous, that after some falls and a few exposures, we were obliged to give it up, and clamber upwards along a steep ravine by a more northern and circuitous course. From the head of this ravine we were able to climb around the face of the northern precipice and reach the top, along the deep hollows worn in the granite by the weather during the lapse of ages, which give to this part, as seen from below, the appearance of architectural ornament.
"The extreme difficulty and even danger of the ascent, was well rewarded by the prospect that now opened before us. The whole plain erRâhah lay spread out beneath our feet, with the adjacent Wadys and mountains; while Wady esh-Sheikh on the right, and the recess on the. left, both connected with and opening broadly from er-Râhah, presented
an area which serves nearly to double that of the plain. Our conviction was strengthened, that here or on some one of the adjacent cliffs was the spot where the Lord 'descended in fire' and proclaimed the law. Here lay the plain where the whole congregation might be assembled; here was the mount that could be approached and touched, if not forbidden; and here the mountain-brow, where alone the lightnings and the thick cloud would be visible, and the thunders and the voice of the trump be heard, when the Lord 'came down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.' We gave ourselves up to the impressions of the awful scene, and read with a feeling that will never be forgotten, the sublime account of the transaction and the commandments there promulgated, in the original words as recorded by the great Hebrew legislator."
Another Mount-that of Gerizim-presented a remnant that is fast hastening to extinction; a people of whom we have innumerable particulars in Holy Writ.
"The Samaritans," says the Professor, "are now reduced to a very small community; these being only thirty men who pay taxes, and few, if any, who are exempt; so that their whole number cannot be reckoned at over one hundred and fifty souls. One of them is in affluent circumstances; and having been for a long time chief secretary of the Mutesellim of Nebulus, became one of the most important and powerful men of the province. He had recently been superseded in his influence with the governor by a Copt; and now held only the second place. He was called El-Abd esSamary. The rest of the Samaritans are not remarkable either for their wealth or poverty. The physiognomy of those we saw was not Jewish; nor indeed did we remark in it any peculiar character, as distinguished from that of other natives of the country. They keep the Saturday as their Sabbath with great strictness, allowing no labour nor trading, not even cooking or lighting a fire, but resting from their employments the whole day. On Friday evening they pray in their houses; and on Saturday have public prayers in their synagogue at morning, noon, and evening. They meet also in the synagogue on the great festivals, and on the new moons; but not every day. The law is read in public, not every Sabbathday, but only upon the same festivals. Four times a year they go up to Mount Gerizim (Jebel et-Tûr) in solemn procession to worship; and then they begin reading the law as they set and finish it above. These seasons are: The feast of the Passover, when they pitch their tents upon the mountain all night, and sacrifice seven lambs at sunset: the day of Pentecost; the feast of Tabernacles, when they sojourn here in booths built of branches of the arbutus; and lastly, the great day of Atonement in autumn. They still maintain their ancient hatred against the Jews; accuse them of departing from the law in not sacrificing the passover, and in various other points, as well as of corrupting the ancient text; and scrupulously avoid all connexion with them. If of old 'the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans,' the latter at the present day reciprocate the feeling; and neither eat nor drink, nor marry, nor associate with the Jews, but only trade with them."
The following passage gives us a touching trait, and transports the mind to primitive times.
"When about two thirds of the way up, we heard a woman calling after us, who proved to be the mother of our Samaritan guide. He was her only son, and had come away, it seems, without her knowledge; and she was now in the utmost terror at finding that he had gone off as a guide to Franks, to show them the holy mountain. She had immediately followed us, and was now crying after us with all the strength of her lungs, forbidding him to proceed, lest some evil should befall him. The young man went back to meet her, and tried to pacify her; but in vain; she insisted upon his returning home. This he was not inclined to do; although he said he could not disobey his mother, and so transgress the law of Moses. This touching trait gave us a favourable idea of the morality of the Samaritans. After reasoning with her a long time without effect, he finally persuaded her to go with us. So she followed us up, at first full of wrath, and keeping at a distance from us; yet at last she became quite reconciled and communicative."
But we must present one other specimen of Dr. Robinson's geographical corrections, at least in as far as history has hitherto reported. The opinion has long obtained that the destruction of the "cities of the plain" preceded the existence of the Dead Sea; and that the waters of the river Jordan, before that catastrophe, pursued their course southwards to the Gulf of Akabah. But, says our author,
"Instead of the Jordan pursuing its course southwards to the Gulf, we had found the waters of the 'Arabah itself, and also those of the high western desert far south of 'Akabah, all flowing northwards into the Dead Sea. Every circumstance goes to show, that a lake must have existed in this place, into which the Jordan poured its waters, long before the catastrophe of Sodom. The great depression of the whole broad Jordan-valley and of the northern part of the 'Arabah, the direction of its lateral valleys, as well as the slope of the high western desert towards the north, all go to show that the configuration of this region, in its main features, is coëval with the present condition of the surface of the earth in general; and not the effect of any local catastrophe at a subsequent period. It seems also to be a necessary conclusion, that the Dead Sea anciently covered a less extent of surface than at present. The cities which were destroyed, must have been situated on the south of the lake as it then existed; for Lot fled to Zoar, which was near to Sodom; and Zoar, as we have seen, lay almost at the southern end of the present sea, probably in the mouth of Wady Kerak as it opens upon the isthmus of the peninsula. The fertile plain, therefore, which Lot chose for himself, where Sodom was situated, and which was well watered like the land of Egypt, lay also south of the lake, as thou comest unto Zoar.' Even to the present day, more living streams flow into the Ghôr at the south end of the sea, from Wadys of the eastern mountains, than are to be found so near together in all Palestine; and the tract,