« السابقةمتابعة »
the Scriptures in which they are preserved, seem to be not so much records of by-gone ages, as the contemporary journals of our own. If the feelings of our author were strongly excited on first beholding Jerusalem, before he had thus bathed his spirit in its hallowed associations, what must they have been when leaving it for the last time! On his arrival, the salutation of the Psalmist was continually on his lips: "Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces;" and now, on his departure he could not but add: For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, peace be within thee!" "One long, last look; and then, turning away," he "bade those sacred hills farewell, forever."
Their route northward was by the great road to Nâbulus. A few miles from Jerusalem, in Jifna Dr. Robinson recognized the Gophna of Josephus, with its paved Roman road,—a site that since the days of Eusebius seems to have been forgotten alike by explorers and by tradition itself, although only a mile from the most public route in Palestine. He found Shiloh-where once the ark abode-in just the situation described three thousand years ago, on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah," with all these places surviving to identify the site. At Nâbulus (Shechem) our travellers collected minute information concerning the antiquities and present state of the Samaritans. The plain of Esdraelon afforded an abundant harvest of valuable results, which will serve to extricate the topography of that region from the confusion and contradiction hitherto encumbering it.
No portion of these journals has interested us more than the record of researches around the sea of Tiberias. "Cinneroth," "Gennessaret," "the sea of Galilee," "Bahr Tubariyeh"how many ages are suggested by these various appellations! Upon those waters walked the godlike form, whose presence awed the spirit of the tempest, and whose command the winds and the sea obeyed. Credulity may mistake the true position of other interesting objects, but concerning this sheet of water there is no deception. No other than this can be "the sea" upon whose shores the Saviour dwelt, and around which he so often went, and never went without leaving traces of his compassion, proofs of the divinity both of his power and his grace. Here most of his mighty works were done. The pious traveller cannot here set down his foot without the probability of placing
it where his Redeemer once trod. As he walks pensively along between the placid waves of Gennessaret and the impending mountain, he looks abroad on the same landscape, and may have the same enjoyment of its beauties that the human soul of Jesus received, when he beheld the sun rise over the waters, and the mist roll away up the western hills, or saw at evening the tall summit of Hermon still bathed in sunlight, after the shadows had settled down upon the hamlets on the shore. With what pity for the stupidity that would not feel, and the blindness that would not see, did that Saviour here utter the denunciations, "Wo unto thee, Chorazin; wo unto thee, Bethsaida!" "And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day!" And who could survey the scene of these maledictions, and wander among the broken columns and capitals and pedestals of nameless ruins, all silent and lonely, or frequented only by the sons of Ishmael, without a thrill of awe, a solemn conviction of the truth that God hates sin-that from his denunciation there is no escape; that it makes no haste, and yet brooks no delay; but moves on as steadily as the foot of time, till it overwhelms the guilty rebel who incurs its wo!
It would be a pleasing task to accompany our travellers to Saphet and the sources of the Jordan, and thence through the ancient borders of Asher to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon; but our limits forbid. On the 8th of July, 1838, they sailed from Beyrout, and passed by Smyrna and Constantinople, through the Black Sea, and up the Danube to Vienna. Here our author was brought to the borders of the grave by a fever contracted during the voyage.
The two following years were spent by Dr. Robinson at Berlin in the preparation of his various materials for the public eye. There," in the unrestricted use of that noble institution, the Royal Library, and of the very valuable private collections of Ritter, Neander and Hengstenberg," he had every facility for comparing the results of his journey with whatever has survived concerning the Holy Land in previous writers, both ecclesiastical and secular.
In taking a general view of the service which these researches have done for the cause of sacred literature, we notice:
First, the geographical results. No single expedition has ever contributed so large an amount of materials for the rectification of Scripture geography; nor have any previous travellers employed such unwearied pains to verify the results of those who have gone before them. Their instruments were constantly in their hands; every inflection of their path was noted on the spot; the time of arrival and departure from every point of interest, and the rate of travel were carefully preserved; thousands of bearings of mountains, towns, etc., were taken, and all are carefully wrought into their maps on scientific principles. As evidence of the industry and perseverance exhibited in this journey, we find that there are notices in these volumes, of more than a hundred sites of towns and other objects discovered, or described and their identity for the first time rendered probable by Robinson and Smith.
The mode of observation pursued by Dr. R. is, if we mistake not, quite novel, and has had no small share in the geographical value of his work. We allude to the constant habit of noticing the Wadys, or water courses, their depth and direction, and the relation of other objects to them. In this way, he has overspread the regions through which he passed with a tissue of vallies and ranges of hills, that by their position determine many questions of great interest. Thus, for example, we are now for the first time assured of the shape of the desert, by the patient collection of facts showing the drainage of its surface through the smaller depressions into the two great Wadys, elArish and el-Jerâfeh, running northward. The careful reader will notice other illustrations of the advantages of this peculiar mode of describing a country by the size and direction of its hollows, particularly in the account of Jerusalem and its vicinity.
Another source, from which much of the value of these researches is derived, was the combination in these travellers of the profound literary preparation of the one, with the familiar acquaintance of the other with the vernacular Arabic. A single illustration will set this in a just light. When our travellers were approaching Palestine across the desert, believing themselves to be on the route of the Roman road, they searched for the ancient stations, and among others for Elusa. And the manner of their discovering it was this: Jerome (Com. on Is. 15: 4) intimates that the Aramean name of this city was n (Chălûtzah), which was softened by the Greeks into "Elovod
(Elusa). It naturally occurred to our travellers that if this name survives among the Arabs at the present day, it must be in a form which resembles the cognate Aramean. What then, they inquired, would the name mentioned by Jerome become, when modified by Arab organs? This was a question which Mr. Smith at once answered by changing the word to Khulasah. This, then, was the name that was to be sought, if the memory of the place had not utterly perished; and this was the very name given by the Arabs to the ruins found at the Wady el-Kurn. Now it is apparent, that had not one of these travellers been thoroughly imbued with sacred literature, he would not have derived this hint from Jerome; nor would the hint have been available, had not the other been expert in the Arabic as now spoken in Palestine.
That we do not too highly estimate the value of these volumes to sacred geography, is shown by the testimony of Kiepert, the cartographist of Berlin, by whom the maps were constructed. He declares that "the routes of Robinson and Smith, in minute specifications of every kind, leave far behind them the reports of all other oriental travellers, even of Burckhardt himself;" that the maps and plans of Laborde and the Itinerary of Burckhardt " can make no pretension to the same degree of correctness as those of our travellers," and that Laborde's delineation of the region of Sinai " does not correspond to a single one of the exact bearings" taken by Robinson and Smith, "and may be pronounced a complete failure," etc. Even the great route from Jerusalem to Nazareth, though so often travelled and described, is now for the first time accurately constructed, and the true position of important places, such as Samaria, Nábulus and Jenin assigned to them.
But there is another characteristic of this great work, which enhances its value in our estimation; we mean its abundant historical illustrations. In his notice of almost every place which he describes, the author gives a connected sketch of its history, so far as any materials can be found in classical or ecclesiastical writers, ancient itineraries, Arabian geographers, or modern travels. Although, at first view, it may seem to impair the unity of the work, we are convinced, on further reflection, that there is great propriety in the introduction of this historical matter in connection with the places to which it refers. It thus possesses an interest and value which it would not have in a separate form. And besides, few men, espe
cially in this country, can have access to the literary facilities which Dr. R. enjoyed in Europe. He has done well, therefore, when the materials of history were within his reach, to collect them for the benefit of less favored scholars. The labor and research evinced in this portion of the work are prodigious; and we venture to say that these illustrations, with the appended notes, form the most complete index to whatever may be known of the history of Palestine, that can anywhere be found; and, in reference to the places visited by our travellers, leave little to be desired and almost nothing to be gleaned by succeeding laborers in the same field. As a specimen of these historical results the account of Jerusalem may be particularly named. We are not aware that there exists anywhere else among the innumerable works of geographers, annalists and travellers, so complete an account of the Holy City in the successive ages of its eventful history. This is not wholly owing to the lack of materials though these are indeed less copious than could be desired-but to their dispersion through rare authorities and the labor of searching them out; and, moreover, the few authentic facts have been overlaid by mountains of traditionary lore, heaped up by successive generations of pilgrims. Dr. Robinson has successfully analyzed these traditions, and fixed the canons by which it may be determined what is to be regarded as truthful and what is only the offspring of credulity or fraud. In the application of these rules he spoils many an interesting fable which long currency had almost authorized as fact; but for what we lose in this way, we are compensated by the feeling of repose with which we rest in the conclusions of the author,-the conviction that what is now given us may be relied on as truth, and nothing but the truth, and as nearly the whole truth as the nature of the case allows.
We must not omit to mention the valuable appendixes to these volumes, particularly to the third. These contain, among other things, a chronological list of works on Palestine and Mount Sinai, with a brief account of each; a scientific memoir on the maps, by H. Kiepert, the constructor; the itineraries of the travellers, being the field notes of the routes, rate of travel, meteorological remarks, etc. for every day; an essay, by Rev. E. Smith, on the pronunciation of the Arabic; and also the extensive tables, already alluded to, of names of places in Palestine and its vicinity, arranged according to the civil divisions