Palestine

plain, mountains, region, samaria, hills, feet, terraces, ing, north and olin

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If we consider the difference of elevation be tween the highland of Galilee and the low plain of Esdraelon, we shall sec reason to regard the mountains and ridges of the border between them, and which form as it were the boundaries of the low plain, as merely detached or connected recesses, or peaks of the highland. The moun tains of Gilboa and Hermon, which bound the plain of Esdraclon on the east. arc certainly no other than portions of this high land, though they become mountains from the lower level of thc Great Plain. Tabor itself seems but as one ad vanced peak or promontory of the high lands of Galilee. (See TABOR. ) On the west the Great Plain is bounded by Carmel, which may be either regarded as a detached ridge, or as connected with the mountains of Samaria, which rise be yond the plain on the south. (See CARNIEL) Southward of the plain of Esdraelon, through out to the borders of the southern desert, is an almost unbroken mountainous country, or ridge of mountains, extending north and south. It of fers few conspicuous points, but its general ele vation in the center may be determined by that of Gerizim in the north (2,400 Paris feet), of Olivet in the center (2,536 Paris feet), and of Hebron in the south (2,7oo Paris feet). The ascent to the higher and central region from the plain of the coast on the west is gradual, by a succession of natural terraces; but eastward, in the direc tion of the Jordan and Dead Sea. the descents are comparatively abrupt and precipitous.

There is no distinct natural boundary between the mountains of Samaria and Judwa. The hills of Samaria exhibit scenery very different from those of Galilee. They are often beautifully wooded, and the region is more populous and better cultivated than any other part of Palestine. Among numerous venerable olive woods towns and villages are scattered in every direction, and some of the views rival those of Switzerland. The principal mountains of Samaria arc those of Ebal and Gerizim, which have been described un der the proper heads (Morison, ii. io; Bucking ham, Palestine, ch. xcii; Elliot, ii. 38o; Olin. ii. 354).

The mountains of Judxa, although of greater historical celebrity. are now less attractive than those of Samaria, but apparently for no other rea son than that their cultivation has been more neglected. The hills are generally separated from each other by valleys and torrents, and are for the most part of moderate height, uneven, and seldom of any regular figure. The rock of which they are composed is easily converted into mold, which, being arrested by terraces when washed down by the rains, renders the hills cultivable, in a series of long. narrow gardens, formed by these terraces, from the base upwards. Thus the hills were clad in former time most abundantly, and enriched and beautified with the fig-tree, the olive, and the vine; and it is in this way that the lim ited cultivation which survives is still carried on. But when the inhabitants were thinned out, and cultivation abandoned. the terraces fell to decay, and the soil which had collected on them was washed down into the valleys, leaving only the arid rock, bare and desolate. This is the general

character of the hills of Judwa; but in some parts they are beautifully wooded, and in others the application of the ancient mode of culture sug gests to the traveler how productive the country once was, and how fair the aspect which it of fered (Kitto's Palestine. Phys. Geog. p. 39; Mariti. ii. 362; Elliot, ii. 407, 4o8; Olin, Raumer, Paldstina, p. 47, sq.).

The characteristics of desolation which have been indicated apply with peculiar force to the northern part of Judzea, forming the ancient ter ritory of Benjamin. Its most favorably situated mountains are wholly uncultivated; and perhaps in no other country is such a mass of rock exhib ited without an atom of soil. In the east, to wards the plain of Jericho. it takes a naturally stern and grand character, such as no other part of Palestine offers. It is through this wild and melancholy region that the roads from Jerusalem to Jericho, and (by way of Wady Saba) to the Dead Sea lie. It has hence, by the former route, often been passed by travelers in their pilgrimages to theJordan; and they unite in depicting it in thc most gloomy hues. 'The road,' says Dr. Olin, 'runs along the edge of steep precipices and yawn ing gulfs, and in a few places is overhung with the crags of the mountain. The aspect of the whole region is peculiarly savage and drcary, vy ing in these respects, though not in overpowering grandeur, with the wilds of Sinai. The moun tains seem to have been loosened from their foun dations, and rent in pieces by some terrible con vulsion, and there left to be scathed by the burn ing rays of the sun, which scorches the land with consuming heat' (Travels. ii. 197). These char acteristics became more manifest on approach ing the Jordan; and the wild region extending north of the road is believed, with sufficient prob ability, to form 'the wilderness' where, after his baptism, Jesus 'was led up of the Spirit, to be tempted of tbe devil,' and where 'he fasted forty days and forty nights' (Matt. iv:1, 2). The lofty ridge which extends north of the road, and fronts the plain of Jericho,is called Quarantana,with ref erence to this event, and the particular summit from which Satan is supposed to have displayed to the Savior 'the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them' is crowned by a chapel, still oc casionally resorted to by the devouter pilgrims, while the eastern face which overhangs the plain is much occupied with grots and cells, once the ifavorite abode of pious anchorites. The Quar antana forms apparently the highest summit of the whole immense pile, and is distinguished for its sere and desolate aspect, even in this gloomy region of savage and dreary sights. It has not, that we know, been measured, but Dr. Olin com putes its height at nearly 2,000 feet in perpendic ular height (Travels, ii, 119; Kitto's Palest.; Phys. Geog. p. 39; Robinson, ii. 289; Hassel quist, p. 128; Maundrell, p. 79; Morison, p. 523; Nau, p.

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