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Description of the area around Akka in 1857. Does not mention the Faith.

The Land and Its Book:
Biblical Illustrations drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery of the Holy Land

by W. M. Thomson

pages 458-459
London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1910

1. Text

[page x]


"RAS BEIRUT, January 20, 1857.

"MY DEAR W--, I this morning woke to final life's long dream a beautiful reality. For twenty years and more, as you well know, a visit to Palestine has been the unattained object of my fondest aspirations; and now here am I safely landed on her sacred shore, in perfect health, and ready to prosecute our pilgrimage with cheerful courage and high hope. The compact of our boyhood is to be realized, and I summon you to fulfill your part of it. This land of the Bible must become familiar to me as childhood's home. There are lessons in everything around me, I feel quite sure, and teachers on every side, did I but know their language. You are to be my dragoman to interpret this unknown tongue of the Holy Land. Such, you remember, is our compact.

"I am told that the necessary preparation for our travels can only be made in this city. Come on, therefore, without delay, and let us gather together whatever will contribute to our comfort, safety, and success. This will reach you by messenger express. The answer, I hope, will be yourself."

This summons was neither unexpected nor reluctantly obeyed; and a few hours' ride along the shore brought the author from Simon to Beirut, where the long-separated met in the hospitable mansion of a mutual friend. And now, kind reader, I trust that, like ourselves, you are eager to commence this tour of the Holy Land. But we must begin our preparations for it with "the garment of patience." Horses, and mules, and tents, and canteens, and beds, cooking apparatus, and servants to use it, with many other things too trifling to be mentioned, yet too necessary to be omitted, cannot be secured in a day. Meanwhile we may employ some of the hours of unavoidable delay in excursions to sites and scenes in and around our beautiful city. indeed, we invite you to join us in such a ramble at once through these charming suburbs.

[page 458]

"Fountains of Gardens."

is long and slender, while that of the Hauran is short and plump. The latter bears the highest price in market. The name Jezreel--God will sow--seems to have reference to the adaptation of this place for growing grain.

Hosea1 intimates that the final overthrow of Israel should be in this valley of Jezreel, where it is further said that God would punish the house of Jehu for the blood there shed by him. Treason and murder must be remembered and avenged, even though vengeance slumbers through many generations. What is the explanation. of that singular passage in Hosea, chap. ii. 21-23: "It shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel"?

You may read thus: The Lord will hear the heavens calling for the vapour and the clouds. These clouds shall hear the parched earth calling for rain. The earth, in turn, shall hear the languishing corn, and wine, and oil, and grant the nourishment required. Jezreel, also, the valley of vengeance and destruction, shall in that happy time be heard calling for the peaceful products of husbandry. Jezreel--God Himself will sow her with the seed of peace and righteousness. The Orientals are delighted with this sort of hazy, indistinct figure. There is evidently a play upon the name Jezreel, and an unexpressed blending of the bloody tragedies enacted in this valley with promises of better things in reserve for the true people of Israel. The passage begins with another most obscure but pregnant figure: "I will give her [Israel] the valley of Achor for a door of hope." That valley runs up from Gilgal toward Bethel. There Achan was stoned to death, and by that act the anger of the Lord was turned away from Israel, and the door of entrance to the promised inheritance thrown open. Achor means trouble, affliction--from whence comes our word ache, perhaps. Thus the valley of affliction was the door through which Israel at first entered the land of Canaan. And thus again the Lord, by His prophet, promised to lead Israel to peace and rest through the valley of trouble. The very indistinctness makes this mode of speaking the more suggestive. The valley of Achor--a door of hope--not a bad motto for those who through much tribulation must enter the promised land, the Canaan of eternal peace and rest.

But it is time to pass away from Jezreel, with all its lessons of wisdom. There is nothing of interest in the plain itself from this to Jenin. That village to which we are coming, called Jelamy, is prettily situated, but nearly ruined; and Em Gabeleh (or Mukeibileh), south-west of it, is quite deserted. The one on the left among the hills is Arramy, celebrated for its

    1 Hosea i. 4, 5.

[page 459]

wheat and tobacco. Between it and Jenin the plain runs far up into the eastern hills, and at the head of it is Beit Kod. The mountain of Gilboa is that just in front of us to the south-east; that is, the name Jelbun is now specifically attached only to this part, but in ancient times, I think, the whole rocky region between Jelbun and the valley of Jezreel was so called. Saul and Jonathan were probably slain somewhere farther north, possibly on the lofty promontory of El Mazar. There may even be an allusion to this very conspicuous place in the opening stanza of David's lament: "The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places." And this very name Mazar (a sacred tomb to which pilgrimages are made) may have been given to it because the daughters of Israel went thither to weep over Saul, who clothed them in scarlet, and put an ornament of gold upon their apparel.1

This dry channel proves that a large stream flows from Beit Kod and the mountains above it during the winter rains. The soil appears to be eminently fertile, and how beautifully the orchards of Jenin stretch this way down the plain! But I cannot yet see the town itself.

It is hid away in a ravine, and further concealed by the gardens and orchards. Both they and the town owe their flourishing character to the fountain which bursts out in the centre of the valley; and this, again, received its Hebrew name (En-gannim--Fountain of Gardens) from the flourishing orchards which anciently, as well as now, distinguished the place. This is the most distant permanent source of the Kishon; but during summer and autumn the water is all exhausted by irrigation, and none of it reaches beyond the margin of these green fields.

Is Jenin mentioned in the Bible?

It is, as I already remarked, the En-gannim which was given to Isaachar.2 Gannim is near enough to Jenin, and the En is for the fountain. As the place grew in importance the pre6x of 'Ain was dropped, and it became simply Gannim. Josephus calls it Ginnea, and the Arabs Jenin.*

    1 Sam. i. 24.
    2 Joshua xix. 21.

    ["It is now the chief town between Nazareth and Nablus and contains about four thousand inhabitants. It is a pretty and rather important little place, between the mountains of Samaria and the plains of Jezreel; there is even a good hotel here, managed by a German, and the shops keep European goods in stock. -- Ed.]

2. Image scans (click image for larger version)

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