by Cunningham Geikie, D.D.
Notes on Revelation Online Books
Cunningham Geikie D.D.
With a Map of Palestine and Original Illustrations by H. A. Harper
A breadth of apparently level foreground, backed by a range of purple hills, so nearly of equal height that they seem to form a table-land, is the first aspect of Palestine as the voyager coasts along it from Egypt in one of the steamers which touch at the different ports. Our destination is Joppa, or Jaffa*"the Beautiful," or, perhaps, "the High"one of the oldest cities in the world, and the first possible landing-place, as we sail northwards. There it is, at last, rising before us on its sloping hill, a hundred and fifty-three feet high; the flat-roofed houses looking down, terrace after terrace, on the waters. Half a mile out steam is let off and the anchors slipped, for it is unsafe for large vessels to go any nearer the town. A strong west wind might drive them on the rocks, as there is no breakwater or harbour to offer shelter, and sudden steaming to sea must always be easy.
* Jaffa is Jaapu in Assyrian.There is no difficulty, however, in getting ashore, if one have faith in the oarsmen who swarm round as soon as a vessel anchors. Competition reigns at Joppa as elsewhere. Many more boats than can find passengers crowd towards the steps let down to the water from the deck. A Babel of cries, unintelligible to Western ears, fills the air. The motley throng of deck passengers, of the most varied nationalities, who have till now littered three-fourths of the deck with their bedding and baggage, fare best in the noisy exodus, for they are virtually at home, knowing the language of the boatmen, and able at once to strike a bargain with them, without a contest about prices. For the last half-hour they have been busy packing. Veiled women, who sat apart with their children, in a spot railed off for them, are now on the wing with the rest. Figures in every variety of Eastern costumeArabs with shawls over their heads, and striped brown-and-white "abbas" or mantles; black Nubians with red fezzes, blue cotton jackets and trouser; brown Levantines in European dress; Syrians or Egyptians, in turbans and flowing robes of all shadespress towards the stairs, many of them throwing their softer packages over the ship's side into the boat they have chosen, to facilitate their departure. Bare legs and feet are mingled with French boots and red or yellow slippers, smooth faces with formidable black beards or venerable white ones. But the storm is too violent to last. Each minute sees it by degrees subside, as boat after boat shoots off under the oar-strokes of strong-armed rowers, no less strange in their dress than any of their passengers.
The boats for Europeans and those who shrink from the native crowd have not long to wait, and at last we too are sweeping towards the town. But it needs skill as well as strength to make the voyage safely. The nearly flat-bottomed cobles have to steer through an opening in the reefs only about a hundred feet wide, and the swell which rises with the daily forenoon land breeze may carry them too much to one side or the other. If the sea be rough there is real danger, for boats are occasionally lost, and as sharks are not unknown, they and the water offer two ways out of the world. The rocks stretch north and south before the town in a semicircle, some of them rising high out of the water, others only indicated by the surf breaking over them, the perilous entrance being known only to the local boatmen. Once through it, however, danger is past, and we find ourselves in a broad but shallow harbour. There is a wider opening to the north, seldom used on account of its distance from the port; and there was once, apparently, a third place of possible landing, at the Moon Pool, to the south, but this has long been closed by silt and sand.
Landing is itself a new sensation for Europeans. Some twenty or thirty yards from the shore you are seized and carried off in the bare arms or on the back of a boatman, for the water is too shallow to permit a nearer approach to the old tumble-down quay, built of stones from the ruins of Cæsarea, the base or capital of a pillar sticking out here and there, mixed with great bevelled blocks of conjectural antiquity. Strong arms lift and push you up a rough step or two, and you are fairly ashore, to find yourself amidst the houses, streets, and people of a new world.
There has always been the same difficulty in landing, for the rocks have been as formidable from the beginning of time, the water over them as treacherous, and the inside bay as shallow off shore, so that you have fared no worse than bead-eyed Greeks or hook-nosed Romans did thousands of years ago. While Palestine was held by the Christian nations Venice organised a spring and autumn packet-service to Joppa, and built a mole, of which the remains were still visible last century, to protect the shipping. It appears, however, to have been of little use, and since then, under the Arab and Turk, everything has relapsed into a state of Nature.
But I must mount my donkey and get to the "hotel," at the north end of the town. No trouble has been given at the Custom House; indeed, I had nothing to do with ita dragoman, or guide, who speaks English, managing all for me and the rest of the European passengers. The road leads along a miserable apology for a street. Once paved, the stones have long ago risen or sunk into the ideal of roughness. No thought of drainage crosses the mind of an Oriental; the space before his door serving for a sewer. Dust-bins are equally a Western innovation of which the East has not heard, so that every kind of foulness and abomination bestrews the way or rises in pestilent heaps at its side. The buildings are of stone, with little or no wood in any part, timber being so scarce in Palestine that stone is used instead. The arch is, hence, universal, alike in places of business, houses, piazzas, and offices. As you jog on you see that no light enters the shops except from the frontthat they are, in fact, like miniatures of the gloomy holes made out of railway-arches among us.
Presently we pass under an arch over which is built the chief mosque of the town, with a six-sided minaret on the right side of it surmounted by a narrow projecting balcony for the muezzin when he calls the faithful to prayers, a verandah-like roof sheltering him on all sides, with a short, round, dome-topped tower, of smaller diameter than the rest of the minaret, rising as its crown above. Stalls of all kind abound. Tables of cakes or sweetmeats line the narrow street, which is more or less shaded by rude awnings of matsoften sorely dilapidatedor breadths of tent-cloth, or loose boards, resting on a rickety substructure of poles stuck where the owner pleases. The emptyings of carts of stone would make as good a pavement, and the same rich aroma of sewage from the houses as we have already inhaled follows us all the way. A turbaned water-carrier with a huge skin bottle on his backa defunct calf, in fact, filled with water instead of veal and minus head, legs, and tailforces us to turn to one side, to pass him. A bare-armed and bare-legged apparition in a ragged skull-cap, cotton jacket, and cotton knickerbockers of very simple pattern, is chaffering with a roadside huckster for some delicacy costing a farthing or two from some of the mat baskets on a table; the bearded vendor, bare-armed and with bare legs, sitting, as he tries to sell, his head swollen out with a white-and-red turban, and his body in striped pink-and-white cotton. Of course there is a lounger at his side looking on. An Arab in his "kefiyeh," or head-shawl, with a band of camels'-hair rope, very soft, round his head, to keep the flowing gear in its place, and a brown and white striped "abba" for his outer dress, is trying to cheapen a bridle at a saddler's, who sits cross-legged on a counter running along the street, under a shaky projection of wood and reeds, which gives him much-needed shade.
At last we emerge into freer air. There is no longer the pretence of stone under-foot, but rather mud beaten hard by traffic, so long as rain does not soften it into a quagmire. Had we gone up the face of the hill, many of the streets would have required us to mount by long flights of steps, while the road along the top of the hill to the south is simply a bed of deep, dry sand. Outside the town on the north, however, after passing through the open space where markets are held on fixed days, a pleasant lane, reminding one of Devonshire by its hedge of brambles, with nettles and grass below, leads to the modest quarters where I was to stay.
From the sea Joppa appears to be hemmed in with barren sand-hills, but, on nearer approach, a fringe of green borders it both north and south. These are the famous orange-groves, from which literally millions of the golden fruit are gathered in a good year. They stretch inland about a mile and a half, and extend north and south over a length of two miles. My room looked out on a sea of orangeries, glowing with countless golden globes, which formed a charming contrast to the rich green leaves. Other orchards of pomegranates, lemons, almonds, peaches, apricots, bananas, and citrons, are numerous; for beneath the sand blown in from the sea the soil is rich and fertile. It is no wonder that Joppa has always been a famous summer retreat from Jerusalem. The shady paradise of its groves, and the cool sea-breeze, are a great attraction. Asses and camels, laden with boxes of oranges, pass continually to the port. Great heaps of the fruit lie ready for packing. Each tree has a number of stems, and every twig is heavily laden. White blossoms alternate with yellow fruit on the same branch. Here in Joppa the orange is grafted on the stock of a lemon, the produce being oval instead of round, and incapable of propagation from seeds.
The harvest is everywhere immense, the abundance of water being the secret of this fertility. Wherever a well is sunk in the orchards, it is sure to tap a spring at a very moderate depth. It seems, in fact, as if a great subterranean stream were running continually from the hills towards the sea, under the whole of the lowlands, from above Joppa to Beersheba in the far south; for water can be had everywhere if a well be dug. The rains which fall on the porous strata of the mountains, or on the soft bosom of the plains, filter downwards till stopped, not far below the surface, by a bed of hard limestone, which turns them off in a vast perennial stream, down its slope, towards the west. Thus every orchard has ample means of irrigation, effected by countless clumsy water-wheels, the creaking of which never ceases. These ingenious contrivances, though rudely enough put together, are at once simple and efficient. An ox, a mule, or an ass, yoked to a long pole projecting from the side of a thick upright post, and driven slowly round, turns this beam, which carries on its top a large horizontal wheel, with numerous wooden teeth, working into another wheel set up and down, and joined by a long wooden axle to a third, revolving, mill fashion, into and out of the well. This lets down and draws up in turn, as it goes round, a series of pottery jars, or wooden buckets, fastened to it at short intervals by two thick endless ropes of palm-fibre or myrtle-twigs, the roughness of which keeps them from slipping. As the jars or buckets pass over the top of the wheel, full of water, they empty themselves into a large trough, from which the life-giving stream runs into a little canal leading it through the orchard. This is tapped every here and there on its way, and thus furnishes numberless brooklets to moisten the roots of each tree; so that all, in effect, are planted "by the streams of waters" (Psa 1:3 [RV]).
Modifications of the water-wheel are naturally met with in different parts of Palestine and Syria. Thus, on the Orontes, huge wheels, varying in diameter from fifteen to ninety feet, are set up between strong walls at the edge of the river, so that in revolving, by the force of the current, the rim, armed with a series of wooden buckets, dips into the water and fills each in succession, carrying the whole round with it till, as they begin to descend, after passing the top of the circle, the contents are discharged into a trough leading to a raised tank, from which little canals run off through the neighbouring gardens. This, it is said, was the machine by which water was raised from terrace to terrace of the "hanging gardens" of Babylon, to a height, in all, of 400 feet, though the contriver of these wonderful imitations of a wooded mountain was wise enough to conceal, behind great walls, the means by which he kept it green.* In many places, however, very simple wheels are sufficient, when the water is near the surface. Thus, at the Virgin's Tree, near Cairo, and in many parts of the sea-plain of Palestine, a horizontal cog-wheel, fixed on an upright shaft, from which a long pole projects at one side, works directly into an upright wheel, hung with wooden buckets or earthenware jars, which, in turn, dip under the water, and duly empty their contents, as the wheel revolves, into a trough. A blindfolded ox at the outer end of the pole keeps the whole in motion as it paces round and round.
* Diod. Sic., ii. 10.Flower-beds and gardens of herbs are always made at a little lower level than the surrounding ground, and are divided into small squares; a slight edging of earth banking the whole round on each side. Water is then let in, and floods the entire surface till the soil is thoroughly saturated; after which the moisture is turned off to another bed, by simply closing the opening in the one under water, by a turn of the bare foot of the gardener, and making another in the same way with the foot, in the next bed, and thus the whole garden is in due course watered, though the poor gardener has a miserable task, paddling bare-legged in the mud hour after hour. It is to such a custom, doubtless, that Moses refers when he speaks of Egypt as "a land where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs" (Deut 11:10), and it is also alluded to in Proverbs, where we read that "the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord as the water-courses; He turneth it whithersoever He will" (Prov 21:1,2). Only, in this case, the hand is supposed to make the gap in the clay bank of the streamlet, to divert the current. There used to be a wheel in Egypt worked by a man's feet treading on steps in its circumference, and thus forcing it round, a horizontal support over his head, held by the hands, keeping him up while doing so. But such a literal treadmill is not so likely to be the watering with the foot to which Moses referred, though small wheels of this kind are still to be seen in Palestine.*
* Robinson, Bib. Researches, i. 542, thinks that the point in the reference of Moses is not to the distribution of the water, but rather to the supply. He would therefore regard the wheel turned by the foot as the mode of watering referred to by Moses.In front of my window, and on the right, the sand blown from the shore stretched along the coast, as it does everywhere in Palestine. The gardens of Joppa have been won from it by industry and irrigation, which needs only to be extended to increase at pleasure the area of supreme fertility. A palm-tree rose in the yard below, and a few more showed themselves here and there, clumps of other trees, also, brightening the view at different points. To the left a burial-ground lay among scattered houses, and then came the town, standing out from the shore almost the whole breadth of its hill, up the steep slope of which rose its flat-roofed houseswhite, grey, and redshutting out all beyond. A tank for watering the orangery near the hotel filled a yard close at hand, while a set of sheds, built alongside it, showed the special characteristic of Palestine architecture in a series of massive stone arches, strong enough for a castle. All the houses, or most of them, are equally solid. Stone, as I have said, costs little, and wood is expensive, so that to enable the builder to dispense with timber everything is arched. Sheds, verandahs, rooms, up-stairs or on the ground floor, are all alike a conglomeration of arches, strong enough to bear stone floors or floors of cement. If no earthquake pay a flying visit to Joppa, its houses, one might think, will stand for ever. In front of all this prodigality of stone and lime stretched out the blue sea, with some steamers at anchor in the roadstead, the sky above, as I looked, almost equally divided between the deepest blue and fleecy snow-white clouds.
Joppa is a very busy place, and offers in its one or two streets of shopsfor there are very few in the hilly part of the towna constantly changing picture of Eastern life. These shops, as I have said, are simply arches, open by day, but closed at night, and standing in the sweetest independence of all ideas of regularity of position. At some parts the sides of the street are comparatively near each other, but at one place they bend so far back as to leave a wide space for an open-air market. Everywhere, however, it is the same under-foot. By night you need a lantern, or at least a pilot bearing one before you, to guide you clear of the holes, pools, rivulets of sewage, mounds of rubbish, blocks of stone, and varying uncleanness. Like all other Eastern towns, it is hardly lighted at all; the very few oil lamps hung up at distant intervals by private individuals before their houses serving no really useful purpose. The windows of an Eastern house, as a rule, look into the court at the back, so that none are seen from the street, except when there is a second storey. But even in this case little light is gained, as such windows are small, and darkened by lattices. This open woodwork is, indeed, a feature in all Oriental towns. It was through such a lattice that the anxious mother of Sisera looked when her fondly-expected son had been defeated by Deborah and murdered by Jael (Judg 5:28), and through just such a casement did the thoughtful watcher look out in Solomon's time, to note the doings in the street below (Prov 7:6).
Little use, however, is made after dark of such latticed chambers, except for sleeping, and thus the streets are not brightened by any light from them, while, to add to the terrors of the outer darkness, the town dogs, which own no master, prowl round, noisy and fiercea hateful yellow race, with long heads, almost like those of hounds. Through the day, in the words of the prophet which vividly describe them, "they are all dumb, they do not bark; dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber" (Isa 56:10); but after sunset they are astir, swarming through the streets, and disturbing the night by their howling and uproar as they roam about to eat up the foul offal and waste of the households, which in all Eastern towns is thrown into the public roadway, these canine scavengers thus saving the community from untold horrors of disease. It was in reference to this that our Lord spoke when He said, "Give not that which is holy" ("clean," in the Jewish sense) "to the dogs" (Matt 7:6).* One needs a good stick to defend himself if he be abroad after dark. "Dogs have compassed me," says the Psalmist: "deliver my darling from the power of the dog!" (Psa 22:16-20). "At evening," says another psalm, "let them return, let them make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city. They shall wander up and down for meat" (Psa 19:14,15).** Sometimes, indeed, the dogs raise a dreadful barking if a stranger in unusual dress approach the village or appear in the streets, so that it was a pleasant assurance which Moses gave the Israelites, that when they set out from Egypt "not a dog should move his tongue against man or beast" (Exo 11:7); and Judith calmed the fears of Holofernes by telling him she would lead him so safely that he would run no risk of discovery through these pests.***
* "Throw" would be better than "Give."But dogs are not the only dangers of the streets. Any person found in them after nine o'clock without a light is in danger of being arrested by a town watchman, on whom one comes with a sudden start, the sound of feet making him stir in the darkness, where, perhaps, he has been asleep on the ground. This law was doubtless in force at the time when poor Sulamith, the bride in the Canticles, hastening after her beloved in the night, was seized by the watchmen, rudely beaten, and robbed of her mantle (Song 5:7).
** This text may allude to the jackals which prowl round cities and villages in open parts.
*** Judith xi. 19.
The bazaar street of Joppa is, as I have said, comparatively broad even in the narrowest parts, but it is very different in the "clefts"* that do duty for streets in some other parts of the town. In these, the small windows above almost touch each other, and it is a difficult matter to pass any laden ass or camel plodding on below.
* This is the meaning of shuk, the word in Hebrew for a narrow street (Prov 7:8; Eccl 12:4,5).But let us wander on through the chief business street. At the mouth of one small arched shop a number of goldfinches in cages are hung up for sale, as others, no doubt, have been, over the land, for thousands of years back, for the maidens in Job's time toyed with birds kept in captivity (41:5). The next arch is a carpenter's shop, the next a smithy. A string of camels, with firewood, passesmangy-looking brutes, never cleaned, and suffering badly from itch in consequence. The hair is off them in great patches, poor creatures! Arabs, with striped "abbas," or cloaks, and "kefiyehs" over their heads and shoulders, sit in the shade, smoking nargilehs, or water-pipes, in sublime indifference to everything but the gossip of the moment. Dreamy idleness is dear to the Oriental. He will sit in the same way in the shade of the orangeries, with fellow-idlers, through whole afternoons, and think it Paradise. Indeed, this idling seems the greatest enjoyment of the Joppa burghers.
Heaps of common painted pottery in the street invited purchasers a few steps farther on, and near them mounds of grain in arched stores. A man sat on the ground hard at work grinding lentils into flour, turning the upper stone of the little mill wearily with one hand as he held the under one with the other. I was glad to see, for once, a man rather than a woman at such work. Large numbers of cocks, hens, and chickens, tied by the legs, lay in the street awaiting purchasers. Eggs were for sale in great abundance. Men in turbans, tarbooshes, "kefiyehs," and striped "abbas," brown and white, sat on all sides, cross-legged, on the ground, in the open air, beside goods they offered for sale. An unveiled womanof course a Christianpassed, a silver ring on one of her fingers, a wristlet of the same metal on her arm, and tattooed marks on her face. The practice of printing indelible marks on the face and body has been common in the East from the earliest ages. "Ye shall not print any marks on you," says Leviticus (19:28); though there seems to be a limit of this prohibition in Exodus, where we apparently read of the deliverance from Egypt being kept in memory by signs upon the hands, and a memorial between the eyes; that is, on the forehead (Exo 13:9).* In Isaiah we also read of men subscribing with their hand, or as many translate it, "writing upon their hand," some proof of their loyalty to Jehovah. It would seem, therefore, as if the heathen signs tattooed by many ancient nations, as by some modern ones, on their faces or persons, were condemned, while others which recognised the God of Israel were permitted. Moreover, we read of the seal of the Living God being set on the foreheads of the redeemed (Rev 7:5), hereaftera metaphorical expression, indeed, yet one that could hardly have been used by St. John if all religious marks on the person had, in the opinion of his day, been wrong.
* The word "sign" is that used for the "mark" on Cain, and for the blood on the houses of the Hebrews before the death of the first-born of the Egyptians.But whatever may have been the custom among the ancient Jews, the practice of tattooing the hands, feet, face, and bosom, is very common now, both in Egypt and Palestine. It is, indeed, universal among the Arabs, and Christian pilgrims submit to it at Jerusalem, as a memorial of having visited the Holy places. In Egypt the practice is very general among women of the lower classes, and even among men. The operation is performed with several needles, generally seven, tied together. With these the skin is pricked in the desired pattern; smoke-black, of wood or oil, mixed with human milk, is then rubbed in; a paste of pounded fresh leaves of white beet or clover being applied to the punctures, about a week after, before they are healed, to give a blue or greenish colour to the marks. It is generally performed by gipsy women when a child is five or six years old.* Gunpowder is very often used in Palestine, the place tattooed being tightly bound up for some time after. Maudrell** describes the mode in which Christian pilgrims in his dayAD 1697had their "arms marked with the usual ensigns of Jerusalem," powdered charcoal, gunpowder, and ox-gall, being the ingredients of the ink used to rub into the punctures. Tattooing has, in truth, been employed in all ages, in well-nigh every country. To-day the Hindoo has the mark of his God on his forehead, and the English sailor a whole picture gallery on his arms or breast. In Isaiah (49:15,16) there is a wonderful passage, of which such customs are an illustration. "Forget thee, O Jerusalem!" says God, in effect; "how can I? for I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, so that as often as I look down at them thy walls are continually before me."*** The mother may forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb, but God, thus always reminded of His people, must have them ever in His thoughts.
* Lane, Mod. Egyptians, i. 46.I am wandering, however, from my ramble through the bazaar. The ordinary dress of the women, of whom few were to be seen, was a long sack of blue cotton-stuff, without any fulness, but reaching from the head to the bare feet, leaving the natural shape unspoiled by artificial outlines. Any quantity of sweets, or garlic, or oranges, can be had from stalls at the doors of the shops, or in the streets, the oranges at two or three for a halfpenny. Horse-trappings of all kinds had many sellers. Grocers, proud of their trade, sat amidst their stock spread out in boxes at the mouth of their little arch, or arrayed inside. Here is a humble cafe: only a dark open arch of no great size, with no furniture, and indeed quite empty, excepting that it has a clay oven, flat-topped, on which an atom of fire is kindled with a few bits of charcoal, to boil coffee when wanted. The turbaned proprietor is intently superintending the operation of getting the fire to light. A man with white turban and bare legs and arms sits pounding coffee-berries in a mortar, which he holds steady with his two feet, a long stick serving for pestle. A Bedouin sits in the middle, smoking a long wooden-stemmed pipe; an elderly apparition occupies a low rush stool, and pulls at a nargileh in one corner, and at the other a man is asleep, with his back against the rough stone wall.
** Journey, p. 100.
*** In Psalm 10:14, God appears to be pictured as in the same way marking the sins of men on His hand, to bring them to judgment in due season. Instead of "requite it," we may read, "to put" or "set it upon Thy hand."
At another cafe, farther on, a crowd of men are sitting on the same kind of low rush stools, in the open air, smoking nargilehs, but apparently buying nothing more than the use of the pipe. At one side a seller of sweetmeats and fruits presides over his boxes and baskets, sitting cross-legged on the projecting front ledge of the cafe arch in all the glory of turban, flowing robes, and bare legs. Mysterious sausage-meat, on tables in the streets, or in cook-shops, awaits customers, for whom a portion of it is squeezed round a skewer as it is wanted, and then laid over a lighted charcoal brazier on the table, till ready for eating. Milk, bread, and vegetables, had their own purveyorsturbaned figures of imposing dignity, who seemed to think their dens the most important spots in the world. Leeks, carrots, radishes like Bologna sausages for length and thickness, had numerous buyers. Fish shops were frequent. Cobblers drove a brisk trade in the open air, condescending to mend slippers and sandals which would have been thrown into the dust-bin with us. Veiled women passed frequently. The street was crowded with strange figures, which from time to time had to press closely together to let a drove of mules or asses pass, laden with mysterious cases ready for export, or with huge rough stones, or boxes of oranges; or to make way for a string of silent, tall, splay-footed camels, similarly freighted, each tied to the one before it; the driver riding ahead on an ass, which they implicitly followed. Porters with weights which no Englishman would think of carrying trod through a way readily opened for them, not, however, from disinterested motives. How is it that men who live so poorly as these Eastern "atals" or "hammals" can manage such loads?
You stand aside to let one "atal" pass with three or four heavy portmanteaus on his back; another follows with a box much bigger than himself; and a third, with two huge empty barrels, or a load of wheat, or of furniture; the road they have to travel, broken, rough, slippery, and often steep, making the burden additionally hard to support. I once saw half-a-dozen or perhaps eight men carrying a hogshead of sugar on a thick pole, the ends of which rested on their shoulders. It was in Constantinople, but Eastern porters are the same everywhere. They find constant employment, as there are no carts or wheeled conveyances. Generally wearing only an almost indestructible coat of camels'-hair cloth over their shirt, their whole stock-in-trade consists of a rope about five feet long. Piling their intended load together, they arrange their rope so as to keep it all in its place; then, crouching down with their back against it, rise with a sudden spring to their feet, assisted perhaps, for the moment, by someone near. A loud grunt, to empty their lungs, uniformly marks the terrible strain, but it perhaps saves them from a ruptured blood vessel. They remind one of the heavy burdens and grievous to be borne to which our Lord compares the spiritual slavery under which the Pharisees laid the common people. Perhaps the "atals" of Christ's day supplied the illustration; but His burden, let us rejoice to think, is light.
On the south side of the town, at the edge of the sea, close to the lighthouse, one is reminded of the visit of St. Peter to Joppa by the claim of a paltry mosque to occupy the site of the house of Simon the tanner. The present building is comparatively modern, and cannot be the actual structure in which the apostle lodged. It is, however, regarded by the Mahommedans as sacred, one of the rooms being used as a place of prayer, in commemoration, we are told, of "the Lord Jesus having once asked God, while here, for a meal; on which a table forthwith came down from heaven." Strange variation of the story of St. Peter's vision! The waves beat against the low wall of the court-yard, so that, like the actual house of Simon, it is close "on the sea-shore." Tanning, moreover, in accordance with the unchanging character of the East, is still extensively carried on in this part of the town. In the court there is a large fig-tree, which redeems the bareness of the spot; and close to the house is a fine well, from which the water is drawn up by a rope turning on an axle worked by short fixed spokes, one end of it being in the wall, the other in an upright post. The roof is flat, with a parapet round it, but there is a broad arch underneath, the front of which is filled up with square stones, much weatherworn; the doorway, a mere opening in the stonework, without any door or woodwork, at the left corner of the arch; a window-space, half the size of this door, up towards the point of the arch; the stones once over it, to the point of the arch, at the turn of the rude stair by which the housetop is reached. In the arch on the right-hand side of the court is the mosque, in which a light is kept perpetually burning.
Let us go up the rough outside staircase, and, like Peter, withdraw for a time to the roof. Part of the building is inhabited, so that we cannot see the interior; but the view from the roof, and the roof itself, well repay a visit. As in Peter's day, it is flat, with the domes of two arches on each side of the court bulging through the level. The parapet is partly built of hollow earthenware pipes, about five inches in diameter and eight or ten inches long, arranged in pyramids close to each other, letting in the cool wind, and enabling anyone to look out without being seen. From the top hang numbers of household details, some boxes for pigeons' nests among them. At one angle of the house there is a small square window-hole on the second storey, closed at night by a wooden shutter, now turned to the wall; a larger one, with its shutters open, is on another face, and others also, letting the light into the rooms; but the shutters of all are very rough and old. A pigeon-house is built in one corner against the parapet, the roof offering a promenade for its population. A rain-spout juts out from below the parapet, and there is a small chimney two or three feet higha mere toy in sizebut sufficient for a kitchen in which only a handful of charcoal is burned at a time.
Similar flat roofs, with parapets, line the three sides of the hollow square of the court. From such a terrace St. Peter's eyes rested on the wide heaven above, and these shining watersthe highway to the lands of the Gentile. Fishermen were then, perhaps, wading between the rocks of the harbour, or moving over them, as nowa sight recalling long-past days to the old fisherman of Gennesaret. On the roof of a one-storeyed house below a man is sleeping in the shade, while another near him is having his head shaved. A high-prowed, large boat lies near, with one mast crossed by a great bending spar fixed atop, raking far above our roof, the cargo of earthenware jars rising high over the gunwales. The parapets round the roofs, by the way, must be a very ancient feature in Eastern houses, for the ancient Jews were told, "When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence" (Deut 22:8).
The site of the house of Dorcas or Tabitha, "the Gazelle," three-quarters of a mile east of the town, is another of the sights of Joppa, but though the tradition respecting it is ancient, no reliance can be placed on it. Assuredly, however, if the state of the poorer classes in the town eighteen hundred years ago were as bad as it is now, she must have had room enough for her charity. Extreme poverty is a characteristic of large numbers in all Eastern cities, and if we may judge by the appearance of the lower class in Joppa, they are no exception to the rule.
Joppa used to be surrounded by a wall, which, however, only dated from the close of last century, at which period the town was rebuilt, after having been almost entirely destroyed in the fifteenth century. The wall was commenced by the English and finished by the Turks; but it has now been levelled and its place occupied by buildings; the ditch being filled up. The original land-gate was a comparatively large structure, and had an open space before it, in which the Governor or Cadi with his suite still occasionally tries cases, with swift Oriental decision, as was the custom with the ancient Jews. Thus, they were not to "oppress the afflicted in the gate" (Prov 22:22) by false witness before the judge, or other means. Job asseverates that he had never lifted up his hand against the fatherless because he saw his help in the gate (31:21), as if he deprecated the idea of ever having overawed the judge by the number of his retainers.
On the south of the town lay formerly "the Moon Pool," where the rafts of cedar and other timber for the Temple at Jerusalem were brought by the Phnicians (2 Chron 2:16) in Solomon's day; and afterwards, for the second Temple, in the days of Ezra (3:7). Jerusalem is twelve hours' journey from Joppa, at the pace of a horse's walk over rough ground, and it must have been a terrible matter to drag up huge beams over such a track. The enforced labour of thousands, so tyranically used by the Jewish king, must have been required to get them pulled, step by step, to their destination, the remembrance of the hideous sufferings of such a task probably helping to bring about the revolt of the Ten Tribes under his successor (2 Chron 10:4; 1 Kings 5:13). The Moon Pool at Joppa has, however, long been silted up by the current which sweeps along the coast of Palestine from the south, carrying with it sand and Nile mud. Pelusium, Joppa, Ascalon, Sidon, and Tyre, have all been destroyed as ports, in the course of ages, from this cause, and Alexandria would have shared the same fate had not the genius of its founder guarded against the danger by choosing a site to the west of the mouths of the great Egyptian river.
It was from Joppa that the prophet Jonah sought to flee from his duty by taking passage in a great Phnician ship bound for Tarshish, apparently the district round Cadiz, in Spain. Strangely, there is a record in Pliny's "Natural History"* of bones of a sea-monster sent from Joppa to Rome by Marcus Scaurus the younger, who was employed in Judæa by Pompey. They measured forty feet in length, and were greater in the span of the ribs than that of the Indian elephant, while the backbone was a foot and a half in diameter. Naturally, in simple eyes, these remains were supposed to be those of the very "fish" mentioned in the story of the prophet, but they at least show that sea-beasts of huge size have not been unknown in the Mediterranean in any age.**
* Plin. Nat. Hist., ix. 5.The history of Joppa has been stirring enough in past ages. When Joshua mapped out the land to Israel, it was assigned to the tribe of Dan (19:46), but they could not wrest it from its Phnician inhabitants. It first became Jewish under the Maccabees, in the second century before Christ. A number of Hebrews had settled in it, and from some cause had incurred wide-spread popular hatred, which took a terrible way of asserting itself. "The men of Joppa prayed the Jews that dwelt among them to go, with their wives and children, into the boats which they had prepared, as though they had meant them no hurt; but when they were gone forth into the deep they drowned no less than two hundred of them."* Such an atrocity drew down the speedy vengeance of Judas Maccabæus. "Calling on the righteous Judge, he came against those murderers of his brethren, and burnt the haven by night, and set the boats on fire, and those that flew thither he slew."** It was Jonathan, the youngest of the Maccabæan brethren, however, who, with the help of his brother Simon, first actually gained the town for the Jews***BC 147. Pompey, eighty-four years later, added Joppa to the Roman province of Syria, but Augustus gave it back, after the fall of Antony and CleopatraBC 30to Herod the Great, so that it became once more Jewish, and it was held by his son Archelaus till he was deposed and banished, AD 6that is, when our Lord was about ten years of age. Under Vespasian it suffered terribly, its population having largely turned pirates; it was, in fact, virtually destroyed. Since then its fortunes have been various: now Roman, next Saracen, next under the Crusaders, then under the Mamelukes, and next under the Turks, to whom it still, to its misfortune, belongs. The population at this time is given by some authorities at 15,000,^ by others at only 8,000,^^ of whom 500 are Europeans, and 3,000 Jews.
** Sepp, Jerusalem und das Heilige Land, vol. i. 4, gives a number of instances. Many also are quoted by Dr. Pusey in his Minor Prophets.
* 2 Macc. xii. 3,4.On the south-east of the town a settlement of the Universal Israelitish Alliance has been able to obtain a tract of 780 acres, one-third of which, before unreclaimed, they have turned into fruitful fields and gardens. Their vineyards and those of others skirt the orchards on the south, the vines trailing low over the sand, but yielding large and delicious grapes. On the north there are large gardens owned by the Franciscans, and bordering these are vineyards owned by a German colony. A settlement of Egyptians, brought here fifty years ago by Ibrahim Pasha, live in great wretchedness in low mud cabins along the shore to the northa heard of poor creatures stranded here, when the tide of war that had swept them from their native land finally ebbed. But war has a still more vivid memento to show, close to the town, for a spot is still pointed out on the sand-hills to the south-east where Napoleon I caused between two and three thousand Turkish soldiers to be shot down in cold blood, to save him the trouble of taking them with him to Egypt.
** 2 Macc. xii. 6.
*** 1 Macc. x. 76.
^ Riehm, Handworterbuch and Calwer Bibel Lex.
^^ Palestine Fund Memoirs, ii. 255; Pict. Palestine, ii. 138.
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