Jenin

Today has been very interesting. We were off bright and early, and left Nazareth behind us among its hills. Crossing a very bad, rocky ridge, we came down into the great plain of Esdraelon and crossed its eastern end, between Tabor and Little Hermon, where Deborah and Barak gathered their troops before the battle with Sisera. Keeping part way up Little Hermon, we came to a forlorn village. The people were a little dirtier and more rascally looking, the hovels a little viler, than any yet. We rode through it up to a large cave in the hillside, some twenty feet deep, with a spring in it and a fig-tree beside it. The village is Endor, and this cave is shown as the place where the witch called up Samuel. Certainly, the town looks as if it had had a crop of witches ever since, and were growing another for the next generation. We left it with the whole population crying out for ” backsheesh ” and throwing stones at us. Keeping along the side of Little Hermon, in about an hour we came to Nain, another wretched collection of some twenty huts, where you could imagine the beautiful scene of the miracle at the gate. Thence around the end of Little Hermon to its southern slope, where we came to Shunem, the scene of the pretty story of the Shunammite woman and Elisha. The village is a little larger than usual, with more bad smells and dogs. Below it, in the plain, lay the fields where the boy went with his father to see the reapers ; and far off is Carmel, to which the mother rode to fetch the man of God. There is a reality about these things here which is very enjoyable. An hour’s ride, now across the plain, brought us to the fountain of Jezreel, a spring and great pool of water at the foot of a steep rock. This, you know, was the scene of two great events : first, the destruction of the Midianites by Gideon (here is the very pool of which his soldiers drank or lapped), and the defeat of Saul by the Philistines. Here is where his army lay. The Philistines were opposite, at Shunem. Over that ridge of Little Hermon he went the night before the battle to consult the witch. Behind us rise the mountains of Gil-boa, in whose high places he was killed, and down the plain towards the Jordan you see the ruins of old Beth-shan, where his body was exposed. We lunched by the fountain, and then rode along the side of the Gilboa range to its western slope, where is Jezreel, the palace of Ahab, the home of Jezebel, the place where her body was thrown out to the dogs. The wretched creatures were prowling about there still, as we passed through. It is a miserable village of huts now, but you look across the plain and see where, after the miracle on Carmel, Elijah ran before Ahab ” to the entrance of Jezreel.”

From here we have been keeping all the afternoon along the southern slope of Gilboa to this point. The hills of Samaria have been full in view. Far off across the plain, by Carmel, are dimly seen Taanach and Megiddo, the towns of Deborah’s song. The white mosque of Jenin came in sight at five o’clock, and here we are in tent again. This place is prettily situated, but has nothing remarkable. It is the old Engannim of Joshua xxi. 29. The day has been overcast, but no rain ; tonight is clear, and I am very tired. Four months today since I landed at Queens-town. I have not forgotten that this is George’s birthday.