We have returned here to spend Sunday. Our road from Tiberias was different from the one we took in going there, and was arranged to take in Mt. Tabor. It has been a hard day’s ride, nine hours and a half on the way. The only point of interest was Tabor. After keeping it in sight all the forenoon, we reached its foot about twelve o’clock, and climbed it slowly. The ascent is not long, and there is a sort of road, but very rough. You wind up through oak-trees, scattered among the rocks, and about an hour brings you out on the top, where there are the ruins of an old town, and a convent of Greek monks. The view is noble, though not equal to the Nazareth hill. The beautiful plain of Esdraelon stretches to the west, with Carmel closing it in. On the south lies Little Hermon, ” the Little Hill of Hermon,” with Endor and Nain upon its sides, and the mountains of Gilboa showing their heads beyond. To the west you can just see a bit of the lake, and trace the valley where it lies and where the Jordan runs, with the table-land of Bashan stretching out beyond, and the blue hills of Gilead farther off still. To the northwest there is old Hermon, still with his snow, so that we have the two great mountains associated. ” Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in Thy name.” You know that Tabor has been held to be the mountain of Transfiguration. There is no authority for it but tradition, and I for one am well convinced that some one of the ridges of Hermon is far more likely to be the place. But Tabor is very beautiful, and has been always one of the sacred places. We met on the top a poor Abyssinian priest, who had come all the way hither on a pilgrimage, and now clings about here, living on charity. He kissed my hands and called down unintelligible blessings when I gave him five piastres. A hard afternoon’s ride brought us to our old camping-ground, surrounded by hedges of cactus, among the gnarled old olive-trees beside the fountain of Nazareth.
Here we shall rest ourselves and our horses for a day in this old town, which with the sea of Galilee has more attraction for me than anything else that I have seen. Next week to Jerusalem.
I put you in two ” lilies of the field ” from Mt. Carmel, and two purple oleander blossoms from the ” land of Gennesaret,” between Magdala and Capernaum.
Sunday Evening, December 17, 1865.
I have had a very pleasant, quiet Sunday here at Nazareth. This morning I went to the Greek church and heard their usual boisterous and disagreeable service. The forenoon we spent in reading and resting. It was warm as summer, the tent curtains wide open, the babble at the fountain all day. This afternoon to the Latin church, where a very impressive mass was performed before the altar of the Annunciation. The chanting with an organ (the first I have heard since Vienna) and boys’ voices was very fine. A strange group of Bedouins, women, children, and all odd costumes, kneeling on the altar stairs. After service Appleton and I took a walk into the country, and saw what we have seen all along, the shepherds leading (not driving) their flocks and carrying the weak ones in their arms. All day the people have gathered round to look at us. It is touching to hear the poor people tell of how they suffered from the locusts in the spring. They came in clouds, covering the ground half a foot deep, as large as sparrows ; all the shops and houses were closed for days. Every green thing was eaten up. It sounded like a chapter out of Joel. It is sad, too, to hear them talk of their government. All spirit is gone out of them, and they only wait the inevitable dropping to pieces of the rotten thing, which all expect. The English missionary here called to see us this afternoon.