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New Year's day 1837, was especially severe, and caused considerable destruction in the houses and walls of the town of Tiberias.
Returning towards the town, the scenery looked very charming on a fine afternoon, and the town, with its irregular battlemented wall, very picturesque, as things do at a distance, however dirty and squalid they may be on a nearer approach. We were anxious to take boat and have a little excursion upon the waters of the Sea of Galilee, and arrangements had been made for that purpose; but it was not found easy to secure a boat, for where once fishermen abounded, boats and men are now alike somewhat scarce, and the barks themselves are of the heaviest and clumsiest description. Moreover the people are all so rapacious that one can only make a bargain for a wretched sort of dirty barge on about double the terms which would engage an elegant wherry at Putney. However a bargain was concluded, and it was arranged that we should take our boat at the town itself. We picked our way through the very filthiest streets I have ever seen, and reached an open beach, where were numbers of people employed in their usual avocations; among whom were a number of Jewesses filling their jars and skins with water from the lake. The outlook for our excursion was not very bright, for we could only see two or three boats anchored at a considerable distance from the shore, and while arrangements were being made for them being brought nearer, quite a crowd of men, women, and children was assembled about us. These arrangements consisted of a couple of Arabs, the descendants of Peter and James and John, stripping themselves stark naked, and wrapping their shirts (or what did duty for such) turban-fashion about their heads, and then wading out to the distant and desired vessels -fully a hundred yards away.
Having brought the boats sufficiently near for us to be carried into them, we made a slow progress northwards, in front of the town; which was interesting, as revealing something of the native life of this sea-coast place, and also a small conventual building, in which it is said one solitary monk resides, marking the traditional site of one of the most extraordinary episodes of the resurrection history of our Lord. Whether this be the exact spot or not, matters little; it must have been close by that our Lord, appearing to Simon Peter and others, asked them, “Children, have ye any meat?" and on their answering Him in the negative, He said, “ Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now
were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." And on that shore it was
that that mysterious circumstance took place : “As soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them; Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask Him, Who art Thou? knowing that it was the Lord” (John xxi. 5-13).
Turning the boat round, we now slowly progressed along the shore of the lake ; and I could not help picturing to myself the time when our Lord Himself thus entered into a ship and addressed the multitudes who thronged the shore, thus avoiding pressure, and giving every one the greatest chance of hearing the words that fell from His lips. How different now! In those days Palestine was a prosperous land, and the Sea of Galilee was the centre of a populous community who dwelt in cities around it. Magdala, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin, Bethsaida Julias, Gamala, Hippos, and Tarichæa dotted the coast of the lake at intervals; and the new city of Herod Antipas, Tiberias, was the centre of attraction, not to mention other villages and places all round about. From them came multitudes to hear the words of Christ, and the pressure of the crowds who followed Him is the constant theme of the Evangelists. Five thousand left their homes at such a distance that they were fed by a miracle when fainting with hunger. The towns were full of courtiers, scribes, Pharisees, priests, and a busy population; the beach was alive with fishermen plying their craft upon the productive lake ; and everything must have betokened busy enterprise and commercial prosperity. But now the cities are a heap! The proud Tiberias is a filthy village of squalid Arabs and Jews! the shores of the lake are silent and almost deserted !
Our Lord always seemed attracted by the shores and waters of the Sea of Galilee, whence He drew, not only most of His disciples, but teaching a fishing population, He derived many of His illustrations from their craft; and this beach, now deserted, along which we are slowly sailing, was the very field in which the seeds of Christianity were first sown by their great Founder—the nursery in which the tender plants of the new dispensation first sprouted on which the grain of mustard-seed fell which was to become a tree, in the branches of which the birds of the air were hereafter to build their nests.
Landing at length near our camp, I took a chair out to the verge of the lake, and there sat by myself meditating on all the great events which had taken place upon these glassy waters and on their banks. That lake, now so calm, was once ruffled into turbulent waves, when a few fishermen in their craft were in danger of being shipwrecked; but there was one fallen asleep in the boat to whom they naturally turned for succour; “and when they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy, they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Master, Master, we perish! Then He arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water : and they ceased, and there was a great calm." And again, in the darkness of the night, when the disciples were alone at sea, and a great wind from the neighbouring mountains raised the billows,
they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship, and they were afraid. But He saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.” It was here, too, that Christ said to Peter, “Go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them [as tribute] for Me and thee” (Matt. xvii. 27). Over there, to the left, He fed the multitude with miraculous bread. Down in that corner, to the right, He cast out a legion of devils, permitting them to enter into a herd of swine, which then ran down a steep place violently into the sea. On this beach He chose His disciples ; and here He appeared to them after He was risen from the dead. Long I sat by the lake thinking of these things, till the sunset melted into twilight, and the twilight gave place to a bright canopy of stars ;
and when I awoke in the night, it was to hear the rippling wavelets of the Sea of Galilee beating gently upon the shore not more than a dozen yards from where I lay.
A magnificent morning and day succeeded, and at day break we turned straight out of our tents and into the lake. · Soon after seven the camp was broken
and mounting our horses we turned towards
We had to ascend the hills upon the west side of the lake and pursue our journey across them to Nazareth. In riding up the hillside we have beautiful bird's-eye views of the lake, and command nearly all the places of interest around it, which the topographical experience we have acquired during the last two days has rendered us well able to distinguish, each for himself. The snowy peak of Hermon in the Anti-Lebanon arises in the north-east over the hills of Bashan, and one of the peaks of the Lebanon range makes its appearance in the north-west. The triangular green plain of Gennesaret is dotted over with clumps of bushes; the mounds of Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin are traceable along the north-east concave shore of the lake. Tiberias lies at our feet, while the singular rounded top of Tabor comes into view in the south-west, over the hills of Galilee. The lake itself, smiling in the bright morning sunshine, unruffled and calm, fills up the whole area
between the barren mountains of 2000 feet in the east, and the hills on which we stand, the whole being visible, except that farther southern corner out of which the Jordan flows. Independently of the signs of volcanic agency already mentioned, the deep depression in which the lake lies gives proof of its volcanic origin, its neighbouring counterpart in some respects, the Dead Sea, being of course unmistakably volcanic.
But now we must turn our backs upon this sacred spot, and looking forward, we see just above us that curious (camel's) saddle-shaped hill, which I have already spoken of as that on which the Sermon on the Mount is believed to have been delivered. This Mount of Beatitudes is called Kurûn Hattin, the “Horns of Hattin." The identity of the site is by no means very certain. Like many others, it has been fixed upon by one of the rival Churches, and when once tixed upon, such sites are clung to with pertinacity. An older tradition makes it the spot where the 5000 were fed, and some blocks of stone near the summit have received the name of Christ's Table; the event, however, did not occur here, but on the other side of the lake.
But whether the Horns of Hattin is really the Mount of Beatitudes or not, it is remarkable for its connection with an historical incident of no mean importance. For beside it was fought one of the greatest battles of the middle ages, when, on the 5th July 1187, Christian and Saracen met with the shock of arms for the last time; when the Knights of the Cross fell before the warlike Moslem, and the Crusades became a matter of history-a thing of the past. It is much to be regretted that the casus belli was not to the credit of the Christians, for Raynald de Chatillon, Grand Master of the Templars, in contravention of a truce, pillaged a caravan from Damascus, and afterwards refused restoration at Saladin's demand. Saladin with his warlike array passed to the north of the lake and occupied the hill over the town of Tiberias. The Christians, under the King of Jerusalem, were unwisely drawn from a strong position, and gave battle on the plain of Hattin, where they were totally routed after a fierce fight, and the flower of the crusading army was cut to pieces; while the rest, including the king and the grand master, fell into the hands of the enemy: Saladin reserving the execution of Raynald to his own sword, in accordance with an oath which he had sworn. For seven hundred years since that time Palestine has been in the hands of the hated Moslem.
The rolling hill-tops, as we crossed the range, were very pleasing and picturesque, and here and there we encountered a green spot where olive-trees and prickly pears showed that a village was situated.
The country is fertile, but neglected, though it is said to be frequented by Bedouins in the spring season. As we advance we see more signs of cultivation and industry, and about noon we stop at a village, surrounded by figs and pomegranates and olive-trees, called by the Arabs Kefr Kenna, and known to us as Cana of Galilee, where the water was turned into wine. But here we are in a difficulty, when we learn that there is another place which lays claim, with at least equal reason, to being the renowned scene of our Lord's beginning of miracles. The Arabic names often retain the old Scriptural appellations, and furnish an important clue to the identification of a site, and in the present case, this spot, although the Arabic Kenna, pales before another not a great way off, which is to this day called Kana; but such difficulties are usually caused by the rival Greek and Latin Churches. If the Latins are persuaded that a certain spot is a veritable "holy place," and build thereon a church or a convent, the Greeks immediately discover that another place is the true locality, and appropriate it, while very likely neither of them are genuine. Each, however, retains its own supporters, and draws devotees of either communion, and thus probably fulfils the end which had been intended.
In the present case we were shown the house in which it is said the miracle took place; it is converted into a Latin chapel, and in the walls were fixed two ancient stone pots or jars, suid to be then filled with the water made wine. In the sixth and seventh centuries these pots are described as having been seen at the other Cana (Kâna); but singular to say, they have not only disappeared from them at the present day, but almost common consent has transferred to Kenna the scene of the miracle.
While lunching in a pomegranate-grove, I was much interested in observing the inhabitants, particularly the women and children who came to draw water at the public well. The labour of carrying water (by no means a light one) is always delegated to the fairer and weaker sex, and the heavy two-handled jars, themselves of no light weight, when filled with water become something tremendous, and raise one's wonder how they can be borne with such apparent facility. Another woman often, but not always, gives it a help up to its place on the bearer's head, where they are nicely poised and simply guarded with one hand; and the bearer of such a jar, with one arm up, and the other by the side, walking necessarily erect, and clad in the drooping garments worn here, is a picturesque and graceful object, in proportion to her youth. But only full-grown persons can carry these large amphoræ, though