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His Divinity, the Lord has provided for the salvation of His people, by enabling them to live a life of righteousness, to overcome in temptation, to suffer for conscience sake, to die to sin, to rise from the dead, and walk with the Lord in newness of life, and finally ascend into heaven; and, having overcome, to sit with Jesus on His throne, as He also overcame, and is set down with His Father in His throne.
Such is the result or realized purpose of the Incarnation. celebrating the Lord's birth in the world, we should regard it as more than an annually recurring festival; as nothing less than the day of salvation as well as the year of redemption, a day ever to be remembered as that in which the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, in which the Sun of righteousness arose with healing in His wings. Blessed, then, be the Lord God of Israel, who hath visited and redeemed His people, to give light to them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the
HYMN FOR CHRISTMAS.
BY JOSEPH DUFTY.
FROM BEYROUT TO BETHLEHEM:
BEING REMINISCENCES OF A RECENT JOURNEY THROUGH THE HOLY LAND.
By C. COLLINGWOOD, M.A., etc.
XII. BETHLEHEM, ETC., CONCLUSION. While staying at Jerusalem, we one day mounted our horses and sallied forth on a most interesting expedition, to visit some of the historical places situated a little north of the city. Passing by the Tombs of the Judges, and taking a north-west direction, we began a toilsome ascent across the shoulder of a hill, and found ourselves threading the passes of Benjamin, surrounded everywhere by limestone slopes. Emerging from an amphitheatre of hills, we perceived one more lofty than the rest, for which we directed our course. This is called by the Arabs Neby Samwil, or the Prophet Samuel, and is usually believed to be Mizpeh. It rises nearly six hundred feet above the plain, and is crowned with a mosque; the hillsides rudely terraced for the cultivation of figs and vines. By a winding path we ascended to the summit, and were well repaid by the splendid view therefrom, for this hill is one of the highest of those which compass about Jerusalem. From hence the whole surrounding country for very many miles is spread before us like a map. We see Jerusalem, its
grey walls and houses mingling with the uniform and sombre tints of the limestone hills around, and beyond it the hills on which are situated Bethlehem, and in this southerly direction almost as far as Hebron. To the east the hills of Gilead and Moab close the horizon. To the north a host of spots of interest come into view. Gibeon, situated in the midst of its plain, is not far off ; while in the distance may be distinguished the Rock of Rimmon (still known as Rummôn), the scene of the terrible calamity which befell the Benjamites, as related in Judges xx. and xxi.; Ophrah (1 Sam. xiii. 17), called later the “
city called Ephraim,” to which our Lord retired when the evil counsels of the priests prevailed after the raising of Lazarus ; while nearer are perceived Ramah of Benjamin (called Er Râm, "the high place," as it means, as Mizpeh is “the watch tower"), Beeroth, and Gibeah of Saul. But it is to the west that the view most fully opens, and the eye stretches its vision, not only all the long day's journey we were shortly about to take on leaving Jerusalem, but also embraces the great sea beyond. The plain of Sharon, deep below the level of Jerusalem, the smooth table-land in which the large town of Ramleh
is conspicuous as an oasis in a desert; and still farther off, on the margin of the sea, we could easily distinguish Joppa or Jaffa, from where we shall shortly embark from these shores. South of this is the plain of Philistia, dotted with such places as Lydda, Ashdod, Gath, Ekron, Askelon, etc., calling to mind the exploits of Samson, and the protracted national quarrel which so long occupied the minds and arms of the statesmen and warriors of Israel.
Neby Samwil is one of the most prominent heights 'near Jerusalem, and was called Mount Joy by the Crusaders, who thence obtained their first view of Jerusalem. Beneath the mosque on its summit it is said that the prophet Samuel is buried. But if Neby Samwil be, as most believe, the Mizpeh of Scripture, then is it the place which Asa fortified, building his tower and defences with the stones and timber of Ramah, as related in 2 Kings xv. 22. It was here also that all the children of Israel and all the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the Lord in Mizpeh” (Judges xx. 1). It was between Mizpeh and Shen that Samuel “ took a stone, and set it up, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." And here, too, all Israel solemnly repented, by putting away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and fasted, saying, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And the Second Book of Kings concludes with events which took place here, after the captivity of Zedekiah, when the Babylonian governor Gedaliah was slain, “ with the Jews and Chaldees that were with him at Mizpeh.”
It is but a short ride down from the eminence of Neby Samwil into the plain of Gibeon, in the midst of which another and lesser elevation arises, now called El Jib, but which was formerly in all probability the royal city of Gibeon. There are still some ruins of this place left, some ancient buildings, and notably an antique reservoir of great interest. It is prettily situated, devoid of the bareness of the higher and featureless hills, and well wooded and sheltered with picturesque foliage of olive and fig trees. Our thoughts at once go back to the first conquest of Palestine by Joshua, when the astute inhabitants of this place, hearing of the wonderful feats of arms of the new invaders of the country, who had come out of the desert in a mysterious manner, and in a no less mysterious manner had caused the downfall of the great city of Jericho, sent a cunning embassy to the conquerors, and “ did work wilily” (Joshua ix.), taking old sacks, old bottles, old shoes and clouted on their feet, and old garments upon them, and saying, “We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with
us.” They must indeed have been wonderfully impressed by the might of the Israelites, for we are told (Joshua x. 2) that“Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.” But this mightiness had a fall; and when they were made hewers of wood and drawers of water in punishment for their deceit, they probably made many a journey with their burdens up the adjacent hill of Neby Samwil, the “high place of Gibeon,” in order to furnish supplies to the sanctuary, which was there located before its removal to Mount Moriah. Gibeon was
one of the forty-eight cities given to the Levites (Joshua xxi. 17), being a city of the tribe of Benjamin ; and it was the scene of stirring events in the later periods of Israelitish history. We halted here and picketed our horses, while we partook of lunch, which was spread for us in a spot where some picturesque broken ground, dotted with trees, invited rest; while an old broken reservoir about fifty yards off caught the eye, and arrested attention as a landmark of Jewish story. For here it was that the servants of Saul and the servants of David, under Abner and Joab respectively, met together by the pool of Gibeon, “and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.” Here, by a challenge from Abner, that the young men should arise and play before them, twelve of each party fought a bloody duel à l'outrance; "and they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword into his fellow's side; so they fell down together” (2 Sam. ii.). And the play of Abner resulted in his defeat and loss of three hundred and sixty men, while of David's servants only twenty were lacking.
In Gibeon, too, occurred an event of which we read in 1 Kings iii. 4, when the new king Solomon, just entered upon his royal office, went thither to sacrifice. “In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.” In strict correctness, hovever, this important circumstance ought probably to be located at tłe adjacent height of Neby Samwil; for although it is spoken of as having occurred “in Gibeon," it is said just before, “for there was tre great high place," referring evidently to the sanctuary on the height, before alluded to. But there is yet one more reference to Gibeon, in relation to one of the most remarkable events recorded in Scripture, which is described in Joshua x. For when the Gibeonites had made their eague with Joshua, the neighbouring chiefs leagued together against hem, and Joshua by virtue of his covenant fought in their behalf. Sy rapid were the movements of the Amorite kings,
however, that Joshua had to come up from Gilgal, with all his mighty men of valour, "all night ;” that is to say, that the march which had previously taken three days was now, in their haste, performed in a single night. The Canaanitish host was defeated, and they fled down the passes of Bethhoron; and the battle, which had now lasted through the day, would have been indecisive from the escape of hosts of the enemy, when the inspired conqueror raised his spear aloft, and exclaimed in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon! And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies."
Leaving Benjamin and bearing away to the east, winding among limestone hills, we come to Ramah of Benjamin (Er Râm), “another high place," surmounted by a village, around which is a patch of cultivation. Ramah is mentioned in connection with Deborah the prophetess in Judges iv. 5, and also in connection with the story of the Levite and the Benjamites in Judges xix. It was, like most of the towns of Benjamin, remarkable for its elevated position. Ezra the scribe includes it in his list of cities from which a remnant of the people returned from the captivity of Babylon (ii. 26). But it does not appear that the Ramah here referred to is that most commonly known as the birthplace and burial-place of the prophet Samuel, Rama of Mount Ephraim (1 Sam. i. 1), to which no less than eight places lay claim. The well-known verse in Matt. ii. 18 (quoted from Jer. xxxi. 15), “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not," taken in conjunction with 1 Sam. x. 2, evidently points to a place south of Jerusalem, and near Bethlehem, approached by way of Rachel's Tomb, and of which the site is now undetermined.
Turning now our horses' heads southwards towards Jerusalem, we soon reach Gibeah, the birthplace of Saul, a double-topped hill, which at the present day, unlike so many other well-recognised localities, does not carry in its modern designation any clue to its ancient name. It is now called Tuleil el Fal, or the Hill of the Beans, but it is nevertheless a well-identified spot. It is another of the teraced heights of Benjamin, from the summit of which we may distingush Geba, where Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines (1 Sim. xiii. 3), and Michmash, close to where stood Ai, and into which the Philistine host penetrated (1 Sam. xiii. 5) “with thirty thousand chariots, and six