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are merely four walls of stones taken from ancient ruins, and loosely thrown together, with flat roofs of cornstalks or brushwood, spread over with gravel. They stand quite irregularly, and with large intervals; and
each has around it a yard enclosed by a hedge of the dry thorny boughs of the nûbk. In many of these yards are open sheds with similar roofs; the flocks and herds are brought into them at night, and render them filthy in the extreme. A similar but stronger hedge of nûbk branches surrounds the whole village, forming an almost impenetrable barrier.
The few gardens round about seemed to contain nothing but tobacco and cucumbers. One single solitary palm now timidly rears its head, where once stood the renowned city of palm-trees.' Not an article of provision was to be bought here, except new wheat unground. We had tried last evening to obtain something for ourselves and our
bs, but in vain; not even the ordinary lentiles were
to be found ... The people of Jericho are too indolent, or, as it was said, too weak, to till their own lands, (and strangers had now come down into the plain to gather in the wheat-harvest, which was beautiful,) and cultivated solely by irrigation, without which nothing grows in the plain. (But) the feeble and indolent inhabitants of Jericho give themselves little trouble in respect to their agriculture. The fig-trees grow large and require little care ; and their fine fields of grain, as we have seen, are sown and harvested by strangers. A few patches of tobacco and cucumbers seemed to be the amount of their own tillage .
“ The climate of Jericho is excessively hot ; and after two or three months becomes sickly, and especially unhealthy for strangers. According to our Arabs, the sojourn of a single night is often sufficient to occasion a fever.”
The fertility and the various productions of the environs of Jericho have been celebrated in every age. Josephus, the great Jewish historian, frequently extols their exceeding richness and beauty. He calls this region the most fertile tract in Judea ; and speaks of its beautiful gardens, and groves of palms of various species, which grew even along the banks of the Jordan, besides many other productions, as honey and balsam, and the common fruits of the earth in rich abundance. Few of these things now remain. One solitary palm-tree only lingers in all the plain; honey, if found at all, is now comparatively rare ; the sycamore has retired from Jericho, (Luke xix. 4 ;) and one tree alone, besides the nûbk, appears to thrive still, called by the Arabs Zukkûm. This is a thorny tree, not large, with greener and smoother bark than the nûbk, and bearing a green nut, having a very small kernel and a thick shell, covered with a thin flesh outside.' These “kernels the Arabs bray in a mortar,
1 This fruit, Maundrell observes, both in shape and colour, resembles a small unripe walnut.
and then putting the pulp into scalding water, they skim off an oil which rises to the top. This oil they take inwardly for bruises, and apply it outwardly to green wounds, preferring it before balm of Gilead. I procured a bottle of it, and have found it, upon some small trials, a very healing medicine. This is the modern balsam or oil of Jericho ... Another plant, which was formerly cultivated in abundance in the plains of Jericho, has also disappeared ; viz. the sugar
The earliest crusaders, it is said, found large tracts of these canes on the coast of the Mediterranean as far south as Tyre ; and the warriors amid their sufferings often refreshed themselves with the juice. These canes, we are told, were also cultivated very extensively on the plains of the Jordan around Jericho; where the many hermits of that region probably lived upon them, regarding the juice as the wild honey of John the Baptist.
66 We took a walk to the fountain, whose waters are scattered over the plain ; it is the only one near Jericho, and there is every reason to regard it as the scene of Elisha's miracle. It is called by the Arabs Ain-esSultân, and lies nearly two miles from the village and castle ... The fountain bursts forth at the foot of a high double mound, or group of mounds ... situated a mile or more in front of the mountain Quarantana. It is a large and beautiful fountain of sweet and pleasant water .
It seems to have been once surrounded by a sort of reservoir, or semi-circular enclosure of hewn stones ; from which the water was carried off in various directions to the plain below ; but this is now mostly broken away and gone. . . At the back of the fountain rises up the bold perpendicular face of the mountain ... The top of the mound above the fountain commands a fine view over the plain of Jericho, which needs only the hand of cultivation to become
1 Maundrell, March 30th, p. 86.
again one of the richest and most beautiful spots on the face of the earth. The fountain pours forth a noble stream, which is scattered in rivulets over a wide extent ... while the still more copious streams from
(another fountain) are in like manner distributed ... By these abundant waters, fertility and verdure are spread over the plain almost as far as the eye can reach ... But, alas ! almost the whole of this verdure at the present day, consists only of thorny shrubs, or trees of the thorny nûbk. It is a remarkable instance of the lavish bounty of nature, contrasted with the indolence of man. Where the water does not flow, the plain produces nothing ... “ The castle and village of Riha lie upon
the northern bank of the valley Kelt, here the bed of a mountaintorrent, at the distance of nearly two miles from the
point where it issues from the Western Mountains.
It dries up in summer, as was now the case; but the brook in some seasons continues to run much later.” 1 It is not, however, at Rîha that we must look for the ancient Jericho of the Scriptures. The earliest city of that name would naturally have been adjacent to the fountain ; and the site of the later Jericho
have been changed in order to evade the curse.
There are some ruins and remains at the distance of half an hour from the fountain, situated around the opening of the valley (Kelt), at the foot of the mountains of Judea, which in all probability mark the site of the Jericho
of Herod and the New Testament.”-See ROBINSON's Researches, vol. ii. pp. 276—299.
The position of these ruins agrees with the de1 It is not improbable that this valley, Kelt, may have been the brook Cherith, where the prophet Elijah hid himself, and was fed by ravens.