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There is much sand on the district that borders the coast... It may be nine or ten miles from Jaffa to Rumla (Ramleh). The road is good... but a small part of the plain, after leaving the gardens, was cultivated. From time to time, we passed portions that had been sown with grain ; none of it, after leaving the gardens, was enclosed—all lay open. We passed several places where there were a few trees; they formed, however, but little green spots on the face of this wide spread and noble plain., The greater part was destitute of verdure, the burning heats of summer having burned up the grass ; the crops, except an occasional cotton-field, being all gathered in ...
“ The plain is highly fertile, and if under proper cultivation would yield largely. The soil is rich, deep, and
very free from rock, at least sufficiently so for all purposes of cultivation. We do not, indeed, often meet with a finer district of land, but it is thinly inhabited. Rumla . . . stands on a slight elevation, and commands a fine view of the plain, out of which it rises. It is surrounded by gardens ... We left it on Monday morning for Jerusalem. Our course was still a little south of east.
The general character and condition of the plain was much as the part of it already described, with the difference, that there was much less sand. Indeed, there was little, if any, to be seen; the soil was a fine, rich, black mould. The state of cultivation was rather better; but still only a small part was under the care of man. The country began more regularly to rise as we approached the hill country; the rise was, however, very gradual. Irregular and rounded hills became more numerous, but none of them were steep... they were rather pleasant swells, than hills ... In truth, this part of the plain—that is, from Rumla to the hills, forms one of the richest and most lovely districts that I have seen ... We passed no village worth naming. We did, indeed, pass a few huts at one or two places, but too few to deserve notice. We passed several
places that appeared to have once been occupied, and saw several villages at a distance, but they appeared small. In short, the plain—the noble and celebrated plain of Sharon, appears to be almost deserted; and while it has a fertility and extent, were it occupied and properly cultivated, sufficient to sustain a nation, it is now roamed over by a few flocks, has small patches of it cultivated, and here and there a small poor village to sustain. With regard to trees, &c., the eastern part of the plain was on a par with the western. It was only on little spots, and at a great distance from each other, that a few olive and other trees were to be seen. They were mostly confined to the immediate vicinity of the villages, or where villages have once stood.
“ While passing over the plain of Sharon, it would have been out of all propriety not to have thought of the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley. I did think of them, and was on the watch for them; and so eager was I to get one, that could I have met with any sort of a flower that would in any fair way have admitted the name, I would most willingly have reported it; but not one could I find
“ The · Flocks of Sharon,' was a term which then expressed much; but now few flocks feed there, and those of an inferior kind of cattle.”—Paxton's Letters, pp. 103—111.
Travelling afterwards over the plain further to the north, past the ancient Lydda, Mr. Paxton writes, “The plain of Sharon on this road was very fertile, and more of it had been cultivated than is usual. The harvest was going on, and men, women, and children, were out in the fields ; some reaping with the common reaphook-some pulling up the grain with their hands-some binding up the grain in bundles—some carrying it on their shoulders, or on donkeys, or mules or camels, to the thrashing floor—and some thrashing out the grain by driving the cattle over it. They use a thrashing instrument not unlike a harrow. In its under side they
have pieces of stone, or iron fastened, which serve as teeth. These instruments are dragged by the oxen over the grain, and thus separate it from the straw.” Paxton's Letters, pp. 226—227.
6. The vale of Sharon," observes Mr. Hardy, appeared as if covered with a rich carpet of many colours, from the numerous flowers that flourish in its fertile soil." -HARDY's Notices, p. 127.
“ AND we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need : and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa ; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem.”—2 Chronicles ii. 16.
“ Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa ; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”—Jonah i. 1-4.
“ Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms deeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick and died ... and forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber : and all the widows stood by him weeping . . . But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up .. And it was known throughout all Joppa ; and many believed in the Lord. And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.”—Acts ix. 36–43.
There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius. a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house ... he saw in a vision evidently ... an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him . . . Send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea-side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And ... (Cornelius) called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier ... and ... sent them to Joppa. On the morrow,
as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the house-top to pray about the sixth hour ; and he became very hungry, and would have eaten ; but while they made ready he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth ; wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.”—Acts x. 1-16.
[Ezra iii. 7; Acts xi. 5.]
Joppa is the principal sea-port of Palestine. Its name occurs frequently in sacred history. We find in the book of Joshua, (chap. xix. 46,) that it was assigned to the tribe of Dan.
Hiram king of Tyre sent cedars of Lebanon by sea to Joppa, for the building of Solomon's Temple; and the latter had them removed by land to Jerusalem. Here the disobedient prophet embarked for Tarshish, when ordered to go and preach to the inhabitants of Nineveh ; here Tabitha was raised from the dead ; and here, upon the roof of Simon the tanner's dwelling, Peter saw that great vision, which taught him not to call any man common or unclean.'
Joppa was burnt during the wars between the Jews and Romans, but again rebuilt. At a later period it became a strong resort for pirates, who infested the surrounding seas, and was again destroyed in consequence.
In the time of the crusades it was once more restored, and since then has experienced many re