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There is not much | from being in Palestine found only on the
there yield their fruits.
We suspect, however, that the writer of
As to the pillar of salt into which Lot's wife was turned, the existence of which has been recorded by many traditions, and of which so many travelers have heard vague reports from the natives, it is one of the most remarkable discoveries of our Expedition, that a pillar of salt does exist, which is, without doubt, that to which the native reports refer, and which, or one like which, may have formed the basis of the old traditions. That this pillar, or any like it, is or was that into which Lot's wife was turned, is another question, which it is not needful The word rendered "a here to discuss. pillar," denotes generally any fixed object; and that rendered "salt," denotes also bitumen; and the plain significancy of the text would therefore seem to be, that she was slain by the fire and smoke, and sulphureous vapor; and her body being pervaded and enveloped by the bituminous and saline particles, lay there a stiffened and shapeless mass. The text appears to mean no more; but whether this mass may not have formed the nucleus of a mound, or even of a pillar of the same substance, forming as it were the unhonored grave of this unbelieving woman, is a question we are not called upon to consider. If the text required us to understand a pillar of salt," we should know literally that it existed, and should think it likely that it exists still, and the question would be whether this, which our travelers have found, is that pillar or not. We should probably think not; for although its place is in what must have been the general locality of this visitation, yet if Zoar, to which the fugitives were escaping, has been correctly identified (as we doubt not) in Zuweirah, it is difficult to find this place for the pillar, upon the route thereto, from any spot which Sodom can be supposed to have occupied. Besides, this pillar is upon a hill, whereas the visitation evidently befell Lot's wife in the plain. The following is the account of it which Lieutenant Lynch gives :
"To our astonishment, we saw, on the eastern side of Usdum, one-third the distance from its
north extreme, a lofty, round pillar, standing apparently detached from the general mass, at the head of a deep, narrow, and abrupt chasm. We immediately pulled in for the shore, and Dr. Anderson and I went up and examined it. The beach was a soft, slimy mud, encrusted with salt, and a short distance from the water, covered with saline fragments, and flakes of bitumen. We found the pillar to be of solid salt, capped with carbonate of lime, cylindrical in front, and pyramidal behind. The upper or rounded part is about forty feet high, resting on a kind of oval pedestal, from forty to sixty feet above the level of the sea. It slightly decreases in size upwards, crumbles at the top, and is one entire mass of crystalization. A prop or buttress connects it with the mountain behind, and the whole is covered with debris of a light stone color. Its peculiar shape is attributable to the action of the winter rains. The Arabs had told us in vague terms, that there was to be f and a pillar somewhere upon the shores of the sea, but their statements in all other respects had proved so unsatisfactory, that we could place no reliance on them."
Not a word is here said respecting the connection of this pillar with Lot's wife; but in a note it is pointed out that "a smaller pillar is mentioned by Josephus, who expresses his belief of its being the identical one into which Lot's wife had been transformed." This is cautious and judicious. Montague's sailor, however, to whom this sort of thing was specially suited, speaks with less reserve; and we remember that this portion of his book had a run through the press in the United States, having been communicated by the publishers before the work appeared. It was well chosen for the purpose of exciting he curiosity of the public for the disclosures he book was to contain. After a somewhat bald description of the pillar, the writer proeeds, and informs us that it was sixty feet igh and forty feet in circumference. He hen goes on:
"We cannot suppose that Lot's wife was a person so large that her dimensions equaled that of the column. Many think that the statue of Lot's wife was equal to the pillar of salt which the Bible speaks of, let that pillar be whatever it may, and whatever its size. They will not probably credit that this is the pillar; their preconceived notions have much to do with the matter; and they would have everybody-Americans and Syrians alike think she was at once transformed into a column of very fine-grained, beautifully white salt, about five feet or a few inches in height, and in circumference that of a middle-aged woman of the nineteenth century. Be that as it may, no two minds have, perhaps, formed exactly the same opinion on this matter who have not visited the spot. But here we are, around this immense column, and we find that it is really of solid rock-salt, one mass of crystalization. It is in the vicinity which is
pointed out in the Bible in relation to the matter in question, and it appears to be the only one of its kind here; and the Arabs of the district, to [by] whom this pillar is pointed out as being that of Lot's wife, [must believe this to be] the identical pillar of salt to which the Bible has reference; the tradition having been handed down from each succeeding generation to their children, as the Americans will hand down to succeeding generations the tradition of Bunker's Hill Monument in Boston. My own opinion on the matter is, that Lot's wife having lingered behind, in disobedience to God's express command, given in order to ensure her safety; that, while so lingering, she became overwhelmed in the descending fluid, and formed the model or foundation for this extraordinary column. If it be produced by common, by natural causes, it is but right to suppose that others might be found of a similar description. One is scarcely able to abandon the idea that it stands here as a lasting memorial of God's punishing a most deliberate act of disobedience, committed at a time when he was about to show distinguishing regard for the very person."-Pp. 201, 202.
We were almost prepared to expect that this writer would shine among those who profess to have seen below the waters the ruins of the submerged cities. Even he, however, does not go to this extent; but, instead, he treats us with a very elaborate picture of the great scene of their destruction, all the outlines of which are amusingly filled up with details which could only be true of New York, or of some other great cities invested with all the circumstances of modern art and civilization.
Among the other traditions of the lake are those which speak of the peculiar density and saline qualities of the waters; that, from the buoyancy imparted to them by this density, bodies could not sink in them; that, from the ingredients they hold in solution, no animal life could exist in these waters; and that, from the pestiferous effluvia, no birds are found near the lake, and that such as attempt to fly across fall dead upon the surface.
As to the density of the waters, it is said by Josephus that Vespasian tried the experiment of tying the hands of some criminals behind their backs, and throwing them into the lake, when they floated like corks upon the surface. This was, it must be admitted, not a very sagacious experiment, the position of the hands behind the back, whereby the dangerous weight of the arms is supported by the water, being the most favorable to floating safely in any waters. This, therefore, could not prove that bodies would not sink; yet being thought to prove that, or to have been intended to prove it, Dr. Pococke's assurance that he not only swam but dived
in the water, was thought to show either that | the experiment had not been correctly stated, or that the water had, in the course of ages, become more diluted than at the time the experiment was made. This, indeed, is one of the points in which tradition has not erred. From the impregnation of saline and bituminous matters, this water is greatly heavier than that of the ocean. This has been shown by many travelers for a hundred and fifty years past, and scarcely needs the confirmation which our explorers afford. Their long stay on the lake enabled them, however, to put together a greater number of practical illustrations of the fact. We will put a few of them together from both books. Some of the particulars almost suggest the idea of a sea of molten metal, still fluid, though cold. The sailor, who took his share in rowing, is most sensible of one of the effects which his commander less notices-the unusual resistance of the waves to the progress of the boat, and the force of their concussion against it. There was a storm of wind when the lake was first entered; and, says this writer, "the waves, dashing with fury against the boat, reminded its bold navigators of the sound and force of some immense sledgehammers, when wielded by a Herculean power." Again, he dwells on "the extraordinary buoyancy of the waters, from the fact of our boats floating considerably higher than on the Jordan, with the same weight in them; and the greater weightiness of the water, from the terrible blows which the opposing waves dealt upon the advancing prows of the boat." There was another circumstance resulting from this density, noticed by the commander, that when the sea rolled, the boats took in much water from the crests of the waves circling over the sides. Before quitting the lake, Lieutenant Lynch
"Tried the relative density of the water of this sea and of the Atlantic; the latter from 25 deg. N. latitude and 52 deg. W. longitude; distilled water being as 1. The water of the Atlantic was 1.02, and of this sea 1.13. The last dissolved 1-11; the water of the Atlantic 1-6; and distilled water 5-17 of its weight of salt; the salt used was a little damp. On leaving the Jordan, we carefully noted the draught of the boats. With the same loads they drew one inch less water when afloat upon this sea than in the river."-P. 377.
Of the experiments in bathing, little is added to those erewhile so graphically recorded by Mr. Stephens in his Incidents of Travels. We suspect, indeed, that Mr. Montague has drawn somewhat upon the
VOL. XVIII NO. III.
pages of that lively traveler. Stephens says, 'It was ludicrous to see one of the horses. As soon as his body touched the water he was afloat, and turned over on his side; he struggled with all his force to preserve his equilibrium, but the moment he stopped moving he turned over on his side, and almost on his back, kicking his feet out of water, and snorting with terror." This is closely imitated by Montague, who writes, "An experiment with an ass and a horse was also made. They were separately led into the sea, and when the water came in contact with the body of the animals, it was found heavier than the body itself, and consequently supported it upon the surface. The legs of the animals being rendered useless, were brought upon the surface, and they were thrown upon their side, plunging and snorting, puzzled by their novel position."-P. 219. Now, Lieutenant Lynch, in reporting the same experiment, expressly says, that the animals were not turned on their sides; and he is at a loss to account for Stephens' statement, but by supposing that the animal was in that case unusually weak. He admits, indeed, "that the animals turned a little on one side," but adds, that 'they did not lose their balance." A similar experiment was made at another time with a horse, which "could with difficulty keep itself upright." In bathing himself, the commander says, "With great difficulty I kept my feet down; and when I laid [lay] upon my back, and drawing up my knees placed my hands upon them, I rolled immediately over." We fancy that we should have
ing in it, it spreads over the body a disagreeable oily substance, with a prickly, smarting sensation." Again" Another peculiarity was, that when the men's hands became wet with it in rowing, it produced a continual lather, and even the skin is oily and stiff, having a prickly sensation all over it." Hence they washed with delight, when opportunities offered, in the fresh-water streams that came down to the sea.-P. 181.
"We had quite a task to wash from our skin all the uncomfortable substances which had clung to us from the Dead Sea, for our clothes and skin had become positively saturated with the salt water."-P. 189.
But although thus unpleasant, acrid, and greasy, we are assured by Captain Lynch that the water is perfectly inodorous. And he ascribes the noxious smells which pervade the shores, not, as Molyneux supposed, to the lake itself, but to the foetid springs and marshes along the shore, increased, perhaps, by exhalations from the stagnant pools upon the flat plain, which bounds the lake to the north. Elsewhere, he contends, that the saline and inodorous exhalations from the lake itself must be rather wholesome than otherwise; and as there is but little verdure upon the shores, there can be no vegetable exhalations to render the air impure. The evil is in the dangerous and depressing influence from the intense heat, and from the acrid and clammy quality of the waters producing a most irritated state of the skin, and eventually febrile symptoms and great prostration of strength. Under these influences, in a fortnight, although the health of the men seemed substantially sound,
"The figure of each had assumed a dropsical appearance. The lean had become stout, and the stout almost corpulent; the pale faces had become florid, and those which were florid, ruddy; moreover, the slightest scratch festered, and the bodies of many of us were covered with small pustules. The men complained bitterly of the irritation of their sores, whenever the acrid water of the sea touched them. Still, all had good appetites, and I hoped for the best.”—Lynch, p. 336.
Remarkable effects are afforded by the saline deposits upon the shores. On the peninsula towards the south end,
"There are few bushes, their stems partly buried in the water, and their leafless branches incrusted with salt, which sparkled as trees do at home when the sun shines upon them after a heavy sleet."-Lynch, p. 298.
"Overhauled the copper boat, which wore away rapidly in this living sea. Such was the action of the fluid upon the metal, that the latter, so long as it was exposed to its immediate friction, was as bright as burnished gold, but when it came in Lynch, p. 344. contact with the air, it corroded immediately."
The shores of the beach before me, as I write, are incrusted with salt, and looked exactly as if whitewashed."-Lynch, p. 344.
"The sands are not so bright as those of the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans, but of a the sea-water, although it seldom distributes its darkish-brown color, and have the same taste as waves over them."-Montague, p. 186.
"We noticed, after landing at Usdum, that, in the space of an hour, our very foot-prints upon the beach were coated with crystalization." Montague, p. 207.
"A book of a large octavo size, being dipped in the water, either by accident or otherwise, resisted every attempt made to dry it. I have subsequently seen it in the oven of the ship's galley on several occasions, but without any permanent effect."-Montague, p. 224.
Now, as to the non-existence of living things in the water. This tradition, and that respecting the buoyancy of the water, seem to be those alone that are fully true. That creatures from the fresh-water streams that into the lake should die in water pour so essentially different-so salt, so dense, so bitter-was to be expected; but that this condition of the water should be fatal to all animal existence-that it harbored no pecuilar forms of life-seemed to require strong proof; and this has, we think, been now sufficiently afforded. This had been stated by other travelers; and being now confirmed by those who were three weeks upon the lake, may be treated as an established fact. No trace of piscatory or lower forms of aquatic life was in all that time seen in these waters. Some of the streams that run into the lake are salt.
fish, which, when they are unfortunately carried "In the salt-water streams there are plenty of into the Dead Sea by the stream, or caught in thrown into it, at once expire and float. The their own element by the experimentalist, and same experiment was made and repeated at the mouth of the Jordan, with ourselves, of fish which we caught there, and cast into the sea; and nature, alike in both instances, immediately refused her life-supporting influence."-Montague, p. 223.
The commander himself cites a still more extraordinary fact. In a note at p. 377, he says:
"Since our return, some of the water of the
Dead Sea has been subjected to a powerful microscope, and no animalculæ or vestige of animal matter could be detected."
This experiment, and proper care to secure some of the water of the lake, reminds us of a curious passage in our favorite old French traveler, Nau, who seems to regard this interest in the lake as a characteristic of Protestantism :—
"Before I finish this chapter, I must not omit to mention one thing that surprised me much in my two journeys. In both there were in the company some heretic merchants, who all manifested a marked devotion for this Sea of Sodom, testifying an extraordinary gladness in beholding it, and filling a large number of bottles with its water, to carry home with them, as if it had been some precious relic. I am not well able to understand the reasons of their devotion, or why they burdened themselves with so much of this water, which is of wrath and vengeance, rather than with that of the Jordan, which is a water of mercy and salvation. In fact, these men declared that there was nothing in all the Holy Land which they had seen with so much gratification." -Voyage Nouveau, p. 384.
The scarcity of vegetation upon the bushes would account for the comparative absence of land birds from the lake; and the absence of fishes and other aquatic creatures from the waters would sufficiently explain the absence of aquatic fowl. There is no doubt, for these causes, some scarcity of birds here as compared with other lakes. But the notion that the effluvia of the waters were fatal to birds that attempted to pass, has been disproved during the present century by a great accumulation of evidence, which our explorers have been enabled largely to confirm. In fact, though we have long ceased to have any doubts on this point, we feel somewhat surprised at the number and variety of birds that are mentioned as found upon the borders of the lake, as flying
over it, or as skimming its surface. It is scarcely worth while to multiply instances of what almost every recent traveler has noticed. One instance is sufficient and conclusive, which is, that wild ducks were more than once seen floating at their ease on the surface of the lake. The tradition, now to be treated as obsolete, probably originated in the bodies of dead birds being found on the shore or upon the water. Such were indeed three times picked up by our travelers; but Lieutenant Lynch feels assured that they had perished from exhaustion, and not from any malaria of the sea. Montague thinks they had rather been shot in their flight, and adds the interesting fact, that they were in a good state of preservation, though they appeared to have been for some time in the water. The water, he adds, seems to have the quality of preserving whatever is cast into it. Specimens of wood found there were in an excellent state of preservation.
We now quit with reluctance a subject in which we feel very much interest. Lieutenant Lynch's book must be pronounced of great value, not only for the additions which it makes to our knowledge, but as the authentic record of an enterprise in the highest degree honorable to all the parties concerned. Our only regret is, that the author's avowed anxiety to occupy the book-market has prevented him from digesting his materials so carefully as the importance of the subject demanded, and has left inexcusable marks of haste, which should in any future edition be removed. Mr. Bentley is not, in this matter, altogether free from blame; for there are numerous persons in this country whose services would have removed most of the grosser errors by which the work is disfigured. As for the other book, what we have already said, we say once more: it is a bushel of chaff, from which those who think it worth their while, and who have sufficient patience and skill, may contrive to extract a few grains of wheat.
SONNET, TO ELIHU BURRITT.
GREAT man! iconoclast, whose deeds betray
Cities, and fields, and homes, where erst abode
And give him the first taste of Heaven's pure joy.
Her reign millennial; go on, and fame