Page 0244


the slopes of Mount Hermon, in latitude 33 25' to latitude 31 47' N., where it loses its

existence in the brackish waters of the Dead Sea.

The region is peculiar. The valley is clearly the result of some cataclysm or volcanic

eruption, by which the surface of the earth has been rent, producing a wide gorge or

fissure, the lower or southern portion of which is greatly depressed below the surface.

The Jordan begins his course at a considerable elevation above the sea, and pursues a

somewhat precipitous course to the latitude of Merom, where the sea level is attained.

From this point onwards the Jordan is lower than. the Mediterranean, and as the descent is

rapid, the level of the river at the salt lake which engulfs it is one thousand three

hundred and twenty feet below that of the sea. On the two sides of the Jordan the land

rises in rocky ridges. The country is thus divided into two slopes set over the one

against the other. In width the fertile part of the valley is from one to ten miles, and

this narrow tract embraces about all the fertile land which Palestine possesses. A few

vales here and there, generally running at right-angles to the course of the river, have a

deposit of rich soil, from which spring beauty and fragrance, but the general aspect of

the country is forbidding and gloomy.

On the highlands rising from the right or west bank of the Jordan are found the small

states of Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria, while on the corresponding slope to the left lie

the provinces of Ituraea, Bashan, and Gilead. The whole land is hilly, undulating, rising

into a mountainous background. The southern portion is most arid and barren, cheerless and

uninviting. The northern part has a larger number of running streams. In some districts of

Samaria there are plains and valleys which invite cultivation and yield fair rewards to

toil. The most beautiful part is Galilee, in which water-brooks, sloping hills, and green

forests send back to the eye a sense of rest and quiet. Of the level portions of Palestine

the fairest to view is the plain of Esdraelon, stretching from the bay of Acre to the

valley of the Jordan and presenting many flowery landscapes.

The last of the subordinate divisions of this small but famous country is Philistia-from

which by a corruption of the spelling the name of Palestine's derived. The district lies

to the right towards Egypt, and in its general aspect is like the other provinces, though

on a lower level. Towards the sea Philistia sinks into a sandy plain, but the inland parts

are more attractive and contain a good deal of cultivable land, yielding wheat and barley

in abundance. In this region are the cities of