Page 0247


and finally reaches the sea in latitude 36 S' N. The whole length of the river is a

little over two hundred miles. Its course is rapid and impetuous; its channel deep and


The river LITANY has already been men tioned as occupying the same valley with the

Orontes; but the two streams flow in opposite directions. The Orontes is known as the

River of Syria; the Litany, as the River of Tyre. The fountains of the latter are near to

those of the former. A few miles north of Baalbek a slight watershed turns the brooks to

the south and the valley gathers them together into the Litany. The course of the stream

is at first southerly. Near the southern extreme the valley between the Libanus and

Antilibanus is contracted in a narrow and forbidding gorge a thousand feet in depth,

through which the river rushes headlong. After foaming and plunging through these narrows,

the agitated stream issues into the plain, circles around the base of Lebanon, and, after

a course of seventy-five miles, finds its way to the sea.

On the opposite side of the Antilibanus range rises the River of Damascus, called the

BARADA. It has its principal source in a small lake situated in latitude 33" 41' N. From

this origin the stream flows eastward, first through a glen between high cliffs until the

Antilibanus is cleared, and then from the town of Suk in a southeasterly course towards

Damascus. In this vicinity the river begins to be divided, both by artificial and natural

channels, until its waters are mostly dispersed to convert a desert region into a

paradise. What remains of the stream finally disappears, after a course of about forty

miles, in some marsh lands a half day's journey from the city.

The river JORDAN is immemorially famous. Its sources are to the north of Lake Merom. Its

uppermost fountain is a spring called the Ras-en-Neba, near Hasbeiya. The rivulet,

proceeding from this origin, descends the north-western slope of Mount Hermon. Small

brooks from several directions join their waters at Merom. This upper part of the Jordan

valley is a place of reeds and marshes, and

even after issuing from the lake the Jordan is for a considerable distance a sluggish and

indifferent stream. Then, as the valley sinks, the current becomes rapid and in some parts

headlong. Between Merom and Tiberias the fall is in places as much as fifty feet to the

mile, but after passing the latter place the decline is not so rapid. From Tiberias to the

Dead Sea is a distance of seventy miles, and the difference in level is about six hundred


In this part of its course the Jordan receives two tributaries. The first of these is the

JARMUK, which drains the district southeast of Lake Tiberias. In the rainy season its

banks are full, but in summer the channel is almost dry. It traverses a country of

considerable fertility until it approaches the rocky gorge of the Jordan, into which it

falls through a chasm with precipitous walls on either hand a hundred feet in height. The

other confluent of the parent stream is the brook JABBOK. This classic stream drains the

land of Gilead. Like the Jarmuk, the Jabbok swells to a torrent in winter and shrinks into

a rocky bed in summer. On the sides of the ravine through which it flows-sunk deep in the

earth-are seen overhanging oaks. Here is a thicket of cane and yonder a cluster of

oleanders. Like the preceding stream the Jabbok enters the Jordan through a cleft in the

rocks, roaring when swollen, and broken into foam. The whole length of the Jordan, from

the springs of Ras-en-Neba to the Dead Sea, is, in a direct line, one hundred and thirty

miles, or twice that distance if the wanderings of the channel be included in the


Passing, then, to other bodies of water embraced within the limits of the Babyionian

Empire, we find not a few lakes of importance. Especially is this true in the western

portions of the dominions of Nebuchadnezzar. The greater number of these sheets of water

were of the brine briny, made so by having no outlets and by the saline character of the

surrounding districts. Four of the most important, however, were fresh water; namely, the

Lake of Antioch-the Bahr-el-Melak-the Bahr-el-Kades, the Lake Merom, and the