[Table of Contents]
J. W. McGarvey|
Lands of the Bible (1881)
I N T R O D U C T I O N.
THE following work is the result of much careful study continued through many years, and of a personal visit to the lands of which it treats. The author has been a teacher of Sacred History in the College of the Bible for fifteen years, and his course of instruction includes all of the historical matter in the entire Bible. The necessity for a knowledge of sacred geography, in order to the elucidation of sacred history, led him to a careful study of the former subject. But no man can so vividly depict to others the local features of a country as one who has seen them with his own eyes. In order, therefore, to qualify himself more thoroughly for his chosen and favorite line of instruction, the author made a visit, in the year 1879, to Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece.
Until near the middle of the present century almost nothing was known by Europeans and Americans concerning the topography of Palestine. To our own country, in the person of Dr. Edward Robinson, belongs the credit of the first scientific exploration of that land. "Let it be distinctly remembered," says the learned Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund of Great Britain, "that Dr. Robinson is the first of scientific travelers, and that his books are still, after thirty years, the most valuable works which we possess on the geography of Palestine."1 This was written in 1872, and Dr. Robinson's first journey through Palestine was made in 1838. But even after the publication of Robinson's invaluable work, entitled "Biblical Researches in Palestine," the two most remarkable physical features of the country--the Dead Sea and the deep-lying river which supplies its waters--were shrouded in mystery, and had for ages been the subject of many superstitious legends. To W. F. Lynch a lieutenant in the American navy, is due the credit of the first exploration of these waters. He was sent, at the expense of our government, in the year 1848, to make a  scientific exploration of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. With ten American seamen and two subordinate naval officers, he launched two boats, one of iron and one of copper, on the Lake of Galilee, April 10, 1848. He passed down the Jordan, and after a voyage of eight days, sailed into the Dead Sea on the 18th of the same month. He spent twenty-one days exploring the shores and sounding the depths of this mysterious lake, and then ran a line of levels to the Mediterranean Sea, to determine the exact difference of level between the two bodies of water. "The official report of this journey," says the same learned committee just quoted, "has become the standard authority on this most curious and remarkable feature of Palestine."2
Another American, Dr. J. T. Barclay, who resided as a missionary in Jerusalem from 1851 to 1855, gave the Western World the first elaborate and strictly reliable description of modern Jerusalem, in his work called "The City of the Great King." This, too, has been quoted as a standard ever since its publication in 1857.
The three preceding works having treated mainly the physical features of the country, it was reserved for Dr. William Thomson, who has lived as a missionary in Sidon and Beirût' since 1840, to treat successfully the manners and customs and products of the country which best illustrate many passages of Scripture. This was done in a work appropriately entitled "The Land and the Book," published in the year 1858. The same author has recently followed this work with another on Southern Palestine and Jerusalem, covering partly the same ground, but devoted chiefly to localities and subject-matter only slightly treated in the former work. It was issued by the Harpers in a magnificent volume in June, 1880, and came into the author's hand after his manuscript had been nearly completed.
Though a multitude of books on Palestine have been published since the dates of the four just mentioned, not only in the English language, but in the French and the German, no material additions were made to the knowledge of the subject until the work of the Palestine Exploration Fund of Great Britain was inaugurated. Under the leadership of Mr. George Grove, the principal writer on Palestine in "Smith's Bible Dictionary," the work of collecting this fund was commenced in the year 1865; and in the course of ten years, by a very large outlay of money, not less than $150,000, the managers of the fund succeeded in obtaining a complete survey of all Palestine west of the Jordan, together with an accurate account of the archæology,  manners and customs, topography, geology, and natural history of the country. They employed in this survey men of experience and learning belonging to the corps of Royal Engineers of the British army, such as Captains Anderson, Wilson, and Warren, and Lieutenant Conder, with competent assistants. The results of the labors of these men have been published from time to time, in quarterly statements, in a small volume called "Our Work in Palestine," and, in two octavo volumes, by Lieutenant Conder, called "Tent-Work in Palestine;" and, finally, a complete memoir of the survey, with drawings and cuts, in seven large volumes, accompanied by a large map in twenty-six sheets, has been published, to supply a limited number of subscribers at $60.00 each.
While the work of this British Fund was being prosecuted west of the Jordan, an American Palestine Exploration Society was formed for the purpose of a similar survey and exploration of the country east of the river. The society was organized in 1870, and in the course of seven years, with Professor R. D. Hitchcock as its president and Howard Crosby as its secretary, it has sent out several expeditions and accomplished some important results; but for want of sufficient funds its work has not yet been completed. The results attained have been published in several "Statements" in pamphlet form.
It may be safely said that Palestine was not known, nor was even Jerusalem properly understood, until the work of these two associations was undertaken; and that all of the older books on the subject must be superseded by those which shall have these explorations as their basis. No correct map of the country was ever given to the world, or could be, until these surveys were made. Not yet has the great map of the British Fund been published on a small scale; and as it is the author's fixed purpose to allow nothing a place in this volume known to be inaccurate, he prefers that it shall contain no map at all rather than an inaccurate one, such as abound in books on Palestine, and even in our Bibles. Our readers will soon be supplied, in common with the entire public, with reduced copies of the great map, which will be entirely accurate, and will be far more serviceable than diminutive copies which could be folded in a volume like this.
To the works above mentioned, and to Baedeker's "Handbook for Travellers in Palestine and Syria," the author is chiefly indebted for the information contained in the following pages, so far as it is not the result of his own observations. As Baedeker's Handbook has been but recently translated into English, and is therefore little known in America, I must do it the justice to say that it proved to the author  the most valuable of all the works which fell into his hands for minute and accurate details in regard to every part of the country; and that to the tourist who wishes to explore the country intelligently and independently it is indispensable as a guide-book. The living guides obtainable in Palestine are not half so reliable. The work was prepared by a number of learned German professors sent into the country for the purpose by the publisher, and it is one of a series of guide-books on different countries frequented by tourists which has made the name of Baedeker and his publishing-house at Leipsic familiar to travelers of all nationalities. Other works consulted by the author receive due credit foot-notes at the proper places.
The author had for many years entertained a longing desire to visit Palestine, but his limited income and the care of an increasing family seemed insuperable barriers. Finally a number of his former pupils in sacred history, under the leadership chiefly of C. C. Cline, now of Louisville, Kentucky, realizing the advantages to myself personally, to the classes which I instruct, and to the church for which I minister of such a tour, proposed to raise by subscription the amount necessary for the expense of the tour and for the support of my family during my absence; and to depend for reimbursement of themselves on the sale of such a book as I should write after my return. I accepted this generous offer, and it is to these friends and others whom they succeeded in interesting in the enterprise that I am indebted for the privilege of publishing this work, and for, the inestimable privilege of seeing with my own eyes the land of all lands.
My outward journey, as will be seen by consulting the letters of travel in Part Third, led through England, France, and Italy to Egypt, and it included a visit of nearly two weeks to the principal objects of interest in Lower Egypt. I spent nearly three months in Palestine and Syria, visiting every part of Palestine, and seeing nearly every square mile of its territory. On my homeward voyage I visited the sites of the "Seven Churches of Asia," except that of Laodicea, saw Constantinople, and spent a few days in Athens. Previous to undertaking the journey I prepared notes on all the places which I expected to visit, indicating the points to be verified and the links of missing information to be supplied. This rendered my task comparatively easy, and enabled me to pass quite rapidly from place to place without slighting the work. Without such previous preparation more than double the time would have been necessary to attain the same results. I may add that the same preparation has rendered comparatively light the task of writing the present volume. 
Nearly all of the books on Palestine hitherto published contain merely narratives of the tours made by their authors. In that line of writing the present author, although his tour of Palestine was more extensive than that of any other writer whom he has consulted, could not hope to excel some of his predecessors; but, while giving in Part Third of this work a personal narrative of this kind, chiefly to gratify many friends who have read with pleasure, and desire to read again, the letters of which it is composed, he has devoted by far the larger portion of his space to a systematically arranged account of the geography and the topography of the entire country in two separate parts. This is the distinctive characteristic of the present work, so far as its plan is concerned, and upon this the author chiefly relies for its acceptability and usefulness. In order to render this feature of the work practically available to all students of the Bible and of sacred geography, he has appended to the volume, in addition to the table of contents, a copious topographical index, by means of which the reader can readily find all the pages on which any given place or subject is mentioned in the book.
Owing to the fact that Scripture proper names, as well as the modern names of Scripture localities, belong to foreign languages, the masses of English-speaking people are wofully deficient in their pronunciation. In order to help my readers in this particular, I have aimed to attach to all foreign words in this book which are at all likely to be mispronounced the proper marks of accent and quantity. It is hoped that due attention will be paid to these, and that thus another distinctive feature of the work will be productive of good.
Many of the engravings which have been printed in books illustrative of biblical scenes are unfaithful to their originals. In a matter of this kind the artist should take no more liberties with his subject than are allowed to the historian. Both should be faultlessly true in their representations. Under this conviction, the author has selected from the mass of cuts within his command only such as can be relied on for fidelity. By a much larger outlay the number of these could have been greatly multiplied, for almost every object of any interest in Palestine has been photographed by skillful operators; but it was thought best to limit the expenditure in this direction, lest the increased price of the book should place it beyond the reach of many who desire to own it.
This introduction would not be complete without a brief sketch of the history of Palestine; for whilst the general reader of history is sufficiently familiar with this subject to read the following pages  intelligibly, there are many earnest students of the Bible who have not enjoyed this advantage. We will speak only of its history since the close of the New Testament period.
In A. D. 65 the Jews revolted against the Romans, under whose dominion they had lived for one hundred and twenty-two years; and after a war of five years they were subdued and Jerusalem destroyed in the year 70. For a knowledge of the history of this war we are dependent on Josephus, who was an active participant in it, and who was present as a prisoner in the army of Titus during the siege of Jerusalem. He represents that 1,100,000 Jews perished in the siege of Jerusalem, a vast multitude in attendance at the Passover having been shut up within the city by the beginning of the siege; that 256,450 were slain in other parts of Judea and Galilee; and that 101,700 were taken prisoners and sold into bondage.3 With this catastrophe Palestine ceased to be a Jewish country, and under an order of the Emperor Vespasian the entire landed property of the country was offered for sale to foreigners. Only that portion east of Jordan escaped utter ruin.
The Emperor Hadrian, who ascended the throne A. D. 117, issued an edict prohibiting circumcision among the Jews, the reading of the Law, and the observance of the Sabbath. He also declared his intention to make Jerusalem a Roman colony, and to build a temple to Jupiter on the site of the temple of God. These measures drove to desperation the Jews who had crept back into the country, and there appeared among them one Bar-Co'chebas (Son of the Star), who claimed to be their long-expected Messiah. He raised the standard of revolt in the year 132. Jews from every quarter rallied to his support. He took Jerusalem, proclaiming himself its king; and he maintained war against the Romans for two years, when the remnant of his forces perished with great slaughter at a place called Be'ther. This was the last and only struggle made by the Jews to recover their country and their nationality. Hadrian carried out his infamous purposes. A temple of Jupiter was built on Mount Moriah; the statue of the emperor was erected where the Holy of Holies had been; a heathen colony was planted in the city; and its name was changed to Ælia Capitoli'na. Jews were forbidden to enter the city under penalty of death, and this prohibition continued in force about two hundred years.
The progress of Christianity in Palestine was necessarily interrupted  by the outbreak of the war against the Romans, and after the destruction of the Jewish nationality a heathen population overran the country. But the all-conquering religion of Christ quickly subdued the new inhabitants, and Palestine became a Christian land. Its history as a Christian country may be properly dated from about the beginning of the third century, and it continued until the Mohammedan conquest in the year 637, a period of about four hundred and thirty-seven years. During this period the Christianity of the country was undergoing that gradual decay that characterized the Church at large, and it finally lost almost every element of the religion originally established in the same land by the apostles.
At the date last mentioned, only fifteen years after the rise of the Mohammedan power in Arabia, Palestine was invaded by the armies of the Calif, Jerusalem surrendered to Omar in person, and the long night of Mohammedan dominion began. It was stipulated among the conditions of surrender that the Christian population of Jerusalem should still be permitted to worship in their existing churches, but that no more churches should be built. Similar immunities were granted to some other Christian communities in Palestine, but nearly all the churches in the country were either demolished or converted into Mohammedan mosques. From the remnant of Christians allowed to remain in the country have descended the Christian portion of its native population at the present time.
The next important period in the history of the country is that of the Crusades. These ill-advised and fanatical attempts to recover the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the infidels were so far successful that Jerusalem was taken in the year 1099, and made the seat of a Christian kingdom. But the triumph was of brief continuance, for in July, 1187, at the battle of Hattin, near Tiberias, the Christian power was finally crushed by the celebrated Saladin; and although within the next fifty years the country twice more fell into the hands of the Christians, it was lost almost as soon as it was gained, and finally, in 1244, the efforts of the Crusaders were totally abandoned, and the current of Mohammedan dominion resumed its course. Palestine was now a dependency of the Califate of Egypt.
During the brief period in which the kings, princes, and knights from the western world who commanded the hosts of the Crusaders had sway in Palestine, many of the churches and fortifications whose ruins are an interesting feature of the country at the present day were erected. A vast amount of money and labor was expended in improving the country and strengthening its defenses.
In the year 1517 Palestine passed from under the dominion of Egypt to that of the Ottoman Empire, then ruled by Sultan Selim I. With the exception of eight years, from 1832 to 1840, during which it was once more held by Egypt, under Mohammed Ali, it has remained under the dominion of the Sultans of Turkey until the present time, a period of three hundred and sixty-three years. 
[Table of Contents]
J. W. McGarvey|
Lands of the Bible (1881)
Back to BibleStudyGuide.org.
These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Restoration Movement Texts.