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CHIEF TOWNS OF PALESTINE.

On the Coast. 1. Accho, or Akka, near the foot of Mount Carmel, was occupied by Phœnicians whom the tribe of Asher could not dislodge. It is only once mentioned in the Old Testament (Judg. i. 31), and once in the New, under its later Greek.name, Ptolemais (Acts xxi. 7). Under the Crusaders it became the seat of the Christian kingdom, and head-quarters of the Knight Templars, whence it took the name of Saint Jean d'Acre. The plain of Accho, watered by the Kishon, is the most fertile in Palestine.

2. Cæsarea has no place in history before Christ. It was only a poor landing place, 27 miles N. of Joppa, till Herod the Great built a city there worthy of the Roman power, made it the seat of government, and called it Cæsarea Sebaste (Augusta) in honour of the Emperor. It was the central depôt of Roman troops.

3. Joppa (Jaffa, Yafa) is a place of very great antiquity. It was allotted to Dan (Josh. xix. 46). It was the port at which the timber from Lebanon for Solomon's temple was landed (2 Chron. ii. 16), and again for rebuilding it (Ezra iii. 7). From it Jonah embarked to flee to Tarshish (in Spain); here Peter restored Dorcas to life, had his vision, and received the messengers of Cornelius. It is frequently mentioned in the wars of the Maccabees. It is about 35 miles distant by road from Jerusalem.

Central. The main cities of Palestine were on heights naturally strong, and were fortified also by art.

Bethsaida (Julias, so called after the daughter of Augustus) was built by Philip the tetrarch on the Jordan, two miles above the Sea of Galilee. The two cities so called both got their name, "House of Fishing," from the great shoals attracted thither by the hot springs. It was here Christ fed the five thousand (Luke ix. 10–17).

Bethsaida (Et-Tabigheh), principally mentioned in the Gospels, and warned by the fate of its namesake Saida (Sidon) on the other sea, was about two miles south-west of Chorazin, on the beach, just under the rocky promontory on which stood Capernaum, of which it was a suburb. It was the residence of Andrew, Peter, James, John, and Philip (probably also of Thomas, John xxi. 2), and the scene of two miraculous draughts of fish.

Capernaum (Khan Minyeh 66The identification of Capernaum with the promontory by Khan Minyeh is supported by the universal testimony of the most ancient travellers, by the minute description of Matthew, and by the whole tenor of the Gospel narrative. There is scarcely a single tenable argument in favour of Tell-Hum.) was a Roman settlement with a castellated fort, on a promontory overlooking the Lake, "in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim." It was the centre of Roman taxation and government in Galilee; hence there was a garrison (Matt. viii. 5), with 71 centurions and other officers. Civil representatives of the Roman power (the nobleman, John iv. 46), with a large staff of tax-gatherers (Mark ii. 15), were stationed there; but the Jews were too small and poor a colony to build their own synagogue (Luke vii. 5). It was at the junction of the four great central roads from Arabia, Egypt (viâ Jerusalem), Tyre, and Damascus, and at the northern corner of the luxuriant "Plain of Gennesaret." Though adjacent to the sea, it does not seem to have been on its beach. Our Lord made it "his own city" after his rejection from Nazareth; he often taught in their synagogue, yet only once did he illustrate his teaching by a parable taken from seafaring pursuits (namely, the "Draw-net"); but usually chose illustrations from the cultivation of "the Plain," or the traffic of the merchants, who bartered their goods at the Junction Fount outside the city. Here Levi sat at receipt of custom, and entertained our Lord and many publicans at a feast. Here Christ healed the palsied man (Matt. ix. 2–7); sent Peter for the tribute-money; healed the man with a withered hand; raised Jairus' daughter; most probably converted Mary of the adjoining village of Magdala; preached that sermon on the "Bread of Life" (John vi. 59), and that "in the Plain;" and foretold its overthrow from its proud and elevated position (Matt. xi. 23, 24), noting the similarity of its site on the "Garden of Princes" to that of Sodom in the "Garden of the Lord" (Gen. xiii. 10).

Cæsarea Philippi (Banias), near the upper source of the Jordan. It is probably the site of "Baal-gad," the northern limit of Joshua's conquests (Josh. xi. 17). Herod the Great erected here a temple to Cæsar Augustus, which Philip (Luke iii. 1) enlarged, calling it by the name of the reigning emperor (Tiberius Cæsar), with the addition of his own. It was here that Peter confessed Christ's Divinity, six days before He was transfigured, as is supposed, on the adjacent Hermon.

Chorazin (Tell-Hum) stood on the northern shore (western extremity) of the Lake of Gennesaret, a position on that sea corresponding to that of Tyre on the Mediterranean; hence our Lord's comparison of the two (Matt. xi. 21, 22).

Decapolis (Ten Cities), a district to the E. of Jordan, lying S. and S.E. of the Sea of Galilee, extending N. to Damascus, and S. to the river Jabbok, colonised by veterans from the army of Alexander, hence its Greek name. The chief of its cities were Gerasa, Gadara, Hippos, Pella, Philadelphia, Scythopolis (on the W. of Jordan).

Gennesaret. The banks of the Sea of Galilee are almost precipitous. On the E. there is only one break, viz. opposite Tiberias. On the N.W. is the small bay between Chorazin and Bethsaida with its crescent-shaped plain about two miles in length by three-quarters of a mile in width, at whose southern extremity stood the promontory of Capernaum. Rounding this we come upon the rich tropical plain of " Gennesaret," the Garden of Princes, the scene of "the Sower," teeming with rich vegetation, and hedged to the waters' brink with oleanders, and the nubk thorn, filled with myriads of sparrows (Luke xii. 6). This plain sweeps into an amphitheatre of hills, having a width of about one mile in its widest part, and a length of about three from horn to horn.

Magdala, at the southern extremity of the Plain of Gennesaret, behind which are the "Mount of Beatitudes," and the traditional site of the feeding the four thousand.

Nazareth. Ascending that height, and journeying W. by S., we come to a wide plateau on the cluster of hills which form the northern wall of the Plain of Esdraëlon, and in its centre is a small dell, out of whose bosom rises, by a crystal fountain, a knoll on which stood Cana. Passing it we mount a higher range of hills to the W., and find ourselves on the margin of an extinct volcano, on the sides of whose crater the city of Nazareth clings with its houses tier above tier.


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