« AnteriorContinuar »
take it from the Missionary Register of December, 1824, There is much sense in the concluding observations,
"Instead of being on the highest summit of Lebanon, as has sometimes been said, the Cedars are situated at the foot of a high mountain, in what may be considered as the arena of a vast amphitheatre, opening to the west, with high mountains on the north, south and east. They stand on five or six gentle elevations, and occupy a spot of ground about three-fourths of a mile in circumference. I walked round it in fifteen minutes, We measured a num¬ ber of the trees. The largest is upwards of forty feet in circumference, Six or eight others are also very large, several of them nearly the size of the largest: but each of these is manifestly two trees or more, which have grown together, and now form one. They generally separate a few feet from the ground into the original trees. The handsomest and tallest are those of two or three feet in diameter, the body straight, the branches almost horizontal, forming a beautiful cone, and casting a goodly shade, We measured the length of two by the shade, and found each about ninety feet. The largest are not so high, but some of the others, I think, are a little higher. They produce a conical fruit, in shape and size like that of the pine. I counted them, and made the whole number 389. Mr. King counted them, omitting the small saplings, and made the number 321. I know not why travellers and au thors have so long and so geuerally given 28, 20, 15, 5, or 7, as the number of the cedars. It is true, that of those of superior size and antiquity, there are not a great number; but then there is a regular gradation in size, from the largest down to the merest sapling. One man of whom I inquired, told me that there are cedars in other places in Mount Lebanon, but he could not tell where. Several others, to whom I have put the question, have unanimously assured me that these are the only cedars which exist on the mountain. The Maronites tell me that they have an annual feast, which they call the Feast of the Cedars,
"Before seeing the cedars, I had met with a European traveller who had just visited them. He gave a short account of them; and concluded with saying, It is as with miracles the wonder all vanishes when you reach the spot.' What is there at which an Infidel cannot sneer ? Yet let even an Infidel put himself in the place of an Asiatic-passing from barren desert to barren desert-travers
ing oceans of sand and mountains of naked rock-accustomed to countries like Egypt, Arabia, Judea, and Asia Minor, abounding in the best places only with shrubbery and fruit trees; let him, with the feelings of such a man, climb the ragged rocks, and pass the open ravines of Lebanon, and suddenly descry among the hills a grove of 300 trees, such as the cedars actually are, even at the present day, and he will confess THAT to be a fine comparison in Amos ii. 9: Whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks. Let him, after a long ride in the heat of the sun, sit down under the shade of a cedar, and contemplate the exact conical form of its top, and the beautiful symmetry of its branches; and he will no longer wonder that David compared the people of Israel, in the days of their prosperity, to the goodly cedars: Ps. Ixxx. 10. A traveller who had just left the forests of America, might think this little grove of cedars not worthy of so much notice; but the man who knows how rare large trees are in Asia, and how difficult it is to find timber for building, will feel at once that what is said in scripture of these trees is perfectly natural. It is probable that, in the days of Solomon and Hiram, there were extensive forests of cedars on Lebanon a variety of causes may have contributed to their diminution and almost total extinction; yet, in comparison with all the other trees that I have seen on the mountain, the few that remain may still be called the glory of Lebanon."
Harris's Natural History of the Bible.
In our last number (pp. 218-226) we extracted several passages from this valuable compilation of Eastern "Natural History," with a view to illustrate the Scriptures: we proceed to lay before our readers a few more interesting
To us northern readers of the Bible the Palm-tree is associated with many pleasant ideas; Dr. Harris thus describes this fine production of warm climates:
"PALM-TREE. TAMAR. Occurs first Exod. xv. 27, and afterwards frequently.
"This tree, sometimes called the date-tree, grows plen tifully in the East. It rises to a great height. The stalks are generally full of rugged knots, which are the vestiges of the decayed leaves: for the trunk of this tree is not
solid like other trees, but its centre is filled with pith, round which is a tough bark full of strong fibres when young, which, as the tree grows old, hardens and becomes ligneous. To this bark the leaves are closely joined, which in the centre rise erect, but after they are advanced above the vagina which surrounds them, they expand very wide on every side the stem, and as the older leaves decay, the stalk advances in height. The leaves, when the tree has grown to a size for bearing fruit, are six or eight feet long; are very broad when spread out, and are used for covering the tops of houses, &c.
"The fruit, which is called 'date,' grows below the leaves in clusters, and is of a sweet and agreeable taste. The learned Kæmpfer, as a botanist, an antiquary, and a traveller, has exhausted the whole subject of palm-trees.
The diligent natives (says Mr. Gibbon) celebrated, either in verse or prose, the three hundred and sixty uses to which the trunk, the branches, the leaves, the juice, and the fruit were skilfully applied.' The extensive importance of the date-tree (says Dr. Clarke*) is one of the most curious subjects to which a traveller can direct his atten tion. A considerable part of the inhabitants of Egypt, of Arabia and Persia, subsist almost entirely upon its fruit. They boast also of its medicinal virtues. Their camels feed upon the date stone. From the leaves they make couches, baskets, bags, mats, and brushes; from the branches, cages for their poultry and fences for their gar dens; from the fibres of the boughs, thread, ropes and rigging; from the sap is prepared a spirituous liquor; and the body of the tree furnishes fuel: it is even said, that from one variety of the palm-tree, the phoenix farinifera, meal has been extracted, which is found among the fibres of the trunk, and has been used for food.
"In the temple of Solomon were pilasters made in the form of palm-trees. 1 Kings vi. 29. It was under a tree of this kind that Deborah dwelt between Ramah and Bethel. Judges iv. 5. To the fair, flourishing, and fruitful condition of this tree, the Psalmist very aptly compares the votary of virtue: Psalm xcii. 12-14.
"The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree.
Those that are planted in the house of JEHOVAH,
* Travels, Part II. Sect. ii, p. 302.
In old age they shall still put forth buds,
"The palm is crowned at its top with a large tuft of spiring leaves, about four feet long, which never fall off but always continue in the same flourishing verdure. The tree, as Dr, Shaw was informed, is in its greatest vigour about thirty years after it is planted; and continues in full vigour seventy years longer, bearing all this while, every year, about three or four hundred pounds' weight of dates.
"The trunk of the tree is remarkably strait and lofty. Jeremiah, ch. x. 5, speaking of the idols that were carried in procession, says they were upright as the palm-tree, And for erect stature and slenderness of form, the spouse, in Cantic. vii. 7, is compared to this tree.
"How framed, O my love, for delights!
"On this passage Mr. Good observes, that the very word Tamar, here used for the palm-tree, and whose radical meaning is strait or upright (whence it was afterwards applied to pillars or columns, as well as to the palm), was also a general name among the ladies of Palestine, and unquestionably adopted in honour of the stature they had already acquired, or gave a fair promise of attaining.
"A branch of palm was a signal of victory, and was carried before conquerors in the triumphs: to this allusion is made Rev. vii, 9, and for this purpose were they borne before Christ in his way to Jerusalem, John xii. 13.
"From the inspissated sap of the tree a kind of honey, or dispse, as it is called, is produced, little inferior to that of bees. The same juice, after fermentation, makes a sort of wine, much used in the East. It is once mentioned as wine, Numb. xxviii, 7, (comp. Exod. xxix. 40); and by it is intended strong drink, Isaiah v. 11, xxiv. 9. Theodoret and Chrysostom, on these places, both Syrians and unexceptionable witnesses in what belongs to their own country, confirm this declaration. This liquor (says Dr. Shaw), which has a more luscious sweetness than honey, is of the consistence of a thin sirup, but quickly grows tart and ropy, acquiring an intoxicating quality, and giving
"In Mr. Merrick's Annotations, p. 194, is a very ingenious illustration of this passage."
by distillation an agreeable spirit, or aráky, according to the general name of these people for all hot liquors, extracted by the alembic.'. Its Hebrew name is SIKER, the EIKERA of the Greeks; and from its sweetness, probably, the SACCHARUM of the Romans. Jerom informs us, that in Hebrew, any inebriating liquor is called Sicera, whether made of grain, the juice of apples, honey, dates, or any other fruit.'
Herodotus, Hist. Clio, § 193, in his account of Assyria, says, 'The Palm is very common in this country, and generally fruitful. This they cultivate like fig-trees, and it produces them bread, wine and honey. The process observed is this: they fasten the fruit of that which the Greeks term the male tree to the one which produces the date; by this means the worm which is contained in the former, entering the fruit, ripens and prevents it from dropping immaturely. The male palms bear insects in their fruit in the same manner as the wild fig-trees.'
Upon this subject the learned and industrious Larcher, in his notes upon Herodotus, has exhausted no less than ten pages. The ancients whom he cites are Aristotle, Theophrastus and Pliny; the moderns are Pontedera and Tournefort, which last he quotes at considerable length. The Amoenitates Exoticæ of Kæmpfer will fully satisfy whoever wishes to be more minutely informed on one of the most curious and interesting subjects which the science of natural history involves.
"This tree was formerly of great value and esteem among the Israelites, and so very much cultivated in Judea that, in after times, it became the emblem of that country, as may be seen in a medal of the Emperor Vespasian upon the conquest of Judea: it represents a captive woman sitting under a palm tree, with this inscription, JUDEA CAPTA. And upon a Greek coin, likewise, of his son Titus, struck upon the like occasion, we see a shield suspended upon a palm tree with a victory writing upon it. Pliny also calls Judea palmis inclyta,' renowned for palms.
"Jericho in particular was called the city of palms,' Deut. xxxiv. 3, and 2 Chron. xxviii. 15, because, as Jo. sephus, Strabo and Pliny have remarked, it anciently abounded in palm-trees. And so Dr. Shaw, Trav. p. 343, remarks, that though these trees are not now either plentiful or fruitful in other parts of the Holy Land, yet there