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as the result of a combination of Divine agency and natural and secondary causes, I propose, in the present essay, to inquire what these causes were.

While I do this, however, I wish to be understood as admitting, to the fullest extent, the special agency and interposition of the Deity in the event.

In your notice of the late excellent geological work of the Rev. J. Pye Smith, D. D., (page 243), you have justly remarked, that “it is the usage of the sacred writers to speak of the operations of the Deity in the natural world, in language adapted to the opinions which were generally prevalent among the people to whom the revelation was made," and hence infer, that Scripture references to natural objects would be in such style as comported with the knowledge of the age in which they were delivered. Believing this rule to be a correct one, 1 shall endeavor, in the remarks I am about to offer, to shape my views and suggestions in consonance with it, and in no case, to propose theories, which cannot be reconciled with this principle of exegesis.

Before proceeding however to a consideration of the main object of our inquiry, it will be necessary to examine at some length the geological features of Palestine, in order to a correct understanding and appreciation of the views which will afterwards be presented.


Palestine, it is well known, is a hilly and in many places a mountainous country; extending about 150 miles in length from north to south, having Syria and the lofty ridges of Lebanon on the north, the Mediterranean on the west, and the Arabian desert on the east and south.* Judea, which is chiefly situated between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean, is a high country, rising by successive terraces from a shore that is in many places bold and lofty. Its principal eminences are Carmel, Bashan, and Tabor, which are not bleak and rugged heights, but covered with luxuriant woods, pastures, and vineyards. In the neighborhood of the Dead Sea, however, south-east from Jerusalem, there are extensive, high and desolate tracts; the surface being broken by deep and dreary glens, and hemmed in by lofty precipices,


Encyclopedia of Geography, Vol. II. p. 254,

which exclude the sun. Between the Jordan and Jerusalem, extend the flat plains of Jericho, 20 miles in length and 10 in breadth ; walled in on every side by the high mountains of Judea and Arabia. The shores of the Dead Sea and the valley to the north of it, consist of an expanse of salt, dry mud, and moving sand.

Limestone rocks are the most abundant formation in Palestine. They form the chief mountain ranges in Syria, and are of a whitish color, and very hard, and sonorous when struck with a hammer. Extending south, they surround Jerusalem, stretching to the river Jordan on the one side, and to the plain of Acre and Jaffa on the other. Numerous caverns abound in this rock, as they do in every country ; to which we find frequent allusions in Scripture. One, near Damascus, is said to be large enough to contain ten thousand men. Mt. Seir is composed of limestone, though detached masses of basalt and large quantities of brecciæ, formed of sand and flint, abound in its vicinity. The valley of Asphaltites is underlaid by fetid limestone, i. e. limestone impreg. nated with sulphurous and bituminous particles; which is extensively manufactured in the east into amulets, and worn as a specific against the plague. That a similar superstition respecting this stone existed, in very early ages, appears from the circumstance, that charms made from it, have lately been found in the subterranean chambers under the pyramids of Sakhara, in Upper* Egypt. The fetid properties of this rock are ascertained to be owing to the presence of sulphuretted hydrogen ; as all bituminous limestone does not possess this property. The hills along the Mediterranean coast, extending several miles back, are composed of a soft chalky substance, (carbonate of lime,) containing a great variety of shells, corals, and other marine organic remains, Near Beyrout, upon the Castravan Mountains, extensive deposits of the fossil remains of fishes are found, in a state of the most perfect preservation ; so that the minutest portions of the fins and scales are clearly distinguished.t Chalk beds occur on the heights of Carmel, containing numerous flint nodules, embodying petrifactions of different kinds. Some specimens bear a close resemblance to the olive, and are

* Palestine, by Rev. Michael Russel, D. D. p. 306,

Shaw's Travels.

called lapides Judaici;" these are regarded by the inhabitants, when dissolved in lemon-juice, as a specific for curing the stone and gravel.* Volney states, that he traced the limestone formation through the whole extent of Syria, particularly between Antioch and Aleppo and Hama; that it forms the greater part of Lebanon, Anti-Lebanon and the mountains of the Druses, Gallilee, Mt. Carmel, and the ridges which stretch to the south of the Dead Sea; that the houses in Palestine are built with it, and lime manufactured from it ; that, in the upper regions of Lebanon it contains no petrifactions, but, that near the sea, it abounds with the remains of plants, fish, shells, and sea-animals. Volney also discovered small volutes and bivalves in a “heavy, porous and salt stone" in the bed of the torrent of Azkalon, in Palestine, and Pococke observed them on the borders of the Dead Sea. I

Granitic rocks are met with to considerable extent in Palestine, and, according to some travellers, the loftiest peaks that surround the lake Asphaltites are of this formation. Mt. Sinai is unquestionably a member of this group, and so also are the hills which run up on each side of the Arabian Gulf. Mt. Hor and Wady Mousa are composed of rocks belonging to the new red sandstone formation; and it is from this rock, that all the temples and tombs of Petra have been excavated. It extends, in all probability, through the whole length of the valley of El Ghor, and passes into quartz rock, or a fine siliceous sandstone, which caps the summits of the neighboring cliffs, giving them a highly grotesque and fantastic appearance. The sides of the cliffs. lining this valley, are often perpendicular, presenting alternating strata of calcareous rocks, sandstone and quartz, lying over each other in horizontal layers. Nowhere,says Irby,“ is the extraordinary coloring of these mountains more striking than in the road to the tomb of Aaron, which we followed, where the rock sometimes presented a deep, sometimes a paler blue, and sometimes was occasionally


* Travels or Observations relating to several parts of Bar bary and the Levant. Vol. II. p. 153.

| Volney's Travels in Syria, Egypt, &c. Vol. I.
# Pococke's Travels.
§ Burckhardt's Travels.


streaked with red, or shaded off to blue or purple ; sometimes a salmon color was veined in waved lines and circles, with crimson and even scarlet, so as to resemble exactly the color of raw meat ; in other places, there are lined stripes of yellow or bright orange, and in some parts all the different colors were ranged side by side in parallel strata ; there are portions also with paler tints, and some quite white, but these last seem to be soft, and not good for preserving the sculpture. It is this wonderful variety of colors observable throughout the whole range of mountains, that gives to Petra one of its most characteristic beauties ; the facades of the tombs, tastefully as they are sculptured, owe much of their imposing appearance to this infinite diversity of hues in the

Mt. Sinai is a granitic rock. In many places it presents blackened perpendicular cliffs of from 600 to 800 feet in height. Porphyry and greenstone are found among the lower ridges of the mountains, passing into slate. Accord. ing to Burckhardt, the porphyry contains red feldspar and small crystals of hornblende, with rose-colored quartz and mica, united by an argillaceous cement. The granite, however, is chiefly of the fine-grained species ; an immense block of which forms the summit of Mt. St. Catharine. In some places, as at Tabakat, the same traveller observed large slabs of feldspar, traversed by veins of white and rose-colored quartz.t

The valleys in the neighborhood of Mt. Sinai arę principally underlaid with beds of limestone, though the white and red sandstone often crop out upon the sides of the hills. Igneous rocks, or those of a volcanic origin, are also met with in various parts of Palestine. At Akaba, the extremity of the eastern branch of the Red Sea, a perpendicular wall of trap rocks lines the shore ; and near Sherm, further south, Burckhardt traced the same basaltic formation for a distance of two miles, the cliffs being perpendicular, formed in half, or sometimes nearly whole circles, and from 60 to 80 feet in height. In some places, he observed appearances of volcanic craters. The rocks are black; or slightly tinged with red, full of cavities, and rough; and the surface cov

* Irby & Mangles' Travels, pp. 438, 9. + Burckhardt's Travels.

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ered with deep layers of sand. Volney states that "the south of Syria, through which the Jordan flows, is a country of volcanoes, “and that the bituminous and sulphurous waters of the Lake Asphaltites, the lava and pumice stones upon its banks, and the thermal springs of Tubaria, prove that this valley has been the seat of a subterranean fire not yet extinguished.

Between Cana and Turan, near the Jordan, and a few miles north of the Dead Sea, Dr. Clarke discovered nu. merous basaltic columns of regular prismatic form, like those of Staffa, or the Giant's Causeway. They penetrate the surface of the soil, and by their gradation in the order of steps or a stair-case, form a series of successive plains

in approaching the Lake of Tiberias.† In descending to Tiberias, Dr. Clarke found the soil black, which he attributes to the decomposition of volcanic rocks: the stones, scattered over the surface, were amygdaloidal and porous; their cavities being occasionally occupied by mesotype, or by plumose carbonate of lime. On the shore of the Lake of Tiberias, he also found pieces of a porous rock, resembling toad-stone, with cavities filled with crystals of zeolite. Native gold was formerly discovered in the same vicinity. I Hasselquist informs us that the hill of Tiberias, from which issue the fountains whence the baths are supplied, is composed of " a black and brittle sulphurous stone,” which is only found in considerable masses in that neighborhood, though it is very often met with in rolled specimens on the shores of the Dead Sea, and in other parts of the valley.Ş This was probably a species of bituminous shale, containing sulphur, as it often does. Near the town of Tiberias are situated the celebrated thermal, or hot baths of Emmaus. These waters are mentioned by Pliny and Josephus, and were formerly in great refute, for their salubrious qualities. In relation to them Pliny remarks, “Aboccidente Tiberiade, aquis, callidis, salubri."|| Pococke analyzed the water and found it to contain


fixed vit.

* Volney's Travels in Syria, Egypt, &c.

† Clarke's Travels, in Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Land, Vol. IV. p. 272.

| Reland Palæst. Illust. Tom. II. p. 1042.
S Hasselquist's Travels.
|| Pliny (Hist. Nat. lib. v. c. 15.)


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