Jericho (2)


For a description of Tell es-Sultan, supposed to be the site of the ancient city, see the Memoirs accompanying the Ordnance Survey (3:222). The following account of the locality in general is from Conder, Tent Work, 2:2 sq.:

"Reaching Jericho we were again disappointed. The long groves, which appear so charming at a distance, are entirely complosed of thorny shrubs. The dom or zizyphus grows into a tree, with small green leaves and formidable prickles; the nebk, another species, forms long hedges of brier, of which it is said the cruel 'crown of thorns' was woven, for which reason it is called spina Christi. The zakkion, or balsam-tree (balanites), is equally thorny, and beneath these grow poisonous nightshade and other noxious plants. The distant beauty of the groves is only a mockery, and the environs of Jericho, when reached, are as stony and unlovely as any other part of the country.

Bible concordance for JERICHO.

"Yet, in some respects, the place is still charming. Here, late in autumn, the sound of running water and the song of birds greeted our ears. Among the high mounds, or tellul, bare and dusty, a fresh, beautiful stream was flowing from 'Ain es-Sultan, the site of the first Jericho. The great spring wells up in a stony pool, under a high hillock, and opposite to this tell is a jungle crowned by a very large castor-oil tree and other thick foliage. In this grateful shade the birds have found a retreat. The great gray shrikes (Abu Zereik) sit on the top branches, and the queer 'hopping thrushes,' with their tails stuck up like rapiers, bound about beneath. The bulbul also sings in the groves — a gray bird with a black head and a curionus yellow patch at the root of the tail. Still more beautiful are the great Smymrna kingfishers (Abu Nukr), in their blue coats and chocolate- colored nwaistcoats, white-throated, with bills like red sealingwax; and the gray African species (Abu Kubeia), which also flutters above the stream. Last, but not least, come the lovely sun-birds (Suweid), peculiar to the Jordan valley, darting about like little black wrens, but resplendent, when seen close, with all the colors of the prism.

"There is only one natural position for a large town in the plains of Jericho, namely, the neighborhood of the beautiful fountain called 'the Sultan's Spring,' near the foot of the Quarantania precipice. Nothing can well explain the choice of a new position, but the fact that Jericho was cursed by Jashua, and that the curse was fulfilled. Thus it is by the spring that we naturally place the Jericho of Joshua's time, and this view receives confirmation from the acconnt of the flight of the spies 'to the mountain;' for if situated in the immediate vicinity of the great crag of Kuruntul, the city was so near that the fugitives might easily have crept through the cane jungle and thorn-groves to the shelter of one of the innumerable caverns in the face of its precipices.

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"Of ancient Jericho nothing now remains but the bright spring, and the shapeless mound above it. We can hardly wonder at this when we find that even the Jericho of Herod has disappeared, and that only a vague conjecture can be made as to the position of Thrax and Taurus, the great towers which once defended it. It seems probable that this second town stood south of ancient Jericho, and even closer to the hills, for the great aqueduct which brought water, a distance of four miles, from the fine spring at the head of the wild Kelt chasm, leads just to the opening of the plain, and seems to be the only one of the numerous aqueducts which dates back to Roman times. At the mouth of the pass, also, is the rock fort called Jubr or Chubr, in which title we may recognize, as my companion, Mr. Drake, pointed out, a relic of the name Cupros, which was given to a tower above Herod's Jericho.

"Jerome tells us that there were in his day two Jerichos, and in A.D. 333, the anonymous pilgrim of Bordeaux found a town at the foot of the pass. Here also we have remains of a bridge which has the opus reticulatum of Roman-masonry, and this, with a few strewn fragments and with two great mounds of sun-dried brick, seems all that is left of the second Jericho. The Byzantine, or 4th-century town, mentioned by Jerome as the second Jericho, is no doubt represented by the foundations and fragments of cornice and capital, over which the rider stumbles among the thorn groves east of the 'Ain es-Sultan.

"By A.D. 700 Jericho had again disappeared, and thus, in the 12th- century, we find the site once more moved. The modern Ertha then springs into existence near a square tower, such as the Crusaders erected along their pilgrim roads, and a tradition of the Garden of Abraham' comes into existence as early as the time of Snewulf (A.D. 1102). In the 14th century sir John Maundeville finds Jericho a little village, and Abiraham's gardel is then stated to be at the foot of the Quarantania. Fetellus makes the distance between Jericho and the latter mountain two miles, and thus it is pretty clear that the modern Ertha represents the site which was created in the Crusading period."

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