Jordan Valley We extract some interesting particulars on this, the one great river of the Holy Land, from Lieut. Conder's Tent Work in Palestine (2:35 sq.), which summarizes the whole information in a clear and compact form.
"The Jordan Valley is not only the most remarkable feature of Palestine, but one of the most curious places in the world. It has no exact counterpart elsewhere, and the extraordinary phenomenon of clouds sweeping as a Srthick mist 500 feet below the level of the sea, is one which few European eyes have seen, but which we witnessed in the early storms of the spring of 1874.
"The Jordan rises as a full-grown river, issuing from the cave at Banias, about 1000 feet above the level of the Mediterranean. In the short distance of twelve miles it falls not less than 1000 feet, passing through the papyrus marshes, and reaching the Huleh Lake. This lake is four miles long, and from its southern extremity to the north end of the Sea of Galilee is ten and a half miles. The second lake has been determined, by our line of levels, as 682 feet below the Mediterranean; thus in twenty-six and a half miles there is a fall of 1682 feet, or more than sixty feet to the mile.
"The Sea of Galilee is twelve and a half miles long, and thence the Jordan flows sixty-five miles, measuring in a straight line (the bends make it a good deal more) to the Dead Sea, 1292 feet below the Mediterranean. The fall in this distance is, however, not regular. Above the Jisr Mujami'a it is over forty feet to the mile. From the south end of the Sea of Galilee to the Damieh ford is a distance of forty-two miles, and a fall of only 460 feet. From the Damieh to the mouth of Wady el 'Aujeh is thirteen miles, with sixty feet fall, and thence to the Dead Sea is ten miles, with ninety feet of fall.
"It will be seen from the above that the total direct length of Jordan is about 104 miles, or only half the length of the Thames; that the fall to the Sea of Galilee is over sixty feet to the mile; thence to the Damieh, at first forty feet, afterwards not quite eleven feet per mile; from the Damieh to the Aujeh not much over four and a half feet to the mile; and for the last ten miles, about nine feet per mile. The break down of the immense chasm may thus be said to commence immediately north of the Sea of Galilee.
"The valley may be divided into eight sections. First, the portion between Bantas and the Huleh, where it is some five miles broad, with steep cliffs some 2000 feet high on either side and a broad marsh between. Secondly, from the Huleh to the Sea of Galilee, where the stream runs close to the eastern hills, and about four miles from the base of those on the west, which rise towards the high Safed mountains, more than 3500 feet above the lake. Thirdly, for thirteen miles from the south end of the Sea of Galilee to the neighborhood of Beisan, the valley is only one and a half miles broad west of the river, and about three on the east, the steep cliffs of the plateau of Kaukab el-Hawa on the west reaching an altitude of 1800 feet above the stream.
"South of Beisan is the fourth district, with a plain west of Jordan, twelve miles long and six miles broad, the line of hills on the east being straight, and the foot of the mountain on this side about two miles from the river. In the neighborhood of Beisan the cross section of the plain shows three levels: that of the shelf on which Beisan stands, about 300 feet below sea-level; that of the Ghor itself, some 400 feet lower, reached by an almost precipitous descent; and that of the Zor, or narrow trench, from half to a quarter of a mile wide, and about 150 feet lower still. The higher shelf extends westward to the foot of Gilboa; it dies away on the south, but on the north it gradually rises into the plateau of Kaskab and to the western table-land above the Sea ofGa;ilee, 1800 feet above Jordan.
"After leaving the Beisin plain the river passes through a narrow valley twelve miles long and two to three miles wide, with a raised table-land to the west, having a level averaging about 500 feet above the sea. The Beisan plain is full of springs of fresh water, some of which are thermal, but a large current of salt warm water flows down Wady Maleh, at the north extremity of this fifth district.
"In the sixth district, the Damieh region, the valley again opens to a width of about three miles on the west, and five on the east of Jordan. The great block of the Kurn Stirtubeh here stands out like a bastion, on the west, 2400 feet above the river. Passing this mountain the seventh district is entered-a broad valley extending from near Fusail to 'Osh el-GhiIrab, north of Jericho. In this region the Ghor itself is five miles broad west of the river, and rather more on the east; the lower trench, or Zor, is also wider here, and more distinctly separated from the Ghor. A curious geographical feature of this region was also discovered by the survey party. The great affluents of the Fir'ah and 'Aujeh do not flow straight to Jordan, but turn south about a mile west of it, and each runs, for about six miles, nearly parallel with the river; thus the mouth of the Far'ah is actually to be found just where that of the next valley is shown on most maps. This curious feature was not discovered even by Captain Warren, and nothing more surprised me, in surveying the district, than the unsuspected parallel course of the streams. The whole of the valley in the seventh region is full of salt springs and salt marshes, but the Far'ah, flowing from the AEnon springs, is a perennial stream of freshwater.
"The eighth and last district is that of the plain of Jericho, which, with the corresponding basin (Ghor-es-Seiseban) east of Jordan, measures over eight miles north and south, and more than fourteen across, with Jordan about in the middle. The Zor is here about a mile wide, and some 200 feet below the broad plain of the Ghor."