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The Historical Works Of Venerable Bede

JERICHO lies to the east of Ælia, and is distant from it nineteen thousand paces. It has been three times levelled with the ground; and the house of Rahab, in reward for her faith, is the only one which remains; for its walls are still standing, though without a roof. The place where the city stood now contains corn-fields and vineyards. Between this and the Jordan, which is about five or six miles distant, are large groves of palm-trees, with small plains interspersed, and inhabitants of the race of the Canaanites. The twelve stones, which Joshua ordered to be taken out of the Jordan, lie in the church of Galgatis, against the wall on each side. Each of them is so heavy that two men could hardly lift it: one of them has been by some accident broken in two, but the pieces have been again united by means of iron. Near Jericho is a fountain of plentiful water, good to drink and fit for irrigation, though it formerly was very ill adapted for fertilizing the ground, and very offensive to the taste; but it was purified by Elisha the Prophet, who threw a vessel of salt into it. Around lies a plain, seventy furlongs in length and twenty broad, in which are gardens of extraordinary beauty, with various kinds of palm-trees, and swarms of bees of surpassing excellence. Opobalsam, also, is here produced, which bears this name from the following circumstance:—The countrymen cut narrow channels in the bark with sharp stones, and the sap gradually oozing out through these openings, forms itself into pearl-like drops. Now the Greek word ope signifies a cavern, or opening. They say the cypress and myrobalanum are there produced. The water of the fountains, like other things, is there most excellent; in summer it is cold, in winter lukewarm: the air is so mild that they wear linen garments in the winter. The city itself is built in the plain, which it overlooks, and it is bare of animals; for the soil is sickly and hungry, and therefore abandoned by inhabitants. From the territory of the city Scythopolis to the region of Sodom and Asphaltis, extends an open country. Over against this is a mountain above the river Jordan, extending from the city Julias to Zoar, which borders on Arabia Petræa, where also there is a mountain called the Iron Mountain. Between these two mountains is a plain, which the ancients called the Great Plain: its Hebrew name is Aulon. The length of it is two hundred and thirty furlongs; in breadth it is a hundred and twenty: it begins at the village of Gennabara, and ends at the lake Asphaltus. The Jordan divides it in the middle, and the banks are rendered most luxuriant by the deposits of the river; so that the produce of the trees is everywhere most abundant along the margin of the stream, but elsewhere it is rather scanty; for the soil, except where the river runs, is dry and barren.








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