ALTHOUGH these mountains have no immediate connection with the lessons of this week, they have been so frequently referred to in the past lessons and the accompanying articles, that some description of them may perhaps be interesting.

As formerly stated, these mountains stand on either side of the valley of Shechem, some thirty miles north of Jerusalem. Ebal rises almost in the face of Gerizim, the two mountains being of nearly equal height.

It will be remembered that these mountains were pointed out by Moses, while the children of Israel still stood on the plains of Moab, as the place to which they were to come after conquering the land of Canaan, and pronounce the blessings and curses. Mr. Prime, a traveler in the Holy Land, makes a statement in reference to this, which, if true, certainly furnishes an interesting coincidence. He says: "As we rode up the narrow pass between the mountains, we looked behind us; and there, right down the valley, which went sloping away thirty miles to the Jordan, lit in the red rays of the setting sun, were the mountains of Moab and the summit of Pisgah. It was evident that the very words of the great Lawgiver were accompanied by a gesture of his hand pointing to Ebal and Gerizim, at the head of that valley. I could then understand how he came to describe their situation so minutely, and to speak of them so familiarly. (Deuteronomy 11:29.)" All this might easily be true, as it is a well-known fact that the atmosphere of Syria and Palestine is so peculiarly clear as to make it possible for one to see a long distance; and objects that are really many miles away often appear to be within an hour's ride.

Be this as it may, it seems that these mountains were peculiarly fitted for the purpose to which they were set apart by Moses. Quoting again from Mr. Prime: 

"Mount Ebal was on our right and Gerizim on our left, and in the front of each, where the valley narrowed to the least width, was a platform, natural, indeed, but capable of holding a hundred thousand persons, as if arranged expressly for the scene of blessing and cursing which here took place."

Says Dr. Fish: "Descending along the side of Gerizim, I saw just how the blessings and curses of old took place as described. Skeptics have asked, 'How could the voices be heard from one mountain to the other?' Easily enough. It was not on their tops, but on their sides, that the representatives of six tribes stood, on Gerizim to bless and those of the other six tribes on Ebal to curse, while the two millions of people below responded, Amen. Half-way down Gerizim, Ebal seemed in our very faces. To descend and go up to the spot opposite, would have been an hour's hard work; but we could talk across from one mountain to the other, and be heard also in the valley, which is here only about six hundred feet across, while where the village (Nablous) stands, it is fifteen hundred feet."

As before stated, a sort of natural amphitheatre exists at this point, where it is likely all the people, or their tribal representatives, were assembled. It is formed by a recess in Ebal exactly facing a similar recess in Gerizim. Travelers, both by measurement and by experiment, have found it to be admirably adapted to the assemblage of a large concourse of people.

"It is a myth that any special barrenness exists on Ebal, more than on Gerizim. 

There is some vegetable growth on both, yet they are alike naked, as a rule, until we approach the base, where they are remarkably fertile."

The history of Ebal has nothing of special importance connected with it after the event referred to; but on Gerizim for many years stood the temple of the Samaritans, who worshiped here instead of at Jerusalem. These people were descendants of the heathen colonists sent thither by the king of Assyria to inhabit the country after the captivity of the Israelites. They accepted some points of the Jewish religion, as, for instance, adopting the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses; but as we are told in 2 Kings 17:33, "they feared the Lord, and served their own gods." For this reason, the Jews, after their return from captivity, refused to let the Samaritans have any part with them in rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem. This led not only to the building of a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, but also to a bitterness of feeling between the two nations, which never passed away, A mere handful of these Samaritans, something less than two hundred, are now found at Nablous; and they are still looking for the Messiah to come and establish his throne on Mount Gerizim, and so reign over them.

E. B.