THE following extract from Thomson "Land and the Book" cannot, we think, fail to interest all students of the Hoy Land, although there is nothing in it specially bearing on the lessons of the week Mr. Thomson, having spent more than forty years as a missionary in Palestine and Syria, is better prepared to speak of the country than those travelers who have given it merely a passing visit. His book is in the form of a journal, as if actually written day by day while resting from travel; and this gives to it an air of thorough reality. To those who will take the trouble as they read to look up the place, referred to in the following, the picture must be very vivid: 

'The tent was never more welcome to me than at the close of this long day's ride. I am glad we have taken it, but do no wish to repeat it. The reasons for this unusual weariness are that we have actually been in the saddle more than twelve hours and then for the greater part of the day the ride has been in the hot and depressed region of the Dead Sea. The fact is, our visit is nearly a month too late both for pleasure and health. But the fatigue is over, and we may review at our leisure this interesting excursion.

"Among the multiplicity of sights and scenes which drew my attention hither and thither in rapid succession, only a few points have impressed their features upon my memory. In the morning I climbed to the top of the tower of the convent of Santa Saba, on the south of the ravine. 

From there my eyes roamed over a wilderness of rusty brown hills, the most dreary and blasted that I ever beheld. Beyond and below it was the Dead Sea, bordered on the east by the abrupt cliffs of Moab. 

Turning to what was beneath, the wonderful chasm of the Kidron struck me with amazement. We have seen nothing so profound or so wild in all our travels.

"The ride from Santa Saba to the Dead Sea one cannot easily forget, nor the path along the perpendicular cliffs of Wady en Nar Valley of Fire, as the wonderful gorge of the Kidron is called nor the long descent into and ascent from it, nor the barren hills over which we toiled in the broiling sun for seven hours, frequently losing the path amidst tangled ravines and shelving gullies washed out of sand-hills; nor will you cease to remember the gallop over the plain after we have escaped from the perplexing network of wadies.

"I remember, also, attempting to shelter my head from the burning sun under a stunted juniper-tree at lunch time. And in my disappointment I said that if Elijah's Juniper afforded no better shade, it was not at all surprising that he requested for him self that he might die. And certainly those straggling bushes cast but a doubtful shade at all times, and lend no effectual protection against such a sun and wind as beat upon us in that wilderness. Still, the prophet slept under one, and the Bedouins do the same when wandering in the desert, where they often furnish the only shelter that can be found. Job has a curious reference to this tree in the thirtieth chapter of his remarkable dialogues. He says that those contemptible children whose fathers he would have disdained to set with the dogs of his flock, flee into the wilderness, and for want and famine "cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper-roots for their meat." These mallows are a coarse kind of greens, which the poor boil as a relish for their dry bread. I have often seen the children of the poor cutting them up under the hedges and by the bushes in early spring, so that this rendering seems natural and appropriate to us who reside in the country; and therefore I accept it without noticing the arguments of learned critics against it. But what sort of juniper-roots can be used for food is more than I can discover or comprehend. They are excessively bitter, and nothing but the fire will devour them. Burckhardt found the Bedouins of Sinai burning them into coal, and says that they make the best of char- coal, and throw out the most intense heat. 

The same thing seems to be implied in Psalms 120:4, where David threatens the false tongue with "sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper." Perhaps the meaning of Job is, that the poor cut up mallows to eat, and juniper-roots with which to cook them. This would give a sense in accordance with the known use of these roots, and still preserve the connection with the food of the poor.

"The unexpected appearance of Mount Hermon, towering to the sky far, far up the ghor [valley of the Jordan] to the north, afforded me a practical proof that Moses could also have seen it from the mountains of Moab; nor shall I soon forget the somber and shadowy surface of the Dead Sea, nor the indescribable feeling of disappointment at the Jordan. While approaching it over that melancholy desert of soft, deep sand, I eagerly watched the line of willow-trees which marked out the course of the river, expecting it to burst on my delighted eyes at every turn; but not until we were actually on the very brink did I see water enough to fill a thimble, and when there, it was hard to believe that what I saw was the whole Jordan. Finding, however, that it was, I endeavored to reconcile my previous anticipations with the ensmalled reality by noticing the rapidity of the current and the depth of the stream.

"The surprise and disappointment are quite natural, and though one looks at the  Upper Jordan a hundred times with pleasure and satisfaction, yet down here at Jericho he is always disappointed. When boys, we used to sing with enthusiasm, ' On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,' and suppose that it was as large as the Ohio at least, and stormy as the North-west Passage; and something like this must have been in the mind of Watts when he applied the word 'stormy' to this river rambling over the low plain where everlasting summer abides. It is not an epithet which personal acquaintance would have suggested. I begin to feel that there is more fancy than fact in the costume and drapery of many of our hymns; but that is allowable perhaps. I find, however, that my traditionary notions in regard to matters of fact were about equally fanciful. 

What, for example, becomes of one's hereditary ideas of the celebrated fertility of the plain of Jericho? For many a mile northward from the shore of the Dead Sea, and westward from the banks of the Jordan, there is nothing but a most unprofitable extension of simmering sand, bare and barren of everything except stunted thornbushes and ugly black lizards.

"The day has been excessively hot, and more than all, the cultivated part of the plain has just been shorn of its luxuriant harvests, and the vegetation elsewhere has entirely dried up, except the "summer crops," which are irrigated from 'Ain Hajla, the brook Cherith, and the fountain of Elisha. I have never seen this so entirely deserted as it is at present. Even the new inhabitants of Eriha [modern Jericho] have gone to other parts to labor, since their own harvests are already gathered. 

In my first visit here the whole valley was lovely enough, for I was one of several thousand pilgrims drawn hither from all parts of the world to bathe in the river Jordan."


A LITTLE boy in the Sabbath-school 

being asked by his teacher 

if he could mention a place 

where God was not, 

made the following reply: 

"He is not in the thoughts of 

the wicked."