Banyas and the Mount of the Transfiguration

Oct 30th

Left Damascus at six o'clock. I just heard that our cavalcade consists of 27 muleteers, waiters, cooks etc, 64 horses, mules, and donkies and 9 tents: all necessary for the convenience of 19 persons. Lunched at ten, and, with the freedom of Europeans, took possession of a garden for the purpose. In it are pomegranate trees, and a small leaved tree on which grows a curious sort of fruit of excrescence(?), said to be the source of husks mentioned in the parable of the prodigal son. It is shaped partly like a horseshoe, and is hollow and contains a small quantity of white dust. Reached this place ?Kefi Hannah in good time: it is on South-East slope of Mt Hermon.

Oct 31st

Started at usual time and rode 5¼ hours before lunch. Road dreary and stony: find morning hours to 8 o'clock most pleasant. When 1 hour from Banyas 9 of us turned off road to visit the castle, set on a conical hill 1000 ft above town. It is in form a figure 8 and very extensive. Fine prospect of hills of Naphtali, and water of ... thro' which the Jordan flows. At this town is one of the three sources of Jordan; and so we have good water in camp, a great consideration. I constructed a filter at Damascus for use when water is foul and am glad to say have not required it so far.

Find that the inhabitants of country, though called Arabs, are a mixed race. The only genuine ones are the Bedouin. Diarrhoea continues to trouble the camp: and many are weakened with it. I continue pretty well myself, tho' generally ready for sleep about 8 or nine. Find interval between meals long; but am getting used to it. Generally we breakfast at 5, lunch at 11, dinner about 6 or 7, and bed an hour or so after.

November 1st, Sunday

Beautiful morning: how welcome the quiet and rest! We are encamped on an open space surrounded with olive trees, and, for the first time, our surroundings are what may be called hallowed and beautiful: for here we have brooks of clear water, green trees, and mountain scenery. Our Service this morning Prof. Lindsay: very affecting service, and sermon useful and appropriate. Text Mark 9 v2 ('and, after six days, Jesus taketh with him Peter and James and John, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves, and he was transfigured before them.') Assigned mountain near us as the scene of the Transfiguration. Noticed contrast between same and the scene with demoniac. One showing blessedness and glory of heaven compared with our sin-stricken earth, with points in character of Moses and Elijah and prominence of 3 disciples after Transfiguration. Jesus appears to turn all his discourses and words to consummation of his life. Peter's expression "'Tis good for us to be here." teaches that states of entrancement and meditation cannot always continue; but earth's duties call for faithful discharges.

How beautiful and refreshing are the green trees and music of the rippling brooks and the sweet singing of birds - first I have beard in this country. A stone-chatterer is rowing away close beside me, and, before him the sweet singing linnet. Offered a little girl a piastre, and she kept looking at it with a sort of scared astonishment; and, after taking it in her hand, gave it back.

In afternoon, went a short distance to see one of the three fountains of Jordan flowing out of cave called Grotto of Pan. Formerly a Temple, built by Herod, stood here; but now few remains are to he seen and the cave is full of rubbish. There are a few ruins to he seen; but nothing worth seeing.

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