( Originally Published Mid 1800's )
Tuesday Evening, December 19.
Another very interesting day. The days become more interesting as we approach Jerusalem. We were to go from Galilee to Judea, " and must needs pass through Samaria." Shortly after we left Jenin, crossing a range of hills, we saw, two miles on our left, a small " tell " or hill which is the old Dothan, whence Joseph went to seek his brethren, and where they sold him to the Midianites. We rode on all the morning, over hills and plains, the hills occasionally opening to the east, and letting us see the plain of Sharon and the blue sea beyond. About noon we saw be-fore us the terraced hill of Samaria, and lunched by and by among the olives on its northern side. It is full of the interest of Elisha, and the old Israelite kings, and the visit of Philip in the Acts. I read over 2 Kings vi. and vii. on horseback. The place is full of ruins of the old Roman time, when it was rebuilt by Herod and called Sebaste. Countless columns are scattered around, and some standing. The prophecy seems strangely fulfilled. Some are rolled down the hills, and the husbandmen were ploughing among them, all over the old site. The present village is miserable ; we rode into it after dinner, and were surrounded by the population like fleas. There is an old church of St. John in whose ruins is now a wretched mosque. A long quarrel and fifteen piastres backsheesh " gained us admission, and in a little subterranean room, whose walls were covered with defaced crosses, they showed us what they called the tomb of John the Baptist. It is a very old tradition. As we rode out of town, we were chased by the children, with much dirt on them and very little clothes, screaming what Ibrahim told us meant " Ho, Christians ! Ho, Jews ! May the Lord leave not a bit of you."
The afternoon's ride was lovely. The fields dark green with young wheat and barley, dotted with the light gray green of the olive-trees. And here we are now at Shechem. Before us is Mt. Ebal, behind us is Mt. Gerizim. Here is where Jacob bought " the parcel of ground ; " where the curses and the blessings were pronounced from hill to hill across this ampitheatre, where the town lies and where the Ark stood. Here is where Joshua collected his tribes for his last charge, and more than all, here is where Jesus came and lived two days after his conversation with the woman at the well which we shall see to-morrow. The city itself is large and charmingly old and quaint. There are about fifteen hundred Samaritans left, the only remnant of their people. We have been to see their synagogue, a dingy little hole, where a splendid old priest, in red turban and gray beard, showed us their famous roll of the Pentateuch, which they claim is thirty -two hundred years old, and written by the son of Eleazer, son of Aaron. There is a very fine old mosque too. As we passed through the streets, the small boys cursed us and spit at us. Think of that for a free American citizen to stand. Two days more to Jerusalem. To-night we sleep under the shadow of Gerizim. Good-night. It will be good to get your letters by next Thursday.