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TO THE FOURTH EDITION.
In giving an account of the Holy Land, an author, upon examining his materials, finds himself presented with the choice either of simple history on the one hand, or of merely local description on the other; and the character of his book will of course be determined by the selection which he shall make of the first or the second of these departments. The volumes on Palestine hitherto laid before the public, will accordingly be found to contain either a bare abridgment of the annals of the Jewish people, or a topographical delineation of the country, with the cities and towns which they inhabited, from the era of their triumphs under Joshua, down to the period of their dispersion by Titus and Adrian. Several able works have recently appeared on each of these subjects, and have been, almost without exception, rewarded with the popularity which is seldom refused to learning and eloquence. But it occurred to the writer of the following pages, that the expectations of the general reader would He more fully answered, were the two plans to be united ; spmbining an account of the constitution, the antiquities, dhe religion, the literature, and even the statistics of the Hebrews, with a narrative of their fise and fall in the sacred land bestowed upon their fathers.
In following out this scheme, he has made it his study to leave no source of information unexplored, which might supply the means of illustrating the political condition of the Twelve Tribes immediately after they settled on the banks of the Jordan. The principles which entered into the constitution of their commonwealth are extremely interesting, both as they afford a fine example of the progress of society in one of its earliest stages, when the migratory shepherd gradually assumes the habits of the agriculturist ; and also as they confirm the results of experience, in other cases, with regard to the change which usually follows in the form of civil government, and in the concentration of power
in the hands of an individual.
The chapter on the Literature and Religion of the Ancient Hebrews cannot boast of a great variety of materials, because what of the subject is not known to the youngest reader of the Bible must be sought in the writings of Rabbinical authors, who have unfortunately directed the largest share of their attention to the minutest parts of their Law, and expended the labour of elucidation on those points which are least interesting to the rest of the world. It is deeply to be regretted, that so little is known respecting the Schools of the Prophets,—those seminaries which sent forth not only the ordinary ministers of the Temple and the Synagogue, but also that more distinguished order of men who were employed as instruments for revealing the future intentions of Providence. But the Author hesitates not to say, that he has availed himself of all the materials which the research of modern times has brought to light, while he has carefully rejected all such speculations or conjectures as might gratify the curiosity of learning without tending to edify the youthful mind. The account
which is given of the Feasts and Fasts of the Jews, both before and after the Babylonian Captivity, will, it is hoped, prove useful to the reader, more especially by pointing out to him appropriate subjects of reflection while perusing the Sacred Records.
The history of Palestine, prior to the Fall of Jerusalem, rests upon the authority of the inspired writers, or of those annalists, such as Josephus and Tacitus, who flourished at the period the events of which they describe. The narrative, which brings down the fortunes of that remarkable country to the present day, is much more various both in its subject and references; more especially where it embraces the exploits of the Crusaders, those renowned devotees of religion, romance, and chivalry. The reader will find in a narrow compass the substance of the extensive works of Fuller, Wilken, Michaud, Mills, and Hogg. In the more modern part of this historical outline, in which the affairs of Palestine are intimately connected with those of Egypt, it was thought unnecessary to repeat facts already mentioned at some length in that volume of our series which is devoted to the latter country.
The topographical description of the Holy Land is drawn from the works of the numerous travellers and pilgrims, who, since the time of the faithful Doubdan, have visited the interesting scenes where the Christian Faith had its origin and completion. On this subject Maundrell is still a principal authority ; for, while we have the best reason to believe that he recorded nothing but what he saw, we can trust implicitly to the accuracy of his details in describing every thing which fell under his observation. The same high character is due to Pococke and Sandys, writers whose simplicity of style and thought afford a voucher for the truth of their narratives. Nor are Thevenot, Paul Lucas, and Careri, though less frequently consulted, at all unworthy of confidence as depositories of historical facts. In more modern times we meet with equal fidelity, recommended by an exalted tone of feeling, in the volumes of Chateaubriand and Dr Richardson. Clarke, Burckhardt, Buckingham, Legh, Henniker, Jowett, Light, Macworth, Irby, Mangles, Carne, Wilson, Madden, Madox, Spence Hardy, the author of “ Three Weeks in Palestine," Delamartine, and Bové, have not only contributed valuable materials, but also lent the aid of their names to correct or to confirm the statements of some of the more apocryphal among their predecessors.
The chapter on Natural History has no pretensions to scientific arrangement or technical precision in its details. It is calculated solely for the use of the common reader, who would soon be fatigued with the formal notation of the botanist, and could not understand the learned terms in which the student of zoology too often finds the knowledge of animal nature concealed. Its main object is to illustrate the Scriptures, by giving an account of the Quadrupeds, Birds, Serpents, Plants, and Fruits, which are mentioned from time to time by the inspired writers of either Testament.
The Map is recommended to the notice of the reader as containing a most accurate delineation of the country, as well as a good selection of ancient and modern names.
EDINBURGH, July 1837.