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MODEL OF PALESTINE,
THERE are many exhibitions in London of a much more attractive kind than that of the model of Palestine, or the Holy Land, near Somerset House; but hardly any more useful, especially to those who love their Bibles: for, like the panorama of Jerusalem, it deepens the conviction of the truth of Holy Writ in the mind of the visitor, and thus confers, instead of a temporary gratification, an enduring benefit.
It is not a pleasant thing to be deceived as to the correctness of a thing of this kind, but the model of Palestine is the production of one whose general character, and whose residence in the Holy Land for many years, afford a reasonable pledge to the public that every care has been taken to render it as accurate as possible.
The model is formed on a table, about eighteen feet long by nine broad. It is made of cement, and painted of a greenish cast; the sea, lakes, and rivers, are light blue. The eye of the spectator takes in, at one view, the whole of the land of Palestine. The cities are represented by bits of carved cork, and the towns by white circles. The royal cities are signified by Roman letters, the Levitical cities by circles and scrolls, and the cities of refuge by circles and crosses. There are also gilt lines drawn to show the several boundaries of the different tribes, and pale lines to mark out the roads.
As the model of the Holy Land has few charms for any but biblical readers and travellers, the visitors are comparatively few. It is no fashionable lounge, tempting us pleasantly to pass away an idle hour, but a place of sober interest, where Christian associations and reflections may be indulged without interruption.
To turn such an exhibition to account, the visitor should repose a generous confidence in the correctness of the interesting scene before him; for where would be the advantage, if it could be done, of proving that the Sea of Galilee is little too much to the north, and Jerusalem a little too much to the south? What would it matter as to the general correctness of the whole, if it were ascertained that the river Jordan is represented too broad, and the Dead Sea rather too narrow? The whole extent of the Holy Land is but about two hundred miles, and in breadth only about half that amount ; therefore there is not room enough to err widely from the truth.
We are all apt to desire that things should be made more plain to us than they are, and sometimes to think, Oh that the records of Holy Writ could be in every particular as little associated with doubt in our minds, as the things visible to our sight, and the realities of a future state be made as clear and palpable to us as the things which we can handle and feel ! But how un reasonable is this desire! Humility must be exercised, faith must be tried, Christians must know the hidings as well as the revealings of their heavenly Father.
The modei of the Holy Land, like the panorama of Jerusalem, rebukes the Christian spectator with his very limited knowledge of these places, which might be expected to be as familiar to him as his household
goods. He may happen to know that Palestine is the southern district of Syria; that Mount Libanus is the barrier of the north, and the desert of Pharon on the south ; that the mountains of Hermon and Gilead rise to the east, and the Mediterranean flows on the west ; but he is a stranger to the general bearing of the remarkable places in the Holy Land. He remembers the names of Jerusalem, of Bethlehem, of Shechem and Samaria ; of Jericho, of Nazareth, of Tiberias and Capernaum, and can call to mind what events occurred there, as well as at Bethel, at Bethpage, and Bethany; but the view presented to his eyes by the model of Palestine, is altogether new to him.
It may be, that in these remarks I am somewhat unjust ; that a feeling persuasion of my own ignorance has led me to judge unfavourably of the knowledge of others; but if I be in error, the simple questions and unlearned observations of such as I have met at the model, have contributed to deceive me.
The Holy Land is so closely connected with the judgments and mercy of God, with the historical relations of the Old, and the yet more interesting events of the New Testament, that it must ever remain, in the estimation of the Christian world, the most remarkable country on which the sun throws his beams. It was called the land of Canaan," because the Canaanites, the descendants of Ham, the son of Noah, dwelt there. It was styled the “promised land” because it was promised to the seed of Abraham. It derived the name of • Palestine” from Syria Palestina, a name given by Herodotus the historian. It was named “ Judea” from Juda, the tribe which remained faithful to the ordinances of the Lord after the ten tribes had revolted and
separated; when the kingdom of Israel had passed away, the kingdom of Juda or Judea was still in power: and it was designated the "Holy Land," principally because therein was wrought the great mystery of huinan redemption by our blessed Redeemer.
The land of Palestine may be regarded as a stage whereon have been represented scenes of the most momentous character; and the contrast between its past greatness and present humiliation cannot but impress the reflective mind with the frail tenure of human glo ry. From Dan to Beersheba the land was once inha bited by the favoured people of God! but the high and Holy One, who "showeth mercy unto thousands of them that love him and keep his commadments," visited, in his righteous displeasure, the sins of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hated him, and rebelled against him.
The Babylonians came upon them like a flood, and brake down their walls and fenced cities, and led them into captivity. But did the proud kings of idolatrous Babylon escape the anger of the Lord ? Let Nebuchadnezzar, humbled and brought low, eating grass jike the ox; let Belshazzar, fear-struck by the handwriting on the wall, and smitten by the conquering Medes, reply.
The Persians became masters of Palestine, but the Macedonians overcame them, and were, themselves overcome by the kings of Syria and Eygpt. Then came the victorious Romans, till, in the reigns of Vespasian and Titus the Jews were wholly subdued, and nearly destroyed.
“ In 1291, the Christian dominions in Palestine were reduced to within the narrow confines of the city of
Acre, and the Pilgrims' Castle, a strong fort of the Templárs. These were at length invested, and the grand master, William de Beaujeu, took the command of the garrison. The old and feeble were sent away to the island of Cyprus, then the seat of the Latin kingdom, and none remained in the devoted city of Acre, but such as were prepared to suffer martyrdom rather than yield to the infidels. Military engines of the most formidable construction were set in operation by the besiegers : six hundred instruments of destruction were directed against the fortifications, and the battering machines were of such immense size and weight, that a hundred wagons were required to transport the separate timbers of one of them. All the military contrivances which the skill of that
could produce, were employed to facilitate the assault. After thirty-three days of constant fighting, the great tower, or key of the fortifications, was thrown down. At lergth the double wall was forced, and a body of Mamlooks penetrated to the centre of the city. The knights drove them back with immense carnage, and precipitated their bodies from the walls. At length, the number of the Templars was reduced to three hundred, and these fought their way to the strong Temple at Acre, and shut themselves
This little band was at length destroyed beneath the ruins of their Temple, which the Sultan had caused to be undermined. Thus fell the last stronghold of the Christians in Palestine, and with it every reasonable hope of recovering possession of the Holy City."
After that, the caliphs and the Turks each possessed the Holy Land. During the crusade, or holy war,
it was retaken, but Saladin, the Saracen sultan of Egypt,