Geographical Notes On Palestine. -- By: Samuel Wolcott

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:10 (May 1846)
Article: Geographical Notes On Palestine.
Author: Samuel Wolcott


Geographical Notes On Palestine.

Rev. Samuel Wolcott

Longmeadow, Mass.

The Coast of the Dead Sea.

In a short notice of some recent Maps of Palestine, in a former Number of this Journal,1 we referred incidentally to a locality on the western coast of the Dead Sea, towards its southern extremity, the ancient Masada, which the writer had visited, in company with an English artist, during his residence in Palestine. The excursion led us to traverse a portion of the coast of that sea, which no modern traveller had passed over.

The position just named was found to command a complete view of the sea; the map of which, in Robinson’s Biblical Researches, was subjected to the severe test of being compared with the object itself, as it lay directly under our eye, more than a thousand feet below us. The testimony which has been given to the public, respecting the credit with which the work sustained that test, need not be repeated here. It is certainly surprising that it should have been left for American research, at so late a period, to define with any degree of correctness the shape of this singular sheet of water; as it is gratifying that it has finally been done so accurately. The annexed sketch gives more minutely and correctly the portion of the coast already referred to, which had not before come under personal examination. It is merely a general outline, drawn from the individual recollections of the writer, and without any reference to bearings and distances noted at the time and subsequently published by Professor Robinson, and which, with a more particular description of the localities, can be consulted by the reader.2 We subjoin a few explanations, and cannot forbear expressing a hope that the time may be near, when some enterprising traveller will execute an undertaking which combines so much, both of scientific and sacred interest, and explore the shores and sound the depths of this remarkable sea. The Wadys here given are all dry in the summer season. During the rains, the sands are washed down and form projecting points in the sea. We observed drift wood in various places along the coast, indicating the different stages at which the water had stood. The Birket el-Khûlil, (‘ Pool of the Friend,’ —a name given to Abraham, and hence to Hebron, to which this probably refers,) is a mere depression in the sand, into which the waters flow when they are raised by the winter torrents, and evaporating, leave a saline deposit, which the natives gather for domestic use. The coast north

of Masada, like the opposite peninsula, is a sand-bank or shoal, and from ever...

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