Notes On Biblical Geography -- By: E. Robinson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 006:22 (May 1849)
Article: Notes On Biblical Geography
Author: E. Robinson


Notes On Biblical Geography

E. Robinson

I. The A’waj, The Second River Of Damascus

In the Numher of this work for Nov. 1848, p. 760 sq. there are extracts from a letter of the Rev. Wm. M. Thomson of Beirut, describing some antiquities on the route to Damascus. At the close he spoke of having on his return traced to its sources the river A’waj (the crooked), probably the ancient Pharpar; and held out the hope of further information in respect to it. The following letter relates chiefly to that journey. I subjoin a few notes, comprising former notices of this stream, and the reasons for regarding it as the Pharpar of 2 Kings 5:12.

Beirût, Nov. 29, 1848.

“You were pleased to express a desire for the remainder of my hurried journey to and from Damascus; and if I had supposed that the latter half led me over the region least known and therefore most interesting, I would have been more particular at the time in my observations, and more prompt in writing.

“I will dismiss the city of Damascus with one or two remarks; as it is well known and visited by all travellers. There are more extensive remains of antiquity in it, than is generally supposed. Not far from the site of the great church of St. John, (in which also are large antique columns and foundations,) are the remains of an immense building, constructed of heavy stones and evidently very ancient. It is at present about fifty-three paces long on the west side; and, on a stone about twenty feet from the ground, is a long Greek inscription, which I copied.—The great castle is built of stones having a bevel somewhat like the Phenician. It is, however, evidently Saracenic; and has smooth cut stones mingled with the bevelled.—At the place where the Barada breaks through the mountain into the plain of Damascus, is a long Cufic inscription, thirty-five or forty feet high up in the perpendicular face of the mountain. I have got a splendid facsimile of this curious relic of early Mohammedan times; the only one of the kind I have found in all my rambles. I may send a copy of this beautiful inscription, with a translation, at some future time. —Now for the ride home.

April 19, 1848. Passing out of Bâb Allah, the south-western gate of Damascus, I entered at once upon the great plain which stretches away to Haurân and the desert. In an hour and a quarter came to Dârâya; where is a large square ruin, said to have been a convent (Deir), as most ruins are Christened. This is the first place irrigated from the Nahr A’waj. In half an hour more reached a deep canal of water, in many places carried under ground ...

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