23& PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
accounted for were it not for the jealousy with which—as we learn from the Book of Genesis—
the old Canaanites preserved their rights to the springs. For his own use, on his own land,
the patriarch dug the well, leaving the fountains in possession of the native inhabitants.
As we approach the spot we see a dusty patch of ground within a brokendown stone wall.
Scattered stones and mounds of rubbish cover the plot, and the shafts of three granite
columns stand up in the middle, their bases buried underground. At length we find a hole,
in the roof of a little modern vault about twenty feet long east and west, with a pointed arch.
The floor is piled with the debris of the roof, and the well-mouth is choked, but the well itself,
seventy-five feet deep, and seven feet six inches in diameter, is quite clear (see page 230).
The ruins which surround the well are those of an ancient church. In another small
vault to the north-west, now closed, the tesselated pavement may still be seen, and the
bases of the pillars already noticed. In 383 a.d. Sta. Paula visited the church ; in 700 a.d.
Arculphus gives a rude plan of it as cruciform. It was standing in the eighth century, and
was rebuilt in the twelfth; for Theodoras, in 1172, speaks of the well as enclosed in the
church—just as Sta. Paula found it—before the high altar. Even as late as 1550 an altar
stood in the vault, and the site still belongs to the Greek church. Looking northward from
the well, we see the dome of the little mosque by Joseph's Tomb—a site mentioned from the
earliest time by travellers, Jewish, Samaritan, or Christian, and venerated by all sects alike—
the companion of Jacob's Well, and probably as genuine a site, being authorised by that rare
consent of various traditions which is found especially in respect to places near Shechem.
The tomb stands in a little courtyard adjoining the ruined kubbeh, and is surrounded by
plastered walls, renewed—as an inscription in English, on the south wall, tells us—by Consul
Rogers, the friend of the Samaritans, in 1868. At either end of the rude cenotaph is a pillar
on which lamps may be placed; and the monument must be older than, from its rude construction, would be supposed, for in 1564 Rabbi Vri, of Biel, gives a sketch of Joseph's Tomb which
would correctly represent the present structure with its pillars. Jew, Samaritan, Moslem,
and Christian venerate the site alike, although Josephus says that the bones of Joseph were
carried to Hebron, and Saewulf notices, in 1100 a.d., the same supposed tomb, which is still
shown attached to the outer wall of the Hebron haram (see page 231).
On the side of Ebal, above Joseph's Tomb, is the rude hamlet of 'Askar, with its rock-cut
channel leading to the spring and its ancient sepulchres. The old Samaritan name for the
place is Ischar, almost identical in sound with the Sychar which is mentioned in our version
of the fourth Gospel. Jerome and other authorities, indeed, support the reading which
substitutes Shechem for Sychar, and Dr. Robinson has proposed the theory that Sychar means
" drunken," and was a Jewish nickname for the Samaritan capital. The spelling of the old
Samaritan name shows, however, that the derivation was from another root, meaning " to
surround;" and Shechem is too far from Jacob's Well to fit the narrative of Christ's
conversation with the Samaritan woman. Nor is the expression, " Sychar, a city of Samaria/
likely to have been used by a Jewish author with reference to the famous Shechem which