remained in Canaanite hands, and hither to their friends and kinsfolk the Philistines carried
their trophies, and mutilated and exposed the royal corpses. From Ras Seiban a fine
panorama is stretched, in which the widespread ruins and arches of Beisan (Bethshean) are
conspicuous. This hill seems still to be a stronghold of the aboriginal races. The fellahin of
Mezar and Jelbon are very dark and square-built, and recall our ideal of the old Canaanites.
Mohammedan in name and fanaticism, though very ignorant of the tenets of the Prophet, they
attach far greater importance to the worship of the new moon on the high places of this ridge,
like Ras Seiban, than to the ceremonial of the mosque. They seem, in fact, to be an isolated
survival left overlooked by successive waves of conquerors on these barren, uninviting heights.
We have not yet completed the circuit of battle-fields which fringe uninterruptedly this
historic plain. Let us look westward, where the nullahs of Taanach, Rimmon, and Megiddo,
and others beyond in rapid succession, push into the plain. Here was fought the battle of
Meo-iddo, when the last of the great Kings of Judah, Josiah, fell, and the kingdom received
a blow from which it never rallied. The Egyptian King, Pharaoh Necho, in his march against
Assyria, had rounded the promontory of Carmel, coming up by the Plain of Sharon, and thus
following up the course of the Kishon, encountered the army of Judah at Megiddo. We can
see the four "tells," or heaps, of Lejjun, Ta'anuk, Rummaneh, and Mutesellim, which seem to
have been the " Quadrilateral " on which the king relied, and where he elected to resist the
invader. We know no further details of the battle than the death of Josiah, annually
bewailed with the weeping of Hadad-rimmon. It has been suggested that most probably
it was on the very same field that the kingdom of Israel had already received its death-blow,
and that here Shalmaneser defeated Hosea, its last monarch. The event is referred to by
Hosea the prophet, who speaks prophetically of the bow of Israel as broken in the Valley
of Jezreel, and again historically of Shalmaneser's butchery at Beth Arbel. We cannot
however, identify Beth Arbel with any spot in this neighbourhood; and as there is an
almost unquestioned identification of one Beth Arbel with Irbid, close to Hattin, by the Lake
of Gennesaret, we should rather place the overthrow of the northern kingdom on the upland
plain of Hattin, where the last army of the Crusaders was annihilated.
We have lingered long on the sides of Mount Gilboa, for the view from Jezreel has
suggested a reminiscence of every battle which has rendered this plain famous. Let us now
cross the southern branch of the eastern plain, and we shall find ourselves among scenes which
arouse less martial but more hallowed memories than these, which have been called the most
secular of sacred history.
It is but a short walk across the head of the plain from 'Ain Jalud to Shunem (Sulem),
near the base of the opposite hill; in fact it rests upon its foot. The village is one of the
least attractive and most squalid in the country, surrounded by mean enclosures and ungainly
hedges of prickly pear, with crooked lanes always ankle-deep either in sand or mud,
according to the weather. All the houses but one are of mud, and there is nothing to lead
us to picture it as the home either of a fair Shunammite or of a great lady (see page 269).