lgo PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
by pursuing the mountain track parallel to this along the crest of the ridge towards Tekoa. and
then descending at once on Berachah. West of this ridge there is general cultivation; the
tern slopes are for the most part bare downs, with sparse stunted shrubs, pastured over bv
the Ta'amireh Arabs, abounding in partridge, and the favourite haunt of the gazelle and a
or \\ lid goats.
From the Wady Bereikuh a ride of five miles brings us to Tekoa (see page [88), ere..
the little upland plain, ensconced in a circle of hills, called Bukat et Tekua. In front of us
long hill, with a copious spring at its foot and ruins on its top. The name is scarcely change
Teku'a for Tekoa, and the district in its natural features seems to have been always what it
is now bare, treeless, Open pasturage. We here lose all traces of the ancient terraces which
I the undulations of every hill farther west with their swathing bands. Here and then
still patches of cultivation in the hollows of the valleys, but the soil is dry and stony, and u<-
begin here to lose the rich vegetable mould which, however scanty, still covers more
thr whole of the central hills, and have, in its stead, only a thirsty chalky marl. That V(
soil is doubtless due, in the first instance, to the primaeval forest, which certainl
whole of the [udaean as of the Gilead range!, but which has left no traces of its exist
on the western slopes towards the Dead Sea (see page 185). Tekoa thus stood on the outskirts
of civilisation. Though a city, and a fortified one, for its strategic importance is evident, and
it was the permanent advanced post towards the pass of Engedi (see page 200), yet it is not
with a number of low ruin topped knolls, like the strongholds of the country we have I
\ng. Asa town it stood in the centre of a nomad district, and the inhabitants oi the
;tward dwelt in tents like their modern successors, the Taamireh Arabs. Hut til
alwa\ rison post is indicated by the words, k> Blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and setup
;n of tire in Beth-Haccerim M (i.e. Frank Mountain, or Jebel Fureidis, the peak facing US
the; north) 137, vol. i.). Tekoa was fortified by Rehoboam as one of his frontier
posts. Of its large buildings little remains that can be identified; but it was occupied du;
the Christian <ra. and the most conspicuous ruin is that of the Byzantine church, with the
broken columns of its aisles, and a large baptismal font well wrought in hard limest<
page [88). St. Saba established a convent here; and the Crusaders resettled the place, only
be again, after their expulsion from the country, devastated by the Bedawin.
lint the chief interest of Tekoa is not its history, but the fact of its being the birthplace
and home n\ the prophet Amos, a "herdsman of Tekoa" and a " gatherer of wild f
ly life here, the character ^\ the country, and the nature of his calling, hai ll,s
writingswith an individuality which hasattracted the notice of every student and critic, thx
St Jerome, the father of commentators, downwards.
From rekoa to Engedi (see pag l there is no track, but we may follow th<
the w.uK 1 which converge towards the pass, the Wady Husasah, Wady el jihar. or Wady I
eijeh All are equally featureless, all alike without relics of the past, or dwelling* «»« lh<
■ent llll! ! them afford an admirable opportunity for studying the natural prodtK