The Jebel es Zubleh is a mountain fifty miles and more in length,
and so narrow that its tracery on the map gives it a likeness to
a caterpillar crawling from the south to the north. Standing on
its red-and-white cliffs, and looking off under the path of the
rising sun, one sees only the Desert of Arabia, where the east
winds, so hateful to vinegrowers of Jericho, have kept their
playgrounds since the beginning. Its feet are well covered by
sands tossed from the Euphrates, there to lie, for the mountain
is a wall to the pasture-lands of Moab and Ammon on the west--lands
which else had been of the desert a part.
The Arab has impressed his language upon everything south and
east of Judea, so, in his tongue, the old Jebel is the parent of
numberless wadies which, intersecting the Roman road--now a dim
suggestion of what once it was, a dusty path for Syrian pilgrims
to and from Mecca--run their furrows, deepening as they go, to
pass the torrents of the rainy season into the Jordan, or their
last receptacle, the Dead Sea.
Out of one of these wadies--or,
more particularly, out of that one which rises at the extreme end
of the Jebel, and, extending east of north, becomes at length
the bed of the Jabbok River--a traveller passed, going to the
table-lands of the desert. To this person the attention of the
reader is first besought.
Judged by his appearance, he was quite forty-five years old.
His beard, once of the deepest black, flowing broadly over his
breast, was streaked with white. His face was brown as a parched
coffee-berry, and so hidden by a red kufiyeh (as the kerchief of
the head is at this day called by the children...