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Bible Study - ancient cities - Bethlehem - Bethany - Askelon
THF city of Bethlehem (or House of Bread) lies within the territory assigned to the tribe of Judah. It lies in the midst of what was a fertile country about six miles south by west from Jerusalem. The ancient city was beautifully situated on a commanding ridge, 2700 feet above the level of the sea. The hills around it were terraced, and clothed with vines, fig trees, and almonds, and the surrounding valleys yielded luxuriant harvests of grain. Jacob buried Rachel near its gate, and it was the home of Ruth and the birthplace of David, and " David's greater son " the Lord Jesus Christ. Its population was small in the days of the Saviour, but at present is about 3000, nearly all the inhabitants being Christians. It is said to be one of the cleanest and neatest towns in Palestine. St. Jerome lived there for more than thirty years, and there made his famous translation of the Bible into the Latin language.
The Bethany of the New Testament is now called Aziriyeh, the name being derived from Lazarus, It is located on the eastern slope of Mount Olivet, about two miles south-east of Jerusalem, on the road to Jericho. It contains about twenty families, all of whom are wretchedly poor. It was no doubt a pleasanter place when Jerusalem was in its prosperity. It was a favorite resort of the Saviour, as it was the home of his friends, Lazarus (whom he raised from the dead) and Martha and Mary. It was the scene of Our Lord's great miracle, the raising of Lazarus ; and it was from a spot near the village that the Saviour ascended into Heaven.
The city of Askelon was situated on the Mediterranean, in what is called in the Sacred narrative the " land of the Philistines." It was one of the royal cities of the Philistines when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. It was within the territory assigned to the tribe of Judah, and was captured and held a few years, and then relinquished. It played a prominent part in the history of the Holy Land; It became a great commercial point, and was magnificently built and adorned. Many prophecies were denounced against it, all predicting its utter destruction. They have been literally fulfilled. Askelon is now a desolate ruin, yet even in this state is one of the most interesting places in the East. (Jer. xlvii. 5-7; Amos i. 8; Zeph. ii. 4;
TROAS was a maritime city of Mysia in the north-west part of Asia Minor, It was situated on the coast of the AEgean, a short distance south of the site of ancient Troy. It was a Macedonian and Roman colony of considerable importance, and was called Alexandria Troas. It is now in ruins, and a forest of magnificent oaks has sprung up around it. It was visited several times by the Apostle Paul. It was here that he restored Eutychus to life. (Acts xvi., xx. 3 2 Cor. ii. ; 2 Tim. iv.)
THE village of Siloam is situated in the valley of the Kidron below the south-east angle of the walls of Jerusalem. It is rioted for its remarkable fountain. The water now issues from an arched basin, and flows into a lower basin, which is supposed to be the one into which our Lord sent the blind man. The water is said to be of a rather disagreeable taste. The Fountain of Siloam is a considerable distance up the valley, and is called the Fountain of the Virgin. From this point the water runs through a subterraneous channel until it finds its way into the pool, which is 53 feet long and 18 wide. There is a flight of steps down to the pool, which is faced with stones, and has several columns at the side. The water from the pool flows through a channel in the rock out into the gardens beyond. It is very curious that the water of Siloam ebbs and flows, but not at regular intervals.
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From: The Devotional and Practical Pictorial Family Bible, Copyright, by J. R. Jones, 1879.