RUNNING north and south, between the Dead Sea and the eastern arm of the Red Sea, is a mountain range, one hundred miles in length and nearly twenty miles in breadth. This is Mount Seir, which Esau took possession of, and named Edom. The average height of the range is two thousand feet. Toward the west, the mountains slope gently down to the desert. On the east is a high, unbroken limestone ridge that descends gently into the Arabian Desert.

A ridge of porphyry rock forms the backbone of the country, and over this lie cliffs of red and variegated sandstone, arranged in the most picturesque shapes. The mountains are everywhere intersected by deep and dark ravines, such as are shown in the accompanying picture.

Edom does not suffer from want of rain, as do the deserts to the east and west of it, and so everywhere in the valleys and on the flat terraces of the mountains, a luxuriant growth of gorgeous mountain flowers, tamarisks, and oleanders greet the eye. It is indeed the place of which Isaac spoke to Esau:

"Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above."

The chief object of interest to the traveler is the ruins of Petra. In olden times, when Petra was in her glory, the principal entrance to this city was from the east, through a narrow ravine. On either side of the ravine rose sandstone cliffs, not more than a hundred feet high at the entrance of the pass, but gradually rising to the height of three hundred feet as you approach the city. This pass in the mountains varies in width from twelve to thirty feet, and is about a mile long. It is so narrow that the sunlight never enters, and in some places the cliffs so overshadow it that you can hardly catch a glimpse of the blue sky above.

The red color of the sandstone is soft and subdued, and harmonizes well with the shadowy coolness of the place. A tiny brook, bordered with oleanders and tamarisks, threads its way along the path, toward the sunlight. A short distance from the entrance to the city, a buttressed arch spans the gorge. This is the ruins of an ancient aqueduct.

A sharp turn in the ravine brings us face to face with the shattered remnants of Petra's glory. Almost the first thing that strikes the eye is a rock-hewn temple, called the Khuzneh. This is carved out of rose colored rock, and stands in a niche, with the same rock all around it. It forms a striking contrast to the dark cliffs around, and the bright green of the vegetation. The cliffs on either side are lined with rock-hewn tombs and dwellings.

But there is not space to describe these tombs, nor the temples in which the place abounds. In speaking of the general appearance of the architecture and ruins, a writer says "They are not, in themselves considered, very high specimens of art; but two circumstances unite to give them an indescribable charm. One is their singularly wild and romantic position; the other is the endless variety of hues displayed by the living rock in which they are hewn." "They present," says another writer, "not a dead mass of dull, monotonous red; but an endless variety of bright and living hues, from the deepest crimson to the softest pink, verging also sometimes to orange and yellow." However beautiful Petra may have been in its prime, it is now a mass of crumbling ruins. Even the Arabs do not live in the better preserved houses, but dwell in their black tents in the neighborhood around.

The descendants of Edom cherished a perpetual hatred toward the Israelites, and never lost an opportunity to annoy and harass them. When the chosen people of God journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land, the Edomites curtly refused them a passage through their country, so they were obliged to take the longer way—the way of the Red Sea

—to compass the land of Edom. The Edomites greatly rejoiced over the fall of Judah, and willingly aided the Chaldeans in conquering the land.

In their rocky fastnesse’s they had deemed themselves well-nigh impregnable; yet "because that Edom had dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and had greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them," the word of the Lord came to them by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah, "Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill; though thou shouldst make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down hence, saith the Lord. . . . Every one that goeth by shall be astonished, and shall hiss at the plagues thereof." Edom did indeed fall, and its ruins stand today a fit monument to the sure word of the Lord.



W. E. L.



I HOLD that Christian grace abounds

Where charity is seen; that when

We climb to heaven, ‘t is on the rounds

Of love to men.




Alice Cary.