THE blue waters of the Mediterranean have bathed the feet of many a queenly city; but perhaps none have a more interesting history than the ancient town of Sidon; situated on the edge of the beautiful plain of Phoenicia, between Tyre and Beirut, and about one hundred and twenty miles north of Jerusalem.

The history of this city stretches far back into the dim past. More than three thousand years ago, when the combined armies of the Canaanites had been defeated by Joshua at the waters of Merom, they took refuge behind the strong walls of "Great Zidon." Notice that even then it was called great.

But further back than this, in the record of Genesis, we learn that this city took its name from Sidon, the great-grandson of Noah.

In the days of Solomon it was the men of Sidon who were chosen, because of their great skill, to hew and fashion the fragrant cedars of Lebanon for the temple of the Lord at Jerusalem. Sidon -was situated on a small promontory of land jutting out obliquely into the sea, and thus had one of the finest natural harbors on the coast. Sidon was noted for her shipping, and for centuries was mistress of the seas, finally dividing the honors with her daughter Tyre, situated twenty miles farther down the coast. The fame of Sidon was known in every land, and men of all nations sought unto her; but because of her greatness and glory the inhabitants became proud and lifted up in heart and grossly wicked; and the curse of God fell upon the powerful city. Its punishment, however, has not been so severe as that of Tyre, upon which were pronounced and fulfilled some of the most sweeping and terrible curses in the whole scope of prophecy.

A comparatively small town, numbering about nine thousand inhabitants and known as Saida, now stands on part of the site of Sidon. It is said to be one of the most picturesque towns in Syria, and did we not remember its former greatness, it might be considered quite a thriving town.

You approach the city through lovely gardens, orange and lemon orchards, and fields of wheat and barley waving above the buried stones and columns of the once proud ‘Sidon.’ All, this greenness helps to give to the environs of the old city a look of eternal spring.

You are charmed with your ride, and rejoice that you have found so beautiful a town in that land of ruins; but as you pass under the arched gateway and enter the narrow, dirty, vault-like streets, with their dogs and donkeys, and shouts and cries, you realize that you are still in a Turkish town. But the inhabitants seem to be better off than those of many of the towns, and the houses are larger and finer. From the flat roofs of some of them a beautiful view of the surrounding country is obtained. The little city is closely packed within its walls, with the blue Mediterranean before it, and rich gardens of fruit trees sweeping in a curve about it landward, while back of them rise the hills of Lebanon, height above height, with many a village, and groves of olive and mulberry trees. One ruined castle crowns the high ground back of the town; another, which was once the defense of the city, stands on a rocky islet amid the waves, and is connected with the land by a broken bridge. Both it and the bridge are plainly shown in the picture on this page, which gives a view of Saida, from the north. The once excellent harbor is so filled with drifting sand that only small vessels may enter; and in place of the mighty fleets that once anchored there, may be seen a few fishing boats and small schooners.

The American schools are an interesting feature of Saida. Some American missionaries have gone there, within the last quarter of a century, and established schools for Syrian boys and girls, where they are taught not only the common branches of learning, and the customs of civilized life, but a knowledge of the Christ who gave his life for them and us. They have both meetings and Sunday-schools conducted in Arabic, the language of the natives. The church edifice is a neat building of cut stone in the very heart of the city, and, strange to say, it stands on the ground where formerly stood a Moslem court of justice.

These good missionaries meet many difficulties in their work, but they have the satisfaction of seeing numbers of the Syrian youth, who must otherwise have come up in the deepest ignorance, fitted, some to build up Christian homes in this land of darkness, and others to go forth as missionaries and teachers to the little villages which are scattered so thickly over the mountains of Lebanon. And in that glad day so soon to dawn, when they shall come from the east and from the west, the north and the south, to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, no doubt many will be gathered in from this part of the great harvest field.





E. B. G.