The View From Nazareth

From Biblical Researches In Palestine
By Robinson and Smith

After breakast I walked out alone to the top of the western hill above Nazareth, where stands the neglected Wely of Neby Isma'il. Here, quite unexpectedly, a glorious prospect opened on the view. The air was perfectly clear and serene; and I shall never forget the impression I received, as the enchanting panorama burst suddenly upon me.

The Plain of Esdraelon
From the Matson Collection

There lay the magnificent plain of Esdraelon, or at least all its western part...

Hills and the top of Mount Tabor
From the Matson Collection

... on the left was seen the round top of Tabor over the intervening hills...

There lay the magnificent plain of Esdraelon, or at least all its western part; on the left was seen the round top of Tabor over the intervening hills, with portions of the little Hermon and Gilboa, and the opposite mountains of Samaria, from Jenin westwards to the lower hills extending towards Carmel. Then came the long line of Carmel itself, with the convent of Elias on its northern end, and Haifa on the shore at its foot. In the west lay the Mediterranean, gleaming in the morning sun; seen first far in the south on the left of Carmel; then interrupted by that mountain; and again appearing on its right, so as to include the whole bay of 'Akka, and the coast stretching far north to a point N. 10° W. 'Akka itself was not visible, being hidden by intervening hills.

The Carmel range and the Bay of 'Akka
From the Matson Collection

... and again appearing on its right, so as to include the whole bay of 'Akka...

Below on the north, was spread out another of the beautiful plains of northern Palestine, called el-Buttauf; it runs from east to west, and its waters are drained off westwards through a narrower valley, to the Kishon (el-Mukutta') at the base of Carmel. Near the southern border of this plain, the eye rested on a large village on the slope of an isolated hill, with a ruined castle on the top; this was Seffûrieh, the ancient Sepphoris or Diocaesarea. Beyond the plain el-Buttauf, long ridges running from east to west rise one higher than another; until the mountams of Safed overtop them all, on which that place is seen, "a city set upon a hill.' Further towards the right is a sea of hills and mountains, backed by the higher ones beyond the lake of Tiberias, and in the northeast by the majestic Hermon with its icy crown.

Hills with Mount Hermon in the distance
From the Matson Collection

... in the northeast by the majestic Hermon with its icy crown

Carmel here presented itself to great advantage, extending far out into the sea, and dipping his feet in the waters. The highest part of the ridge is towards the south. The southern end of the proper ridge, as here seen, bore S. 80° W. and the highest point S. 86° W. Thence it declines gradually northwards, until at the oonvent, according to Schubert, it has an elevation of only 582 Paris feet above the adjacent sea. The same traveller estimates the highest point at 1200 feet; which seems to me relatively too high. The northern extremity bore N. 58° W. Towards the southeast Carmel is partially connected with the mountains of Samaria, by the broad range of low wooded hills separating the great plain of the more southern coast from that of Esdraelon. Here large trees of the walnut are said to be prevalent. The middle point of this connecting range bore S. 64° W. The same appearance of bushes and trees is seen on many parts of Carmel; which thus presents a less naked aspect, than the mountains of Judea.

Seating myself in the shade of the Wely, I remained for some hours upon this spot, lost in the contemplation of the wide prospect, and of the events connected with the scenes around. In the village below, the Savior of the world passed his childhood; and although we have few particulars of his life during those early years, yet there are certain features of nature which meet our eyes now, just as they once met his. He must often have visited the fountain near which we had pitched our tent; his feet must frequently have wandered over the adjacent hills; and his eyes doubtless have gazed upon the splendid prospect from this very spot.