Mark Twain’s Journeys in the Holy Land – Day 4, September 20th
This day, Twain’s traveling group was accompanied by a man whom Twain described as “a pirate… if ever a pirate dwelt upon land.” This tall Arab man armed with a large silver scimitar was hired to guard the group from Bedouins who allegedly took pleasure in killing Christians.
Together the caravan rode to Mount Tabor, a green landmark that Twain enjoyed after trotting through what he considered monotonous desert landscape. The group climbed to the summit of the mountain with sweeping views of the region while they discussed Christ’s transfiguration that took place on the mount. After, they took a two-hour ride to Nazareth via narrow and rocky roads. “All distances in the East are measured by hours, not miles,” Twain observed.
Excerpted from Mark Twain’s Notebook 9:
Sept. 20 – Bathed in Galilee before breakfast. Passed through the strange old town (beautiful porphyry columns with flutings almost worn away. ) Had a wretched looking scalliwag imposed upon us for a guard by the shiek…
….New convent & ruins of an old one built by the Crusaders. Saw XX* in it. Also ruins of Joshua’s time.
Then came to Nazareth, where Christ lived & carpentered till 30 of age (not allowed by Jewish law to teach sooner.
Glass windows, – some 2-story – many shops – many cone-shaped mud hovels; – camels & fantastic Arabs & dirty children – all around, the hills that were familiar to the eyes of Jesus -…. Saw the grotto of the Annunciation…. Grotto where lived Joseph Mary & infant Christ –
Workshop of Joseph & Jesus….
Synagogue where Jesus taught & from which Jews took him to throw him down the mountain, when he “passed from their presence”.
Fountain of the Virgin.
*This is Mark Twain’s usual symbol for crosses.