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The plain to the eastward is that on which tra dition says the angels appeared to the shepherds, and is called the Shepherds' Field. As the plains were cultivated, it is probable that the shepherds would have been found on the hill, where they now may be found with their flocks.
A church, containing the monuments of the three shepherds, is mentioned by Arculfus as standing in the midst of the fields and terraced gardens. Jerome lived here in a cell, which is now pointed out, where he wrote his Commentaries, and compiled the Latin Vulgate the best ancient version of the Scriptures.
The present population is about 3,000, nearly all Christians, who manufacture and supply pilgrims with crucifixes, beads, and models of holy places.
A little beyond the northern extremity of the town is the magnificent Church of the Nativity, said to have been built by the Emperor Justinian. The roof of this church is supported by numerous Corinthian columns. The lofty roof of the nave is formed of cedar-wood of most admirable finish, and is still in good preservation. Between the columns lamps are hung, and a chandelier is also suspended from the roof. Two spiral staircases, of 15 steps each, lead down to the grotto of the Nativity, which is some twenty feet below the level of the church. This crypt, which is 39 feet long, 11 feet wide, and 9 feet high, is hewn out of the rock, and the sides and floor are lined with various kinds of marble. A rich altar, where lamps continually burn, stands over the place where the Saviour is said to have been born; the spot being marked by a silver star inlaid with gold, and
studded with gems, bearing the inscription-Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus est.
In a small recess in one side of the crypt, a little below the level of the floor, is a block of white marble, hollowed out in the form of a manger.
The Prophet Micah thus foretold the birth of Christ -"But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little* among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
Sidon is on the coast 20 miles N. of Tyre and 145 miles N. of Jerusalem.
This is another of the first settlements of the human family, as it was founded by Zidon, the oldest son of Canaan. In the time of Homer the Zidonians were eminent for their trade and commerce, their wealth and prosperity, and their skill in navigation, astronomy, and the manufactures of glass and metals. Upon the division of Canaan among the tribes by Joshua, Great Zidon fell to the lot of Asher; but that tribe never succeeded in gaining possession of it. The Zidonians continued long under their own government and kings, though sometimes tributary to the kings of Tyre. But they were at length successively subdued by the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and the Seleucidæ. Sidon was the station of the navy of An
In point of numbers compared with the other cities in Judea.
tiochus on the eve of a battle with the Rhodian fleet, At the close of the war with Antiochus it passed into the hands of the Romans; who deprived the inhabitants of their freedom.
Jesus thus alludes to Tyre and Sidon, when preaching to the Jews: "Woe unto thee, Chorazin ! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which have been done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you" (Matt. xi. 21, 22).
Saida is situated on a peninsula, running from N. E. to s. w. On the high ground stands the citadel; an old square tower. A wall protects the city on the land side, running across the peninsula from shore to shore. The ancient harbor was formed by a long, low ledge of rocks lying parallel to the shore, and affording space enough to accommodate quite a fleet of small vessels; but the chief, Fakr-ed-Din, to protect himself against the Turks, caused the harbor to be partially filled up, since which time vessels have to lie outside to the N. of the ledge. On a rock here is an old castle, which is connected with the shore by a stone causeway.
The streets of Saida are narrow and crooked, but the houses are built of stone, and many of them are of good size, and well built. A curious feature of the city is that some of the houses are built on the wall, and constitute a part of it. Within the city are six khans for the use of travelers and merchants. The environs of Saida are watered by a stream from Leb