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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From Hebron to Bethlehem
By Sir John Mandeville (Fourteenth Century)
 
From ‘The Adventures

AND in Hebron be all the Sepultures of the Patriarchs,—Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob; and of their Wives, Eve, Sarah and Rebecca and of Leah; the which Sepultures the Saracens keep full carefully, and have the Place in great Reverence for the holy Fathers, the Patriarchs that lie there. And they suffer no Christian Man to enter into the Place, but if it be of special Grace of the Sultan; for they hold Christian Men and Jews as Dogs, and they say, that they should not enter into so holy a Place. And Men call that Place, where they lie, Double Splunk (Spelunca Duplex), or Double Cave, or Double Ditch, forasmuch as one lieth above another. And the Saracens call that Place in their Language, “Karicarba,” that is to say “The Place of Patriarchs.” And the Jews call that Place “Arboth.” And in that same Place was Abraham’s House, and there he sat and saw 3 Persons, and worshiped but one; as Holy Writ saith, “Tres vidit et unum adoravit;” that is to say, “He saw 3 and worshiped one:” and those same were the Angels that Abraham received into his House.  1
  And right fast by that Place is a Cave in the Rock, where Adam and Eve dwelled when they were put out of Paradise; and there got they their Children. And in that same Place was Adam formed and made, after that, that some Men say (for Men were wont to call that Place the Field of Damascus, because that it was in the Lordship of Damascus), and from thence was he translated into the Paradise of Delights, as they say; and after he was driven out of Paradise he was left there. And the same Day that he was put in Paradise, the same Day he was put out, for anon, he sinned. There beginneth the Vale of Hebron, that endureth nigh to Jerusalem. There the Angel commanded Adam that he should dwell with his Wife Eve, of the which he begat Seth; of the which Tribe, that is to say Kindred, Jesu Christ was born.  2
  In that Valley is a Field, where Men draw out of the Earth a Thing that Men call Cambile, and they eat it instead of Spice, and they bear it away to sell. And Men may not make the Hole or the Cave, where it is taken out of the Earth, so deep or so wide, but that it is, at the Year’s End, full again up to the Sides, through the Grace of God….  3
  From Hebron Men go to Bethlehem in half a Day, for it is but 5 Mile; and it is a full fair Way, by Plains and Woods full delectable. Bethlehem is a little City, long and narrow and well walled, and on each Side enclosed with good Ditches: and it was wont to be clept Ephrata, as Holy Writ saith, “Ecce, audimus cum in Ephrata,” that is to say, “Lo, we heard it in Ephrata.” And toward the East End of the City is a full fair Church and a gracious, and it hath many Towers, Pinnacles and Corners, full strong and curiously made; and within that Church be 44 Pillars of Marble, great and fair….  4
  Also besides the Choir of the Church, at the right Side, as Men come downward 16 Steps, is the Place where our Lord was born, that is full well adorned with Marble, and full richly painted with Gold, Silver, Azure and other Colours. And 3 Paces beyond is the Crib of the Ox and the Ass. And beside that is the Place where the Star fell, that led the 3 Kings, Jasper, Melchior and Balthazar (but Men of Greece call them thus, “Galgalathe, Malgalathe, and Seraphie,” and the Jews call them in this manner, in Hebrew, “Appelius, Amerrius, and Damasus”). These 3 Kings offered to our Lord, Gold, Incense and Myrrh, and they met together through Miracle of God; for they met together in a City in Ind, that Men call Cassak, that is a 53 Days’ Journey from Bethlehem; and they were at Bethlehem the 13th Day; and that was the 4th Day after that they had seen the Star, when they met in that City, and thus they were in 9 days from that City at Bethlehem, and that was a great Miracle.  5
  Also, under the Cloister of the Church, by 18 Steps at the right Side, is the Charnel-house of the Innocents, where their Bodies lie. And before the Place where our Lord was born is the Tomb of St. Jerome, that was a Priest and a Cardinal, that translated the Bible and the Psalter from Hebrew into Latin: and without the Minster is the Chair that he sat in when he translated it. And fast beside that Church, at 60 Fathom, is a Church of St. Nicholas, where our Lady rested her after she was delivered of our Lord; and forasmuch as she had too much Milk in her Paps, that grieved her, she milked them on the red Stones of Marble, so that the Traces may yet be seen, in the Stones, all white.  6
  And ye shall understand, that all that dwell in Bethlehem be Christian Men.  7
  And there be fair Vines about the City, and great plenty of Wine, that the Christian Men have made. But the Saracens till not the Vines, neither drink they any Wine: for their Books of their Law, that Mohammet gave them, which they call their “Al Koran” (and some call it “Mesaph,” and in another language it is clept “Harme,”)—the same Book forbiddeth them to drink Wine. For in that Book, Mohammet cursed all those that drink Wine and all them that sell it: for some Men say, that he slew once an Hermit in his Drunkenness, that he loved full well; and therefore he cursed Wine and them that drink it. But his Curse be turned onto his own Head, as Holy Writ saith, “Et in verticem ipsius iniquitas ejus descendet;” that is to say, “His Wickedness shall turn and fall onto his own Head.”  8
  And also the Saracens breed no Pigs, nor eat they any Swine’s Flesh, for they say it is Brother to Man, and it was forbidden by the old Law; and they hold him accursed that eateth thereof. Also in the Land of Palestine and in the Land of Egypt, they eat but little or none of Flesh of Veal or of Beef, but if the Beast be so old, that he may no more work for old Age; for it is forbidden, because they have but few of them; therefore they nourish them to till their Lands.  9
  In this City of Bethlehem was David the King born; and he had 60 Wives, and the first wife was called Michal; and also he had 300 Lemans.  10
  And from Bethlehem unto Jerusalem is but 2 Mile; and in the Way to Jerusalem half a Mile from Bethlehem is a Church, where the Angel said to the Shepherds of the Birth of Christ. And in that Way is the Tomb of Rachel, that was the Mother of Joseph the Patriarch; and she died anon after that she was delivered of her Son Benjamin. And there she was buried by Jacob her Husband; and he made set 12 great Stones on her, in Token that she had born 12 Children. In the same Way, half a Mile from Jerusalem, appeared the Star to the 3 Kings. In that Way also be many Churches of Christian Men, by the which Men go towards the City of Jerusalem.  11
 
 
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