Domestic Life in Palestine









While residing in Palestine, I was placed in circumstances which gave me unusual facilities for observing the inner phases of Oriental Domestic Life. I mingled freely with the people, of all creeds and classes, and daily became better acquainted with their habits and modes of thought. The women especially interested me, and I gleaned many facts concerning them, which have never hitherto been published, and probably have never been collected.

The pleasure which my Notes and Journal afforded to members of my home-circle, on my return to England, led me to think that, possibly, my countrymen would like to gain a further insight into the mysteries of Eastern life. Hence it was that I resolved to publish this volume. In compiling it I have avoided, as much as possible, those subjects with which the public are already familiar. Descriptions of well-known places are only given when they are necessary to form an introduction or background to those scenes of real life which I have attempted to portray.

To avoid complication, I speak of the people of Palestine generally as Arabs; for, though they are a mixed race, they all call themselves "Arabs" or "Sons of the Arabs," and Arabic is their mother tongue. I classify them only according to their creeds; but I may here mention, that the Christians of the land are said to be of pure Syrian origin, while the Moslems are chiefly descended from the Arabians, who settled in the towns and villages of Syria and Palestine in the seventh and eighth centuries.

In preparing this volume for the press, I have had the valuable assistance of my brother, Mr. E. T. Rogers, Her British Majesty's Consul at Damascus, and have enjoyed the opportunity of personally consulting him. He has suggested a few alterations in the orthography of Oriental titles and names of persons and places, and has added a few notes of explanation, which are distinguished by his initials.

M. E. R.

21 Soho Square, London.


  (not included in the original ToC)

From London to the Levant—Yâfa, the ancient Joppa, in sight—The Quarantine Boat—Landing in Palestine— The Quarantine Station—Breakfast in Yâfa—Arab Ladies' Toilette—Salutations and Kisses—Sit Leah and her First-born Son—Fruit Gardens of Yâfa—"Ai-wa!"—Guest-chamber at Ramleh—Lepers—The Hill Country of Judea—"Village of Grapes"—"Fountain of Birds"—Jewish Builders and Greek Gardeners—First Sight of Jerusalem—Arrival at the Talibiyeh—Tent Life, and the Consul's Children17–40

Jerusalem—Church of the Knights of St. John—Glow-worms—Bishop Gobat's Encampment—Holman Hunt's Goat—Sunday on Mount Zion—Bazars and Shopkeepers—Girls of Bethany and Siloam—A Wandering Madman—Moresque Buildings—View from the Seraglio—European Homes in Jerusalem—Native Servants—A Whirlwind at Night—The Convent of the Cross—Mosaic Pavement41–55

Learning Arabic—Carriage Roads—Ride to Bethlehem; that is, Beit Lahm—The Convent and its Shrines—Population of Beit Lahm—The Carver of Beit Lahm—His wife and Child—The Vail of Ruth—"The Mother of Joseph"—Description of House and Furniture—Note on Mark II—The Fields of Boaz—Milk Grotto Miracles—Girls of Beit Lahm—Bedouins on the Move—The Gardens of Solomon—The Cottage in the Valley—Urtâs—The Reservoir—Aqueducts and Chariot Roads—Reeds—Remedy for Musketo Bites56–74

Rainbows and Bee Catchers—Philip's Fountain—A Runaway Horse—Katrîne and her Delusions—Start for Hâifa—The little Lame Girl of Kubâb—Siesta at Ramleh—The Abyssinian Slave—The Bedouin's Song to his Camel—Sunday at Yâfa—"There cometh a Shower"—Exhibition of a Performing Goat—Circumcision—Making Bread—Scenes in an Arab Sailing Boat—The Custom-house at Tantûra—Ruins of Dora and Athlîte—A Wedding Party—Cradles—"Locusts and Wild Honey"—The Monks of Mount Carmel—Hâifa 75–99

Greetings at the Gate at Night—Our House and Servants—The Poor Widow's Petition—People of Hâifa—Siege of Hâifa—Retreat of the Tîrehites—Help from an English Ship—A False Alarm—Wedding at the Greek Church—Wedding Procession—Songs and Dances—Going forth to meet the Bridegroom at Night—Professional Bride Dressers—Turkish Baths—Kohl and Henna—Angelina and the Clergy of Hâifa—Denunciation of Black Lace Mittens—The Bazar on a Night of Rejoicing—Jane Eyre and Arab Story-tellers—An important Question—Yassîn Agha and his two Wives—Mohammed Bek and his Wife Miriam—Sheikh Abdallah and his seven Wives—"The Holder of the Keys"—A Hint to Polygamists—A Divination Dictionary, or Dream Book My Dream interpreted—Hannah and Penninah—A Market Garden—African Maniac among the Tombs 100–126

To Nazareth; that is, Nasirah—The River Kishon—"Daughters of Sound"—A Village Oven—The Birth place of Saleh's Mare—Hidden Treasures and Treasure Trove—Necromancy and Clairvoyants—Saleh's little Sister—Congregation at the Latin Church—Costumes of the People of Nâsirah—Reputation of Nâsirah—Willow-pattern Cheese-plates—A Hint to Decorators—Mount Tabor—Erinna, the Hermit, and "his Man Friday"—Reeds and Inkhorns—Dinner by the Streamlet—Sephoris—The Crusaders—Stephani's Guest-chamber—Dances, Songs, and Supper—The Greek and Latin Clergy—Castle of Shefa'Amer—The Governor's Harem—Lament of the Senior Wife—Native Schools—Jewish Synagogue—The Olive Harvest—Cotton Fields in the Plain of'Akka—Productiveness of the Plain 127–160

"New brooms sweep clean"—Death at Midnight—The Moslem Bier—Armenian Remedies for Cholera—Note on the "Early and Latter Rain"—Panic in Hâifa—"The Yellow Wind"—Suleiman the Tailor—Quarantine at the Convent—A Dream and its Consequences—"Imps of the Yellow Wind"—Rain—Our new House—Contents of the Store-room—Reverence for Bread—Death of Ibrahim—Funeral Procession—The Mother's Grief and Death—Funeral Service—The Widower Khalil and his Young Bride—Elias Sekhali—Government of Syria—Death of Elias—The Widow and her Children—Songs and Lamentations for the Dead—Funeral Dances—Death of Khalil—Funeral Orations 161–185

Sparrows on the Housetops—Grass-grown Roofs—"Poterium Spinosum"—The Crown of Thorns—Harvest on the Roofs —My Bedouin Visitors—Katrîne Sekhali and her Cousin—The White Mare and the Sapphire Bead—Our Egyptian Groom Mohammed—The Wandering Herdsmen—Bedouin Depredations—The Horse-Guards of Galilee—Supper with Salihh Agha—Salibb Agha's little Son—Wrestling—A Home at Shefa'Amer—Women at the Bakehouse—The Lizard—Bedouin Eyesight—A Gazelle Hunt—A Bedouin Dinner—Crabs on the Seashore—Moslem and Christian Prayers at Sunset—Persecution of Jews—Characteristics of Arab Children—My Moslem Teacher—Explanation of the Use of the Rosary—A Moslem Freethinker—Christening of Jules Aumann—Fête at the French Consulate—The African Foot Messenger—Saleh Bek's Good-by 186–214

Katrine and her Scapulary—Preparations for a Journey—A Bedouin Encampment—Bedouin Women—Bedouin Bread-making—Moslem Villages—Seeking a Night's Lodging—Women of Kefr Kâra—The Blind Man's Questions—Conjecture Concerning the "Nativity" and the "Manger"—Morning Visitors—An Encampment of Gipsies—Jugglery and Gymnastics—Government of Nablûs—Arrabeh—The Divan—The Harem—Helweh the Youngest Wife—Dinner: Starch and Conserve of Roses—Curious Inquiries—A Marriage Portion—Songs of Rejoicing—Discussion about the Queen of England—A War Song—A Mother and her Infant Son—Preparation for a Night's Rest in the Harem—The Lord's Prayer and the Moslem Women—Moslem Prayers and Salutations—Scenes at Midnight in the Harem—Morning Visitors 215–255

From Arrabeh to Senûr—Castle of Senûr—Ibrahîm Jerrar's Portrait—The Harem in the Castle—Approach of Turkish Cavalry—Hostilities prevented—To Nablûs—A Price for the Head of Ibrahim—Marriage among the Samaritans—Selâmeh, the aged Priest—The Samaritan Synagogue—Home of Habîb and Zora—Anîthe the Betrothed—Samaritan Laws and Customs—The Priesthood—The Passover—Samaritan Women—Character of the Samaritans—Yakûb esh Shellabi—Letter from Priest Amran—The Widow and her Son—The Schoolmaster in search of a Wife—The Betrothal—Protestants of Nablûs—The Bazars—Sheikh Mûssa—Visit to the Governor of Nablûs—Test for Building Stone—Sheikh Mûssa's Ideas about Wisdom and Folly—Jacob's Well—Search for a Bible at the Bottom of the Well—Joseph's Tomb—False Alarm—Little Zahra and the Violets—Oriental Enjoyments—Brothers and Sisters—Ibrahîm Pasha and the Woman of Sefurieh—Wit Rewarded—Dinner with Daûd Tannûs—The Women's Apartents 256–296

To Jerusalem—Priest Amran and the Greek Catholic—My Escort—A Dangerous Road—Valley of Figs—Darkness—The Lost Track—Alone on the Hill-top—The Nimbus—Arrival at Jerusalem at Midnight—Jerusalem in the Spring—Rain—Flowing of the Kedron—En Rogel—Course of the Kedron—Easter in Jerusalem—Birth of the Imperial Prince of France proclaimed —Fête at the French Consulate—Outbreak at Nablûs—Attack on the Christians—Rescue of the Rev. S. Lyde—Celebration of Peace—Sham Fight—Sieges of Jerusalem—The Holy Fire—Greek and Armenian Pilgrims—"Bishop of the Holy Fire"—Fight of the Fanatics—Turkish Soldiers—Confessions of a Greek Priest—Truth—Fire Worshipers 297–329

Peasant Girls—Harvest of Roses—Caverns—Rules for the Observance of Ramadan—Sir M. Montefiore's Schools for Jewesses—Sale by "the Uncounted Group"—Urtâs—Peter Meshullam—An Arab Encampment—Dar el Benât, the House of Girls—Solomon's Harem—My Home on Mount Olivet—The Sheikh of El Tûr—His Wives and Children—A Moslem Funeral—Tombs of the Prophets—Skirmishes on Olivet—Farewell Fête at Urtâs 330–359

Abu Ghôsh—Art and Poetry of the Modern Arabs—Education of Native Girls—The Sea-shore and the Sanctuary—Moslem Call to Prayer—Edwin Arnold—Melon Harvest—Ruins of Cæsarea—The River of Crocodiles—A Fable—Wreck of an Arab Boat—Hebrew Boy adopted by Bedouins—Stone Quarries—Prayers at a Moslem Village—Village Supper—A Piano at Hâifa—My Moslem Friends from Arrabeh—Saleh Bek and his Children—Home of the Gardener's Daughter—Chess—New Ideas in Saleh Bek's Harem—Helweh's Questions—Jews—An Earth-quake—Widow and her Children—Day of Ill-luck—Feast of "Sainte Barbe"—Force of Custom—Helweh and her First-born Child—Saleh Bek’s Perplexities about the Education of his Daughters—Thoughts about Moslem Women—Missionaries—The Day of Congratulation—Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge—Yassin Agha's Petition and Proposal 360–398

Fête of the Corpus Domini—The Bahjeh—Furrah Giammal and her Love-Letter—Lebîbeh in her New Home—Carmella and her African Attendant—Women of Damascus contrasted with the Women of Hâifa—Bastrîna—Winter at Jerusalem—Surreya Pasha—Houses of Jerusalem numbered—Russian Influence in Palestine—Dr. Levisohn and the Samaritan Pentateuch—Visit of Prince Alfred—Refugees from Arrabeh—Appeal for Protection—Dakhal—Prisoners from Arrabeh—The Governor's Demand for my Protégés—His Forbearance—The Boys taken Prisoners and conveyed to'Akka—Farewell to Hâifa —Miss Bremer—Russian Steamer—Fête of the Grand Duke Constantine—The Bishop's Benediction—Feast for the Pilgrims—The S. S. Demetrius—Jew of Aleppo—Collision—Rabbi Shaayea's Timidity—"Hallo, Jack!"—The Captain and Solomon—Shaayea Missing—Fruitless Search for Shaayea—Official Inquiry 399–436

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.