Hilltops In Galilee (1923)

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HILLTOPS IN GALILEE (1923)
259 pgs; 8 color plates of paintings; Abingdon Press

Dedication: “To My Friend, Helen Key Stone”

Dust Jacket Description:

“The author crossed the Judean wilderness at night to the Dead Sea, guided only by the stars. He was arrested in the mountain passes above Jericho by Beduins. He watched the Hebron Arabs advance before the waiting machine guns of the British. Yet the real adventures – of Mischa Yucovitch and Koren, of Andre and Jalila in Bethlehem, of the good brothers at the Monastery, of the new city near Tiberias, of the beautiful girl in Damascus, of his own sincere efforts to see true above Gethsemane – these are even more poignant and shining adventures, for they take place in the realm of the human heart. In this charming book, with its accompanying pictures and verse, the reader will surely find hilltops in Galilee for himself.”

Excerpt, Page 18:

Mishca Yucovitch, on the wooden bench beside me, was a dark, rotund little man with a large mustache and a neat suit of brown, store made clothes. Anyone not knowing he was a Jew might easily have taken him for a Turk or an Egyptian. I remember the evening of our first meeting on the City of Bombay a day or two out from New York. We had run through all the generalities about accommodations, speed, and the possibility of bad weather. Then the talk had turned to our respective occupations, and finally to pictures and painting.

“I was in Paris once for two weeks,” he said. “Do you know a picture in the Louvre by Raffaello called ‘Christ before Pilate?'” (He pronounced it as Peelot.) “Hours I stood in front of that picture! I never in my life saw such a face as that one; why, it seemed like I could never get finished looking at it. I used to come back day after day…..”

I was puzzled. The man was a Jew – and yet here he was admiring “Christ before Pilate”! By all the tenets of his religion, that picture, I thought, should have been distasteful.

So I said:

“But you are not a Christian.”

He smiled gravely. “I was not looking at the soul of Christ,” he said. “I was looking at the soul of Raffaello.”

 

Excerpt, Page 205:

What was actually to be seen from that hilltop in Galilee? To the west, beyond the low, crouching hulk of Mount Carmel, lay the Mediterranean, with the grain fleets of Egypt and the Phoenician merchantmen from Tyre and the mother-city, Sidon, plying up and down its coasts. Eastward stretched the desert, the broad highway of the caravans — slow pulse of the mysterious East. To the north ran the busy highway from Damascus to the Sea. Southward lay the great Roman road from Acre to the Jordan, teeming with the traffic of Transjordania and the Galilee Basin. Vast routes of the trade these, ready to bear a message of revolt or horror or hope to the ends of the world. There had been sufficient messages of horror . . . .

Excerpt, Page 258:

Time after time, as I have been thinking about the ominous, semi-threatening outlook of the world to-day, a spirited poem by Gilbert Chesterton has come to my mind. It is a poem about Alfred, King of England, who, surrounded by his enemies, goes out into the night and asks the powers of good what thing the future holds. When the answer slowly comes to him, it carries the stirring message:

Only that the sky is growing darker yet, and that the sea is rising higher

That may be our answer too – a ringing challenge! In spite of the bitter years that the world has just know, in spite of the probability of bitter years ahead, it is for that very reason a finer thing ever to be alive. To work, and love, and worship, and to make mistakes – terrific mistakes sometimes – and yet to keep on gaining through those mistakes, and not be swamped by battleships or machines or business but occasionally to catch a glimpse of the great far advance all along the line – that is enough for the high courage of any man.

These pages happen to be about some of the people in a small country this side of the Jordan River. What I have found among them only strengthens my conclusion about the rest of us. For whether we live in Vladivostok or Central Park West or on the Zuyder Zee, we are all of us this side of the Jordan.