The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, by John Mandeville

Chapter XIII

Of the Province of Galilee, and where Antichrist Shall Be Born. Of Nazareth. Of the Age of Our LADY. OF THE DAY OF DOOM. And of the Customs of Jacobites, Syrians; and of the Usages of Georgians

FROM this country of the Samaritans that I have spoken of before go men to the plains of Galilee, and men leave the hills on that one part.

And Galilee is one of the provinces of the Holy Land, and in that province is the city of Nain — and Capernaum, and Chorazin and Bethsaida. In this Bethsaida was Saint Peter and Saint Andrew born. And thence, a four mile, is Chorazin. And five mile from Chorazin is the city of Kedar whereof the Psalter speaketh: ET HABITAVI CUM HABITANTIBUS KEDAR; that is for to say, ‘And I have dwelled with the dwelling men in Kedar.’ In Chorazin shall Antichrist be born, as some men say. And other men say he shall be born in Babylon; for the prophet saith: DE BABILONIA COLUBER EXEST, QUI TOTUM MUNDUM DEVORABIT; that is to say ‘Out of Babylon shall come a worm that shall devour all the world.’ This Antichrist shall be nourished in Bethsaida, and he shall reign in Capernaum: and therefore saith holy writ; VAE TIBI, CHORAZIN! VAE TIBI, BETHSAIDA! VAE TIBI, CAPERNAUM! that is to say, ‘Woe be to thee, Chorazin! Woe to thee, Bethsaida! Woe to thee, Capernaum.’ And all these towns be in the land of Galilee. And also the Cana of Galilee is four mile from Nazareth: of that city was Simon Chananeus and his wife Canee, of the which the holy evangelist speaketh of. There did our Lord the first miracle at the wedding, when he turned water into wine.

And in the end of Galilee, at the hills, was the Ark of God taken; and on that other side is the Mount Endor or Hermon. And, thereabout, goeth the Brook of Torrens Kishon; and there beside, Barak, that was Abimelech’s son with Deborah the prophetess overcame the host of Idumea, when Sisera the king was slain of Jael the wife of Heber, and chased beyond the flome Jordan, by strength of sword, Zeeb and Zebah and Zalmunna, and there he slew them. Also a five mile from Nain is the city of Jezreel that sometime was clept Zarim, of the which city Jezabel, the cursed queen, was lady and queen, that took away the vine of Naboth by her strength. Fast by that city is the field Megiddo, in the which the King Joram was slain of the King of Samaria and after was translated and buried in the Mount Sion.

And a mile from Jezreel be the hills of Gilboa, where Saul and Jonathan, that were so fair, died; wherefore David cursed them, as holy writ saith: MONTES GILBOAE, NEC ROS NEC PLUVIA, ETC.; that is to say, ‘Ye hills of Gilboa, neither dew ne rain come upon you.’ And a mile from the hills of Gilboa toward the east is the city of Cyropolis, that was clept before Bethshan; and upon the walls of that city was the head of Saul hanged.

After go men by the hill beside the plains of Galilee unto Nazareth, where was wont to be a great city and a fair; but now there is not but a little village, and houses abroad here and there. And it is not walled. And it sits in a little valley, and there be hills all about. There was our Lady born, but she was gotten at Jerusalem. And because that our Lady was born at Nazareth, therefore bare our Lord his surname of that town. There took Joseph our Lady to wife, when she was fourteen year of age. And there Gabriel greeted our Lady, saying, AVE GRATIA PLENA, DOMINUS TECUM! that is to say, ‘Hail, full of grace, our Lord is with thee!’ And this salutation was done in a place of a great altar of a fair church that was wont to be sometime, but it is now all down, and men have made a little receipt, beside a pillar of that church, to receive the offerings of pilgrims. And the Saracens keep that place full dearly, for the profit that they have thereof. And they be full wicked Saracens and cruel, and more despiteful than in any other place, and have destroyed all the churches. There nigh is Gabriel’s Well, where our Lord was wont to bathe him, when he was young, and from that well bare he water often-time to his mother. And in that well she washed often-time the clouts of her Son Jesu Christ. And from Jerusalem unto thither is three journeys. At Nazareth was our Lord nourished. Nazareth is as much to say as, ‘Flower of the garden’; and by good skill may it be clept flower, for there was nourished the flower of life that was Christ Jesu.

And two mile from Nazareth is the city of Sephor, by the way that goeth from Nazareth to Akon. And an half mile from Nazareth is the Leap of our Lord. For the Jews led him upon an high rock for to make him leap down, and have slain him; but Jesu passed amongst them, and leapt upon another rock, and yet be the steps of his feet seen in the rock, where he alighted. And therefore say some men, when they dread them of thieves in any way, or of enemies; JESUS AUTEM TRANSIENS PER MEDIUM ILLORUM IBAT; that is to say, ‘Jesus, forsooth, passing by the midst of them, he went’: in token and mind, that our Lord passed through, out the Jews’ cruelty, and scaped safely from them, so surely may men pass the peril of thieves’. And then say men two verses of the Psalter three sithes: IRRUAT SUPER EOS FORMIDO & PAVOR, IN MAGNITUDINE BRACHII TUI, DOMINE. FIANT IMMOBILES, QUASI LAPIS, DONEC PERTRANSEAT POPULUS TUUS, DOMINE; DONEC PERTRANSEAT POPULUS TUUS ISTE, QUEM POSSEDISTI; and then may men pass without peril.

And ye shall understand, that our Lady had child when she was fifteen year old. And she was conversant with her son thirty-three year and three months. And after the passion of our Lord she lived twenty-four year.

Also from Nazareth men go to the Mount Tabor; and that is a four mile. And it is a full fair hill and well high, where was wont to be a town and many churches; but they be all destroyed. But yet there is a place that men clepe the school of God, where he was wont to teach his disciples, and told them the privities of heaven. And, at the foot of that hill, Melchisedech that was King of Salem, in the turning of that hill met Abraham in coming again from the battle, when he had slain Abimelech. And this Melchisedech was both king and priest of Salem that now is clept Jerusalem. In that hill Tabor our Lord transfigured him before Saint Peter, Saint John and Saint Jame; and there they saw, ghostly, Moses and Elias the prophets beside them. And therefore said Saint Peter; DOMINE, BONUM EST NOS HIC ESSE; FACIAMUS HIC TRIA TABERNACULA; that is to say, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; make we here three dwelling-places.’ And there heard they a voice of the Father that say; HIC EST FILIUS MEUS DILECTUS, IN QUO MIHI BENE COMPLACUI. And our Lord defended them that they should not tell that avision till that he were risen from death to life.

In that hill and in that same place, at the day of doom, four angels with four trumpets shall blow and raise all men that had suffered death, sith that the world was formed, from death to life; and shall come in body and soul in judgment, before the face of our Lord in the Vale of Jehosaphat. And the doom shall be on Easter Day, such time as our Lord arose. And the doom shall begin, such hour as our Lord descended to hell and despoiled it. For at such hour shall he despoil the world and lead his chosen to bliss; and the other shall he condemn to perpetual pains. And then shall every man have after his desert, either good or evil, but if the mercy of God pass his righteousness.

Also a mile from Mount Tabor is the Mount Hermon; and there was the city of Nain. Before the gate of that city raised our Lord the widow’s son, that had no more children. Also three miles from Nazareth is the Castle Safra, of the which the sons of Zebedee and the sons of Alpheus were. Also a seven mile from Nazareth is the Mount Cain, and under that is a well; and beside that well Lamech, Noah’s father, slew Cain with an arrow. For this Cain went through briars and bushes as a wild beast; and he had lived from the time of Adam his father unto the time of Noah, and so he lived nigh to 2000 year. And this Lamech was all blind for eld.

From Safra men go to the sea of Galilee and to the city of Tiberias, that sits upon the same sea. And albeit that men clepe it a sea, yet is it neither sea ne arm of the sea. For it is but a stank of fresh water that is in length one hundred furlongs, and of breadth forty furlongs, and hath within him great plenty of good fish, and runneth into flom Jordan. The city is not full great, but it hath good baths within him.

And there, as the flome Jordan parteth from the sea of Galilee, is a great bridge, where men pass from the Land of Promission to the land of King Bashan and the land of Gennesaret, that be about the flom Jordan and the beginning of the sea of Tiberias. And from thence may men go to Damascus, in three days, by the kingdom of Traconitis, the which kingdom lasteth from Mount Hermon to the sea of Galilee, or to the sea of Tiberias, or to the sea of Gennesaret; and all is one sea, and this the tank that I have told you, but it changeth thus the name for the names of the cities that sit beside him.

Upon that sea went our Lord dry feet; and there he took up Saint Peter, when he began to drench within the sea, and said to him, MODICE FIDEI, QUARE DUBITASTI? And after his resurrection our Lord appeared on that sea to his disciples and bade them fish, and filled all the net full of great fishes. In that sea rowed our Lord often-time; and there he called to him Saint Peter, Saint Andrew, Saint James and Saint John, the sons of Zebedee.

In that city of Tiberias is the table upon the which our Lord ate upon with his disciples after his resurrection; and they knew him in breaking of bread, as the gospel saith: ET COGNOVERUNT EUM IN FRACTIONE PANIS. And nigh that city of Tiberias is the hill, where our Lord fed 5000 persons with five barley loaves and two fishes.

In that city a man cast a burning dart in wrath after our Lord. And the head smote into the earth and waxed green; and it growed to a great tree. And yet it groweth and the bark thereof is all like coals.

Also in the head of that sea of Galilee, toward the septentrion is a strong castle and an high that hight Saphor. And fast beside it is Capernaum. Within the Land of Promission is not so strong a castle. And there is a good town beneath that is clept also Saphor. In that castle Saint Anne our Lady’s mother was born. And there beneath, was Centurio’s house. That country is clept the Galilee of Folk that were taken to tribute of Zebulon and Napthali.

And in again coming from that castle, a thirty mile, is the city of Dan, that sometime was clept Belinas or Cesarea Philippi; that sits at the foot of the Mount of Lebanon, where the flome Jordan beginneth. There beginneth the Land of Promission and dureth unto Beersheba in length, in going toward the north into the south, and it containeth well a nine score miles; and of breadth, that is to say, from Jericho unto Jaffa, and that containeth a forty mile of Lombardy, or of our country, that be also little miles; these be not miles of Gascony ne of the Province of Almayne, where be great miles. And wit ye well, that the Land of Promission is in Syria. For the realm of Syria dureth from the deserts of Arabia unto Cilicia, and that is Armenia the great; that is to say, from the south to the north. And, from the east to the west, it dureth from the great deserts of Arabia unto the West Sea. But in that realm of Syria is the kingdom of Judea and many other provinces, as Palestine, Galilee, Little Cilicia, and many other.

In that country and other countries beyond they have a custom, when they shall use war, and when men hold siege about city or castle, and they within dare not send out messengers with letters from lord to lord for to ask succour, they make their letters and bind them to the neck of a culver, and let the culver flee. And the culvers be so taught, that they flee with those letters to the very place that men would send them to. For the culvers be nourished in those places where they be sent to, and they send them thus, for to bear their letters. And the culvers return again whereas they be nourished; and so they do commonly.

And ye shall understand that amongst the Saracens, one part and other, dwell many Christian men of many manners and diverse names. And all be baptized and have diverse laws and diverse customs. But all believe in God the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost; but always fail they in some articles of our faith. Some of these be clept Jacobites, for Saint James converted them and Saint John baptized them. They say that a man shall make his confession only to God, and not to a man; for only to him should man yield him guilty of all that he hath misdone. Ne God ordained not, ne never devised, ne the prophet neither, that a man should shrive him to another (as they say), but only to God. As Moses writeth in the Bible, and as David saith in the Psalter Book; CONFITEBOR TIBI, DOMINE, IN TOTO CORDE MEO, and DELICTUM MEUM TIBI COGNITUM FECI, and DEUS MEUS ES TU, & CONFITEBOR TIBI, and QUONIAM COGITATIO HOMINIS CONFITEBITUR TIBI, etc. For they know all the Bible and the Psalter. And therefore allege they so the letter. But they allege not the authorities thus in Latin, but in their language full apertly, and say well, that David and other prophets say it.

Natheles, Saint Augustine and Saint Gregory say thus:— Augustinus: QUI SCELERA SUA COGITAT, & CONVERSUS FUERIT, VENIAM SIBI CREDAT. Gregorius: DOMINUS POTIUS MENTEM QUAM VERBA RESPICIT. And Saint Hilary saith: LONGORUM TEMPORUM CRIMINA, IN ICTU OCULI PEREUNT, SI CORDIS NATA FUERIT COMPUNCTIO. And for such authorities they say, that only to God shall a man knowledge his defaults, yielding himself guilty and crying him mercy, and behoting to him to amend himself. And therefore, when they will shrive them, they take fire and set it beside them, and cast therein powder of frankincense; and in the smoke thereof they shrive them to God, and cry him mercy. But sooth it is, that this confession was first and kindly. But Saint Peter the apostle, and they that came after him, have ordained to make their confession to man, and by good reason; for they perceived well that no sickness was curable, [ne] good medicine to lay thereto, but if men knew the nature of the malady; and also no man may give convenable medicine, but if he know the quality of the deed. For one sin may be greater in one man than in another, and in one place and in one time than in another; and therefore it behoveth him that he know the kind of the deed, and thereupon to give him penance.

There be other, that be clept Syrians; and they hold the belief amongst us, and of them of Greece. And they use all beards, as men of Greece do. And they make the sacrament of therf bread. And in their language they use letters of Saracens. But after the mystery of Holy Church they use letters of Greece. And they make their confession, right as the Jacobites do.

There be other, that men clepe Georgians, that Saint George converted; and him they worship more than any other saint, and to him they cry for help. And they came out of the realm of Georgia. These folk use crowns shaven. The clerks have round crowns, and the lewd men have crowns all square. And they hold Christian law, as do they of Greece; of whom I have spoken of before.

Other there be that men clepe Christian men of Girding, for they be all girt above. And there be other that men clept Nestorians. And some Arians, some Nubians, some of Greece, some of Ind, and some of Prester John’s Land. And all these have many articles of our faith, and to other they be variant. And of their variance were too long to tell, and so I will leave, as for the time, without more speaking of them.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:10