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JORDAN (the down-comer; Arab. esh-She...

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 512 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JORDAN (the down-comer; Arab. esh-Sheri'a, the watering-place), the only river of Palestine and one of the most remark-able in the world. It flows from north to south in a deep trough-like valley, the Aulon of the Greeks and Ghor of the Arabs, which is usually believed to follow the line of a fault or fracture of the earth's crust. Most geologists hold that the valley is part of an old sea-bed, traces of which remain in numerous shingle-banks and beach-levels. This, they say, once extended to the Red Sea and even over N.E. Africa. Shrinkage caused the pelagic limestone bottom to be upheaved in two ridges, between which occurred a long fracture, which can now be traced from Coelesyria down the Wadi Araba to the Gulf of Akaba. The Jordan valley in its lower part keeps about the old level of the sea-bottom and is therefore a remnant of the Miocene world. This theory, however, is not universally accepted, some authorities preferring to assume a succession of more strictly local elevations and depressions, connected with the recent volcanic activity of the Jaulan and Lija districts on the east bank; which brought the contours finally to their actual form. In any case the number of distinct sea-beaches seems to imply a succession of convulsive changes, more recent than the great Miocene upheaval, which are responsible for the shrinkage of the water into the three isolated pans now found. For more than two-thirds of its course the Jordan lies below the level of the sea. It has never been navigable, no important town has ever been built on its banks, and it runs into an inland sea which has no port and is destitute of aquatic life. Throughout history it has exerted a separatist influence, roughly dividing the settled from the nomadic populations; and the crossing of Jordan, one way or the other, was always an event in the history of Israel. In Hebrew times its valley was regarded as a " wilderness " and, except in the Roman era, seems always to have been as sparsely inhabited as now. From its sources to the Dead Sea it rushes down a continuous inclined plane, broken here and there by more than half-way down the lower course. On the right the rapids and small falls; between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Jalud descends from 'the plain of Esdraelon to near Beisan, Sea its sinuosity is so great that in a direct distance of 65 m. and the Far'a from near Nablus. Various salt springs rise in it traverses at least 200 M. The mean fall is about 9 ft. in the the lower valley. The rest of the tributaries are wadis, dry mile. The Jordan has two great sources, one in Tell el-Kadi except after rains. (Dan) whence springs the Nahr Leddan, a stream 12 ft. broad Such human life as may be found in the valley now is mainly at its birth; the other at Banias (anc. Paneas, Caesarea-Philippi), migratory. The Samaritan villagers use it in winter as pasture-some 4 M. N., where the Nahr Banias issues from a cave, about ground, and, with the Circassians and Arabs of the east bank, 30 ft. broad. But two longer streams with less water contest cultivate plots here and there. They retire on the approach of their claim, the Nahr Barrighit from Coelesyria, which rises summer. Jericho is the only considerable settlement in the near the springs of the Litany, and the Nahr Hasbany from lower valley, and it lies some distance west of the stream on Hermon. The four streams unite below the fortress of Banias, the lower slopes of the Judaean heights. which once held the gate of the valley, and flow into a marshy See W. F. Lynch, Narrative of the U.S. Expedition, &c. (1849) ; tract now called Huleh (Semechonitis, and perhaps Merom of H. B. Tristram, Land of Israel (1865) ; J. Macgregor, Rob Roy on the Joshua. There the Jordan begins to fall below sea-level, rushing Jordan (1870); A. Neubauer, Geography ofGeo raphie du Talmud E1 Hull, the Holy Land (1865) down 68o ft. in 9 m. to a delta, which opens into the Sea of Mount Seir, &c. (1885), and Memoir on the Geology of Arabia Petraea, Galilee. Thereafter it follows a valley which is usually not above &c. (1886) ; G. A. Smith, Hist. Geography of the Holy Land (1894) ; 4 M. broad, but opens out twice into the small plains of Bethshan W. Libbey and F. E. Hoskins, The Jordan Valley, &c. (19055). See and Jericho. The river actually flows in a depression, the Zor, also PALESTINE. (C. W. W. ; D. G. H.) from a quarter to 2 M. wide, which it has hollowed out for JORDANES,' the historian of the Gothic nation, flourished itself in the bed of the Ghor. During the rainy season (January about the middle of the 6th century. All that we certainly know and February), when the Jordan overflows its banks, the Zor about his life is contained in three sentences of his history of the is flooded, but when the water falls it produces rich crops. The Goths (cap. 5o), from which, among other particulars as to the floor of the Ghor falls gently to the Zor, and is intersected by history of his family, we learn that his grandfather Paria was deep channels, which have been cut by the small streams and notary to Candac, the chief of a confederation of Alans and other winter torrents that traverse it on their way to the Jordan. As tribes settled during the latter half of the 5th century on the south far south as Kurn Surtabeh most of the valley is fertile, and even of the Danube in the provinces which are now Bulgaria and the between that point and the Dead Sea there are several well- Dobrudscha. Jordanes himself was the notary of Candac's watered oases. In summer the heat in the Ghor is intense, nephew, the Gothic chief Gunthigis, until he took the vows of a I Io° F. in the shade, but in winter the temperature falls to' 4o°, monk. This, according to the manner of speaking of that day, and sometimes to 32° at night. During the seasons of rain and is the meaning of his words ante conversionem means, though it is melting snow the river is very full, and liable to freshets. After quite possible that he may at the same time have renounced twelve hours' rain it has been known to rise from 4 to 5 ft., the Arian creed of his forefathers, which it is clear that he no and to fall as rapidly. In 1257 the Jordan was dammed up longer held when he wrote his Gothic history. The Getica of for several hours by a landslip, probably due to heavy rain. On Jordanes shows Gothic sympathies; but these are probably due leaving the Sea of Galilee the water is quite clear, but it soon to an imitation of the tone of Cassiodorus, from whom he draws assumes a tawny colour from the soft marl which it washes away practically all his material. He was not himself a Goth, belong-from its banks and deposits in the Dead Sea. On the whole it is ing to a confederation of Germanic tribes, embracing Alans and an unpleasant foul stream running between poisonous banks, Scyrians, which had come under the influence of the Ostrogoths and as such it seems to have been regarded by the Jews and other settled on the lower Danube; and his own sympathies are those Syrians. The Hebrew poets did not sing its praises, and others of a member of this confederation. He is accordingly friendly to compared it unfavourably with the clear rivers of Damascus. the Goths, even apart from the influence of Cassiodorus; but he is The clay of the valley was used for brickmaking, and Solomon also prepossessed in favour of the eastern emperors in whose terriestablished brassfoundries there. From crusading times to this tories this confederation lived and whose subject he himself was. day it has grown sugar-cane. In Roman times it had extensive This makes him an impartial authority on the last days of the palm-groves and some small towns (e.g. Livias or Julias opposite Ostrogoths. At the same time, living in Moesia, he is restricted Jericho) and villages. The Jordan is crossed by two stone in his outlook to Danubian affairs. He has little to say of the bridges—one north of Lake Huleh, the other between that lake inner history and policy of the kingdom of Theodoric: his inter-and the Sea of Galilee—and by a wooden bridge on the road ests lie, as Mommsen says, within a triangle of which the three from Jerusalem to Gilead and Moab. During the Roman points are Sirmium, Larissa and Constantinople. Finally, con-period, and almost to the end of the Arab supremacy, there were netted as he was with the Mans, he shows himself friendly to bridges on all the great lines of communication between eastern them, whenever they enter into his narrative. and western Palestine, and ferries at other places. The depth of We pass from the extremely shadowy personality of Jordanes water varies greatly with the season. When not in flood the to the more interesting question of his works. river is often fordable, and between the Sea of Galilee and the 1. The Romana, or, as he himself calls it, De summa temporum Dead Sea there are then more than fifty fords—some of them of vel origine actibusque geniis Romanorum, was composed in 551. historic interest. The only difficulty is occasioned by the erratic It was begun before, but published after, the Getica. It is a zigzag current. The natural products of the Jordan valley sketch. of the history of the world from the creation, based on —a tropical oasis sunk in the temperate zone, and overhung by Jerome, the epitome of Florus, Orosius and the ecclesiastical Alpine Hermon—are unique. Papyrus grows in Lake Huleh, history of Socrates. There is a curious reference to Iamblichus, and rice and cereals thrive on its shores, whilst below the Sea of apparently the neo-platonist philosopher, whose name Jordanes, Galilee the vegetation is almost tropical. The flora and fauna being, as he says himself, agrammatus, inserts by way of a present a large infusion of Ethiopian types; and the fish, with flourish. The work is only of any value for the century 450–which the river is abundantly stocked, have a great affinity with 55o, when Jordanes is dealing with recent history. It is merely those of the rivers and lakes of east Africa. Ere the Jordan a hasty compilation intended to stand side by side with the enters the Dead Sea, its valley has become very barren and for- Getica.2 bidding. It reaches the lake at a minus level of 1290 ft., the 2. The other work of Jordanes commonly called De rebus depression continuing downwards to twice that depth in the Geticis or Getica, was styled by himself De origine actibusque bed of the Dead Sea. It receives two affluents, with perennial 2 The evidence of MSS. is overwhelming against the form Jor- waters, on the left, the Yarmuk (Hieromax) which flows in from nandes. The MSS. exhibit Jordanis or Jordannls; but these are only Vulgar-Latin spellings of Jordanes. the volcanic Jaulan a little south of the Sea of Galilee, and the 2 The terms of the dedication of this book to a certain Vigilius Zerka (Jabbok) which comes from the Belka district to a point make it impossible that the pope (538–555) of that name is meant. Get arum, and was also written in 551. He informs us that while he was engaged upon the Romana a friend named Castalius invited him to compress into one small treatise the twelve books —now lost—of the senator Cassiodorus, on The Origin and Actions of the Goths. Jordanes professes to have had the work of Cassiodorus in his hands for but three days, and to reproduce the sense not the words; but his book, short as it is, evidently contains long verbatim extracts from the earlier author, and it may be suspected that the story of the triduana lectio and the apology quamvis verba non recolo, possibly even the friendly invitation of Castalius, are mere blinds to cover his own entire want of originality. This suspicion is strengthened by the fact (discovered by von Sybel) that even the very preface to his book is taken almost word for word from Rufinus's translation of Origen's commentary on the epistle to the Romans. There is no doubt, even on Jordanes' own statements, that his work is based upon that of Cassiodorus, and that any historical worth which it possesses is due to that fact. Cassiodorus was one of the very few men who, Roman by birth and sympathies, could yet appreciate the greatness of the barbarians by whom the empire was overthrown. The chief adviser of Theodoric, the East Gothic king in Italy, he accepted with ardour that monarch's great scheme, if indeed, he did not himself originally suggest it, of welding Roman and Goth together into one harmonious state which should preserve the social refinement and the intellectual culture of the Latin-speaking races without losing the hardy virtues of their Teutonic conquerors. To this aim everything in the political life of Cassiodorus was subservient, and this aim he evidently kept before him in his Gothic history. But in writing that history Cassiodorus was himself indebted to the work of a certain Ablabius. It was Ablabius, apparently, who had first used the Gothic sagas (prisca carmina); it was he who had constructed the stem of the Amals. Whether he was a Greek, a Roman or a Goth we do not know; nor can we say when he wrote, though his work may be dated conjecturally in the early part of the reign of Theodoric the Great. We can only say that he wrote on the origin and history of the Goths, using both Gothic saga and Greek sources; and that if Jordanes used Cassiodorus, Cassiodorus used, if to a less extent, the work of Ablabius. Cassiodorus began his work, at the request of Theodoric, and therefore before 526: it was finished by 533. At the root of the work lies a theory, whencesoever derived, which identified the Goths with the Scythians, whose country Darius Hystaspes invaded, and with the Getae of Dacia, whom Trajan conquered. This double identification enabled Cassiodorus to bring the favoured race into line with the peoples of classical antiquity, to interweave with their history stories about Hercules and the Amazons, to make them invade Egypt, to claim for them a share in the wisdom of the semi-mythical Scythian philosopher Zamolxis. He was thus able with some show of plausibility to represent the Goths as "wiser than all the other barbarians and almost like the Greeks " (Jord., De reb. Get., cap. v.), and to send a son of the Gothic king Telephus to fight at the siege of Troy, with the ancestors of the Romans. All this we can now perceive to have no relation to history, but at the time it may have made the subjugation of the Roman less bitter to feel that he was not after all bowing down before a race of barbarian up-starts, but that his Amal sovereign was as firmly rooted in classical antiquity as any Julius or Claudius who ever wore the purple. In the eighteen years which elapsed between 533 and the composition of the Getica of Jordanes, great events, most disastrous for the Romano-Gothic monarchy of Theodoric, had taken place. It was no longer possible to write as if the whole civilization of the Western world would sit down contentedly under the shadow of East Gothic dominion and Amal sovereignty. And, moreover, the instincts of Jordanes, as a subject of the Eastern Empire, pre-disposed him to flatter the sacred majesty of Justinian, by whose victorious arms the overthrow of the barbarian kingdom in Italy had been effected. Hence we perceive two currents of tendency in the Getica. On the one hand, as a transcriber of the philo-Goth Cassiodorus, he magnifies the race of Alaric and Theodoric, and claims for them their full share, perhaps more than their full share, of glory in the past. On the other hand he speaks of the great anti-Teuton emperor Justinian, and of his reversal of the German conquests of the 5th century, in language which would certainly have grated on the ears of Totila and his heroes. When Ravenna is taken, and Vitigis carried into captivity, Jordanes almost exults in the fact that " the nobility of the Amals and the illustrious offspring of so many mighty men have surrendered to a yet more illustrious prince and a yet mightier general, whose fame shall not grow dim through all the centuries." (Getica, lx. § 315). This laudation, both of the Goths and of their Byzantine conquerors, may perhaps help us to understand the motive with which the Getica was written. In the year 551 Germanus, nephew of Justinian, accompanied by his bride, Matasuntha, grand-daughter of Theodoric, set forth to reconquer Italy for the empire. His early death prevented any schemes for a revived Romano-Gothic kingdom which may have been based on his personality. His widow, however, bore a posthumous child, also named Germanus, of whom Jordanes speaks (cap. 6o) as " blending the blood of the Anicii and the Amals, and furnishing a hope under the divine blessing of one day uniting their glories." This younger-Germanus did nothing in after life to realize these anticipations; but the somewhat pointed way in which his name and his mother's name are mentioned by Jordanes lends some probability to the view that he hoped for the child's succession to the Eastern Empire, and the final reconciliation of the Goths and Romans in the person of a Gotho-Roman emperor. The De rebus Geticis falls naturally into four parts. The first (chs. i.–xiii.) commences with a geographical description of the three quarters of the world, and in more detail of Britain and Scanzia (Sweden), from which the Goths under their king Berig migrated to the southern coast of the Baltic. Their migration across what has since been called Lithuania to the shores of the Euxine, and their differentiation into Visigoths and Ostrogoths, are nest described. Chs. v.–xiii. contain an account of the intrusive Geto-Scythian element before alluded to. The second section (chs. xiv.–xxiv.) returns to the true history of the Gothic nation, sets forth the genealogy of the Amal kings, and describes the inroads of the Goths into the Roman Empire in the 3rd century, with the foundation and the overthrow of the great but somewhat shadowy kingdom of Hermanric. The third section (chs. xxv.–xlvii.) traces the history of the West Goths from the Hunnish invasion to the downfall of the Gothic kingdom in Gaul under Alaric II. (376–507). The best part of this section, and indeed of the whole book, is the seven chapters devoted to Attila's invasion of Gaul and the battle of the Mauriac plains. Here we have in all probability a verbatim extract from Cassiodorus, who (possibly resting on Ablabius) interwove with his narrative large portions of the Gothic sagas. The celebrated expression certaminis gaudia assuredly came at first neither from the suave minister Cassiodorus nor from the small-souled notary Jordanes, but is the translation of some thought which first found utterance through the lips of a Gothic minstrel. The fourth section (chs. xlviii.–lx.) traces the history of the East Goths from the same Hunnish invasion to the first overthrow of the Gothic monarchy in Italy (376–539). In this fourth section are inserted, somewhat out of their proper place, some valuable details as to the Gothi Minores, " an immense people dwelling in the region of Nicopolis, with their high priest and primate Vulfilas, who is said also to have taught them letters." The book closes with the allusion to Germanus and the panegyric on Justinian as the conqueror of the Goths referred to above. Jordanes refers in the Getica to a number of authors besides Cassiodorus; but he owes his knowledge of them to Cassiodorus. It is perhaps only when he is using Orosius that we can hold Jordanes to have borrowed directly. Otherwise, as Mommsen says, the Getica is a mera epitome, laxata ea et perverse, historiae Gothicae Cassiodorianae. As to the style and literary character of Jordanes, every author who has used him speaks in terms of severe censure. When he is left to himself and not merely transcribing, he is sometimes scarcely grammatical. There are awkward gaps in his narrative and statements inconsistent with each other. He quotes, as if he were familiarly acquainted with their writings, a number of Greek and Roman writers, of whom it is almost certain that he had not read more than one or two. At the same time he does not quote the chronicler Marcellinus, from whom he has copied verbatim the history of the deposition of Augustulus. All these faults make him a peculiarly unsatisfactory authority where we cannot check his statements by those of other authors. It may, however, be pleaded in extenuation that he is professedly a transcriber, and, if his story be correct, a transcriber in peculiarly unfavourable comprises the shorelands from Malabar to Cochin China; while India Minor stretches from Sind (or perhaps from Baluchistan) to Malabar; and India Tertia (evidently dominated by African conceptions in his mind) includes a vast undefined coast-region west of Baluchistan, reaching into the neighbourhood of, but not including, Ethiopia and Prester John's domain. Jordanus' Mirabilia contains the earliest clear African identification of Prester John, and what is perhaps the first notice of the Black Sea under that name; it refers to the author's residence in India Major and especially at Kulam, as well as to his travels in Armenia, north-west Persia, the Lake Van region, and Chaldaea; and it supplies excellent descriptions of Parsee doctrines and burial customs, of Hindu ox-worship, idol-ritual, and suttee, and of Indian fruits, birds, animals and insects. After the 8th of April 1330 we have no more knowledge of Bishop Jordanus. Of Jordanus' Epistles there is only one MS., viz. Paris, National Library, 5006 Lat., fol. 182, r. and v.; of the Mirabilia also one MS. only, viz. London, British Museum, Additional MSS., 19,513, fols. 3, r.–12 r. The text of the Epistles is in Quetif and Echard, Scriptores ordinis praedicatorum, i. 549–550 (Epistle I.) ; and in Wadding, Annales minorum, vi. 359–361 (Epistle II.) ; the text of the Mirabilia in the Paris Geog. Soc.'s Recueil de voyages, iv. 1–68 (1839). The Papal letters referring to Jordanus are in Raynaldus, Annales ecclesiastici, 1330, §§ lv. and lvii (April 8; Feb. 14). See also Sir H. Yule's Jordanus, a version of the Mirabilia with a commentary (Hakluyt Soc., 1863) and the same editor's Cathay, giving a version of the Epistles, with a commentary, &c. (Hak. Soc., 1866) pp. 184–185, 192–196, 225–230; F. Kunstmann, " Die Mission in Meliapor and Tana " and " Die Mission in Columbo " in the Historisch-politische Blatter of Phillips and Gorres, xxxvii. 25–38, 135–152 (Munich, 1856), &c. ; C. R. Beazley, Dawn of Modern Geography, iii. 215–235. (C. R. B.)
End of Article: JORDAN (the down-comer; Arab. esh-Sheri'a, the watering-place)
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