A WORD ABOUT THE NEW PATHS
From our earliest childhood when at Christmas time we gazed with intense interest at the Wise-men on their gaily caparisoned camels, those great awkward ships of the desert have been associated in our minds with Palestine. The Child held close in Mary’s arms as she sat upon the donkey while Joseph urged it on through the day and the night in the hurried flight into Egypt has made that faithful little beast a part of Palestine.
We saw both the donkeys with loaded panniers driven along by wandering Arabs and the strings of camels, soft-footed, heads held proudly high, moving off over the yellow sands up to the hills. But we sat in a modern train, with comfortable leather seats, and a madly puffing engine dragged us over the wind-blown sands up through the hills of Judea to the little modern station just without the walls of Jerusalem. Once when we stopped at old Lydda we heard a rushing, whirring sound over our heads. It grew louder and, as we searched the sky, a
plane swept out from the soft clouds into the clear blue, came down nearer, nearer to earth, rose again, and passed out of sight. It had come from the City of Zion: it would go into Egypt.
The Wilderness, the Dead Sea and the forty long years of wandering, the victories over the Philistines, the waters of Jordan parted for the passing of the hosts of Jehovah, the tumbling walls of Jericho, the spots where “the arm of the Lord prevailed”: with these we had long been familiar. They were associated in our minds with tents, with much cattle, with slow beasts of burden, with men, women, and children who moved leisurely in times of peace and fled in wild confusion in times of war.
The Wilderness, the Dead Sea, the Jordan, and Jericho we saw. A motor car driven by the son of an Arab chief took us over and past them all in less than a day!
Old Palestine still lies between the great desert and the seas. The women still grind the corn, stand gossiping about the well, and wrap their babies in swaddling clothes. The shepherds wander through the bare hills with their sheep and lead them, when spring comes,
to the green pastures and the still waters. But there are New Paths Through Old Palestine. They cross age-worn desert-ways, go down into the shadows of deep valleys, climb hoary mountains, follow Elijah’s chariot through great spaces of the sky. The new paths bring new days fraught with possibilities. In time they may bring a new Palestine: not the mystic land of the Zionists but the promised land of which the prophets and poets of Israel sang. Old Palestine died in nineteen-fourteen with the rest of the world that was and will never be again. New Palestine is born. What its future shall be depends upon the souls of those who follow the new paths. They may lead only to temporary triumph, to the selfish goals of the kingdoms of men: they may lead to the Kingdom of God.