Are among the most sublime and impressive of the Creator's works on earth, and from the noblest and most enduring monuments of great events. Most of the mountains of Scripture thus stand as witnesses for God - every view of their lofty summits, and every recurrence to them in thought reminding us of the sacred facts and truths connected with them. Thus Mount Ararat is a standing memorial of the deluge - of man's sin, God's justice, and God's mercy. Mount Sinai asserts the terrors of the divine law. Mount Carmel summons us, like the prophet Elijah of old, not to "halt between two opinions;" but if Jehovah is God, to love and serve him. The mount of the Transfiguration still shines with the glory of the truths there taught, and Mounts Ebal and Gerizim still echo the curses and the blessings once so solemnly pronounced from them. So Mount Hor, Nebo, Lebanon, and Gilboa have been signalized by striking events; mount Zion, Moriah, and Olivet are covered with precious memories; and the mountains about Jerusalem and all other "everlasting hills" are sacred witnesses of the eternal power and faithfulness of God.
Judea was eminently a hilly country; and the sacred poets and prophets drew from the mountains around them many beautiful and sublime illustrations of divine truth. Thus a kingdom is termed a mountain, Ps 30:7, especially the kingdom of Christ, Isa 2:2; 11:9; Da 2:35. Thus also difficulty is a "great mountain," Zec 4:7. A revolution is the "carrying of mountains into the midst of the sea," Ps 46:3. God easily and speedily removes every obstacle - "hills melt like wax at the presence of the Lord," Ps 97:5. The integrity of the divine nature is sure and lasting - "Thy righteousness is like the great mountains," Ps 36:6. The eternity of God's love is pictured out by this comparison: "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee," Isa 54:10. When David wishes to express the stability of his kingdom, he says, "Lord, by thy favor thou hast made my mountain to stand strong," Ps 30:7. The security and protection afforded by God to his people are thus beautifully delineated: "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth, even for ever," Ps 125:2. When the prophet would express his faith in God, how pure it was, and what confidence it inspired, far above any assurance which could arise from earthly blessing or defense, he sings, "Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is salvation of Israel," Jer 3:23.
The hills of Judea were anciently cultivate to the top, with scores of terraces, and covered with vines, olives, figs, etc. Hence the expression, alluding to the vine of God's planting, "the hills were covered with the shadow of it," Ps 80:10; and others of the same kind. Travelers say it is a rare thing to pass a mountain, even in the wild parts of Judea, which does not show that it was formerly terraced and made to flow with oil and wine, though it may now be desolate and bare. Says Paxton, "There are many districts that are sadly encumbered with rock, yet the soil among these rocks is of a very superior kind: and were the rock somewhat broken up, the large pieces piled, and the small mixed with the soil, it might be made very productive. There is very striking proof of this in some districts, as that about Hebron, which abounds with rock, and yet is covered with the most productive vineyards. As to such a rocky country being so spoken of in the days of the patriarchs, I suppose that it was in truth, at that time the finest of lands; that the rock which now lies bare in so many places, was then all covered with earth of the richest kind."
Even in those parts where all is now desolate, remarks Dr. Robinson, "there are everywhere traces of the hand of the men of other days . . . Most of the hills indeed exhibit the remains of terraces built up around them, the undoubted signs of former cultivation." Again, when traveling towards Hebron, he observes, "Many of the former terraces along the hill sides are still in use; and the land looks somewhat as it may have done in ancient times."
We often counted forty, fifty, sixty, and even seventy terraces from the bottom of the valley up to the summit of the mountain . . . What a garden of delights this must have been, when instead of grass making green the surface, verdant and luxuriant vines were their clothing . . . We could understand how the words of Joel shall yet be literally true, 'The mountains shall drop down new wine,' when every vine on these hills shall be hanging its ripe clusters over the terraces. In observing too the singular manner in which the most rocky mountains have at one time been made, through vast labor and industry, to yield an abundant return to the husbandman, we saw clearly the meaning of the promise in Ezekiel, 'But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit.' Narrative of a Mission.