In an age which has been so prolific as the present in works treating upon every department of Scriptural learning, the production of a new set of 'Bible Maps' may, at first sight, appear to many persons to stand in need of some apology. A little consideration will, however, show those whose first impressions may incline them to think thus, that the best justification of such a work is to be found in the name of the subject to which it relates - viz. Geography. All science is eminently progressive in its nature; every fresh insight into its domains only stimulates the beholder to endeavour obtain other and more extensive views; every new fact which is acquired is associated with other facts, and serves, with them, to form the groundwork for further investigations, and to open a path to yet wider acquisitions. The world of intelligence is not limited by any impassable ocean, like that on the shores of which Alexander wept to think that there were no more worlds to conquer; and if the adventurer in the regions of science is stayed from further conquests, it is the ocean of time which constitutes his limits, - if he sheds tears, it is on account of the bounded nature of his faculties and powers, and not for want of other and more extensive worlds. Attended, however, from age to age by fresh votaries, each, in succession, profiting by the labors of those who have preceded them, science is ever offering to her followers a more fertile domain to labor in, and a richer temple in which they may pay their homage. Nor, among the many divisions of this edifice, are there any which are more indebted for their value to the continual accumulation of ages than that devoted to Geography. Other branches of learning may have sprung into comparative greatness through the exertions of individual genius, or the labors of the critic and historian may seem to have exhausted the resources of centuries, but the progress of Geography must always depend upon the gradual acquisition of facts, and the increased appliance of the powers of observation. As long as the spirit of inquiry prompts man to seek for new truths in reference either to the organic or inorganic parts of creation, and his intelligence leads him to classify and arrange them. Geography will be every day in a more advanced condition than at a preceding period, and will, therefore, require to be constantly displayed in its improved state to those whose disposition inclines them to engage in its pursuit.
This progressive increase in the amount of geographical information is not more perceptible in reference to countries which have become known, or of which the inhabitants have attained to civilisation, within a recent period, than in regard to some of those which have long occupied a conspicuous place in the world's history, and to none more than Palestine and other parts of Syria and Western Asia. Syria has, since the earliest records of man, been the scene of events of the deepest interest to humanity; the banners of the nations of the East and the West, of ancient and modern times, have floated over its plains, and the arms of the countless thousands of their warriors glittered upon its hills; it has been successively under the dominion of the Assyrian, the Persian, the Greek, the Roman, the Turk, and the Egyptian; it contains the Promised Land of the Jews, and the Holy Land of the Christian; princes have bent the knee at its shrines, and pilgrims from all parts of the earth hastened, in spite of danger and suffering, to kiss its consecrated ground; the eyes of the civilised world are at present directed towards it; and still every day makes us the more sensible how little we really know, not merely of its natural productions, and of its inhabitants, but even of the actual configuration of its surface, of that which forms the basis of its past and present geography. The little knowledge which we do possess of the Geography of Palestine has been almost solely acquired during the present century, and is now happily constantly increasing in extent and value. The greater facilities which recent times have presented for the passage of Europeans through the country have enabled travellers of ability to apply their powers of research in parts of it which had lain concealed and almost unknown for centuries, and to disinter from among the accumulated dust and ruins of ages the mouldering remains of former greatness and prosperity.