|Lt. William Francis Lynch, U.S. Navy|
Lynch conducted his mission with a crew of 16 sailors in 1847 and published his findings in his book, Narrative of the United States' Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea. Lynch did not include a photographer in his entourage, but a crewman did provide illustrations for his book.
Lynch's motives appeared to be part patriotic, religious, and scientific. He wrote, "We [Americans] owe something to the scientific and Christian world, and while extending the blessing of civil liberty in the south and west [otherwise known as "Manifest Destiny"], may well afford to foster science and strengthen the bulwarks of Christianity in the east."
Lynch was also a strong adherent of "restorationism" (a precursor to Christian Zionism) -- a belief that the Jewish people must return to the Holy Land to fulfill their biblical prophecy of the "Second Coming." The belief drove many Americans, including American presidents, to advocate for the establishment of a Jewish homeland.
|Map of Lynch's journey from the Sea of Galilee|
to the Dead Sea, 1847. (World Digital Library)
Lynch's 170-year-old description of the Jews of Tiberias is remarkable:
Safed and Tiberias, Jerusalem and Hebron, are the four holy cities of the Jews in Palestine. Tiberias is held in peculiar veneration by the Jews, for here they believe that Jacob resided, and it is situated on the shores of the lake whence they hope that the Messiah will arise.
Winding down the rugged road, we descended to the city, seated on the margin of the lake. Tiberias (Tubariyeh) is a walled town of some magnitude, but in ruins, from the earthquake which, in 1837, destroyed so many of its inhabitants.
|Illustration of Tiberias in Lynch's book. (Wikisource)|
|The Lynch caravan taking their boats to the Sea of Galilee|
After visiting a town with a Christian community, Lynch wrote about Christians, Jews and Turks: