boyish, juvenile, a town in Ephraim between Bethel and Jericho
(1 Chr. 7:28).
Palm trees, The city of
the name given to Jericho (q.v.), Deut. 34:3; Judg. 1:16; 3:13.
a designation of Hiel (q.v.), who rebuilt Jericho and
experienced the curse pronounced long before (1 Kings 16:34).
girl, a town on the boundary between Ephraim and Benjamin (Josh.
16:7), not far probably from Jericho, to the north (1 Chr.
son of Timaeus, one of the two blind beggars of Jericho (Mark
10:46; Matt. 20:30). His blindness was miraculously cured on the
ground of his faith.
pure, a city on the east of Jordan (Num. 32:3); probably the
same as Beth-nimrah (Josh. 13:27). It has been identified with
the Nahr Nimrin, at one of the fords of Jordan, not far from
a mountain some 1,200 feet high, about 7 miles north-west of
Jericho, the traditional scene of our Lord's temptation (Matt.
woody district; shaggy, a place among the mountains of Ephraim,
bordering on Benjamin, to which Ehud fled after he had
assassinated Eglon at Jericho (Judg. 3:26, 27).
father of height; i.e., "proud." (1.) One of the sons of Eliab,
who joined Korah in the conspiracy against Moses and Aaron. He
and all the conspirators, with their families and possessions
(except the children of Korah), were swallowed up by an
earthquake (Num. 16:1-27; 26:9; Ps. 106:17).
(2.) The eldest son of Hiel the Bethelite, who perished
prematurely in consequence of his father's undertaking to
rebuild Jericho (1 Kings 16:34), according to the words of
Joshua (6:26). (See JERICHO ¯T0002036.)
the red ones, a place apparently on the road between Jericho and
Jerusalem, "on the south side of the torrent" Wady Kelt, looking
toward Gilgal, mentioned Josh. 15:7; 18:17. It was nearly
half-way between Jerusalem and Jericho, and now bears the name
of Tal-at-ed-Dumm. It is supposed to have been the place
referred to in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke
10:30-37). Recently a new carriage-road has been completed, and
carriages for the first time have come along this road from
house of the height; i.e., "mountain-house", one of the towns of
Gad, 3 miles east of Jordan, opposite Jericho (Josh. 13:27).
Probably the same as Beth-haran in Num. 32:36. It was called by
king Herod, Julias, or Livias, after Livia, the wife of
Augustus. It is now called Beit-haran.
house of Peor; i.e., "temple of Baal-peor", a place in Moab, on
the east of Jordan, opposite Jericho. It was in the tribe of
Reuben (Josh. 13:20; Deut. 3:29; 4:46). In the "ravine" or
valley over against Beth-peor Moses was probably buried (Deut.
pure, a superintendant of customs; a chief tax-gather
(publicanus) at Jericho (Luke 19:1-10). "The collection of
customs at Jericho, which at this time produced and exported a
considerable quantity of balsam, was undoubtedly an important
post, and would account for Zacchaeus being a rich man." Being
short of stature, he hastened on before the multitude who were
thronging about Christ as he passed through Jericho on his way
to Jerusalem, and climbed up a sycamore tree that he might be
able to see him. When our Lord reached the spot he looked up to
the publican among the branches, and addressing him by name,
told him to make haste and come down, as he intended that day to
abide at his house. This led to the remarkable interview
recorded by the evangelist, and to the striking parable of the
ten pounds (Luke 19:12-27). At Er-riha (Jericho) there is a
large, venerable looking square tower, which goes by the
traditional name of the House of Zacchaeus.
place of fragrance, a fenced city in the midst of a vast grove
of palm trees, in the plain of Jordan, over against the place
where that river was crossed by the Israelites (Josh. 3:16). Its
site was near the 'Ain es-Sultan, Elisha's Fountain (2 Kings
2:19-22), about 5 miles west of Jordan. It was the most
important city in the Jordan valley (Num. 22:1; 34:15), and the
strongest fortress in all the land of Canaan. It was the key to
This city was taken in a very remarkable manner by the
Israelites (Josh. 6). God gave it into their hands. The city was
"accursed" (Heb. herem, "devoted" to Jehovah), and accordingly
(Josh. 6:17; comp. Lev. 27:28, 29; Deut. 13:16) all the
inhabitants and all the spoil of the city were to be destroyed,
"only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of
iron" were reserved and "put into the treasury of the house of
Jehovah" (Josh. 6:24; comp. Num. 31:22, 23, 50-54). Only Rahab
"and her father's household, and all that she had," were
preserved from destruction, according to the promise of the
spies (Josh. 2:14). In one of the Amarna tablets Adoni-zedec
(q.v.) writes to the king of Egypt informing him that the 'Abiri
(Hebrews) had prevailed, and had taken the fortress of Jericho,
and were plundering "all the king's lands." It would seem that
the Egyptian troops had before this been withdrawn from
This city was given to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh. 18:21),
and it was inhabited in the time of the Judges (Judg. 3:13; 2
Sam. 10:5). It is not again mentioned till the time of David (2
Sam. 10:5). "Children of Jericho" were among the captives who
returned under Zerubbabel Ezra 2:34; Neh. 7:36). Hiel (q.v.) the
Bethelite attempted to make it once more a fortified city (1
Kings 16:34). Between the beginning and the end of his
undertaking all his children were cut off.
In New Testament times Jericho stood some distance to the
south-east of the ancient one, and near the opening of the
valley of Achor. It was a rich and flourishing town, having a
considerable trade, and celebrated for the palm trees which
adorned the plain around. It was visited by our Lord on his last
journey to Jerusalem. Here he gave sight to two blind men (Matt.
20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52), and brought salvation to the house of
Zacchaeus the publican (Luke 19:2-10).
The poor hamlet of er-Riha, the representative of modern
Jericho, is situated some two miles farther to the east. It is
in a ruinous condition, having been destroyed by the Turks in
1840. "The soil of the plain," about the middle of which the
ancient city stood, "is unsurpassed in fertility; there is
abundance of water for irrigation, and many of the old aqueducts
are almost perfect; yet nearly the whole plain is waste and
desolate...The climate of Jericho is exceedingly hot and
unhealthy. This is accounted for by the depression of the plain,
which is about 1,200 feet below the level of the sea."
There were three different Jerichos, on three different sites,
the Jericho of Joshua, the Jericho of Herod, and the Jericho of
the Crusades. Er-Riha, the modern Jericho, dates from the time
of the Crusades. Dr. Bliss has found in a hollow scooped out for
some purpose or other near the foot of the biggest mound above
the Sultan's Spring specimens of Amorite or pre-Israelitish
pottery precisely identical with what he had discovered on the
site of ancient Lachish. He also traced in this place for a
short distance a mud brick wall in situ, which he supposes to be
the very wall that fell before the trumpets of Joshua. The wall
is not far from the foot of the great precipice of Quarantania
and its numerous caverns, and the spies of Joshua could easily
have fled from the city and been speedily hidden in these
a cutting; separation; a gorge, a torrent-bed or winter-stream,
a "brook," in whose banks the prophet Elijah hid himself during
the early part of the three years' drought (1 Kings 17:3, 5). It
has by some been identified as the Wady el-Kelt behind Jericho,
which is formed by the junction of many streams flowing from the
mountains west of Jericho. It is dry in summer. Travellers have
described it as one of the wildest ravines of this wild region,
and peculiarly fitted to afford a secure asylum to the
persecuted. But if the prophet's interview with Ahab was in
Samaria, and he thence journeyed toward the east, it is probable
that he crossed Jordan and found refuge in some of the ravines
of Gilead. The "brook" is said to have been "before Jordan,"
which probably means that it opened toward that river, into
which it flowed. This description would apply to the east as
well as to the west of Jordan. Thus Elijah's hiding-place may
have been the Jermuk, in the territory of the half-tribe of
regions beyond; i.e., on the east of Jordan, a mountain, or
rather a mountain-chain, over against Jericho, to the east and
south-east of the Dead Sea, in the land of Moab. From "the top
of Pisgah", i.e., Mount Nebo (q.v.), one of its summits, Moses
surveyed the Promised Land (Deut. 3:27; 32:49), and there he
died (34:1,5). The Israelites had one of their encampments in
the mountains of Abarim (Num. 33:47,48) after crossing the
meadow of the acacias, frequently called simply "Shittim" (Num.
25:1; Josh. 2:1; Micah 6:5), a place on the east of Jordan, in
the plain of Moab, nearly opposite Jericho. It was the
forty-second encampment of the Israelites, their last
resting-place before they crossed the Jordan (Num. 33:49; 22:1;
26:3; 31:12; comp. 25:1; 31:16).
house of the unripe fig, a village on the Mount of Olives, on
the road from Jerusalem to Jericho (Matt. 21:1; Mark 11:1; Luke
19:29), and very close to Bethany. It was the limit of a
Sabbath-day's journey from Jerusalem, i.e., 2,000 cubits. It has
been identified with the modern Kefr-et-Tur.
fountain of the sun a spring which formed one of the landmarks
on the boundary between Judah and Benjamin (Josh. 15:7; 18:17).
It was between the "ascent of Adummim" and the spring of
En-rogel, and hence was on the east of Jerusalem and of the
Mount of Olives. It is the modern 'Ain-Haud i.e., the "well of
the apostles" about a mile east of Bethany, the only spring on
the road to Jericho. The sun shines on it the whole day long.
life of (i.e., from) God, a native of Bethel, who built (i.e.,
fortified) Jericho some seven hundred years after its
destruction by the Israelites. There fell on him for such an act
the imprecation of Joshua (6:26). He laid the foundation in his
first-born, and set up the gates in his youngest son (1 Kings
16:34), i.e., during the progress of the work all his children
the height of Mizpeh or of the watch-tower (Josh. 13:26), a
place mentioned as one of the limits of Gad. There were two
Mizpehs on the east of the Jordan. This was the Mizpeh where
Jacob and Laban made a covenant, "Mizpeh of Gilead," called also
Galeed and Jegar-sahadutha. It has been identified with the
modern es-Salt, where the roads from Jericho and from Shechem to
Damascus unite, about 25 miles east of the Jordan and 13 south
of the Jabbok.
acacias, also called "Abel-shittim" (Num. 33:49), a plain or
valley in the land of Moab where the Israelites were encamped
after their two victories over Sihon and Og, at the close of
their desert wanderings, and from which Joshua sent forth two
spies (q.v.) "secretly" to "view" the land and Jericho (Josh.
(1.) A town of Benjamin (Josh. 18:22); now the ruin, rather two
ruins, es-Sumrah, 4 miles north of Jericho.
(2.) A mount in the highlands of Ephraim, to the north of
Jerusalem (2 Chr. 13:4-20). Here the armies of Abijah and
Jeroboam engaged in a bloody battle, which issued in the total
defeat of the king of Israel, who never "recovered strength
again," and soon after died.
contracted from Bal'sam, a general name for many oily or
resinous substances which flow or trickle from certain trees or
plants when an incision is made through the bark.
(1.) This word occurs in the Authorized Version (Gen. 37:25;
43:11; Jer. 8:22; 46:11; 51:8; Ezek. 27:17) as the rendering of
the Hebrew word _tsori_ or _tseri_, which denotes the gum of a
tree growing in Gilead (q.v.), which is very precious. It was
celebrated for its medicinal qualities, and was circulated as an
article of merchandise by Arab and Phoenician merchants. The
shrub so named was highly valued, and was almost peculiar to
Israel. In the time of Josephus it was cultivated in the
neighbourhood of Jericho and the Dead Sea. There is an Arab
tradition that the tree yielding this balm was brought by the
queen of Sheba as a present to Solomon, and that he planted it
in his gardens at Jericho.
(2.) There is another Hebrew word, _basam_ or _bosem_, from
which our word "balsam," as well as the corresponding Greek
balsamon, is derived. It is rendered "spice" (Cant. 5:1, 13;
6:2; margin of Revised Version, "balsam;" Ex. 35:28; 1 Kings
10:10), and denotes fragrance in general. _Basam_ also denotes
the true balsam-plant, a native of South Arabia (Cant. l.c.).
trouble, a valley near Jericho, so called in consequence of the
trouble which the sin of Achan caused Israel (Josh. 7:24,26).
The expression "valley of Achor" probably became proverbial for
that which caused trouble, and when Isaiah (Isa. 65:10) refers
to it he uses it in this sense: "The valley of Achor, a place
for herds to lie down in;" i.e., that which had been a source of
calamity would become a source of blessing. Hosea also (Hos.
2:15) uses the expression in the same sense: "The valley of
Achor for a door of hope;" i.e., trouble would be turned into
joy, despair into hope. This valley has been identified with the
beloved, the Kenite, has been usually identified with Jethro
(q.v.), Ex. 18:5, 27; comp. Num. 10:29, 30. In Judg. 4:11, the
word rendered "father-in-law" means properly any male relative
by marriage (comp. Gen. 19:14, "son-in-law," A.V.), and should
be rendered "brother-in-law," as in the R.V. His descendants
followed Israel to Canaan (Num. 10:29), and at first pitched
their tents near Jericho, but afterwards settled in the south in
the borders of Arad (Judg. 1:8-11, 16).
properly only an opening in a house for the admission of light
and air, covered with lattice-work, which might be opened or
closed (2 Kings 1:2; Acts 20:9). The spies in Jericho and Paul
at Damascus were let down from the windows of houses abutting on
the town wall (Josh. 2:15; 2 Cor. 11:33). The clouds are
metaphorically called the "windows of heaven" (Gen. 7:11; Mal.
3:10). The word thus rendered in Isa. 54:12 ought rather to be
rendered "battlements" (LXX., "bulwarks;" R.V., "pinnacles"), or
as Gesenius renders it, "notched battlements, i.e., suns or rays
of the sun"= having a radiated appearance like the sun.
gazelles or roes. (1.) One of the "five cities of the plain" of
Sodom, generally coupled with Admah (Gen. 10:19; 14:2; Deut.
29:23; Hos. 11:8). It had a king of its own (Shemeber), and was
therefore a place of some importance. It was destroyed along
with the other cities of the plain.
(2.) A valley or rugged glen somewhere near Gibeah in Benjamin
(1 Sam. 13:18). It was probably the ravine now bearing the name
Wady Shakh-ed-Dub'a, or "ravine of the hyena," north of Jericho.
(3.) A place mentioned only in Neh. 11:34, inhabited by the
Benjamites after the Captivity.
insolence; pride, a poetical name applied to Egypt in Ps. 87:4;
89:10; Isa. 51:9, as "the proud one."
Rahab, (Heb. Rahab; i.e., "broad," "large"). When the Hebrews
were encamped at Shittim, in the "Arabah" or Jordan valley
opposite Jericho, ready to cross the river, Joshua, as a final
preparation, sent out two spies to "spy the land." After five
days they returned, having swum across the river, which at this
season, the month Abib, overflowed its banks from the melting of
the snow on Lebanon. The spies reported how it had fared with
them (Josh. 2:1-7). They had been exposed to danger in Jericho,
and had been saved by the fidelity of Rahab the harlot, to whose
house they had gone for protection. When the city of Jericho
fell (6:17-25), Rahab and her whole family were preserved
according to the promise of the spies, and were incorporated
among the Jewish people. She afterwards became the wife of
Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah (Ruth 4:21; 1 Chr. 2:11;
Matt. 1:5). "Rahab's being asked to bring out the spies to the
soldiers (Josh. 2:3) sent for them, is in strict keeping with
Eastern manners, which would not permit any man to enter a
woman's house without her permission. The fact of her covering
the spies with bundles of flax which lay on her house-roof (2:6)
is an 'undesigned coincidence' which strictly corroborates the
narrative. It was the time of the barley harvest, and flax and
barley are ripe at the same time in the Jordan valley, so that
the bundles of flax stalks might have been expected to be drying
just then" (Geikie's Hours, etc., ii., 390).
called also Achar, i.e., one who troubles (1 Chr. 2:7), in
commemoration of his crime, which brought upon him an awful
destruction (Josh. 7:1). On the occasion of the fall of Jericho,
he seized, contrary to the divine command, an ingot of gold, a
quantity of silver, and a costly Babylonish garment, which he
hid in his tent. Joshua was convinced that the defeat which the
Israelites afterwards sustained before Ai was a proof of the
divine displeasure on account of some crime, and he at once
adopted means by the use of the lot for discovering the
criminal. It was then found that Achan was guilty, and he was
stoned to death in the valley of Achor. He and all that belonged
to him were then consumed by fire, and a heap of stones was
raised over the ashes.
house of dates. (1.) The Revised Version in John 1:28 has this
word instead of Bethabara, on the authority of the oldest
manuscripts. It appears to have been the name of a place on the
east of Jordan.
(2.) A village on the south-eastern slope of the Mount of
Olives (Mark 11:1), about 2 miles east of Jerusalem, on the road
to Jericho. It derived its name from the number of palm-trees
which grew there. It was the residence of Lazarus and his
sisters. It is frequently mentioned in connection with memorable
incidents in the life of our Lord (Matt. 21:17; 26:6; Mark
11:11, 12; 14:3; Luke 24:50; John 11:1; 12:1). It is now known
by the name of el-Azariyeh, i.e., "place of Lazarus," or simply
Lazariyeh. Seen from a distance, the village has been described
as "remarkably beautiful, the perfection of retirement and
repose, of seclusion and lovely peace." Now a mean village,
containing about twenty families.
the bullock; place of heifers. (1.) Chieftain or king of one of
the Moabite tribes (Judg. 3:12-14). Having entered into an
alliance with Ammon and Amalek, he overran the trans-Jordanic
region, and then crossing the Jordan, seized on Jericho, the
"city of palm trees," which had been by this time rebuilt, but
not as a fortress. He made this city his capital, and kept
Israel in subjection for eighteen years. The people at length
"cried unto the Lord" in their distress, and he "raised them up
a deliverer" in Ehud (q.v.), the son of Gera, a Benjamite.
(2.) A city in Judah, near Lachish (Josh. 15:39). It was
destroyed by Joshua (10:5, 6). It has been identified with Tell
Nejileh, 6 miles south of Tell Hesy or Ajlan, north-west of
Lachish. (See LACHISH ¯T0002228.)
union. (1.) A descendant of Benjamin (1 Chr. 7:10), his
(2.) The son of Gera, of the tribe of Benjamin (Judg. 3:15).
After the death of Othniel the people again fell into idolatry,
and Eglon, the king of Moab, uniting his bands with those of the
Ammonites and the Amalekites, crossed the Jordan and took the
city of Jericho, and for eighteen years held that whole district
in subjection, exacting from it an annual tribute. At length
Ehud, by a stratagem, put Eglon to death with a two-edged dagger
a cubit long, and routed the Moabites at the fords of the
Jordan, putting 10,000 of them to death. Thenceforward the land,
at least Benjamin, enjoyed rest "for fourscore years" (Judg.
3:12-30). (See QUARRIES ¯T0003032 .) But in the south-west
the Philistines reduced the Israelites to great straits (Judg.
5:6). From this oppression Shamgar was raised up to be their
more properly sycomore (Heb. shikmoth and shikmim, Gr.
sycomoros), a tree which in its general character resembles the
fig-tree, while its leaves resemble those of the mulberry; hence
it is called the fig-mulberry (Ficus sycomorus). At Jericho,
Zacchaeus climbed a sycomore-tree to see Jesus as he passed by
(Luke 19:4). This tree was easily destroyed by frost (Ps.
78:47), and therefore it is found mostly in the "vale" (1 Kings
10:27; 2 Chr. 1:15: in both passages the R.V. has properly
"lowland"), i.e., the "low country," the shephelah, where the
climate is mild. Amos (7:14) refers to its fruit, which is of an
inferior character; so also probably Jeremiah (24:2). It is to
be distinguished from our sycamore (the Acer pseudo-platanus),
which is a species of maple often called a plane-tree.
rolling. (1.) From the solemn transaction of the reading of the
law in the valley of Shechem between Ebal and Gerizim the
Israelites moved forward to Gilgal, and there made a permanent
camp (Josh. 9:6; 10:6). It was "beside the oaks of Moreh," near
which Abraham erected his first altar (Gen. 12:6, 7). This was
one of the three towns to which Samuel resorted for the
administration of justice (1 Sam. 7:16), and here also he
offered sacrifices when the ark was no longer in the tabernacle
at Shiloh (1 Sam. 10:8; 13:7-9). To this place, as to a central
sanctuary, all Israel gathered to renew their allegiance to Saul
(11:14). At a later period it became the scene of idolatrous
worship (Hos. 4:15; 9:15). It has been identified with the ruins
of Jiljilieh, about 5 miles south-west of Shiloh and about the
same distance from Bethel.
(2.) The place in "the plains of Jericho," "in the east border
of Jericho," where the Israelites first encamped after crossing
the Jordan (Josh. 4:19, 20). Here they kept their first Passover
in the land of Canaan (5:10) and renewed the rite of
circumcision, and so "rolled away the reproach" of their
Egyptian slavery. Here the twelve memorial stones, taken from
the bed of the Jordan, were set up; and here also the tabernacle
remained till it was removed to Shiloh (18:1). It has been
identified with Tell Jiljulieh, about 5 miles from Jordan.
(3.) A place, probably in the hill country of Ephraim, where
there was a school of the prophets (2 Kings 4:38), and whence
Elijah and Elisha, who resided here, "went down" to Bethel
(2:1,2). It is mentioned also in Deut. 11:30. It is now known as
Jiljilia, a place 8 miles north of Bethel.
(Heb. tamar), the date-palm characteristic of Israel. It is
described as "flourishing" (Ps. 92:12), tall (Cant. 7:7),
"upright" (Jer. 10:5). Its branches are a symbol of victory
(Rev. 7:9). "Rising with slender stem 40 or 50, at times even
80, feet aloft, its only branches, the feathery, snow-like,
pale-green fronds from 6 to 12 feet long, bending from its top,
the palm attracts the eye wherever it is seen." The whole land
of Israel was called by the Greeks and Romans Phoenicia,
i.e., "the land of palms." Tadmor in the desert was called by
the Greeks and Romans Palmyra, i.e., "the city of palms." The
finest specimens of this tree grew at Jericho (Deut. 34:3) and
Engedi and along the banks of the Jordan. Branches of the palm
tree were carried at the feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40). At
our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem the crowds took
palm branches, and went forth to meet him, crying, "Hosanna:
Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the
Lord" (Matt. 21:8; John 12:13). (See DATE ¯T0000979.)
The Israelites had to take possession of the Promised Land by
conquest. They had to engage in a long and bloody war before the
Canaanitish tribes were finally subdued. Except in the case of
Jericho and Ai, the war did not become aggressive till after the
death of Joshua. Till then the attack was always first made by
the Canaanites. Now the measure of the iniquity of the
Canaanites was full, and Israel was employed by God to sweep
them away from off the face of the earth. In entering on this
new stage of the war, the tribe of Judah, according to divine
direction, took the lead.
In the days of Saul and David the people of Israel engaged in
many wars with the nations around, and after the division of the
kingdom into two they often warred with each other. They had to
defend themselves also against the inroads of the Egyptians, the
Assyrians, and the Babylonians. The whole history of Israel from
first to last presents but few periods of peace.
The Christian life is represented as a warfare, and the
Christian graces are also represented under the figure of pieces
of armour (Eph. 6:11-17; 1 Thess. 5:8; 2 Tim. 2:3, 4). The final
blessedness of believers is attained as the fruit of victory
(1.) Heb. 'arabim (Lev. 23:40; Job 40:22; Isa. 15:7; 44:3, 4;
Ps. 137:1, 2). This was supposed to be the weeping willow,
called by Linnaeus Salix Babylonica, from the reference in Ps.
137. This tree is frequently found "on the coast, overhanging
wells and pools. There is a conspicuous tree of this species
over a pond in the plain of Acre, and others on the Phoenician
plain." There are several species of the salix in Israel, but
it is not indigenous to Babylonia, nor was it cultivated there.
Some are of opinion that the tree intended is the tamarisk or
(2.) Heb. tzaphtzaphah (Ezek. 17:5), called by the Arabs the
safsaf, the general name for the willow. This may be the Salix
AEgyptica of naturalists.
Tristram thinks that by the "willow by the water-courses," the
Nerium oleander, the rose-bay oleander, is meant. He says, "It
fringes the Upper Jordan, dipping its wavy crown of red into the
spray in the rapids under Hermon, and is nutured by the oozy
marshes in the Lower Jordan nearly as far as to Jericho...On the
Arnon, on the Jabbok, and the Yarmuk it forms a continuous
fringe. In many of the streams of Moab it forms a complete
screen, which the sun's rays can never penetrate to evaporate
the precious moisture. The wild boar lies safely ensconced under
its impervious cover."
lord of the people; foreigner or glutton, as interpreted by
others, the son of Beor, was a man of some rank among the
Midianites (Num. 31:8; comp. 16). He resided at Pethor (Deut.
23:4), in Mesopotamia (Num. 23:7). It is evident that though
dwelling among idolaters he had some knowledge of the true God;
and was held in such reputation that it was supposed that he
whom he blessed was blessed, and he whom he cursed was cursed.
When the Israelites were encamped on the plains of Moab, on the
east of Jordan, by Jericho, Balak sent for Balaam "from Aram,
out of the mountains of the east," to curse them; but by the
remarkable interposition of God he was utterly unable to fulfil
Balak's wish, however desirous he was to do so. The apostle
Peter refers (2 Pet. 2:15, 16) to this as an historical event.
In Micah 6:5 reference also is made to the relations between
Balaam and Balak. Though Balaam could not curse Israel, yet he
suggested a mode by which the divine displeasure might be caused
to descend upon them (Num. 25). In a battle between Israel and
the Midianites (q.v.) Balaam was slain while fighting on the
side of Balak (Num. 31:8).
The "doctrine of Balaam" is spoken of in Rev. 2:14, in
allusion to the fact that it was through the teaching of Balaam
that Balak learned the way by which the Israelites might be led
into sin. (See NICOLAITANES ¯T0002725.) Balaam was constrained
to utter prophecies regarding the future of Israel of wonderful
magnificence and beauty of expression (Num. 24:5-9, 17).
oracle town; sanctuary. (1.) One of the eleven cities to the
west of Hebron, in the highlands of Judah (Josh. 15:49; Judg.
1:11-15). It was originally one of the towns of the Anakim
(Josh. 15:15), and was also called Kirjath-sepher (q.v.) and
Kirjath-sannah (49). Caleb, who had conquered and taken
possession of the town and district of Hebron (Josh. 14:6-15),
offered the hand of his daughter to any one who would
successfully lead a party against Debir. Othniel, his younger
brother (Judg. 1:13; 3:9), achieved the conquest, and gained
Achsah as his wife. She was not satisfied with the portion her
father gave her, and as she was proceeding toward her new home,
she "lighted from off her ass" and said to him, "Give me a
blessing [i.e., a dowry]: for thou hast given me a south land"
(Josh. 15:19, A.V.); or, as in the Revised Version, "Thou hast
set me in the land of the south", i.e., in the Negeb, outside
the rich valley of Hebron, in the dry and barren land. "Give me
also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and
the nether springs."
Debir has been identified with the modern Edh-Dhaheriyeh,
i.e., "the well on the ridge", to the south of Hebron.
(2.) A place near the "valley of Achor" (Josh. 15:7), on the
north boundary of Judah, between Jerusalem and Jericho.
(3.) The king of Eglon, one of the five Canaanitish kings who
were hanged by Joshua (Josh. 10:3, 23) after the victory at
Gibeon. These kings fled and took refuge in a cave at Makkedah.
Here they were kept confined till Joshua returned from the
pursuit of their discomfited armies, when he caused them to be
brought forth, and "Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged
them on five trees" (26).
Herod the Great
(Matt. 2:1-22; Luke 1:5; Acts 23:35), the son of Antipater, an
Idumaean, and Cypros, an Arabian of noble descent. In the year
B.C. 47 Julius Caesar made Antipater, a "wily Idumaean,"
procurator of Judea, who divided his territories between his
four sons, Galilee falling to the lot of Herod, who was
afterwards appointed tetrarch of Judea by Mark Antony (B.C. 40),
and also king of Judea by the Roman senate.
He was of a stern and cruel disposition. "He was brutish and a
stranger to all humanity." Alarmed by the tidings of one "born
King of the Jews," he sent forth and "slew all the children that
were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years
old and under" (Matt. 2:16). He was fond of splendour, and
lavished great sums in rebuilding and adorning the cities of his
empire. He rebuilt the city of Caesarea (q.v.) on the coast, and
also the city of Samaria (q.v.), which he called Sebaste, in
honour of Augustus. He restored the ruined temple of Jerusalem,
a work which was begun B.C. 20, but was not finished till after
Herod's death, probably not till about A.D. 50 (John 2:20).
After a troubled reign of thirty-seven years, he died at Jericho
amid great agonies both of body and mind, B.C. 4, i.e.,
according to the common chronology, in the year in which Jesus
After his death his kingdom was divided among three of his
sons. Of these, Philip had the land east of Jordan, between
Caesarea Philippi and Bethabara, Antipas had Galilee and Peraea,
while Archelaus had Judea and Samaria.
smiths, the name of a tribe inhabiting the desert lying between
southern Israel and the mountains of Sinai. Jethro was of
this tribe (Judg. 1:16). He is called a "Midianite" (Num.
10:29), and hence it is concluded that the Midianites and the
Kenites were the same tribe. They were wandering smiths, "the
gipsies and travelling tinkers of the old Oriental world. They
formed an important guild in an age when the art of metallurgy
was confined to a few" (Sayce's Races, etc.). They showed
kindness to Israel in their journey through the wilderness. They
accompanied them in their march as far as Jericho (Judg. 1:16),
and then returned to their old haunts among the Amalekites, in
the desert to the south of Judah. They sustained afterwards
friendly relations with the Israelites when settled in Canaan
(Judg. 4:11, 17-21; 1 Sam. 27:10; 30:29). The Rechabites
belonged to this tribe (1 Chr. 2:55) and in the days of Jeremiah
(35:7-10) are referred to as following their nomad habits. Saul
bade them depart from the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:6) when, in
obedience to the divine commission, he was about to "smite
Amalek." And his reason is, "for ye showed kindness to all the
children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt." Thus "God is
not unrighteous to forget the kindnesses shown to his people;
but they shall be remembered another day, at the farthest in the
great day, and recompensed in the resurrection of the just" (M.
Henry's Commentary). They are mentioned for the last time in
Scripture in 1 Sam. 27:10; comp. 30:20.
the seed of the father, or, according to others, the desirable
land, the eldest son of Lot (Gen. 19:37), of incestuous birth.
(2.) Used to denote the people of Moab (Num. 22:3-14; Judg.
3:30; 2 Sam. 8:2; Jer. 48:11, 13).
(3.) The land of Moab (Jer. 48:24), called also the "country
of Moab" (Ruth 1:2, 6; 2:6), on the east of Jordan and the Dead
Sea, and south of the Arnon (Num. 21:13, 26). In a wider sense
it included the whole region that had been occupied by the
Amorites. It bears the modern name of Kerak.
In the Plains of Moab, opposite Jericho (Num. 22:1; 26:63;
Josh. 13:32), the children of Israel had their last encampment
before they entered the land of Canaan. It was at that time in
the possession of the Amorites (Num. 21:22). "Moses went up from
the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of
Pisgah," and "died there in the land of Moab, according to the
word of the Lord" (Deut. 34:5, 6). "Surely if we had nothing
else to interest us in the land of Moab, the fact that it was
from the top of Pisgah, its noblest height, this mightiest of
the prophets looked out with eye undimmed upon the Promised
Land; that it was here on Nebo, its loftiest mountain, that he
died his solitary death; that it was here, in the valley over
against Beth-peor, he found his mysterious sepulchre, we have
enough to enshrine the memory in our hearts."
This number occurs frequently in Scripture, and in such
connections as lead to the supposition that it has some typical
meaning. On the seventh day God rested, and hallowed it (Gen.
2:2, 3). The division of time into weeks of seven days each
accounts for many instances of the occurrence of this number.
This number has been called the symbol of perfection, and also
the symbol of rest. "Jacob's seven years' service to Laban;
Pharaoh's seven fat oxen and seven lean ones; the seven branches
of the golden candlestick; the seven trumpets and the seven
priests who sounded them; the seven days' siege of Jericho; the
seven churches, seven spirits, seven stars, seven seals, seven
vials, and many others, sufficiently prove the importance of
this sacred number" (see Lev. 25:4; 1 Sam. 2:5; Ps. 12:6; 79:12;
Prov. 26:16; Isa. 4:1; Matt. 18:21, 22; Luke 17:4). The feast of
Passover (Ex. 12:15, 16), the feast of Weeks (Deut. 16:9), of
Tabernacles (13:15), and the Jubilee (Lev. 25:8), were all
ordered by seven. Seven is the number of sacrifice (2 Chr.
29:21; Job 42:8), of purification and consecration (Lev. 42:6,
17; 8:11, 33; 14:9, 51), of forgiveness (Matt. 18:21, 22; Luke
17:4), of reward (Deut. 28:7; 1 Sam. 2:5), and of punishment
(Lev. 26:21, 24, 28; Deut. 28:25). It is used for any round
number in such passages as Job 5:19; Prov. 26:16, 25; Isa. 4:1;
Matt. 12:45. It is used also to mean "abundantly" (Gen. 4:15,
24; Lev. 26:24; Ps. 79:12).
When the Israelites reached Kadesh for the first time, and were
encamped there, Moses selected twelve spies from among the
chiefs of the divisions of the tribes, and sent them forth to
spy the land of Canaan (Num. 13), and to bring back to him a
report of its actual condition. They at once proceeded on their
important errand, and went through the land as far north as the
district round Lake Merom. After about six weeks' absence they
returned. Their report was very discouraging, and the people
were greatly alarmed, and in a rebellious spirit proposed to
elect a new leader and return to Egypt. Only two of the spies,
Caleb and Joshua, showed themselves on this occasion
stout-hearted and faithful. All their appeals and remonstrances
were in vain. Moses announced that as a punishment for their
rebellion they must now wander in the wilderness till a new
generation should arise which would go up and posses the land.
The spies had been forty days absent on their expedition, and
for each day the Israelites were to be wanderers for a year in
the desert. (See ESHCOL ¯T0001248.)
Two spies were sent by Joshua "secretly" i.e., unknown to the
people (Josh. 2:1), "to view the land and Jericho" after the
death of Moses, and just before the tribes under his leadership
were about to cross the Jordan. They learned from Rahab (q.v.),
in whose house they found a hiding-place, that terror had fallen
on all the inhabitants of the land because of the great things
they had heard that Jehovah had done for them (Ex. 15:14-16;
comp. 23:27; Deut. 2:25; 11:25). As the result of their mission
they reported: "Truly Jehovah hath delivered into our hands all
the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint
because of us."
(1.) Trial; a being put to the test. Thus God "tempted [Gen. 22:
1; R.V., 'did prove'] Abraham;" and afflictions are said to
tempt, i.e., to try, men (James 1:2, 12; comp. Deut. 8:2),
putting their faith and patience to the test. (2.) Ordinarily,
however, the word means solicitation to that which is evil, and
hence Satan is called "the tempter" (Matt. 4:3). Our Lord was in
this way tempted in the wilderness. That temptation was not
internal, but by a real, active, subtle being. It was not
self-sought. It was submitted to as an act of obedience on his
part. "Christ was led, driven. An unseen personal force bore him
a certain violence is implied in the words" (Matt. 4:1-11).
The scene of the temptation of our Lord is generally supposed
to have been the mountain of Quarantania (q.v.), "a high and
precipitous wall of rock, 1,200 or 1,500 feet above the plain
west of Jordan, near Jericho."
Temptation is common to all (Dan. 12:10; Zech. 13:9; Ps.
66:10; Luke 22:31, 40; Heb. 11:17; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 1:7;
4:12). We read of the temptation of Joseph (Gen. 39), of David
(2 Sam. 24; 1 Chr. 21), of Hezekiah (2 Chr. 32:31), of Daniel
(Dan. 6), etc. So long as we are in this world we are exposed to
temptations, and need ever to be on our watch against them.
(1.) Heb. midbar, "pasture-ground;" an open tract for pasturage;
a common (Joel 2:22). The "backside of the desert" (Ex. 3:1) is
the west of the desert, the region behind a man, as the east is
the region in front. The same Hebrew word is rendered
"wildernes," and is used of the country lying between Egypt and
Israel (Gen. 21:14, 21; Ex. 4:27; 19:2; Josh. 1:4), the
wilderness of the wanderings. It was a grazing tract, where the
flocks and herds of the Israelites found pasturage during the
whole of their journey to the Promised Land.
The same Hebrew word is used also to denote the wilderness of
Arabia, which in winter and early spring supplies good pasturage
to the flocks of the nomad tribes than roam over it (1 Kings
The wilderness of Judah is the mountainous region along the
western shore of the Dead Sea, where David fed his father's
flocks (1 Sam. 17:28; 26:2). Thus in both of these instances the
word denotes a country without settled inhabitants and without
streams of water, but having good pasturage for cattle; a
country of wandering tribes, as distinguished from that of a
settled people (Isa. 35:1; 50:2; Jer. 4:11). Such, also, is the
meaning of the word "wilderness" in Matt. 3:3; 15:33; Luke 15:4.
(2.) The translation of the Hebrew _Aribah'_, "an arid tract"
(Isa. 35:1, 6; 40:3; 41:19; 51:3, etc.). The name Arabah is
specially applied to the deep valley of the Jordan (the Ghor of
the Arabs), which extends from the lake of Tiberias to the
Elanitic gulf. While _midbar_ denotes properly a pastoral
region, _arabah_ denotes a wilderness. It is also translated
"plains;" as "the plains of Jericho" (Josh. 5:10; 2 Kings 25:5),
"the plains of Moab" (Num. 22:1; Deut. 34:1, 8), "the plains of
the wilderness" (2 Sam. 17:16).
(3.) In the Revised Version of Num. 21:20 the Hebrew word
_jeshimon_ is properly rendered "desert," meaning the waste
tracts on both shores of the Dead Sea. This word is also
rendered "desert" in Ps. 78:40; 106:14; Isa. 43:19, 20. It
denotes a greater extent of uncultivated country than the other
words so rendered. It is especially applied to the desert of the
peninsula of Arabia (Num. 21:20; 23:28), the most terrible of
all the deserts with which the Israelites were acquainted. It is
called "the desert" in Ex. 23:31; Deut. 11:24. (See JESHIMON
(4.) A dry place; hence a desolation (Ps. 9:6), desolate (Lev.
26:34); the rendering of the Hebrew word _horbah'_. It is
rendered "desert" only in Ps. 102:6, Isa. 48:21, and Ezek. 13:4,
where it means the wilderness of Sinai.
(5.) This word is the symbol of the Jewish church when they
had forsaken God (Isa. 40:3). Nations destitute of the knowledge
of God are called a "wilderness" (32:15, _midbar_). It is a
symbol of temptation, solitude, and persecution (Isa. 27:10,
_midbar_; 33:9, _arabah_).
God his salvation, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, who
became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1 Kings 19:16-19).
His name first occurs in the command given to Elijah to anoint
him as his successor (1 Kings 19:16). This was the only one of
the three commands then given to Elijah which he accomplished.
On his way from Sinai to Damascus he found Elisha at his native
place engaged in the labours of the field, ploughing with twelve
yoke of oxen. He went over to him, threw over his shoulders his
rough mantle, and at once adopted him as a son, and invested him
with the prophetical office (comp. Luke 9:61, 62). Elisha
accepted the call thus given (about four years before the death
of Ahab), and for some seven or eight years became the close
attendant on Elijah till he was parted from him and taken up
into heaven. During all these years we hear nothing of Elisha
except in connection with the closing scenes of Elijah's life.
After Elijah, Elisha was accepted as the leader of the sons of
the prophets, and became noted in Israel. He possessed,
according to his own request, "a double portion" of Elijah's
spirit (2 Kings 2:9); and for the long period of about sixty
years (B.C. 892-832) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2
After Elijah's departure, Elisha returned to Jericho, and
there healed the spring of water by casting salt into it (2
Kings 2:21). We next find him at Bethel (2:23), where, with the
sternness of his master, he cursed the youths who came out and
scoffed at him as a prophet of God: "Go up, thou bald head." The
judgment at once took effect, and God terribly visited the
dishonour done to his prophet as dishonour done to himself. We
next read of his predicting a fall of rain when the army of
Jehoram was faint from thirst (2 Kings 3:9-20); of the
multiplying of the poor widow's cruse of oil (4:1-7); the
miracle of restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem
(4:18-37); the multiplication of the twenty loaves of new barley
into a sufficient supply for an hundred men (4:42-44); of the
cure of Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy (5:1-27); of the
punishment of Gehazi for his falsehood and his covetousness; of
the recovery of the axe lost in the waters of the Jordan
(6:1-7); of the miracle at Dothan, half-way on the road between
Samaria and Jezreel; of the siege of Samaria by the king of
Syria, and of the terrible sufferings of the people in
connection with it, and Elisha's prophecy as to the relief that
would come (2 Kings 6:24-7:2).
We then find Elisha at Damascus, to carry out the command
given to his master to anoint Hazael king over Syria (2 Kings
8:7-15); thereafter he directs one of the sons of the prophets
to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead
of Ahab. Thus the three commands given to Elijah (9:1-10) were
at length carried out.
We do not again read of him till we find him on his death-bed
in his own house (2 Kings 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of
Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters
the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away:
"My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen
Afterwards when a dead body is laid in Elisha's grave a year
after his burial, no sooner does it touch the hallowed remains
than the man "revived, and stood up on his feet" (2 Kings
(1.) For sacred purposes. The sacrifices were consumed by fire
(Gen. 8:20). The ever-burning fire on the altar was first
kindled from heaven (Lev. 6:9, 13; 9:24), and afterwards
rekindled at the dedication of Solomon's temple (2 Chr. 7:1, 3).
The expressions "fire from heaven" and "fire of the Lord"
generally denote lightning, but sometimes also the fire of the
altar was so called (Ex. 29:18; Lev. 1:9; 2:3; 3:5, 9).
Fire for a sacred purpose obtained otherwise than from the
altar was called "strange fire" (Lev. 10:1, 2; Num. 3:4).
The victims slain for sin offerings were afterwards consumed
by fire outside the camp (Lev. 4:12, 21; 6:30; 16:27; Heb.
(2.) For domestic purposes, such as baking, cooking, warmth,
etc. (Jer. 36:22; Mark 14:54; John 18:18). But on Sabbath no
fire for any domestic purpose was to be kindled (Ex. 35:3; Num.
(3.) Punishment of death by fire was inflicted on such as were
guilty of certain forms of unchastity and incest (Lev. 20:14;
21:9). The burning of captives in war was not unknown among the
Jews (2 Sam. 12:31; Jer. 29:22). The bodies of infamous persons
who were executed were also sometimes burned (Josh. 7:25; 2
(4.) In war, fire was used in the destruction of cities, as
Jericho (Josh. 6:24), Ai (8:19), Hazor (11:11), Laish (Judg.
18:27), etc. The war-chariots of the Canaanites were burnt
(Josh. 11:6, 9, 13). The Israelites burned the images (2 Kings
10:26; R.V., "pillars") of the house of Baal. These objects of
worship seem to have been of the nature of obelisks, and were
sometimes evidently made of wood.
Torches were sometimes carried by the soldiers in battle
(5.) Figuratively, fire is a symbol of Jehovah's presence and
the instrument of his power (Ex. 14:19; Num. 11:1, 3; Judg.
13:20; 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10, 12; 2:11; Isa. 6:4; Ezek.
1:4; Rev. 1:14, etc.).
God's word is also likened unto fire (Jer. 23:29). It is
referred to as an emblem of severe trials or misfortunes (Zech.
12:6; Luke 12:49; 1 Cor. 3:13, 15; 1 Pet. 1:7), and of eternal
punishment (Matt. 5:22; Mark 9:44; Rev. 14:10; 21:8).
The influence of the Holy Ghost is likened unto fire (Matt.
3:11). His descent was denoted by the appearance of tongues as
of fire (Acts 2:3).
Jehovah is his help, or Jehovah the Saviour. The son of Nun, of
the tribe of Ephraim, the successor of Moses as the leader of
Israel. He is called Jehoshua in Num. 13:16 (A.V.), and Jesus in
Acts 7:45 and Heb. 4:8 (R.V., Joshua).
He was born in Egypt, and was probably of the age of Caleb,
with whom he is generally associated. He shared in all the
events of the Exodus, and held the place of commander of the
host of the Israelites at their great battle against the
Amalekites in Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-16). He became Moses' minister
or servant, and accompanied him part of the way when he ascended
Mount Sinai to receive the two tables (Ex. 32:17). He was also
one of the twelve who were sent on by Moses to explore the land
of Canaan (Num. 13:16, 17), and only he and Caleb gave an
encouraging report. Under the direction of God, Moses, before
his death, invested Joshua in a public and solemn manner with
authority over the people as his successor (Deut. 31:23). The
people were encamped at Shittim when he assumed the command
(Josh. 1:1); and crossing the Jordan, they encamped at Gilgal,
where, having circumcised the people, he kept the Passover, and
was visited by the Captain of the Lord's host, who spoke to him
encouraging words (1:1-9).
Now began the wars of conquest which Joshua carried on for
many years, the record of which is in the book which bears his
name. Six nations and thirty-one kings were conquered by him
(Josh. 11:18-23; 12:24). Having thus subdued the Canaanites,
Joshua divided the land among the tribes, Timnath-serah in Mount
Ephraim being assigned to himself as his own inheritance. (See
SHILOH ¯T0003375; PRIEST ¯T0003001.)
His work being done, he died, at the age of one hundred and
ten years, twenty-five years after having crossed the Jordan. He
was buried in his own city of Timnath-serah (Josh. 24); and "the
light of Israel for the time faded away."
Joshua has been regarded as a type of Christ (Heb. 4:8) in the
following particulars: (1) In the name common to both; (2)
Joshua brings the people into the possession of the Promised
Land, as Jesus brings his people to the heavenly Canaan; and (3)
as Joshua succeeded Moses, so the Gospel succeeds the Law.
The character of Joshua is thus well sketched by Edersheim:,
"Born a slave in Egypt, he must have been about forty years old
at the time of the Exodus. Attached to the person of Moses, he
led Israel in the first decisive battle against Amalek (Ex.
17:9, 13), while Moses in the prayer of faith held up to heaven
the God-given 'rod.' It was no doubt on that occasion that his
name was changed from Oshea, 'help,' to Jehoshua, 'Jehovah is
help' (Num. 13:16). And this name is the key to his life and
work. Alike in bringing the people into Canaan, in his wars, and
in the distribution of the land among the tribes, from the
miraculous crossing of Jordan and taking of Jericho to his last
address, he was the embodiment of his new name, 'Jehovah is
help.' To this outward calling his character also corresponded.
It is marked by singleness of purpose, directness, and
decision...He sets an object before him, and unswervingly
follows it" (Bible Hist., iii. 103)
Noah's ark, a building of gopher-wood, and covered with pitch,
300 cubits long, 50 cubits broad, and 30 cubits high (Gen.
6:14-16); an oblong floating house of three stories, with a door
in the side and a window in the roof. It was 100 years in
building (Gen. 5:32; 7:6). It was intended to preserve certain
persons and animals from the deluge which God was about to bring
over the earth. It contained eight persons (Gen. 7:13; 2 Pet.
2:5), and of all "clean" animals seven pairs, and of "unclean"
one pair, and of birds seven pairs of each sort (Gen. 7:2, 3).
It was in the form of an oblong square, with flat bottom and
sloping roof. Traditions of the Deluge, by which the race of man
was swept from the earth, and of the ark of Noah have been found
existing among all nations.
The ark of bulrushes in which the infant Moses was laid (Ex.
2:3) is called in the Hebrew _teebah_, a word derived from the
Egyptian _teb_, meaning "a chest." It was daubed with slime and
with pitch. The bulrushes of which it was made were the papyrus
The sacred ark is designated by a different Hebrew word,
_'aron'_, which is the common name for a chest or coffer used
for any purpose (Gen. 50:26; 2 Kings 12:9, 10). It is
distinguished from all others by such titles as the "ark of God"
(1 Sam. 3:3), "ark of the covenant" (Josh. 3:6; Heb. 9:4), "ark
of the testimony" (Ex. 25:22). It was made of acacia or shittim
wood, a cubit and a half broad and high and two cubits long, and
covered all over with the purest gold. Its upper surface or lid,
the mercy-seat, was surrounded with a rim of gold; and on each
of the two sides were two gold rings, in which were placed two
gold-covered poles by which the ark could be carried (Num. 7:9;
10:21; 4:5,19, 20; 1 Kings 8:3, 6). Over the ark, at the two
extremities, were two cherubim, with their faces turned toward
each other (Lev. 16:2; Num. 7:89). Their outspread wings over
the top of the ark formed the throne of God, while the ark
itself was his footstool (Ex. 25:10-22; 37:1-9). The ark was
deposited in the "holy of holies," and was so placed that one
end of the poles by which it was carried touched the veil which
separated the two apartments of the tabernacle (1 Kings 8:8).
The two tables of stone which constituted the "testimony" or
evidence of God's covenant with the people (Deut. 31:26), the
"pot of manna" (Ex. 16:33), and "Aaron's rod that budded" (Num.
17:10), were laid up in the ark (Heb. 9:4). (See TABERNACLE
¯T0003559) The ark and the sanctuary were "the beauty of Israel"
(Lam. 2:1). During the journeys of the Israelites the ark was
carried by the priests in advance of the host (Num. 4:5, 6;
10:33-36; Ps. 68:1; 132:8). It was borne by the priests into the
bed of the Jordan, which separated, opening a pathway for the
whole of the host to pass over (Josh. 3:15, 16; 4:7, 10, 11, 17,
18). It was borne in the procession round Jericho (Josh. 6:4, 6,
8, 11, 12). When carried it was always wrapped in the veil, the
badgers' skins, and blue cloth, and carefully concealed even
from the eyes of the Levites who carried it. After the
settlement of Israel in Israel the ark remained in the
tabernacle at Gilgal for a season, and was then removed to
Shiloh till the time of Eli, between 300 and 400 years (Jer.
7:12), when it was carried into the field of battle so as to
secure, as they supposed, victory to the Hebrews, and was taken
by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:3-11), who sent it back after
retaining it seven months (1 Sam. 5:7, 8). It remained then at
Kirjath-jearim (7:1,2) till the time of David (twenty years),
who wished to remove it to Jerusalem; but the proper mode of
removing it having been neglected, Uzzah was smitten with death
for putting "forth his hand to the ark of God," and in
consequence of this it was left in the house of Obed-edom in
Gath-rimmon for three months (2 Sam. 6:1-11), at the end of
which time David removed it in a grand procession to Jerusalem,
where it was kept till a place was prepared for it (12-19). It
was afterwards deposited by Solomon in the temple (1 Kings
8:6-9). When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and plundered
the temple, the ark was probably taken away by Nebuchadnezzar
and destroyed, as no trace of it is afterwards to be found. The
absence of the ark from the second temple was one of the points
in which it was inferior to the first temple.
The subject of colours holds an important place in the
White occurs as the translation of various Hebrew words. It is
applied to milk (Gen. 49:12), manna (Ex. 16:31), snow (Isa.
1:18), horses (Zech. 1:8), raiment (Eccl. 9:8). Another Hebrew
word so rendered is applied to marble (Esther 1:6), and a
cognate word to the lily (Cant. 2:16). A different term, meaning
"dazzling," is applied to the countenance (Cant. 5:10).
This colour was an emblem of purity and innocence (Mark 16:5;
John 20:12; Rev. 19:8, 14), of joy (Eccl. 9:8), and also of
victory (Zech. 6:3; Rev. 6:2). The hangings of the tabernacle
court (Ex. 27:9; 38:9), the coats, mitres, bonnets, and breeches
of the priests (Ex. 39:27,28), and the dress of the high priest
on the day of Atonement (Lev. 16:4,32), were white.
Black, applied to the hair (Lev. 13:31; Cant. 5:11), the
complexion (Cant. 1:5), and to horses (Zech. 6:2,6). The word
rendered "brown" in Gen. 30:32 (R.V., "black") means properly
"scorched", i.e., the colour produced by the influence of the
sun's rays. "Black" in Job 30:30 means dirty, blackened by
sorrow and disease. The word is applied to a mourner's robes
(Jer. 8:21; 14:2), to a clouded sky (1 Kings 18:45), to night
(Micah 3:6; Jer. 4:28), and to a brook rendered turbid by melted
snow (Job 6:16). It is used as symbolical of evil in Zech. 6:2,
6 and Rev. 6:5. It was the emblem of mourning, affliction,
calamity (Jer. 14:2; Lam. 4:8; 5:10).
Red, applied to blood (2 Kings 3;22), a heifer (Num. 19:2),
pottage of lentils (Gen. 25:30), a horse (Zech. 1:8), wine
(Prov. 23:31), the complexion (Gen. 25:25; Cant. 5:10). This
colour is symbolical of bloodshed (Zech. 6:2; Rev. 6:4; 12:3).
Purple, a colour obtained from the secretion of a species of
shell-fish (the Murex trunculus) which was found in the
Mediterranean, and particularly on the coasts of Phoenicia and
Asia Minor. The colouring matter in each separate shell-fish
amounted to only a single drop, and hence the great value of
this dye. Robes of this colour were worn by kings (Judg. 8:26)
and high officers (Esther 8:15). They were also worn by the
wealthy and luxurious (Jer. 10:9; Ezek. 27:7; Luke 16:19; Rev.
17:4). With this colour was associated the idea of royalty and
majesty (Judg. 8:26; Cant. 3:10; 7:5; Dan. 5:7, 16,29).
Blue. This colour was also procured from a species of
shell-fish, the chelzon of the Hebrews, and the Helix ianthina
of modern naturalists. The tint was emblematic of the sky, the
deep dark hue of the Eastern sky. This colour was used in the
same way as purple. The ribbon and fringe of the Hebrew dress
were of this colour (Num. 15:38). The loops of the curtains (Ex.
26:4), the lace of the high priest's breastplate, the robe of
the ephod, and the lace on his mitre, were blue (Ex. 28:28, 31,
Scarlet, or Crimson. In Isa. 1:18 a Hebrew word is used which
denotes the worm or grub whence this dye was procured. In Gen.
38:28,30, the word so rendered means "to shine," and expresses
the brilliancy of the colour. The small parasitic insects from
which this dye was obtained somewhat resembled the cochineal
which is found in Eastern countries. It is called by naturalists
Coccus ilics. The dye was procured from the female grub alone.
The only natural object to which this colour is applied in
Scripture is the lips, which are likened to a scarlet thread
(Cant. 4:3). Scarlet robes were worn by the rich and luxurious
(2 Sam. 1:24; Prov. 31:21; Jer. 4:30. Rev. 17:4). It was also
the hue of the warrior's dress (Nah. 2:3; Isa. 9:5). The
Phoenicians excelled in the art of dyeing this colour (2 Chr.
These four colours--white, purple, blue, and scarlet--were
used in the textures of the tabernacle curtains (Ex. 26:1, 31,
36), and also in the high priest's ephod, girdle, and
breastplate (Ex. 28:5, 6, 8, 15). Scarlet thread is mentioned in
connection with the rites of cleansing the leper (Lev. 14:4, 6,
51) and of burning the red heifer (Num. 19:6). It was a crimson
thread that Rahab was to bind on her window as a sign that she
was to be saved alive (Josh. 2:18; 6:25) when the city of
Jericho was taken.
Vermilion, the red sulphuret of mercury, or cinnabar; a colour
used for drawing the figures of idols on the walls of temples
(Ezek. 23:14), or for decorating the walls and beams of houses
Heb. Yarden, "the descender;" Arab. Nahr-esh-Sheriah, "the
watering-place" the chief river of Israel. It flows from
north to south down a deep valley in the centre of the country.
The name descender is significant of the fact that there is
along its whole course a descent to its banks; or it may simply
denote the rapidity with which it "descends" to the Dead Sea.
It originates in the snows of Hermon, which feed its perennial
fountains. Two sources are generally spoken of. (1.) From the
western base of a hill on which once stood the city of Dan, the
northern border-city of Israel, there gushes forth a
considerable fountain called the Leddan, which is the largest
fountain in Syria and the principal source of the Jordan. (2.)
Beside the ruins of Banias, the ancient Caesarea Philippi and
the yet more ancient Panium, is a lofty cliff of limestone, at
the base of which is a fountain. This is the other source of the
Jordan, and has always been regarded by the Jews as its true
source. It rushes down to the plain in a foaming torrent, and
joins the Leddan about 5 miles south of Dan (Tell-el-Kady). (3.)
But besides these two historical fountains there is a third,
called the Hasbany, which rises in the bottom of a valley at the
western base of Hermon, 12 miles north of Tell-el-Kady. It joins
the main stream about a mile below the junction of the Leddan
and the Banias. The river thus formed is at this point about 45
feet wide, and flows in a channel from 12 to 20 feet below the
plain. After this it flows, "with a swift current and a
much-twisted course," through a marshy plain for some 6 miles,
when it falls into the Lake Huleh, "the waters of Merom" (q.v.).
During this part of its course the Jordan has descended about
1,100 feet. At Banias it is 1,080 feet above sea-level. Flowing
from the southern extremity of Lake Huleh, here almost on a
level with the sea, it flows for 2 miles "through a waste of
islets and papyrus," and then for 9 miles through a narrow gorge
in a foaming torrent onward to the Sea of Galilee (q.v.).
"In the whole valley of the Jordan from the Lake Huleh to the
Sea of Galilee there is not a single settled inhabitant. Along
the whole eastern bank of the river and the lakes, from the base
of Hermon to the ravine of Hieromax, a region of great
fertility, 30 miles long by 7 or 8 wide, there are only some
three inhabited villages. The western bank is almost as
desolate. Ruins are numerous enough. Every mile or two is an old
site of town or village, now well nigh hid beneath a dense
jungle of thorns and thistles. The words of Scripture here recur
to us with peculiar force: 'I will make your cities waste, and
bring your sanctuaries unto desolation...And I will bring the
land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall
be astonished at it...And your land shall be desolate, and your
cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as
it lieth desolate' (Lev. 26:31-34).", Dr. Porter's Handbook.
From the Sea of Galilee, at the level of 682 feet below the
Mediterranean, the river flows through a long, low plain called
"the region of Jordan" (Matt. 3:5), and by the modern Arabs the
Ghor, or "sunken plain." This section is properly the Jordan of
Scripture. Down through the midst of the "plain of Jordan" there
winds a ravine varying in breadth from 200 yards to half a mile,
and in depth from 40 to 150 feet. Through it the Jordan flows in
a rapid, rugged, tortuous course down to the Dead Sea. The whole
distance from the southern extremity of the Sea of Galilee to
the Dead Sea is in a straight line about 65 miles, but following
the windings of the river about 200 miles, during which it falls
618 feet. The total length of the Jordan from Banias is about
104 miles in a straight line, during which it falls 2,380 feet.
There are two considerable affluents which enter the river
between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, both from the east.
(1.) The Wady Mandhur, called the Yarmuk by the Rabbins and the
Hieromax by the Greeks. It formed the boundary between Bashan
and Gilead. It drains the plateau of the Hauran. (2.) The Jabbok
or Wady Zerka, formerly the northern boundary of Ammon. It
enters the Jordan about 20 miles north of Jericho.
The first historical notice of the Jordan is in the account of
the separation of Abraham and Lot (Gen. 13:10). "Lot beheld the
plain of Jordan as the garden of the Lord." Jacob crossed and
recrossed "this Jordan" (32:10). The Israelites passed over it
as "on dry ground" (Josh. 3:17; Ps. 114:3). Twice afterwards its
waters were miraculously divided at the same spot by Elijah and
Elisha (2 Kings 2:8, 14).
The Jordan is mentioned in the Old Testament about one hundred
and eighty times, and in the New Testament fifteen times. The
chief events in gospel history connected with it are (1) John
the Baptist's ministry, when "there went out to him Jerusalem,
and all Judaea, and were baptized of him in Jordan" (Matt. 3:6).
(2.) Jesus also "was baptized of John in Jordan" (Mark 1:9).
(Heb. nabi, from a root meaning "to bubble forth, as from a
fountain," hence "to utter", comp. Ps. 45:1). This Hebrew word
is the first and the most generally used for a prophet. In the
time of Samuel another word, _ro'eh_, "seer", began to be used
(1 Sam. 9:9). It occurs seven times in reference to Samuel.
Afterwards another word, _hozeh_, "seer" (2 Sam. 24:11), was
employed. In 1 Ch. 29:29 all these three words are used: "Samuel
the seer (ro'eh), Nathan the prophet (nabi'), Gad the seer"
(hozeh). In Josh. 13:22 Balaam is called (Heb.) a _kosem_
"diviner," a word used only of a false prophet.
The "prophet" proclaimed the message given to him, as the
"seer" beheld the vision of God. (See Num. 12:6, 8.) Thus a
prophet was a spokesman for God; he spake in God's name and by
his authority (Ex. 7:1). He is the mouth by which God speaks to
men (Jer. 1:9; Isa. 51:16), and hence what the prophet says is
not of man but of God (2 Pet. 1:20, 21; comp. Heb. 3:7; Acts
4:25; 28:25). Prophets were the immediate organs of God for the
communication of his mind and will to men (Deut. 18:18, 19). The
whole Word of God may in this general sense be spoken of as
prophetic, inasmuch as it was written by men who received the
revelation they communicated from God, no matter what its nature
might be. The foretelling of future events was not a necessary
but only an incidental part of the prophetic office. The great
task assigned to the prophets whom God raised up among the
people was "to correct moral and religious abuses, to proclaim
the great moral and religious truths which are connected with
the character of God, and which lie at the foundation of his
Any one being a spokesman for God to man might thus be called
a prophet. Thus Enoch, Abraham, and the patriarchs, as bearers
of God's message (Gen. 20:7; Ex. 7:1; Ps. 105:15), as also Moses
(Deut. 18:15; 34:10; Hos. 12:13), are ranked among the prophets.
The seventy elders of Israel (Num. 11:16-29), "when the spirit
rested upon them, prophesied;" Asaph and Jeduthun "prophesied
with a harp" (1 Chr. 25:3). Miriam and Deborah were prophetesses
(Ex. 15:20; Judg. 4:4). The title thus has a general application
to all who have messages from God to men.
But while the prophetic gift was thus exercised from the
beginning, the prophetical order as such began with Samuel.
Colleges, "schools of the prophets", were instituted for the
training of prophets, who were constituted, a distinct order (1
Sam. 19:18-24; 2 Kings 2:3, 15; 4:38), which continued to the
close of the Old Testament. Such "schools" were established at
Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal, Gibeah, and Jericho. The "sons" or
"disciples" of the prophets were young men (2 Kings 5:22; 9:1,
4) who lived together at these different "schools" (4:38-41).
These young men were taught not only the rudiments of secular
knowledge, but they were brought up to exercise the office of
prophet, "to preach pure morality and the heart-felt worship of
Jehovah, and to act along and co-ordinately with the priesthood
and monarchy in guiding the state aright and checking all
attempts at illegality and tyranny."
In New Testament times the prophetical office was continued.
Our Lord is frequently spoken of as a prophet (Luke 13:33;
24:19). He was and is the great Prophet of the Church. There was
also in the Church a distinct order of prophets (1 Cor. 12:28;
Eph. 2:20; 3:5), who made new revelations from God. They
differed from the "teacher," whose office it was to impart
truths already revealed.
Of the Old Testament prophets there are sixteen, whose
prophecies form part of the inspired canon. These are divided
into four groups:
(1.) The prophets of the northern kingdom (Israel), viz.,
Hosea, Amos, Joel, Jonah.
(2.) The prophets of Judah, viz., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah,
Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah.
(3.) The prophets of Captivity, viz., Ezekiel and Daniel.
(4.) The prophets of the Restoration, viz., Haggai, Zechariah,
drawn (or Egypt. mesu, "son;" hence Rameses, royal son). On the
invitation of Pharaoh (Gen. 45:17-25), Jacob and his sons went
down into Egypt. This immigration took place probably about 350
years before the birth of Moses. Some centuries before Joseph,
Egypt had been conquered by a pastoral Semitic race from Asia,
the Hyksos, who brought into cruel subjection the native
Egyptians, who were an African race. Jacob and his retinue were
accustomed to a shepherd's life, and on their arrival in Egypt
were received with favour by the king, who assigned them the
"best of the land", the land of Goshen, to dwell in. The Hyksos
or "shepherd" king who thus showed favour to Joseph and his
family was in all probability the Pharaoh Apopi (or Apopis).
Thus favoured, the Israelites began to "multiply exceedingly"
(Gen. 47:27), and extended to the west and south. At length the
supremacy of the Hyksos came to an end. The descendants of Jacob
were allowed to retain their possession of Goshen undisturbed,
but after the death of Joseph their position was not so
favourable. The Egyptians began to despise them, and the period
of their "affliction" (Gen. 15:13) commenced. They were sorely
oppressed. They continued, however, to increase in numbers, and
"the land was filled with them" (Ex. 1:7). The native Egyptians
regarded them with suspicion, so that they felt all the hardship
of a struggle for existence.
In process of time "a king [probably Seti I.] arose who knew
not Joseph" (Ex. 1:8). (See PHARAOH ¯T0002923.) The
circumstances of the country were such that this king thought it
necessary to weaken his Israelite subjects by oppressing them,
and by degrees reducing their number. They were accordingly made
public slaves, and were employed in connection with his numerous
buildings, especially in the erection of store-cities, temples,
and palaces. The children of Israel were made to serve with
rigour. Their lives were made bitter with hard bondage, and "all
their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour"
(Ex. 1:13, 14). But this cruel oppression had not the result
expected of reducing their number. On the contrary, "the more
the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew"
The king next tried, through a compact secretly made with the
guild of midwives, to bring about the destruction of all the
Hebrew male children that might be born. But the king's wish was
not rigorously enforced; the male children were spared by the
midwives, so that "the people multiplied" more than ever. Thus
baffled, the king issued a public proclamation calling on the
people to put to death all the Hebrew male children by casting
them into the river (Ex. 1:22). But neither by this edict was
the king's purpose effected.
One of the Hebrew households into which this cruel edict of
the king brought great alarm was that of Amram, of the family of
the Kohathites (Ex. 6:16-20), who with his wife Jochebed and two
children, Miriam, a girl of perhaps fifteen years of age, and
Aaron, a boy of three years, resided in or near Memphis, the
capital city of that time. In this quiet home a male child was
born (B.C. 1571). His mother concealed him in the house for
three months from the knowledge of the civic authorities. But
when the task of concealment became difficult, Jochebed
contrived to bring her child under the notice of the daughter of
the king by constructing for him an ark of bulrushes, which she
laid among the flags which grew on the edge of the river at the
spot where the princess was wont to come down and bathe. Her
plan was successful. The king's daughter "saw the child; and
behold the child wept." The princess (see PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER
¯T0002924 ) sent Miriam, who was standing by, to fetch a
nurse. She went and brought the mother of the child, to whom the
princess said, "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I
will give thee thy wages." Thus Jochebed's child, whom the
princess called "Moses", i.e., "Saved from the water" (Ex.
2:10), was ultimately restored to her.
As soon as the natural time for weaning the child had come, he
was transferred from the humble abode of his father to the royal
palace, where he was brought up as the adopted son of the
princess, his mother probably accompanying him and caring still
for him. He grew up amid all the grandeur and excitement of the
Egyptian court, maintaining, however, probably a constant
fellowship with his mother, which was of the highest importance
as to his religious belief and his interest in his "brethren."
His education would doubtless be carefully attended to, and he
would enjoy all the advantages of training both as to his body
and his mind. He at length became "learned in all the wisdom of
the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Egypt had then two chief seats of
learning, or universities, at one of which, probably that of
Heliopolis, his education was completed. Moses, being now about
twenty years of age, spent over twenty more before he came into
prominence in Bible history. These twenty years were probably
spent in military service. There is a tradition recorded by
Josephus that he took a lead in the war which was then waged
between Egypt and Ethiopia, in which he gained renown as a
skilful general, and became "mighty in deeds" (Acts 7:22).
After the termination of the war in Ethiopia, Moses returned
to the Egyptian court, where he might reasonably have expected
to be loaded with honours and enriched with wealth. But "beneath
the smooth current of his life hitherto, a life of alternate
luxury at the court and comparative hardness in the camp and in
the discharge of his military duties, there had lurked from
childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood, a secret
discontent, perhaps a secret ambition. Moses, amid all his
Egyptian surroundings, had never forgotten, had never wished to
forget, that he was a Hebrew." He now resolved to make himself
acquainted with the condition of his countrymen, and "went out
unto his brethren, and looked upon their burdens" (Ex. 2:11).
This tour of inspection revealed to him the cruel oppression and
bondage under which they everywhere groaned, and could not fail
to press on him the serious consideration of his duty regarding
them. The time had arrived for his making common cause with
them, that he might thereby help to break their yoke of bondage.
He made his choice accordingly (Heb. 11:25-27), assured that God
would bless his resolution for the welfare of his people. He now
left the palace of the king and took up his abode, probably in
his father's house, as one of the Hebrew people who had for
forty years been suffering cruel wrong at the hands of the
He could not remain indifferent to the state of things around
him, and going out one day among the people, his indignation was
roused against an Egyptian who was maltreating a Hebrew. He
rashly lifted up his hand and slew the Egyptian, and hid his
body in the sand. Next day he went out again and found two
Hebrews striving together. He speedily found that the deed of
the previous day was known. It reached the ears of Pharaoh (the
"great Rameses," Rameses II.), who "sought to slay Moses" (Ex.
2:15). Moved by fear, Moses fled from Egypt, and betook himself
to the land of Midian, the southern part of the peninsula of
Sinai, probably by much the same route as that by which, forty
years afterwards, he led the Israelites to Sinai. He was
providentially led to find a new home with the family of Reuel,
where he remained for forty years (Acts 7:30), under training
unconsciously for his great life's work.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the burning
bush (Ex. 3), and commissioned him to go down to Egypt and
"bring forth the children of Israel" out of bondage. He was at
first unwilling to go, but at length he was obedient to the
heavenly vision, and left the land of Midian (4:18-26). On the
way he was met by Aaron (q.v.) and the elders of Israel (27-31).
He and Aaron had a hard task before them; but the Lord was with
them (ch. 7-12), and the ransomed host went forth in triumph.
(See EXODUS ¯T0001283.) After an eventful journey to and fro in
the wilderness, we see them at length encamped in the plains of
Moab, ready to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land.
There Moses addressed the assembled elders (Deut. 1:1-4;
5:1-26:19; 27:11-30:20), and gives the people his last counsels,
and then rehearses the great song (Deut. 32), clothing in
fitting words the deep emotions of his heart at such a time, and
in review of such a marvellous history as that in which he had
acted so conspicious a part. Then, after blessing the tribes
(33), he ascends to "the mountain of Nebo (q.v.), to the top of
Pisgah, that is over against Jericho" (34:1), and from thence he
surveys the land. "Jehovah shewed him all the land of Gilead,
unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and
Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and
the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of
palm trees, unto Zoar" (Deut. 34:2-3), the magnificient
inheritance of the tribes of whom he had been so long the
leader; and there he died, being one hundred and twenty years
old, according to the word of the Lord, and was buried by the
Lord "in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor"
(34:6). The people mourned for him during thirty days.
Thus died "Moses the man of God" (Deut. 33:1; Josh. 14:6). He
was distinguished for his meekness and patience and firmness,
and "he endured as seeing him who is invisible." "There arose
not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord
knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the
Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all
his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand,
and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of
all Israel" (Deut. 34:10-12).
The name of Moses occurs frequently in the Psalms and Prophets
as the chief of the prophets.
In the New Testament he is referred to as the representative
of the law and as a type of Christ (John 1:17; 2 Cor. 3:13-18;
Heb. 3:5, 6). Moses is the only character in the Old Testament
to whom Christ likens himself (John 5:46; comp. Deut. 18:15, 18,
19; Acts 7:37). In Heb. 3:1-19 this likeness to Moses is set
forth in various particulars.
In Jude 1:9 mention is made of a contention between Michael
and the devil about the body of Moses. This dispute is supposed
to have had reference to the concealment of the body of Moses so
as to prevent idolatry.
whose God is Jehovah. (1.) "The Tishbite," the "Elias" of the
New Testament, is suddenly introduced to our notice in 1 Kings
17:1 as delivering a message from the Lord to Ahab. There is
mention made of a town called Thisbe, south of Kadesh, but it is
impossible to say whether this was the place referred to in the
name given to the prophet.
Having delivered his message to Ahab, he retired at the
command of God to a hiding-place by the brook Cherith, beyond
Jordan, where he was fed by ravens. When the brook dried up God
sent him to the widow of Zarephath, a city of Zidon, from whose
scanty store he was supported for the space of two years. During
this period the widow's son died, and was restored to life by
Elijah (1 Kings 17: 2-24).
During all these two years a famine prevailed in the land. At
the close of this period of retirement and of preparation for
his work (comp. Gal. 1:17, 18) Elijah met Obadiah, one of Ahab's
officers, whom he had sent out to seek for pasturage for the
cattle, and bade him go and tell his master that Elijah was
there. The king came and met Elijah, and reproached him as the
troubler of Israel. It was then proposed that sacrifices should
be publicly offered, for the purpose of determining whether Baal
or Jehovah were the true God. This was done on Carmel, with the
result that the people fell on their faces, crying, "The Lord,
he is the God." Thus was accomplished the great work of Elijah's
ministry. The prophets of Baal were then put to death by the
order of Elijah. Not one of them escaped. Then immediately
followed rain, according to the word of Elijah, and in answer to
his prayer (James 5:18).
Jezebel, enraged at the fate that had befallen her priests of
Baal, threatened to put Elijah to death (1 Kings 19:1-13). He
therefore fled in alarm to Beersheba, and thence went alone a
day's journey into the wilderness, and sat down in despondency
under a juniper tree. As he slept an angel touched him, and said
unto him, "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for
thee." He arose and found a cake and a cruse of water. Having
partaken of the provision thus miraculously supplied, he went
forward on his solitary way for forty days and forty nights to
Horeb, the mount of God, where he took up his abode in a cave.
Here the Lord appeared unto him and said, "What dost thou here,
Elijah?" In answer to his despondent words God manifests to him
his glory, and then directs him to return to Damascus and anoint
Hazael king over Syria, and Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha to
be prophet in his room (1 Kings 19:13-21; comp. 2 Kings 8:7-15;
Some six years after this he warned Ahab and Jezebel of the
violent deaths they would die (1 Kings 21:19-24; 22:38). He
also, four years afterwards, warned Ahaziah (q.v.), who had
succeeded his father Ahab, of his approaching death (2 Kings
1:1-16). (See NABOTH ¯T0002645.) During these intervals he
probably withdrew to some quiet retirement, no one knew where.
His interview with Ahaziah's messengers on the way to Ekron, and
the account of the destruction of his captains with their
fifties, suggest the idea that he may have been in retirement at
this time on Mount Carmel.
The time now drew near when he was to be taken up into heaven
(2 Kings 2:1-12). He had a presentiment of what was awaiting
him. He went down to Gilgal, where was a school of the prophets,
and where his successor Elisha, whom he had anointed some years
before, resided. Elisha was solemnized by the thought of his
master's leaving him, and refused to be parted from him. "They
two went on," and came to Bethel and Jericho, and crossed the
Jordan, the waters of which were "divided hither and thither"
when smitten with Elijah's mantle. Arrived at the borders of
Gilead, which Elijah had left many years before, it "came to
pass as they still went on and talked" they were suddenly
separated by a chariot and horses of fire; and "Elijah went up
by a whirlwind into heaven, "Elisha receiving his mantle, which
fell from him as he ascended.
No one of the old prophets is so frequently referred to in the
New Testament. The priests and Levites said to the Baptist (John
1:25), "Why baptizest thou, if thou be not that Christ, nor
Elias?" Paul (Rom. 11:2) refers to an incident in his history to
illustrate his argument that God had not cast away his people.
James (5:17) finds in him an illustration of the power of
prayer. (See also Luke 4:25; 9:54.) He was a type of John the
Baptist in the sternness and power of his reproofs (Luke 9:8).
He was the Elijah that "must first come" (Matt. 11:11, 14), the
forerunner of our Lord announced by Malachi. Even outwardly the
Baptist corresponded so closely to the earlier prophet that he
might be styled a second Elijah. In him we see "the same
connection with a wild and wilderness country; the same long
retirement in the desert; the same sudden, startling entrance on
his work (1 Kings 17:1; Luke 3:2); even the same dress, a hairy
garment, and a leathern girdle about the loins (2 Kings 1:8;
How deep the impression was which Elijah made "on the mind of
the nation may be judged from the fixed belief, which rested on
the words of Malachi (4:5, 6), which many centuries after
prevailed that he would again appear for the relief and
restoration of the country. Each remarkable person as he arrives
on the scene, be his habits and characteristics what they may,
the stern John equally with his gentle Successor, is proclaimed
to be Elijah (Matt. 11:13, 14; 16:14; 17:10; Mark 9:11; 15:35;
Luke 9:7, 8; John 1:21). His appearance in glory on the mount of
transfiguration does not seem to have startled the disciples.
They were 'sore afraid,' but not apparently surprised."
(2.) The Elijah spoken of in 2 Chr. 21:12-15 is by some
supposed to be a different person from the foregoing. He lived
in the time of Jehoram, to whom he sent a letter of warning
(comp. 1 Chr. 28:19; Jer. 36), and acted as a prophet in Judah;
while the Tishbite was a prophet of the northern kingdom. But
there does not seem any necessity for concluding that the writer
of this letter was some other Elijah than the Tishbite. It may
be supposed either that Elijah anticipated the character of
Jehoram, and so wrote the warning message, which was preserved
in the schools of the prophets till Jehoram ascended the throne
after the Tishbite's translation, or that the translation did
not actually take place till after the accession of Jehoram to
the throne (2 Chr. 21:12; 2 Kings 8:16). The events of 2 Kings 2
may not be recorded in chronological order, and thus there may
be room for the opinion that Elijah was still alive in the
beginning of Jehoram's reign.
heard of God. The peculiar circumstances connected with his
birth are recorded in 1 Sam. 1:20. Hannah, one of the two wives
of Elkanah, who came up to Shiloh to worship before the Lord,
earnestly prayed to God that she might become the mother of a
son. Her prayer was graciously granted; and after the child was
weaned she brought him to Shiloh nd consecrated him to the Lord
as a perpetual Nazarite (1:23-2:11). Here his bodily wants and
training were attended to by the women who served in the
tabernacle, while Eli cared for his religious culture. Thus,
probably, twelve years of his life passed away. "The child
Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also
with men" (2:26; comp. Luke 2:52). It was a time of great and
growing degeneracy in Israel (Judg. 21:19-21; 1 Sam. 2:12-17,
22). The Philistines, who of late had greatly increased in
number and in power, were practically masters of the country,
and kept the people in subjection (1 Sam. 10:5; 13:3).
At this time new communications from God began to be made to
the pious child. A mysterious voice came to him in the night
season, calling him by name, and, instructed by Eli, he
answered, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." The message
that came from the Lord was one of woe and ruin to Eli and his
profligate sons. Samuel told it all to Eli, whose only answer to
the terrible denunciations (1 Sam. 3:11-18) was, "It is the
Lord; let him do what seemeth him good", the passive submission
of a weak character, not, in his case, the expression of the
highest trust and faith. The Lord revealed himself now in divers
manners to Samuel, and his fame and his influence increased
throughout the land as of one divinely called to the prophetical
office. A new period in the history of the kingdom of God now
The Philistine yoke was heavy, and the people, groaning under
the wide-spread oppression, suddenly rose in revolt, and "went
out against the Philistines to battle." A fierce and disastrous
battle was fought at Aphek, near to Ebenezer (1 Sam. 4:1, 2).
The Israelites were defeated, leaving 4,000 dead "in the field."
The chiefs of the people thought to repair this great disaster
by carrying with them the ark of the covenant as the symbol of
Jehovah's presence. They accordingly, without consulting Samuel,
fetched it out of Shiloh to the camp near Aphek. At the sight of
the ark among them the people "shouted with a great shout, so
that the earth rang again." A second battle was fought, and
again the Philistines defeated the Israelites, stormed their
camp, slew 30,000 men, and took the sacred ark. The tidings of
this fatal battle was speedily conveyed to Shiloh; and so soon
as the aged Eli heard that the ark of God was taken, he fell
backward from his seat at the entrance of the sanctuary, and his
neck brake, and he died. The tabernacle with its furniture was
probably, by the advice of Samuel, now about twenty years of
age, removed from Shiloh to some place of safety, and finally to
Nob, where it remained many years (21:1).
The Philistines followed up their advantage, and marched upon
Shiloh, which they plundered and destroyed (comp. Jer. 7:12; Ps.
78:59). This was a great epoch in the history of Israel. For
twenty years after this fatal battle at Aphek the whole land lay
under the oppression of the Philistines. During all these dreary
years Samuel was a spiritual power in the land. From Ramah, his
native place, where he resided, his influence went forth on
every side among the people. With unwearied zeal he went up and
down from place to place, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting the
people, endeavouring to awaken in them a sense of their
sinfulness, and to lead them to repentance. His labours were so
far successful that "all the house of Israel lamented after the
Lord." Samuel summoned the people to Mizpeh, one of the loftiest
hills in Central Israel, where they fasted and prayed, and
prepared themselves there, under his direction, for a great war
against the Philistines, who now marched their whole force
toward Mizpeh, in order to crush the Israelites once for all. At
the intercession of Samuel God interposed in behalf of Israel.
Samuel himself was their leader, the only occasion in which he
acted as a leader in war. The Philistines were utterly routed.
They fled in terror before the army of Israel, and a great
slaughter ensued. This battle, fought probably about B.C. 1095,
put an end to the forty years of Philistine oppression. In
memory of this great deliverance, and in token of gratitude for
the help vouchsafed, Samuel set up a great stone in the
battlefield, and called it "Ebenezer," saying, "Hitherto hath
the Lord helped us" (1 Sam. 7:1-12). This was the spot where,
twenty years before, the Israelites had suffered a great defeat,
when the ark of God was taken.
This victory over the Philistines was followed by a long
period of peace for Israel (1 Sam. 7:13, 14), during which
Samuel exercised the functions of judge, going "from year to
year in circuit" from his home in Ramah to Bethel, thence to
Gilgal (not that in the Jordan valley, but that which lay to the
west of Ebal and Gerizim), and returning by Mizpeh to Ramah. He
established regular services at Shiloh, where he built an altar;
and at Ramah he gathered a company of young men around him and
established a school of the prophets. The schools of the
prophets, thus originated, and afterwards established also at
Gibeah, Bethel, Gilgal, and Jericho, exercised an important
influence on the national character and history of the people in
maintaining pure religion in the midst of growing corruption.
They continued to the end of the Jewish commonwealth.
Many years now passed, during which Samuel exercised the
functions of his judicial office, being the friend and
counsellor of the people in all matters of private and public
interest. He was a great statesman as well as a reformer, and
all regarded him with veneration as the "seer," the prophet of
the Lord. At the close of this period, when he was now an old
man, the elders of Israel came to him at Ramah (1 Sam. 8:4, 5,
19-22); and feeling how great was the danger to which the nation
was exposed from the misconduct of Samuel's sons, whom he had
invested with judicial functions as his assistants, and had
placed at Beersheba on the Philistine border, and also from a
threatened invasion of the Ammonites, they demanded that a king
should be set over them. This request was very displeasing to
Samuel. He remonstrated with them, and warned them of the
consequences of such a step. At length, however, referring the
matter to God, he acceded to their desires, and anointed Saul
(q.v.) to be their king (11:15). Before retiring from public
life he convened an assembly of the people at Gilgal (ch. 12),
and there solemnly addressed them with reference to his own
relation to them as judge and prophet.
The remainder of his life he spent in retirement at Ramah,
only occasionally and in special circumstances appearing again
in public (1 Sam. 13, 15) with communications from God to king
Saul. While mourning over the many evils which now fell upon the
nation, he is suddenly summoned (ch.16) to go to Bethlehem and
anoint David, the son of Jesse, as king over Israel instead of
Saul. After this little is known of him till the time of his
death, which took place at Ramah when he was probably about
eighty years of age. "And all Israel gathered themselves
together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at
Ramah" (25:1), not in the house itself, but in the court or
garden of his house. (Comp. 2 Kings 21:18; 2 Chr. 33:20; 1 Kings
2:34; John 19:41.)
Samuel's devotion to God, and the special favour with which
God regarded him, are referred to in Jer. 15:1 and Ps. 99:6.