a wall or fortress, a place to which Tiglath-pileser carried the
Syrians captive after he had taken the city of Damascus (2 Kings
16:9; Amos 1:5; 9:7). Isaiah (22:6), who also was contemporary
with these events, mentions it along with Elam. Some have
supposed that Kir is a variant of Cush (Susiana), on the south
highland, the son of Shem (Gen. 10:22), and the name of the
country inhabited by his descendants (14:1, 9; Isa. 11:11; 21:2,
etc.) lying to the east of Babylonia, and extending to the shore
of the Mediterranean, a distance in a direct line of about 1,000
miles. The name Elam is an Assyrian word meaning "high."
"The inhabitants of Elam, or 'the Highlands,' to the east of
Babylon, were called Elamites. They were divided into several
branches, speaking different dialects of the same agglutinative
language. The race to which they belonged was brachycephalic, or
short-headed, like the pre-Semitic Sumerians of Babylonia.
"The earliest Elamite kingdom seems to have been that of
Anzan, the exact site of which is uncertain; but in the time of
Abraham, Shushan or Susa appears to have already become the
capital of the country. Babylonia was frequently invaded by the
Elamite kings, who at times asserted their supremacy over it (as
in the case of Chedorlaomer, the Kudur-Lagamar, or 'servant of
the goddess Lagamar,' of the cuneiform texts).
"The later Assyrian monarchs made several campaigns against
Elam, and finally Assur-bani-pal (about B.C. 650) succeeded in
conquering the country, which was ravaged with fire and sword.
On the fall of the Assyrian Empire, Elam passed into the hands
of the Persians" (A.H. Sayce).
This country was called by the Greeks Cissia or Susiana.
(in the LXX. called "Thorgal"), styled the "king of nations"
(Gen.14:1-9). Mentioned as Tudkhula on Arioch's brick (see
facing page 139). _Goyyim_, translated "nations," is the country
called Gutium, east of Tigris and north of Elam.
king of Shinar, southern Chaldea, one of the confederates of
Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, in a war against Sodom and cities of
the plain (Gen. 14:1, 4). It is now found that Amraphel (or
Ammirapaltu) is the Khammu-rabi whose name appears on
recently-discovered monuments. (See CHEDORLAOMER ¯T0000781).
After defeating Arioch (q.v.) he united Babylonia under one
rule, and made Babylon his capital.
(= Khudur-Lagamar of the inscriptions), king of Elam. Many
centuries before the age of Abraham, Canaan and even the
Sinaitic peninsula had been conquered by Babylonian kings, and
in the time of Abraham himself Babylonia was ruled by a dynasty
which claimed sovereignity over Syria and Israel. The kings
of the dynasty bore names which were not Babylonian, but at once
South Arabic and Hebrew. The most famous king of the dynasty was
Khammu-rabi, who united Babylonia under one rule, and made
Babylon its capital. When he ascended the throne, the country
was under the suzerainty of the Elamites, and was divided into
two kingdoms, that of Babylon (the Biblical Shinar) and that of
Larsa (the Biblical Ellasar). The king of Larsa was Eri-Aku
("the servant of the moon-god"), the son of an Elamite prince,
Kudur-Mabug, who is entitled "the father of the land of the
Amorites." A recently discovered tablet enumerates among the
enemies of Khammu-rabi, Kudur-Lagamar ("the servant of the
goddess Lagamar") or Chedorlaomer, Eri-Aku or Arioch, and
Tudkhula or Tidal. Khammu-rabi, whose name is also read
Ammi-rapaltu or Amraphel by some scholars, succeeded in
overcoming Eri-Aku and driving the Elamites out of Babylonia.
Assur-bani-pal, the last of the Assyrian conquerors, mentions in
two inscriptions that he took Susa 1635 years after
Kedor-nakhunta, king of Elam, had conquered Babylonia. It was in
the year B.C. 660 that Assur-bani-pal took Susa.
probably the same as Assur-bani-pal (Sardanapalos of the
Greeks), styled the "great and noble" (Ezra 4:10), was the son
and successor (B.C. 668) of Esar-haddon (q.v.). He was
"luxurious, ambitious, and cruel, but a magnificent patron of
literature." He formed at Nineveh a library of clay tablets,
numbering about 10,000. These are now mostly in the British
Museum. They throw much light on the history and antiquities of
Assur-bani-pal was a munificent patron of literature, and the
conqueror of Elam. Towards the middle of his reign his empire
was shaken by a great rebellion headed by his brother in
Babylon. The rebellion was finally put down, but Egypt was lost,
and the military power of Assyria was so exhausted that it could
with difficulty resist the hordes of Kimmerians who poured over
Western Asia. (See NINEVEH ¯T0002735.)
God's living one. (1.) The father of Gibeon (1 Chr. 9:35).
(2.) One of David's guard (1 Chr. 11:44).
(3.) One of the Levites "of the second degree," appointed to
conduct the music on the occasion of the ark's being removed to
Jerusalem (1 Chr. 15:18, 20).
(4.) A Hachmonite, a tutor in the family of David toward the
close of his reign (1 Chr. 27:32).
(5.) The second of Jehoshaphat's six sons (2 Chr. 21:2).
(6.) One of the Levites of the family of Heman who assisted
Hezekiah in his work of reformation (2 Chr. 29:14).
(7.) A "prince" and "ruler of the house of God" who
contributed liberally to the renewal of the temple sacrifices
under Josiah (2 Chr. 35:8).
(8.) The father of Obadiah (Ezra 8:9).
(9.) One of the "sons" of Elam (Ezra 10:26).
(10.) Ezra 10:21.
an ancient empire, extending from the Indus to Thrace, and from
the Caspian Sea to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. The
Persians were originally a Medic tribe which settled in Persia,
on the eastern side of the Persian Gulf. They were Aryans, their
language belonging to the eastern division of the Indo-European
group. One of their chiefs, Teispes, conquered Elam in the time
of the decay of the Assyrian Empire, and established himself in
the district of Anzan. His descendants branched off into two
lines, one line ruling in Anzan, while the other remained in
Persia. Cyrus II., king of Anzan, finally united the divided
power, conquered Media, Lydia, and Babylonia, and carried his
arms into the far East. His son, Cambyses, added Egypt to the
empire, which, however, fell to pieces after his death. It was
reconquered and thoroughly organized by Darius, the son of
Hystaspes, whose dominions extended from India to the Danube.
a lily, the Susa of Greek and Roman writers, once the capital of
Elam. It lay in the uplands of Susiana, on the east of the
Tigris, about 150 miles to the north of the head of the Persian
Gulf. It is the modern Shush, on the northwest of Shuster. Once
a magnificent city, it is now an immense mass of ruins. Here
Daniel saw one of his visions (Dan. 8); and here also Nehemiah
(Neh. 1) began his public life. Most of the events recorded in
the Book of Esther took place here. Modern explorers have
brought to light numerous relics, and the ground-plan of the
splendid palace of Shushan, one of the residences of the great
king, together with numerous specimens of ancient art, which
illustrate the statements of Scripture regarding it (Dan. 8:2).
The great hall of this palace (Esther 1) "consisted of several
magnificent groups of columns, together with a frontage of 343
feet 9 inches, and a depth of 244 feet. These groups were
arranged into a central phalanx of thirty-six columns (six rows
of six each), flanked on the west, north, and east by an equal
number, disposed in double rows of six each, and distant from
them 64 feet 2 inches." The inscriptions on the ruins represent
that the palace was founded by Darius and completed by
The southern portion of Babylonia, Lower Mesopotamia, lying
chiefly on the right bank of the Euphrates, but commonly used of
the whole of the Mesopotamian plain. The Hebrew name is Kasdim,
which is usually rendered "Chaldeans" (Jer. 50:10; 51:24,35).
The country so named is a vast plain formed by the deposits of
the Euphrates and the Tigris, extending to about 400 miles along
the course of these rivers, and about 100 miles in average
breadth. "In former days the vast plains of Babylon were
nourished by a complicated system of canals and water-courses,
which spread over the surface of the country like a network. The
wants of a teeming population were supplied by a rich soil, not
less bountiful than that on the banks of the Egyptian Nile. Like
islands rising from a golden sea of waving corn stood frequent
groves of palm-trees and pleasant gardens, affording to the
idler or traveller their grateful and highly-valued shade.
Crowds of passengers hurried along the dusty roads to and from
the busy city. The land was rich in corn and wine."
Recent discoveries, more especially in Babylonia, have thrown
much light on the history of the Hebrew patriarchs, and have
illustrated or confirmed the Biblical narrative in many points.
The ancestor of the Hebrew people, Abram, was, we are told, born
at "Ur of the Chaldees." "Chaldees" is a mistranslation of the
Hebrew _Kasdim_, Kasdim being the Old Testament name of the
Babylonians, while the Chaldees were a tribe who lived on the
shores of the Persian Gulf, and did not become a part of the
Babylonian population till the time of Hezekiah. Ur was one of
the oldest and most famous of the Babylonian cities. Its site is
now called Mugheir, or Mugayyar, on the western bank of the
Euphrates, in Southern Babylonia. About a century before the
birth of Abram it was ruled by a powerful dynasty of kings.
Their conquests extended to Elam on the one side, and to the
Lebanon on the other. They were followed by a dynasty of princes
whose capital was Babylon, and who seem to have been of South
Arabian origin. The founder of the dynasty was Sumu-abi ("Shem
is my father"). But soon afterwards Babylonia fell under Elamite
dominion. The kings of Babylon were compelled to acknowledge the
supremacy of Elam, and a rival kingdom to that of Babylon, and
governed by Elamites, sprang up at Larsa, not far from Ur, but
on the opposite bank of the river. In the time of Abram the king
of Larsa was Eri-Aku, the son of an Elamite prince, and Eri-Aku,
as has long been recognized, is the Biblical "Arioch king of
Ellasar" (Gen. 14:1). The contemporaneous king of Babylon in the
north, in the country termed Shinar in Scripture, was
Khammu-rabi. (See BABYLON ¯T0000409; ABRAHAM ¯T0000054; AMRAPHEL
Babylon, kingdom of
called "the land of the Chaldeans" (Jer. 24:5; Ezek, 12:13), was
an extensive province in Central Asia along the valley of the
Tigris from the Persian Gulf northward for some 300 miles. It
was famed for its fertility and its riches. Its capital was the
city of Babylon, a great commercial centre (Ezek. 17:4; Isa.
43:14). Babylonia was divided into the two districts of Accad in
the north, and Summer (probably the Shinar of the Old Testament)
in the south. Among its chief cities may be mentioned Ur (now
Mugheir or Mugayyar), on the western bank of the Euphrates;
Uruk, or Erech (Gen. 10:10) (now Warka), between Ur and Babylon;
Larsa (now Senkereh), the Ellasar of Gen. 14:1, a little to the
east of Erech; Nipur (now Niffer), south-east of Babylon;
Sepharvaim (2 Kings 17:24), "the two Sipparas" (now Abu-Habba),
considerably to the north of Babylon; and Eridu, "the good city"
(now Abu-Shahrein), which lay originally on the shore of the
Persian Gulf, but is now, owing to the silting up of the sand,
about 100 miles distant from it. Another city was Kulunu, or
Calneh (Gen. 10:10).
The salt-marshes at the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris
were called Marratu, "the bitter" or "salt", the Merathaim of
Jer. 50:21. They were the original home of the Kalda, or
The most famous of the early kings of Babylonia were Sargon of
Accad (B.C.3800) and his son, Naram-Sin, who conquered a large
part of Western Asia, establishing their power in Israel, and
even carrying their arms to the Sinaitic peninsula. A great
Babylonian library was founded in the reign of Sargon. Babylonia
was subsequently again broken up into more than one state, and
at one time fell under the domination of Elam. This was put an
end to by Khammu-rabi (Amraphel), who drove the Elamites out of
the country, and overcame Arioch, the son of an Elamite prince.
From this time forward Babylonia was a united monarchy. About
B.C. 1750 it was conquered by the Kassi, or Kosseans, from the
mountains of Elam, and a Kassite dynasty ruled over it for 576
years and 9 months.
In the time of Khammu-rabi, Syria and Israel were subject
to Babylonia and its Elamite suzerain; and after the overthrow
of the Elamite supremacy, the Babylonian kings continued to
exercise their influence and power in what was called "the land
of the Amorites." In the epoch of the Kassite dynasty, however,
Canaan passed into the hands of Egypt.
In B.C. 729, Babylonia was conquered by the Assyrian king
Tiglath-pileser III.; but on the death of Shalmaneser IV. it was
seized by the Kalda or "Chaldean" prince Merodach-baladan (2
Kings 20:12-19), who held it till B.C. 709, when he was driven
out by Sargon.
Under Sennacherib, Babylonia revolted from Assyria several
times, with the help of the Elamites, and after one of these
revolts Babylon was destroyed by Sennacherib, B.C. 689. It was
rebuilt by Esarhaddon, who made it his residence during part of
the year, and it was to Babylon that Manasseh was brought a
prisoner (2 Chr. 33:11). After the death of Esarhaddon,
Saul-sumyukin, the viceroy of Babylonia, revolted against his
brother the Assyrian king, and the revolt was suppressed with
When Nineveh was destroyed, B.C. 606, Nabopolassar, the
viceroy of Babylonia, who seems to have been of Chaldean
descent, made himself independent. His son Nebuchadrezzar
(Nabu-kudur-uzur), after defeating the Egyptians at Carchemish,
succeeded him as king, B.C. 604, and founded the Babylonian
empire. He strongly fortified Babylon, and adorned it with
palaces and other buildings. His son, Evil-merodach, who
succeeded him in B.C. 561, was murdered after a reign of two
years. The last monarch of the Babylonian empire was Nabonidus
(Nabu-nahid), B.C. 555-538, whose eldest son, Belshazzar
(Bilu-sar-uzur), is mentioned in several inscriptions. Babylon
was captured by Cyrus, B.C. 538, and though it revolted more
than once in later years, it never succeeded in maintaining its
(Heb. Ko'resh), the celebrated "King of Persia" (Elam) who was
conqueror of Babylon, and issued the decree of liberation to the
Jews (Ezra 1:1, 2). He was the son of Cambyses, the prince of
Persia, and was born about B.C. 599. In the year B.C. 559 he
became king of Persia, the kingdom of Media being added to it
partly by conquest. Cyrus was a great military leader, bent on
universal conquest. Babylon fell before his army (B.C. 538) on
the night of Belshazzar's feast (Dan. 5:30), and then the
ancient dominion of Assyria was also added to his empire (cf.,
"Go up, O Elam", Isa.21:2).
Hitherto the great kings of the earth had only oppressed the
Jews. Cyrus was to them as a "shepherd" (Isa. 44:28; 45:1). God
employed him in doing service to his ancient people. He may
posibly have gained, through contact with the Jews, some
knowledge of their religion.
The "first year of Cyrus" (Ezra 1:1) is not the year of his
elevation to power over the Medes, nor over the Persians, nor
the year of the fall of Babylon, but the year succeeding the two
years during which "Darius the Mede" was viceroy in Babylon
after its fall. At this time only (B.C. 536) Cyrus became actual
king over Israel, which became a part of his Babylonian
empire. The edict of Cyrus for the rebuilding of Jerusalem
marked a great epoch in the history of the Jewish people (2 Chr.
36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; 4:3; 5:13-17; 6:3-5).
This decree was discovered "at Achmetha [R.V. marg.,
"Ecbatana"], in the palace that is in the province of the Medes"
(Ezra 6:2). A chronicle drawn up just after the conquest of
Babylonia by Cyrus, gives the history of the reign of Nabonidus
(Nabunahid), the last king of Babylon, and of the fall of the
Babylonian empire. In B.C. 538 there was a revolt in Southern
Babylonia, while the army of Cyrus entered the country from the
north. In June the Babylonian army was completely defeated at
Opis, and immediately afterwards Sippara opened its gates to the
conqueror. Gobryas (Ugbaru), the governor of Kurdistan, was then
sent to Babylon, which surrendered "without fighting," and the
daily services in the temples continued without a break. In
October, Cyrus himself arrived, and proclaimed a general
amnesty, which was communicated by Gobryas to "all the province
of Babylon," of which he had been made governor. Meanwhile,
Nabonidus, who had concealed himself, was captured, but treated
honourably; and when his wife died, Cambyses, the son of Cyrus,
conducted the funeral. Cyrus now assumed the title of "king of
Babylon," claimed to be the descendant of the ancient kings, and
made rich offerings to the temples. At the same time he allowed
the foreign populations who had been deported to Babylonia to
return to their old homes, carrying with them the images of
their gods. Among these populations were the Jews, who, as they
had no images, took with them the sacred vessels of the temple.
(In the inscriptions, "Sarra-yukin" [the god] has appointed the
king; also "Sarru-kinu," the legitimate king.) On the death of
Shalmaneser (B.C. 723), one of the Assyrian generals established
himself on the vacant throne, taking the name of "Sargon," after
that of the famous monarch, the Sargon of Accad, founder of the
first Semitic empire, as well as of one of the most famous
libraries of Chaldea. He forthwith began a conquering career,
and became one of the most powerful of the Assyrian monarchs. He
is mentioned by name in the Bible only in connection with the
siege of Ashdod (Isa. 20:1).
At the very beginning of his reign he besieged and took the
city of Samaria (2 Kings 17:6; 18:9-12). On an inscription found
in the palace he built at Khorsabad, near Nieveh, he says, "The
city of Samaria I besieged, I took; 27,280 of its inhabitants I
carried away; fifty chariots that were among them I collected,"
etc. The northern kingdom he changed into an Assyrian satrapy.
He afterwards drove Merodach-baladan (q.v.), who kept him at bay
for twelve years, out of Babylon, which he entered in triumph.
By a succession of victories he gradually enlarged and
consolidated the empire, which now extended from the frontiers
of Egypt in the west to the mountains of Elam in the east, and
thus carried almost to completion the ambitious designs of
Tiglath-pileser (q.v.). He was murdered by one of his own
soldiers (B.C. 705) in his palace at Khorsabad, after a reign of
sixteen years, and was succeeded by his son Sennacherib.
black. (1.) A son, probably the eldest, of Ham, and the father
of Nimrod (Gen. 10:8; 1 Chr. 1:10). From him the land of Cush
seems to have derived its name. The question of the precise
locality of the land of Cush has given rise to not a little
controversy. The second river of Paradise surrounded the whole
land of Cush (Gen. 2:13, R.V.). The term Cush is in the Old
Testament generally applied to the countries south of the
Israelites. It was the southern limit of Egypt (Ezek. 29:10,
A.V. "Ethiopia," Heb. Cush), with which it is generally
associated (Ps. 68:31; Isa. 18:1; Jer. 46:9, etc.). It stands
also associated with Elam (Isa. 11:11), with Persia (Ezek.
38:5), and with the Sabeans (Isa. 45:14). From these facts it
has been inferred that Cush included Arabia and the country on
the west coast of the Red Sea. Rawlinson takes it to be the
country still known as Khuzi-stan, on the east side of the Lower
Tigris. But there are intimations which warrant the conclusion
that there was also a Cush in Africa, the Ethiopia (so called by
the Greeks) of Africa. Ezekiel speaks (29:10; comp. 30:4-6) of
it as lying south of Egypt. It was the country now known to us
as Nubia and Abyssinia (Isa. 18:1; Zeph. 3:10, Heb. Cush). In
ancient Egyptian inscriptions Ethiopia is termed _Kesh_. The
Cushites appear to have spread along extensive tracts,
stretching from the Upper Nile to the Euphrates and Tigris. At
an early period there was a stream of migration of Cushites
"from Ethiopia, properly so called, through Arabia, Babylonia,
and Persia, to Western India." The Hamite races, soon after
their arrival in Africa, began to spread north, east, and west.
Three branches of the Cushite or Ethiopian stock, moving from
Western Asia, settled in the regions contiguous to the Persian
Gulf. One branch, called the Cossaeans, settled in the
mountainous district on the east of the Tigris, known afterwards
as Susiana; another occupied the lower regions of the Euphrates
and the Tigris; while a third colonized the southern shores and
islands of the gulf, whence they afterwards emigrated to the
Mediterranean and settled on the coast of Israel as the
Phoenicians. Nimrod was a great Cushite chief. He conquered the
Accadians, a Tauranian race, already settled in Mesopotamia, and
founded his kingdom, the Cushites mingling with the Accads, and
so forming the Chaldean nation.
(2.) A Benjamite of this name is mentioned in the title of Ps.
7. "Cush was probably a follower of Saul, the head of his tribe,
and had sought the friendship of David for the purpose of
'rewarding evil to him that was at peace with him.'"
the Greek form of BABEL; Semitic form Babilu, meaning "The Gate
of God." In the Assyrian tablets it means "The city of the
dispersion of the tribes." The monumental list of its kings
reaches back to B.C. 2300, and includes Khammurabi, or Amraphel
(q.v.), the contemporary of Abraham. It stood on the Euphrates,
about 200 miles above its junction with the Tigris, which flowed
through its midst and divided it into two almost equal parts.
The Elamites invaded Chaldea (i.e., Lower Mesopotamia, or
Shinar, and Upper Mesopotamia, or Accad, now combined into one)
and held it in subjection. At length Khammu-rabi delivered it
from the foreign yoke, and founded the new empire of Chaldea
(q.v.), making Babylon the capital of the united kingdom. This
city gradually grew in extent and grandeur, but in process of
time it became subject to Assyria. On the fall of Nineveh (B.C.
606) it threw off the Assyrian yoke, and became the capital of
the growing Babylonian empire. Under Nebuchadnezzar it became
one of the most splendid cities of the ancient world.
After passing through various vicissitudes the city was
occupied by Cyrus, "king of Elam," B.C. 538, who issued a decree
permitting the Jews to return to their own land (Ezra 1). It
then ceased to be the capital of an empire. It was again and
again visited by hostile armies, till its inhabitants were all
driven from their homes, and the city became a complete
desolation, its very site being forgotten from among men.
On the west bank of the Euphrates, about 50 miles south of
Bagdad, there is found a series of artificial mounds of vast
extent. These are the ruins of this once famous proud city.
These ruins are principally (1) the great mound called Babil by
the Arabs. This was probably the noted Temple of Belus, which
was a pyramid about 480 feet high. (2) The Kasr (i.e., "the
palace"). This was the great palace of Nebuchadnezzar. It is
almost a square, each side of which is about 700 feet long. The
little town of Hillah, near the site of Babylon, is built almost
wholly of bricks taken from this single mound. (3) A lofty
mound, on the summit of which stands a modern tomb called Amran
ibn-Ali. This is probably the most ancient portion of the
remains of the city, and represents the ruins of the famous
hanging-gardens, or perhaps of some royal palace. The utter
desolation of the city once called "The glory of kingdoms"
(Isa.13:19) was foretold by the prophets (Isa.13:4-22; Jer.
25:12; 50:2, 3; Dan. 2:31-38).
The Babylon mentioned in 1 Pet. 5:13 was not Rome, as some
have thought, but the literal city of Babylon, which was
inhabited by many Jews at the time Peter wrote.
In Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; and 18:2, "Babylon" is supposed to
mean Rome, not considered as pagan, but as the prolongation of
the ancient power in the papal form. Rome, pagan and papal, is
regarded as one power. "The literal Babylon was the beginner and
supporter of tyranny and idolatry...This city and its whole
empire were taken by the Persians under Cyrus; the Persians were
subdued by the Macedonians, and the Macedonians by the Romans;
so that Rome succeeded to the power of old Babylon. And it was
her method to adopt the worship of the false deities she had
conquered; so that by her own act she became the heiress and
successor of all the Babylonian idolatry, and of all that was
introduced into it by the immediate successors of Babylon, and
consequently of all the idolatry of the earth." Rome, or
"mystical Babylon," is "that great city which reigneth over the
kings of the earth" (17:18).
(Gr. diaspora, "scattered," James 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1) of the Jews.
At various times, and from the operation of divers causes, the
Jews were separated and scattered into foreign countries "to the
outmost parts of heaven" (Deut. 30:4).
(1.) Many were dispersed over Assyria, Media, Babylonia, and
Persia, descendants of those who had been transported thither by
the Exile. The ten tribes, after existing as a separate kingdom
for two hundred and fifty-five years, were carried captive (B.C.
721) by Shalmaneser (or Sargon), king of Assyria. They never
returned to their own land as a distinct people, although many
individuals from among these tribes, there can be no doubt,
joined with the bands that returned from Babylon on the
proclamation of Cyrus.
(2.) Many Jews migrated to Egypt and took up their abode
there. This migration began in the days of Solomon (2 Kings
18:21, 24; Isa. 30:7). Alexander the Great placed a large number
of Jews in Alexandria, which he had founded, and conferred on
them equal rights with the Egyptians. Ptolemy Philadelphus, it
is said, caused the Jewish Scriptures to be translated into
Greek (the work began B.C. 284), for the use of the Alexandrian
Jews. The Jews in Egypt continued for many ages to exercise a
powerful influence on the public interests of that country. From
Egypt they spread along the coast of Africa to Cyrene (Acts
2:10) and to Ethiopia (8:27).
(3.) After the time of Seleucus Nicator (B.C. 280), one of the
captains of Alexander the Great, large numbers of Jews migrated
into Syria, where they enjoyed equal rights with the
Macedonians. From Syria they found their way into Asia Minor.
Antiochus the Great, king of Syria and Asia, removed 3,000
families of Jews from Mesopotamia and Babylonia, and planted
them in Phrygia and Lydia.
(4.) From Asia Minor many Jews moved into Greece and
Macedonia, chiefly for purposes of commerce. In the apostles'
time they were found in considerable numbers in all the
From the time of Pompey the Great (B.C. 63) numbers of Jews
from Israel and Greece went to Rome, where they had a
separate quarter of the city assigned to them. Here they enjoyed
Thus were the Jews everywhere scattered abroad. This, in the
overruling providence of God, ultimately contributed in a great
degree toward opening the way for the spread of the gospel into
Dispersion, from the plain of Shinar. This was occasioned by
the confusion of tongues at Babel (Gen. 11:9). They were
scattered abroad "every one after his tongue, after their
families, in their nations" (Gen. 10:5, 20,31).
The tenth chapter of Genesis gives us an account of the
principal nations of the earth in their migrations from the
plain of Shinar, which was their common residence after the
Flood. In general, it may be said that the descendants of
Japheth were scattered over the north, those of Shem over the
central regions, and those of Ham over the extreme south. The
following table shows how the different families were dispersed:
| - Japheth
| - Gomer
| Cimmerians, Armenians
| - Magog
| Caucasians, Scythians
| - Madal
| Medes and Persian tribes
| - Javan
| - Elishah
| - Tarshish
| Etruscans, Romans
| - Chittim
| Cyprians, Macedonians
| - Dodanim
| - Tubal
| Tibareni, Tartars
| - Mechech
| Moschi, Muscovites
| - Tiras
| - Shem
| - Elam
| Persian tribes
| - Asshur
| - Arphaxad
| - Abraham
| - Isaac
| - Jacob
| - Esau
| - Ishmael
| Mingled with Arab tribes
| - Lud
| - Aram
| - Ham
| - Cush
| - Mizrain
| - Phut
| Lybians, Mauritanians
| - Canaan
| Canaanites, Phoenicians
father of a multitude, son of Terah, named (Gen. 11:27) before
his older brothers Nahor and Haran, because he was the heir of
the promises. Till the age of seventy, Abram sojourned among his
kindred in his native country of Chaldea. He then, with his
father and his family and household, quitted the city of Ur, in
which he had hitherto dwelt, and went some 300 miles north to
Haran, where he abode fifteen years. The cause of his migration
was a call from God (Acts 7:2-4). There is no mention of this
first call in the Old Testament; it is implied, however, in Gen.
12. While they tarried at Haran, Terah died at the age of 205
years. Abram now received a second and more definite call,
accompanied by a promise from God (Gen. 12:1,2); whereupon he
took his departure, taking his nephew Lot with him, "not knowing
whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). He trusted implicitly to the
guidance of Him who had called him.
Abram now, with a large household of probably a thousand
souls, entered on a migratory life, and dwelt in tents. Passing
along the valley of the Jabbok, in the land of Canaan, he formed
his first encampment at Sichem (Gen. 12:6), in the vale or
oak-grove of Moreh, between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the
south. Here he received the great promise, "I will make of thee
a great nation," etc. (Gen. 12:2,3,7). This promise comprehended
not only temporal but also spiritual blessings. It implied that
he was the chosen ancestor of the great Deliverer whose coming
had been long ago predicted (Gen. 3:15). Soon after this, for
some reason not mentioned, he removed his tent to the mountain
district between Bethel, then called Luz, and Ai, towns about
two miles apart, where he built an altar to "Jehovah." He again
moved into the southern tract of Israel, called by the
Hebrews the Negeb; and was at length, on account of a famine,
compelled to go down into Egypt. This took place in the time of
the Hyksos, a Semitic race which now held the Egyptians in
bondage. Here occurred that case of deception on the part of
Abram which exposed him to the rebuke of Pharaoh (Gen. 12:18).
Sarai was restored to him; and Pharaoh loaded him with presents,
recommending him to withdraw from the country. He returned to
Canaan richer than when he left it, "in cattle, in silver, and
in gold" (Gen. 12:8; 13:2. Comp. Ps. 105:13, 14). The whole
party then moved northward, and returned to their previous
station near Bethel. Here disputes arose between Lot's shepherds
and those of Abram about water and pasturage. Abram generously
gave Lot his choice of the pasture-ground. (Comp. 1 Cor. 6:7.)
He chose the well-watered plain in which Sodom was situated, and
removed thither; and thus the uncle and nephew were separated.
Immediately after this Abram was cheered by a repetition of the
promises already made to him, and then removed to the plain or
"oak-grove" of Mamre, which is in Hebron. He finally settled
here, pitching his tent under a famous oak or terebinth tree,
called "the oak of Mamre" (Gen. 13:18). This was his third
resting-place in the land.
Some fourteen years before this, while Abram was still in
Chaldea, Israel had been invaded by Chedorlaomer, King of
Elam, who brought under tribute to him the five cities in the
plain to which Lot had removed. This tribute was felt by the
inhabitants of these cities to be a heavy burden, and after
twelve years they revolted. This brought upon them the vengeance
of Chedorlaomer, who had in league with him four other kings. He
ravaged the whole country, plundering the towns, and carrying
the inhabitants away as slaves. Among those thus treated was
Lot. Hearing of the disaster that had fallen on his nephew,
Abram immediately gathered from his own household a band of 318
armed men, and being joined by the Amoritish chiefs Mamre, Aner,
and Eshcol, he pursued after Chedorlaomer, and overtook him near
the springs of the Jordan. They attacked and routed his army,
and pursued it over the range of Anti-Libanus as far as to
Hobah, near Damascus, and then returned, bringing back all the
spoils that had been carried away. Returning by way of Salem,
i.e., Jerusalem, the king of that place, Melchizedek, came forth
to meet them with refreshments. To him Abram presented a tenth
of the spoils, in recognition of his character as a priest of
the most high God (Gen. 14:18-20).
In a recently-discovered tablet, dated in the reign of the
grandfather of Amraphel (Gen. 14:1), one of the witnesses is
called "the Amorite, the son of Abiramu," or Abram.
Having returned to his home at Mamre, the promises already
made to him by God were repeated and enlarged (Gen. 13:14). "The
word of the Lord" (an expression occurring here for the first
time) "came to him" (15:1). He now understood better the future
that lay before the nation that was to spring from him. Sarai,
now seventy-five years old, in her impatience, persuaded Abram
to take Hagar, her Egyptian maid, as a concubine, intending that
whatever child might be born should be reckoned as her own.
Ishmael was accordingly thus brought up, and was regarded as the
heir of these promises (Gen. 16). When Ishmael was thirteen
years old, God again revealed yet more explicitly and fully his
gracious purpose; and in token of the sure fulfilment of that
purpose the patriarch's name was now changed from Abram to
Abraham (Gen. 17:4,5), and the rite of circumcision was
instituted as a sign of the covenant. It was then announced that
the heir to these covenant promises would be the son of Sarai,
though she was now ninety years old; and it was directed that
his name should be Isaac. At the same time, in commemoration of
the promises, Sarai's name was changed to Sarah. On that
memorable day of God's thus revealing his design, Abraham and
his son Ishmael and all the males of his house were circumcised
(Gen. 17). Three months after this, as Abraham sat in his tent
door, he saw three men approaching. They accepted his proffered
hospitality, and, seated under an oak-tree, partook of the fare
which Abraham and Sarah provided. One of the three visitants was
none other than the Lord, and the other two were angels in the
guise of men. The Lord renewed on this occasion his promise of a
son by Sarah, who was rebuked for her unbelief. Abraham
accompanied the three as they proceeded on their journey. The
two angels went on toward Sodom; while the Lord tarried behind
and talked with Abraham, making known to him the destruction
that was about to fall on that guilty city. The patriarch
interceded earnestly in behalf of the doomed city. But as not
even ten righteous persons were found in it, for whose sake the
city would have been spared, the threatened destruction fell
upon it; and early next morning Abraham saw the smoke of the
fire that consumed it as the "smoke of a furnace" (Gen.
After fifteen years' residence at Mamre, Abraham moved
southward, and pitched his tent among the Philistines, near to
Gerar. Here occurred that sad instance of prevarication on his
part in his relation to Abimelech the King (Gen. 20). (See
ABIMELECH ¯T0000040.) Soon after this event, the patriarch left
the vicinity of Gerar, and moved down the fertile valley about
25 miles to Beer-sheba. It was probably here that Isaac was
born, Abraham being now an hundred years old. A feeling of
jealousy now arose between Sarah and Hagar, whose son, Ishmael,
was no longer to be regarded as Abraham's heir. Sarah insisted
that both Hagar and her son should be sent away. This was done,
although it was a hard trial to Abraham (Gen. 21:12). (See HAGAR
¯T0001583; ISHMAEL ¯T0001903.)
At this point there is a blank in the patriarch's history of
perhaps twenty-five years. These years of peace and happiness
were spent at Beer-sheba. The next time we see him his faith is
put to a severe test by the command that suddenly came to him to
go and offer up Isaac, the heir of all the promises, as a
sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah. His faith stood the
test (Heb. 11:17-19). He proceeded in a spirit of unhesitating
obedience to carry out the command; and when about to slay his
son, whom he had laid on the altar, his uplifted hand was
arrested by the angel of Jehovah, and a ram, which was entangled
in a thicket near at hand, was seized and offered in his stead.
From this circumstance that place was called Jehovah-jireh,
i.e., "The Lord will provide." The promises made to Abraham were
again confirmed (and this was the last recorded word of God to
the patriarch); and he descended the mount with his son, and
returned to his home at Beer-sheba (Gen. 22:19), where he
resided for some years, and then moved northward to Hebron.
Some years after this Sarah died at Hebron, being 127 years
old. Abraham acquired now the needful possession of a
burying-place, the cave of Machpelah, by purchase from the owner
of it, Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23); and there he buried Sarah.
His next care was to provide a wife for Isaac, and for this
purpose he sent his steward, Eliezer, to Haran (or Charran, Acts
7:2), where his brother Nahor and his family resided (Gen.
11:31). The result was that Rebekah, the daughter of Nahor's son
Bethuel, became the wife of Isaac (Gen. 24). Abraham then
himself took to wife Keturah, who became the mother of six sons,
whose descendants were afterwards known as the "children of the
east" (Judg. 6:3), and later as "Saracens." At length all his
wanderings came to an end. At the age of 175 years, 100 years
after he had first entered the land of Canaan, he died, and was
buried in the old family burying-place at Machpelah (Gen.
The history of Abraham made a wide and deep impression on the
ancient world, and references to it are interwoven in the
religious traditions of almost all Eastern nations. He is called
"the friend of God" (James 2:23), "faithful Abraham" (Gal. 3:9),
"the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16).