strife, the second of the two wells dug by Isaac, whose servants
here contended with the Philistines (Gen. 26:21). It has been
identified with the modern Shutneh, in the valley of Gerar, to
the west of Rehoboth, about 20 miles south of Beersheba.
a region; lodging-place, a very ancient town and district in the
south border of Israel, which was ruled over by a king named
Abimelech (Gen. 10:19; 20:1, 2). Abraham sojourned here, and
perhaps Isaac was born in this place. Both of these patriarchs
were guilty of the sin of here denying their wives, and both of
them entered into a treaty with the king before they departed to
Beersheba (21:23-34; 26). It seems to have been a rich pastoral
country (2 Chr. 14:12-18). Isaac here reaped an hundred-fold,
and was blessed of God (Gen. 26:12). The "valley of Gerar" (Gen.
26:17) was probably the modern Wady el-Jerdr.
Fear of the Lord the
is in the Old Testament used as a designation of true piety
(Prov. 1:7; Job 28:28; Ps. 19:9). It is a fear conjoined with
love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather
filial reverence. (Comp. Deut. 32:6; Hos. 11:1; Isa. 1:2; 63:16;
64:8.) God is called "the Fear of Isaac" (Gen. 31:42, 53), i.e.,
the God whom Isaac feared.
A holy fear is enjoined also in the New Testament as a
preventive of carelessness in religion, and as an incentive to
penitence (Matt. 10:28; 2 Cor. 5:11; 7:1; Phil. 2:12; Eph. 5:21;
Heb. 12:28, 29).
used only in Gal. 4:24, where the apostle refers to the history
of Isaac the free-born, and Ishmael the slave-born, and makes
use of it allegorically.
Every parable is an allegory. Nathan (2 Sam. 12:1-4) addresses
David in an allegorical narrative. In the eightieth Psalm there
is a beautiful allegory: "Thou broughtest a vine out of Egypt,"
etc. In Eccl. 12:2-6, there is a striking allegorical
description of old age.
i.e., "the well of him that liveth and seeth me," or, as some
render it, "the well of the vision of life", the well where the
Lord met with Hagar (Gen. 16:7-14). Isaac dwelt beside this well
(24:62; 25:11). It has been identified with 'Ain Muweileh, or
Moilahhi, south-west of Beersheba, and about 12 miles W. from
city of Arba, the original name of Hebron (q.v.), so called from
the name of its founder, one of the Anakim (Gen. 23:2; 35:27;
Josh. 15:13). It was given to Caleb by Joshua as his portion.
The Jews interpret the name as meaning "the city of the four",
i.e., of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Adam, who were all, as they
allege, buried there.
an intentional violation of the truth. Lies are emphatically
condemned in Scripture (John 8:44; 1 Tim. 1:9, 10; Rev. 21:27;
22:15). Mention is made of the lies told by good men, as by
Abraham (Gen. 12:12, 13; 20:2), Isaac (26:7), and Jacob (27:24);
also by the Hebrew midwives (Ex. 1:15-19), by Michal (1 Sam.
19:14), and by David (1 Sam. 20:6). (See ANANIAS ¯T0000230.)
broad places. (1.) A well in Gerar dug by Isaac (Gen. 26:22),
supposed to be in Wady er-Ruheibeh, about 20 miles south of
(2.) An ancient city on the Euphrates (Gen. 36:37; 1 Chr.
1:48), "Rehoboth by the river."
(3.) Named among the cities of Asshur (Gen. 10:11). Probably,
however, the words "rehoboth'ir" are to be translated as in the
Vulgate and the margin of A.V., "the streets of the city," or
rather "the public square of the city", i.e., of Nineveh.
my father a king, or father of a king, a common name of the
Philistine kings, as "Pharaoh" was of the Egyptian kings. (1.)
The Philistine king of Gerar in the time of Abraham (Gen.
20:1-18). By an interposition of Providence, Sarah was delivered
from his harem, and was restored to her husband Abraham. As a
mark of respect he gave to Abraham valuable gifts, and offered
him a settlement in any part of his country; while at the same
time he delicately and yet severely rebuked him for having
practised a deception upon him in pretending that Sarah was only
his sister. Among the gifts presented by the king were a
thousand pieces of silver as a "covering of the eyes" for Sarah;
i.e., either as an atoning gift and a testimony of her innocence
in the sight of all, or rather for the purpose of procuring a
veil for Sarah to conceal her beauty, and thus as a reproof to
her for not having worn a veil which, as a married woman, she
ought to have done. A few years after this Abimelech visited
Abraham, who had removed southward beyond his territory, and
there entered into a league of peace and friendship with him.
This league was the first of which we have any record. It was
confirmed by a mutual oath at Beer-sheba (Gen. 21:22-34).
(2.) A king of Gerar in the time of Isaac, probably the son of
the preceeding (Gen. 26:1-22). Isaac sought refuge in his
territory during a famine, and there he acted a part with
reference to his wife Rebekah similar to that of his father
Abraham with reference to Sarah. Abimelech rebuked him for the
deception, which he accidentally discovered. Isaac settled for a
while here, and prospered. Abimelech desired him, however, to
leave his territory, which Isaac did. Abimelech afterwards
visited him when he was encamped at Beer-sheba, and expressed a
desire to renew the covenant which had been entered into between
their fathers (Gen. 26:26-31).
(3.) A son of Gideon (Judg. 9:1), who was proclaimed king
after the death of his father (Judg. 8:33-9:6). One of his first
acts was to murder his brothers, seventy in number, "on one
stone," at Ophrah. Only one named Jotham escaped. He was an
unprincipled, ambitious ruler, often engaged in war with his own
subjects. When engaged in reducing the town of Thebez, which had
revolted, he was struck mortally on his head by a mill-stone,
thrown by the hand of a woman from the wall above. Perceiving
that the wound was mortal, he desired his armour-bearer to
thrust him through with his sword, that it might not be said he
had perished by the hand of a woman (Judg. 9:50-57).
(4.) The son of Abiathar, and high priest in the time of David
(1 Chr. 18:16). In the parallel passage, 2 Sam. 8:17, we have
the name Ahimelech, and Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech. This
most authorities consider the more correct reading. (5.) Achish,
king of Gath, in the title of Ps. 34. (Comp. 1 Sam. 21:10-15.)
laughter. (1) Israel, or the kingdom of the ten tribes (Amos
(2.) The only son of Abraham by Sarah. He was the longest
lived of the three patriarchs (Gen. 21:1-3). He was circumcised
when eight days old (4-7); and when he was probably two years
old a great feast was held in connection with his being weaned.
The next memorable event in his life is that connected with
the command of God given to Abraham to offer him up as a
sacrifice on a mountain in the land of Moriah (Gen. 22). (See
ABRAHAM ¯T0000055.) When he was forty years of age Rebekah was
chosen for his wife (Gen. 24). After the death and burial of his
father he took up his residence at Beer-lahai-roi (25:7-11),
where his two sons, Esau and Jacob, were born (21-26), the
former of whom seems to have been his favourite son (27,28).
In consequence of a famine (Gen. 26:1) Isaac went to Gerar,
where he practised deception as to his relation to Rebekah,
imitating the conduct of his father in Egypt (12:12-20) and in
Gerar (20:2). The Philistine king rebuked him for his
After sojourning for some time in the land of the Philistines,
he returned to Beersheba, where God gave him fresh assurance of
covenant blessing, and where Abimelech entered into a covenant
of peace with him.
The next chief event in his life was the blessing of his sons
(Gen. 27:1). He died at Mamre, "being old and full of days"
(35:27-29), one hundred and eighty years old, and was buried in
the cave of Machpelah.
In the New Testament reference is made to his having been
"offered up" by his father (Heb. 11:17; James 2:21), and to his
blessing his sons (Heb. 11:20). As the child of promise, he is
contrasted with Ishmael (Rom. 9:7, 10; Gal. 4:28; Heb. 11:18).
Isaac is "at once a counterpart of his father in simple
devoutness and purity of life, and a contrast in his passive
weakness of character, which in part, at least, may have sprung
from his relations to his mother and wife. After the expulsion
of Ishmael and Hagar, Isaac had no competitor, and grew up in
the shade of Sarah's tent, moulded into feminine softness by
habitual submission to her strong, loving will." His life was so
quiet and uneventful that it was spent "within the circle of a
few miles; so guileless that he let Jacob overreach him rather
than disbelieve his assurance; so tender that his mother's death
was the poignant sorrow of years; so patient and gentle that
peace with his neighbours was dearer than even such a coveted
possession as a well of living water dug by his own men; so
grandly obedient that he put his life at his father's disposal;
so firm in his reliance on God that his greatest concern through
life was to honour the divine promise given to his race.",
Geikie's Hours, etc.
the chosen of Jehovah. Some contend that Mount Gerizim is meant,
but most probably we are to regard this as one of the hills of
Jerusalem. Here Solomon's temple was built, on the spot that had
been the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite (2 Sam. 24:24,
25; 2 Chr. 3:1). It is usually included in Zion, to the
north-east of which it lay, and from which it was separated by
the Tyropoean valley. This was "the land of Moriah" to which
Abraham went to offer up his son Isaac (Gen. 22:2). It has been
supposed that the highest point of the temple hill, which is now
covered by the Mohammedan Kubbetes-Sakhrah, or "Dome of the
Rock," is the actual site of Araunah's threshing-floor. Here
also, one thousand years after Abraham, David built an altar and
offered sacrifices to God. (See JERUSALEM ¯T0002043; NUMBERING
THE PEOPLE ¯T0002753.)
a noose, the daughter of Bethuel, and the wife of Isaac (Gen.
22:23; 24:67). The circumstances under which Abraham's "steward"
found her at the "city of Nahor," in Padan-aram, are narrated in
Gen. 24-27. "She can hardly be regarded as an amiable woman.
When we first see her she is ready to leave her father's house
for ever at an hour's notice; and her future life showed not
only a full share of her brother Laban's duplicity, but the
grave fault of partiality in her relations to her children, and
a strong will, which soon controlled the gentler nature of her
husband." The time and circumstances of her death are not
recorded, but it is said that she was buried in the cave of
Machpelah (Gen. 49:31).
borne; a burden, one of the twelve minor prophets. He was a
native of Tekota, the modern Tekua, a town about 12 miles
south-east of Bethlehem. He was a man of humble birth, neither a
"prophet nor a prophet's son," but "an herdman and a dresser of
sycomore trees," R.V. He prophesied in the days of Uzziah, king
of Judah, and was contemporary with Isaiah and Hosea (Amos 1:1;
7:14, 15; Zech. 14:5), who survived him a few years. Under
Jeroboam II. the kingdom of Israel rose to the zenith of its
prosperity; but that was followed by the prevalence of luxury
and vice and idolatry. At this period Amos was called from his
obscurity to remind the people of the law of God's retributive
justice, and to call them to repentance.
The Book of Amos consists of three parts:
(1.) The nations around are summoned to judgment because of
their sins (1:1-2:3). He quotes Joel 3:16.
(2.) The spiritual condition of Judah, and especially of
Israel, is described (2:4-6:14).
(3.) In 7:1-9:10 are recorded five prophetic visions. (a) The
first two (7:1-6) refer to judgments against the guilty people.
(b) The next two (7:7-9; 8:1-3) point out the ripeness of the
people for the threatened judgements. 7:10-17 consists of a
conversation between the prophet and the priest of Bethel. (c)
The fifth describes the overthrow and ruin of Israel (9:1-10);
to which is added the promise of the restoration of the kingdom
and its final glory in the Messiah's kingdom.
The style is peculiar in the number of the allusions made to
natural objects and to agricultural occupations. Other allusions
show also that Amos was a student of the law as well as a "child
of nature." These phrases are peculiar to him: "Cleanness of
teeth" [i.e., want of bread] (4:6); "The excellency of Jacob"
(6:8; 8:7); "The high places of Isaac" (7:9); "The house of
Isaac" (7:16); "He that createth the wind" (4:13). Quoted, Acts
portion; double cave, the cave which Abraham bought, together
with the field in which it stood, from Ephron the Hittite, for a
family burying-place (Gen. 23). It is one of those Bible
localities about the identification of which there can be no
doubt. It was on the slope of a hill on the east of Hebron,
"before Mamre." Here were laid the bodies of Abraham and Sarah,
Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah (Gen. 23:19; 25:9; 49:31;
50:13). Over the cave an ancient Christian church was erected,
probably in the time of Justinian, the Roman emperor. This
church has been converted into a Mohammedan mosque. The whole is
surrounded by the el-Haram i.e., "the sacred enclosure," about
200 feet long, 115 broad, and of an average height of about 50.
This building, from the immense size of some of its stones, and
the manner in which they are fitted together, is supposed by
some to have been erected in the days of David or of Solomon,
while others ascribe it to the time of Herod. It is looked upon
as the most ancient and finest relic of Jewish architecture.
On the floor of the mosque are erected six large cenotaphs as
monuments to the dead who are buried in the cave beneath.
Between the cenotaphs of Isaac and Rebekah there is a circular
opening in the floor into the cavern below, the cave of
Machpelah. Here it may be that the body of Jacob, which was
embalmed in Egypt, is still preserved (much older embalmed
bodies have recently been found in the cave of Deir el-Bahari in
Egypt, see PHARAOH ¯T0002923), though those of the others there
buried may have long ago mouldered into dust. The interior of
the mosque was visited by the Prince of Wales in 1862 by a
special favour of the Mohammedan authorities. An interesting
account of this visit is given in Dean Stanley's Lectures on the
Jewish Church. It was also visited in 1866 by the Marquis of
Bute, and in 1869 by the late Emperor (Frederick) of Germany,
then the Crown Prince of Prussia. In 1881 it was visited by the
two sons of the Prince of Wales, accompanied by Sir C. Wilson
and others. (See Israel Quarterly Statement, October 1882).
well of the oath, or well of seven, a well dug by Abraham, and
so named because he and Abimelech here entered into a compact
(Gen. 21:31). On re-opening it, Isaac gave it the same name
(Gen. 26:31-33). It was a favourite place of abode of both of
these patriarchs (21:33-22:1, 19; 26:33; 28:10). It is mentioned
among the "cities" given to the tribe of Simeon (Josh. 19:2; 1
Chr. 4:28). From Dan to Beersheba, a distance of about 144 miles
(Judg. 20:1; 1 Chr. 21:2; 2 Sam. 24:2), became the usual way of
designating the whole Promised Land, and passed into a proverb.
After the return from the Captivity the phrase is narrowed into
"from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom" (Neh. 11:30). The
kingdom of the ten tribes extended from Beersheba to Mount
Ephraim (2 Chr. 19:4). The name is not found in the New
Testament. It is still called by the Arabs Bir es-Seba, i.e.,
"well of the seven", where there are to the present day two
principal wells and five smaller ones. It is nearly midway
between the southern end of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.
God his help. (1.) "Of Damascus," the "steward" (R.V.,
"possessor") of Abraham's house (Gen. 15:2, 3). It was probably
he who headed the embassy sent by Abraham to the old home of his
family in Padan-aram to seek a wife for his son Isaac. The
account of this embassy is given at length in Gen. 24.
(2.) The son of Becher, and grandson of Benjamin (1 Chr. 7:8).
(3.) One of the two sons of Moses, born during his sojourn in
Midian (Ex. 18:4; 1 Chr. 23:15, 17). He remained with his mother
and brother Gershom with Jethro when Moses returned to Egypt.
(Ex. 18:4). They were restored to Moses when Jethro heard of his
departure out of Egypt.
(4.) One of the priests who blew the trumpet before the ark
when it was brought to Jerusalem (1 Chr. 15:24).
(5.) Son of Zichri, and chief of the Reubenites under David (1
(6.) A prophet in the time of Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 20:37).
Others of this name are mentioned Luke 3:29; Ezra 8:16; 10:18,
The first mentioned in Scripture was so grievous as to compel
Abraham to go down to the land of Egypt (Gen. 26:1). Another is
mentioned as having occurred in the days of Isaac, causing him
to go to Gerar (Gen. 26:1, 17). But the most remarkable of all
was that which arose in Egypt in the days of Joseph, which
lasted for seven years (Gen. 41-45).
Famines were sent as an effect of God's anger against a guilty
people (2 Kings 8:1, 2; Amos 8:11; Deut. 28:22-42; 2 Sam. 21:1;
2 Kings 6:25-28; 25:3; Jer. 14:15; 19:9; 42:17, etc.). A famine
was predicted by Agabus (Acts 11:28). Josephus makes mention of
the famine which occurred A.D. 45. Helena, queen of Adiabene,
being at Jerusalem at that time, procured corn from Alexandria
and figs from Cyprus for its poor inhabitants.
the country between the two rivers (Heb. Aram-naharaim; i.e.,
"Syria of the two rivers"), the name given by the Greeks and
Romans to the region between the Euphrates and the Tigris (Gen.
24:10; Deut. 23:4; Judg. 3:8, 10). In the Old Testament it is
mentioned also under the name "Padan-aram;" i.e., the plain of
Aram, or Syria (Gen. 25:20). The northern portion of this
fertile plateau was the original home of the ancestors of the
Hebrews (Gen. 11; Acts 7:2). From this region Isaac obtained his
wife Rebecca (Gen. 24:10, 15), and here also Jacob sojourned
(28:2-7) and obtained his wives, and here most of his sons were
born (35:26; 46:15). The petty, independent tribes of this
region, each under its own prince, were warlike, and used
chariots in battle. They maintained their independence till
after the time of David, when they fell under the dominion of
Assyria, and were absorbed into the empire (2 Kings 19:13).
a name employed in the New Testament with reference to Abraham
(Heb. 7:4), the sons of Jacob (Acts 7:8, 9), and to David
(2:29). This name is generally applied to the progenitors of
families or "heads of the fathers" (Josh. 14:1) mentioned in
Scripture, and they are spoken of as antediluvian (from Adam to
Noah) and post-diluvian (from Noah to Jacob) patriachs. But the
expression "the patriarch," by way of eminence, is applied to
the twelve sons of Jacob, or to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
"Patriachal longevity presents itself as one of the most
striking of the facts concerning mankind which the early history
of the Book of Genesis places before us...There is a large
amount of consentient tradition to the effect that the life of
man was originally far more prolonged than it is at present,
extending to at least several hundred years. The Babylonians,
Egyptians, and Chinese exaggerated these hundreds into
thousands. The Greeks and Romans, with more moderation, limited
human life within a thousand or eight hundred years. The Hindus
still farther shortened the term. Their books taught that in the
first age of the world man was free from diseases, and lived
ordinarily four hundred years; in the second age the term of
life was reduced from four hundred to three hundred; in the
third it became two hundred; in the fourth and last it was
brought down to one hundred" (Rawlinson's Historical
are of different varieties. Probably the flocks of Abraham and
Isaac were of the wild species found still in the mountain
regions of Persia and Kurdistan. After the Exodus, and as a
result of intercourse with surrounding nations, other species
were no doubt introduced into the herds of the people of Israel.
They are frequently mentioned in Scripture. The care of a
shepherd over his flock is referred to as illustrating God's
care over his people (Ps. 23:1, 2; 74:1; 77:20; Isa. 40:11;
53:6; John 10:1-5, 7-16).
"The sheep of Israel are longer in the head than ours, and
have tails from 5 inches broad at the narrowest part to 15
inches at the widest, the weight being in proportion, and
ranging generally from 10 to 14 lbs., but sometimes extending to
30 lbs. The tails are indeed huge masses of fat" (Geikie's Holy
Land, etc.). The tail was no doubt the "rump" so frequently
referred to in the Levitical sacrifices (Ex. 29:22; Lev. 3:9;
7:3; 9:19). Sheep-shearing was generally an occasion of great
festivity (Gen. 31:19; 38:12, 13; 1 Sam. 25:4-8, 36; 2 Sam.
God hears. (1.) Abraham's eldest son, by Hagar the concubine
(Gen. 16:15; 17:23). He was born at Mamre, when Abraham was
eighty-six years of age, eleven years after his arrival in
Canaan (16:3; 21:5). At the age of thirteen he was circumcised
(17:25). He grew up a true child of the desert, wild and
wayward. On the occasion of the weaning of Isaac his rude and
wayward spirit broke out in expressions of insult and mockery
(21:9, 10); and Sarah, discovering this, said to Abraham, "Expel
this slave and her son." Influenced by a divine admonition,
Abraham dismissed Hagar and her son with no more than a skin of
water and some bread. The narrative describing this act is one
of the most beautiful and touching incidents of patriarchal life
(Gen. 21:14-16). (See HAGAR ¯T0001583.)
Ishmael settled in the land of Paran, a region lying between
Canaan and the mountains of Sinai; and "God was with him, and he
became a great archer" (Gen. 21:9-21). He became a great desert
chief, but of his history little is recorded. He was about
ninety years of age when his father Abraham died, in connection
with whose burial he once more for a moment reappears. On this
occasion the two brothers met after being long separated. "Isaac
with his hundreds of household slaves, Ishmael with his troops
of wild retainers and half-savage allies, in all the state of a
Bedouin prince, gathered before the cave of Machpelah, in the
midst of the men of Heth, to pay the last duties to the 'father
of the faithful,' would make a notable subject for an artist"
(Gen. 25:9). Of the after events of his life but little is
known. He died at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven years,
but where and when are unknown (25:17). He had twelve sons, who
became the founders of so many Arab tribes or colonies, the
Ishmaelites, who spread over the wide desert spaces of Northern
Arabia from the Red Sea to the Euphrates (Gen. 37:25, 27, 28;
39:1), "their hand against every man, and every man's hand
(2.) The son of Nethaniah, "of the seed royal" (Jer. 40:8,
15). He plotted against Gedaliah, and treacherously put him and
others to death. He carried off many captives, "and departed to
go over to the Ammonites."
one who follows on another's heels; supplanter, (Gen. 25:26;
27:36; Hos. 12:2-4), the second born of the twin sons of Isaac
by Rebekah. He was born probably at Lahai-roi, when his father
was fifty-nine and Abraham one hundred and fifty-nine years old.
Like his father, he was of a quiet and gentle disposition, and
when he grew up followed the life of a shepherd, while his
brother Esau became an enterprising hunter. His dealing with
Esau, however, showed much mean selfishness and cunning (Gen.
When Isaac was about 160 years of age, Jacob and his mother
conspired to deceive the aged patriarch (Gen. 27), with the view
of procuring the transfer of the birthright to himself. The
birthright secured to him who possessed it (1) superior rank in
his family (Gen. 49:3); (2) a double portion of the paternal
inheritance (Deut. 21:17); (3) the priestly office in the family
(Num. 8:17-19); and (4) the promise of the Seed in which all
nations of the earth were to be blessed (Gen. 22:18).
Soon after his acquisition of his father's blessing (Gen. 27),
Jacob became conscious of his guilt; and afraid of the anger of
Esau, at the suggestion of Rebekah Isaac sent him away to Haran,
400 miles or more, to find a wife among his cousins, the family
of Laban, the Syrian (28). There he met with Rachel (29). Laban
would not consent to give him his daughter in marriage till he
had served seven years; but to Jacob these years "seemed but a
few days, for the love he had to her." But when the seven years
were expired, Laban craftily deceived Jacob, and gave him his
daughter Leah. Other seven years of service had to be completed
probably before he obtained the beloved Rachel. But "life-long
sorrow, disgrace, and trials, in the retributive providence of
God, followed as a consequence of this double union."
At the close of the fourteen years of service, Jacob desired
to return to his parents, but at the entreaty of Laban he
tarried yet six years with him, tending his flocks (31:41). He
then set out with his family and property "to go to Isaac his
father in the land of Canaan" (Gen. 31). Laban was angry when he
heard that Jacob had set out on his journey, and pursued after
him, overtaking him in seven days. The meeting was of a painful
kind. After much recrimination and reproach directed against
Jacob, Laban is at length pacified, and taking an affectionate
farewell of his daughters, returns to his home in Padanaram. And
now all connection of the Israelites with Mesopotamia is at an
Soon after parting with Laban he is met by a company of
angels, as if to greet him on his return and welcome him back to
the Land of Promise (32:1, 2). He called the name of the place
Mahanaim, i.e., "the double camp," probably his own camp and
that of the angels. The vision of angels was the counterpart of
that he had formerly seen at Bethel, when, twenty years before,
the weary, solitary traveller, on his way to Padan-aram, saw the
angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder whose top
reached to heaven (28:12).
He now hears with dismay of the approach of his brother Esau
with a band of 400 men to meet him. In great agony of mind he
prepares for the worst. He feels that he must now depend only on
God, and he betakes himself to him in earnest prayer, and sends
on before him a munificent present to Esau, "a present to my
lord Esau from thy servant Jacob." Jacob's family were then
transported across the Jabbok; but he himself remained behind,
spending the night in communion with God. While thus engaged,
there appeared one in the form of a man who wrestled with him.
In this mysterious contest Jacob prevailed, and as a memorial of
it his name was changed to Israel (wrestler with God); and the
place where this occured he called Peniel, "for", said he, "I
have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved"
After this anxious night, Jacob went on his way, halting,
mysteriously weakened by the conflict, but strong in the
assurance of the divine favour. Esau came forth and met him; but
his spirit of revenge was appeased, and the brothers met as
friends, and during the remainder of their lives they maintained
friendly relations. After a brief sojourn at Succoth, Jacob
moved forward and pitched his tent near Shechem (q.v.), 33:18;
but at length, under divine directions, he moved to Bethel,
where he made an altar unto God (35:6,7), and where God appeared
to him and renewed the Abrahamic covenant. While journeying from
Bethel to Ephrath (the Canaanitish name of Bethlehem), Rachel
died in giving birth to her second son Benjamin (35:16-20),
fifteen or sixteen years after the birth of Joseph. He then
reached the old family residence at Mamre, to wait on the dying
bed of his father Isaac. The complete reconciliation between
Esau and Jacob was shown by their uniting in the burial of the
Jacob was soon after this deeply grieved by the loss of his
beloved son Joseph through the jealousy of his brothers (37:33).
Then follows the story of the famine, and the successive goings
down into Egypt to buy corn (42), which led to the discovery of
the long-lost Joseph, and the patriarch's going down with all
his household, numbering about seventy souls (Ex. 1:5; Deut.
10:22; Acts 7:14), to sojourn in the land of Goshen. Here Jacob,
"after being strangely tossed about on a very rough ocean, found
at last a tranquil harbour, where all the best affections of his
nature were gently exercised and largely unfolded" (Gen. 48). At
length the end of his checkered course draws nigh, and he
summons his sons to his bedside that he may bless them. Among
his last words he repeats the story of Rachel's death, although
forty years had passed away since that event took place, as
tenderly as if it had happened only yesterday; and when "he had
made an end of charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into
the bed, and yielded up the ghost" (49:33). His body was
embalmed and carried with great pomp into the land of Canaan,
and buried beside his wife Leah in the cave of Machpelah,
according to his dying charge. There, probably, his embalmed
body remains to this day (50:1-13). (See HEBRON ¯T0001712.)
The history of Jacob is referred to by the prophets Hosea
(12:3, 4, 12) and Malachi (1:2). In Micah 1:5 the name is a
poetic synonym for Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes. There
are, besides the mention of his name along with those of the
other patriarchs, distinct references to events of his life in
Paul's epistles (Rom. 9:11-13; Heb. 12:16; 11:21). See
references to his vision at Bethel and his possession of land at
Shechem in John 1:51; 4:5, 12; also to the famine which was the
occasion of his going down into Egypt in Acts 7:12 (See LUZ
¯T0002335; BETHEL ¯T0000554.)
The first burial we have an account of is that of Sarah (Gen.
23). The first commercial transaction recorded is that of the
purchase of a burial-place, for which Abraham weighed to Ephron
"four hundred shekels of silver current money with the
merchants." Thus the patriarch became the owner of a part of the
land of Canaan, the only part he ever possessed. When he himself
died, "his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of
Machpelah," beside Sarah his wife (Gen. 25:9).
Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, was buried under Allon-bachuth, "the
oak of weeping" (Gen. 35:8), near to Bethel. Rachel died, and
was buried near Ephrath; "and Jacob set a pillar upon her grave"
(16-20). Isaac was buried at Hebron, where he had died (27, 29).
Jacob, when charging his sons to bury him in the cave of
Machpelah, said, "There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife;
there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried
Leah" (49:31). In compliance with the oath which he made him
swear unto him (47:29-31), Joseph, assisted by his brethren,
buried Jacob in the cave of Machpelah (50:2, 13). At the Exodus,
Moses "took the bones of Joseph with him," and they were buried
in the "parcel of ground" which Jacob had bought of the sons of
Hamor (Josh. 24:32), which became Joseph's inheritance (Gen.
48:22; 1 Chr. 5:1; John 4:5). Two burials are mentioned as
having taken place in the wilderness. That of Miriam (Num.
20:1), and that of Moses, "in the land of Moab" (Deut. 34:5, 6,
8). There is no account of the actual burial of Aaron, which
probably, however, took place on the summit of Mount Hor (Num.
Joshua was buried "in the border of his inheritance in
Timnath-serah" (Josh. 24: 30).
In Job we find a reference to burying-places, which were
probably the Pyramids (3:14, 15). The Hebrew word for "waste
places" here resembles in sound the Egyptian word for
Samuel, like Moses, was honoured with a national burial (1
Sam. 25:1). Joab (1 Kings 2:34) "was buried in his own house in
In connection with the burial of Saul and his three sons we
meet for the first time with the practice of burning the dead (1
Sam. 31:11-13). The same practice is again referred to by Amos
Absalom was buried "in the wood" where he was slain (2 Sam.
18:17, 18). The raising of the heap of stones over his grave was
intended to mark abhorrence of the person buried (comp. Josh.
7:26 and 8:29). There was no fixed royal burying-place for the
Hebrew kings. We find several royal burials taking place,
however, "in the city of David" (1 Kings 2:10; 11:43; 15:8; 2
Kings 14:19, 20; 15:38; 1 Kings 14:31; 22:50; 2 Chr. 21:19, 20;
2 Chr. 24:25, etc.). Hezekiah was buried in the mount of the
sepulchres of the sons of David; "and all Judah and the
inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death" (2 Chr.
Little is said regarding the burial of the kings of Israel.
Some of them were buried in Samaria, the capital of their
kingdom (2 Kings 10:35; 13:9; 14:16).
Our Lord was buried in a new tomb, hewn out of the rock, which
Joseph of Arimathea had prepared for himself (Matt. 27:57-60;
Mark 15:46; John 19:41, 42).
The grave of Lazarus was "a cave, and a stone lay on it" (John
11:38). Graves were frequently either natural caverns or
artificial excavations formed in the sides of rocks (Gen. 23:9;
Matt. 27:60); and coffins were seldom used, unless when the body
was brought from a distance.
(1.) God blesses his people when he bestows on them some gift
temporal or spiritual (Gen. 1:22; 24:35; Job 42:12; Ps. 45:2;
(2.) We bless God when we thank him for his mercies (Ps.
103:1, 2; 145:1, 2).
(3.) A man blesses himself when he invokes God's blessing
(Isa. 65:16), or rejoices in God's goodness to him (Deut. 29:19;
(4.) One blesses another when he expresses good wishes or
offers prayer to God for his welfare (Gen. 24:60; 31:55; 1 Sam.
2:20). Sometimes blessings were uttered under divine
inspiration, as in the case of Noah, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses
(Gen. 9:26, 27; 27:28, 29, 40; 48:15-20; 49:1-28; Deut. 33). The
priests were divinely authorized to bless the people (Deut.
10:8; Num. 6:22-27). We have many examples of apostolic
benediction (2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 6:23, 24; 2 Thess. 3:16, 18;
Heb. 13:20, 21; 1 Pet. 5:10, 11).
(5.) Among the Jews in their thank-offerings the master of the
feast took a cup of wine in his hand, and after having blessed
God for it and for other mercies then enjoyed, handed it to his
guests, who all partook of it. Ps. 116:13 refers to this custom.
It is also alluded to in 1 Cor. 10:16, where the apostle speaks
of the "cup of blessing."
There are numerous natural caves among the limestone rocks of
Syria, many of which have been artificially enlarged for various
The first notice of a cave occurs in the history of Lot (Gen.
The next we read of is the cave of Machpelah (q.v.), which
Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth (Gen. 25:9, 10). It was
the burying-place of Sarah and of Abraham himself, also of
Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob (Gen. 49:31; 50:13).
The cave of Makkedah, into which the five Amorite kings
retired after their defeat by Joshua (10:16, 27).
The cave of Adullam (q.v.), an immense natural cavern, where
David hid himself from Saul (1 Sam. 22:1, 2).
The cave of Engedi (q.v.), now called 'Ain Jidy, i.e., the
"Fountain of the Kid", where David cut off the skirt of Saul's
robe (24:4). Here he also found a shelter for himself and his
followers to the number of 600 (23:29; 24:1). "On all sides the
country is full of caverns which might serve as lurking-places
for David and his men, as they do for outlaws at the present
The cave in which Obadiah hid the prophets (1 Kings 18:4) was
probably in the north, but it cannot be identified.
The cave of Elijah (1 Kings 19:9), and the "cleft" of Moses on
Horeb (Ex. 33:22), cannot be determined.
In the time of Gideon the Israelites took refuge from the
Midianites in dens and caves, such as abounded in the mountain
regions of Manasseh (Judg. 6:2).
Caves were frequently used as dwelling-places (Num. 24:21;
Cant. 2:14; Jer. 49:16; Obad. 1:3). "The excavations at Deir
Dubban, on the south side of the wady leading to Santa Hanneh,
are probably the dwellings of the Horites," the ancient
inhabitants of Idumea Proper. The pits or cavities in rocks were
also sometimes used as prisons (Isa. 24:22; 51:14; Zech. 9:11).
Those which had niches in their sides were occupied as
burying-places (Ezek. 32:23; John 11:38).
a bee. (1.) Rebekah's nurse. She accompanied her mistress when
she left her father's house in Padan-aram to become the wife of
Isaac (Gen. 24:59). Many years afterwards she died at Bethel,
and was buried under the "oak of weeping", Allon-bachuth (35:8).
(2.) A prophetess, "wife" (woman?) of Lapidoth. Jabin, the
king of Hazor, had for twenty years held Israel in degrading
subjection. The spirit of patriotism seemed crushed out of the
nation. In this emergency Deborah roused the people from their
lethargy. Her fame spread far and wide. She became a "mother in
Israel" (Judg. 4:6, 14; 5:7), and "the children of Israel came
up to her for judgment" as she sat in her tent under the palm
tree "between Ramah and Bethel." Preparations were everywhere
made by her direction for the great effort to throw off the yoke
of bondage. She summoned Barak from Kadesh to take the command
of 10,000 men of Zebulun and Naphtali, and lead them to Mount
Tabor on the plain of Esdraelon at its north-east end. With his
aid she organized this army. She gave the signal for attack, and
the Hebrew host rushed down impetuously upon the army of Jabin,
which was commanded by Sisera, and gained a great and decisive
victory. The Canaanitish army almost wholly perished. That was a
great and ever-memorable day in Israel. In Judg. 5 is given the
grand triumphal ode, the "song of Deborah," which she wrote in
grateful commemoration of that great deliverance. (See LAPIDOTH
¯T0002240, JABIN ¯T0001938 .)
hairy, Rebekah's first-born twin son (Gen. 25:25). The name of
Edom, "red", was also given to him from his conduct in
connection with the red lentil "pottage" for which he sold his
birthright (30, 31). The circumstances connected with his birth
foreshadowed the enmity which afterwards subsisted between the
twin brothers and the nations they founded (25:22, 23, 26). In
process of time Jacob, following his natural bent, became a
shepherd; while Esau, a "son of the desert," devoted himself to
the perilous and toilsome life of a huntsman. On a certain
occasion, on returning from the chase, urged by the cravings of
hunger, Esau sold his birthright to his brother, Jacob, who
thereby obtained the covenant blessing (Gen. 27:28, 29, 36; Heb.
12:16, 17). He afterwards tried to regain what he had so
recklessly parted with, but was defeated in his attempts through
the stealth of his brother (Gen. 27:4, 34, 38).
At the age of forty years, to the great grief of his parents,
he married (Gen. 26:34, 35) two Canaanitish maidens, Judith, the
daughter of Beeri, and Bashemath, the daughter of Elon. When
Jacob was sent away to Padan-aram, Esau tried to conciliate his
parents (Gen. 28:8, 9) by marrying his cousin Mahalath, the
daughter of Ishmael. This led him to cast in his lot with the
Ishmaelite tribes; and driving the Horites out of Mount Seir, he
settled in that region. After some thirty years' sojourn in
Padan-aram Jacob returned to Canaan, and was reconciled to Esau,
who went forth to meet him (33:4). Twenty years after this,
Isaac their father died, when the two brothers met, probably for
the last time, beside his grave (35:29). Esau now permanently
left Canaan, and established himself as a powerful and wealthy
chief in the land of Edom (q.v.).
Long after this, when the descendants of Jacob came out of
Egypt, the Edomites remembered the old quarrel between the
brothers, and with fierce hatred they warred against Israel.
The five books of Moses were collectively called the Pentateuch,
a word of Greek origin meaning "the five-fold book." The Jews
called them the Torah, i.e., "the law." It is probable that the
division of the Torah into five books proceeded from the Greek
translators of the Old Testament. The names by which these
several books are generally known are Greek.
The first book of the Pentateuch (q.v.) is called by the Jews
Bereshith, i.e., "in the beginning", because this is the first
word of the book. It is generally known among Christians by the
name of Genesis, i.e., "creation" or "generation," being the
name given to it in the LXX. as designating its character,
because it gives an account of the origin of all things. It
contains, according to the usual computation, the history of
about two thousand three hundred and sixty-nine years.
Genesis is divided into two principal parts. The first part
(1-11) gives a general history of mankind down to the time of
the Dispersion. The second part presents the early history of
Israel down to the death and burial of Joseph (12-50).
There are five principal persons brought in succession under
our notice in this book, and around these persons the history of
the successive periods is grouped, viz., Adam (1-3), Noah (4-9),
Abraham (10-25:18), Isaac (25:19-35:29), and Jacob (36-50).
In this book we have several prophecies concerning Christ
(3:15; 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; 49:10). The author of
this book was Moses. Under divine guidance he may indeed have
been led to make use of materials already existing in primeval
documents, or even of traditions in a trustworthy form that had
come down to his time, purifying them from all that was
unworthy; but the hand of Moses is clearly seen throughout in
flight, or, according to others, stranger, an Egyptian, Sarah's
handmaid (Gen. 16:1; 21:9, 10), whom she gave to Abraham (q.v.)
as a secondary wife (16:2). When she was about to become a
mother she fled from the cruelty of her mistress, intending
apparently to return to her relatives in Egypt, through the
desert of Shur, which lay between. Wearied and worn she had
reached the place she distinguished by the name of
Beer-lahai-roi ("the well of the visible God"), where the angel
of the Lord appeared to her. In obedience to the heavenly
visitor she returned to the tent of Abraham, where her son
Ishmael was born, and where she remained (16) till after the
birth of Isaac, the space of fourteen years. Sarah after this
began to vent her dissatisfaction both on Hagar and her child.
Ishmael's conduct was insulting to Sarah, and she insisted that
he and his mother should be dismissed. This was accordingly
done, although with reluctance on the part of Abraham (Gen.
21:14). They wandered out into the wilderness, where Ishmael,
exhausted with his journey and faint from thirst, seemed about
to die. Hagar "lifted up her voice and wept," and the angel of
the Lord, as before, appeared unto her, and she was comforted
and delivered out of her distresses (Gen. 21:18, 19).
Ishmael afterwards established himself in the wilderness of
Paran, where he married an Egyptian (Gen. 21:20,21).
"Hagar" allegorically represents the Jewish church (Gal.
4:24), in bondage to the ceremonial law; while "Sarah"
represents the Christian church, which is free.
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).
The Heb. kohen, Gr. hierus, Lat. sacerdos, always denote one who
At first every man was his own priest, and presented his own
sacrifices before God. Afterwards that office devolved on the
head of the family, as in the cases of Noah (Gen. 8:20), Abraham
(12:7; 13:4), Isaac (26:25), Jacob (31:54), and Job (Job 1:5).
The name first occurs as applied to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18).
Under the Levitical arrangements the office of the priesthood
was limited to the tribe of Levi, and to only one family of that
tribe, the family of Aaron. Certain laws respecting the
qualifications of priests are given in Lev. 21:16-23. There are
ordinances also regarding the priests' dress (Ex. 28:40-43) and
the manner of their consecration to the office (29:1-37).
Their duties were manifold (Ex. 27:20, 21; 29:38-44; Lev.
6:12; 10:11; 24:8; Num. 10:1-10; Deut. 17:8-13; 33:10; Mal.
2:7). They represented the people before God, and offered the
various sacrifices prescribed in the law.
In the time of David the priests were divided into twenty-four
courses or classes (1 Chr. 24:7-18). This number was retained
after the Captivity (Ezra 2:36-39; Neh. 7:39-42).
"The priests were not distributed over the country, but lived
together in certain cities [forty-eight in number, of which six
were cities of refuge, q.v.], which had been assigned to their
use. From thence they went up by turns to minister in the temple
at Jerusalem. Thus the religious instruction of the people in
the country generally was left to the heads of families, until
the establishment of synagogues, an event which did not take
place till the return from the Captivity, and which was the main
source of the freedom from idolatry that became as marked a
feature of the Jewish people thenceforward as its practice had
been hitherto their great national sin."
The whole priestly system of the Jews was typical. It was a
shadow of which the body is Christ. The priests all prefigured
the great Priest who offered "one sacrifice for sins" "once for
all" (Heb. 10:10, 12). There is now no human priesthood. (See
Epistle to the Hebrews throughout.) The term "priest" is indeed
applied to believers (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6), but in these cases
it implies no sacerdotal functions. All true believers are now
"kings and priests unto God." As priests they have free access
into the holiest of all, and offer up the sacrifices of praise
and thanksgiving, and the sacrifices of grateful service from
day to day.
from the Hebrew _gamal_, "to repay" or "requite," as the camel
does the care of its master. There are two distinct species of
camels, having, however, the common characteristics of being
"ruminants without horns, without muzzle, with nostrils forming
oblique slits, the upper lip divided and separately movable and
extensile, the soles of the feet horny, with two toes covered by
claws, the limbs long, the abdomen drawn up, while the neck,
long and slender, is bent up and down, the reverse of that of a
horse, which is arched."
(1.) The Bactrian camel is distinguished by two humps. It is a
native of the high table-lands of Central Asia.
(2.) The Arabian camel or dromedary, from the Greek _dromos_,
"a runner" (Isa. 60:6; Jer. 2:23), has but one hump, and is a
native of Western Asia or Africa.
The camel was early used both for riding and as a beast of
burden (Gen. 24:64; 37:25), and in war (1 Sam. 30:17; Isa.
21:7). Mention is made of the camel among the cattle given by
Pharaoh to Abraham (Gen. 12:16). Its flesh was not to be eaten,
as it was ranked among unclean animals (Lev. 11:4; Deut. 14:7).
Abraham's servant rode on a camel when he went to fetch a wife
for Isaac (Gen. 24:10, 11). Jacob had camels as a portion of his
wealth (30:43), as Abraham also had (24:35). He sent a present
of thirty milch camels to his brother Esau (32:15). It appears
to have been little in use among the Jews after the conquest. It
is, however, mentioned in the history of David (1 Chr. 27:30),
and after the Exile (Ezra 2:67; Neh. 7:69). Camels were much in
use among other nations in the East. The queen of Sheba came
with a caravan of camels when she came to see the wisdom of
Solomon (1 Kings 10:2; 2 Chr. 9:1). Benhadad of Damascus also
sent a present to Elisha, "forty camels' burden" (2 Kings 8:9).
To show the difficulty in the way of a rich man's entering
into the kingdom, our Lord uses the proverbial expression that
it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
To strain at (rather, out) a gnat and swallow a camel was also
a proverbial expression (Matt. 23:24), used with reference to
those who were careful to avoid small faults, and yet did not
hesitate to commit the greatest sins. The Jews carefully
filtered their wine before drinking it, for fear of swallowing
along with it some insect forbidden in the law as unclean, and
yet they omitted openly the "weightier matters" of the law.
The raiment worn by John the Baptist was made of camel's hair
(Matt. 3:4; Mark 1:6), by which he was distinguished from those
who resided in royal palaces and wore soft raiment. This was
also the case with Elijah (2 Kings 1:8), who is called "a hairy
man," from his wearing such raiment. "This is one of the most
admirable materials for clothing; it keeps out the heat, cold,
and rain." The "sackcloth" so often alluded to (2 Kings 1:8;
Isa. 15:3; Zech. 13:4, etc.) was probably made of camel's hair.
(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
(1.) Definitions. The phrase "heaven and earth" is used to
indicate the whole universe (Gen. 1:1; Jer. 23:24; Acts 17:24).
According to the Jewish notion there were three heavens,
(a) The firmament, as "fowls of the heaven" (Gen. 2:19; 7:3,
23; Ps. 8:8, etc.), "the eagles of heaven" (Lam. 4:19), etc.
(b) The starry heavens (Deut. 17:3; Jer. 8:2; Matt. 24:29).
(c) "The heaven of heavens," or "the third heaven" (Deut.
10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 115:16; 148:4; 2 Cor. 12:2).
(2.) Meaning of words in the original,
(a) The usual Hebrew word for "heavens" is _shamayim_, a
plural form meaning "heights," "elevations" (Gen. 1:1; 2:1).
(b) The Hebrew word _marom_ is also used (Ps. 68:18; 93:4;
102:19, etc.) as equivalent to _shamayim_, "high places,"
(c) Heb. galgal, literally a "wheel," is rendered "heaven" in
Ps. 77:18 (R.V., "whirlwind").
(d) Heb. shahak, rendered "sky" (Deut. 33:26; Job 37:18; Ps.
18:11), plural "clouds" (Job 35:5; 36:28; Ps. 68:34, marg.
"heavens"), means probably the firmament.
(e) Heb. rakia is closely connected with (d), and is rendered
"firmamentum" in the Vulgate, whence our "firmament" (Gen. 1:6;
Deut. 33:26, etc.), regarded as a solid expanse.
(3.) Metaphorical meaning of term. Isa. 14:13, 14; "doors of
heaven" (Ps. 78:23); heaven "shut" (1 Kings 8:35); "opened"
(Ezek. 1:1). (See 1 Chr. 21:16.)
(4.) Spiritual meaning. The place of the everlasting
blessedness of the righteous; the abode of departed spirits.
(a) Christ calls it his "Father's house" (John 14:2).
(b) It is called "paradise" (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev.
(c) "The heavenly Jerusalem" (Gal. 4: 26; Heb. 12:22; Rev.
(d) The "kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 25:1; James 2:5).
(e) The "eternal kingdom" (2 Pet. 1:11).
(f) The "eternal inheritance" (1 Pet. 1:4; Heb. 9:15).
(g) The "better country" (Heb. 11:14, 16).
(h) The blessed are said to "sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob," and to be "in Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22; Matt. 8:11);
to "reign with Christ" (2 Tim. 2:12); and to enjoy "rest" (Heb.
In heaven the blessedness of the righteous consists in the
possession of "life everlasting," "an eternal weight of glory"
(2 Cor. 4:17), an exemption from all sufferings for ever, a
deliverance from all evils (2 Cor. 5:1, 2) and from the society
of the wicked (2 Tim. 4:18), bliss without termination, the
"fulness of joy" for ever (Luke 20:36; 2 Cor. 4:16, 18; 1 Pet.
1:4; 5:10; 1 John 3:2). The believer's heaven is not only a
state of everlasting blessedness, but also a "place", a place
"prepared" for them (John 14:2).
or prediction, was one of the functions of the prophet. It has
been defined as a "miracle of knowledge, a declaration or
description or representation of something future, beyond the
power of human sagacity to foresee, discern, or conjecture."
(See PROPHET ¯T0003006.)
The great prediction which runs like a golden thread through
the whole contents of the Old Testament is that regarding the
coming and work of the Messiah; and the great use of prophecy
was to perpetuate faith in his coming, and to prepare the world
for that event. But there are many subordinate and intermediate
prophecies also which hold an important place in the great chain
of events which illustrate the sovereignty and all-wise
overruling providence of God.
Then there are many prophecies regarding the Jewish nation,
its founder Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:2, 4-6, etc.),
and his posterity, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants (12:7;
13:14, 15, 17; 15:18-21; Ex. 3:8, 17), which have all been
fulfilled. The twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy contains a
series of predictions which are even now in the present day
being fulfilled. In the writings of the prophets Isaiah
(2:18-21), Jeremiah (27:3-7; 29:11-14), Ezekiel (5:12; 8),
Daniel (8; 9:26, 27), Hosea (9:17), there are also many
prophecies regarding the events which were to befall that
There is in like manner a large number of prophecies relating
to those nations with which the Jews came into contact, as Tyre
(Ezek. 26:3-5, 14-21), Egypt (Ezek. 29:10, 15; 30:6, 12, 13),
Ethiopia (Nahum 3:8-10), Nineveh (Nahum 1:10; 2:8-13; 3:17-19),
Babylon (Isa. 13:4; Jer. 51:7; Isa. 44:27; Jer. 50:38; 51:36,
39, 57), the land of the Philistines (Jer. 47:4-7; Ezek.
25:15-17; Amos 1:6-8; Zeph. 2:4-7; Zech. 9:5-8), and of the four
great monarchies (Dan. 2:39, 40; 7:17-24; 8:9).
But the great body of Old Testament prophecy relates directly
to the advent of the Messiah, beginning with Gen. 3:15, the
first great promise, and extending in ever-increasing fulness
and clearness all through to the very close of the canon. The
Messianic prophecies are too numerous to be quoted. "To him gave
all the prophets witness." (Comp. Micah 5:2; Hag. 2:6-9; Isa.
7:14; 9:6, 7; 11:1, 2; 53; 60:10, 13; Ps. 16:11; 68:18.)
Many predictions also were delivered by Jesus and his
apostles. Those of Christ were very numerous. (Comp. Matt.
10:23:24; 11:23; 19:28; 21:43, 44; 24; 25:31-46; 26:17-35, 46,
64; Mark 9:1; 10:30; 13; 11:1-6, 14; 14:12-31, 42, 62; 16:17,
(Heb. mizbe'ah, from a word meaning "to slay"), any structure of
earth (Ex. 20:24) or unwrought stone (20:25) on which sacrifices
were offered. Altars were generally erected in conspicuous
places (Gen. 22:9; Ezek. 6:3; 2 Kings 23:12; 16:4; 23:8; Acts
14:13). The word is used in Heb. 13:10 for the sacrifice offered
upon it--the sacrifice Christ offered.
Paul found among the many altars erected in Athens one bearing
the inscription, "To the unknown God" (Acts 17:23), or rather
"to an [i.e., some] unknown God." The reason for this
inscription cannot now be accurately determined. It afforded the
apostle the occasion of proclaiming the gospel to the "men of
The first altar we read of is that erected by Noah (Gen.
8:20). Altars were erected by Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 13:4; 22:9),
by Isaac (Gen. 26:25), by Jacob (33:20; 35:1, 3), and by Moses
(Ex. 17:15, "Jehovah-nissi").
In the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple, two altars
(1.) The altar of burnt offering (Ex. 30:28), called also the
"brasen altar" (Ex. 39:39) and "the table of the Lord" (Mal.
This altar, as erected in the tabernacle, is described in Ex.
27:1-8. It was a hollow square, 5 cubits in length and in
breadth, and 3 cubits in height. It was made of shittim wood,
and was overlaid with plates of brass. Its corners were
ornamented with "horns" (Ex. 29:12; Lev. 4:18).
In Ex. 27:3 the various utensils appertaining to the altar are
enumerated. They were made of brass. (Comp. 1 Sam. 2:13, 14;
Lev. 16:12; Num. 16:6, 7.)
In Solomon's temple the altar was of larger dimensions (2 Chr.
4:1. Comp. 1 Kings 8:22, 64; 9:25), and was made wholly of
brass, covering a structure of stone or earth. This altar was
renewed by Asa (2 Chr. 15:8). It was removed by Ahaz (2 Kings
16:14), and "cleansed" by Hezekiah, in the latter part of whose
reign it was rebuilt. It was finally broken up and carried away
by the Babylonians (Jer. 52:17).
After the return from captivity it was re-erected (Ezra 3:3,
6) on the same place where it had formerly stood. (Comp. 1 Macc.
4:47.) When Antiochus Epiphanes pillaged Jerusalem the altar of
burnt offering was taken away.
Again the altar was erected by Herod, and remained in its
place till the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (70 A.D.).
The fire on the altar was not permitted to go out (Lev. 6:9).
In the Mosque of Omar, immediately underneath the great dome,
which occupies the site of the old temple, there is a rough
projection of the natural rock, of about 60 feet in its extreme
length, and 50 in its greatest breadth, and in its highest part
about 4 feet above the general pavement. This rock seems to have
been left intact when Solomon's temple was built. It was in all
probability the site of the altar of burnt offering. Underneath
this rock is a cave, which may probably have been the granary of
Araunah's threshing-floor (1 Chr. 21:22).
(2.) The altar of incense (Ex. 30:1-10), called also "the
golden altar" (39:38; Num. 4:11), stood in the holy place
"before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony." On this
altar sweet spices were continually burned with fire taken from
the brazen altar. The morning and the evening services were
commenced by the high priest offering incense on this altar. The
burning of the incense was a type of prayer (Ps. 141:2; Rev.
5:8; 8:3, 4).
This altar was a small movable table, made of acacia wood
overlaid with gold (Ex. 37:25, 26). It was 1 cubit in length and
breadth, and 2 cubits in height.
In Solomon's temple the altar was similar in size, but was
made of cedar-wood (1 Kings 6:20; 7:48) overlaid with gold. In
Ezek. 41:22 it is called "the altar of wood." (Comp. Ex.
In the temple built after the Exile the altar was restored.
Antiochus Epiphanes took it away, but it was afterwards restored
by Judas Maccabaeus (1 Macc. 1:23; 4:49). Among the trophies
carried away by Titus on the destruction of Jerusalem the altar
of incense is not found, nor is any mention made of it in Heb.
9. It was at this altar Zacharias ministered when an angel
appeared to him (Luke 1:11). It is the only altar which appears
in the heavenly temple (Isa. 6:6; Rev. 8:3,4).
Before his death David had "with all his might" provided
materials in great abundance for the building of the temple on
the summit of Mount Moriah (1 Chr. 22:14; 29:4; 2 Chr. 3:1), on
the east of the city, on the spot where Abraham had offered up
Isaac (Gen. 22:1-14). In the beginning of his reign Solomon set
about giving effect to the desire that had been so earnestly
cherished by his father, and prepared additional materials for
the building. From subterranean quarries at Jerusalem he
obtained huge blocks of stone for the foundations and walls of
the temple. These stones were prepared for their places in the
building under the eye of Tyrian master-builders. He also
entered into a compact with Hiram II., king of Tyre, for the
supply of whatever else was needed for the work, particularly
timber from the forests of Lebanon, which was brought in great
rafts by the sea to Joppa, whence it was dragged to Jerusalem (1
Kings 5). As the hill on which the temple was to be built did
not afford sufficient level space, a huge wall of solid masonry
of great height, in some places more than 200 feet high, was
raised across the south of the hill, and a similar wall on the
eastern side, and in the spaces between were erected many arches
and pillars, thus raising up the general surface to the required
level. Solomon also provided for a sufficient water supply for
the temple by hewing in the rocky hill vast cisterns, into which
water was conveyed by channels from the "pools" near Bethlehem.
One of these cisterns, the "great sea," was capable of
containing three millions of gallons. The overflow was led off
by a conduit to the Kidron.
In all these preparatory undertakings a space of about three
years was occupied; and now the process of the erection of the
great building began, under the direction of skilled Phoenician
builders and workmen, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, 480
years after the Exodus (1 Kings 6; 2 Chr. 3). Many thousands of
labourers and skilled artisans were employed in the work. Stones
prepared in the quarries underneath the city (1 Kings 5:17, 18)
of huge dimension (see QUARRIES ¯T0003032) were gradually placed
on the massive walls, and closely fitted together without any
mortar between, till the whole structure was completed. No sound
of hammer or axe or any tool of iron was heard as the structure
arose (6:7). "Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprang."
The building was 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits
high. The engineers of the Israel Exploration Fund, in their
explorations around the temple area, discovered what is believed
to have been the "chief corner stone" of the temple, "the most
interesting stone in the world." It lies at the bottom of the
south-eastern angle, and is 3 feet 8 inches high by 14 feet
long. It rests on the solid rock at a depth of 79 feet 3 inches
below the present surface. (See PINNACLE ¯T0002957.) In
examining the walls the engineers were "struck with admiration
at the vastness of the blocks and the general excellence of the
At length, in the autumn of the eleventh year of his reign,
seven and a half years after it had been begun, the temple was
completed in all its architectural magnificence and beauty. For
thirteen years there it stood, on the summit of Moriah, silent
and unused. The reasons for this strange delay in its
consecration are unknown. At the close of these thirteen years
preparations for the dedication of the temple were made on a
scale of the greatest magnificence. The ark was solemnly brought
from the tent in which David had deposited it to the place
prepared for it in the temple, and the glory-cloud, the symbol
of the divine presence, filled the house. Then Solomon ascended
a platform which had been erected for him, in the sight of all
the people, and lifting up his hands to heaven poured out his
heart to God in prayer (1 Kings 8; 2 Chr. 6, 7). The feast of
dedication, which lasted seven days, followed by the feast of
tabernacles, marked a new era in the history of Israel. On the
eighth day of the feast of tabernacles, Solomon dismissed the
vast assemblage of the people, who returned to their homes
filled with joy and gladness, "Had Solomon done no other service
beyond the building of the temple, he would still have
influenced the religious life of his people down to the latest
days. It was to them a perpetual reminder and visible symbol of
God's presence and protection, a strong bulwark of all the
sacred traditions of the law, a witness to duty, an impulse to
historic study, an inspiration of sacred song."
The temple consisted of, (1.) The oracle or most holy place (1
Kings 6:19; 8:6), called also the "inner house" (6:27), and the
"holiest of all" (Heb. 9:3). It was 20 cubits in length,
breadth, and height. It was floored and wainscotted with cedar
(1 Kings 6:16), and its walls and floor were overlaid with gold
(6:20, 21, 30). There was a two-leaved door between it and the
holy place overlaid with gold (2 Chr. 4:22); also a veil of blue
purple and crimson and fine linen (2 Chr. 3:14; comp. Ex.
26:33). It had no windows (1 Kings 8:12). It was indeed the
dwelling-place of God. (2.) The holy place (q.v.), 1 Kings
8:8-10, called also the "greater house" (2 Chr. 3:5) and the
"temple" (1 Kings 6:17). (3.) The porch or entrance before the
temple on the east (1 Kings 6:3; 2 Chr. 3:4; 29:7). In the porch
stood the two pillars Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21; 2 Kings
11:14; 23:3). (4.) The chambers, which were built about the
temple on the southern, western, and northern sides (1 Kings
6:5-10). These formed a part of the building.
Round about the building were, (1.) The court of the priests
(2 Chr. 4:9), called the "inner court" (1 Kings 6:36). It
contained the altar of burnt-offering (2 Chr. 15:8), the brazen
sea (4:2-5, 10), and ten lavers (1 Kings 7:38, 39). (2.) The
great court, which surrounded the whole temple (2 Chr. 4:9).
Here the people assembled to worship God (Jer. 19:14; 26:2).
This temple erected by Solomon was many times pillaged during
the course of its history, (1) 1 Kings 14:25, 26; (2) 2 Kings
14:14; (3) 2 Kings 16:8, 17, 18; (4) 2 Kings 18:15, 16. At last
it was pillaged and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:13;
2 Chr. 36:7). He burned the temple, and carried all its
treasures with him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:9-17; 2 Chr. 36:19;
Isa. 64:11). These sacred vessels were at length, at the close
of the Captivity, restored to the Jews by Cyrus (Ezra 1:7-11).
remover or increaser. (1.) The elder of the two sons of Jacob by
Rachel (Gen. 30:23, 24), who, on the occasion of his birth,
said, "God hath taken away [Heb. 'asaph] my reproach." "The Lord
shall add [Heb. yoseph] to me another son" (Gen. 30:24). He was
a child of probably six years of age when his father returned
from Haran to Canaan and took up his residence in the old
patriarchal town of Hebron. "Now Israel loved Joseph more than
all his children, because he was the son of his old age," and he
"made him a long garment with sleeves" (Gen. 37:3, R.V. marg.),
i.e., a garment long and full, such as was worn by the children
of nobles. This seems to be the correct rendering of the words.
The phrase, however, may also be rendered, "a coat of many
pieces", i.e., a patchwork of many small pieces of divers
When he was about seventeen years old Joseph incurred the
jealous hatred of his brothers (Gen. 37:4). They "hated him, and
could not speak peaceably unto him." Their anger was increased
when he told them his dreams (37:11).
Jacob desiring to hear tidings of his sons, who had gone to
Shechem with their flocks, some 60 miles from Hebron, sent
Joseph as his messenger to make inquiry regarding them. Joseph
found that they had left Shechem for Dothan, whither he followed
them. As soon as they saw him coming they began to plot against
him, and would have killed him had not Reuben interposed. They
ultimately sold him to a company of Ishmaelite merchants for
twenty pieces (shekels) of silver (about $2, 10s.), ten pieces
less than the current value of a slave, for "they cared little
what they had for him, if so be they were rid of him." These
merchants were going down with a varied assortment of
merchandise to the Egyptian market, and thither they conveyed
him, and ultimately sold him as a slave to Potiphar, an "officer
of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard" (Gen. 37:36). "The Lord
blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake," and Potiphar
made him overseer over his house. At length a false charge
having been brought against him by Potiphar's wife, he was at
once cast into the state prison (39; 40), where he remained for
at least two years. After a while the "chief of the cupbearers"
and the "chief of the bakers" of Pharaoh's household were cast
into the same prison (40:2). Each of these new prisoners dreamed
a dream in the same night, which Joseph interpreted, the event
occurring as he had said.
This led to Joseph's being remembered subsequently by the
chief butler when Pharaoh also dreamed. At his suggestion Joseph
was brought from prison to interpret the king's dreams. Pharaoh
was well pleased with Joseph's wisdom in interpreting his
dreams, and with his counsel with reference to the events then
predicted; and he set him over all the land of Egypt (Gen.
41:46), and gave him the name of Zaphnath-paaneah. He was
married to Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On, and thus
became a member of the priestly class. Joseph was now about
thirty years of age.
As Joseph had interpreted, seven years of plenty came, during
which he stored up great abundance of corn in granaries built
for the purpose. These years were followed by seven years of
famine "over all the face of the earth," when "all countries
came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn" (Gen. 41:56, 57; 47:13,
14). Thus "Joseph gathered up all the money that was in the land
of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they
bought." Afterwards all the cattle and all the land, and at last
the Egyptians themselves, became the property of Pharaoh.
During this period of famine Joseph's brethren also came down
to Egypt to buy corn. The history of his dealings with them, and
of the manner in which he at length made himself known to them,
is one of the most interesting narratives that can be read (Gen.
42-45). Joseph directed his brethren to return and bring Jacob
and his family to the land of Egypt, saying, "I will give you
the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the
land. Regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land is
yours." Accordingly Jacob and his family, to the number of
threescore and ten souls, together with "all that they had,"
went down to Egypt. They were settled in the land of Goshen,
where Joseph met his father, and "fell on his neck, and wept on
his neck a good while" (Gen. 46:29).
The excavations of Dr. Naville have shown the land of Goshen
to be the Wady Tumilat, between Ismailia and Zagazig. In Goshen
(Egyptian Qosem) they had pasture for their flocks, were near
the Asiatic frontier of Egypt, and were out of the way of the
Egyptian people. An inscription speaks of it as a district given
up to the wandering shepherds of Asia.
Jacob at length died, and in fulfilment of a promise which he
had exacted, Joseph went up to Canaan to bury his father in "the
field of Ephron the Hittite" (Gen. 47:29-31; 50:1-14). This was
the last recorded act of Joseph, who again returned to Egypt.
"The 'Story of the Two Brothers,' an Egyptian romance written
for the son of the Pharaoh of the Oppression, contains an
episode very similar to the Biblical account of Joseph's
treatment by Potiphar's wife. Potiphar and Potipherah are the
Egyptian Pa-tu-pa-Ra, 'the gift of the sun-god.' The name given
to Joseph, Zaphnath-paaneah, is probably the Egyptian
Zaf-nti-pa-ankh, 'nourisher of the living one,' i.e., of the
Pharaoh. There are many instances in the inscriptions of
foreigners in Egypt receiving Egyptian names, and rising to the
highest offices of state."
By his wife Asenath, Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim
(Gen. 41:50). Joseph having obtained a promise from his brethren
that when the time should come that God would "bring them unto
the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob,"
they would carry up his bones out of Egypt, at length died, at
the age of one hundred and ten years; and "they embalmed him,
and he was put in a coffin" (Gen. 50:26). This promise was
faithfully observed. Their descendants, long after, when the
Exodus came, carried the body about with them during their forty
years' wanderings, and at length buried it in Shechem, in the
parcel of ground which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor
(Josh. 24:32; comp. Gen. 33:19). With the death of Joseph the
patriarchal age of the history of Israel came to a close.
The Pharaoh of Joseph's elevation was probably Apepi, or
Apopis, the last of the Hyksos kings. Some, however, think that
Joseph came to Egypt in the reign of Thothmes III. (see PHARAOH
¯T0002923), long after the expulsion of the Hyksos.
The name Joseph denotes the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh
in Deut. 33:13-17; the kingdom of Israel in Ezek. 37:16, 19,
Amos 5:6; and the whole covenant people of Israel in Ps. 81:4.
(2.) One of the sons of Asaph, head of the first division of
sacred musicians (1 Chr. 25:2, 9).
(3.) The son of Judah, and father of Semei (Luke 3:26). Other
two of the same name in the ancestry of Christ are also
mentioned (3:24, 30).
(4.) The foster-father of our Lord (Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23). He
lived at Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:4). He is called a "just
man." He was by trade a carpenter (Matt. 13:55). He is last
mentioned in connection with the journey to Jerusalem, when
Jesus was twelve years old. It is probable that he died before
Jesus entered on his public ministry. This is concluded from the
fact that Mary only was present at the marriage feast in Cana of
Galilee. His name does not appear in connection with the scenes
of the crucifixion along with that of Mary (q.v.), John 19:25.
(5.) A native of Arimathea, probably the Ramah of the Old
Testament (1 Sam. 1:19), a man of wealth, and a member of the
Sanhedrim (Matt. 27:57; Luke 23:50), an "honourable counsellor,
who waited for the kingdom of God." As soon as he heard the
tidings of Christ's death, he "went in boldly" (lit. "having
summoned courage, he went") "unto Pilate, and craved the body of
Jesus." Pilate having ascertained from the centurion that the
death had really taken place, granted Joseph's request, who
immediately, having purchased fine linen (Mark 15:46), proceeded
to Golgotha to take the body down from the cross. There,
assisted by Nicodemus, he took down the body and wrapped it in
the fine linen, sprinkling it with the myrrh and aloes which
Nicodemus had brought (John 19:39), and then conveyed the body
to the new tomb hewn by Joseph himself out of a rock in his
garden hard by. There they laid it, in the presence of Mary
Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joses, and other women, and rolled
a great stone to the entrance, and departed (Luke 23:53, 55).
This was done in haste, "for the Sabbath was drawing on" (comp.
(6.) Surnamed Barsabas (Acts 1:23); also called Justus. He was
one of those who "companied with the apostles all the time that
the Lord Jesus went out and in among them" (Acts 1:21), and was
one of the candidates for the place of Judas.