Haggai, Book of
consists of two brief, comprehensive chapters. The object of the
prophet was generally to urge the people to proceed with the
rebuilding of the temple.
Chapter first comprehends the first address (2-11) and its
effects (12-15). Chapter second contains,
(1.) The second prophecy (1-9), which was delivered a month
after the first.
(2.) The third prophecy (10-19), delivered two months and
three days after the second; and
(3.) The fourth prophecy (20-23), delivered on the same day as
These discourses are referred to in Ezra 5:1; 6:14; Heb.
12:26. (Comp. Hag. 2:7, 8, 22.)
(1.) A load of any kind (Ex. 23:5). (2.) A severe task (Ex.
2:11). (3.) A difficult duty, requiring effort (Ex. 18:22). (4.)
A prophecy of a calamitous or disastrous nature (Isa. 13:1;
17:1; Hab. 1:1, etc.).
God with us. In the Old Testament it occurs only in Isa. 7:14
and 8:8. Most Christian interpreters have regarded these words
as directly and exclusively a prophecy of our Saviour, an
interpretation borne out by the words of the evangelist Matthew
(Heb. hodah). The oldest and, strictly speaking, the only
example of a riddle was that propounded by Samson (Judg.
14:12-18). The parabolic prophecy in Ezek. 17:2-18 is there
called a "riddle." It was rather, however, an allegory. The word
"darkly" in 1 Cor. 13:12 is the rendering of the Greek enigma;
marg., "in a riddle."
Zebulun, Lot of
in Galilee, to the north of Issachar and south of Asher and
Naphtali (Josh. 19:10-16), and between the Sea of Galilee and
the Mediterranean. According to ancient prophecy this part of
Galilee enjoyed a large share of our Lord's public ministry
(Isa. 9:1, 2; Matt. 4:12-16).
Joel, Book of
Joel was probably a resident in Judah, as his commission was to
that people. He makes frequent mention of Judah and Jerusalem
(1:14; 2:1, 15, 32; 3:1, 12, 17, 20, 21).
He probably flourished in the reign of Uzziah (about B.C.
800), and was contemporary with Amos and Isaiah.
The contents of this book are, (1.) A prophecy of a great
public calamity then impending over the land, consisting of a
want of water and an extraordinary plague of locusts (1:1-2:11).
(2.) The prophet then calls on his countrymen to repent and to
turn to God, assuring them of his readiness to forgive
(2:12-17), and foretelling the restoration of the land to its
accustomed fruitfulness (18-26). (3.) Then follows a Messianic
prophecy, quoted by Peter (Acts 2:39). (4.) Finally, the prophet
foretells portents and judgments as destined to fall on the
enemies of God (ch. 3, but in the Hebrew text 4).
freed by Jehovah. (1.) The head of the twenty-third division of
the priestly order (1 Chr. 24:18).
(2.) A son of Shemaiah, and one of the courtiers to whom
Jeremiah's first roll of prophecy was read (Jer. 36:12).
(3.) The head of one of the bands of exiles that returned
under Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:60; Neh. 7:62).
according to some MSS., meaning "city of destruction." Other
MSS. read _'Irhahares_; rendered "city of the sun", Isa. 19:18,
where alone the word occurs. This name may probably refer to
Heliopolis. The prophecy here points to a time when the Jews
would so increase in number there as that the city would fall
under their influence. This might be in the time of the
Ptolemies. (See ON ¯T0002786.)
(Heb. qinah), an elegy or dirge. The first example of this form
of poetry is the lament of David over Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam.
1:17-27). It was a frequent accompaniment of mourning (Amos
8:10). In 2 Sam. 3:33, 34 is recorded David's lament over Abner.
Prophecy sometimes took the form of a lament when it predicted
calamity (Ezek. 27:2, 32; 28:12; 32:2, 16).
(1 Kings 12:11). Variously administered. In no case were the
stripes to exceed forty (Deut. 25:3; comp. 2 Cor. 11:24). In the
time of the apostles, in consequence of the passing of what was
called the Porcian law, no Roman citizen could be scourged in
any case (Acts 16:22-37). (See BASTINADO ¯T0000469.) In the
scourging of our Lord (Matt. 27:26; Mark 15:15) the words of
prophecy (Isa. 53:5) were fulfilled.
In a prophecy concerning our Lord, Isaiah (7:14) says, "A virgin
[R.V. marg., 'the virgin'] shall conceive, and bear a son"
(comp. Luke 1:31-35). The people of the land of Zidon are thus
referred to by Isaiah (23:12), "O thou oppressed virgin,
daughter of Zidon;" and of the people of Israel, Jeremiah
(18:13) says, "The virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible
(1.) A Reubenite (1 Chr. 5:4), the father of Shimei.
(2.) The name of the leader of the hostile party described in
Ezek. 38,39, as coming from the "north country" and assailing
the people of Israel to their own destruction. This prophecy has
been regarded as fulfilled in the conflicts of the Maccabees
with Antiochus, the invasion and overthrow of the Chaldeans, and
the temporary successes and destined overthrow of the Turks. But
"all these interpretations are unsatisfactory and inadequate.
The vision respecting Gog and Magog in the Apocalypse (Rev.
20:8) is in substance a reannouncement of this prophecy of
Ezekiel. But while Ezekiel contemplates the great conflict in a
more general light as what was certainly to be connected with
the times of the Messiah, and should come then to its last
decisive issues, John, on the other hand, writing from the
commencement of the Messiah's times, describes there the last
struggles and victories of the cause of Christ. In both cases
alike the vision describes the final workings of the world's
evil and its results in connection with the kingdom of God, only
the starting-point is placed further in advance in the one case
than in the other."
It has been supposed to be the name of a district in the wild
north-east steppes of Central Asia, north of the Hindu-Kush, now
a part of Turkestan, a region about 2,000 miles north-east of
the cognomen of the first Roman emperor, C. Julius Caesar
Octavianus, during whose reign Christ was born (Luke 2:1). His
decree that "all the world should be taxed" was the divinely
ordered occasion of Jesus' being born, according to prophecy
(Micah 5:2), in Bethlehem. This name being simply a title
meaning "majesty" or "venerable," first given to him by the
senate (B.C. 27), was borne by succeeding emperors. Before his
death (A.D. 14) he associated Tiberius with him in the empire
(Luke 3:1), by whom he was succeeded.
a "publisher of glad tidings;" a missionary preacher of the
gospel (Eph. 4:11). This title is applied to Philip (Acts 21:8),
who appears to have gone from city to city preaching the word
(8:4, 40). Judging from the case of Philip, evangelists had
neither the authority of an apostle, nor the gift of prophecy,
nor the responsibility of pastoral supervision over a portion of
the flock. They were itinerant preachers, having it as their
special function to carry the gospel to places where it was
previously unknown. The writers of the four Gospels are known as
salvation, the son of Beeri, and author of the book of
prophecies bearing his name. He belonged to the kingdom of
Israel. "His Israelitish origin is attested by the peculiar,
rough, Aramaizing diction, pointing to the northern part of
Israel; by the intimate acquaintance he evinces with the
localities of Ephraim (5:1; 6:8, 9; 12:12; 14:6, etc.); by
passages like 1:2, where the kingdom is styled 'the land', and
7:5, where the Israelitish king is designated as 'our' king."
The period of his ministry (extending to some sixty years) is
indicated in the superscription (Hos. 1:1, 2). He is the only
prophet of Israel who has left any written prophecy.
Proportion of faith
(Rom. 12:6). Paul says here that each one was to exercise his
gift of prophecy, i.e., of teaching, "according to the
proportion of faith." The meaning is, that the utterances of the
"prophet" were not to fluctuate according to his own impulses or
independent thoughts, but were to be adjusted to the truth
revealed to him as a beliver, i.e., were to be in accordance
In post-Reformation times this phrase was used as meaning that
all Scripture was to be interpreted with reference to all other
Scripture, i.e., that no words or expressions were to be
isolated or interpreted in a way contrary to its general
teaching. This was also called the "analogy of faith."
(Obad. 1:20), some locality unknown. The modern Jews think that
Spain is meant, and hence they designate the Spanish Jews
"Sephardim," as they do the German Jews by the name
"Ashkenazim," because the rabbis call Germany Ashkenaz. Others
identify it with Sardis, the capital of Lydia. The Latin father
Jerome regarded it as an Assyrian word, meaning "boundary," and
interpreted the sentence, "which is in Sepharad," by "who are
scattered abroad in all the boundaries and regions of the
earth." Perowne says: "Whatever uncertainty attaches to the word
Sepharad, the drift of the prophecy is clear, viz., that not
only the exiles from Babylon, but Jewish captives from other and
distant regions, shall be brought back to live prosperously
within the enlarged borders of their own land."
Heb. hometz, Gr. oxos, Fr. vin aigre; i.e., "sour wine." The
Hebrew word is rendered vinegar in Ps. 69:21, a prophecy
fulfilled in the history of the crucifixion (Matt. 27:34). This
was the common sour wine (posea) daily made use of by the Roman
soldiers. They gave it to Christ, not in derision, but from
compassion, to assuage his thirst. Prov. 10:26 shows that there
was also a stronger vinegar, which was not fit for drinking. The
comparison, "vinegar upon nitre," probably means "vinegar upon
soda" (as in the marg. of the R.V.), which then effervesces.
(1 Sam. 15:23; 2 Kings 9:22; 2 Chr. 33:6; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4;
Gal. 5:20). In the popular sense of the word no mention is made
either of witches or of witchcraft in Scripture.
The "witch of En-dor" (1 Sam. 28) was a necromancer, i.e., one
who feigned to hold converse with the dead. The damsel with "a
spirit of divination" (Acts 16:16) was possessed by an evil
spirit, or, as the words are literally rendered, "having a
spirit, a pithon." The reference is to the heathen god Apollo,
who was regarded as the god of prophecy.
Heb. zeeb, frequently referred to in Scripture as an emblem of
treachery and cruelty. Jacob's prophecy, "Benjamin shall ravin
as a wolf" (Gen. 49:27), represents the warlike character of
that tribe (see Judg. 19-21). Isaiah represents the peace of
Messiah's kingdom by the words, "The wolf also shall dwell with
the lamb" (Isa. 11:6). The habits of the wolf are described in
Jer. 5:6; Hab. 1:8; Zeph. 3:3; Ezek. 22:27; Matt. 7:15; 10:16;
Acts 20:29. Wolves are still sometimes found in Israel, and
are the dread of shepherds, as of old.
(1.) Of form or person (Prov. 1:9; 3:22; Ps. 45:2). (2.) Favour,
kindness, friendship (Gen. 6:8; 18:3; 19:19; 2 Tim. 1:9). (3.)
God's forgiving mercy (Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2:5). (4.) The gospel as
distinguished from the law (John 1:17; Rom. 6:14; 1 Pet. 5:12).
(5.) Gifts freely bestowed by God; as miracles, prophecy,
tongues (Rom. 15:15; 1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 3:8). (6.) Christian
virtues (2 Cor. 8:7; 2 Pet. 3:18). (7.) The glory hereafter to
be revealed (1 Pet. 1:13).
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,
the Jewish high priest (A.D. 27-36) at the beginning of our
Lord's public ministry, in the reign of Tiberius (Luke 3:2), and
also at the time of his condemnation and crucifixion (Matt.
26:3,57; John 11:49; 18:13, 14). He held this office during the
whole of Pilate's administration. His wife was the daughter of
Annas, who had formerly been high priest, and was probably the
vicar or deputy (Heb. sagan) of Caiaphas. He was of the sect of
the Sadducees (Acts 5:17), and was a member of the council when
he gave his opinion that Jesus should be put to death "for the
people, and that the whole nation perish not" (John 11:50). In
these words he unconsciously uttered a prophecy. "Like Saul, he
was a prophet in spite of himself." Caiaphas had no power to
inflict the punishment of death, and therefore Jesus was sent to
Pilate, the Roman governor, that he might duly pronounce the
sentence against him (Matt. 27:2; John 18:28). At a later period
his hostility to the gospel is still manifest (Acts 4:6). (See
terebinth or oak. (1.) Valley of, where the Israelites were
encamped when David killed Goliath (1 Sam. 17:2, 19). It was
near Shochoh of Judah and Azekah (17:1). It is the modern Wady
es-Sunt, i.e., "valley of the acacia." "The terebinths from
which the valley of Elah takes its name still cling to their
ancient soil. On the west side of the valley, near Shochoh,
there is a very large and ancient tree of this kind known as the
'terebinth of Wady Sur,' 55 feet in height, its trunk 17 feet in
circumference, and the breadth of its shade no less than 75
feet. It marks the upper end of the Elah valley, and forms a
noted object, being one of the largest terebinths in Israel."
Geikie's, The Holy Land, etc.
(2.) One of the Edomite chiefs or "dukes" of Mount Seir (Gen.
(3.) The second of the three sons of Caleb, the son of
Jephunneh (1 Chr. 4:15).
(4.) The son and successor of Baasha, king of Israel (1 Kings
16:8-10). He was killed while drunk by Zimri, one of the
captains of his chariots, and was the last king of the line of
Baasha. Thus was fullfilled the prophecy of Jehu (6, 7, 11-14).
(5.) The father of Hoshea, the last king of Israel (2 Kings
country of burnt faces; the Greek word by which the Hebrew Cush
is rendered (Gen. 2:13; 2 Kings 19:9; Esther 1:1; Job 28:19; Ps.
68:31; 87:4), a country which lay to the south of Egypt,
beginning at Syene on the First Cataract (Ezek. 29:10; 30:6),
and extending to beyond the confluence of the White and Blue
Nile. It corresponds generally with what is now known as the
Soudan (i.e., the land of the blacks). This country was known to
the Hebrews, and is described in Isa. 18:1; Zeph. 3:10. They
carried on some commercial intercourse with it (Isa. 45:14).
Its inhabitants were descendants of Ham (Gen. 10:6; Jer.
13:23; Isa. 18:2, "scattered and peeled," A.V.; but in R.V.,
"tall and smooth"). Herodotus, the Greek historian, describes
them as "the tallest and handsomest of men." They are frequently
represented on Egyptian monuments, and they are all of the type
of the true negro. As might be expected, the history of this
country is interwoven with that of Egypt.
Ethiopia is spoken of in prophecy (Ps. 68:31; 87:4; Isa.
45:14; Ezek. 30:4-9; Dan. 11:43; Nah. 3:8-10; Hab. 3:7; Zeph.
that which is out of sight, a Greek word used to denote the
state or place of the dead. All the dead alike go into this
place. To be buried, to go down to the grave, to descend into
hades, are equivalent expressions. In the LXX. this word is the
usual rendering of the Hebrew sheol, the common receptacle of
the departed (Gen. 42:38; Ps. 139:8; Hos. 13:14; Isa. 14:9).
This term is of comparatively rare occurrence in the Greek New
Testament. Our Lord speaks of Capernaum as being "brought down
to hell" (hades), i.e., simply to the lowest debasement, (Matt.
11:23). It is contemplated as a kind of kingdom which could
never overturn the foundation of Christ's kingdom (16:18), i.e.,
Christ's church can never die.
In Luke 16:23 it is most distinctly associated with the doom
and misery of the lost.
In Acts 2:27-31 Peter quotes the LXX. version of Ps. 16:8-11,
plainly for the purpose of proving our Lord's resurrection from
the dead. David was left in the place of the dead, and his body
saw corruption. Not so with Christ. According to ancient
prophecy (Ps. 30:3) he was recalled to life.
Nahum, Book of
Nahum prophesied, according to some, in the beginning of the
reign of Ahaz (B.C. 743). Others, however, think that his
prophecies are to be referred to the latter half of the reign of
Hezekiah (about B.C. 709). This is the more probable opinion,
internal evidences leading to that conclusion. Probably the book
was written in Jerusalem (soon after B.C. 709), where he
witnessed the invasion of Sennacherib and the destruction of his
host (2 Kings 19:35).
The subject of this prophecy is the approaching complete and
final destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the great and at
that time flourishing Assyrian empire. Assur-bani-pal was at the
height of his glory. Nineveh was a city of vast extent, and was
then the centre of the civilzation and commerce of the world, a
"bloody city all full of lies and robbery" (Nah. 3:1), for it
had robbed and plundered all the neighbouring nations. It was
strongly fortified on every side, bidding defiance to every
enemy; yet it was to be utterly destroyed as a punishment for
the great wickedness of its inhabitants.
Jonah had already uttered his message of warning, and Nahum
was followed by Zephaniah, who also predicted (Zeph. 2:4-15) the
destruction of the city, predictions which were remarkably
fulfilled (B.C. 625) when Nineveh was destroyed apparently by
fire, and the Assyrian empire came to an end, an event which
changed the face of Asia. (See NINEVEH ¯T0002735.)
light; the sun, (Gen. 41:45, 50), the great seat of sun-worship,
called also Bethshemesh (Jer. 43:13) and Aven (Ezek. 30:17),
stood on the east bank of the Nile, a few miles north of
Memphis, and near Cairo, in the north-east. The Vulgate and the
LXX. Versions have "Heliopolis" ("city of the sun") instead of
On in Genesis and of Aven in Ezekiel. The "city of destruction"
Isaiah speaks of (19:18, marg. "of Heres;" Heb. 'Ir-ha-heres,
which some MSS. read Ir-ha-heres, i.e., "city of the sun") may
be the name given to On, the prophecy being that the time will
come when that city which was known as the "city of the sun-god"
shall become the "city of destruction" of the sun-god, i.e.,
when idolatry shall cease, and the worship of the true God be
In ancient times this city was full of obelisks dedicated to
the sun. Of these only one now remains standing. "Cleopatra's
Needle" was one of those which stood in this city in front of
the Temple of Tum, i.e., "the sun." It is now erected on the
Thames Embankment, London.
"It was at On that Joseph wooed and won the dark-skinned
Asenath, the daughter of the high priest of its great temple."
This was a noted university town, and here Moses gained his
acquaintance with "all the wisdom of the Egyptians."
hearing. (1.) The second son of Jacob by Leah (Gen. 29:33). He
was associated with Levi in the terrible act of vengeance
against Hamor and the Shechemites (34:25, 26). He was detained
by Joseph in Egypt as a hostage (42:24). His father, when dying,
pronounced a malediction against him (49:5-7). The words in the
Authorized Version (49:6), "they digged down a wall," ought to
be, as correctly rendered in the Revised Version, "they houghed
(2.) An aged saint who visited the temple when Jesus was being
presented before the Lord, and uttered lofty words of
thankgiving and of prophecy (Luke 2:29-35).
(3.) One of the ancestors of Joseph (Luke 3:30).
(4.) Surnamed Niger, i.e., "black," perhaps from his dark
complexion, a teacher of some distinction in the church of
Antioch (Acts 13:1-3). It has been supposed that this was the
Simon of Cyrene who bore Christ's cross. Note the number of
nationalities represented in the church at Antioch.
(5.) James (Acts 15:14) thus designates the apostle Peter
father's brother. (1.) The son of Omri, whom he succeeded as the
seventh king of Israel. His history is recorded in 1 Kings
16-22. His wife was Jezebel (q.v.), who exercised a very evil
influence over him. To the calf-worship introduced by Jeroboam
he added the worship of Baal. He was severely admonished by
Elijah (q.v.) for his wickedness. His anger was on this account
kindled against the prophet, and he sought to kill him. He
undertook three campaigns against Ben-hadad II., king of
Damascus. In the first two, which were defensive, he gained a
complete victory over Ben-hadad, who fell into his hands, and
was afterwards released on the condition of his restoring all
the cities of Israel he then held, and granting certain other
concessions to Ahab. After three years of peace, for some cause
Ahab renewed war (1 Kings 22:3) with Ben-hadad by assaulting the
city of Ramoth-gilead, although the prophet Micaiah warned him
that he would not succeed, and that the 400 false prophets who
encouraged him were only leading him to his ruin. Micaiah was
imprisoned for thus venturing to dissuade Ahab from his purpose.
Ahab went into the battle disguised, that he might if possible
escape the notice of his enemies; but an arrow from a bow "drawn
at a venture" pierced him, and though stayed up in his chariot
for a time he died towards evening, and Elijah's prophecy (1
Kings 21:19) was fulfilled. He reigned twenty-three years.
Because of his idolatry, lust, and covetousness, Ahab is
referred to as pre-eminently the type of a wicked king (2 Kings
8:18; 2 Chr. 22:3; Micah 6:16).
(2.) A false prophet referred to by Jeremiah (Jer. 29:21), of
whom nothing further is known.
Hebrew, Perath; Assyrian, Purat; Persian cuneiform, Ufratush,
whence Greek Euphrates, meaning "sweet water." The Assyrian name
means "the stream," or "the great stream." It is generally
called in the Bible simply "the river" (Ex. 23:31), or "the
great river" (Deut. 1:7).
The Euphrates is first mentioned in Gen. 2:14 as one of the
rivers of Paradise. It is next mentioned in connection with the
covenant which God entered into with Abraham (15:18), when he
promised to his descendants the land from the river of Egypt to
the river Euphrates (comp. Deut. 11:24; Josh. 1:4), a covenant
promise afterwards fulfilled in the extended conquests of David
(2 Sam. 8:2-14; 1 Chr. 18:3; 1 Kings 4:24). It was then the
boundary of the kingdom to the north-east. In the ancient
history of Assyria, and Babylon, and Egypt many events are
recorded in which mention is made of the "great river." Just as
the Nile represented in prophecy the power of Egypt, so the
Euphrates represented the Assyrian power (Isa. 8:7; Jer. 2:18).
It is by far the largest and most important of all the rivers
of Western Asia. From its source in the Armenian mountains to
the Persian Gulf, into which it empties itself, it has a course
of about 1,700 miles. It has two sources, (1) the Frat or
Kara-su (i.e., "the black river"), which rises 25 miles
north-east of Erzeroum; and (2) the Muradchai (i.e., "the river
of desire"), which rises near Ararat, on the northern slope of
Ala-tagh. At Kebban Maden, 400 miles from the source of the
former, and 270 from that of the latter, they meet and form the
majestic stream, which is at length joined by the Tigris at
Koornah, after which it is called Shat-el-Arab, which runs in a
deep and broad stream for above 140 miles to the sea. It is
estimated that the alluvium brought down by these rivers
encroaches on the sea at the rate of about one mile in thirty
fruits, "the Jezreelite," was the owner of a portion of ground
on the eastern slope of the hill of Jezreel (2 Kings 9:25, 26).
This small "plat of ground" seems to have been all he possessed.
It was a vineyard, and lay "hard by the palace of Ahab" (1 Kings
21:1, 2), who greatly coveted it. Naboth, however, refused on
any terms to part with it to the king. He had inherited it from
his fathers, and no Israelite could lawfully sell his property
(Lev. 25:23). Jezebel, Ahab's wife, was grievously offended at
Naboth's refusal to part with his vineyard. By a crafty and
cruel plot she compassed his death. His sons also shared his
fate (2 Kings 9:26; 1 Kings 21:19). She then came to Ahab and
said, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard; for Naboth is not
alive, but dead." Ahab arose and went forth into the garden
which had so treacherously and cruelly been acquired, seemingly
enjoying his new possession, when, lo, Elijah suddenly appeared
before him and pronounced against him a fearful doom (1 Kings
21:17-24). Jehu and Bidcar were with Ahab at this time, and so
deeply were the words of Elijah imprinted on Jehu's memory that
many years afterwards he refers to them (2 Kings 9:26), and he
was the chief instrument in inflicting this sentence on Ahab and
Jezebel and all their house (9:30-37). The house of Ahab was
extinguished by him. Not one of all his great men and his
kinsfolk and his priests did Jehu spare (10:11).
Ahab humbled himself at Elijah's words (1 Kings 21:28, 29),
and therefore the prophecy was fulfilled not in his fate but in
that of his son Joram (2 Kings 9:25).
The history of Naboth, compared with that of Ahab and Jezebel,
furnishes a remarkable illustration of the law of a retributive
providence, a law which runs through all history (comp. Ps.
(Matt. 2:18), the Greek form of Ramah. (1.) A city first
mentioned in Josh. 18:25, near Gibeah of Benjamin. It was
fortified by Baasha, king of Israel (1 Kings 15:17-22; 2 Chr.
16:1-6). Asa, king of Judah, employed Benhadad the Syrian king
to drive Baasha from this city (1 Kings 15:18, 20). Isaiah
(10:29) refers to it, and also Jeremiah, who was once a prisoner
there among the other captives of Jerusalem when it was taken by
Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 39:8-12; 40:1). Rachel, whose tomb lies
close to Bethlehem, is represented as weeping in Ramah (Jer.
31:15) for her slaughtered children. This prophecy is
illustrated and fulfilled in the re-awakening of Rachel's grief
at the slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:18). It is
identified with the modern village of er-Ram, between Gibeon and
Beeroth, about 5 miles due north of Jerusalem. (See SAMUEL
(2.) A town identified with Rameh, on the border of Asher,
about 13 miles south-east of Tyre, "on a solitary hill in the
midst of a basin of green fields" (Josh. 19:29).
(3.) One of the "fenced cities" of Naphtali (Josh. 19:36), on
a mountain slope, about seven and a half miles west-south-west
of Safed, and 15 miles west of the north end of the Sea of
Galilee, the present large and well-built village of Rameh.
(4.) The same as Ramathaim-zophim (q.v.), a town of Mount
Ephraim (1 Sam. 1:1, 19).
(5.) The same as Ramoth-gilead (q.v.), 2 Kings 8:29; 2 Chr.
activity, the most ancient of Oriental cities; the capital of
Syria (Isa. 7:8; 17:3); situated about 133 miles to the north of
Jerusalem. Its modern name is Esh-Sham; i.e., "the East."
The situation of this city is said to be the most beautiful of
all Western Asia. It is mentioned among the conquests of the
Egyptian king Thothmes III. (B.C. 1500), and in the Amarna
tablets (B.C. 1400).
It is first mentioned in Scripture in connection with
Abraham's victory over the confederate kings under Chedorlaomer
(Gen. 14:15). It was the native place of Abraham's steward
(15:2). It is not again noticed till the time of David, when
"the Syrians of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer" (q.v.), 2
Sam. 8:5; 1 Chr. 18:5. In the reign of Solomon, Rezon became
leader of a band who revolted from Hadadezer (1 Kings 11:23),
and betaking themselves to Damascus, settled there and made
their leader king. There was a long war, with varying success,
between the Israelites and Syrians, who at a later period became
allies of Israel against Judah (2 Kings 15:37).
The Syrians were at length subdued by the Assyrians, the city
of Damascus was taken and destroyed, and the inhabitants carried
captive into Assyria (2 Kings 16:7-9; comp. Isa. 7:8). In this,
prophecy was fulfilled (Isa. 17:1; Amos 1:4; Jer. 49:24). The
kingdom of Syria remained a province of Assyria till the capture
of Nineveh by the Medes (B.C. 625), when it fell under the
conquerors. After passing through various vicissitudes, Syria
was invaded by the Romans (B.C. 64), and Damascus became the
seat of the government of the province. In A.D. 37 Aretas, the
king of Arabia, became master of Damascus, having driven back
This city is memorable as the scene of Saul's conversion (Acts
9:1-25). The street called "Straight," in which Judas lived, in
whose house Saul was found by Ananias, is known by the name
Sultany, or "Queen's Street." It is the principal street of the
city. Paul visited Damascus again on his return from Arabia
(Gal. 1:16, 17). Christianity was planted here as a centre (Acts
9:20), from which it spread to the surrounding regions.
In A.D. 634 Damascus was conquered by the growing Mohammedan
power. In A.D. 1516 it fell under the dominion of the Turks, its
present rulers. It is now the largest city in Asiatic Turkey.
Christianity has again found a firm footing within its walls.
wide spreading: "God shall enlarge Japheth" (Heb. Yaphat Elohim
le-Yephet, Gen. 9:27. Some, however, derive the name from
_yaphah_, "to be beautiful;" hence white), one of the sons of
Noah, mentioned last in order (Gen. 5:32; 6:10; 7:13), perhaps
first by birth (10:21; comp. 9:24). He and his wife were two of
the eight saved in the ark (1 Pet. 3:20). He was the progenitor
of many tribes inhabiting the east of Europe and the north of
Asia (Gen. 10:2-5). An act of filial piety (9:20-27) was the
occasion of Noah's prophecy of the extension of his posterity.
After the Flood the earth was re-peopled by the descendants of
Noah, "the sons of Japheth" (Gen. 10:2), "the sons of Ham" (6),
and "the sons of Shem" (22). It is important to notice that
modern ethnological science, reasoning from a careful analysis
of facts, has arrived at the conclusion that there is a
three-fold division of the human family, corresponding in a
remarkable way with the great ethnological chapter of the book
of Genesis (10). The three great races thus distinguished are
called the Semitic, Aryan, and Turanian (Allophylian). "Setting
aside the cases where the ethnic names employed are of doubtful
application, it cannot reasonably be questioned that the author
[of Gen. 10] has in his account of the sons of Japheth classed
together the Cymry or Celts (Gomer), the Medes (Madai), and the
Ionians or Greeks (Javan), thereby anticipating what has become
known in modern times as the 'Indo-European Theory,' or the
essential unity of the Aryan (Asiatic) race with the principal
races of Europe, indicated by the Celts and the Ionians. Nor can
it be doubted that he has thrown together under the one head of
'children of Shem' the Assyrians (Asshur), the Syrians (Aram),
the Hebrews (Eber), and the Joktanian Arabs (Joktan), four of
the principal races which modern ethnology recognizes under the
heading of 'Semitic.' Again, under the heading of 'sons of Ham,'
the author has arranged 'Cush', i.e., the Ethiopians; 'Mizraim,'
the people of Egypt; 'Sheba and Dedan,' or certain of the
Southern Arabs; and 'Nimrod,' or the ancient people of Babylon,
four races between which the latest linguistic researches have
established a close affinity" (Rawlinson's Hist. Illustrations).
the third book of the Pentateuch; so called in the Vulgate,
after the LXX., because it treats chiefly of the Levitical
In the first section of the book (1-17), which exhibits the
worship itself, there is, (1.) A series of laws (1-7) regarding
sacrifices, burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, and thank-offerings
(1-3), sin-offerings and trespass-offerings (4; 5), followed by
the law of the priestly duties in connection with the offering
of sacrifices (6; 7). (2.) An historical section (8-10), giving
an account of the consecration of Aaron and his sons (8);
Aaron's first offering for himself and the people (9); Nadab and
Abihu's presumption in offering "strange fire before Jehovah,"
and their punishment (10). (3.) Laws concerning purity, and the
sacrifices and ordinances for putting away impurity (11-16). An
interesting fact may be noted here. Canon Tristram, speaking of
the remarkable discoveries regarding the flora and fauna of the
Holy Land by the Israel Exploration officers, makes the
following statement:, "Take these two catalogues of the clean
and unclean animals in the books of Leviticus  and
Deuteronomy . There are eleven in Deuteronomy which do not
occur in Leviticus, and these are nearly all animals and birds
which are not found in Egypt or the Holy Land, but which are
numerous in the Arabian desert. They are not named in Leviticus
a few weeks after the departure from Egypt; but after the people
were thirty-nine years in the desert they are named, a strong
proof that the list in Deuteronomy was written at the end of the
journey, and the list in Leviticus at the beginning. It fixes
the writing of that catalogue to one time and period only, viz.,
that when the children of Israel were familiar with the fauna
and the flora of the desert" (Palest. Expl. Quart., Jan. 1887).
(4.) Laws marking the separation between Israel and the heathen
(17-20). (5.) Laws about the personal purity of the priests, and
their eating of the holy things (20; 21); about the offerings of
Israel, that they were to be without blemish (22:17-33); and
about the due celebration of the great festivals (23; 25). (6.)
Then follow promises and warnings to the people regarding
obedience to these commandments, closing with a section on vows.
The various ordinances contained in this book were all
delivered in the space of a month (comp. Ex. 40:17; Num. 1:1),
the first month of the second year after the Exodus. It is the
third book of Moses.
No book contains more of the very words of God. He is almost
throughout the whole of it the direct speaker. This book is a
prophecy of things to come, a shadow whereof the substance is
Christ and his kingdom. The principles on which it is to be
interpreted are laid down in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It
contains in its complicated ceremonial the gospel of the grace
Bible, the English form of the Greek name _Biblia_, meaning
"books," the name which in the fifth century began to be given
to the entire collection of sacred books, the "Library of Divine
Revelation." The name Bible was adopted by Wickliffe, and came
gradually into use in our English language. The Bible consists
of sixty-six different books, composed by many different
writers, in three different languages, under different
circumstances; writers of almost every social rank, statesmen
and peasants, kings, herdsmen, fishermen, priests,
tax-gatherers, tentmakers; educated and uneducated, Jews and
Gentiles; most of them unknown to each other, and writing at
various periods during the space of about 1600 years: and yet,
after all, it is only one book dealing with only one subject in
its numberless aspects and relations, the subject of man's
It is divided into the Old Testament, containing thirty-nine
books, and the New Testament, containing twenty-seven books. The
names given to the Old in the writings of the New are "the
scriptures" (Matt. 21:42), "scripture" (2 Pet. 1:20), "the holy
scriptures" (Rom. 1:2), "the law" (John 12:34), "the law of
Moses, the prophets, and the psalms" (Luke 24:44), "the law and
the prophets" (Matt. 5:17), "the old covenant" (2 Cor. 3:14,
R.V.). There is a break of 400 years between the Old Testament
and the New. (See APOCRYPHA ¯T0000263.)
The Old Testament is divided into three parts:, 1. The Law
(Torah), consisting of the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses.
2. The Prophets, consisting of (1) the former, namely, Joshua,
Judges, the Books of Samuel, and the Books of Kings; (2) the
latter, namely, the greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and
Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets. 3. The Hagiographa, or
holy writings, including the rest of the books. These were
ranked in three divisions:, (1) The Psalms, Proverbs, and Job,
distinguished by the Hebrew name, a word formed of the initial
letters of these books, _emeth_, meaning truth. (2) Canticles,
Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, called the five
rolls, as being written for the synagogue use on five separate
rolls. (3) Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.
Between the Old and the New Testament no addition was made to
the revelation God had already given. The period of New
Testament revelation, extending over a century, began with the
appearance of John the Baptist.
The New Testament consists of (1) the historical books, viz.,
the Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles; (2) the Epistles; and
(3) the book of prophecy, the Revelation.
The division of the Bible into chapters and verses is
altogether of human invention, designed to facilitate reference
to it. The ancient Jews divided the Old Testament into certain
sections for use in the synagogue service, and then at a later
period, in the ninth century A.D., into verses. Our modern
system of chapters for all the books of the Bible was introduced
by Cardinal Hugo about the middle of the thirteenth century (he
died 1263). The system of verses for the New Testament was
introduced by Stephens in 1551, and generally adopted, although
neither Tyndale's nor Coverdale's English translation of the
Bible has verses. The division is not always wisely made, yet it
is very useful. (See VERSION ¯T0003768.)
God his salvation, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, who
became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1 Kings 19:16-19).
His name first occurs in the command given to Elijah to anoint
him as his successor (1 Kings 19:16). This was the only one of
the three commands then given to Elijah which he accomplished.
On his way from Sinai to Damascus he found Elisha at his native
place engaged in the labours of the field, ploughing with twelve
yoke of oxen. He went over to him, threw over his shoulders his
rough mantle, and at once adopted him as a son, and invested him
with the prophetical office (comp. Luke 9:61, 62). Elisha
accepted the call thus given (about four years before the death
of Ahab), and for some seven or eight years became the close
attendant on Elijah till he was parted from him and taken up
into heaven. During all these years we hear nothing of Elisha
except in connection with the closing scenes of Elijah's life.
After Elijah, Elisha was accepted as the leader of the sons of
the prophets, and became noted in Israel. He possessed,
according to his own request, "a double portion" of Elijah's
spirit (2 Kings 2:9); and for the long period of about sixty
years (B.C. 892-832) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2
After Elijah's departure, Elisha returned to Jericho, and
there healed the spring of water by casting salt into it (2
Kings 2:21). We next find him at Bethel (2:23), where, with the
sternness of his master, he cursed the youths who came out and
scoffed at him as a prophet of God: "Go up, thou bald head." The
judgment at once took effect, and God terribly visited the
dishonour done to his prophet as dishonour done to himself. We
next read of his predicting a fall of rain when the army of
Jehoram was faint from thirst (2 Kings 3:9-20); of the
multiplying of the poor widow's cruse of oil (4:1-7); the
miracle of restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem
(4:18-37); the multiplication of the twenty loaves of new barley
into a sufficient supply for an hundred men (4:42-44); of the
cure of Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy (5:1-27); of the
punishment of Gehazi for his falsehood and his covetousness; of
the recovery of the axe lost in the waters of the Jordan
(6:1-7); of the miracle at Dothan, half-way on the road between
Samaria and Jezreel; of the siege of Samaria by the king of
Syria, and of the terrible sufferings of the people in
connection with it, and Elisha's prophecy as to the relief that
would come (2 Kings 6:24-7:2).
We then find Elisha at Damascus, to carry out the command
given to his master to anoint Hazael king over Syria (2 Kings
8:7-15); thereafter he directs one of the sons of the prophets
to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead
of Ahab. Thus the three commands given to Elijah (9:1-10) were
at length carried out.
We do not again read of him till we find him on his death-bed
in his own house (2 Kings 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of
Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters
the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away:
"My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen
Afterwards when a dead body is laid in Elisha's grave a year
after his burial, no sooner does it touch the hallowed remains
than the man "revived, and stood up on his feet" (2 Kings
Israel, Kingdom of
(B.C. 975-B.C. 722). Soon after the death of Solomon, Ahijah's
prophecy (1 Kings 11:31-35) was fulfilled, and the kingdom was
rent in twain. Rehoboam, the son and successor of Solomon, was
scarcely seated on his throne when the old jealousies between
Judah and the other tribes broke out anew, and Jeroboam was sent
for from Egypt by the malcontents (12:2,3). Rehoboam insolently
refused to lighten the burdensome taxation and services which
his father had imposed on his subjects (12:4), and the rebellion
became complete. Ephraim and all Israel raised the old cry,
"Every man to his tents, O Israel" (2 Sam. 20:1). Rehoboam fled
to Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:1-18; 2 Chr. 10), and Jeroboam was
proclaimed king over all Israel at Shechem, Judah and Benjamin
remaining faithful to Solomon's son. War, with varying success,
was carried on between the two kingdoms for about sixty years,
till Jehoshaphat entered into an alliance with the house of
Extent of the kingdom. In the time of Solomon the area of
Israel, excluding the Phoenician territories on the shore of
the Mediterranean, did not much exceed 13,000 square miles. The
kingdom of Israel comprehended about 9,375 square miles. Shechem
was the first capital of this kingdom (1 Kings 12:25),
afterwards Tirza (14:17). Samaria was subsequently chosen as the
capital (16:24), and continued to be so till the destruction of
the kingdom by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:5). During the siege of
Samaria (which lasted for three years) by the Assyrians,
Shalmaneser died and was succeeded by Sargon, who himself thus
records the capture of that city: "Samaria I looked at, I
captured; 27,280 men who dwelt in it I carried away" (2 Kings
17:6) into Assyria. Thus after a duration of two hundred and
fifty-three years the kingdom of the ten tribes came to an end.
They were scattered throughout the East. (See CAPTIVITY
"Judah held its ground against Assyria for yet one hundred and
twenty-three years, and became the rallying-point of the
dispersed of every tribe, and eventually gave its name to the
whole race. Those of the people who in the last struggle escaped
into the territories of Judah or other neighbouring countries
naturally looked to Judah as the head and home of their race.
And when Judah itself was carried off to Babylon, many of the
exiled Israelites joined them from Assyria, and swelled that
immense population which made Babylonia a second Israel."
After the deportation of the ten tribes, the deserted land was
colonized by various eastern tribes, whom the king of Assyria
sent thither (Ezra 4:2, 10; 2 Kings 17:24-29). (See KINGS
In contrast with the kingdom of Judah is that of Israel. (1.)
"There was no fixed capital and no religious centre. (2.) The
army was often insubordinate. (3.) The succession was constantly
interrupted, so that out of nineteen kings there were no less
than nine dynasties, each ushered in by a revolution. (4.) The
authorized priests left the kingdom in a body, and the
priesthood established by Jeroboam had no divine sanction and no
promise; it was corrupt at its very source." (Maclean's O. T.
John the Baptist
the "forerunner of our Lord." We have but fragmentary and
imperfect accounts of him in the Gospels. He was of priestly
descent. His father, Zacharias, was a priest of the course of
Abia (1 Chr. 24:10), and his mother, Elisabeth, was of the
daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5). The mission of John was the
subject of prophecy (Matt. 3:3; Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1). His birth,
which took place six months before that of Jesus, was foretold
by an angel. Zacharias, deprived of the power of speech as a
token of God's truth and a reproof of his own incredulity with
reference to the birth of his son, had the power of speech
restored to him on the occasion of his circumcision (Luke 1:64).
After this no more is recorded of him for thirty years than what
is mentioned in Luke 1:80. John was a Nazarite from his birth
(Luke 1:15; Num. 6:1-12). He spent his early years in the
mountainous tract of Judah lying between Jerusalem and the Dead
Sea (Matt. 3:1-12).
At length he came forth into public life, and great multitudes
from "every quarter" were attracted to him. The sum of his
preaching was the necessity of repentance. He denounced the
Sadducees and Pharisees as a "generation of vipers," and warned
them of the folly of trusting to external privileges (Luke 3:8).
"As a preacher, John was eminently practical and discriminating.
Self-love and covetousness were the prevalent sins of the people
at large. On them, therefore, he enjoined charity and
consideration for others. The publicans he cautioned against
extortion, the soldiers against crime and plunder." His doctrine
and manner of life roused the entire south of Israel, and the
people from all parts flocked to the place where he was, on the
banks of the Jordan. There he baptized thousands unto
The fame of John reached the ears of Jesus in Nazareth (Matt.
3:5), and he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John,
on the special ground that it became him to "fulfil all
righteousness" (3:15). John's special office ceased with the
baptism of Jesus, who must now "increase" as the King come to
his kingdom. He continued, however, for a while to bear
testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus. He pointed him out to his
disciples, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God." His public ministry
was suddenly (after about six months probably) brought to a
close by his being cast into prison by Herod, whom he had
reproved for the sin of having taken to himself the wife of his
brother Philip (Luke 3:19). He was shut up in the castle of
Machaerus (q.v.), a fortress on the southern extremity of
Peraea, 9 miles east of the Dead Sea, and here he was beheaded.
His disciples, having consigned the headless body to the grave,
went and told Jesus all that had occurred (Matt. 14:3-12).
John's death occurred apparently just before the third Passover
of our Lord's ministry. Our Lord himself testified regarding him
that he was a "burning and a shining light" (John 5:35).
healed by Jehovah, or Jehovah will support. The son of Amon, and
his successor on the throne of Judah (2 Kings 22:1; 2 Chr.
34:1). His history is contained in 2 Kings 22, 23. He stands
foremost among all the kings of the line of David for unswerving
loyalty to Jehovah (23:25). He "did that which was right in the
sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his
father." He ascended the throne at the early age of eight years,
and it appears that not till eight years afterwards did he begin
"to seek after the God of David his father." At that age he
devoted himself to God. He distinguished himself by beginning a
war of extermination against the prevailing idolatry, which had
practically been the state religion for some seventy years (2
Chr. 34:3; comp. Jer. 25:3, 11, 29).
In the eighteenth year of his reign he proceeded to repair and
beautify the temple, which by time and violence had become
sorely dilapidated (2 Kings 22:3, 5, 6; 23:23; 2 Chr. 34:11).
While this work was being carried on, Hilkiah, the high priest,
discovered a roll, which was probably the original copy of the
law, the entire Pentateuch, written by Moses.
When this book was read to him, the king was alarmed by the
things it contained, and sent for Huldah, the "prophetess," for
her counsel. She spoke to him words of encouragement, telling
him that he would be gathered to his fathers in peace before the
threatened days of judgment came. Josiah immediately gathered
the people together, and engaged them in a renewal of their
ancient national covenant with God. The Passover was then
celebrated, as in the days of his great predecessor, Hezekiah,
with unusual magnificence. Nevertheless, "the Lord turned not
from the fierceness of his great wrath wherewith his anger was
kindled against Judah" (2 Kings 22:3-20; 23:21-27; 2 Chr.
35:1-19). During the progress of this great religious revolution
Jeremiah helped it on by his earnest exhortations.
Soon after this, Pharaoh-Necho II. (q.v.), king of Egypt, in
an expedition against the king of Assyria, with the view of
gaining possession of Carchemish, sought a passage through the
territory of Judah for his army. This Josiah refused to permit.
He had probably entered into some new alliance with the king of
Assyria, and faithful to his word he sought to oppose the
progress of Necho.
The army of Judah went out and encountered that of Egypt at
Megiddo, on the verge of the plain of Esdraelon. Josiah went
into the field in disguise, and was fatally wounded by a random
arrow. His attendants conveyed him toward Jerusalem, but had
only reached Hadadrimmon, a few miles south of Megiddo, when he
died (2 Kings 23:28, 30; comp. 2 Chr. 35:20-27), after a reign
of thirty-one years. He was buried with the greatest honours in
fulfilment of Huldah's prophecy (2 Kings 22:20; comp. Jer.
34:5). Jeremiah composed a funeral elegy on this the best of the
kings of Israel (Lam. 4:20; 2 Chr. 35:25). The outburst of
national grief on account of his death became proverbial (Zech.
12:11; comp. Rev. 16:16).
First mentioned in Gen. 10:11, which is rendered in the Revised
Version, "He [i.e., Nimrod] went forth into Assyria and builded
Nineveh." It is not again noticed till the days of Jonah, when
it is described (Jonah 3:3; 4:11) as a great and populous city,
the flourishing capital of the Assyrian empire (2 Kings 19:36;
Isa. 37:37). The book of the prophet Nahum is almost exclusively
taken up with prophetic denunciations against this city. Its
ruin and utter desolation are foretold (Nah.1:14; 3:19, etc.).
Zephaniah also (2:13-15) predicts its destruction along with the
fall of the empire of which it was the capital. From this time
there is no mention of it in Scripture till it is named in
gospel history (Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32).
This "exceeding great city" lay on the eastern or left bank of
the river Tigris, along which it stretched for some 30 miles,
having an average breadth of 10 miles or more from the river
back toward the eastern hills. This whole extensive space is now
one immense area of ruins. Occupying a central position on the
great highway between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean,
thus uniting the East and the West, wealth flowed into it from
many sources, so that it became the greatest of all ancient
About B.C. 633 the Assyrian empire began to show signs of
weakness, and Nineveh was attacked by the Medes, who
subsequently, about B.C. 625, being joined by the Babylonians
and Susianians, again attacked it, when it fell, and was razed
to the ground. The Assyrian empire then came to an end, the
Medes and Babylonians dividing its provinces between them.
"After having ruled for more than six hundred years with hideous
tyranny and violence, from the Caucasus and the Caspian to the
Persian Gulf, and from beyond the Tigris to Asia Minor and
Egypt, it vanished like a dream" (Nah. 2:6-11). Its end was
strange, sudden, tragic. It was God's doing, his judgement on
Assyria's pride (Isa. 10:5-19).
Forty years ago our knowledge of the great Assyrian empire and
of its magnificent capital was almost wholly a blank. Vague
memories had indeed survived of its power and greatness, but
very little was definitely known about it. Other cities which
had perished, as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, had left ruins
to mark their sites and tell of their former greatness; but of
this city, imperial Nineveh, not a single vestige seemed to
remain, and the very place on which it had stood was only matter
of conjecture. In fulfilment of prophecy, God made "an utter end
of the place." It became a "desolation."
In the days of the Greek historian Herodotus, B.C. 400, it had
become a thing of the past; and when Xenophon the historian
passed the place in the "Retreat of the Ten Thousand," the very
memory of its name had been lost. It was buried out of sight,
and no one knew its grave. It is never again to rise from its
At length, after being lost for more than two thousand years,
the city was disentombed. A little more than forty years ago the
French consul at Mosul began to search the vast mounds that lay
along the opposite bank of the river. The Arabs whom he employed
in these excavations, to their great surprise, came upon the
ruins of a building at the mound of Khorsabad, which, on further
exploration, turned out to be the royal palace of Sargon, one of
the Assyrian kings. They found their way into its extensive
courts and chambers, and brought forth form its hidded depths
many wonderful sculptures and other relics of those ancient
The work of exploration has been carried on almost
continuously by M. Botta, Sir Henry Layard, George Smith, and
others, in the mounds of Nebi-Yunus, Nimrud, Koyunjik, and
Khorsabad, and a vast treasury of specimens of old Assyrian art
has been exhumed. Palace after palace has been discovered, with
their decorations and their sculptured slabs, revealing the life
and manners of this ancient people, their arts of war and peace,
the forms of their religion, the style of their architecture,
and the magnificence of their monarchs. The streets of the city
have been explored, the inscriptions on the bricks and tablets
and sculptured figures have been read, and now the secrets of
their history have been brought to light.
One of the most remarkable of recent discoveries is that of
the library of King Assur-bani-pal, or, as the Greek historians
call him, Sardanapalos, the grandson of Sennacherib (q.v.). (See
ASNAPPER ¯T0000347.) This library consists of about ten thousand
flat bricks or tablets, all written over with Assyrian
characters. They contain a record of the history, the laws, and
the religion of Assyria, of the greatest value. These strange
clay leaves found in the royal library form the most valuable of
all the treasuries of the literature of the old world. The
library contains also old Accadian documents, which are the
oldest extant documents in the world, dating as far back as
probably about the time of Abraham. (See SARGON ¯T0003227.)
"The Assyrian royalty is, perhaps, the most luxurious of our
century [reign of Assur-bani-pa]...Its victories and conquests,
uninterrupted for one hundred years, have enriched it with the
spoil of twenty peoples. Sargon has taken what remained to the
Hittites; Sennacherib overcame Chaldea, and the treasures of
Babylon were transferred to his coffers; Esarhaddon and
Assur-bani-pal himself have pillaged Egypt and her great cities,
Sais, Memphis, and Thebes of the hundred gates...Now foreign
merchants flock into Nineveh, bringing with them the most
valuable productions from all countries, gold and perfume from
South Arabia and the Chaldean Sea, Egyptian linen and
glass-work, carved enamels, goldsmiths' work, tin, silver,
Phoenician purple; cedar wood from Lebanon, unassailable by
worms; furs and iron from Asia Minor and Armenia" (Ancient Egypt
and Assyria, by G. Maspero, page 271).
The bas-reliefs, alabaster slabs, and sculptured monuments
found in these recovered palaces serve in a remarkable manner to
confirm the Old Testament history of the kings of Israel. The
appearance of the ruins shows that the destruction of the city
was due not only to the assailing foe but also to the flood and
the fire, thus confirming the ancient prophecies concerning it.
"The recent excavations," says Rawlinson, "have shown that fire
was a great instrument in the destruction of the Nineveh
palaces. Calcined alabaster, charred wood, and charcoal,
colossal statues split through with heat, are met with in parts
of the Nineveh mounds, and attest the veracity of prophecy."
Nineveh in its glory was (Jonah 3:4) an "exceeding great city
of three days' journey", i.e., probably in circuit. This would
give a circumference of about 60 miles. At the four corners of
an irregular quadrangle are the ruins of Kouyunjik, Nimrud,
Karamless and Khorsabad. These four great masses of ruins, with
the whole area included within the parallelogram they form by
lines drawn from the one to the other, are generally regarded as
composing the whole ruins of Nineveh.