the mountainous district of Naphtali (Josh. 20:7).
exchange, a city on the north border of Naphtali (Josh. 19:33).
consecrated, one of the fenced cities of Naphtali (Josh. 19:38).
allotted by God, the first of the sons of Naphtali (Gen. 46:24).
warm springs, a Levitical city of Naphtali (Josh. 21:32);
probably Hammath in 19:35.
tower of God, a fortified city of Naphtali (Josh. 19:38),
supposed by some to be identical with Magdala (q.v.).
redeemed of God, the son of Ammihud, a prince of Naphtali (Num.
shore-town, a "fenced city" of the tribe of Naphtali (Josh.
19:35). The old name of Tiberias, according to the Rabbins.
my wrestling, the fifth son of Jacob. His mother was Bilhah,
Rachel's handmaid (Gen. 30:8). When Jacob went down into Egypt,
Naphtali had four sons (Gen. 46:24). Little is known of him as
red earth, a fortified city of Naphtali, probably the modern
Damieh, on the west side of the sea of Tiberias (Josh. 19:33,
brother of evil = unlucky, or my brother is friend, chief of the
tribe of Naphtali at the Exodus (Num. 1:15; 2:29).
decreed, a town near Zebulun, not far from Jordan, on the border
of Naphtali (Josh. 19:34). (See HELKATH ¯T0001729.)
sides, a town of Naphtali (Josh. 19:35), has been identified
with Kefr-Hattin, the "village of the Hittites," about 5 miles
west of Tiberias.
a harp, one of the "fenced cities" of Naphtali (Josh. 19:35;
comp. Deut. 3:17). It also denotes, apparently, a district which
may have taken its name from the adjacent city or lake of
Gennesaret, anciently called "the sea of Chinnereth" (q.v.), and
was probably that enclosed district north of Tiberias afterwards
called "the plain of Gennesaret." Called Chinneroth (R.V.,
Chinnereth) Josh. 11:2. The phrase "all Cinneroth, with all the
land of Naphtali" in 1 Kings 15:20 is parallel to "the
store-houses of the cities of Naphtali" (R.V. marg.) in 2 Chr.
house of response, one of the fenced cities of Naphtali (Josh.
19:38). It is perhaps identical with the modern village 'Ainata,
6 miles west of Kedesh.
warm springs. (1.) A town in the tribe of Asher, near Zidon
(Josh. 19:28), identified with 'Ain Hamul.
(2.) A Levitical city of Naphtali (1 Chr. 6:76).
a ruin, a city of Naphtali, captured by Ben-hadad of Syria at
the instance of Asa (1 Kings 15:20), and afterwards by
Tiglath-pileser of Assyria (2 Kings 15:29) in the reign of
Pekah; now el-Khiam.
cavern, a town on the boundary of Naphtali (Josh. 19:33). It has
with probability, been identified with Seiyadeh, nearly 2 miles
east of Bessum, a ruin half way between Tiberias and Mount
faltering; bashful, Rachel's handmaid, whom she gave to Jacob
(Gen. 29:29). She was the mother of Dan and Naphtali (Gen.
30:3-8). Reuben was cursed by his father for committing adultry
with her (35:22; 49:4). He was deprived of the birth-right,
which was given to the sons of Joseph.
warm springs, one of the "fenced cities" of Naphtali (Josh.
19:35). It is identified with the warm baths (the heat of the
water ranging from 136 degrees to 144 degrees) still found on
the shore a little to the south of Tiberias under the name of
Hummam Tabariyeh ("Bath of Tiberias").
or Jano'hah, rest. (1.) A town on the north-eastern border of
Ephraim, in the Jordan valley (Josh. 16:6, 7). Identified with
the modern Yanun, 8 miles south-east of Nablus.
(2.) A town of Northern Israel, within the boundaries of
Naphtali. It was taken by the king of Assyria (2 Kings 15:29).
Refuge, Cities of
were six in number (Num. 35). 1. On the west of Jordan were (1)
Kadesh, in Naphtali; (2) Shechem, in Mount Ephraim; (3) Hebron,
in Judah. 2. On the east of Jordan were, (1) Golan, in Bashan;
(2) Ramoth-Gilead, in Gad; and (3) Bezer, in Reuben. (See under
each of these names.)
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).
Naphtali, Tribe of
On this tribe Jacob pronounced the patriarchal blessing,
"Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words" (Gen.
49:21). It was intended thus to set forth under poetic imagery
the future character and history of the tribe.
At the time of the Exodus this tribe numbered 53,400 adult
males (Num. 1:43), but at the close of the wanderings they
numbered only 45,400 (26:48-50). Along with Dan and Asher they
formed "the camp of Dan," under a common standard (2:25-31),
occupying a place during the march on the north side of the
The possession assigned to this tribe is set forth in Josh.
19:32-39. It lay in the north-eastern corner of the land,
bounded on the east by the Jordan and the lakes of Merom and
Galilee, and on the north it extended far into Coele-Syria, the
valley between the two Lebanon ranges. It comprehended a greater
variety of rich and beautiful scenery and of soil and climate
than fell to the lot of any other tribe. The territory of
Naphtali extended to about 800 square miles, being the double of
that of Issachar. The region around Kedesh, one of its towns,
was originally called Galil, a name afterwards given to the
whole northern division of Canaan. A large number of foreigners
settled here among the mountains, and hence it was called
"Galilee of the Gentiles" (q.v.), Matt. 4:15, 16. The southern
portion of Naphtali has been called the "Garden of Israel."
It was of unrivalled fertility. It was the principal scene of
our Lord's public ministry. Here most of his parables were
spoken and his miracles wrought.
This tribe was the first to suffer from the invasion of
Benhadad, king of Syria, in the reigns of Baasha, king of
Israel, and Asa, king of Judah (1 Kings 15:20; 2 Chr. 16:4). In
the reign of Pekah, king of Israel, the Assyrians under
Tiglath-pileser swept over the whole north of Israel, and
carried the people into captivity (2 Kings 15:29). Thus the
kingdom of Israel came to an end (B.C. 722).
Naphtali is now almost wholly a desert, the towns of Tiberias,
on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, and Safed being the only
places in it of any importance.
(1.) A precious gem (Heb. yahalom', in allusion to its
hardness), otherwise unknown, the sixth, i.e., the third in the
second row, in the breastplate of the high priest, with the name
of Naphtali engraven on it (Ex. 28:18; 39:11; R.V. marg.,
(2.) A precious stone (Heb. shamir', a sharp point) mentioned
in Jer. 17:1. From its hardness it was used for cutting and
perforating other minerals. It is rendered "adamant" (q.v.) in
Ezek. 3:9, Zech. 7:12. It is the hardest and most valuable of
built by God. (1.) A town in the north boundary of Judah (Josh.
15:11), called afterwards by the Greeks Jamnia, the modern
Yebna, 11 miles south of Jaffa. After the fall of Jerusalem
(A.D. 70), it became one of the most populous cities of Judea,
and the seat of a celebrated school.
(2.) A town on the border of Naphtali (Josh. 19:33). Its later
name was Kefr Yemmah, "the village by the sea," on the south
shore of Lake Merom.
two cities; a double city. (1.) A city of refuge in Naphtali (1
(2.) A town on the east of Jordan (Gen. 14:5; Deut. 2:9, 10).
It was assigned to the tribe of Reuben (Num. 32:37). In the time
of Ezekiel (25:9) it was one of the four cities which formed the
"glory of Moab" (comp. Jer. 48:1, 23). It has been identified
with el-Kureiyat, 11 miles south-west of Medeba, on the south
slope of Jebel Attarus, the ancient Ataroth.
sanctuary. (1.) A place in the extreme south of Judah (Josh.
15:23). Probably the same as Kadesh-barnea (q.v.).
(2.) A city of Issachar (1 Chr. 6:72). Possibly Tell Abu
Kadeis, near Lejjun.
(3.) A "fenced city" of Naphtali, one of the cities of refuge
(Josh. 19:37; Judg. 4:6). It was assigned to the Gershonite
Levites (Josh. 21:32). It was originally a Canaanite royal city
(Josh. 12:22), and was the residence of Barak (Judg. 4:6); and
here he and Deborah assembled the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali
before the commencement of the conflict with Sisera in the plain
of Esdraelon, "for Jehovah among the mighty" (9, 10). In the
reign of Pekah it was taken by Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 15:29).
It was situated near the "plain" (rather "the oak") of Zaanaim,
and has been identified with the modern Kedes, on the hills
fully four miles north-west of Lake El Huleh.
It has been supposed by some that the Kedesh of the narrative,
where Barak assembled his troops, was not the place in Upper
Galilee so named, which was 30 miles distant from the plain of
Esdraelon, but Kedish, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, 12
miles from Tabor.
a garden of riches. (1.) A town of Naphtali, called Chinnereth
(Josh. 19:35), sometimes in the plural form Chinneroth (11:2).
In later times the name was gradually changed to Genezar and
Gennesaret (Luke 5:1). This city stood on the western shore of
the lake to which it gave its name. No trace of it remains. The
plain of Gennesaret has been called, from its fertility and
beauty, "the Paradise of Galilee." It is now called el-Ghuweir.
(2.) The Lake of Gennesaret, the Grecized form of CHINNERETH
(q.v.). (See GALILEE, SEA OF ¯T0001418.)
heights. (1.) One of the sons of Bela (1 Chr. 7:7).
(2.) 1 Chr. 24:30, a Merarite Levite.
(3.) A Benjamite slinger who joined David at Ziklag (1 Chr.
(4.) A Levitical musician under Heman his father (1 Chr.
(5.) 1 Chr. 27:19, ruler of Naphtali.
(6.) One of David's sons (2 Chr. 11:18).
(7.) A Levite, one of the overseers of the temple offerings (2
Chr. 31:13) in the reign of Hezekiah.
wanderings; the unloading of tents, so called probably from the
fact of nomads in tents encamping amid the cities and villages
of that region, a place in the north-west of Lake Merom, near
Kedesh, in Naphtali. Here Sisera was slain by Jael, "the wife of
Heber the Kenite," who had pitched his tent in the "plain [R.V.,
'as far as the oak'] of Zaanaim" (Judg. 4:11).
It has been, however, suggested by some that, following the
LXX. and the Talmud, the letter b, which in Hebrew means "in,"
should be taken as a part of the word following, and the phrase
would then be "unto the oak of Bitzanaim," a place which has
been identified with the ruins of Bessum, about half-way between
Tiberias and Mount Tabor.
meadow of the house of Maachah, a city in the north of
Israel, in the neighbourhood of Dan and Ijon, in the tribe of
Naphtali. It was a place of considerable strength and
importance. It is called a "mother in Israel", i.e., a
metropolis (2 Sam. 20:19). It was besieged by Joab (2 Sam.
20:14), by Benhadad (1 Kings 15:20), and by Tiglath-pileser (2
Kings 15:29) about B.C. 734. It is elsewhere called Abel-maim,
meadow of the waters, (2 Chr. 16:4). Its site is occupied by the
modern Abil or Abil-el-kamh, on a rising ground to the east of
the brook Derdarah, which flows through the plain of Huleh into
the Jordan, about 6 miles to the west-north-west of Dan.
happy, Jacob's eigth son; his mother was Zilpah, Leah's handmaid
(Gen. 30:13). Of the tribe founded by him nothing is recorded
beyond its holding a place in the list of the tribes (35:26;
46:17; Ex. 1:4, etc.) It increased in numbers twenty-nine
percent, during the thirty-eight years' wanderings. The place of
this tribe during the march through the desert was between Dan
and Naphtali (Num. 2:27). The boundaries of the inheritance
given to it, which contained some of the richest soil in
Israel, and the names of its towns, are recorded in Josh.
19:24-31; Judg. 1:31, 32. Asher and Simeon were the only tribes
west of the Jordan which furnished no hero or judge for the
nation. Anna the prophetess was of this tribe (Luke 2:36).
height, a lake in Northern Israel through which the Jordan
flows. It was the scene of the third and last great victory
gained by Joshua over the Canaanites (Josh. 11:5-7). It is not
again mentioned in Scripture. Its modern name is Bakrat
el-Huleh. "The Ard el-Huleh, the centre of which the lake
occupies, is a nearly level plain of 16 miles in length from
north to south, and its breadth from east to west is from 7 to 8
miles. On the west it is walled in by the steep and lofty range
of the hills of Kedesh-Naphtali; on the east it is bounded by
the lower and more gradually ascending slopes of Bashan; on the
north it is shut in by a line of hills hummocky and irregular in
shape and of no great height, and stretching across from the
mountains of Naphtali to the roots of Mount Hermon, which towers
up at the north-eastern angle of the plain to a height of 10,000
feet. At its southern extremity the plain is similarly traversed
by elevated and broken ground, through which, by deep and narrow
clefts, the Jordan, after passing through Lake Huleh, makes its
rapid descent to the Sea of Galilee."
The lake is triangular in form, about 4 1/2 miles in length by
3 1/2 at its greatest breadth. Its surface is 7 feet above that
of the Mediterranean. It is surrounded by a morass, which is
thickly covered with canes and papyrus reeds, which are
impenetrable. Macgregor with his canoe, the Rob Roy, was the
first that ever, in modern times, sailed on its waters. (See
house of the sun. (1.) A sacerdotal city in the tribe of Dan
(Josh. 21:16; 1 Sam. 6:15), on the north border of Judah (Josh.
15:10). It was the scene of an encounter between Jehoash, king
of Israel, and Amaziah, king of Judah, in which the latter was
made prisoner (2 Kings 14:11, 13). It was afterwards taken by
the Philistines (2 Chr. 28:18). It is the modern ruined Arabic
village 'Ain-shems, on the north-west slopes of the mountains of
Judah, 14 miles west of Jerusalem.
(2.) A city between Dothan and the Jordan, near the southern
border of Issachar (Josh. 19:22), 7 1/2 miles south of
Beth-shean. It is the modern Ain-esh-Shemsiyeh.
(3.) One of the fenced cities of Naphtali (Josh. 19:38),
between Mount Tabor and the Jordan. Now Khurbet Shema, 3 miles
west of Safed. But perhaps the same as No. 2.
(4.) An idol sanctuary in Egypt (Jer. 43:13); called by the
Greeks Heliopolis, and by the Egyptians On (q.v.), Gen. 41:45.
mighty; strength. (1.) One of the chief towns of the kingdom of
Bashan (Josh. 12:4, 5). Here Og was defeated by the Israelites,
and the strength of the Amorites broken (Num. 21:33-35). It
subsequently belonged to Manasseh, for a short time apparently,
and afterwards became the abode of banditti and outlaws (Josh.
13:31). It has been identified with the modern Edr'a, which
stands on a rocky promontory on the south-west edge of the Lejah
(the Argob of the Hebrews, and Trachonitis of the Greeks). The
ruins of Edr'a are the most extensive in the Hauran. They are 3
miles in circumference. A number of the ancient houses still
remain; the walls, roofs, and doors being all of stone. The wild
region of which Edrei was the capital is thus described in its
modern aspect: "Elevated about 20 feet above the plain, it is a
labyrinth of clefts and crevasses in the rock, formed by
volcanic action; and owing to its impenetrable condition, it has
become a refuge for outlaws and turbulent characters, who make
it a sort of Cave of Adullam...It is, in fact, an impregnable
natural fortress, about 20 miles in length and 15 in breadth"
(Porter's Syria, etc.). Beneath this wonderful city there is
also a subterranean city, hollowed out probably as a refuge for
the population of the upper city in times of danger. (See BASHAN
(2.) A town of Naphtali (Josh. 19:37).
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 .)
(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.
circuit. Solomon rewarded Hiram for certain services rendered
him by the gift of an upland plain among the mountains of
Naphtali. Hiram was dissatisfied with the gift, and called it
"the land of Cabul" (q.v.). The Jews called it Galil. It
continued long to be occupied by the original inhabitants, and
hence came to be called "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Matt. 4:15),
and also "Upper Galilee," to distinguish it from the extensive
addition afterwards made to it toward the south, which was
usually called "Lower Galilee." In the time of our Lord, Galilee
embraced more than one-third of Western Israel, extending
"from Dan on the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, to the
ridges of Carmel and Gilboa on the south, and from the Jordan
valley on the east away across the splendid plains of Jezreel
and Acre to the shores of the Mediterranean on the west."
Israel was divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria, and
Galilee, which comprehended the whole northern section of the
country (Acts 9:31), and was the largest of the three.
It was the scene of some of the most memorable events of
Jewish history. Galilee also was the home of our Lord during at
least thirty years of his life. The first three Gospels are
chiefly taken up with our Lord's public ministry in this
province. "The entire province is encircled with a halo of holy
associations connected with the life, works, and teachings of
Jesus of Nazareth." "It is noteworthy that of his thirty-two
beautiful parables, no less than ninteen were spoken in Galilee.
And it is no less remarkable that of his entire thirty-three
great miracles, twenty-five were wrought in this province. His
first miracle was wrought at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, and
his last, after his resurrection, on the shore of Galilee's sea.
In Galilee our Lord delivered the Sermon on The Mount, and the
discourses on 'The Bread of Life,' on 'Purity,' on
'Forgiveness,' and on 'Humility.' In Galilee he called his first
disciples; and there occurred the sublime scene of the
Transfiguration" (Porter's Through Samaria).
When the Sanhedrin were about to proceed with some plan for
the condemnation of our Lord (John 7:45-52), Nicodemus
interposed in his behalf. (Comp. Deut. 1:16,17; 17:8.) They
replied, "Art thou also of Galilee?.... Out of Galilee ariseth
no prophet." This saying of theirs was "not historically true,
for two prophets at least had arisen from Galilee, Jonah of
Gath-hepher, and the greatest of all the prophets, Elijah of
Thisbe, and perhaps also Nahum and Hosea. Their contempt for
Galilee made them lose sight of historical accuracy" (Alford,
The Galilean accent differed from that of Jerusalem in being
broader and more guttural (Mark 14:70).
a descendant of the tribe of Levi (Ex. 6:25; Lev. 25:32; Num.
35:2; Josh. 21:3, 41). This name is, however, generally used as
the title of that portion of the tribe which was set apart for
the subordinate offices of the sanctuary service (1 Kings 8:4;
Ezra 2:70), as assistants to the priests.
When the Israelites left Egypt, the ancient manner of worship
was still observed by them, the eldest son of each house
inheriting the priest's office. At Sinai the first change in
this ancient practice was made. A hereditary priesthood in the
family of Aaron was then instituted (Ex. 28:1). But it was not
till that terrible scene in connection with the sin of the
golden calf that the tribe of Levi stood apart and began to
occupy a distinct position (Ex. 32). The religious primogeniture
was then conferred on this tribe, which henceforth was devoted
to the service of the sanctuary (Num. 3:11-13). They were
selected for this purpose because of their zeal for the glory of
God (Ex. 32:26), and because, as the tribe to which Moses and
Aaron belonged, they would naturally stand by the lawgiver in
The Levitical order consisted of all the descendants of Levi's
three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari; whilst Aaron, Amram's
son (Amram, son of Kohat), and his issue constituted the
The age and qualification for Levitical service are specified
in Num. 4:3, 23, 30, 39, 43, 47.
They were not included among the armies of Israel (Num. 1:47;
2:33; 26:62), but were reckoned by themselves. They were the
special guardians of the tabernacle (Num. 1:51; 18:22-24). The
Gershonites pitched their tents on the west of the tabernacle
(3:23), the Kohathites on the south (3:29), the Merarites on the
north (3:35), and the priests on the east (3:38). It was their
duty to move the tent and carry the parts of the sacred
structure from place to place. They were given to Aaron and his
sons the priests to wait upon them and do work for them at the
sanctuary services (Num. 8:19; 18:2-6).
As being wholly consecrated to the service of the Lord, they
had no territorial possessions. Jehovah was their inheritance
(Num. 18:20; 26:62; Deut. 10:9; 18:1, 2), and for their support
it was ordained that they should receive from the other tribes
the tithes of the produce of the land. Forty-eight cities also
were assigned to them, thirteen of which were for the priests
"to dwell in", i.e., along with their other inhabitants. Along
with their dwellings they had "suburbs", i.e., "commons", for
their herds and flocks, and also fields and vineyards (Num.
35:2-5). Nine of these cities were in Judah, three in Naphtali,
and four in each of the other tribes (Josh. 21). Six of the
Levitical cities were set apart as "cities of refuge" (q.v.).
Thus the Levites were scattered among the tribes to keep alive
among them the knowledge and service of God. (See PRIEST
drawn (or Egypt. mesu, "son;" hence Rameses, royal son). On the
invitation of Pharaoh (Gen. 45:17-25), Jacob and his sons went
down into Egypt. This immigration took place probably about 350
years before the birth of Moses. Some centuries before Joseph,
Egypt had been conquered by a pastoral Semitic race from Asia,
the Hyksos, who brought into cruel subjection the native
Egyptians, who were an African race. Jacob and his retinue were
accustomed to a shepherd's life, and on their arrival in Egypt
were received with favour by the king, who assigned them the
"best of the land", the land of Goshen, to dwell in. The Hyksos
or "shepherd" king who thus showed favour to Joseph and his
family was in all probability the Pharaoh Apopi (or Apopis).
Thus favoured, the Israelites began to "multiply exceedingly"
(Gen. 47:27), and extended to the west and south. At length the
supremacy of the Hyksos came to an end. The descendants of Jacob
were allowed to retain their possession of Goshen undisturbed,
but after the death of Joseph their position was not so
favourable. The Egyptians began to despise them, and the period
of their "affliction" (Gen. 15:13) commenced. They were sorely
oppressed. They continued, however, to increase in numbers, and
"the land was filled with them" (Ex. 1:7). The native Egyptians
regarded them with suspicion, so that they felt all the hardship
of a struggle for existence.
In process of time "a king [probably Seti I.] arose who knew
not Joseph" (Ex. 1:8). (See PHARAOH ¯T0002923.) The
circumstances of the country were such that this king thought it
necessary to weaken his Israelite subjects by oppressing them,
and by degrees reducing their number. They were accordingly made
public slaves, and were employed in connection with his numerous
buildings, especially in the erection of store-cities, temples,
and palaces. The children of Israel were made to serve with
rigour. Their lives were made bitter with hard bondage, and "all
their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour"
(Ex. 1:13, 14). But this cruel oppression had not the result
expected of reducing their number. On the contrary, "the more
the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew"
The king next tried, through a compact secretly made with the
guild of midwives, to bring about the destruction of all the
Hebrew male children that might be born. But the king's wish was
not rigorously enforced; the male children were spared by the
midwives, so that "the people multiplied" more than ever. Thus
baffled, the king issued a public proclamation calling on the
people to put to death all the Hebrew male children by casting
them into the river (Ex. 1:22). But neither by this edict was
the king's purpose effected.
One of the Hebrew households into which this cruel edict of
the king brought great alarm was that of Amram, of the family of
the Kohathites (Ex. 6:16-20), who with his wife Jochebed and two
children, Miriam, a girl of perhaps fifteen years of age, and
Aaron, a boy of three years, resided in or near Memphis, the
capital city of that time. In this quiet home a male child was
born (B.C. 1571). His mother concealed him in the house for
three months from the knowledge of the civic authorities. But
when the task of concealment became difficult, Jochebed
contrived to bring her child under the notice of the daughter of
the king by constructing for him an ark of bulrushes, which she
laid among the flags which grew on the edge of the river at the
spot where the princess was wont to come down and bathe. Her
plan was successful. The king's daughter "saw the child; and
behold the child wept." The princess (see PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER
¯T0002924 ) sent Miriam, who was standing by, to fetch a
nurse. She went and brought the mother of the child, to whom the
princess said, "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I
will give thee thy wages." Thus Jochebed's child, whom the
princess called "Moses", i.e., "Saved from the water" (Ex.
2:10), was ultimately restored to her.
As soon as the natural time for weaning the child had come, he
was transferred from the humble abode of his father to the royal
palace, where he was brought up as the adopted son of the
princess, his mother probably accompanying him and caring still
for him. He grew up amid all the grandeur and excitement of the
Egyptian court, maintaining, however, probably a constant
fellowship with his mother, which was of the highest importance
as to his religious belief and his interest in his "brethren."
His education would doubtless be carefully attended to, and he
would enjoy all the advantages of training both as to his body
and his mind. He at length became "learned in all the wisdom of
the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Egypt had then two chief seats of
learning, or universities, at one of which, probably that of
Heliopolis, his education was completed. Moses, being now about
twenty years of age, spent over twenty more before he came into
prominence in Bible history. These twenty years were probably
spent in military service. There is a tradition recorded by
Josephus that he took a lead in the war which was then waged
between Egypt and Ethiopia, in which he gained renown as a
skilful general, and became "mighty in deeds" (Acts 7:22).
After the termination of the war in Ethiopia, Moses returned
to the Egyptian court, where he might reasonably have expected
to be loaded with honours and enriched with wealth. But "beneath
the smooth current of his life hitherto, a life of alternate
luxury at the court and comparative hardness in the camp and in
the discharge of his military duties, there had lurked from
childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood, a secret
discontent, perhaps a secret ambition. Moses, amid all his
Egyptian surroundings, had never forgotten, had never wished to
forget, that he was a Hebrew." He now resolved to make himself
acquainted with the condition of his countrymen, and "went out
unto his brethren, and looked upon their burdens" (Ex. 2:11).
This tour of inspection revealed to him the cruel oppression and
bondage under which they everywhere groaned, and could not fail
to press on him the serious consideration of his duty regarding
them. The time had arrived for his making common cause with
them, that he might thereby help to break their yoke of bondage.
He made his choice accordingly (Heb. 11:25-27), assured that God
would bless his resolution for the welfare of his people. He now
left the palace of the king and took up his abode, probably in
his father's house, as one of the Hebrew people who had for
forty years been suffering cruel wrong at the hands of the
He could not remain indifferent to the state of things around
him, and going out one day among the people, his indignation was
roused against an Egyptian who was maltreating a Hebrew. He
rashly lifted up his hand and slew the Egyptian, and hid his
body in the sand. Next day he went out again and found two
Hebrews striving together. He speedily found that the deed of
the previous day was known. It reached the ears of Pharaoh (the
"great Rameses," Rameses II.), who "sought to slay Moses" (Ex.
2:15). Moved by fear, Moses fled from Egypt, and betook himself
to the land of Midian, the southern part of the peninsula of
Sinai, probably by much the same route as that by which, forty
years afterwards, he led the Israelites to Sinai. He was
providentially led to find a new home with the family of Reuel,
where he remained for forty years (Acts 7:30), under training
unconsciously for his great life's work.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the burning
bush (Ex. 3), and commissioned him to go down to Egypt and
"bring forth the children of Israel" out of bondage. He was at
first unwilling to go, but at length he was obedient to the
heavenly vision, and left the land of Midian (4:18-26). On the
way he was met by Aaron (q.v.) and the elders of Israel (27-31).
He and Aaron had a hard task before them; but the Lord was with
them (ch. 7-12), and the ransomed host went forth in triumph.
(See EXODUS ¯T0001283.) After an eventful journey to and fro in
the wilderness, we see them at length encamped in the plains of
Moab, ready to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land.
There Moses addressed the assembled elders (Deut. 1:1-4;
5:1-26:19; 27:11-30:20), and gives the people his last counsels,
and then rehearses the great song (Deut. 32), clothing in
fitting words the deep emotions of his heart at such a time, and
in review of such a marvellous history as that in which he had
acted so conspicious a part. Then, after blessing the tribes
(33), he ascends to "the mountain of Nebo (q.v.), to the top of
Pisgah, that is over against Jericho" (34:1), and from thence he
surveys the land. "Jehovah shewed him all the land of Gilead,
unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and
Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and
the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of
palm trees, unto Zoar" (Deut. 34:2-3), the magnificient
inheritance of the tribes of whom he had been so long the
leader; and there he died, being one hundred and twenty years
old, according to the word of the Lord, and was buried by the
Lord "in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor"
(34:6). The people mourned for him during thirty days.
Thus died "Moses the man of God" (Deut. 33:1; Josh. 14:6). He
was distinguished for his meekness and patience and firmness,
and "he endured as seeing him who is invisible." "There arose
not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord
knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the
Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all
his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand,
and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of
all Israel" (Deut. 34:10-12).
The name of Moses occurs frequently in the Psalms and Prophets
as the chief of the prophets.
In the New Testament he is referred to as the representative
of the law and as a type of Christ (John 1:17; 2 Cor. 3:13-18;
Heb. 3:5, 6). Moses is the only character in the Old Testament
to whom Christ likens himself (John 5:46; comp. Deut. 18:15, 18,
19; Acts 7:37). In Heb. 3:1-19 this likeness to Moses is set
forth in various particulars.
In Jude 1:9 mention is made of a contention between Michael
and the devil about the body of Moses. This dispute is supposed
to have had reference to the concealment of the body of Moses so
as to prevent idolatry.