The corners of fields were not to be reaped, and the sheaf
accidentally left behind was not to be fetched away, according
to the law of Moses (Lev. 19:9; 23:22; Deut. 24:21). They were
to be left for the poor to glean. Similar laws were given
regarding vineyards and oliveyards. (Comp. Ruth 2:2.)
(1 Cor. 12:28) may refer to help (i.e., by interpretation) given
to him who speaks with tongues, or more probably simply help
which Christians can render to one another, such as caring for
the poor and needy, etc.
That the poor existed among the Hebrews we have abundant
evidence (Ex. 23:11; Deut. 15:11), but there is no mention of
beggars properly so called in the Old Testament. The poor were
provided for by the law of Moses (Lev. 19:10; Deut. 12:12;
14:29). It is predicted of the seed of the wicked that they
shall be beggars (Ps. 37:25; 109:10).
In the New Testament we find not seldom mention made of
beggars (Mark 10:46; Luke 16:20, 21; Acts 3:2), yet there is no
mention of such a class as vagrant beggars, so numerous in the
East. "Beggarly," in Gal. 4:9, means worthless.
The Mosaic legislation regarding the poor is specially
important. (1.) They had the right of gleaning the fields (Lev.
19:9, 10; Deut. 24:19,21).
(2.) In the sabbatical year they were to have their share of
the produce of the fields and the vineyards (Ex. 23:11; Lev.
(3.) In the year of jubilee they recovered their property
(4.) Usury was forbidden, and the pledged raiment was to be
returned before the sun went down (Ex. 22:25-27; Deut.
24:10-13). The rich were to be generous to the poor (Deut.
(5.) In the sabbatical and jubilee years the bond-servant was
to go free (Deut. 15:12-15; Lev. 25:39-42, 47-54).
(6.) Certain portions from the tithes were assigned to the
poor (Deut. 14:28, 29; 26:12, 13).
(7.) They shared in the feasts (Deut. 16:11, 14; Neh. 8:10).
(8.) Wages were to be paid at the close of each day (Lev.
In the New Testament (Luke 3:11; 14:13; Acts 6:1; Gal. 2:10;
James 2:15, 16) we have similar injunctions given with reference
to the poor. Begging was not common under the Old Testament,
while it was so in the New Testament times (Luke 16:20, 21,
etc.). But begging in the case of those who are able to work is
forbidden, and all such are enjoined to "work with their own
hands" as a Christian duty (1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:7-13; Eph.
4:28). This word is used figuratively in Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20; 2
Cor. 8:9; Rev. 3:17.
(Ex. 32:20; Deut. 9:21; Judg. 16:21), to crush small (Heb.
tahan); to oppress the poor (Isa. 3:5). The hand-mill was early
used by the Hebrews (Num. 11:8). It consisted of two stones, the
upper (Deut. 24:6; 2 Sam. 11:21) being movable and slightly
concave, the lower being stationary. The grinders mentioned
Eccl. 12:3 are the teeth. (See MILL ¯T0002550.)
occurs only in Job 30:4 (R.V., "saltwort"). The word so rendered
(malluah, from melah, "salt") most probably denotes the Atriplex
halimus of Linnaeus, a species of sea purslane found on the
shores of the Dead Sea, as also of the Mediterranean, and in
salt marshes. It is a tall shrubby orach, growing to the height
sometimes of 10 feet. Its buds and leaves, with those of other
saline plants, are eaten by the poor in Israel.
Mentioned among the offerings made by the very poor. Two
sparrows were sold for a farthing (Matt. 10:29), and five for
two farthings (Luke 12:6). The Hebrew word thus rendered is
_tsippor_, which properly denotes the whole family of small
birds which feed on grain (Lev. 14:4; Ps. 84:3; 102:7). The
Greek word of the New Testament is _strouthion_ (Matt.
10:29-31), which is thus correctly rendered.
smelting-shop, "a workshop for the refining and smelting of
metals", a small Phoenician town, now Surafend, about a mile
from the coast, almost midway on the road between Tyre and
Sidon. Here Elijah sojourned with a poor widow during the "great
famine," when the "heaven was shut up three years and six
months" (Luke 4:26; 1 Kings 17:10). It is called Sarepta in the
New Testament (Luke 4:26).
sons enjoyed certain special privileges (Deut. 21:17; Gen.
25:23, 31, 34; 49:3; 1 Chr. 5:1; Heb. 12:16; Ps. 89:27). (See
The "first-born of the poor" signifies the most miserable of
the poor (Isa. 14:30). The "church of the first-born" signifies
the church of the redeemed.
The destruction of the first-born was the last of the ten
plagues inflicted on the Egyptians (Ex. 11:1-8; 12:29, 30).
Menephtah is probably the Pharaoh whose first-born was slain.
His son did not succeed or survive his father, but died early.
The son's tomb has been found at Thebes unfinished, showing it
was needed earlier than was expected. Some of the records on the
tomb are as follows: "The son whom Menephtah loves; who draws
towards him his father's heart, the singer, the prince of
archers, who governed Egypt on behalf of his father. Dead."
In its primary sense, as denoting the first principles or
constituents of things, it is used in 2 Pet. 3:10: "The elements
shall be dissolved." In a secondary sense it denotes the first
principles of any art or science. In this sense it is used in
Gal. 4:3, 9; Col. 2:8, 20, where the expressions, "elements of
the world," "week and beggarly elements," denote that state of
religious knowledge existing among the Jews before the coming of
Christ, the rudiments of religious teaching. They are "of the
world," because they are made up of types which appeal to the
senses. They are "weak," because insufficient; and "beggarly,"
or "poor," because they are dry and barren, not being
accompanied by an outpouring of spiritual gifts and graces, as
the gospel is.
David at the cave of Adullam thus addressed his persecutor Saul
(1 Sam. 24:14): "After whom is the king of Israel come out?
after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea?" He
thus speaks of himself as the poor, contemptible object of the
monarch's pursuit, a "worthy object truly for an expedition of
the king of Israel with his picked troops!" This insect is in
Eastern language the popular emblem of insignificance. In 1 Sam.
26:20 the LXX. read "come out to seek my life" instead of "to
seek a flea."
Grain reduced to the form of meal is spoken of in the time of
Abraham (Gen. 18:6). As baking was a daily necessity, grain was
also ground daily at the mills (Jer. 25:10). The flour mingled
with water was kneaded in kneading-troughs, and sometimes leaven
(Ex. 12:34) was added and sometimes omitted (Gen. 19:3). The
dough was then formed into thin cakes nine or ten inches in
diameter and baked in the oven.
Fine flour was offered by the poor as a sin-offering (Lev.
5:11-13), and also in connection with other sacrifices (Num.
every seventh year, during which the land, according to the law
of Moses, had to remain uncultivated (Lev. 25:2-7; comp. Ex.
23:10, 11, 12; Lev. 26:34, 35). Whatever grew of itself during
that year was not for the owner of the land, but for the poor
and the stranger and the beasts of the field. All debts, except
those of foreigners, were to be remitted (Deut. 15:1-11). There
is little notice of the observance of this year in Biblical
history. It appears to have been much neglected (2 Chr. 36:20,
Not found in the Old Testament, but repeatedly in the New. The
Mosaic legislation (Lev. 25:35; Deut. 15:7) tended to promote a
spirit of charity, and to prevent the occurrence of destitution
among the people. Such passages as these, Ps. 41:1; 112:9; Prov.
14:31; Isa. 10:2; Amos 2:7; Jer. 5:28; Ezek. 22:29, would also
naturally foster the same benevolent spirit.
In the time of our Lord begging was common (Mark 10:46; Acts
3:2). The Pharisees were very ostentatious in their almsgivings
(Matt. 6:2). The spirit by which the Christian ought to be
actuated in this duty is set forth in 1 John 3:17. A regard to
the state of the poor and needy is enjoined as a Christian duty
(Luke 3:11; 6:30; Matt. 6:1; Acts 9:36; 10:2, 4), a duty which
was not neglected by the early Christians (Luke 14:13; Acts
20:35; Gal. 2:10; Rom. 15:25-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-4). They cared not
only for the poor among themselves, but contributed also to the
necessities of those at a distance (Acts 11:29; 24:17; 2 Cor.
9:12). Our Lord and his attendants showed an example also in
this (John 13:29).
In modern times the "poor-laws" have introduced an element
which modifies considerably the form in which we may discharge
this Christian duty.
the name of one of the cities of refuge, in the tribe of
Benjamin (Josh. 21:18). The Jews, as a rule, did not change the
names of the towns they found in Israel; hence this town may
be regarded as deriving its name from the goddess Anat. It was
the native place of Abiezer, one of David's "thirty" (2 Sam.
23:27), and of Jehu, another of his mighty men (1 Chr. 12:3). It
is chiefly notable, however, as the birth-place and usual
residence of Jeremiah (Jer. 1:1; 11:21-23; 29:27; 32:7-9). It
suffered greatly from the army of Sennacherib, and only 128 men
returned to it from the Exile (Neh. 7:27; Ezra 2:23). It lay
about 3 miles north of Jerusalem. It has been identified with
the small and poor village of 'Anata, containing about 100
Among the ancient Hebrews graves were outside of cities in the
open field (Luke 7:12; John 11:30). Kings (1 Kings 2:10) and
prophets (1 Sam. 25:1) were generally buried within cities.
Graves were generally grottoes or caves, natural or hewn out in
rocks (Isa. 22:16; Matt. 27:60). There were family cemeteries
(Gen. 47:29; 50:5; 2 Sam. 19:37). Public burial-places were
assigned to the poor (Jer. 26:23; 2 Kings 23:6). Graves were
usually closed with stones, which were whitewashed, to warn
strangers against contact with them (Matt. 23:27), which caused
ceremonial pollution (Num. 19:16).
There were no graves in Jerusalem except those of the kings,
and according to tradition that of the prophetess Huldah.
The first mentioned in Scripture was so grievous as to compel
Abraham to go down to the land of Egypt (Gen. 26:1). Another is
mentioned as having occurred in the days of Isaac, causing him
to go to Gerar (Gen. 26:1, 17). But the most remarkable of all
was that which arose in Egypt in the days of Joseph, which
lasted for seven years (Gen. 41-45).
Famines were sent as an effect of God's anger against a guilty
people (2 Kings 8:1, 2; Amos 8:11; Deut. 28:22-42; 2 Sam. 21:1;
2 Kings 6:25-28; 25:3; Jer. 14:15; 19:9; 42:17, etc.). A famine
was predicted by Agabus (Acts 11:28). Josephus makes mention of
the famine which occurred A.D. 45. Helena, queen of Adiabene,
being at Jerusalem at that time, procured corn from Alexandria
and figs from Cyprus for its poor inhabitants.
the capital of the Roman province of Peraea. It stood on the
summit of a mountain about 6 miles south-east of the Sea of
Galilee. Mark (5:1) and Luke (8:26-39) describe the miracle of
the healing of the demoniac (Matthew [8:28-34] says two
demoniacs) as having been wrought "in the country of the
Gadarenes," thus describing the scene generally. The miracle
could not have been wrought at Gadara itself, for between the
lake and this town there is the deep, almost impassable ravine
of the Hieromax (Jarmuk). It is identified with the modern
village of Um-Keis, which is surrounded by very extensive ruins,
all bearing testimony to the splendour of ancient Gadara.
"The most interesting remains of Gadara are its tombs, which
dot the cliffs for a considerable distance round the city,
chiefly on the north-east declivity; but many beautifully
sculptured sarcophagi are scattered over the surrounding
heights. They are excavated in the limestone rock, and consist
of chambers of various dimensions, some more than 20 feet
square, with recesses in the sides for bodies...The present
inhabitants of Um-Keis are all troglodytes, 'dwelling in tombs,'
like the poor maniacs of old, and occasionally they are almost
as dangerous to unprotected travellers."
In Num. 6:4 (Heb. zag) it means the "skin" of a grape. In 2
Kings 4:42 (Heb. tsiqlon) it means a "sack" for grain, as
rendered in the Revised Version. In Luke 15:16, in the parable
of the Prodigal Son, it designates the beans of the carob tree,
or Ceratonia siliqua. From the supposition, mistaken, however,
that it was on the husks of this tree that John the Baptist fed,
it is called "St. John's bread" and "locust tree." This tree is
in "February covered with innumerable purple-red pendent
blossoms, which ripen in April and May into large crops of pods
from 6 to 10 inches long, flat, brown, narrow, and bent like a
horn (whence the Greek name keratia, meaning 'little horns'),
with a sweetish taste when still unripe. Enormous quantities of
these are gathered for sale in various towns and for
exportation." "They were eaten as food, though only by the
poorest of the poor, in the time of our Lord." The bean is
called a "gerah," which is used as the name of the smallest
Hebrew weight, twenty of these making a shekel.
honourable, was with Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, and
accompanied them to the council at Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-3; Acts
15:2), although his name nowhere occurs in the Acts of the
Apostles. He appears to have been a Gentile, and to have been
chiefly engaged in ministering to Gentiles; for Paul sternly
refused to have him circumcised, inasmuch as in his case the
cause of gospel liberty was at stake. We find him, at a later
period, with Paul and Timothy at Ephesus, whence he was sent by
Paul to Corinth for the purpose of getting the contributions of
the church there in behalf of the poor saints at Jerusalem sent
forward (2 Cor. 8:6; 12:18). He rejoined the apostle when he was
in Macedonia, and cheered him with the tidings he brought from
Corinth (7:6-15). After this his name is not mentioned till
after Paul's first imprisonment, when we find him engaged in the
organization of the church in Crete, where the apostle had left
him for this purpose (Titus 1:5). The last notice of him is in 2
Tim. 4:10, where we find him with Paul at Rome during his second
imprisonment. From Rome he was sent into Dalmatia, no doubt on
some important missionary errand. We have no record of his
death. He is not mentioned in the Acts.
Philippians, Epistle to
was written by Paul during the two years when he was "in bonds"
in Rome (Phil. 1:7-13), probably early in the year A.D. 62 or in
the end of 61.
The Philippians had sent Epaphroditus, their messenger, with
contributions to meet the necessities of the apostle; and on his
return Paul sent back with him this letter. With this precious
communication Epaphroditus sets out on his homeward journey.
"The joy caused by his return, and the effect of this wonderful
letter when first read in the church of Philippi, are hidden
from us. And we may almost say that with this letter the church
itself passes from our view. To-day, in silent meadows, quiet
cattle browse among the ruins which mark the site of what was
once the flourishing Roman colony of Philippi, the home of the
most attractive church of the apostolic age. But the name and
fame and spiritual influence of that church will never pass. To
myriads of men and women in every age and nation the letter
written in a dungeon at Rome, and carried along the Egnatian Way
by an obscure Christian messenger, has been a light divine and a
cheerful guide along the most rugged paths of life" (Professor
The church at Philippi was the first-fruits of European
Christianity. Their attachment to the apostle was very fervent,
and so also was his affection for them. They alone of all the
churches helped him by their contributions, which he gratefully
acknowledges (Acts 20:33-35; 2 Cor. 11:7-12; 2 Thess. 3:8). The
pecuniary liberality of the Philippians comes out very
conspicuously (Phil. 4:15). "This was a characteristic of the
Macedonian missions, as 2 Cor. 8 and 9 amply and beautifully
prove. It is remarkable that the Macedonian converts were, as a
class, very poor (2 Cor. 8:2); and the parallel facts, their
poverty and their open-handed support of the great missionary
and his work, are deeply harmonious. At the present day the
missionary liberality of poor Christians is, in proportion,
really greater than that of the rich" (Moule's Philippians,
The contents of this epistle give an interesting insight into
the condition of the church at Rome at the time it was written.
Paul's imprisonment, we are informed, was no hindrance to his
preaching the gospel, but rather "turned out to the furtherance
of the gospel." The gospel spread very extensively among the
Roman soldiers, with whom he was in constant contact, and the
Christians grew into a "vast multitude." It is plain that
Christianity was at this time making rapid advancement in Rome.
The doctrinal statements of this epistle bear a close relation
to those of the Epistle to the Romans. Compare also Phil. 3:20
with Eph. 2:12, 19, where the church is presented under the idea
of a city or commonwealth for the first time in Paul's writings.
The personal glory of Christ is also set forth in almost
parallel forms of expression in Phil. 2:5-11, compared with Eph.
1:17-23; 2:8; and Col. 1:15-20. "This exposition of the grace
and wonder of His personal majesty, personal self-abasement, and
personal exaltation after it," found in these epistles, "is, in
a great measure, a new development in the revelations given
through St. Paul" (Moule). Other minuter analogies in forms of
expression and of thought are also found in these epistles of
"There is no dew properly so called in Israel, for there is
no moisture in the hot summer air to be chilled into dew-drops
by the coldness of the night. From May till October rain is
unknown, the sun shining with unclouded brightness day after
day. The heat becomes intense, the ground hard, and vegetation
would perish but for the moist west winds that come each night
from the sea. The bright skies cause the heat of the day to
radiate very quickly into space, so that the nights are as cold
as the day is the reverse, a peculiarity of climate from which
poor Jacob suffered thousands of years ago (Gen. 31:40). To this
coldness of the night air the indispensable watering of all
plant-life is due. The winds, loaded with moisture, are robbed
of it as they pass over the land, the cold air condensing it
into drops of water, which fall in a gracious rain of mist on
every thirsty blade. In the morning the fog thus created rests
like a sea over the plains, and far up the sides of the hills,
which raise their heads above it like so many islands. At
sunrise, however, the scene speedily changes. By the kindling
light the mist is transformed into vast snow-white clouds, which
presently break into separate masses and rise up the
mountain-sides, to disappear in the blue above, dissipated by
the increasing heat. These are 'the morning clouds and the early
dew that go away' of which Hosea (6:4; 13:3) speaks so
touchingly" (Geikie's The Holy Land, etc., i., p. 72). Dew is a
source of great fertility (Gen. 27:28; Deut. 33:13; Zech. 8:12),
and its withdrawal is regarded as a curse from God (2 Sam. 1:21;
1 Kings 17:1). It is the symbol of a multitude (2 Sam. 17:12;
Ps. 110:3); and from its refreshing influence it is an emblem of
brotherly love and harmony (Ps. 133:3), and of rich spiritual
blessings (Hos. 14:5).
a tenth of the produce of the earth consecrated and set apart
for special purposes. The dedication of a tenth to God was
recognized as a duty before the time of Moses. Abraham paid
tithes to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:6); and Jacob vowed
unto the Lord and said, "Of all that thou shalt give me I will
surely give the tenth unto thee."
The first Mosaic law on this subject is recorded in Lev.
27:30-32. Subsequent legislation regulated the destination of
the tithes (Num. 18:21-24, 26-28; Deut. 12:5, 6, 11, 17; 14:22,
23). The paying of the tithes was an important part of the
Jewish religious worship. In the days of Hezekiah one of the
first results of the reformation of religion was the eagerness
with which the people brought in their tithes (2 Chr. 31:5, 6).
The neglect of this duty was sternly rebuked by the prophets
(Amos 4:4; Mal. 3:8-10). It cannot be affirmed that the Old
Testament law of tithes is binding on the Christian Church,
nevertheless the principle of this law remains, and is
incorporated in the gospel (1 Cor. 9:13, 14); and if, as is the
case, the motive that ought to prompt to liberality in the cause
of religion and of the service of God be greater now than in Old
Testament times, then Christians outght to go beyond the ancient
Hebrew in consecrating both themselves and their substance to
Every Jew was required by the Levitical law to pay three
tithes of his property (1) one tithe for the Levites; (2) one
for the use of the temple and the great feasts; and (3) one for
the poor of the land.
a common Jewish name, the same as Hananiah. (1.) One of the
members of the church at Jerusalem, who conspired with his wife
Sapphira to deceive the brethren, and who fell down and
immediately expired after he had uttered the falsehood (Acts
5:5). By common agreement the members of the early Christian
community devoted their property to the work of furthering the
gospel and of assisting the poor and needy. The proceeds of the
possessions they sold were placed at the disposal of the
apostles (Acts 4:36, 37). Ananias might have kept his property
had he so chosen; but he professed agreement with the brethren
in the common purpose, and had of his own accord devoted it all,
as he said, to these sacred ends. Yet he retained a part of it
for his own ends, and thus lied in declaring that he had given
it all. "The offence of Ananias and Sapphira showed contempt of
God, vanity and ambition in the offenders, and utter disregard
of the corruption which they were bringing into the society.
Such sin, committed in despite of the light which they
possessed, called for a special mark of divine indignation."
(2.) A Christian at Damascus (Acts 9:10). He became Paul's
instructor; but when or by what means he himself became a
Christian we have no information. He was "a devout man according
to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt" at
(3.) The high priest before whom Paul was brought in the
procuratorship of Felix (Acts 23:2, 5, 24). He was so enraged at
Paul's noble declaration, "I have lived in all good conscience
before God until this day," that he commanded one of his
attendants to smite him on the mouth. Smarting under this
unprovoked insult, Paul quickly replied, "God shall smite thee,
thou whited wall." Being reminded that Ananias was the high
priest, to whose office all respect was to be paid, he answered,
"I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest" (Acts 23:5).
This expression has occasioned some difficulty, as it is
scarcely probable that Paul should have been ignorant of so
public a fact. The expression may mean (a) that Paul had at the
moment overlooked the honour due to the high priest; or (b), as
others think, that Paul spoke ironically, as if he had said,
"The high priest breaking the law! God's high priest a tyrant
and a lawbreaker! I see a man in white robes, and have heard his
voice, but surely it cannot, it ought not to be, the voice of
the high priest." (See Dr. Lindsay on Acts, _in loco_.) (c)
Others think that from defect of sight Paul could not observe
that the speaker was the high priest. In all this, however, it
may be explained, Paul, with all his excellency, comes short of
the example of his divine Master, who, when he was reviled,
reviled not again.
Corinthians, Second Epistle to the
Shortly after writing his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul
left Ephesus, where intense excitement had been aroused against
him, the evidence of his great success, and proceeded to
Macedonia. Pursuing the usual route, he reached Troas, the port
of departure for Europe. Here he expected to meet with Titus,
whom he had sent from Ephesus to Corinth, with tidings of the
effects produced on the church there by the first epistle; but
was disappointed (1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 1:8; 2:12, 13). He then
left Troas and proceeded to Macedonia; and at Philippi, where he
tarried, he was soon joined by Titus (2 Cor. 7:6, 7), who
brought him good news from Corinth, and also by Timothy. Under
the influence of the feelings awakened in his mind by the
favourable report which Titus brought back from Corinth, this
second epistle was written. It was probably written at Philippi,
or, as some think, Thessalonica, early in the year A.D. 58, and
was sent to Corinth by Titus. This letter he addresses not only
to the church in Corinth, but also to the saints in all Achaia,
i.e., in Athens, Cenchrea, and other cities in Greece.
The contents of this epistle may be thus arranged:
(1.) Paul speaks of his spiritual labours and course of life,
and expresses his warm affection toward the Corinthians (2 Cor.
(2.) He gives specific directions regarding the collection
that was to be made for their poor brethren in Judea (8; 9).
(3.) He defends his own apostolic claim (10-13), and justifies
himself from the charges and insinuations of the false teacher
and his adherents.
This epistle, it has been well said, shows the individuallity
of the apostle more than any other. "Human weakness, spiritual
strength, the deepest tenderness of affection, wounded feeling,
sternness, irony, rebuke, impassioned self-vindication,
humility, a just self-respect, zeal for the welfare of the weak
and suffering, as well as for the progress of the church of
Christ and for the spiritual advancement of its members, are all
displayed in turn in the course of his appeal."--Lias, Second
Of the effects produced on the Corinthian church by this
epistle we have no definite information. We know that Paul
visited Corinth after he had written it (Acts 20:2, 3), and that
on that occasion he tarried there for three months. In his
letter to Rome, written at this time, he sent salutations from
some of the principal members of the church to the Romans.
(1.) Of the kingdom of Israel. In the time of Pekah,
Tiglath-pileser II. carried away captive into Assyria (2 Kings
15:29; comp. Isa. 10:5, 6) a part of the inhabitants of Galilee
and of Gilead (B.C. 741).
After the destruction of Samaria (B.C. 720) by Shalmaneser and
Sargon (q.v.), there was a general deportation of the Israelites
into Mesopotamia and Media (2 Kings 17:6; 18:9; 1 Chr. 5:26).
(See ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF ¯T0001909.)
(2.) Of the kingdom of the two tribes, the kingdom of Judah.
Nebuchadnezzar, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer. 25:1),
invaded Judah, and carried away some royal youths, including
Daniel and his companions (B.C. 606), together with the sacred
vessels of the temple (2 Chr. 36:7; Dan. 1:2). In B.C. 598 (Jer.
52:28; 2 Kings 24:12), in the beginning of Jehoiachin's reign (2
Kings 24:8), Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive 3,023 eminent
Jews, including the king (2 Chr. 36:10), with his family and
officers (2 Kings 24:12), and a large number of warriors (16),
with very many persons of note (14), and artisans (16), leaving
behind only those who were poor and helpless. This was the first
general deportation to Babylon.
In B.C. 588, after the revolt of Zedekiah (q.v.), there was a
second general deportation of Jews by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer.
52:29; 2 Kings 25:8), including 832 more of the principal men of
the kingdom. He carried away also the rest of the sacred vessels
(2 Chr. 36:18). From this period, when the temple was destroyed
(2 Kings 25:9), to the complete restoration, B.C. 517 (Ezra
6:15), is the period of the "seventy years."
In B.C. 582 occurred the last and final deportation. The
entire number Nebuchadnezzar carried captive was 4,600 heads of
families with their wives and children and dependants (Jer.
52:30; 43:5-7; 2 Chr. 36:20, etc.). Thus the exiles formed a
very considerable community in Babylon.
When Cyrus granted permission to the Jews to return to their
own land (Ezra 1:5; 7:13), only a comparatively small number at
first availed themselves of the privilege. It cannot be
questioned that many belonging to the kingdom of Israel
ultimately joined the Jews under Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah,
and returned along with them to Jerusalem (Jer. 50:4, 5, 17-20,
Large numbers had, however, settled in the land of Babylon,
and formed numerous colonies in different parts of the kingdom.
Their descendants very probably have spread far into Eastern
lands and become absorbed in the general population. (See JUDAH,
KINGDOM OF ¯T0002126; CAPTIVITY ¯T0000720.)
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
place of fragrance, a fenced city in the midst of a vast grove
of palm trees, in the plain of Jordan, over against the place
where that river was crossed by the Israelites (Josh. 3:16). Its
site was near the 'Ain es-Sultan, Elisha's Fountain (2 Kings
2:19-22), about 5 miles west of Jordan. It was the most
important city in the Jordan valley (Num. 22:1; 34:15), and the
strongest fortress in all the land of Canaan. It was the key to
This city was taken in a very remarkable manner by the
Israelites (Josh. 6). God gave it into their hands. The city was
"accursed" (Heb. herem, "devoted" to Jehovah), and accordingly
(Josh. 6:17; comp. Lev. 27:28, 29; Deut. 13:16) all the
inhabitants and all the spoil of the city were to be destroyed,
"only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of
iron" were reserved and "put into the treasury of the house of
Jehovah" (Josh. 6:24; comp. Num. 31:22, 23, 50-54). Only Rahab
"and her father's household, and all that she had," were
preserved from destruction, according to the promise of the
spies (Josh. 2:14). In one of the Amarna tablets Adoni-zedec
(q.v.) writes to the king of Egypt informing him that the 'Abiri
(Hebrews) had prevailed, and had taken the fortress of Jericho,
and were plundering "all the king's lands." It would seem that
the Egyptian troops had before this been withdrawn from
This city was given to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh. 18:21),
and it was inhabited in the time of the Judges (Judg. 3:13; 2
Sam. 10:5). It is not again mentioned till the time of David (2
Sam. 10:5). "Children of Jericho" were among the captives who
returned under Zerubbabel Ezra 2:34; Neh. 7:36). Hiel (q.v.) the
Bethelite attempted to make it once more a fortified city (1
Kings 16:34). Between the beginning and the end of his
undertaking all his children were cut off.
In New Testament times Jericho stood some distance to the
south-east of the ancient one, and near the opening of the
valley of Achor. It was a rich and flourishing town, having a
considerable trade, and celebrated for the palm trees which
adorned the plain around. It was visited by our Lord on his last
journey to Jerusalem. Here he gave sight to two blind men (Matt.
20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52), and brought salvation to the house of
Zacchaeus the publican (Luke 19:2-10).
The poor hamlet of er-Riha, the representative of modern
Jericho, is situated some two miles farther to the east. It is
in a ruinous condition, having been destroyed by the Turks in
1840. "The soil of the plain," about the middle of which the
ancient city stood, "is unsurpassed in fertility; there is
abundance of water for irrigation, and many of the old aqueducts
are almost perfect; yet nearly the whole plain is waste and
desolate...The climate of Jericho is exceedingly hot and
unhealthy. This is accounted for by the depression of the plain,
which is about 1,200 feet below the level of the sea."
There were three different Jerichos, on three different sites,
the Jericho of Joshua, the Jericho of Herod, and the Jericho of
the Crusades. Er-Riha, the modern Jericho, dates from the time
of the Crusades. Dr. Bliss has found in a hollow scooped out for
some purpose or other near the foot of the biggest mound above
the Sultan's Spring specimens of Amorite or pre-Israelitish
pottery precisely identical with what he had discovered on the
site of ancient Lachish. He also traced in this place for a
short distance a mud brick wall in situ, which he supposes to be
the very wall that fell before the trumpets of Joshua. The wall
is not far from the foot of the great precipice of Quarantania
and its numerous caverns, and the spies of Joshua could easily
have fled from the city and been speedily hidden in these
Tilling the ground (Gen. 2:15; 4:2, 3, 12) and rearing cattle
were the chief employments in ancient times. The Egyptians
excelled in agriculture. And after the Israelites entered into
the possession of the Promised Land, their circumstances
favoured in the highest degree a remarkable development of this
art. Agriculture became indeed the basis of the Mosaic
The year in Israel was divided into six agricultural
I. SOWING TIME.
Tisri, latter half
(beginning about the autumnal equinox.)
Kisleu, former half.
Early rain due = first showers of autumn.
II. UNRIPE TIME.
Kisleu, latter half.
Sebat, former half.
III. COLD SEASON.
Sebat, latter half.
Nisan, former half.
Latter rain due (Deut. 11:14; Jer. 5:24; Hos. 6:3; Zech. 10:1;
James 5:7; Job 29:23).
IV. HARVEST TIME.
Nisan, latter half.
(Beginning about vernal equinox. Barley green. Passover.)
Sivan, former half., Wheat ripe. Pentecost.
V. SUMMER (total absence of rain)
Sivan, latter half.
Ab, former half.
VI. SULTRY SEASON
Ab, latter half.
Tisri, former half., Ingathering of fruits.
The six months from the middle of Tisri to the middle of Nisan
were occupied with the work of cultivation, and the rest of the
year mainly with the gathering in of the fruits. The extensive
and easily-arranged system of irrigation from the rills and
streams from the mountains made the soil in every part of
Israel richly productive (Ps. 1:3; 65:10; Prov. 21:1; Isa.
30:25; 32:2, 20; Hos. 12:11), and the appliances of careful
cultivation and of manure increased its fertility to such an
extent that in the days of Solomon, when there was an abundant
population, "20,000 measures of wheat year by year" were sent to
Hiram in exchange for timber (1 Kings 5:11), and in large
quantities also wheat was sent to the Tyrians for the
merchandise in which they traded (Ezek. 27:17). The wheat
sometimes produced an hundredfold (Gen. 26:12; Matt. 13:23).
Figs and pomegranates were very plentiful (Num. 13:23), and the
vine and the olive grew luxuriantly and produced abundant fruit
Lest the productiveness of the soil should be exhausted, it
was enjoined that the whole land should rest every seventh year,
when all agricultural labour would entirely cease (Lev. 25:1-7;
It was forbidden to sow a field with divers seeds (Deut.
22:9). A passer-by was at liberty to eat any quantity of corn or
grapes, but he was not permitted to carry away any (Deut. 23:24,
25; Matt. 12:1). The poor were permitted to claim the corners of
the fields and the gleanings. A forgotten sheaf in the field was
to be left also for the poor. (See Lev. 19:9, 10; Deut. 24:19.)
Agricultural implements and operations.
The sculptured monuments and painted tombs of Egypt and
Assyria throw much light on this subject, and on the general
operations of agriculture. Ploughs of a simple construction were
known in the time of Moses (Deut. 22:10; comp. Job 1:14). They
were very light, and required great attention to keep them in
the ground (Luke 9:62). They were drawn by oxen (Job 1:14), cows
(1 Sam. 6:7), and asses (Isa. 30:24); but an ox and an ass must
not be yoked together in the same plough (Deut. 22:10). Men
sometimes followed the plough with a hoe to break the clods
(Isa. 28:24). The oxen were urged on by a "goad," or long staff
pointed at the end, so that if occasion arose it could be used
as a spear also (Judg. 3:31; 1 Sam. 13:21).
When the soil was prepared, the seed was sown broadcast over
the field (Matt. 13:3-8). The "harrow" mentioned in Job 39:10
was not used to cover the seeds, but to break the clods, being
little more than a thick block of wood. In highly irrigated
spots the seed was trampled in by cattle (Isa. 32:20); but
doubtless there was some kind of harrow also for covering in the
seed scattered in the furrows of the field.
The reaping of the corn was performed either by pulling it up
by the roots, or cutting it with a species of sickle, according
to circumstances. The corn when cut was generally put up in
sheaves (Gen. 37:7; Lev. 23:10-15; Ruth 2:7, 15; Job 24:10; Jer.
9:22; Micah 4:12), which were afterwards gathered to the
threshing-floor or stored in barns (Matt. 6:26).
The process of threshing was performed generally by spreading
the sheaves on the threshing-floor and causing oxen and cattle
to tread repeatedly over them (Deut. 25:4; Isa. 28:28). On
occasions flails or sticks were used for this purpose (Ruth
2:17; Isa. 28:27). There was also a "threshing instrument" (Isa.
41:15; Amos 1:3) which was drawn over the corn. It was called by
the Hebrews a moreg, a threshing roller or sledge (2 Sam. 24:22;
1 Chr. 21:23; Isa. 3:15). It was somewhat like the Roman
tribulum, or threshing instrument.
When the grain was threshed, it was winnowed by being thrown
up against the wind (Jer. 4:11), and afterwards tossed with
wooden scoops (Isa. 30:24). The shovel and the fan for winnowing
are mentioned in Ps. 35:5, Job 21:18, Isa. 17:13. The refuse of
straw and chaff was burned (Isa. 5:24). Freed from impurities,
the grain was then laid up in granaries till used (Deut. 28:8;
Prov. 3:10; Matt. 6:26; 13:30; Luke 12:18).
Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain
statement is true (Phil. 1:27; 2 Thess. 2:13). Its primary idea
is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It
admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in
accordance with the evidence on which it rests.
Faith is the result of teaching (Rom. 10:14-17). Knowledge is
an essential element in all faith, and is sometimes spoken of as
an equivalent to faith (John 10:38; 1 John 2:3). Yet the two are
distinguished in this respect, that faith includes in it assent,
which is an act of the will in addition to the act of the
understanding. Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith,
and the ultimate ground on which our assent to any revealed
truth rests is the veracity of God.
Historical faith is the apprehension of and assent to certain
statements which are regarded as mere facts of history.
Temporary faith is that state of mind which is awakened in men
(e.g., Felix) by the exhibition of the truth and by the
influence of religious sympathy, or by what is sometimes styled
the common operation of the Holy Spirit.
Saving faith is so called because it has eternal life
inseparably connected with it. It cannot be better defined than
in the words of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism: "Faith in
Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon
him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel."
The object of saving faith is the whole revealed Word of God.
Faith accepts and believes it as the very truth most sure. But
the special act of faith which unites to Christ has as its
object the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John
7:38; Acts 16:31). This is the specific act of faith by which a
sinner is justified before God (Rom. 3:22, 25; Gal. 2:16; Phil.
3:9; John 3:16-36; Acts 10:43; 16:31). In this act of faith the
believer appropriates and rests on Christ alone as Mediator in
all his offices.
This assent to or belief in the truth received upon the divine
testimony has always associated with it a deep sense of sin, a
distinct view of Christ, a consenting will, and a loving heart,
together with a reliance on, a trusting in, or resting in
Christ. It is that state of mind in which a poor sinner,
conscious of his sin, flees from his guilty self to Christ his
Saviour, and rolls over the burden of all his sins on him. It
consists chiefly, not in the assent given to the testimony of
God in his Word, but in embracing with fiducial reliance and
trust the one and only Saviour whom God reveals. This trust and
reliance is of the essence of faith. By faith the believer
directly and immediately appropriates Christ as his own. Faith
in its direct act makes Christ ours. It is not a work which God
graciously accepts instead of perfect obedience, but is only the
hand by which we take hold of the person and work of our
Redeemer as the only ground of our salvation.
Saving faith is a moral act, as it proceeds from a renewed
will, and a renewed will is necessary to believing assent to the
truth of God (1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:4). Faith, therefore, has
its seat in the moral part of our nature fully as much as in the
intellectual. The mind must first be enlightened by divine
teaching (John 6:44; Acts 13:48; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 1:17, 18)
before it can discern the things of the Spirit.
Faith is necessary to our salvation (Mark 16:16), not because
there is any merit in it, but simply because it is the sinner's
taking the place assigned him by God, his falling in with what
God is doing.
The warrant or ground of faith is the divine testimony, not
the reasonableness of what God says, but the simple fact that he
says it. Faith rests immediately on, "Thus saith the Lord." But
in order to this faith the veracity, sincerity, and truth of God
must be owned and appreciated, together with his
unchangeableness. God's word encourages and emboldens the sinner
personally to transact with Christ as God's gift, to close with
him, embrace him, give himself to Christ, and take Christ as
his. That word comes with power, for it is the word of God who
has revealed himself in his works, and especially in the cross.
God is to be believed for his word's sake, but also for his
Faith in Christ secures for the believer freedom from
condemnation, or justification before God; a participation in
the life that is in Christ, the divine life (John 14:19; Rom.
6:4-10; Eph. 4:15,16, etc.); "peace with God" (Rom. 5:1); and
sanctification (Acts 26:18; Gal. 5:6; Acts 15:9).
All who thus believe in Christ will certainly be saved (John
6:37, 40; 10:27, 28; Rom. 8:1).
The faith=the gospel (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; Gal. 1:23; 1 Tim.
3:9; Jude 1:3).
the great deliverance wrought for the children of Isreal when
they were brought out of the land of Egypt with "a mighty hand
and with an outstretched arm" (Ex 12:51; Deut. 26:8; Ps 114;
136), about B.C. 1490, and four hundred and eighty years (1
Kings 6:1) before the building of Solomon's temple.
The time of their sojourning in Egypt was, according to Ex.
12:40, the space of four hundred and thirty years. In the LXX.,
the words are, "The sojourning of the children of Israel which
they sojourned in Egypt and in the land of Canaan was four
hundred and thirty years;" and the Samaritan version reads, "The
sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers which
they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt
was four hundred and thirty years." In Gen. 15:13-16, the period
is prophetically given (in round numbers) as four hundred years.
This passage is quoted by Stephen in his defence before the
council (Acts 7:6).
The chronology of the "sojourning" is variously estimated.
Those who adopt the longer term reckon thus:
| From the descent of Jacob into Egypt to the
| death of Joseph 71
| From the death of Joseph to the birth of
| Moses 278
| From the birth of Moses to his flight into
| Midian 40
| From the flight of Moses to his return into
| Egypt 40
| From the return of Moses to the Exodus 1
Others contend for the shorter period of two hundred and
fifteen years, holding that the period of four hundred and
thirty years comprehends the years from the entrance of Abraham
into Canaan (see LXX. and Samaritan) to the descent of Jacob
into Egypt. They reckon thus:
| From Abraham's arrival in Canaan to Isaac's
| birth 25
| From Isaac's birth to that of his twin sons
| Esau and Jacob 60
| From Jacob's birth to the going down into
| Egypt 130
| From Jacob's going down into Egypt to the
| death of Joseph 71
| From death of Joseph to the birth of Moses 64
| From birth of Moses to the Exodus 80
| In all... 430
During the forty years of Moses' sojourn in the land of
Midian, the Hebrews in Egypt were being gradually prepared for
the great national crisis which was approaching. The plagues
that successively fell upon the land loosened the bonds by which
Pharaoh held them in slavery, and at length he was eager that
they should depart. But the Hebrews must now also be ready to
go. They were poor; for generations they had laboured for the
Egyptians without wages. They asked gifts from their neighbours
around them (Ex. 12:35), and these were readily bestowed. And
then, as the first step towards their independent national
organization, they observed the feast of the Passover, which was
now instituted as a perpetual memorial. The blood of the paschal
lamb was duly sprinkled on the door-posts and lintels of all
their houses, and they were all within, waiting the next
movement in the working out of God's plan. At length the last
stroke fell on the land of Egypt. "It came to pass, that at
midnight Jehovah smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt."
Pharaoh rose up in the night, and called for Moses and Aaron by
night, and said, "Rise up, and get you forth from among my
people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve
Jehovah, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds,
as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also." Thus was
Pharaoh (q.v.) completely humbled and broken down. These words
he spoke to Moses and Aaron "seem to gleam through the tears of
the humbled king, as he lamented his son snatched from him by so
sudden a death, and tremble with a sense of the helplessness
which his proud soul at last felt when the avenging hand of God
had visited even his palace."
The terror-stricken Egyptians now urged the instant departure
of the Hebrews. In the midst of the Passover feast, before the
dawn of the 15th day of the month Abib (our April nearly), which
was to be to them henceforth the beginning of the year, as it
was the commencement of a new epoch in their history, every
family, with all that appertained to it, was ready for the
march, which instantly began under the leadership of the heads
of tribes with their various sub-divisions. They moved onward,
increasing as they went forward from all the districts of
Goshen, over the whole of which they were scattered, to the
common centre. Three or four days perhaps elapsed before the
whole body of the people were assembled at Rameses, and ready to
set out under their leader Moses (Ex. 12:37; Num. 33:3). This
city was at that time the residence of the Egyptian court, and
here the interviews between Moses and Pharaoh had taken place.
From Rameses they journeyed to Succoth (Ex. 12:37), identified
with Tel-el-Maskhuta, about 12 miles west of Ismailia. (See
PITHOM ¯T0002968.) Their third station was Etham (q.v.), 13:20,
"in the edge of the wilderness," and was probably a little to
the west of the modern town of Ismailia, on the Suez Canal. Here
they were commanded "to turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth,
between Migdol and the sea", i.e., to change their route from
east to due south. The Lord now assumed the direction of their
march in the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. They
were then led along the west shore of the Red Sea till they came
to an extensive camping-ground "before Pi-hahiroth," about 40
miles from Etham. This distance from Etham may have taken three
days to traverse, for the number of camping-places by no means
indicates the number of days spent on the journey: e.g., it took
fully a month to travel from Rameses to the wilderness of Sin
(Ex. 16:1), yet reference is made to only six camping-places
during all that time. The exact spot of their encampment before
they crossed the Red Sea cannot be determined. It was probably
somewhere near the present site of Suez.
Under the direction of God the children of Israel went
"forward" from the camp "before Pi-hahiroth," and the sea opened
a pathway for them, so that they crossed to the farther shore in
safety. The Egyptian host pursued after them, and, attempting to
follow through the sea, were overwhelmed in its returning
waters, and thus the whole military force of the Egyptians
perished. They "sank as lead in the mighty waters" (Ex. 15:1-9;
comp. Ps. 77:16-19).
Having reached the eastern shore of the sea, perhaps a little
way to the north of 'Ayun Musa ("the springs of Moses"), there
they encamped and rested probably for a day. Here Miriam and the
other women sang the triumphal song recorded in Ex. 15:1-21.
From 'Ayun Musa they went on for three days through a part of
the barren "wilderness of Shur" (22), called also the
"wilderness of Etham" (Num. 33:8; comp. Ex. 13:20), without
finding water. On the last of these days they came to Marah
(q.v.), where the "bitter" water was by a miracle made
Their next camping-place was Elim (q.v.), where were twelve
springs of water and a grove of "threescore and ten" palm trees
After a time the children of Israel "took their journey from
Elim," and encamped by the Red Sea (Num. 33:10), and thence
removed to the "wilderness of Sin" (to be distinguished from the
wilderness of Zin, 20:1), where they again encamped. Here,
probably the modern el-Markha, the supply of bread they had
brought with them out of Egypt failed. They began to "murmur"
for want of bread. God "heard their murmurings" and gave them
quails and manna, "bread from heaven" (Ex. 16:4-36). Moses
directed that an omer of manna should be put aside and preserved
as a perpetual memorial of God's goodness. They now turned
inland, and after three encampments came to the rich and fertile
valley of Rephidim, in the Wady Feiran. Here they found no
water, and again murmured against Moses. Directed by God, Moses
procured a miraculous supply of water from the "rock in Horeb,"
one of the hills of the Sinai group (17:1-7); and shortly
afterwards the children of Israel here fought their first battle
with the Amalekites, whom they smote with the edge of the sword.
From the eastern extremity of the Wady Feiran the line of
march now probably led through the Wady esh-Sheikh and the Wady
Solaf, meeting in the Wady er-Rahah, "the enclosed plain in
front of the magnificient cliffs of Ras Sufsafeh." Here they
encamped for more than a year (Num. 1:1; 10:11) before Sinai
The different encampments of the children of Israel, from the
time of their leaving Egypt till they reached the Promised Land,
are mentioned in Ex. 12:37-19; Num. 10-21; 33; Deut. 1, 2, 10.
It is worthy of notice that there are unmistakable evidences
that the Egyptians had a tradition of a great exodus from their
country, which could be none other than the exodus of the
originally denoted only the sea-coast of the land of Canaan
inhabited by the Philistines (Ex. 15:14; Isa. 14:29, 31; Joel
3:4), and in this sense exclusively the Hebrew name Pelesheth
(rendered "Philistia" in Ps. 60:8; 83:7; 87:4; 108:9) occurs in
the Old Testament.
Not till a late period in Jewish history was this name used to
denote "the land of the Hebrews" in general (Gen. 40:15). It is
also called "the holy land" (Zech. 2:12), the "land of Jehovah"
(Hos. 9:3; Ps. 85:1), the "land of promise" (Heb. 11:9), because
promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 24:7), the "land of Canaan"
(Gen. 12:5), the "land of Israel" (1 Sam. 13:19), and the "land
of Judah" (Isa. 19:17).
The territory promised as an inheritance to the seed of
Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21; Num. 34:1-12) was bounded on the east by
the river Euphrates, on the west by the Mediterranean, on the
north by the "entrance of Hamath," and on the south by the
"river of Egypt." This extent of territory, about 60,000 square
miles, was at length conquered by David, and was ruled over also
by his son Solomon (2 Sam. 8; 1 Chr. 18; 1 Kings 4:1, 21). This
vast empire was the Promised Land; but Israel was only a part
of it, terminating in the north at the southern extremity of the
Lebanon range, and in the south in the wilderness of Paran, thus
extending in all to about 144 miles in length. Its average
breadth was about 60 miles from the Mediterranean on the west to
beyond the Jordan. It has fittingly been designated "the least
of all lands." Western Israel, on the south of Gaza, is only
about 40 miles in breadth from the Mediterranean to the Dead
Sea, narrowing gradually toward the north, where it is only 20
miles from the sea-coast to the Jordan.
Israel, "set in the midst" (Ezek. 5:5) of all other lands,
is the most remarkable country on the face of the earth. No
single country of such an extent has so great a variety of
climate, and hence also of plant and animal life. Moses
describes it as "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of
fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a
land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and
pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein
thou shalt not eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack
any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose
hills thou mayest dig brass" (Deut. 8:7-9).
"In the time of Christ the country looked, in all probability,
much as now. The whole land consists of rounded limestone hills,
fretted into countless stony valleys, offering but rarely level
tracts, of which Esdraelon alone, below Nazareth, is large
enough to be seen on the map. The original woods had for ages
disappeared, though the slopes were dotted, as now, with figs,
olives, and other fruit-trees where there was any soil.
Permanent streams were even then unknown, the passing rush of
winter torrents being all that was seen among the hills. The
autumn and spring rains, caught in deep cisterns hewn out like
huge underground jars in the soft limestone, with artificial
mud-banked ponds still found near all villages, furnished water.
Hills now bare, or at best rough with stunted growth, were then
terraced, so as to grow vines, olives, and grain. To-day almost
desolate, the country then teemed with population. Wine-presses
cut in the rocks, endless terraces, and the ruins of old
vineyard towers are now found amidst solitudes overgrown for
ages with thorns and thistles, or with wild shrubs and poor
gnarled scrub" (Geikie's Life of Christ).
From an early period the land was inhabited by the descendants
of Canaan, who retained possession of the whole land "from Sidon
to Gaza" till the time of the conquest by Joshua, when it was
occupied by the twelve tribes. Two tribes and a half had their
allotments given them by Moses on the east of the Jordan (Deut.
3:12-20; comp. Num. 1:17-46; Josh. 4:12-13). The remaining
tribes had their portion on the west of Jordan.
From the conquest till the time of Saul, about four hundred
years, the people were governed by judges. For a period of one
hundred and twenty years the kingdom retained its unity while it
was ruled by Saul and David and Solomon. On the death of
Solomon, his son Rehoboam ascended the throne; but his conduct
was such that ten of the tribes revolted, and formed an
independent monarchy, called the kingdom of Israel, or the
northern kingdom, the capital of which was first Shechem and
afterwards Samaria. This kingdom was destroyed. The Israelites
were carried captive by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, B.C. 722,
after an independent existence of two hundred and fifty-three
years. The place of the captives carried away was supplied by
tribes brought from the east, and thus was formed the Samaritan
nation (2 Kings 17:24-29).
Nebuchadnezzar came up against the kingdom of the two tribes,
the kingdom of Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, one
hundred and thirty-four years after the overthrow of the kingdom
of Israel. He overthrew the city, plundered the temple, and
carried the people into captivity to Babylon (B.C. 587), where
they remained seventy years. At the close of the period of the
Captivity, they returned to their own land, under the edict of
Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4). They rebuilt the city and temple, and
restored the old Jewish commonwealth.
For a while after the Restoration the Jews were ruled by
Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and afterwards by the high
priests, assisted by the Sanhedrin. After the death of Alexander
the Great at Babylon (B.C. 323), his vast empire was divided
between his four generals. Egypt, Arabia, Israel, and
Coele-Syria fell to the lot of Ptolemy Lagus. Ptolemy took
possession of Israel in B.C. 320, and carried nearly one
hundred thousand of the inhabitants of Jerusalem into Egypt. He
made Alexandria the capital of his kingdom, and treated the Jews
with consideration, confirming them in the enjoyment of many
After suffering persecution at the hands of Ptolemy's
successors, the Jews threw off the Egyptian yoke, and became
subject to Antiochus the Great, the king of Syria. The cruelty
and opression of the successors of Antiochus at length led to
the revolt under the Maccabees (B.C. 163), when they threw off
the Syrian yoke.
In the year B.C. 68, Israel was reduced by Pompey the Great
to a Roman province. He laid the walls of the city in ruins, and
massacred some twelve thousand of the inhabitants. He left the
temple, however, unijured. About twenty-five years after this
the Jews revolted and cast off the Roman yoke. They were
however, subdued by Herod the Great (q.v.). The city and the
temple were destroyed, and many of the inhabitants were put to
death. About B.C. 20, Herod proceeded to rebuild the city and
restore the ruined temple, which in about nine years and a half
was so far completed that the sacred services could be resumed
in it (comp. John 2:20). He was succeeded by his son Archelaus,
who was deprived of his power, however, by Augustus, A.D. 6,
when Israel became a Roman province, ruled by Roman governors
or procurators. Pontius Pilate was the fifth of these
procurators. He was appointed to his office A.D. 25.
Exclusive of Idumea, the kingdom of Herod the Great
comprehended the whole of the country originally divided among
the twelve tribes, which he divided into four provinces or
districts. This division was recognized so long as Israel was
under the Roman dominion. These four provinces were, (1) Judea,
the southern portion of the country; (2) Samaria, the middle
province, the northern boundary of which ran along the hills to
the south of the plain of Esdraelon; (3) Galilee, the northern
province; and (4) Peraea (a Greek name meaning the "opposite
country"), the country lying east of the Jordan and the Dead
Sea. This province was subdivided into these districts, (1)
Peraea proper, lying between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok; (2)
Galaaditis (Gilead); (3) Batanaea; (4) Gaulonitis (Jaulan); (5)
Ituraea or Auranitis, the ancient Bashan; (6) Trachonitis; (7)
Abilene; (8) Decapolis, i.e., the region of the ten cities. The
whole territory of Israel, including the portions alloted to
the trans-Jordan tribes, extended to about eleven thousand
square miles. Recent exploration has shown the territory on the
west of Jordan alone to be six thousand square miles in extent,
the size of the principality of Wales.