There are six Hebrew words rendered "oak."
(1.) 'El occurs only in the word El-paran (Gen. 14:6). The
LXX. renders by "terebinth." In the plural form this word occurs
in Isa. 1:29; 57:5 (A.V. marg. and R.V., "among the oaks"); 61:3
("trees"). The word properly means strongly, mighty, and hence a
(2.) 'Elah, Gen. 35:4, "under the oak which was by Shechem"
(R.V. marg., "terebinth"). Isa. 6:13, A.V., "teil-tree;" R.V.,
"terebinth." Isa. 1:30, R.V. marg., "terebinth." Absalom in his
flight was caught in the branches of a "great oak" (2 Sam. 18:9;
R.V. marg., "terebinth").
(3.) 'Elon, Judg. 4:11; 9:6 (R.V., "oak;" A.V., following the
Targum, "plain") properly the deciduous species of oak shedding
its foliage in autumn.
(4.) 'Elan, only in Dan. 4:11,14,20, rendered "tree" in
Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Probably some species of the oak is
(5.) 'Allah, Josh. 24:26. The place here referred to is called
Allon-moreh ("the oak of Moreh," as in R.V.) in Gen. 12:6 and
(6.) 'Allon, always rendered "oak." Probably the evergreen oak
(called also ilex and holm oak) is intended. The oak woods of
Bashan are frequently alluded to (Isa. 2:13; Ezek. 27:6). Three
species of oaks are found in Israel, of which the "prickly
evergreen oak" (Quercus coccifera) is the most abundant. "It
covers the rocky hills of Israel with a dense brushwood of
trees from 8 to 12 feet high, branching from the base, thickly
covered with small evergreen rigid leaves, and bearing acorns
copiously." The so-called Abraham's oak at Hebron is of this
species. Tristram says that this oak near Hebron "has for
several centuries taken the place of the once renowned terebinth
which marked the site of Mamre on the other side of the city.
The terebinth existed at Mamre in the time of Vespasian, and
under it the captive Jews were sold as slaves. It disappeared
about A.D. 330, and no tree now marks the grove of Mamre. The
present oak is the noblest tree in Southern Israel, being 23
feet in girth, and the diameter of the foliage, which is
unsymmetrical, being about 90 feet." (See HEBRON ¯T0001712;
(R.V. marg. of Deut. 11:30, etc.), the Pistacia terebinthus of
botanists; a tree very common in the south and east of
Israel. (See OAK ¯T0002758.)
(Judg. 9:37; A.V., "the plain of Meonenim;" R.V., "the oak of
Meonenim") means properly "soothsayers" or "sorcerers,"
"wizards" (Deut. 18:10, 14; 2 Kings 21:6; Micah 5:12). This may
be the oak at Shechem under which Abram pitched his tent (see
SHECHEM ¯T0003330), the "enchanter's oak," so called, perhaps,
from Jacob's hiding the "strange gods" under it (Gen. 35:4).
oak of Paran, a place on the edge of the wilderness bordering
the territory of the Horites (Gen. 14:6). This was the farthest
point to which Chedorlaomer's expedition extended. It is
identified with the modern desert of et-Tih. (See PARAN
oak. (1.) The expression in the Authorized Version of Josh.
19:33, "from Allon to Zaanannim," is more correctly rendered in
the Revised Version, "from the oak in Zaanannim." The word
denotes some remarkable tree which stood near Zaanannim, and
which served as a landmark.
(2.) The son of Jedaiah, of the family of the Simeonites, who
expelled the Hamites from the valley of Gedor (1 Chr. 4:37).
manliness. (1.) An Amoritish chief in alliance with Abraham
(Gen. 14:13, 24).
(2.) The name of the place in the neighbourhood of Hebron
(q.v.) where Abraham dwelt (Gen. 23:17, 19; 35:27); called also
in Authorized Version (13:18) the "plain of Mamre," but in
Revised Version more correctly "the oaks [marg., 'terebinths']
of Mamre." The name probably denotes the "oak grove" or the
"wood of Mamre," thus designated after Abraham's ally.
This "grove" must have been within sight of or "facing"
Machpelah (q.v.). The site of Mamre has been identified with
Ballatet Selta, i.e., "the oak of rest", where there is a tree
called "Abraham's oak," about a mile and a half west of Hebron.
Others identify it with er-Rameh, 2 miles north of Hebron.
oak of weeping, a tree near Bethel, at the spot where Deborah,
Rebekah's nurse, was buried (Gen. 35:8). Large trees, from their
rarity in the plains of Israel, were frequently designated as
landmarks. This particular tree was probably the same as the
"palm tree of Deborah" (Judg. 4:5).
the oak or heap of Assyria, a territory in Asia of which Arioch
was king (Gen. 14:1, 9). It is supposed that the old Chaldean
town of Larsa was the metropolis of this kingdom, situated
nearly half-way between Ur (now Mugheir) and Erech, on the left
bank of the Euphrates. This town is represented by the mounds of
Senkereh, a little to the east of Erech.
Hos. 4:13; rendered "terebinth" in the Revised Version. It is
the Pistacia terebinthus of Linn., a tree common in Israel,
long-lived, and therefore often employed for landmarks and in
designating places (Gen. 35:4; Judg. 6:11, 19. Rendered "oak" in
both A.V. and R.V.). (See TEIL TREE ¯T0003597.)
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.
oak. (1.) A city of Dan (Josh. 19:43). (2.) A Hittite, father of
Bashemath, Esau's wife (Gen. 26:34). (3.) One of the sons of
Zebulun (Gen. 46:14). (4.) The eleventh of the Hebrew judges. He
held office for ten years (Judg. 12:11, 12). He is called the
an archer, teacher; fruitful. (1.) A Canaanite probably who
inhabited the district south of Shechem, between Mounts Ebal and
Gerizim, and gave his name to the "plain" there (Gen. 12:6).
Here at this "plain," or rather (R.V.) "oak," of Moreh, Abraham
built his first altar in the land of Israel; and here the
Lord appeared unto him. He afterwards left this plain and moved
southward, and pitched his tent between Bethel on the west and
Hai on the east (Gen. 12:7, 8).
used to support a building (Judg. 16:26, 29); as a trophy or
memorial (Gen. 28:18; 35:20; Ex. 24:4; 1 Sam. 15:12, A.V.,
"place," more correctly "monument," or "trophy of victory," as
in 2 Sam. 18:18); of fire, by which the Divine Presence was
manifested (Ex. 13:2). The "plain of the pillar" in Judg. 9:6
ought to be, as in the Revised Version, the "oak of the pillar",
i.e., of the monument or stone set up by Joshua (24:26).
Heb. tidhar, mentioned along with the fir-tree in Isa. 41:19;
60:13. This is probably the cypress; or it may be the
stone-pine, which is common on the northern slopes of Lebanon.
Some suppose that the elm, others that the oak, or holm, or
ilex, is meant by the Hebrew word. In Neh. 8:15 the Revised
Version has "wild olive" instead of "pine." (See FIR ¯T0001333.)
(Heb. tirzah, "hardness"), mentioned only in Isa. 44:14 (R.V.,
"holm tree"). The oldest Latin version translates this word by
ilex, i.e., the evergreen oak, which may possibly have been the
tree intended; but there is great probability that our
Authorized Version is correct in rendering it "cypress." This
tree grows abundantly on the mountains of Hermon. Its wood is
hard and fragrant, and very durable. Its foliage is dark and
gloomy. It is an evergreen (Cupressus sempervirens). "Throughout
the East it is used as a funereal tree; and its dark, tall,
waving plumes render it peculiarly appropriate among the tombs."
mentioned only in Judg. 3:31, the weapon with which Shamgar
(q.v.) slew six hundred Philistines. "The ploughman still
carries his goad, a weapon apparently more fitted for the hand
of the soldier than the peaceful husbandman. The one I saw was
of the 'oak of Bashan,' and measured upwards of ten feet in
length. At one end was an iron spear, and at the other a piece
of the same metal flattened. One can well understand how a
warrior might use such a weapon with effect in the battle-field"
(Porter's Syria, etc.). (See GOAD ¯T0001508.)
of a tree. The olive-leaf mentioned Gen. 8:11. The barren
fig-tree had nothing but leaves (Matt. 21:19; Mark 11:13). The
oak-leaf is mentioned Isa. 1:30; 6:13. There are numerous
allusions to leaves, their flourishing, their decay, and their
restoration (Lev. 26:36; Isa. 34:4; Jer. 8:13; Dan. 4:12, 14,
21; Mark 11:13; 13:28). The fresh leaf is a symbol of prosperity
(Ps. 1:3; Jer. 17:8; Ezek. 47:12); the faded, of decay (Job
13:25; Isa. 1:30; 64:6; Jer. 8:13).
Leaf of a door (1 Kings 6:34), the valve of a folding door.
Leaf of a book (Jer. 36:23), perhaps a fold of a roll.
Heb. bakah, "to weep;" rendered "Baca" (R.V., "weeping") in Ps.
84:6. The plural form of the Hebrew bekaim is rendered "mulberry
trees" in 2 Sam. 5:23, 24 and 1 Chr. 14:14, 15. The tree here
alluded to was probably the aspen or trembling poplar. "We know
with certainty that the black poplar, the aspen, and the
Lombardy poplar grew in Israel. The aspen, whose long
leaf-stalks cause the leaves to tremble with every breath of
wind, unites with the willow and the oak to overshadow the
watercourses of the Lebanon, and with the oleander and the
acacia to adorn the ravines of Southern Israel" (Kitto). By
"the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees" we are
to understand a rustling among the trees like the marching of an
army. This was the signal that the Lord himself would lead forth
David's army to victory. (See SYCAMINE ¯T0003540.)
This dye was obtained by the Egyptians from the shell-fish
Carthamus tinctorius; and by the Hebrews from the Coccus ilicis,
an insect which infests oak trees, called kermes by the
This colour was early known (Gen. 38:28). It was one of the
colours of the ephod (Ex. 28:6), the girdle (8), and the
breastplate (15) of the high priest. It is also mentioned in
various other connections (Josh. 2:18; 2 Sam. 1:24; Lam. 4:5;
Nahum 2:3). A scarlet robe was in mockery placed on our Lord
(Matt. 27:28; Luke 23:11). "Sins as scarlet" (Isa. 1:18), i.e.,
as scarlet robes "glaring and habitual." Scarlet and crimson
were the firmest of dyes, and thus not easily washed out.
shoulder. (1.) The son of Hamor the Hivite (Gen. 33:19; 34).
(2.) A descendant of Manasseh (Num. 26:31; Josh. 17:2).
(3.) A city in Samaria (Gen. 33:18), called also Sichem
(12:6), Sychem (Acts 7:16). It stood in the narrow sheltered
valley between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the south, these
mountains at their base being only some 500 yards apart. Here
Abraham pitched his tent and built his first altar in the
Promised Land, and received the first divine promise (Gen. 12:6,
7). Here also Jacob "bought a parcel of a field at the hands of
the children of Hamor" after his return from Mesopotamia, and
settled with his household, which he purged from idolatry by
burying the teraphim of his followers under an oak tree, which
was afterwards called "the oak of the sorcerer" (Gen. 33:19;
35:4; Judg. 9:37). (See MEONENIM ¯T0002483.) Here too, after a
while, he dug a well, which bears his name to this day (John
4:5, 39-42). To Shechem Joshua gathered all Israel "before God,"
and delivered to them his second parting address (Josh.
24:1-15). He "made a covenant with the people that day" at the
very place where, on first entering the land, they had responded
to the law from Ebal and Gerizim (Josh. 24:25), the terms of
which were recorded "in the book of the law of God", i.e., in
the roll of the law of Moses; and in memory of this solemn
transaction a great stone was set up "under an oak" (comp. Gen.
28:18; 31:44-48; Ex. 24:4; Josh. 4:3, 8, 9), possibly the old
"oak of Moreh," as a silent witness of the transaction to all
Shechem became one of the cities of refuge, the central city
of refuge for Western Israel (Josh. 20:7), and here the bones
of Joseph were buried (24:32). Rehoboam was appointed king in
Shechem (1 Kings 12:1, 19), but Jeroboam afterwards took up his
residence here. This city is mentioned in connection with our
Lord's conversation with the woman of Samaria (John 4:5); and
thus, remaining as it does to the present day, it is one of the
oldest cities of the world. It is the modern Nablus, a
contraction for Neapolis, the name given to it by Vespasian. It
lies about a mile and a half up the valley on its southern
slope, and on the north of Gerizim, which rises about 1,100 feet
above it, and is about 34 miles north of Jerusalem. It contains
about 10,000 inhabitants, of whom about 160 are Samaritans and
100 Jews, the rest being Christians and Mohammedans.
The site of Shechem is said to be of unrivalled beauty.
Stanley says it is "the most beautiful, perhaps the only very
beautiful, spot in Central Israel."
Gaza, near Shechem, only mentioned 1 Chr. 7:28, has entirely
disappeared. It was destroyed at the time of the Conquest, and
its place was taken by Shechem. (See SYCHAR ¯T0003542.)
a city on the coast of Mysia, in the north-west of Asia Minor,
named after ancient Troy, which was at some little distance from
it (about 4 miles) to the north. Here Paul, on his second
missionary journey, saw the vision of a "man of Macedonia," who
appeared to him, saying, "Come over, and help us" (Acts
16:8-11). He visited this place also on other occasions, and on
one of these visits he left his cloak and some books there (2
Cor. 2:12; 2 Tim. 4:13). The ruins of Troas extend over many
miles, the site being now mostly covered with a forest of oak
trees. The modern name of the ruins is Eski Stamboul i.e., Old
terebinth or oak. (1.) Valley of, where the Israelites were
encamped when David killed Goliath (1 Sam. 17:2, 19). It was
near Shochoh of Judah and Azekah (17:1). It is the modern Wady
es-Sunt, i.e., "valley of the acacia." "The terebinths from
which the valley of Elah takes its name still cling to their
ancient soil. On the west side of the valley, near Shochoh,
there is a very large and ancient tree of this kind known as the
'terebinth of Wady Sur,' 55 feet in height, its trunk 17 feet in
circumference, and the breadth of its shade no less than 75
feet. It marks the upper end of the Elah valley, and forms a
noted object, being one of the largest terebinths in Israel."
Geikie's, The Holy Land, etc.
(2.) One of the Edomite chiefs or "dukes" of Mount Seir (Gen.
(3.) The second of the three sons of Caleb, the son of
Jephunneh (1 Chr. 4:15).
(4.) The son and successor of Baasha, king of Israel (1 Kings
16:8-10). He was killed while drunk by Zimri, one of the
captains of his chariots, and was the last king of the line of
Baasha. Thus was fullfilled the prophecy of Jehu (6, 7, 11-14).
(5.) The father of Hoshea, the last king of Israel (2 Kings
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 height. (1.) Now Jebel et-Tur, a cone-like prominent mountain,
11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee. It is about 1,843 feet
high. The view from the summit of it is said to be singularly
extensive and grand. This is alluded to in Ps. 89:12; Jer.
46:18. It was here that Barak encamped before the battle with
Sisera (q.v.) Judg. 4:6-14. There is an old tradition, which,
however, is unfounded, that it was the scene of the
transfiguration of our Lord. (See HERMON ¯T0001754.) "The
prominence and isolation of Tabor, standing, as it does, on the
border-land between the northern and southern tribes, between
the mountains and the central plain, made it a place of note in
all ages, and evidently led the psalmist to associate it with
Hermon, the one emblematic of the south, the other of the
north." There are some who still hold that this was the scene of
the transfiguration (q.v.).
(2.) A town of Zebulum (1 Chr. 6:77).
(3.) The "plain of Tabor" (1 Sam. 10:3) should be, as in the
Revised Version, "the oak of Tabor." This was probably the
Allon-bachuth of Gen. 35:8.
(an old name for the lime-tree, the tilia), Isa. 6:13, the
terebinth, or turpentine-tree, the Pistacia terebinthus of
botanists. The Hebrew word here used (elah) is rendered oak
(q.v.) in Gen. 35:4; Judg. 6:11, 19; Isa. 1:29, etc. In Isa.
61:3 it is rendered in the plural "trees;" Hos. 4:13, "elm"
(R.V., "terebinth"). Hos. 4:13, "elm" (R.V., "terebinth"). In 1
Sam. 17:2, 19 it is taken as a proper name, "Elah" (R.V. marg.,
"The terebinth of Mamre, or its lineal successor, remained
from the days of Abraham till the fourth century of the
Christian era, and on its site Constantine erected a Christian
church, the ruins of which still remain."
This tree "is seldom seen in clumps or groves, never in
forests, but stands isolated and weird-like in some bare ravine
or on a hill-side where nothing else towers above the low
a community; alliance. (1.) A city in the south end of the
valley of Eshcol, about midway between Jerusalem and Beersheba,
from which it is distant about 20 miles in a straight line. It
was built "seven years before Zoan in Egypt" (Gen. 13:18; Num.
13:22). It still exists under the same name, and is one of the
most ancient cities in the world. Its earlier name was
Kirjath-arba (Gen. 23:2; Josh. 14:15; 15:3). But "Hebron would
appear to have been the original name of the city, and it was
not till after Abraham's stay there that it received the name
Kirjath-arba, who [i.e., Arba] was not the founder but the
conqueror of the city, having led thither the tribe of the
Anakim, to which he belonged. It retained this name till it came
into the possession of Caleb, when the Israelites restored the
original name Hebron" (Keil, Com.). The name of this city does
not occur in any of the prophets or in the New Testament. It is
found about forty times in the Old. It was the favorite home of
Abraham. Here he pitched his tent under the oaks of Mamre, by
which name it came afterwards to be known; and here Sarah died,
and was buried in the cave of Machpelah (Gen. 23:17-20), which
he bought from Ephron the Hittite. From this place the patriarch
departed for Egypt by way of Beersheba (37:14; 46:1). It was
taken by Joshua and given to Caleb (Josh. 10:36, 37; 12:10;
14:13). It became a Levitical city and a city of refuge (20:7;
21:11). When David became king of Judah this was his royal
residence, and he resided here for seven and a half years (2
Sam. 5:5); and here he was anointed as king over all Israel (2
Sam. 2:1-4, 11; 1 Kings 2:11). It became the residence also of
the rebellious Absalom (2 Sam. 15:10), who probably expected to
find his chief support in the tribe of Judah, now called
In one part of the modern city is a great mosque, which is
built over the grave of Machpelah. The first European who was
permitted to enter this mosque was the Prince of Wales in 1862.
It was also visited by the Marquis of Bute in 1866, and by the
late Emperor Frederick of Germany (then Crown-Prince of Prussia)
One of the largest oaks in Israel is found in the valley of
Eshcol, about 3 miles north of the town. It is supposed by some
to be the tree under which Abraham pitched his tent, and is
called "Abraham's oak." (See OAK ¯T0002758.)
(2.) The third son of Kohath the Levite (Ex. 6:18; 1 Chr. 6:2,
(3.) 1 Chr. 2:42, 43.
(4.) A town in the north border of Asher (Josh. 19:28).
(1.) Denotes the plate of gold in the front of the high priest's
mitre (Ex. 29:6; 39:30). The same Hebrew word so rendered
(ne'zer) denotes the diadem worn by Saul in battle (2 Sam.
1:10), and also that which was used at the coronation of Joash
(2 Kings 11:12).
(2.) The more general name in Hebrew for a crown is _'atarah_,
meaning a "circlet." This is used of crowns and head ornaments
of divers kinds, including royal crowns. Such was the crown
taken from the king of Ammon by David (2 Sam. 12:30). The crown
worn by the Assyrian kings was a high mitre, sometimes adorned
with flowers. There are sculptures also representing the crowns
worn by the early Egyptian and Persian kings. Sometimes a diadem
surrounded the royal head-dress of two or three fillets. This
probably signified that the wearer had dominion over two or
three countries. In Rev. 12:3; 13:1, we read of "many crowns," a
token of extended dominion.
(3.) The ancient Persian crown (Esther 1:11; 2:17; 6:8) was
called _kether_; i.e., "a chaplet," a high cap or tiara. Crowns
were worn sometimes to represent honour and power (Ezek. 23:42).
They were worn at marriages (Cant. 3:11; Isa. 61:10,
"ornaments;" R.V., "a garland"), and at feasts and public
The crown was among the Romans and Greeks a symbol of victory
and reward. The crown or wreath worn by the victors in the
Olympic games was made of leaves of the wild olive; in the
Pythian games, of laurel; in the Nemean games, of parsley; and
in the Isthmian games, of the pine. The Romans bestowed the
"civic crown" on him who saved the life of a citizen. It was
made of the leaves of the oak. In opposition to all these fading
crowns the apostles speak of the incorruptible crown, the crown
of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10) "that fadeth not away" (1 Pet.
5:4, Gr. amarantinos; comp. 1:4). Probably the word "amaranth"
was applied to flowers we call "everlasting," the "immortal
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 .)
an oath, seven. (1.) Heb. shebha, the son of Raamah (Gen. 10:7),
whose descendants settled with those of Dedan on the Persian
(2.) Heb. id. A son of Joktan (Gen. 10:28), probably the
founder of the Sabeans.
(3.) Heb. id. A son of Jokshan, who was a son of Abraham by
Keturah (Gen. 25:3).
(4.) Heb. id. A kingdom in Arabia Felix. Sheba, in fact, was
Saba in Southern Arabia, the Sabaeans of classical geography,
who carried on the trade in spices with the other peoples of the
ancient world. They were Semites, speaking one of the two main
dialects of Himyaritic or South Arabic. Sheba had become a
monarchy before the days of Solomon. Its queen brought him gold,
spices, and precious stones (1 Kings 10:1-13). She is called by
our Lord the "queen of the south" (Matt. 12:42).
(5.) Heb. shebha', "seven" or "an oak." A town of Simeon
(6.) Heb. id. A "son of Bichri," of the family of Becher, the
son of Benjamin, and thus of the stem from which Saul was
descended (2 Sam. 20:1-22). When David was returning to
Jerusalem after the defeat of Absalom, a strife arose between
the ten tribes and the tribe of Judah, because the latter took
the lead in bringing back the king. Sheba took advantage of this
state of things, and raised the standard of revolt, proclaiming,
"We have no part in David." With his followers he proceeded
northward. David seeing it necessary to check this revolt,
ordered Abishai to take the gibborim, "mighty men," and the
body-guard and such troops as he could gather, and pursue Sheba.
Joab joined the expedition, and having treacherously put Amasa
to death, assumed the command of the army. Sheba took refuge in
Abel-Bethmaachah, a fortified town some miles north of Lake
Merom. While Joab was engaged in laying siege to this city,
Sheba's head was, at the instigation of a "wise woman" who had
held a parley with him from the city walls, thrown over the wall
to the besiegers, and thus the revolt came to an end.
father of a multitude, son of Terah, named (Gen. 11:27) before
his older brothers Nahor and Haran, because he was the heir of
the promises. Till the age of seventy, Abram sojourned among his
kindred in his native country of Chaldea. He then, with his
father and his family and household, quitted the city of Ur, in
which he had hitherto dwelt, and went some 300 miles north to
Haran, where he abode fifteen years. The cause of his migration
was a call from God (Acts 7:2-4). There is no mention of this
first call in the Old Testament; it is implied, however, in Gen.
12. While they tarried at Haran, Terah died at the age of 205
years. Abram now received a second and more definite call,
accompanied by a promise from God (Gen. 12:1,2); whereupon he
took his departure, taking his nephew Lot with him, "not knowing
whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). He trusted implicitly to the
guidance of Him who had called him.
Abram now, with a large household of probably a thousand
souls, entered on a migratory life, and dwelt in tents. Passing
along the valley of the Jabbok, in the land of Canaan, he formed
his first encampment at Sichem (Gen. 12:6), in the vale or
oak-grove of Moreh, between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the
south. Here he received the great promise, "I will make of thee
a great nation," etc. (Gen. 12:2,3,7). This promise comprehended
not only temporal but also spiritual blessings. It implied that
he was the chosen ancestor of the great Deliverer whose coming
had been long ago predicted (Gen. 3:15). Soon after this, for
some reason not mentioned, he removed his tent to the mountain
district between Bethel, then called Luz, and Ai, towns about
two miles apart, where he built an altar to "Jehovah." He again
moved into the southern tract of Israel, called by the
Hebrews the Negeb; and was at length, on account of a famine,
compelled to go down into Egypt. This took place in the time of
the Hyksos, a Semitic race which now held the Egyptians in
bondage. Here occurred that case of deception on the part of
Abram which exposed him to the rebuke of Pharaoh (Gen. 12:18).
Sarai was restored to him; and Pharaoh loaded him with presents,
recommending him to withdraw from the country. He returned to
Canaan richer than when he left it, "in cattle, in silver, and
in gold" (Gen. 12:8; 13:2. Comp. Ps. 105:13, 14). The whole
party then moved northward, and returned to their previous
station near Bethel. Here disputes arose between Lot's shepherds
and those of Abram about water and pasturage. Abram generously
gave Lot his choice of the pasture-ground. (Comp. 1 Cor. 6:7.)
He chose the well-watered plain in which Sodom was situated, and
removed thither; and thus the uncle and nephew were separated.
Immediately after this Abram was cheered by a repetition of the
promises already made to him, and then removed to the plain or
"oak-grove" of Mamre, which is in Hebron. He finally settled
here, pitching his tent under a famous oak or terebinth tree,
called "the oak of Mamre" (Gen. 13:18). This was his third
resting-place in the land.
Some fourteen years before this, while Abram was still in
Chaldea, Israel had been invaded by Chedorlaomer, King of
Elam, who brought under tribute to him the five cities in the
plain to which Lot had removed. This tribute was felt by the
inhabitants of these cities to be a heavy burden, and after
twelve years they revolted. This brought upon them the vengeance
of Chedorlaomer, who had in league with him four other kings. He
ravaged the whole country, plundering the towns, and carrying
the inhabitants away as slaves. Among those thus treated was
Lot. Hearing of the disaster that had fallen on his nephew,
Abram immediately gathered from his own household a band of 318
armed men, and being joined by the Amoritish chiefs Mamre, Aner,
and Eshcol, he pursued after Chedorlaomer, and overtook him near
the springs of the Jordan. They attacked and routed his army,
and pursued it over the range of Anti-Libanus as far as to
Hobah, near Damascus, and then returned, bringing back all the
spoils that had been carried away. Returning by way of Salem,
i.e., Jerusalem, the king of that place, Melchizedek, came forth
to meet them with refreshments. To him Abram presented a tenth
of the spoils, in recognition of his character as a priest of
the most high God (Gen. 14:18-20).
In a recently-discovered tablet, dated in the reign of the
grandfather of Amraphel (Gen. 14:1), one of the witnesses is
called "the Amorite, the son of Abiramu," or Abram.
Having returned to his home at Mamre, the promises already
made to him by God were repeated and enlarged (Gen. 13:14). "The
word of the Lord" (an expression occurring here for the first
time) "came to him" (15:1). He now understood better the future
that lay before the nation that was to spring from him. Sarai,
now seventy-five years old, in her impatience, persuaded Abram
to take Hagar, her Egyptian maid, as a concubine, intending that
whatever child might be born should be reckoned as her own.
Ishmael was accordingly thus brought up, and was regarded as the
heir of these promises (Gen. 16). When Ishmael was thirteen
years old, God again revealed yet more explicitly and fully his
gracious purpose; and in token of the sure fulfilment of that
purpose the patriarch's name was now changed from Abram to
Abraham (Gen. 17:4,5), and the rite of circumcision was
instituted as a sign of the covenant. It was then announced that
the heir to these covenant promises would be the son of Sarai,
though she was now ninety years old; and it was directed that
his name should be Isaac. At the same time, in commemoration of
the promises, Sarai's name was changed to Sarah. On that
memorable day of God's thus revealing his design, Abraham and
his son Ishmael and all the males of his house were circumcised
(Gen. 17). Three months after this, as Abraham sat in his tent
door, he saw three men approaching. They accepted his proffered
hospitality, and, seated under an oak-tree, partook of the fare
which Abraham and Sarah provided. One of the three visitants was
none other than the Lord, and the other two were angels in the
guise of men. The Lord renewed on this occasion his promise of a
son by Sarah, who was rebuked for her unbelief. Abraham
accompanied the three as they proceeded on their journey. The
two angels went on toward Sodom; while the Lord tarried behind
and talked with Abraham, making known to him the destruction
that was about to fall on that guilty city. The patriarch
interceded earnestly in behalf of the doomed city. But as not
even ten righteous persons were found in it, for whose sake the
city would have been spared, the threatened destruction fell
upon it; and early next morning Abraham saw the smoke of the
fire that consumed it as the "smoke of a furnace" (Gen.
After fifteen years' residence at Mamre, Abraham moved
southward, and pitched his tent among the Philistines, near to
Gerar. Here occurred that sad instance of prevarication on his
part in his relation to Abimelech the King (Gen. 20). (See
ABIMELECH ¯T0000040.) Soon after this event, the patriarch left
the vicinity of Gerar, and moved down the fertile valley about
25 miles to Beer-sheba. It was probably here that Isaac was
born, Abraham being now an hundred years old. A feeling of
jealousy now arose between Sarah and Hagar, whose son, Ishmael,
was no longer to be regarded as Abraham's heir. Sarah insisted
that both Hagar and her son should be sent away. This was done,
although it was a hard trial to Abraham (Gen. 21:12). (See HAGAR
¯T0001583; ISHMAEL ¯T0001903.)
At this point there is a blank in the patriarch's history of
perhaps twenty-five years. These years of peace and happiness
were spent at Beer-sheba. The next time we see him his faith is
put to a severe test by the command that suddenly came to him to
go and offer up Isaac, the heir of all the promises, as a
sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah. His faith stood the
test (Heb. 11:17-19). He proceeded in a spirit of unhesitating
obedience to carry out the command; and when about to slay his
son, whom he had laid on the altar, his uplifted hand was
arrested by the angel of Jehovah, and a ram, which was entangled
in a thicket near at hand, was seized and offered in his stead.
From this circumstance that place was called Jehovah-jireh,
i.e., "The Lord will provide." The promises made to Abraham were
again confirmed (and this was the last recorded word of God to
the patriarch); and he descended the mount with his son, and
returned to his home at Beer-sheba (Gen. 22:19), where he
resided for some years, and then moved northward to Hebron.
Some years after this Sarah died at Hebron, being 127 years
old. Abraham acquired now the needful possession of a
burying-place, the cave of Machpelah, by purchase from the owner
of it, Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23); and there he buried Sarah.
His next care was to provide a wife for Isaac, and for this
purpose he sent his steward, Eliezer, to Haran (or Charran, Acts
7:2), where his brother Nahor and his family resided (Gen.
11:31). The result was that Rebekah, the daughter of Nahor's son
Bethuel, became the wife of Isaac (Gen. 24). Abraham then
himself took to wife Keturah, who became the mother of six sons,
whose descendants were afterwards known as the "children of the
east" (Judg. 6:3), and later as "Saracens." At length all his
wanderings came to an end. At the age of 175 years, 100 years
after he had first entered the land of Canaan, he died, and was
buried in the old family burying-place at Machpelah (Gen.
The history of Abraham made a wide and deep impression on the
ancient world, and references to it are interwoven in the
religious traditions of almost all Eastern nations. He is called
"the friend of God" (James 2:23), "faithful Abraham" (Gal. 3:9),
"the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16).
father of peace; i.e., "peaceful" David's son by Maacah (2 Sam.
3:3; comp. 1 Kings 1:6). He was noted for his personal beauty
and for the extra-ordinary profusion of the hair of his head (2
Sam. 14:25,26). The first public act of his life was the
blood-revenge he executed against Amnon, David's eldest son, who
had basely wronged Absalom's sister Tamar. This revenge was
executed at the time of the festivities connected with a great
sheep-shearing at Baal-hazor. David's other sons fled from the
place in horror, and brought the tidings of the death of Amnon
to Jerusalem. Alarmed for the consequences of the act, Absalom
fled to his grandfather at Geshur, and there abode for three
years (2 Sam. 3:3; 13:23-38).
David mourned his absent son, now branded with the guilt of
fratricide. As the result of a stratagem carried out by a woman
of Tekoah, Joab received David's sanction to invite Absalom back
to Jerusalem. He returned accordingly, but two years elapsed
before his father admitted him into his presence (2 Sam. 14:28).
Absalom was now probably the oldest surviving son of David, and
as he was of royal descent by his mother as well as by his
father, he began to aspire to the throne. His pretensions were
favoured by the people. By many arts he gained their affection;
and after his return from Geshur (2 Sam. 15:7; marg., R.V.) he
went up to Hebron, the old capital of Judah, along with a great
body of the people, and there proclaimed himself king. The
revolt was so successful that David found it necessary to quit
Jerusalem and flee to Mahanaim, beyond Jordan; where upon
Absalom returned to Jerusalem and took possession of the throne
without opposition. Ahithophel, who had been David's chief
counsellor, deserted him and joined Absalom, whose chief
counsellor he now became. Hushai also joined Absalom, but only
for the purpose of trying to counteract the counsels of
Ahithophel, and so to advantage David's cause. He was so far
successful that by his advice, which was preferred to that of
Ahithophel, Absalom delayed to march an army against his father,
who thus gained time to prepare for the defence.
Absalom at length marched out against his father, whose army,
under the command of Joab, he encountered on the borders of the
forest of Ephraim. Twenty thousand of Absalom's army were slain
in that fatal battle, and the rest fled. Absalom fled on a swift
mule; but his long flowing hair, or more probably his head, was
caught in the bough of an oak, and there he was left suspended
till Joab came up and pierced him through with three darts. His
body was then taken down and cast into a pit dug in the forest,
and a heap of stones was raised over his grave. When the tidings
of the result of that battle were brought to David, as he sat
impatiently at the gate of Mahanaim, and he was told that
Absalom had been slain, he gave way to the bitter lamentation:
"O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died
for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Sam. 18:33. Comp. Ex.
32:32; Rom. 9:3).
Absalom's three sons (2 Sam. 14:27; comp. 18:18) had all died
before him, so that he left only a daughter, Tamar, who became
the grandmother of Abijah.
(1.) Heb. 'abel (Judg. 11:33), a "grassy plain" or "meadow."
Instead of "plains of the vineyards," as in the Authorized
Version, the Revised Version has "Abel-cheramim" (q.v.), comp.
Judg. 11:22; 2 Chr. 16:4.
(2.) Heb. 'elon (Gen. 12:6; 13:18; 14:13; 18:1; Deut. 11:30;
Judg. 9:6), more correctly "oak," as in the Revised Version;
(3.) Heb. bik'ah (Gen. 11:2; Neh. 6:2; Ezek. 3:23; Dan. 3:1),
properly a valley, as rendered in Isa. 40:4, a broad plain
between mountains. In Amos 1:5 the margin of Authorized Version
(4.) Heb. kikar, "the circle," used only of the Ghor, or the
low ground along the Jordan (Gen. 13:10-12; 19:17, 25, 28, 29;
Deut. 34:3; 2 Sam. 18:23; 1 Kings 7:46; 2 Chr. 4:17; Neh. 3:22;
12:28), the floor of the valley through which it flows. This
name is applied to the Jordan valley as far north as Succoth.
(5.) Heb. mishor, "level ground," smooth, grassy table-land
(Deut. 3:10; 4:43; Josh. 13:9, 16, 17, 21; 20:8; Jer. 48:21), an
expanse of rolling downs without rock or stone. In these
passages, with the article prefixed, it denotes the plain in the
tribe of Reuben. In 2 Chr. 26:10 the plain of Judah is meant.
Jerusalem is called "the rock of the plain" in Jer. 21:13,
because the hills on which it is built rise high above the
(6.) Heb. 'arabah, the valley from the Sea of Galilee
southward to the Dead Sea (the "sea of the plain," 2 Kings
14:25; Deut. 1:1; 2:8), a distance of about 70 miles. It is
called by the modern Arabs the Ghor. This Hebrew name is found
in Authorized Version (Josh. 18:18), and is uniformly used in
the Revised Version. Down through the centre of this plain is a
ravine, from 200 to 300 yards wide, and from 50 to 100 feet
deep, through which the Jordan flows in a winding course. This
ravine is called the "lower plain."
The name Arabah is also applied to the whole Jordan valley
from Mount Hermon to the eastern branch of the Red Sea, a
distance of about 200 miles, as well as to that portion of the
valley which stretches from the Sea of Galilee to the same
branch of the Red Sea, i.e., to the Gulf of Akabah about 100
miles in all.
(7.) Heb. shephelah, "low ground," "low hill-land," rendered
"vale" or "valley" in Authorized Version (Josh. 9:1; 10:40;
11:2; 12:8; Judg. 1:9; 1 Kings 10:27). In Authorized Version (1
Chr. 27:28; 2 Chr. 26:10) it is also rendered "low country." In
Jer. 17:26, Obad. 1:19, Zech. 7:7, "plain." The Revised Version
renders it uniformly "low land." When it is preceded by the
article, as in Deut. 1:7, Josh. 11:16; 15:33, Jer. 32:44; 33:13,
Zech. 7:7, "the shephelah," it denotes the plain along the
Mediterranean from Joppa to Gaza, "the plain of the
Philistines." (See VALLEY ¯T0003764.)
The first burial we have an account of is that of Sarah (Gen.
23). The first commercial transaction recorded is that of the
purchase of a burial-place, for which Abraham weighed to Ephron
"four hundred shekels of silver current money with the
merchants." Thus the patriarch became the owner of a part of the
land of Canaan, the only part he ever possessed. When he himself
died, "his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of
Machpelah," beside Sarah his wife (Gen. 25:9).
Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, was buried under Allon-bachuth, "the
oak of weeping" (Gen. 35:8), near to Bethel. Rachel died, and
was buried near Ephrath; "and Jacob set a pillar upon her grave"
(16-20). Isaac was buried at Hebron, where he had died (27, 29).
Jacob, when charging his sons to bury him in the cave of
Machpelah, said, "There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife;
there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried
Leah" (49:31). In compliance with the oath which he made him
swear unto him (47:29-31), Joseph, assisted by his brethren,
buried Jacob in the cave of Machpelah (50:2, 13). At the Exodus,
Moses "took the bones of Joseph with him," and they were buried
in the "parcel of ground" which Jacob had bought of the sons of
Hamor (Josh. 24:32), which became Joseph's inheritance (Gen.
48:22; 1 Chr. 5:1; John 4:5). Two burials are mentioned as
having taken place in the wilderness. That of Miriam (Num.
20:1), and that of Moses, "in the land of Moab" (Deut. 34:5, 6,
8). There is no account of the actual burial of Aaron, which
probably, however, took place on the summit of Mount Hor (Num.
Joshua was buried "in the border of his inheritance in
Timnath-serah" (Josh. 24: 30).
In Job we find a reference to burying-places, which were
probably the Pyramids (3:14, 15). The Hebrew word for "waste
places" here resembles in sound the Egyptian word for
Samuel, like Moses, was honoured with a national burial (1
Sam. 25:1). Joab (1 Kings 2:34) "was buried in his own house in
In connection with the burial of Saul and his three sons we
meet for the first time with the practice of burning the dead (1
Sam. 31:11-13). The same practice is again referred to by Amos
Absalom was buried "in the wood" where he was slain (2 Sam.
18:17, 18). The raising of the heap of stones over his grave was
intended to mark abhorrence of the person buried (comp. Josh.
7:26 and 8:29). There was no fixed royal burying-place for the
Hebrew kings. We find several royal burials taking place,
however, "in the city of David" (1 Kings 2:10; 11:43; 15:8; 2
Kings 14:19, 20; 15:38; 1 Kings 14:31; 22:50; 2 Chr. 21:19, 20;
2 Chr. 24:25, etc.). Hezekiah was buried in the mount of the
sepulchres of the sons of David; "and all Judah and the
inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death" (2 Chr.
Little is said regarding the burial of the kings of Israel.
Some of them were buried in Samaria, the capital of their
kingdom (2 Kings 10:35; 13:9; 14:16).
Our Lord was buried in a new tomb, hewn out of the rock, which
Joseph of Arimathea had prepared for himself (Matt. 27:57-60;
Mark 15:46; John 19:41, 42).
The grave of Lazarus was "a cave, and a stone lay on it" (John
11:38). Graves were frequently either natural caverns or
artificial excavations formed in the sides of rocks (Gen. 23:9;
Matt. 27:60); and coffins were seldom used, unless when the body
was brought from a distance.