wrapped up, a place on the north border of Israel. The "way
of Hethlon" (Ezek. 47:15; 48:1) is probably the pass at the end
of Lebanon from the Mediterranean to the great plain of Hamath
(q.v.), or the "entrance of Hamath."
sweet odour, a city on the northern border of Israel (Num.
34:9), south-east of Hamath.
fortress of Zobah, (2 Chr. 8:3) is supposed by some to be a
different place from the foregoing; but this is quite uncertain.
village of the midway, a place near Hamath in the confines of
Hauran (Ezek. 47:16), probably on the north brow of Hermon.
side; sloping place, a town in the north of Israel, near
Hamath (Num. 34:8; Ezek. 47:15). It has been identified with the
ruins of Sudud, between Emesa (Hums) and Baalbec, but that is
fortress, the capital of one of the kingdoms of Upper Syria of
the same name, on the Orontes, in the valley of Lebanon, at the
northern boundary of Israel (Num. 13:21; 34:8), at the foot
of Hermon (Josh. 13:5) towards Damascus (Zech. 9:2; Jer. 49:23).
It is called "Hamath the great" in Amos 6:2, and "Hamath-zobah"
in 2 Chr. 8:3.
Hamath, now Hamah, had an Aramaean population, but Hittite
monuments discovered there show that it must have been at one
time occupied by the Hittites. It was among the conquests of the
Pharaoh Thothmes III. Its king, Tou or Toi, made alliance with
David (2 Sam. 8:10), and in B.C. 740 Azariah formed a league
with it against Assyria. It was, however, conquered by the
Assyrians, and its nineteen districts placed under Assyrian
governors. In B.C. 720 it revolted under a certain Yahu-bihdi,
whose name, compounded with that of the God of Israel (Yahu),
perhaps shows that he was of Jewish origin. But the revolt was
suppressed, and the people of Hamath were transported to Samaria
(2 Kings 17:24, 30), where they continued to worship their god
Ashima. Hamah is beautifully situated on the Orontes, 32 miles
north of Emesa, and 36 south of the ruins of Assamea.
The kingdom of Hamath comprehended the great plain lying on
both banks of the Orontes from the fountain near Riblah to
Assamea on the north, and from Lebanon on the west to the desert
on the east. The "entrance of Hamath" (Num. 34:8), which was the
north boundary of Israel, led from the west between the north
end of Lebanon and the Nusairiyeh mountains.
a king of Hamath, who sent "Joram his son unto King David to
salute him," when he "heard that David had smitten all the host
of Hadadezer" (2 Sam. 8:9, 10). Called Tou (1 Chr. 18:9, 10).
(Isa. 10:9; 36:19; 37:13), also Arphad, support, a Syrian city
near Hamath, along with which it is invariably mentioned (2
Kings 19:13; 18:34; Isa. 10:9), and Damascus (Jer. 49:23). After
a siege of three years it fell (B.C. 742) before the Assyrian
king Tiglath-pileser II. Now Tell Erfud.
a treaty or confederacy. The Jews were forbidden to enter into
an alliance of any kind (1) with the Canaanites (Ex. 23:32, 33;
34:12-16); (2) with the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8, 14; Deut.
25:17-19); (3) with the Moabites and Ammonites (Deut. 2:9, 19).
Treaties were permitted to be entered into with all other
nations. Thus David maintained friendly intercourse with the
kings of Tyre and Hamath, and Solomon with the kings of Tyre and
is exalted. (1.) The son of Tou, king of Hamath, sent by his
father to congratulate David on his victory over Hadarezer, king
of Syria (1 Chr. 18:10; called Joram 2 Sam. 8:10).
(2.) The fifth son of Joktan, the founder of an Arab tribe
(Gen. 10:27; 1 Chr. 1:21).
(3.) One who was "over the tribute;" i.e., "over the levy." He
was stoned by the Israelites after they had revolted from
Rehoboam (2 Chr. 10:18). Called also Adoram (2 Sam. 20:24) and
Adoniram (1 Kings 4:6).
street; broad place. (1.) The father of Hadadezer, king of Tobah
(2 Sam. 8:3, 12).
(2.) Neh. 10:11.
(3.) The same, probably, as Beth-rehob (2 Sam. 10:6, 8; Judg.
18:28), a place in the north of Israel (Num. 13:21). It is
now supposed to be represented by the castle of Hunin,
south-west of Dan, on the road from Hamath into Coele-Syria.
(4.) A town of Asher (Josh. 19:28), to the east of Zidon.
(5.) Another town of Asher (Josh. 19:30), kept possession of
by the Canaanites (Judg. 1:31).
palm, a city built by Solomon "in the wilderness" (2 Chr. 8:4).
In 1 Kings 9:18, where the word occurs in the Authorized
Version, the Hebrew text and the Revised Version read "Tamar,"
which is properly a city on the southern border of Israel and
toward the wilderness (comp. Ezek. 47:19; 48:28). In 2 Chr. 8:14
Tadmor is mentioned in connection with Hamath-zobah. It is
called Palmyra by the Greeks and Romans. It stood in the great
Syrian wilderness, 176 miles from Damascus and 130 from the
Mediterranean and was the centre of a vast commercial traffic
with Western Asia. It was also an important military station.
(See SOLOMON ¯T0003473.) "Remains of ancient temples and
palaces, surrounded by splendid colonnades of white marble, many
of which are yet standing, and thousands of prostrate pillars,
scattered over a large extent of space, attest the ancient
magnificence of this city of palms, surpassing that of the
renowned cities of Greece and Rome."
the name derived from the city Asshur on the Tigris, the
original capital of the country, was originally a colony from
Babylonia, and was ruled by viceroys from that kingdom. It was a
mountainous region lying to the north of Babylonia, extending
along the Tigris as far as to the high mountain range of
Armenia, the Gordiaean or Carduchian mountains. It was founded
in B.C. 1700 under Bel-kap-kapu, and became an independent and a
conquering power, and shook off the yoke of its Babylonian
masters. It subdued the whole of Northern Asia. The Assyrians
were Semites (Gen. 10:22), but in process of time non-Semite
tribes mingled with the inhabitants. They were a military
people, the "Romans of the East."
Of the early history of the kingdom of Assyria little is
positively known. In B.C. 1120 Tiglath-pileser I., the greatest
of the Assyrian kings, "crossed the Euphrates, defeated the
kings of the Hittites, captured the city of Carchemish, and
advanced as far as the shores of the Mediterranean." He may be
regarded as the founder of the first Assyrian empire. After this
the Assyrians gradually extended their power, subjugating the
states of Northern Syria. In the reign of Ahab, king of Israel,
Shalmaneser II. marched an army against the Syrian states, whose
allied army he encountered and vanquished at Karkar. This led to
Ahab's casting off the yoke of Damascus and allying himself with
Judah. Some years after this the Assyrian king marched an army
against Hazael, king of Damascus. He besieged and took that
city. He also brought under tribute Jehu, and the cities of Tyre
About a hundred years after this (B.C. 745) the crown was
seized by a military adventurer called Pul, who assumed the name
of Tiglath-pileser III. He directed his armies into Syria, which
had by this time regained its independence, and took (B.C. 740)
Arpad, near Aleppo, after a siege of three years, and reduced
Hamath. Azariah (Uzziah) was an ally of the king of Hamath, and
thus was compelled by Tiglath-pileser to do him homage and pay a
In B.C. 738, in the reign of Menahem, king of Israel, Pul
invaded Israel, and imposed on it a heavy tribute (2 Kings
15:19). Ahaz, the king of Judah, when engaged in a war against
Israel and Syria, appealed for help to this Assyrian king by
means of a present of gold and silver (2 Kings 16:8); who
accordingly "marched against Damascus, defeated and put Rezin to
death, and besieged the city itself." Leaving a portion of his
army to continue the siege, "he advanced through the province
east of Jordan, spreading fire and sword," and became master of
Philistia, and took Samaria and Damascus. He died B.C. 727, and
was succeeded by Shalmanezer IV., who ruled till B.C. 722. He
also invaded Syria (2 Kings 17:5), but was deposed in favour of
Sargon (q.v.) the Tartan, or commander-in-chief of the army, who
took Samaria (q.v.) after a siege of three years, and so put an
end to the kingdom of Israel, carrying the people away into
captivity, B.C. 722 (2 Kings 17:1-6, 24; 18:7, 9). He also
overran the land of Judah, and took the city of Jerusalem (Isa.
10:6, 12, 22, 24, 34). Mention is next made of Sennacherib (B.C.
705), the son and successor of Sargon (2 Kings 18:13; 19:37;
Isa. 7:17, 18); and then of Esar-haddon, his son and successor,
who took Manasseh, king of Judah, captive, and kept him for some
time a prisoner at Babylon, which he alone of all the Assyrian
kings made the seat of his government (2 Kings 19:37; Isa.
Assur-bani-pal, the son of Esarhaddon, became king, and in
Ezra 4:10 is referred to as Asnapper. From an early period
Assyria had entered on a conquering career, and having absorbed
Babylon, the kingdoms of Hamath, Damascus, and Samaria, it
conquered Phoenicia, and made Judea feudatory, and subjected
Philistia and Idumea. At length, however, its power declined. In
B.C. 727 the Babylonians threw off the rule of the Assyrians,
under the leadership of the powerful Chaldean prince
Merodach-baladan (2 Kings 20:12), who, after twelve years, was
subdued by Sargon, who now reunited the kingdom, and ruled over
a vast empire. But on his death the smouldering flames of
rebellion again burst forth, and the Babylonians and Medes
successfully asserted their independence (B.C. 625), and Assyria
fell according to the prophecies of Isaiah (10:5-19), Nahum
(3:19), and Zephaniah (3:13), and the many separate kingdoms of
which it was composed ceased to recognize the "great king" (2
Kings 18:19; Isa. 36:4). Ezekiel (31) attests (about B.C. 586)
how completely Assyria was overthrown. It ceases to be a nation.
(See NINEVEH ¯T0002735; BABYLON ¯T0000409.)
serpent. (1.) King of the Ammonites in the time of Saul. The
inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead having been exposed to great danger
from Nahash, sent messengers to Gibeah to inform Saul of their
extremity. He promptly responded to the call, and gathering
together an army he marched against Nahash. "And it came to pass
that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them
[the Ammonites] were not left together" (1 Sam. 11:1-11).
(2.) Another king of the Ammonites of the same name is
mentioned, who showed kindness to David during his wanderings (2
Sam. 10:2). On his death David sent an embassy of sympathy to
Hanun, his son and successor, at Rabbah Ammon, his capital. The
grievous insult which was put upon these ambassadors led to a
war against the Ammonites, who, with their allies the Syrians,
were completely routed in a battle fought at "the entering in of
the gate," probably of Medeba (2 Sam. 10:6-14). Again Hadarezer
rallied the Syrian host, which was totally destroyed by the
Israelite army under Joab in a decisive battle fought at Helam
(2 Sam. 10:17), near to Hamath (1 Chr. 18:3). "So the Syrians
feared to help the children of Ammon any more" (2 Sam. 10:19).
(3.) The father of Amasa, who was commander-in-chief of
Abasolom's army (2 Sam. 17:25). Jesse's wife had apparently been
first married to this man, to whom she bore Abigail and Zeruiah,
who were thus David's sisters, but only on the mother's side (1
(1.) An Assyrian king. It has been a question whether he was
identical with Tiglath-pileser III. (q.v.), or was his
predecessor. The weight of evidence is certainly in favour of
their identity. Pul was the throne-name he bore in Babylonia as
king of Babylon, and Tiglath-pileser the throne-name he bore as
king of Assyria. He was the founder of what is called the second
Assyrian empire. He consolidated and organized his conquests on
a large scale. He subdued Northern Syria and Hamath, and the
kings of Syria rendered him homage and paid him tribute. His
ambition was to found in Western Asia a kingdom which should
embrace the whole civilized world, having Nineveh as its centre.
Menahem, king of Israel, gave him the enormous tribute of a
thousand talents of silver, "that his hand might be with him" (2
Kings 15:19; 1 Chr. 5:26). The fact that this tribute could be
paid showed the wealthy condition of the little kingdom of
Israel even in this age of disorder and misgovernment. Having
reduced Syria, he turned his arms against Babylon, which he
subdued. The Babylonian king was slain, and Babylon and other
Chaldean cities were taken, and Pul assumed the title of "King
of Sumer [i.e., Shinar] and Accad." He was succeeded by
(2.) A geographical name in Isa. 66:19. Probably = Phut (Gen.
10:6; Jer. 46:9, R.V. "Put;" Ezek. 27:10).
Jehovah has concealed, or Jehovah of darkness. (1.) The son of
Cushi, and great-grandson of Hezekiah, and the ninth in the
order of the minor prophets. He prophesied in the days of
Josiah, king of Judah (B.C. 641-610), and was contemporary with
Jeremiah, with whom he had much in common. The book of his
prophecies consists of:
(a) An introduction (1:1-6), announcing the judgment of the
world, and the judgment upon Israel, because of their
(b) The description of the judgment (1:7-18).
(c) An exhortation to seek God while there is still time
(d) The announcement of judgment on the heathen (2:4-15).
(e) The hopeless misery of Jerusalem (3:1-7).
(f) The promise of salvation (3:8-20).
(2.) The son of Maaseiah, the "second priest" in the reign of
Zedekiah, often mentioned in Jeremiah as having been sent from
the king to inquire (Jer. 21:1) regarding the coming woes which
he had denounced, and to entreat the prophet's intercession that
the judgment threatened might be averted (Jer. 29:25, 26, 29;
37:3; 52:24). He, along with some other captive Jews, was put to
death by the king of Babylon "at Riblah in the land of Hamath"
(2 Kings 25:21).
(3.) A Kohathite ancestor of the prophet Samuel (1 Chr. 6:36).
(4.) The father of Josiah, the priest who dwelt in Jerusalem
when Darius issued the decree that the temple should be rebuilt
white, "the white mountain of Syria," is the loftiest and most
celebrated mountain range in Syria. It is a branch running
southward from the Caucasus, and at its lower end forking into
two parallel ranges, the eastern or Anti-Lebanon, and the
western or Lebanon proper. They enclose a long valley (Josh.
11:17) of from 5 to 8 miles in width, called by Roman writers
Coele-Syria, now called el-Buka'a, "the valley," a prolongation
of the valley of the Jordan.
Lebanon proper, Jebel es-Sharki, commences at its southern
extremity in the gorge of the Leontes, the ancient Litany, and
extends north-east, parallel to the Mediterranean coast, as far
as the river Eleutherus, at the plain of Emesa, "the entering of
Hamath" (Num. 34:8; 1 Kings 8:65), in all about 90 geographical
miles in extent. The average height of this range is from 6,000
to 8,000 feet; the peak of Jebel Mukhmel is about 10,200 feet,
and the Sannin about 9,000. The highest peaks are covered with
perpetual snow and ice. In the recesses of the range wild beasts
as of old still abound (2 Kings 14:9; Cant. 4:8). The scenes of
the Lebanon are remarkable for their grandeur and beauty, and
supplied the sacred writers with many expressive similes (Ps.
29:5, 6; 72:16; 104:16-18; Cant. 4:15; Isa. 2:13; 35:2; 60:13;
Hos. 14:5). It is famous for its cedars (Cant. 5:15), its wines
(Hos. 14:7), and its cool waters (Jer. 18:14). The ancient
inhabitants were Giblites and Hivites (Josh. 13:5; Judg. 3:3).
It was part of the Phoenician kingdom (1 Kings 5:2-6).
The eastern range, or Anti-Lebanon, or "Lebanon towards the
sunrising," runs nearly parallel with the western from the plain
of Emesa till it connects with the hills of Galilee in the
south. The height of this range is about 5,000 feet. Its highest
peak is Hermon (q.v.), from which a number of lesser ranges
Lebanon is first mentioned in the description of the boundary
of Israel (Deut. 1:7; 11:24). It was assigned to Israel, but
was never conquered (Josh. 13:2-6; Judg. 3:1-3).
The Lebanon range is now inhabited by a population of about
300,000 Christians, Maronites, and Druses, and is ruled by a
Christian governor. The Anti-Lebanon is inhabited by
Mohammedans, and is under a Turkish ruler.
Jehovah-exalted. (1.) Son of Toi, king of Hamath, sent by his
father to congratulate David on the occasion of his victory over
Hadadezer (2 Sam. 8:10).
(2.) A Levite of the family of Gershom (1 Chr. 26:25).
(3.) A priest sent by Jehoshaphat to instructruct the people
in Judah (2 Chr. 17:8).
(4.) The son of Ahab and Jezebel, and successor to his brother
Ahaziah on the throne of Israel. He reigned twelve years, B.C.
896-884 (2 Kings 1:17; 3:1). His first work was to reduce to
subjection the Moabites, who had asserted their independence in
the reign of his brother. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, assisted
Jehoram in this effort. He was further helped by his ally the
king of Edom. Elisha went forth with the confederated army (2
Kings 3:1-19), and at the solicitation of Jehoshaphat encouraged
the army with the assurance from the Lord of a speedy victory.
The Moabites under Mesha their king were utterly routed and
their cities destroyed. At Kir-haraseth Mesha made a final
stand. The Israelites refrained from pressing their victory
further, and returned to their own land.
Elisha afterwards again befriended Jehoram when a war broke
out between the Syrians and Israel, and in a remarkable way
brought that war to a bloodless close (2 Kings 6:23). But
Jehoram, becoming confident in his own power, sank into
idolatry, and brought upon himself and his land another Syrian
invasion, which led to great suffering and distress in Samaria
(2 Kings 6:24-33). By a remarkable providential interposition
the city was saved from utter destruction, and the Syrians were
put to flight (2 Kings 7:6-15).
Jehoram was wounded in a battle with the Syrians at Ramah, and
obliged to return to Jezreel (2 Kings 8:29; 9:14, 15), and soon
after the army proclaimed their leader Jehu king of Israel, and
revolted from their allegiance to Jehoram (2 Kings 9). Jehoram
was pierced by an arrow from Jehu's bow on the piece of ground
at Jezreel which Ahab had taken from Naboth, and there he died
(2 Kings 9:21-29).
(5.) The eldest son and successor of Jehoshaphat, king of
Judah. He reigned eight years (B.C. 892-885) alone as king of
Judah, having been previously for some years associated with his
father (2 Chr. 21:5, 20; 2 Kings 8:16). His wife was Athaliah,
the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. His daughter Jehosheba was
married to the high priest Jehoiada. He sank into gross
idolatry, and brought upon himself and his kingdom the anger of
Jehovah. The Edomites revolted from under his yoke, and the
Philistines and the Arabians and Cushites invaded the land, and
carried away great spoil, along with Jehoram's wives and all his
children, except Ahaziah. He died a painful death from a fearful
malady, and was refused a place in the sepulchre of the kings (2
Kings 8:16-24; 2 Chr. 21).
increase of the people. (1.) The son of Nebat (1 Kings
11:26-39), "an Ephrathite," the first king of the ten tribes,
over whom he reigned twenty-two years (B.C. 976-945). He was the
son of a widow of Zereda, and while still young was promoted by
Solomon to be chief superintendent of the "burnden", i.e., of
the bands of forced labourers. Influenced by the words of the
prophet Ahijah, he began to form conspiracies with the view of
becoming king of the ten tribes; but these having been
discovered, he fled to Egypt (1 Kings 11:29-40), where he
remained for a length of time under the protection of Shishak I.
On the death of Solomon, the ten tribes, having revolted, sent
to invite him to become their king. The conduct of Rehoboam
favoured the designs of Jeroboam, and he was accordingly
proclaimed "king of Israel" (1 Kings 12: 1-20). He rebuilt and
fortified Shechem as the capital of his kingdom. He at once
adopted means to perpetuate the division thus made between the
two parts of the kingdom, and erected at Dan and Bethel, the two
extremities of his kingdom, "golden calves," which he set up as
symbols of Jehovah, enjoining the people not any more to go up
to worship at Jerusalem, but to bring their offerings to the
shrines he had erected. Thus he became distinguished as the man
"who made Israel to sin." This policy was followed by all the
succeeding kings of Israel.
While he was engaged in offering incense at Bethel, a prophet
from Judah appeared before him with a warning message from the
Lord. Attempting to arrest the prophet for his bold words of
defiance, his hand was "dried up," and the altar before which he
stood was rent asunder. At his urgent entreaty his "hand was
restored him again" (1 Kings 13:1-6, 9; comp. 2 Kings 23:15);
but the miracle made no abiding impression on him. His reign was
one of constant war with the house of Judah. He died soon after
his son Abijah (1 Kings 14:1-18).
(2.) Jeroboam II., the son and successor of Jehoash, and the
fourteenth king of Israel, over which he ruled for forty-one
years, B.C. 825-784 (2 Kings 14:23). He followed the example of
the first Jeroboam in keeping up the worship of the golden
calves (2 Kings 14:24). His reign was contemporary with those of
Amaziah (2 Kings 14:23) and Uzziah (15:1), kings of Judah. He
was victorious over the Syrians (13:4; 14:26, 27), and extended
Israel to its former limits, from "the entering of Hamath to the
sea of the plain" (14:25; Amos 6:14). His reign of forty-one
years was the most prosperous that Israel had ever known as yet.
With all this outward prosperity, however, iniquity widely
prevailed in the land (Amos 2:6-8; 4:1; 6:6; Hos. 4:12-14). The
prophets Hosea (1:1), Joel (3:16; Amos 1:1, 2), Amos (1:1), and
Jonah (2 Kings 14:25) lived during his reign. He died, and was
buried with his ancestors (14:29). He was succeeded by his son
His name occurs in Scripture only in 2 Kings 13:13; 14:16, 23,
27, 28, 29; 15:1, 8; 1 Chr. 5:17; Hos. 1:1; Amos 1:1; 7:9, 10,
11. In all other passages it is Jeroboam the son of Nebat that
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.