mentioned only in Luke 17:6. It is rendered by Luther "mulberry
tree" (q.v.), which is most probably the correct rendering. It
is found of two species, the black mulberry (Morus nigra) and
the white mulberry (Mourea), which are common in Israel. The
silk-worm feeds on their leaves. The rearing of them is one of
the chief industries of the peasantry of Lebanon and of other
parts of the land. It is of the order of the fig-tree. Some
contend, however, that this name denotes the sycamore-fig of
First mentioned in Gen. 3:7. The fig-tree is mentioned (Deut.
8:8) as one of the valuable products of Israel. It was a sign
of peace and prosperity (1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4; Zech. 3:10).
Figs were used medicinally (2 Kings 20:7), and pressed together
and formed into "cakes" as articles of diet (1 Sam. 30:12; Jer.
Our Lord's cursing the fig-tree near Bethany (Mark 11:13) has
occasioned much perplexity from the circumstance, as mentioned
by the evangelist, that "the time of figs was not yet." The
explanation of the words, however, lies in the simple fact that
the fruit of the fig-tree appears before the leaves, and hence
that if the tree produced leaves it ought also to have had
fruit. It ought to have had fruit if it had been true to its
"pretensions," in showing its leaves at this particular season.
"This tree, so to speak, vaunted itself to be in advance of all
the other trees, challenged the passer-by that he should come
and refresh himself with its fruit. Yet when the Lord accepted
its challenge and drew near, it proved to be but as the others,
without fruit as they; for indeed, as the evangelist observes,
the time of figs had not yet arrived. Its fault, if one may use
the word, lay in its pretensions, in its making a show to run
before the rest when it did not so indeed" (Trench, Miracles).
The fig-tree of Israel (Ficus carica) produces two and
sometimes three crops of figs in a year, (1) the bikkurah, or
"early-ripe fig" (Micah 7:1; Isa. 28:4; Hos. 9:10, R.V.), which
is ripe about the end of June, dropping off as soon as it is
ripe (Nah. 3:12); (2) the kermus, or "summer fig," then begins
to be formed, and is ripe about August; and (3) the pag (plural
"green figs," Cant. 2:13; Gr. olynthos, Rev. 6:13, "the untimely
fig"), or "winter fig," which ripens in sheltered spots in
more properly sycomore (Heb. shikmoth and shikmim, Gr.
sycomoros), a tree which in its general character resembles the
fig-tree, while its leaves resemble those of the mulberry; hence
it is called the fig-mulberry (Ficus sycomorus). At Jericho,
Zacchaeus climbed a sycomore-tree to see Jesus as he passed by
(Luke 19:4). This tree was easily destroyed by frost (Ps.
78:47), and therefore it is found mostly in the "vale" (1 Kings
10:27; 2 Chr. 1:15: in both passages the R.V. has properly
"lowland"), i.e., the "low country," the shephelah, where the
climate is mild. Amos (7:14) refers to its fruit, which is of an
inferior character; so also probably Jeremiah (24:2). It is to
be distinguished from our sycamore (the Acer pseudo-platanus),
which is a species of maple often called a plane-tree.
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. luz, (Gen. 30:37), a nutbearing tree. The Hebrew word is
rendered in the Vulgate by amygdalinus, "the almond-tree," which
is probably correct. That tree flourishes in Syria.
Heb. 'ets, meaning "a tree" (Esther 6:4), a post or gibbet. In
Gen. 40:19 and Deut. 21:22 the word is rendered "tree."
(Heb. o'ren, "tremulous"), mentioned only Isa. 44:14 (R.V., "fir
tree"). It is rendered "pine tree" both in the LXX. and Vulgate
versions. There is a tree called by the Arabs _aran_, found
still in the valleys of Arabia Petraea, whose leaf resembles
that of the mountain ash. This may be the tree meant. Our ash
tree is not known in Syria.
named only in Ps. 37:35, Authorized Version. The Hebrew word so
rendered is _ereh_, which simply means "native born", i.e., a
tree not transplanted, but growing on its native soil, and
therefore luxuriantly. If the psalmist intended by this word to
denote any particular tree, it may have been the evergreen bay
laurel (Laurus nobilis), which is a native of Israel. Instead
of "like a green bay tree" in the Authorized Version, the
Revised Version has, "like a green tree in its native soil."
found in the Authorized Version in Gen. 3:7, of the bands of
fig-leaves made by our first parents. In Acts 19:12, it denotes
the belt or half-girdle worn by artisans and servants round the
waist for the purpose of preserving the clothing from injury. In
marg. of Authorized Version, Ruth 3:15, correctly rendered
instead of "vail." (R.V., "mantle.")
house of the unripe fig, a village on the Mount of Olives, on
the road from Jerusalem to Jericho (Matt. 21:1; Mark 11:1; Luke
19:29), and very close to Bethany. It was the limit of a
Sabbath-day's journey from Jerusalem, i.e., 2,000 cubits. It has
been identified with the modern Kefr-et-Tur.
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).
boughs of, were to be carried in festive procession on the first
day of the feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40). This was probably
the olive tree (Neh. 8:15), although no special tree is
(Heb. _'armon_; i.e., "naked"), mentioned in connection with
Jacob's artifice regarding the cattle (Gen. 30:37). It is one of
the trees of which, because of its strength and beauty, the
Assyrian empire is likened (Ezek. 31:8; R.V., "plane trees"). It
is probably the Oriental plane tree (Platanus orientalis) that
is intended. It is a characteristic of this tree that it
annually sheds its outer bark, becomes "naked." The chestnut
tree proper is not a native of Israel.
Heb. 'eshel (Gen. 21:33; 1 Sam. 22:6; 31:13, in the R.V.; but in
A.V., "grove," "tree"); Arab. asal. Seven species of this tree
are found in Israel. It is a "very graceful tree, with long
feathery branches and tufts closely clad with the minutest of
leaves, and surmounted in spring with spikes of beautiful pink
blosoms, which seem to envelop the whole tree in one gauzy sheet
of colour" (Tristram's Nat. Hist.).
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.)
a tree from the wood of which Noah was directed to build the ark
(Gen. 6:14). It is mentioned only there. The LXX. render this
word by "squared beams," and the Vulgate by "planed wood." Other
versions have rendered it "pine" and "cedar;" but the weight of
authority is in favour of understanding by it the cypress tree,
which grows abundantly in Chaldea and Armenia.
(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."
Plain of Mamre
(Gen. 13:18; 14:13; R.V., "oaks of Mamre;" marg., "terebinths").
(See MAMRE ¯T0002397; TEIL-TREE ¯T0003597.)
(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.)
Tree of life
stood also in the midst of the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9; 3:22).
Some writers have advanced the opinion that this tree had some
secret virtue, which was fitted to preserve life. Probably the
lesson conveyed was that life was to be sought by man, not in
himself or in his own power, but from without, from Him who is
emphatically the Life (John 1:4; 14:6). Wisdom is compared to
the tree of life (Prov. 3:18). The "tree of life" spoken of in
the Book of Revelation (Rev. 2:7; 22:2, 14) is an emblem of the
joys of the celestial paradise.
(Heb. shittim) Ex. 25:5, R.V. probably the Acacia seyal (the
gum-arabic tree); called the "shittah" tree (Isa. 41:19). Its
wood is called shittim wood (Ex. 26:15,26; 25:10,13,23,28,
etc.). This species (A. seyal) is like the hawthorn, a gnarled
and thorny tree. It yields the gum-arabic of commerce. It is
found in abundance in the Sinaitic peninsula.
(Heb. teashshur), mentioned in Isa. 60:13; 41:19, was, according
to some, a species of cedar growing in Lebanon. The words of
Ezek. 27:6 literally translated are, "Thy benches they have made
of ivory, the daughter of the ashur tree," i.e., inlaid with
ashur wood. The ashur is the box-tree, and accordingly the
Revised Version rightly reads "inlaid in box wood." This is the
Buxus sempervirens of botanists. It is remarkable for the beauty
of its evergreen foliage and for the utility of its hard and
Heb. 'armon (Gen. 30:37; Ezek. 31:8), rendered "chesnut" in the
Authorized Version, but correctly "plane tree" in the Revised
Version and the LXX. This tree is frequently found in Israel,
both on the coast and in the north. It usually sheds its outer
bark, and hence its Hebrew name, which means "naked." (See
the uniform rendering in the Authorized Version (marg. R.V.,
"cypress") of _berosh_ (2 Sam. 6:5; 1 Kings 5:8, 10; 6:15, 34;
9:11, etc.), a lofty tree (Isa. 55:13) growing on Lebanon
(37:24). Its wood was used in making musical instruments and
doors of houses, and for ceilings (2 Chr. 3:5), the decks of
ships (Ezek. 27:5), floorings and spear-shafts (Nah. 2:3, R.V.).
The true fir (abies) is not found in Israel, but the pine
tree, of which there are four species, is common.
The precise kind of tree meant by the "green fir tree" (Hos.
14:8) is uncertain. Some regard it as the sherbin tree, a
cypress resembling the cedar; others, the Aleppo or maritime
pine (Pinus halepensis), which resembles the Scotch fir; while
others think that the "stone-pine" (Pinus pinea) is probably
meant. (See PINE ¯T0002956.)
(Isa. 41:19; R.V. marg., "oleaster"), Heb. 'etz shemen, rendered
"olive tree" in 1 Kings 6:23, 31, 32, 33 (R.V., "olive wood")
and "pine branches" in Neh. 8:15 (R.V., "branches of wild
olive"), was some tree distinct from the olive. It was probably
the oleaster (Eleagnus angustifolius), which grows abundantly in
almost all parts of Israel, especially about Hebron and
Samaria. "It has a fine hard wood," says Tristram, "and yields
an inferior oil, but it has no relationship to the olive, which,
however, it resembles in general appearance."
(Isa. 41:19; R.V., "acacia tree"). Shittah wood was employed in
making the various parts of the tabernacle in the wilderness,
and must therefore have been indigenous in the desert in which
the Israelites wandered. It was the acacia or mimosa (Acacia
Nilotica and A. seyal). "The wild acacia (Mimosa Nilotica),
under the name of _sunt_, everywhere represents the seneh, or
senna, of the burning bush. A slightly different form of the
tree, equally common under the name of _seyal_, is the ancient
'shittah,' or, as more usually expressed in the plural form, the
'shittim,' of which the tabernacle was made." Stanley's Sinai,
etc. (Ex. 25:10, 13, 23, 28).
lord of palm trees, a place in the tribe of Benjamin near Gibeah
of Saul (Judg. 20:33). It was one of the sanctuaries or groves
of Baal. Probably the palm tree of Deborah (Judg. 4:5) is
alluded to in the name.
(only in pl., Heb. 'ahalim), a perfume derived from some
Oriental tree (Num. 24:6), probably the agallochum or aloe-wood.
(See ALOES ¯T0000183).
properly Phoenix a palm-tree (as in the R.V.), a town with a
harbour on the southern side of Crete (Acts 27:12), west of the
Fair Havens. It is now called Lutro.
a low palm-tree, the south-eastern corner of the desert et-Tih,
the wilderness of Paran, between the Gulf of Akabah and the head
of the Wady Guraiyeh (Num. 13:21). To be distinguished from the
wilderness of Sin (q.v.).
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.)
Tree of the knowledge of good and evil
stood in the midst of the garden of Eden, beside the tree of
life (Gen. 2, 3). Adam and Eve were forbidden to take of the
fruit which grew upon it. But they disobeyed the divine
injunction, and so sin and death by sin entered our world and
became the heritage of Adam's posterity. (See ADAM ¯T0000077.)
a hut made of the branches of a tree. In such tabernacles Jacob
sojourned for a season at a place named from this circumstance
Succoth (Gen. 33:17). Booths were erected also at the feast of
Tabernacles (q.v.), Lev. 23:42, 43, which commemorated the abode
of the Israelites in the wilderness.
the fruit of a species of palm (q.v.), the Phoenix dactilifera.
This was a common tree in Israel (Joel 1:12; Neh. 8:15). Palm
branches were carried by the Jews on festive occasions, and
especially at the feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40; Neh. 8:15).
a bean, probably of the carob tree, the smallest weight, and
also the smallest piece of money, among the Hebrews, equal to
the twentieth part of a shekel (Ex. 30:13; Lev. 27:25; Num.
3:47). This word came into use in the same way as our word
"grain," from a grain of wheat.
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.
were among the presents Jacob sent into Egypt for the purpose of
conciliating Joseph (Gen. 43:11). This was the fruit of the
pistachio tree, which resembles the sumac. It is of the size of
an olive. In Cant. 6:11 a different Hebrew word ('egoz), which
means "walnuts," is used.
(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
Heb. ramoth, meaning "heights;" i.e., "high-priced" or valuable
things, or, as some suppose, "that which grows high," like a
tree (Job 28:18; Ezek. 27:16), according to the Rabbins, red
coral, which was in use for ornaments.
The coral is a cretaceous marine product, the deposit by
minute polypous animals of calcareous matter in cells in which
the animal lives. It is of numberless shapes as it grows, but
usually is branched like a tree. Great coral reefs and coral
islands abound in the Red Sea, whence probably the Hebrews
derived their knowledge of it. It is found of different colours,
white, black, and red. The red, being esteemed the most
precious, was used, as noticed above, for ornamental purposes.
the fruit of the olive-tree. This tree yielded oil which was
highly valued. The best oil was from olives that were plucked
before being fully ripe, and then beaten or squeezed (Deut.
24:20; Isa. 17:6; 24:13). It was called "beaten," or "fresh oil"
(Ex. 27:20). There were also oil-presses, in which the oil was
trodden out by the feet (Micah 6:15). James (3:12) calls the
fruit "olive berries." The phrase "vineyards and olives" (Judg.
15:5, A.V.) should be simply "olive-yard," or "olive-garden," as
in the Revised Version. (See OIL ¯T0002774.)
is frequently mentioned in Scripture. The dove from the ark
brought an olive-branch to Noah (Gen. 8:11). It is mentioned
among the most notable trees of Israel, where it was
cultivated long before the time of the Hebrews (Deut. 6:11;
8:8). It is mentioned in the first Old Testament parable, that
of Jotham (Judg. 9:9), and is named among the blessings of the
"good land," and is at the present day the one characteristic
tree of Israel. The oldest olive-trees in the country are
those which are enclosed in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is
referred to as an emblem of prosperity and beauty and religious
privilege (Ps. 52:8; Jer. 11:16; Hos. 14:6). The two "witnesses"
mentioned in Rev. 11:4 are spoken of as "two olive trees
standing before the God of the earth." (Comp. Zech. 4:3, 11-14.)
The "olive-tree, wild by nature" (Rom. 11:24), is the shoot or
cutting of the good olive-tree which, left ungrafted, grows up
to be a "wild olive." In Rom. 11:17 Paul refers to the practice
of grafting shoots of the wild olive into a "good" olive which
has become unfruitful. By such a process the sap of the good
olive, by pervading the branch which is "graffed in," makes it a
good branch, bearing good olives. Thus the Gentiles, being a
"wild olive," but now "graffed in," yield fruit, but only
through the sap of the tree into which they have been graffed.
This is a process "contrary to nature" (11:24).
(Heb. tamar), the date-palm characteristic of Israel. It is
described as "flourishing" (Ps. 92:12), tall (Cant. 7:7),
"upright" (Jer. 10:5). Its branches are a symbol of victory
(Rev. 7:9). "Rising with slender stem 40 or 50, at times even
80, feet aloft, its only branches, the feathery, snow-like,
pale-green fronds from 6 to 12 feet long, bending from its top,
the palm attracts the eye wherever it is seen." The whole land
of Israel was called by the Greeks and Romans Phoenicia,
i.e., "the land of palms." Tadmor in the desert was called by
the Greeks and Romans Palmyra, i.e., "the city of palms." The
finest specimens of this tree grew at Jericho (Deut. 34:3) and
Engedi and along the banks of the Jordan. Branches of the palm
tree were carried at the feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40). At
our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem the crowds took
palm branches, and went forth to meet him, crying, "Hosanna:
Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the
Lord" (Matt. 21:8; John 12:13). (See DATE ¯T0000979.)
(1.) Heb. 'arabim (Lev. 23:40; Job 40:22; Isa. 15:7; 44:3, 4;
Ps. 137:1, 2). This was supposed to be the weeping willow,
called by Linnaeus Salix Babylonica, from the reference in Ps.
137. This tree is frequently found "on the coast, overhanging
wells and pools. There is a conspicuous tree of this species
over a pond in the plain of Acre, and others on the Phoenician
plain." There are several species of the salix in Israel, but
it is not indigenous to Babylonia, nor was it cultivated there.
Some are of opinion that the tree intended is the tamarisk or
(2.) Heb. tzaphtzaphah (Ezek. 17:5), called by the Arabs the
safsaf, the general name for the willow. This may be the Salix
AEgyptica of naturalists.
Tristram thinks that by the "willow by the water-courses," the
Nerium oleander, the rose-bay oleander, is meant. He says, "It
fringes the Upper Jordan, dipping its wavy crown of red into the
spray in the rapids under Hermon, and is nutured by the oozy
marshes in the Lower Jordan nearly as far as to Jericho...On the
Arnon, on the Jabbok, and the Yarmuk it forms a continuous
fringe. In many of the streams of Moab it forms a complete
screen, which the sun's rays can never penetrate to evaporate
the precious moisture. The wild boar lies safely ensconced under
its impervious cover."
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;
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).
a native of Syria and Israel. In form, blossoms, and fruit it
resembles the peach tree. Its blossoms are of a very pale pink
colour, and appear before its leaves. Its Hebrew name, _shaked_,
signifying "wakeful, hastening," is given to it on account of
its putting forth its blossoms so early, generally in February,
and sometimes even in January. In Eccl. 12:5, it is referred to
as illustrative, probably, of the haste with which old age
comes. There are others, however, who still contend for the old
interpretation here. "The almond tree bears its blossoms in the
midst of winter, on a naked, leafless stem, and these blossoms
(reddish or flesh-coloured in the beginning) seem at the time of
their fall exactly like white snow-flakes. In this way the
almond blossom is a very fitting symbol of old age, with its
silvery hair and its wintry, dry, barren, unfruitful condition."
In Jer. 1:11 "I see a rod of an almond tree [shaked]...for I
will hasten [shaked] my word to perform it" the word is used as
an emblem of promptitude. Jacob desired his sons (Gen. 43:11) to
take with them into Egypt of the best fruits of the land,
almonds, etc., as a present to Joseph, probably because this
tree was not a native of Egypt. Aaron's rod yielded almonds
(Num. 17:8; Heb. 9:4). Moses was directed to make certain parts
of the candlestick for the ark of carved work "like unto
almonds" (Ex. 25:33, 34). The Hebrew word _luz_, translated
"hazel" in the Authorized Version (Gen. 30:37), is rendered in
the Revised Version "almond." It is probable that _luz_ denotes
the wild almond, while _shaked_ denotes the cultivated variety.
occurs only in Gen. 2:12, where it designates a product of the
land of Havilah; and in Num. 11:7, where the manna is likened to
it in colour. It was probably an aromatic gum like balsam which
exuded from a particular tree (Borassus flabelliformis) still
found in Arabia, Media, and India. It bears a resemblance in
colour to myrrh. Others think the word denotes "pearls," or some
(1.) Hebrew _kiddah'_, i.e., "split." One of the principal
spices of the holy anointing oil (Ex. 30:24), and an article of
commerce (Ezek. 27:19). It is the inner bark of a tree
resembling the cinnamon (q.v.), the Cinnamomum cassia of
botanists, and was probably imported from India.
(2.) Hebrew pl. _ketzi'oth_ (Ps. 45:8). Mentioned in
connection with myrrh and aloes as being used to scent garments.
It was probably prepared from the peeled bark, as the Hebrew
word suggests, of some kind of cinnamon.
Heb. 'arar, (Jer. 17:6; 48:6), a species of juniper called by
the Arabs by the same name ('arar), the Juniperus sabina or
savin. "Its gloomy, stunted appearance, with its scale-like
leaves pressed close to its gnarled stem, and cropped close by
the wild goats, as it clings to the rocks about Petra, gives
great force to the contrast suggested by the prophet, between
him that trusteth in man, naked and destitute, and the man that
trusteth in the Lord, flourishing as a tree planted by the
waters" (Tristram, Natural History of the Bible).
a nut-bearing tree, the almond. (1.) The ancient name of a royal
Canaanitish city near the site of Bethel (Gen. 28:19; 35:6), on
the border of Benjamin (Josh. 18:13). Here Jacob halted, and had
a prophetic vision. (See BETHEL ¯T0000554.)
(2.) A place in the land of the Hittites, founded (Judg. 1:26)
by "a man who came forth out of the city of Luz." It is
identified with Luweiziyeh, 4 miles north-west of Banias.
bitterness, a fountain at the sixth station of the Israelites
(Ex. 15:23, 24; Num. 33:8) whose waters were so bitter that they
could not drink them. On this account they murmured against
Moses, who, under divine direction, cast into the fountain "a
certain tree" which took away its bitterness, so that the people
drank of it. This was probably the 'Ain Hawarah, where there are
still several springs of water that are very "bitter," distant
some 47 miles from 'Ayun Mousa.
Heb. libneh, "white", (Gen. 30:37; Hos. 4:13), in all
probability the storax tree (Styrax officinalis) or white
poplar, distinguished by its white blossoms and pale leaves. It
is common in the Anti-Libanus. Other species of the poplar are
found in Israel, such as the white poplar (P. alba) of our
own country, the black poplar (P. nigra), and the aspen (P.
tremula). (See WILLOW ¯T0003812.)
(Heb. nataph), one of the components of the perfume which was
offered on the golden altar (Ex. 30:34; R.V. marg.,
"opobalsamum"). The Hebrew word is from a root meaning "to
distil," and it has been by some interpreted as distilled myrrh.
Others regard it as the gum of the storax tree, or rather shrub,
the Styrax officinale. "The Syrians value this gum highly, and
use it medicinally as an emulcent in pectoral complaints, and
also in perfumery."
Vine of Sodom
referred to only in Deut. 32:32. Among the many conjectures as
to this tree, the most probable is that it is the 'osher of the
Arabs, which abounds in the region of the Dead Sea. Its fruit
are the so-called "apples of Sodom," which, though beautiful to
the eye, are exceedingly bitter to the taste. (See EN-GEDI
¯T0001207.) The people of Israel are referred to here by Moses
as being utterly corrupt, bringing forth only bitter fruit.
(Heb. tappuah, meaning "fragrance"). Probably the apricot or
quince is intended by the word, as Israel was too hot for the
growth of apples proper. It is enumerated among the most
valuable trees of Israel (Joel 1:12), and frequently referred
to in Canticles, and noted for its beauty (2:3, 5; 8:5). There
is nothing to show that it was the "tree of the knowledge of
good and evil." Dr. Tristram has suggested that the apricot has
better claims than any other fruit-tree to be the apple of
Scripture. It grows to a height of 30 feet, has a roundish mass
of glossy leaves, and bears an orange coloured fruit that gives
out a delicious perfume. The "apple of the eye" is the Heb.
_ishon_, meaning manikin, i.e., the pupil of the eye (Prov.
7:2). (Comp. the promise, Zech. 2:8; the prayer, Ps. 17:8; and
its fulfilment, Deut. 32:10.)
The so-called "apple of Sodom" some have supposed to be the
Solanum sanctum (Heb. hedek), rendered "brier" (q.v.) in Micah
7:4, a thorny plant bearing fruit like the potato-apple. This
shrub abounds in the Jordan valley. (See ENGEDI ¯T0001207.)
contracted from Bal'sam, a general name for many oily or
resinous substances which flow or trickle from certain trees or
plants when an incision is made through the bark.
(1.) This word occurs in the Authorized Version (Gen. 37:25;
43:11; Jer. 8:22; 46:11; 51:8; Ezek. 27:17) as the rendering of
the Hebrew word _tsori_ or _tseri_, which denotes the gum of a
tree growing in Gilead (q.v.), which is very precious. It was
celebrated for its medicinal qualities, and was circulated as an
article of merchandise by Arab and Phoenician merchants. The
shrub so named was highly valued, and was almost peculiar to
Israel. In the time of Josephus it was cultivated in the
neighbourhood of Jericho and the Dead Sea. There is an Arab
tradition that the tree yielding this balm was brought by the
queen of Sheba as a present to Solomon, and that he planted it
in his gardens at Jericho.
(2.) There is another Hebrew word, _basam_ or _bosem_, from
which our word "balsam," as well as the corresponding Greek
balsamon, is derived. It is rendered "spice" (Cant. 5:1, 13;
6:2; margin of Revised Version, "balsam;" Ex. 35:28; 1 Kings
10:10), and denotes fragrance in general. _Basam_ also denotes
the true balsam-plant, a native of South Arabia (Cant. l.c.).
(1.) Heb. 'asherah, properly a wooden image, or a pillar
representing Ashtoreth, a sensual Canaanitish goddess, probably
usually set up in a grove (2 Kings 21:7; 23:4). In the Revised
Version the word "Asherah" (q.v.) is introduced as a proper
noun, the name of the wooden symbol of a goddess, with the
plurals Asherim (Ex. 34:13) and Asheroth (Judg. 3:13).
The LXX. have rendered _asherah_ in 2 Chr. 15:16 by "Astarte."
The Vulgate has done this also in Judg. 3:7.
(2.) Heb. 'eshel (Gen. 21:33). In 1 Sam. 22:6 and 31:13 the
Authorized Version renders this word by "tree." In all these
passages the Revised Version renders by "tamarisk tree." It has
been identified with the Tamariscus orientalis, five species of
which are found in Israel.
(3.) The Heb. word 'elon, uniformly rendered in the Authorized
Version by "plain," properly signifies a grove or plantation. In
the Revised Version it is rendered, pl., "oaks" (Gen. 13:18;
14:13; 18:1; 12:6; Deut. 11:30; Josh. 19:33). In the earliest
times groves are mentioned in connection with religious worship.
The heathen consecrated groves to particular gods, and for this
reason they were forbidden to the Jews (Jer. 17:3; Ezek. 20:28).
and pl. Asherim in Revised Version, instead of "grove" and
"groves" of the Authorized Version. This was the name of a
sensual Canaanitish goddess Astarte, the feminine of the
Assyrian Ishtar. Its symbol was the stem of a tree deprived of
its boughs, and rudely shaped into an image, and planted in the
ground. Such religious symbols ("groves") are frequently alluded
to in Scripture (Ex. 34:13; Judg. 6:25; 2 Kings 23:6; 1 Kings
16:33, etc.). These images were also sometimes made of silver or
of carved stone (2 Kings 21:7; "the graven image of Asherah,"
R.V.). (See GROVE ¯T0001556 .).
Heb. kinamon, the Cinnamomum zeylanicum of botanists, a tree of
the Laurel family, which grows only in India on the Malabar
coast, in Ceylon, and China. There is no trace of it in Egypt,
and it was unknown in Syria. The inner rind when dried and
rolled into cylinders forms the cinnamon of commerce. The fruit
and coarser pieces of bark when boiled yield a fragrant oil. It
was one of the principal ingredients in the holy anointing oil
(Ex. 30:23). It is mentioned elsewhere only in Prov. 7:17; Cant.
4:14; Rev. 18:13. The mention of it indicates a very early and
extensive commerce carried on between Israel and the East.
a plant of the genus sinapis, a pod-bearing, shrub-like plant,
growing wild, and also cultivated in gardens. The little round
seeds were an emblem of any small insignificant object. It is
not mentioned in the Old Testament; and in each of the three
instances of its occurrence in the New Testament (Matt. 13:31,
32; Mark 4:31, 32; Luke 13:18, 19) it is spoken of only with
reference to the smallness of its seed. The common mustard of
Israel is the Sinapis nigra. This garden herb sometimes grows
to a considerable height, so as to be spoken of as "a tree" as
compared with garden herbs.
i.e., "grained apple" (pomum granatum), Heb. rimmon. Common in
Egypt (Num. 20:5) and Israel (13:23; Deut. 8:8). The Romans
called it Punicum malum, i.e., Carthaginian apple, because they
received it from Carthage. It belongs to the myrtle family of
trees. The withering of the pomegranate tree is mentioned among
the judgments of God (Joel 1:12). It is frequently mentioned in
the Song of Solomon (Cant. 4:3, 13, etc.). The skirt of the high
priest's blue robe and ephod was adorned with the representation
of pomegranates, alternating with golden bells (Ex. 28:33,34),
as also were the "chapiters upon the two pillars" (1 Kings 7:20)
which "stood before the house."
mentioned only in Rev. 18:12 among the articles which would
cease to be purchased when Babylon fell. It was called citrus,
citron wood, by the Romans. It was the Callitris quadrivalvis of
botanists, of the cone-bearing order of trees, and of the
cypress tribe of this order. The name of this wood is derived
from the Greek word _thuein_, "to sacrifice," and it was so
called because it was burnt in sacrifices, on account of its
fragrance. The wood of this tree was reckoned very valuable, and
was used for making articles of furniture by the Greeks and
Romans. Like the cedars of Lebanon, it is disappearing from the
forests of Israel.
(1.) Heb. hedek (Prov. 15:19), rendered "brier" in Micah 7:4.
Some thorny plant, of the Solanum family, suitable for hedges.
This is probably the so-called "apple of Sodom," which grows
very abundantly in the Jordan valley. "It is a shrubby plant,
from 3 to 5 feet high, with very branching stems, thickly clad
with spines, like those of the English brier, with leaves very
large and woolly on the under side, and thorny on the midriff."
(2.) Heb. kotz (Gen. 3:18; Hos. 10:8), rendered _akantha_ by
the LXX. In the New Testament this word _akantha_ is also
rendered "thorns" (Matt. 7:16; 13:7; Heb. 6:8). The word seems
to denote any thorny or prickly plant (Jer. 12:13). It has been
identified with the Ononis spinosa by some.
(3.) Heb. na'atzutz (Isa. 7:19; 55:13). This word has been
interpreted as denoting the Zizyphus spina Christi, or the
jujube-tree. It is supposed by some that the crown of thorns
placed in wanton cruelty by the Roman soldiers on our Saviour's
brow before his crucifixion was plaited of branches of this
tree. It overruns a great part of the Jordan valley. It is
sometimes called the lotus-tree. "The thorns are long and sharp
and recurved, and often create a festering wound." It often
grows to a great size. (See CROWN OF THORNS ¯T0000930.)
(4.) Heb. atad (Ps. 58:9) is rendered in the LXX. and Vulgate
by Rhamnus, or Lycium Europoeum, a thorny shrub, which is common
all over Israel. From its resemblance to the box it is
frequently called the box-thorn.
a symbol of kings descended from royal ancestors (Ezek. 17:3,
10; Dan. 11:7); of prosperity (Job 8:16); of the Messiah, a
branch out of the root of the stem of Jesse (Isa. 11:1), the
"beautiful branch" (4:2), a "righteous branch" (Jer. 23:5), "the
Branch" (Zech. 3:8; 6:12).
Disciples are branches of the true vine (John 15:5, 6). "The
branch of the terrible ones" (Isa. 25:5) is rightly translated
in the Revised Version "the song of the terrible ones," i.e.,
the song of victory shall be brought low by the destruction of
Babylon and the return of the Jews from captivity.
The "abominable branch" is a tree on which a malefactor has
been hanged (Isa. 14:19). The "highest branch" in Ezek. 17:3
represents Jehoiakim the king.
This word occurs frequently, and is the translation of several
different terms. (1.) Micah 7:4, it denotes a species of thorn
shrub used for hedges. In Prov. 15:19 the word is rendered
"thorn" (Heb. _hedek_, "stinging"), supposed by some to be what
is called the "apple of Sodom" (q.v.).
(2.) Ezek. 28:24, _sallon'_, properly a "prickle," such as is
found on the shoots of the palm tree.
(3.) Isa. 55:13, probably simply a thorny bush. Some,
following the Vulgate Version, regard it as the "nettle."
(4.) Isa. 5:6; 7:23-25, etc., frequently used to denote thorny
shrubs in general. In 10:17; 27:4, it means troublesome men.
(5.) In Heb. 6:8 the Greek word (tribolos) so rendered means
"three-pronged," and denotes the land caltrop, a low throny
shrub resembling in its spikes the military "crow-foot." Comp.
Matt. 7:16, "thistle."
This word, besides its natural and proper sense, is used to
designate, (1.) A niece or any female descendant (Gen. 20:12;
24:48; 28:6). (2.) Women as natives of a place, or as professing
the religion of a place; as, "the daughters of Zion" (Isa.
3:16), "daughters of the Philistines" (2 Sam. 1:20). (3.) Small
towns and villages lying around a city are its "daughters," as
related to the metropolis or mother city. Tyre is in this sense
called the daughter of Sidon (Isa. 23:12). (4.) The people of
Jerusalem are spoken of as "the daughters of Zion" (Isa. 37:22).
(5.) The daughters of a tree are its boughs (Gen. 49:22). (6.)
The "daughters of music" (Eccl. 12:4) are singing women.
(Heb. lebonah; Gr. libanos, i.e., "white"), an odorous resin
imported from Arabia (Isa. 60:6; Jer. 6:20), yet also growing in
Israel (Cant. 4:14). It was one of the ingredients in the
perfume of the sanctuary (Ex. 30:34), and was used as an
accompaniment of the meat-offering (Lev. 2:1, 16; 6:15; 24:7).
When burnt it emitted a fragrant odour, and hence the incense
became a symbol of the Divine name (Mal. 1:11; Cant. 1:3) and an
emblem of prayer (Ps. 141:2; Luke 1:10; Rev. 5:8; 8:3).
This frankincense, or olibanum, used by the Jews in the temple
services is not to be confounded with the frankincense of modern
commerce, which is an exudation of the Norway spruce fir, the
Pinus abies. It was probably a resin from the Indian tree known
to botanists by the name of Boswellia serrata or thurifera,
which grows to the height of forty feet.
Gilead, Balm of
The region of Gilead abounded in spices and aromatic gums, which
were exported to Egypt and Tyre (Gen. 37:25; Jer. 8:22; 46:11;
Ezek. 27:17). The word "balm" is a contracted form of "balsam,"
a word derived from the Greek _balsamon_, which was adopted as
the representative of the Hebrew words _baal shemen_, meaning
"lord" or "chief of oils."
The Hebrew name of this balm was _tsori_. The tree yielding
this medicinal oil was probably the Balsamodendron opobalsamum
of botanists, and the Amyris opobalsamum of Linnaeus. It is an
evergreen, rising to the height of about 14 feet. The oil or
resin, exuding through an orifice made in its bark in very small
quantities, is esteemed of great value for its supposed
medicinal qualities. (See BALM ¯T0000427.) It may be noted that
Coverdale's version reads in Jer. 8:22, "There is no triacle in
Galaad." The word "triacle" = "treacle" is used in the sense of
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.
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.)
(1.) Heb. hoah (2 Kings 14:9; Job 31:40). In Job 41:2 the Hebrew
word is rendered "thorn," but in the Revised Version "hook." It
is also rendered "thorn" in 2 Chr. 33:11; Prov. 26:9; Cant. 2:2;
"brambles" in Isa. 34:13. It is supposed to be a variety of the
wild plum-tree, but by some it is regarded as the common
thistle, of which there are many varieties in Israel.
(2.) Heb. dardar, meaning "a plant growing luxuriantly" (Gen.
3:18; Hos. 10:8); Gr. tribolos, "a triple point" (Matt. 7:16;
Heb. 6:8, "brier," R.V. "thistle"). This was probably the
star-thistle, called by botanists Centaurea calcitropa, or
"caltrops," a weed common in corn-fields. (See THORNS
(Heb. e'rez, Gr. kedros, Lat. cedrus), a tree very frequently
mentioned in Scripture. It was stately (Ezek. 31:3-5),
long-branched (Ps. 80:10; 92:12; Ezek. 31:6-9), odoriferous
(Cant. 4:11; Hos. 14:6), durable, and therefore much used for
boards, pillars, and ceilings (1 Kings 6:9, 10; 7:2; Jer.
22:14), for masts (Ezek. 27:5), and for carved images (Isa.
It grew very abundantly in Israel, and particularly on
Lebanon, of which it was "the glory" (Isa. 35:2; 60:13). Hiram
supplied Solomon with cedar trees from Lebanon for various
purposes connected with the construction of the temple and the
king's palace (2 Sam. 5:11; 7:2, 7; 1 Kings 5:6, 8,10; 6:9, 10,
15, 16, 18, 20; 7:2, 3, 7, 11, 12; 9:11, etc.). Cedars were used
also in the building of the second temple under Zerubbabel (Ezra
Of the ancient cedars of Lebanon there remain now only some
seven or eight. They are not standing together. But beside them
there are found between three hundred and four hundred of
younger growth. They stand in an amphitheatre fronting the west,
about 6,400 feet above the level of the sea.
The cedar is often figuratively alluded to in the sacred
Scriptures. "The mighty conquerors of olden days, the despots of
Assyria and the Pharaohs of Egypt, the proud and idolatrous
monarchs of Judah, the Hebrew commonwealth itself, the war-like
Ammonites of patriarchal times, and the moral majesty of the
Messianic age, are all compared to the towering cedar, in its
royal loftiness and supremacy (Isa. 2:13; Ezek. 17:3, 22, 23,
31:3-9; Amos 2:9; Zech. 11:1, 2; Job 40:17; Ps. 29:5; 80:10;
92:12, etc).", Groser's Scrip. Nat. Hist. (See BOX-TREE
(1.) Materials used. The earliest and simplest an apron of
fig-leaves sewed together (Gen. 3:7); then skins of animals
(3:21). Elijah's dress was probably the skin of a sheep (2 Kings
1:8). The Hebrews were early acquainted with the art of weaving
hair into cloth (Ex. 26:7; 35:6), which formed the sackcloth of
mourners. This was the material of John the Baptist's robe
(Matt. 3:4). Wool was also woven into garments (Lev. 13:47;
Deut. 22:11; Ezek. 34:3; Job 31:20; Prov. 27:26). The Israelites
probably learned the art of weaving linen when they were in
Egypt (1 Chr. 4:21). Fine linen was used in the vestments of the
high priest (Ex. 28:5), as well as by the rich (Gen. 41:42;
Prov. 31:22; Luke 16:19). The use of mixed material, as wool and
flax, was forbidden (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:11).
(2.) Colour. The prevailing colour was the natural white of
the material used, which was sometimes rendered purer by the
fuller's art (Ps. 104:1, 2; Isa. 63:3; Mark 9:3). The Hebrews
were acquainted with the art of dyeing (Gen. 37:3, 23). Various
modes of ornamentation were adopted in the process of weaving
(Ex. 28:6; 26:1, 31; 35:25), and by needle-work (Judg. 5:30; Ps.
45:13). Dyed robes were imported from foreign countries,
particularly from Phoenicia (Zeph. 1:8). Purple and scarlet
robes were the marks of the wealthy (Luke 16:19; 2 Sam. 1:24).
(3.) Form. The robes of men and women were not very much
different in form from each other.
(a) The "coat" (kethoneth), of wool, cotton, or linen, was
worn by both sexes. It was a closely-fitting garment, resembling
in use and form our shirt (John 19:23). It was kept close to the
body by a girdle (John 21:7). A person wearing this "coat" alone
was described as naked (1 Sam. 19:24; Isa. 20:2; 2 Kings 6:30;
John 21:7); deprived of it he would be absolutely naked.
(b) A linen cloth or wrapper (sadin) of fine linen, used
somewhat as a night-shirt (Mark 14:51). It is mentioned in Judg.
14:12, 13, and rendered there "sheets."
(c) An upper tunic (meil), longer than the "coat" (1 Sam.
2:19; 24:4; 28:14). In 1 Sam. 28:14 it is the mantle in which
Samuel was enveloped; in 1 Sam. 24:4 it is the "robe" under
which Saul slept. The disciples were forbidden to wear two
"coats" (Matt. 10:10; Luke 9:3).
(d) The usual outer garment consisted of a piece of woollen
cloth like a Scotch plaid, either wrapped round the body or
thrown over the shoulders like a shawl, with the ends hanging
down in front, or it might be thrown over the head so as to
conceal the face (2 Sam. 15:30; Esther 6:12). It was confined to
the waist by a girdle, and the fold formed by the overlapping of
the robe served as a pocket (2 Kings 4:39; Ps. 79:12; Hag. 2:12;
Prov. 17:23; 21:14).
Female dress. The "coat" was common to both sexes (Cant. 5:3).
But peculiar to females were (1) the "veil" or "wimple," a kind
of shawl (Ruth 3:15; rendered "mantle," R.V., Isa. 3:22); (2)
the "mantle," also a species of shawl (Isa. 3:22); (3) a "veil,"
probably a light summer dress (Gen. 24:65); (4) a "stomacher," a
holiday dress (Isa. 3:24). The outer garment terminated in an
ample fringe or border, which concealed the feet (Isa. 47:2;
The dress of the Persians is described in Dan. 3:21.
The reference to the art of sewing are few, inasmuch as the
garments generally came forth from the loom ready for being
worn, and all that was required in the making of clothes
devolved on the women of a family (Prov. 31:22; Acts 9:39).
Extravagance in dress is referred to in Jer. 4:30; Ezek.
16:10; Zeph. 1:8 (R.V., "foreign apparel"); 1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Pet.
3:3. Rending the robes was expressive of grief (Gen. 37:29, 34),
fear (1 Kings 21:27), indignation (2 Kings 5:7), or despair
(Judg. 11:35; Esther 4:1).
Shaking the garments, or shaking the dust from off them, was a
sign of renunciation (Acts 18:6); wrapping them round the head,
of awe (1 Kings 19:13) or grief (2 Sam. 15:30; casting them off,
of excitement (Acts 22:23); laying hold of them, of supplication
(1 Sam. 15:27). In the case of travelling, the outer garments
were girded up (1 Kings 18:46). They were thrown aside also when
they would impede action (Mark 10:50; John 13:4; Acts 7:58).
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
something hidden, a town of Benjamin (Ezra 2:27), east of Bethel
and south of Migron, on the road to Jerusalem (Isa. 10:28). It
lay on the line of march of an invading army from the north, on
the north side of the steep and precipitous Wady es-Suweinit
("valley of the little thorn-tree" or "the acacia"), and now
bears the name of Mukhmas. This wady is called "the passage of
Michmash" (1 Sam. 13:23). Immediately facing Mukhmas, on the
opposite side of the ravine, is the modern representative of
Geba, and behind this again are Ramah and Gibeah.
This was the scene of a great battle fought between the army
of Saul and the Philistines, who were utterly routed and pursued
for some 16 miles towards Philistia as far as the valley of
Aijalon. "The freedom of Benjamin secured at Michmash led
through long years of conflict to the freedom of all its kindred
tribes." The power of Benjamin and its king now steadily
increased. A new spirit and a new hope were now at work in
Israel. (See SAUL ¯T0003230.)
pure, a superintendant of customs; a chief tax-gather
(publicanus) at Jericho (Luke 19:1-10). "The collection of
customs at Jericho, which at this time produced and exported a
considerable quantity of balsam, was undoubtedly an important
post, and would account for Zacchaeus being a rich man." Being
short of stature, he hastened on before the multitude who were
thronging about Christ as he passed through Jericho on his way
to Jerusalem, and climbed up a sycamore tree that he might be
able to see him. When our Lord reached the spot he looked up to
the publican among the branches, and addressing him by name,
told him to make haste and come down, as he intended that day to
abide at his house. This led to the remarkable interview
recorded by the evangelist, and to the striking parable of the
ten pounds (Luke 19:12-27). At Er-riha (Jericho) there is a
large, venerable looking square tower, which goes by the
traditional name of the House of Zacchaeus.
Heb. man-hu, "What is that?" the name given by the Israelites to
the food miraculously supplied to them during their wanderings
in the wilderness (Ex. 16:15-35). The name is commonly taken as
derived from _man_, an expression of surprise, "What is it?" but
more probably it is derived from _manan_, meaning "to allot,"
and hence denoting an "allotment" or a "gift." This "gift" from
God is described as "a small round thing," like the "hoar-frost
on the ground," and "like coriander seed," "of the colour of
bdellium," and in taste "like wafers made with honey." It was
capable of being baked and boiled, ground in mills, or beaten in
a mortar (Ex. 16:23; Num. 11:7). If any was kept over till the
following morning, it became corrupt with worms; but as on the
Sabbath none fell, on the preceding day a double portion was
given, and that could be kept over to supply the wants of the
Sabbath without becoming corrupt. Directions concerning the
gathering of it are fully given (Ex. 16:16-18, 33; Deut. 8:3,
16). It fell for the first time after the eighth encampment in
the desert of Sin, and was daily furnished, except on the
Sabbath, for all the years of the wanderings, till they encamped
at Gilgal, after crossing the Jordan, when it suddenly ceased,
and where they "did eat of the old corn of the land; neither had
the children of Israel manna any more" (Josh. 5:12). They now no
longer needed the "bread of the wilderness."
This manna was evidently altogether a miraculous gift, wholly
different from any natural product with which we are acquainted,
and which bears this name. The manna of European commerce comes
chiefly from Calabria and Sicily. It drops from the twigs of a
species of ash during the months of June and July. At night it
is fluid and resembles dew, but in the morning it begins to
harden. The manna of the Sinaitic peninsula is an exudation from
the "manna-tamarisk" tree (Tamarix mannifera), the el-tarfah of
the Arabs. This tree is found at the present day in certain
well-watered valleys in the peninsula of Sinai. The manna with
which the people of Israel were fed for forty years differs in
many particulars from all these natural products.
Our Lord refers to the manna when he calls himself the "true
bread from heaven" (John 6:31-35; 48-51). He is also the "hidden
manna" (Rev. 2:17; comp. John 6:49,51).
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.
red, a Babylonian word, the generic name for man, having the
same meaning in the Hebrew and the Assyrian languages. It was
the name given to the first man, whose creation, fall, and
subsequent history and that of his descendants are detailed in
the first book of Moses (Gen. 1:27-ch. 5). "God created man
[Heb., Adam] in his own image, in the image of God created he
him; male and female created he them."
Adam was absolutely the first man whom God created. He was
formed out of the dust of the earth (and hence his name), and
God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and gave him
dominion over all the lower creatures (Gen. 1:26; 2:7). He was
placed after his creation in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate
it, and to enjoy its fruits under this one prohibition: "Of the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it;
for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
The first recorded act of Adam was his giving names to the
beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, which God brought
to him for this end. Thereafter the Lord caused a deep sleep to
fall upon him, and while in an unconscious state took one of his
ribs, and closed up his flesh again; and of this rib he made a
woman, whom he presented to him when he awoke. Adam received her
as his wife, and said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh
of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken
out of Man." He called her Eve, because she was the mother of
Being induced by the tempter in the form of a serpent to eat
the forbidden fruit, Eve persuaded Adam, and he also did eat.
Thus man fell, and brought upon himself and his posterity all
the sad consequences of his transgression. The narrative of the
Fall comprehends in it the great promise of a Deliverer (Gen.
3:15), the "first gospel" message to man. They were expelled
from Eden, and at the east of the garden God placed a flame,
which turned every way, to prevent access to the tree of life
(Gen. 3). How long they were in Paradise is matter of mere
Shortly after their expulsion Eve brought forth her
first-born, and called him Cain. Although we have the names of
only three of Adam's sons, viz., Cain, Abel, and Seth, yet it is
obvious that he had several sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4). He
died aged 930 years.
Adam and Eve were the progenitors of the whole human race.
Evidences of varied kinds are abundant in proving the unity of
the human race. The investigations of science, altogether
independent of historical evidence, lead to the conclusion that
God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on
all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26. Comp. Rom. 5:12-12; 1
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 .)
a town on the east of Jordan, on the top of one of the green
hills of Gilead, within the limits of the half tribe of
Manasseh, and in full view of Beth-shan. It is first mentioned
in connection with the vengeance taken on its inhabitants
because they had refused to come up to Mizpeh to take part with
Israel against the tribe of Benjamin (Judg. 21:8-14). After the
battles at Gibeah, that tribe was almost extinguished, only six
hundred men remaining. An expedition went against Jabesh-Gilead,
the whole of whose inhabitants were put to the sword, except
four hundred maidens, whom they brought as prisoners and sent to
"proclaim peace" to the Benjamites who had fled to the crag
Rimmon. These captives were given to them as wives, that the
tribe might be saved from extinction (Judg. 21).
This city was afterwards taken by Nahash, king of the
Ammonites, but was delivered by Saul, the newly-elected king of
Israel. In gratitude for this deliverance, forty years after
this, the men of Jabesh-Gilead took down the bodies of Saul and
of his three sons from the walls of Beth-shan, and after burning
them, buried the bones under a tree near the city (1 Sam.
31:11-13). David thanked them for this act of piety (2 Sam.
2:4-6), and afterwards transferred the remains to the royal
sepulchre (21:14). It is identified with the ruins of ed-Deir,
about 6 miles south of Pella, on the north of the Wady Yabis.
Heb. mor. (1.) First mentioned as a principal ingredient in the
holy anointing oil (Ex. 30:23). It formed part of the gifts
brought by the wise men from the east, who came to worship the
infant Jesus (Matt. 2:11). It was used in embalming (John
19:39), also as a perfume (Esther 2:12; Ps. 45:8; Prov. 7:17).
It was a custom of the Jews to give those who were condemned to
death by crucifixion "wine mingled with myrrh" to produce
insensibility. This drugged wine was probably partaken of by the
two malefactors, but when the Roman soldiers pressed it upon
Jesus "he received it not" (Mark 15:23). (See GALL ¯T0001419.)
This was the gum or viscid white liquid which flows from a
tree resembling the acacia, found in Africa and Arabia, the
Balsamodendron myrrha of botanists. The "bundle of myrrh" in
Cant. 1:13 is rather a "bag" of myrrh or a scent-bag.
(2.) Another word _lot_ is also translated "myrrh" (Gen.
37:25; 43:11; R.V., marg., "or ladanum"). What was meant by this
word is uncertain. It has been thought to be the chestnut,
mastich, stacte, balsam, turpentine, pistachio nut, or the
lotus. It is probably correctly rendered by the Latin word
ladanum, the Arabic ladan, an aromatic juice of a shrub called
the Cistus or rock rose, which has the same qualities, though in
a slight degree, of opium, whence a decoction of opium is called
laudanum. This plant was indigenous to Syria and Arabia.
plural cherubim, the name of certain symbolical figures
frequently mentioned in Scripture. They are first mentioned in
connection with the expulsion of our first parents from Eden
(Gen. 3:24). There is no intimation given of their shape or
form. They are next mentioned when Moses was commanded to
provide furniture for the tabernacle (Ex. 25:17-20; 26:1, 31).
God promised to commune with Moses "from between the cherubim"
(25:22). This expression was afterwards used to denote the
Divine abode and presence (Num. 7:89; 1 Sam. 4:4; Isa. 37:16;
Ps. 80:1; 99:1). In Ezekiel's vision (10:1-20) they appear as
living creatures supporting the throne of God. From Ezekiel's
description of them (1;10; 41:18, 19), they appear to have been
compound figures, unlike any real object in nature; artificial
images possessing the features and properties of several
animals. Two cherubim were placed on the mercy-seat of the ark;
two of colossal size overshadowed it in Solomon's temple.
Ezekiel (1:4-14) speaks of four; and this number of "living
creatures" is mentioned in Rev. 4:6. Those on the ark are called
the "cherubim of glory" (Heb. 9:5), i.e., of the Shechinah, or
cloud of glory, for on them the visible glory of God rested.
They were placed one at each end of the mercy-seat, with wings
stretched upward, and their faces "toward each other and toward
the mercy-seat." They were anointed with holy oil, like the ark
itself and the other sacred furniture.
The cherubim were symbolical. They were intended to represent
spiritual existences in immediate contact with Jehovah. Some
have regarded them as symbolical of the chief ruling power by
which God carries on his operations in providence (Ps. 18:10).
Others interpret them as having reference to the redemption of
men, and as symbolizing the great rulers or ministers of the
church. Many other opinions have been held regarding them which
need not be referred to here. On the whole, it seems to be most
satisfactory to regard the interpretation of the symbol to be
variable, as is the symbol itself.
Their office was, (1) on the expulsion of our first parents
from Eden, to prevent all access to the tree of life; and (2) to
form the throne and chariot of Jehovah in his manifestation of
himself on earth. He dwelleth between and sitteth on the
cherubim (1 Sam. 4:4; Ps. 80:1; Ezek. 1:26, 28).
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).
cutting around. This rite, practised before, as some think, by
divers races, was appointed by God to be the special badge of
his chosen people, an abiding sign of their consecration to him.
It was established as a national ordinance (Gen. 17:10, 11). In
compliance with the divine command, Abraham, though ninety-nine
years of age, was circumcised on the same day with Ishmael, who
was thirteen years old (17:24-27). Slaves, whether home-born or
purchased, were circumcised (17:12, 13); and all foreigners must
have their males circumcised before they could enjoy the
privileges of Jewish citizenship (Ex. 12:48). During the journey
through the wilderness, the practice of circumcision fell into
disuse, but was resumed by the command of Joshua before they
entered the Promised Land (Josh. 5:2-9). It was observed always
afterwards among the tribes of israel, although it is not
expressly mentioned from the time of the settlement in Canaan
till the time of Christ, about 1,450 years. The Jews prided
themselves in the possession of this covenant distinction (Judg.
14:3; 15:18; 1 Sam. 14:6; 17:26; 2 Sam. 1:20; Ezek. 31:18).
As a rite of the church it ceased when the New Testament times
began (Gal. 6:15; Col. 3:11). Some Jewish Christians sought to
impose it, however, on the Gentile converts; but this the
apostles resolutely resisted (Acts 15:1; Gal. 6:12). Our Lord
was circumcised, for it "became him to fulfil all
righteousness," as of the seed of Abraham, according to the
flesh; and Paul "took and circumcised" Timothy (Acts 16:3), to
avoid giving offence to the Jews. It would render Timothy's
labours more acceptable to the Jews. But Paul would by no means
consent to the demand that Titus should be circumcised (Gal.
2:3-5). The great point for which he contended was the free
admission of uncircumcised Gentiles into the church. He
contended successfully in behalf of Titus, even in Jerusalem.
In the Old Testament a spiritual idea is attached to
circumcision. It was the symbol of purity (Isa. 52:1). We read
of uncircumcised lips (Ex. 6:12, 30), ears (Jer. 6:10), hearts
(Lev. 26:41). The fruit of a tree that is unclean is spoken of
as uncircumcised (Lev. 19:23).
It was a sign and seal of the covenant of grace as well as of
the national covenant between God and the Hebrews. (1.) It
sealed the promises made to Abraham, which related to the
commonwealth of Israel, national promises. (2.) But the promises
made to Abraham included the promise of redemption (Gal. 3:14),
a promise which has come upon us. The covenant with Abraham was
a dispensation or a specific form of the covenant of grace, and
circumcision was a sign and seal of that covenant. It had a
spiritual meaning. It signified purification of the heart,
inward circumcision effected by the Spirit (Deut. 10:16; 30:6;
Ezek. 44:7; Acts 7:51; Rom. 2:28; Col. 2:11). Circumcision as a
symbol shadowing forth sanctification by the Holy Spirit has now
given way to the symbol of baptism (q.v.). But the truth
embodied in both ordinances is ever the same, the removal of
sin, the sanctifying effects of grace in the heart.
Under the Jewish dispensation, church and state were
identical. No one could be a member of the one without also
being a member of the other. Circumcision was a sign and seal of
membership in both. Every circumcised person bore thereby
evidence that he was one of the chosen people, a member of the
church of God as it then existed, and consequently also a member
of the Jewish commonwealth.
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 contract or agreement between two parties. In the Old
Testament the Hebrew word _berith_ is always thus translated.
_Berith_ is derived from a root which means "to cut," and hence
a covenant is a "cutting," with reference to the cutting or
dividing of animals into two parts, and the contracting parties
passing between them, in making a covenant (Gen. 15; Jer. 34:18,
The corresponding word in the New Testament Greek is
_diatheke_, which is, however, rendered "testament" generally in
the Authorized Version. It ought to be rendered, just as the
word _berith_ of the Old Testament, "covenant."
This word is used (1) of a covenant or compact between man and
man (Gen. 21:32), or between tribes or nations (1 Sam. 11:1;
Josh. 9:6, 15). In entering into a convenant, Jehovah was
solemnly called on to witness the transaction (Gen. 31:50), and
hence it was called a "covenant of the Lord" (1 Sam. 20:8). The
marriage compact is called "the covenant of God" (Prov. 2:17),
because the marriage was made in God's name. Wicked men are
spoken of as acting as if they had made a "covenant with death"
not to destroy them, or with hell not to devour them (Isa.
(2.) The word is used with reference to God's revelation of
himself in the way of promise or of favour to men. Thus God's
promise to Noah after the Flood is called a covenant (Gen. 9;
Jer. 33:20, "my covenant"). We have an account of God's
covernant with Abraham (Gen. 17, comp. Lev. 26:42), of the
covenant of the priesthood (Num. 25:12, 13; Deut. 33:9; Neh.
13:29), and of the covenant of Sinai (Ex. 34:27, 28; Lev.
26:15), which was afterwards renewed at different times in the
history of Israel (Deut. 29; Josh. 1:24; 2 Chr. 15; 23; 29; 34;
Ezra 10; Neh. 9). In conformity with human custom, God's
covenant is said to be confirmed with an oath (Deut. 4:31; Ps.
89:3), and to be accompanied by a sign (Gen. 9; 17). Hence the
covenant is called God's "counsel," "oath," "promise" (Ps. 89:3,
4; 105:8-11; Heb. 6:13-20; Luke 1:68-75). God's covenant
consists wholly in the bestowal of blessing (Isa. 59:21; Jer.
The term covenant is also used to designate the regular
succession of day and night (Jer. 33:20), the Sabbath (Ex.
31:16), circumcision (Gen. 17:9, 10), and in general any
ordinance of God (Jer. 34:13, 14).
A "covenant of salt" signifies an everlasting covenant, in the
sealing or ratifying of which salt, as an emblem of perpetuity,
is used (Num. 18:19; Lev. 2:13; 2 Chr. 13:5).
COVENANT OF WORKS, the constitution under which Adam was
placed at his creation. In this covenant, (1.) The contracting
parties were (a) God the moral Governor, and (b) Adam, a free
moral agent, and representative of all his natural posterity
(Rom. 5:12-19). (2.) The promise was "life" (Matt. 19:16, 17;
Gal. 3:12). (3.) The condition was perfect obedience to the law,
the test in this case being abstaining from eating the fruit of
the "tree of knowledge," etc. (4.) The penalty was death (Gen.
This covenant is also called a covenant of nature, as made
with man in his natural or unfallen state; a covenant of life,
because "life" was the promise attached to obedience; and a
legal covenant, because it demanded perfect obedience to the
The "tree of life" was the outward sign and seal of that life
which was promised in the covenant, and hence it is usually
called the seal of that covenant.
This covenant is abrogated under the gospel, inasmuch as
Christ has fulfilled all its conditions in behalf of his people,
and now offers salvation on the condition of faith. It is still
in force, however, as it rests on the immutable justice of God,
and is binding on all who have not fled to Christ and accepted
CONVENANT OF GRACE, the eternal plan of redemption entered
into by the three persons of the Godhead, and carried out by
them in its several parts. In it the Father represented the
Godhead in its indivisible sovereignty, and the Son his people
as their surety (John 17:4, 6, 9; Isa. 42:6; Ps. 89:3).
The conditions of this covenant were, (1.) On the part of the
Father (a) all needful preparation to the Son for the
accomplishment of his work (Heb. 10:5; Isa. 42:1-7); (b) support
in the work (Luke 22:43); and (c) a glorious reward in the
exaltation of Christ when his work was done (Phil. 2:6-11), his
investiture with universal dominion (John 5:22; Ps. 110:1), his
having the administration of the covenant committed into his
hands (Matt. 28:18; John 1:12; 17:2; Acts 2:33), and in the
final salvation of all his people (Isa. 35:10; 53:10, 11; Jer.
31:33; Titus 1:2). (2.) On the part of the Son the conditions
were (a) his becoming incarnate (Gal. 4:4, 5); and (b) as the
second Adam his representing all his people, assuming their
place and undertaking all their obligations under the violated
covenant of works; (c) obeying the law (Ps. 40:8; Isa. 42:21;
John 9:4, 5), and (d) suffering its penalty (Isa. 53; 2 Cor.
5:21; Gal. 3:13), in their stead.
Christ, the mediator of, fulfils all its conditions in behalf
of his people, and dispenses to them all its blessings. In Heb.
8:6; 9:15; 12:24, this title is given to Christ. (See
Derived probably from the Greek kuriakon (i.e., "the Lord's
house"), which was used by ancient authors for the place of
In the New Testament it is the translation of the Greek word
ecclesia, which is synonymous with the Hebrew _kahal_ of the Old
Testament, both words meaning simply an assembly, the character
of which can only be known from the connection in which the word
is found. There is no clear instance of its being used for a
place of meeting or of worship, although in post-apostolic times
it early received this meaning. Nor is this word ever used to
denote the inhabitants of a country united in the same
profession, as when we say the "Church of England," the "Church
of Scotland," etc.
We find the word ecclesia used in the following senses in the
New Testament: (1.) It is translated "assembly" in the ordinary
classical sense (Acts 19:32, 39, 41).
(2.) It denotes the whole body of the redeemed, all those whom
the Father has given to Christ, the invisible catholic church
(Eph. 5:23, 25, 27, 29; Heb. 12:23).
(3.) A few Christians associated together in observing the
ordinances of the gospel are an ecclesia (Rom. 16:5; Col. 4:15).
(4.) All the Christians in a particular city, whether they
assembled together in one place or in several places for
religious worship, were an ecclesia. Thus all the disciples in
Antioch, forming several congregations, were one church (Acts
13:1); so also we read of the "church of God at Corinth" (1 Cor.
1:2), "the church at Jerusalem" (Acts 8:1), "the church of
Ephesus" (Rev. 2:1), etc.
(5.) The whole body of professing Christians throughout the
world (1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13; Matt. 16:18) are the church of
The church visible "consists of all those throughout the world
that profess the true religion, together with their children."
It is called "visible" because its members are known and its
assemblies are public. Here there is a mixture of "wheat and
chaff," of saints and sinners. "God has commanded his people to
organize themselves into distinct visible ecclesiastical
communities, with constitutions, laws, and officers, badges,
ordinances, and discipline, for the great purpose of giving
visibility to his kingdom, of making known the gospel of that
kingdom, and of gathering in all its elect subjects. Each one of
these distinct organized communities which is faithful to the
great King is an integral part of the visible church, and all
together constitute the catholic or universal visible church." A
credible profession of the true religion constitutes a person a
member of this church. This is "the kingdom of heaven," whose
character and progress are set forth in the parables recorded in
The children of all who thus profess the true religion are
members of the visible church along with their parents. Children
are included in every covenant God ever made with man. They go
along with their parents (Gen. 9:9-17; 12:1-3; 17:7; Ex. 20:5;
Deut. 29:10-13). Peter, on the day of Pentecost, at the
beginning of the New Testament dispensation, announces the same
great principle. "The promise [just as to Abraham and his seed
the promises were made] is unto you, and to your children" (Acts
2:38, 39). The children of believing parents are "holy", i.e.,
are "saints", a title which designates the members of the
Christian church (1 Cor. 7:14). (See BAPTISM ¯T0000435.)
The church invisible "consists of the whole number of the
elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under
Christ, the head thereof." This is a pure society, the church in
which Christ dwells. It is the body of Christ. it is called
"invisible" because the greater part of those who constitute it
are already in heaven or are yet unborn, and also because its
members still on earth cannot certainly be distinguished. The
qualifications of membership in it are internal and are hidden.
It is unseen except by Him who "searches the heart." "The Lord
knoweth them that are his" (2 Tim. 2:19).
The church to which the attributes, prerogatives, and promises
appertaining to Christ's kingdom belong, is a spiritual body
consisting of all true believers, i.e., the church invisible.
(1.) Its unity. God has ever had only one church on earth. We
sometimes speak of the Old Testament Church and of the New
Testament church, but they are one and the same. The Old
Testament church was not to be changed but enlarged (Isa.
49:13-23; 60:1-14). When the Jews are at length restored, they
will not enter a new church, but will be grafted again into
"their own olive tree" (Rom. 11:18-24; comp. Eph. 2:11-22). The
apostles did not set up a new organization. Under their ministry
disciples were "added" to the "church" already existing (Acts
(2.) Its universality. It is the "catholic" church; not
confined to any particular country or outward organization, but
comprehending all believers throughout the whole world.
(3.) Its perpetuity. It will continue through all ages to the
end of the world. It can never be destroyed. It is an
who makes to forget. "God hath made me forget" (Heb. nashshani),
Gen. 41:51. (1.) The elder of the two sons of Joseph. He and his
brother Ephraim were afterwards adopted by Jacob as his own sons
(48:1). There is an account of his marriage to a Syrian (1 Chr.
7:14); and the only thing afterwards recorded of him is, that
his grandchildren were "brought up upon Joseph's knees" (Gen.
50:23; R.V., "born upon Joseph's knees") i.e., were from their
birth adopted by Joseph as his own children.
The tribe of Manasseh was associated with that of Ephraim and
Benjamin during the wanderings in the wilderness. They encamped
on the west side of the tabernacle. According to the census
taken at Sinai, this tribe then numbered 32,200 (Num. 1:10, 35;
2:20, 21). Forty years afterwards its numbers had increased to
52,700 (26:34, 37), and it was at this time the most
distinguished of all the tribes.
The half of this tribe, along with Reuben and Gad, had their
territory assigned them by Moses on the east of the Jordan
(Josh. 13:7-14); but it was left for Joshua to define the limits
of each tribe. This territory on the east of Jordan was more
valuable and of larger extent than all that was allotted to the
nine and a half tribes in the land of Israel. It is sometimes
called "the land of Gilead," and is also spoken of as "on the
other side of Jordan." The portion given to the half tribe of
Manasseh was the largest on the east of Jordan. It embraced the
whole of Bashan. It was bounded on the south by Mahanaim, and
extended north to the foot of Lebanon. Argob, with its sixty
cities, that "ocean of basaltic rocks and boulders tossed about
in the wildest confusion," lay in the midst of this territory.
The whole "land of Gilead" having been conquered, the two and
a half tribes left their wives and families in the fortified
cities there, and accompanied the other tribes across the
Jordan, and took part with them in the wars of conquest. The
allotment of the land having been completed, Joshua dismissed
the two and a half tribes, commending them for their heroic
service (Josh. 22:1-34). Thus dismissed, they returned over
Jordan to their own inheritance. (See ED ¯T0001125.)
On the west of Jordan the other half of the tribe of Manasseh
was associated with Ephraim, and they had their portion in the
very centre of Israel, an area of about 1,300 square miles,
the most valuable part of the whole country, abounding in
springs of water. Manasseh's portion was immediately to the
north of that of Ephraim (Josh. 16). Thus the western Manasseh
defended the passes of Esdraelon as the eastern kept the passes
of the Hauran.
(2.) The only son and successor of Hezekiah on the throne of
Judah. He was twelve years old when he began to reign (2 Kings
21:1), and he reigned fifty-five years (B.C. 698-643). Though he
reigned so long, yet comparatively little is known of this king.
His reign was a continuation of that of Ahaz, both in religion
and national polity. He early fell under the influence of the
heathen court circle, and his reign was characterized by a sad
relapse into idolatry with all its vices, showing that the
reformation under his father had been to a large extent only
superficial (Isa. 7:10; 2 Kings 21:10-15). A systematic and
persistent attempt was made, and all too successfully, to banish
the worship of Jehovah out of the land. Amid this wide-spread
idolatry there were not wanting, however, faithful prophets
(Isaiah, Micah) who lifted up their voice in reproof and in
warning. But their fidelity only aroused bitter hatred, and a
period of cruel persecution against all the friends of the old
religion began. "The days of Alva in Holland, of Charles IX. in
France, or of the Covenanters under Charles II. in Scotland,
were anticipated in the Jewish capital. The streets were red
with blood." There is an old Jewish tradition that Isaiah was
put to death at this time (2 Kings 21:16; 24:3, 4; Jer. 2:30),
having been sawn asunder in the trunk of a tree. Psalms 49, 73,
77, 140, and 141 seem to express the feelings of the pious amid
the fiery trials of this great persecution. Manasseh has been
called the "Nero of Israel."
Esarhaddon, Sennacherib's successor on the Assyrian throne,
who had his residence in Babylon for thirteen years (the only
Assyrian monarch who ever reigned in Babylon), took Manasseh
prisoner (B.C. 681) to Babylon. Such captive kings were usually
treated with great cruelty. They were brought before the
conqueror with a hook or ring passed through their lips or their
jaws, having a cord attached to it, by which they were led. This
is referred to in 2 Chr. 33:11, where the Authorized Version
reads that Esarhaddon "took Manasseh among the thorns;" while
the Revised Version renders the words, "took Manasseh in
chains;" or literally, as in the margin, "with hooks." (Comp. 2
The severity of Manasseh's imprisonment brought him to
repentance. God heard his cry, and he was restored to his
kingdom (2 Chr. 33:11-13). He abandoned his idolatrous ways, and
enjoined the people to worship Jehovah; but there was no
thorough reformation. After a lengthened reign extending through
fifty-five years, the longest in the history of Judah, he died,
and was buried in the garden of Uzza, the "garden of his own
house" (2 Kings 21:17, 18; 2 Chr. 33:20), and not in the city of
David, among his ancestors. He was succeeded by his son Amon.
In Judg. 18:30 the correct reading is "Moses," and not
"Manasseh." The name "Manasseh" is supposed to have been
introduced by some transcriber to avoid the scandal of naming
the grandson of Moses the great lawgiver as the founder of an
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).
asked for. (1.) A king of Edom (Gen. 36:37, 38); called Shaul in
1 Chr. 1:48.
(2.) The son of Kish (probably his only son, and a child of
prayer, "asked for"), of the tribe of Benjamin, the first king
of the Jewish nation. The singular providential circumstances
connected with his election as king are recorded in 1 Sam. 8-10.
His father's she-asses had strayed, and Saul was sent with a
servant to seek for them. Leaving his home at Gibeah (10:5, "the
hill of God," A.V.; lit., as in R.V. marg., "Gibeah of God"),
Saul and his servant went toward the north-west over Mount
Ephraim, and then turning north-east they came to "the land of
Shalisha," and thence eastward to the land of Shalim, and at
length came to the district of Zuph, near Samuel's home at Ramah
(9:5-10). At this point Saul proposed to return from the three
days' fruitless search, but his servant suggested that they
should first consult the "seer." Hearing that he was about to
offer sacrifice, the two hastened into Ramah, and "behold,
Samuel came out against them," on his way to the "bamah", i.e.,
the "height", where sacrifice was to be offered; and in answer
to Saul's question, "Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's
house is," Samuel made himself known to him. Samuel had been
divinely prepared for his coming (9:15-17), and received Saul as
his guest. He took him with him to the sacrifice, and then after
the feast "communed with Saul upon the top of the house" of all
that was in his heart. On the morrow Samuel "took a vial of oil
and poured it on his head," and anointed Saul as king over
Israel (9:25-10:8), giving him three signs in confirmation of
his call to be king. When Saul reached his home in Gibeah the
last of these signs was fulfilled, and the Sprit of God came
upon him, and "he was turned into another man." The simple
countryman was transformed into the king of Israel, a remarkable
change suddenly took place in his whole demeanour, and the
people said in their astonishment, as they looked on the
stalwart son of Kish, "Is Saul also among the prophets?", a
saying which passed into a "proverb." (Comp. 19:24.)
The intercourse between Saul and Samuel was as yet unknown to
the people. The "anointing" had been in secret. But now the time
had come when the transaction must be confirmed by the nation.
Samuel accordingly summoned the people to a solemn assembly
"before the Lord" at Mizpeh. Here the lot was drawn (10:17-27),
and it fell upon Saul, and when he was presented before them,
the stateliest man in all Israel, the air was rent for the first
time in Israel by the loud cry, "God save the king!" He now
returned to his home in Gibeah, attended by a kind of bodyguard,
"a band of men whose hearts God had touched." On reaching his
home he dismissed them, and resumed the quiet toils of his
Soon after this, on hearing of the conduct of Nahash the
Ammonite at Jabeshgilead (q.v.), an army out of all the tribes
of Israel rallied at his summons to the trysting-place at Bezek,
and he led them forth a great army to battle, gaining a complete
victory over the Ammonite invaders at Jabesh (11:1-11). Amid the
universal joy occasioned by this victory he was now fully
recognized as the king of Israel. At the invitation of Samuel
"all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king
before the Lord in Gilgal." Samuel now officially anointed him
as king (11:15). Although Samuel never ceased to be a judge in
Israel, yet now his work in that capacity practically came to an
Saul now undertook the great and difficult enterprise of
freeing the land from its hereditary enemies the Philistines,
and for this end he gathered together an army of 3,000 men (1
Sam. 13:1, 2). The Philistines were encamped at Geba. Saul, with
2,000 men, occupied Michmash and Mount Bethel; while his son
Jonathan, with 1,000 men, occupied Gibeah, to the south of Geba,
and seemingly without any direction from his father "smote" the
Philistines in Geba. Thus roused, the Philistines, who gathered
an army of 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and "people as
the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude," encamped in
Michmash, which Saul had evacuated for Gilgal. Saul now tarried
for seven days in Gilgal before making any movement, as Samuel
had appointed (10:8); but becoming impatient on the seventh day,
as it was drawing to a close, when he had made an end of
offering the burnt offering, Samuel appeared and warned him of
the fatal consequences of his act of disobedience, for he had
not waited long enough (13:13, 14).
When Saul, after Samuel's departure, went out from Gilgal with
his 600 men, his followers having decreased to that number
(13:15), against the Philistines at Michmash (q.v.), he had his
head-quarters under a pomegrante tree at Migron, over against
Michmash, the Wady esSuweinit alone intervening. Here at
Gibeah-Geba Saul and his army rested, uncertain what to do.
Jonathan became impatient, and with his armour-bearer planned an
assault against the Philistines, unknown to Saul and the army
(14:1-15). Jonathan and his armour-bearer went down into the
wady, and on their hands and knees climbed to the top of the
narrow rocky ridge called Bozez, where was the outpost of the
Philistine army. They surprised and then slew twenty of the
Philistines, and immediately the whole host of the Philistines
was thrown into disorder and fled in great terror. "It was a
very great trembling;" a supernatural panic seized the host.
Saul and his 600 men, a band which speedily increased to 10,000,
perceiving the confusion, pursued the army of the Philistines,
and the tide of battle rolled on as far as to Bethaven, halfway
between Michmash and Bethel. The Philistines were totally
routed. "So the Lord saved Israel that day." While pursuing the
Philistines, Saul rashly adjured the people, saying, "Cursed be
the man that eateth any food until evening." But though faint
and weary, the Israelites "smote the Philistines that day from
Michmash to Aijalon" (a distance of from 15 to 20 miles).
Jonathan had, while passing through the wood in pursuit of the
Philistines, tasted a little of the honeycomb which was abundant
there (14:27). This was afterwards discovered by Saul (ver. 42),
and he threatened to put his son to death. The people, however,
interposed, saying, "There shall not one hair of his head fall
to the ground." He whom God had so signally owned, who had
"wrought this great salvation in Israel," must not die. "Then
Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines
went to their own place" (1 Sam. 14:24-46); and thus the
campaign against the Philistines came to an end. This was Saul's
second great military success.
Saul's reign, however, continued to be one of almost constant
war against his enemies round about (14:47, 48), in all of which
he proved victorious. The war against the Amalekites is the only
one which is recorded at length (1 Sam. 15). These oldest and
hereditary (Ex. 17:8; Num. 14:43-45) enemies of Israel occupied
the territory to the south and south-west of Israel. Samuel
summoned Saul to execute the "ban" which God had pronounced
(Deut. 25:17-19) on this cruel and relentless foe of Israel. The
cup of their iniquity was now full. This command was "the test
of his moral qualification for being king." Saul proceeded to
execute the divine command; and gathering the people together,
marched from Telaim (1 Sam. 15:4) against the Amalekites, whom
he smote "from Havilah until thou comest to Shur," utterly
destroying "all the people with the edge of the sword", i.e.,
all that fell into his hands. He was, however, guilty of
rebellion and disobedience in sparing Agag their king, and in
conniving at his soldiers' sparing the best of the sheep and
cattle; and Samuel, following Saul to Gilgal, in the Jordan
valley, said unto him, "Because thou hast rejected the word of
the Lord, he also hath rejected thee from being king" (15:23).
The kingdom was rent from Saul and was given to another, even to
David, whom the Lord chose to be Saul's successor, and whom
Samuel anointed (16:1-13). From that day "the spirit of the Lord
departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled
him." He and Samuel parted only to meet once again at one of the
schools of the prophets.
David was now sent for as a "cunning player on an harp" (1
Sam. 16:16, 18), to play before Saul when the evil spirit
troubled him, and thus was introduced to the court of Saul. He
became a great favourite with the king. At length David returned
to his father's house and to his wonted avocation as a shepherd
for perhaps some three years. The Philistines once more invaded
the land, and gathered their army between Shochoh and Azekah, in
Ephes-dammim, on the southern slope of the valley of Elah. Saul
and the men of Israel went forth to meet them, and encamped on
the northern slope of the same valley which lay between the two
armies. It was here that David slew Goliath of Gath, the
champion of the Philistines (17:4-54), an exploit which led to
the flight and utter defeat of the Philistine army. Saul now
took David permanently into his service (18:2); but he became
jealous of him (ver. 9), and on many occasions showed his enmity
toward him (ver. 10, 11), his enmity ripening into a purpose of
murder which at different times he tried in vain to carry out.
After some time the Philistines "gathered themselves together"
in the plain of Esdraelon, and pitched their camp at Shunem, on
the slope of Little Hermon; and Saul "gathered all Israel
together," and "pitched in Gilboa" (1 Sam. 28:3-14). Being
unable to discover the mind of the Lord, Saul, accompanied by
two of his retinue, betook himself to the "witch of Endor," some
7 or 8 miles distant. Here he was overwhelmed by the startling
communication that was mysteriously made to him by Samuel (ver.
16-19), who appeared to him. "He fell straightway all along on
the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel"
(ver. 20). The Philistine host "fought against Israel: and the
men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and fell down slain
in Mount Gilboa" (31:1). In his despair at the disaster that had
befallen his army, Saul "took a sword and fell upon it." And the
Philistines on the morrow "found Saul and his three sons fallen
in Mount Gilboa." Having cut off his head, they sent it with his
weapons to Philistia, and hung up the skull in the temple of
Dagon at Ashdod. They suspended his headless body, with that of
Jonathan, from the walls of Bethshan. The men of Jabesh-gilead
afterwards removed the bodies from this position; and having
burnt the flesh, they buried the bodies under a tree at Jabesh.
The remains were, however, afterwards removed to the family
sepulchre at Zelah (2 Sam. 21:13, 14). (See DAVID ¯T0000982.)
(3.) "Who is also called Paul" (q.v.), the circumcision name
of the apostle, given to him, perhaps, in memory of King Saul
(Acts 7:58; 8:1; 9:1).
whose God is Jehovah. (1.) "The Tishbite," the "Elias" of the
New Testament, is suddenly introduced to our notice in 1 Kings
17:1 as delivering a message from the Lord to Ahab. There is
mention made of a town called Thisbe, south of Kadesh, but it is
impossible to say whether this was the place referred to in the
name given to the prophet.
Having delivered his message to Ahab, he retired at the
command of God to a hiding-place by the brook Cherith, beyond
Jordan, where he was fed by ravens. When the brook dried up God
sent him to the widow of Zarephath, a city of Zidon, from whose
scanty store he was supported for the space of two years. During
this period the widow's son died, and was restored to life by
Elijah (1 Kings 17: 2-24).
During all these two years a famine prevailed in the land. At
the close of this period of retirement and of preparation for
his work (comp. Gal. 1:17, 18) Elijah met Obadiah, one of Ahab's
officers, whom he had sent out to seek for pasturage for the
cattle, and bade him go and tell his master that Elijah was
there. The king came and met Elijah, and reproached him as the
troubler of Israel. It was then proposed that sacrifices should
be publicly offered, for the purpose of determining whether Baal
or Jehovah were the true God. This was done on Carmel, with the
result that the people fell on their faces, crying, "The Lord,
he is the God." Thus was accomplished the great work of Elijah's
ministry. The prophets of Baal were then put to death by the
order of Elijah. Not one of them escaped. Then immediately
followed rain, according to the word of Elijah, and in answer to
his prayer (James 5:18).
Jezebel, enraged at the fate that had befallen her priests of
Baal, threatened to put Elijah to death (1 Kings 19:1-13). He
therefore fled in alarm to Beersheba, and thence went alone a
day's journey into the wilderness, and sat down in despondency
under a juniper tree. As he slept an angel touched him, and said
unto him, "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for
thee." He arose and found a cake and a cruse of water. Having
partaken of the provision thus miraculously supplied, he went
forward on his solitary way for forty days and forty nights to
Horeb, the mount of God, where he took up his abode in a cave.
Here the Lord appeared unto him and said, "What dost thou here,
Elijah?" In answer to his despondent words God manifests to him
his glory, and then directs him to return to Damascus and anoint
Hazael king over Syria, and Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha to
be prophet in his room (1 Kings 19:13-21; comp. 2 Kings 8:7-15;
Some six years after this he warned Ahab and Jezebel of the
violent deaths they would die (1 Kings 21:19-24; 22:38). He
also, four years afterwards, warned Ahaziah (q.v.), who had
succeeded his father Ahab, of his approaching death (2 Kings
1:1-16). (See NABOTH ¯T0002645.) During these intervals he
probably withdrew to some quiet retirement, no one knew where.
His interview with Ahaziah's messengers on the way to Ekron, and
the account of the destruction of his captains with their
fifties, suggest the idea that he may have been in retirement at
this time on Mount Carmel.
The time now drew near when he was to be taken up into heaven
(2 Kings 2:1-12). He had a presentiment of what was awaiting
him. He went down to Gilgal, where was a school of the prophets,
and where his successor Elisha, whom he had anointed some years
before, resided. Elisha was solemnized by the thought of his
master's leaving him, and refused to be parted from him. "They
two went on," and came to Bethel and Jericho, and crossed the
Jordan, the waters of which were "divided hither and thither"
when smitten with Elijah's mantle. Arrived at the borders of
Gilead, which Elijah had left many years before, it "came to
pass as they still went on and talked" they were suddenly
separated by a chariot and horses of fire; and "Elijah went up
by a whirlwind into heaven, "Elisha receiving his mantle, which
fell from him as he ascended.
No one of the old prophets is so frequently referred to in the
New Testament. The priests and Levites said to the Baptist (John
1:25), "Why baptizest thou, if thou be not that Christ, nor
Elias?" Paul (Rom. 11:2) refers to an incident in his history to
illustrate his argument that God had not cast away his people.
James (5:17) finds in him an illustration of the power of
prayer. (See also Luke 4:25; 9:54.) He was a type of John the
Baptist in the sternness and power of his reproofs (Luke 9:8).
He was the Elijah that "must first come" (Matt. 11:11, 14), the
forerunner of our Lord announced by Malachi. Even outwardly the
Baptist corresponded so closely to the earlier prophet that he
might be styled a second Elijah. In him we see "the same
connection with a wild and wilderness country; the same long
retirement in the desert; the same sudden, startling entrance on
his work (1 Kings 17:1; Luke 3:2); even the same dress, a hairy
garment, and a leathern girdle about the loins (2 Kings 1:8;
How deep the impression was which Elijah made "on the mind of
the nation may be judged from the fixed belief, which rested on
the words of Malachi (4:5, 6), which many centuries after
prevailed that he would again appear for the relief and
restoration of the country. Each remarkable person as he arrives
on the scene, be his habits and characteristics what they may,
the stern John equally with his gentle Successor, is proclaimed
to be Elijah (Matt. 11:13, 14; 16:14; 17:10; Mark 9:11; 15:35;
Luke 9:7, 8; John 1:21). His appearance in glory on the mount of
transfiguration does not seem to have startled the disciples.
They were 'sore afraid,' but not apparently surprised."
(2.) The Elijah spoken of in 2 Chr. 21:12-15 is by some
supposed to be a different person from the foregoing. He lived
in the time of Jehoram, to whom he sent a letter of warning
(comp. 1 Chr. 28:19; Jer. 36), and acted as a prophet in Judah;
while the Tishbite was a prophet of the northern kingdom. But
there does not seem any necessity for concluding that the writer
of this letter was some other Elijah than the Tishbite. It may
be supposed either that Elijah anticipated the character of
Jehoram, and so wrote the warning message, which was preserved
in the schools of the prophets till Jehoram ascended the throne
after the Tishbite's translation, or that the translation did
not actually take place till after the accession of Jehoram to
the throne (2 Chr. 21:12; 2 Kings 8:16). The events of 2 Kings 2
may not be recorded in chronological order, and thus there may
be room for the opinion that Elijah was still alive in the
beginning of Jehoram's reign.
peaceful, (Heb. Shelomoh), David's second son by Bathsheba,
i.e., the first after their legal marriage (2 Sam. 12). He was
probably born about B.C. 1035 (1 Chr. 22:5; 29:1). He succeeded
his father on the throne in early manhood, probably about
sixteen or eighteen years of age. Nathan, to whom his education
was intrusted, called him Jedidiah, i.e., "beloved of the Lord"
(2 Sam. 12:24, 25). He was the first king of Israel "born in the
purple." His father chose him as his successor, passing over the
claims of his elder sons: "Assuredly Solomon my son shall reign
after me." His history is recorded in 1 Kings 1-11 and 2 Chr.
1-9. His elevation to the throne took place before his father's
death, and was hastened on mainly by Nathan and Bathsheba, in
consequence of the rebellion of Adonijah (1 Kings 1:5-40).
During his long reign of forty years the Hebrew monarchy gained
its highest splendour. This period has well been called the
"Augustan age" of the Jewish annals. The first half of his reign
was, however, by far the brighter and more prosperous; the
latter half was clouded by the idolatries into which he fell,
mainly from his heathen intermarriages (1 Kings 11:1-8; 14:21,
Before his death David gave parting instructions to his son (1
Kings 2:1-9; 1 Chr. 22:7-16; 28). As soon as he had settled
himself in his kingdom, and arranged the affairs of his
extensive empire, he entered into an alliance with Egypt by the
marriage of the daughter of Pharaoh (1 Kings 3:1), of whom,
however, nothing further is recorded. He surrounded himself with
all the luxuries and the external grandeur of an Eastern
monarch, and his government prospered. He entered into an
alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre, who in many ways greatly
assisted him in his numerous undertakings. (See HIRAM
For some years before his death David was engaged in the
active work of collecting materials (1 Chr. 29:6-9; 2 Chr.
2:3-7) for building a temple in Jerusalem as a permanent abode
for the ark of the covenant. He was not permitted to build the
house of God (1 Chr. 22:8); that honour was reserved to his son
Solomon. (See TEMPLE ¯T0003610.)
After the completion of the temple, Solomon engaged in the
erection of many other buildings of importance in Jerusalem and
in other parts of his kingdom. For the long space of thirteen
years he was engaged in the erection of a royal palace on Ophel
(1 Kings 7:1-12). It was 100 cubits long, 50 broad, and 30 high.
Its lofty roof was supported by forty-five cedar pillars, so
that the hall was like a forest of cedar wood, and hence
probably it received the name of "The House of the Forest of
Lebanon." In front of this "house" was another building, which
was called the Porch of Pillars, and in front of this again was
the "Hall of Judgment," or Throne-room (1 Kings 7:7; 10:18-20; 2
Chr. 9:17-19), "the King's Gate," where he administered justice
and gave audience to his people. This palace was a building of
great magnificence and beauty. A portion of it was set apart as
the residence of the queen consort, the daughter of Pharaoh.
From the palace there was a private staircase of red and scented
sandal wood which led up to the temple.
Solomon also constructed great works for the purpose of
securing a plentiful supply of water for the city (Eccl. 2:4-6).
He then built Millo (LXX., "Acra") for the defence of the city,
completing a line of ramparts around it (1 Kings 9:15, 24;
11:27). He erected also many other fortifications for the
defence of his kingdom at various points where it was exposed to
the assault of enemies (1 Kings 9:15-19; 2 Chr. 8:2-6). Among
his great undertakings must also be mentioned the building of
Tadmor (q.v.) in the wilderness as a commercial depot, as well
as a military outpost.
During his reign Israel enjoyed great commercial
prosperity. Extensive traffic was carried on by land with Tyre
and Egypt and Arabia, and by sea with Spain and India and the
coasts of Africa, by which Solomon accumulated vast stores of
wealth and of the produce of all nations (1 Kings 9:26-28;
10:11, 12; 2 Chr. 8:17, 18; 9:21). This was the "golden age" of
Israel. The royal magnificence and splendour of Solomon's court
were unrivalled. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred
concubines, an evidence at once of his pride, his wealth, and
his sensuality. The maintenance of his household involved
immense expenditure. The provision required for one day was
"thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal,
ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an
hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallow-deer, and
fatted fowl" (1 Kings 4:22, 23).
Solomon's reign was not only a period of great material
prosperity, but was equally remarkable for its intellectual
activity. He was the leader of his people also in this uprising
amongst them of new intellectual life. "He spake three thousand
proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake
of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the
hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts,
and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes" (1 Kings
His fame was spread abroad through all lands, and men came
from far and near "to hear the wisdom of Solomon." Among others
thus attracted to Jerusalem was "the queen of the south" (Matt.
12:42), the queen of Sheba, a country in Arabia Felix. "Deep,
indeed, must have been her yearning, and great his fame, which
induced a secluded Arabian queen to break through the immemorial
custom of her dreamy land, and to put forth the energy required
for braving the burdens and perils of so long a journey across a
wilderness. Yet this she undertook, and carried it out with
safety." (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chr. 9:1-12.) She was filled with
amazement by all she saw and heard: "there was no more spirit in
her." After an interchange of presents she returned to her
But that golden age of Jewish history passed away. The bright
day of Solomon's glory ended in clouds and darkness. His decline
and fall from his high estate is a sad record. Chief among the
causes of his decline were his polygamy and his great wealth.
"As he grew older he spent more of his time among his
favourites. The idle king living among these idle women, for
1,000 women, with all their idle and mischievous attendants,
filled the palaces and pleasure-houses which he had built (1
Kings 11:3), learned first to tolerate and then to imitate their
heathenish ways. He did not, indeed, cease to believe in the God
of Israel with his mind. He did not cease to offer the usual
sacrifices in the temple at the great feasts. But his heart was
not right with God; his worship became merely formal; his soul,
left empty by the dying out of true religious fervour, sought to
be filled with any religious excitement which offered itself.
Now for the first time a worship was publicly set up amongst the
people of the Lord which was not simply irregular or forbidden,
like that of Gideon (Judg. 8:27), or the Danites (Judg. 18:30,
31), but was downright idolatrous." (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings
This brought upon him the divine displeasure. His enemies
prevailed against him (1 Kings 11:14-22, 23-25, 26-40), and one
judgment after another fell upon the land. And now the end of
all came, and he died, after a reign of forty years, and was
buried in the city of David, and "with him was buried the
short-lived glory and unity of Israel." "He leaves behind him
but one weak and worthless son, to dismember his kingdom and
disgrace his name."
"The kingdom of Solomon," says Rawlinson, "is one of the most
striking facts in the Biblical history. A petty nation, which
for hundreds of years has with difficulty maintained a separate
existence in the midst of warlike tribes, each of which has in
turn exercised dominion over it and oppressed it, is suddenly
raised by the genius of a soldier-monarch to glory and
greatness. An empire is established which extends from the
Euphrates to the borders of Egypt, a distance of 450 miles; and
this empire, rapidly constructed, enters almost immediately on a
period of peace which lasts for half a century. Wealth,
grandeur, architectural magnificence, artistic excellence,
commercial enterprise, a position of dignity among the great
nations of the earth, are enjoyed during this space, at the end
of which there is a sudden collapse. The ruling nation is split
in twain, the subject-races fall off, the pre-eminence lately
gained being wholly lost, the scene of struggle, strife,
oppression, recovery, inglorious submission, and desperate
effort, re-commences.", Historical Illustrations.