heights of Baal, a place on the river Arnon, or in the plains
through which it flows, east of Jordan (Josh. 13:17; comp. Num.
21:28). It has been supposed to be the same place as Bamoth.
two caverns, a city of Moab to the south of the Arnon, built,
apparently, upon an eminence, and a place of some importance
(Isa. 15:5; Jer. 48:3, 5, 34).
swift, the southern boundary of the territory of Israel beyond
Jordan, separating it from the land of Moab (Deut. 3:8, 16).
This river (referred to twenty-four times in the Bible) rises in
the mountains of Gilead, and after a circuitous course of about
80 miles through a deep ravine it falls into the Dead Sea nearly
opposite Engedi. The stream is almost dry in summer. It is now
called el-Mujeb. The territory of the Amorites extended from the
Arnon to the Jabbok.
regions beyond; i.e., on the east of Jordan, a mountain, or
rather a mountain-chain, over against Jericho, to the east and
south-east of the Dead Sea, in the land of Moab. From "the top
of Pisgah", i.e., Mount Nebo (q.v.), one of its summits, Moses
surveyed the Promised Land (Deut. 3:27; 32:49), and there he
died (34:1,5). The Israelites had one of their encampments in
the mountains of Abarim (Num. 33:47,48) after crossing the
a torrent. (1.) Applied to small streams, as the Arnon, Jabbok,
etc. Isaiah (15:7) speaks of the "book of the willows," probably
the Wady-el-Asha. (2.) It is also applied to winter torrents
(Job 6:15; Num. 34:5; Josh. 15:4, 47), and to the torrent-bed or
wady as well as to the torrent itself (Num. 13:23; 1 Kings
17:3). (3.) In Isa. 19:7 the river Nile is meant, as rendered in
the Revised Version.
pining; wasting. (1.) A city in Moab (Num. 21:30); called also
Dibon-gad (33:45), because it was built by Gad and Dimon (Isa.
15:9). It has been identified with the modern Diban, about 3
miles north of the Arnon and 12 miles east of the Dead Sea. (See
(2.) A city of the tribe of Judah, inhabited after the
Captivity (Neh. 11:25); called also Dimonah (Josh. 15:22). It is
probably the modern ed-Dheib.
Mention is frequently made of the fords of the Jordan (Josh.
2:7; Judg. 3:28; 12:5, 6), which must have been very numerous;
about fifty perhaps. The most notable was that of Bethabara.
Mention is also made of the ford of the Jabbok (Gen. 32:22), and
of the fords of Arnon (Isa. 16:2) and of the Euphrates (Jer.
cave-land, mentioned only in Ezek. 47:16, 18. It was one of the
ancient divisions of Bashan (q.v.), and lay on the south-east of
Gaulanitis or the Jaulan, and on the south of Lejah, extending
from the Arnon to the Hieromax. It was the most fertile region
in Syria, and to this day abounds in the ruins of towns, many of
which have stone doors and massive walls. It retains its ancient
name. It was known by the Greeks and Romans as "Auranitis."
striking down. The whole country on the east of Jordan, from the
Arnon to the Jabbok, was possessed by the Amorites, whose king,
Sihon, refused to permit the Israelites to pass through his
territory, and put his army in array against them. The
Israelites went forth against him to battle, and gained a
complete victory. The Amorites were defeated; Sihon, his sons,
and all his people were smitten with the sword, his walled towns
were captured, and the entire country of the Amorites was taken
possession of by the Israelites (Num. 21:21-30; Deut. 2:24-37).
The country from the Jabbok to Hermon was at this time ruled
by Og, the last of the Rephaim. He also tried to prevent the
progress of the Israelites, but was utterly routed, and all his
cities and territory fell into the hands of the Israelites
(comp. Num. 21:33-35; Deut. 3:1-14; Ps. 135: 10-12; 136:17-22).
These two victories gave the Israelites possession of the
country on the east of Jordan, from the Arnon to the foot of
Hermon. The kingdom of Sihon embraced about 1,500 square miles,
while that of Og was more than 3,000 square miles.
trodden down (called also Jahaza, Josh. 13:18; Jahazah, 21:36;
Jahzah, 1 Chr. 6:78), a town where Sihon was defeated, in the
borders of Moab and in the land of the Ammonites beyond Jordan,
and north of the river Arnon (Num. 21:23; Deut. 2:32). It was
situated in the tribe of Reuben, and was assigned to the
Merarite Levites (Josh. 13:18; 21:36). Here was fought the
decisive battle in which Sihon (q.v.) was completely routed, and
his territory (the modern Belka) came into the possession of
Israel. This town is mentioned in the denunciations of the
prophets against Moab (Isa. 15:4; Jer. 48:34).
the designation of a tribe descended from Moab, the son of Lot
(Gen. 19:37). From Zoar, the cradle of this tribe, on the
south-eastern border of the Dead Sea, they gradually spread over
the region on the east of Jordan. Rameses II., the Pharaoh of
the Oppression, enumerates Moab (Muab) among his conquests.
Shortly before the Exodus, the warlike Amorites crossed the
Jordan under Sihon their king and drove the Moabites (Num.
21:26-30) out of the region between the Arnon and the Jabbok,
and occupied it, making Heshbon their capital. They were then
confined to the territory to the south of the Arnon.
On their journey the Israelites did not pass through Moab, but
through the "wilderness" to the east (Deut. 2:8; Judg. 11:18),
at length reaching the country to the north of the Arnon. Here
they remained for some time till they had conquered Bashan (see
SIHON ¯T0003427; OG ¯T0002771). The Moabites were alarmed, and
their king, Balak, sought aid from the Midianites (Num. 22:2-4).
It was while they were here that the visit of Balaam (q.v.) to
Balak took place. (See MOSES ¯T0002602.)
After the Conquest, the Moabites maintained hostile relations
with the Israelites, and frequently harassed them in war (Judg.
3:12-30; 1 Sam. 14). The story of Ruth, however, shows the
existence of friendly relations between Moab and Bethlehem. By
his descent from Ruth, David may be said to have had Moabite
blood in his veins. Yet there was war between David and the
Moabites (2 Sam. 8:2; 23:20; 1 Chr. 18:2), from whom he took
great spoil (2 Sam. 8:2, 11, 12; 1 Chr. 11:22; 18:11).
During the one hundred and fifty years which followed the
defeat of the Moabites, after the death of Ahab (see MESHA
¯T0002505), they regained, apparently, much of their former
prosperty. At this time Isaiah (15:1) delivered his "burden of
Moab," predicting the coming of judgment on that land (comp. 2
Kings 17:3; 18:9; 1 Chr. 5:25, 26). Between the time of Isaiah
and the commencement of the Babylonian captivity we have very
seldom any reference to Moab (Jer. 25:21; 27:3; 40:11; Zeph.
After the Return, it was Sanballat, a Moabite, who took chief
part in seeking to prevent the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Neh.
2:19; 4:1; 6:1).
ruins. (1.) A town on the north bank of the Arnon (Deut. 4:48;
Judg. 11:26; 2 Kings 10:33), the southern boundary of the
kingdom of Sihon (Josh. 12:2). It is now called Arair, 13 miles
west of the Dead Sea.
(2.) One of the towns built by the tribe of Gad (Num. 32:34)
"before Rabbah" (Josh. 13:25), the Ammonite capital. It was
famous in the history of Jephthah (Judg. 11:33) and of David (2
Sam. 24:5). (Comp. Isa. 17:2; 2 Kings 15:29.)
(3.) A city in the south of Judah, 12 miles south-east of
Beersheba, to which David sent presents after recovering the
spoil from the Amalekites at Ziklag (1 Sam. 30:26, 28). It was
the native city of two of David's warriors (1 Chr. 11:44). It is
now called Ar'arah.
Israel is a hilly country (Deut. 3:25; 11:11; Ezek. 34:13).
West of Jordan the mountains stretch from Lebanon far down into
Galilee, terminating in Carmel. The isolated peak of Tabor rises
from the elevated plain of Esdraelon, which, in the south, is
shut in by hills spreading over the greater part of Samaria. The
mountains of Western and Middle Israel do not extend to the
sea, but gently slope into plains, and toward the Jordan fall
down into the Ghor.
East of the Jordan the Anti-Lebanon, stretching south,
terminates in the hilly district called Jebel Heish, which
reaches down to the Sea of Gennesareth. South of the river
Hieromax there is again a succession of hills, which are
traversed by wadies running toward the Jordan. These gradually
descend to a level at the river Arnon, which was the boundary of
the ancient trans-Jordanic territory toward the south.
The composition of the Palestinian hills is limestone, with
occasional strata of chalk, and hence the numerous caves, some
of large extent, found there.
(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."
the seed of the father, or, according to others, the desirable
land, the eldest son of Lot (Gen. 19:37), of incestuous birth.
(2.) Used to denote the people of Moab (Num. 22:3-14; Judg.
3:30; 2 Sam. 8:2; Jer. 48:11, 13).
(3.) The land of Moab (Jer. 48:24), called also the "country
of Moab" (Ruth 1:2, 6; 2:6), on the east of Jordan and the Dead
Sea, and south of the Arnon (Num. 21:13, 26). In a wider sense
it included the whole region that had been occupied by the
Amorites. It bears the modern name of Kerak.
In the Plains of Moab, opposite Jericho (Num. 22:1; 26:63;
Josh. 13:32), the children of Israel had their last encampment
before they entered the land of Canaan. It was at that time in
the possession of the Amorites (Num. 21:22). "Moses went up from
the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of
Pisgah," and "died there in the land of Moab, according to the
word of the Lord" (Deut. 34:5, 6). "Surely if we had nothing
else to interest us in the land of Moab, the fact that it was
from the top of Pisgah, its noblest height, this mightiest of
the prophets looked out with eye undimmed upon the Promised
Land; that it was here on Nebo, its loftiest mountain, that he
died his solitary death; that it was here, in the valley over
against Beth-peor, he found his mysterious sepulchre, we have
enough to enshrine the memory in our hearts."
Reuben, Tribe of
at the Exodus numbered 46,500 male adults, from twenty years old
and upwards (Num. 1:20, 21), and at the close of the wilderness
wanderings they numbered only 43,730 (26:7). This tribe united
with that of Gad in asking permission to settle in the "land of
Gilead," "on the other side of Jordan" (32:1-5). The lot
assigned to Reuben was the smallest of the lots given to the
trans-Jordanic tribes. It extended from the Arnon, in the south
along the coast of the Dead Sea to its northern end, where the
Jordan flows into it (Josh. 13:15-21, 23). It thus embraced the
original kingdom of Sihon. Reuben is "to the eastern tribes what
Simeon is to the western. 'Unstable as water,' he vanishes away
into a mere Arabian tribe. 'His men are few;' it is all he can
do 'to live and not die.' We hear of nothing beyond the
multiplication of their cattle in the land of Gilead, their
spoils of 'camels fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand' (1
Chr. 5:9, 10, 20, 21). In the great struggles of the nation he
never took part. The complaint against him in the song of
Deborah is the summary of his whole history. 'By the streams of
Reuben,' i.e., by the fresh streams which descend from the
eastern hills into the Jordan and the Dead Sea, on whose banks
the Bedouin chiefs met then as now to debate, in the 'streams'
of Reuben great were the 'desires'", i.e., resolutions which
were never carried out, the people idly resting among their
flocks as if it were a time of peace (Judg. 5:15, 16). Stanley's
Sinai and Israel.
All the three tribes on the east of Jordan at length fell into
complete apostasy, and the time of retribution came. God
"stirred up the spirit of Pul, king of Assyria, and the spirit
of Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria," to carry them away, the
first of the tribes, into captivity (1 Chr. 5:25, 26).
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.