arid, an extensive region in the south-west of Asia. It is
bounded on the west by the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea, on
the south by the Indian Ocean, and on the east by the Persian
Gulf and the Euphrates. It extends far into the north in barren
deserts, meeting those of Syria and Mesopotamia. It is one of
the few countries of the world from which the original
inhabitants have never been expelled.
It was anciently divided into three parts:, (1.) Arabia Felix
(Happy Arabia), so called from its fertility. It embraced a
large portion of the country now known by the name of Arabia.
The Arabs call it Yemen. It lies between the Red Sea and the
Persian Gulf. (2.) Arabia Deserta, the el-Badieh or "Great
Wilderness" of the Arabs. From this name is derived that which
is usually given to the nomadic tribes which wander over this
region, the "Bedaween," or, more generally, "Bedouin," (3.)
Arabia Petraea, i.e., the Rocky Arabia, so called from its rocky
mountains and stony plains. It comprehended all the north-west
portion of the country, and is much better known to travellers
than any other portion. This country is, however, divided by
modern geographers into (1) Arabia Proper, or the Arabian
Peninsula; (2) Northern Arabia, or the Arabian Desert; and (3)
Western Arabia, which includes the peninsula of Sinai and the
Desert of Petra, originally inhabited by the Horites (Gen. 14:6,
etc.), but in later times by the descendants of Esau, and known
as the Land of Edom or Idumea, also as the Desert of Seir or
The whole land appears (Gen. 10) to have been inhabited by a
variety of tribes of different lineage, Ishmaelites, Arabians,
Idumeans, Horites, and Edomites; but at length becoming
amalgamated, they came to be known by the general designation of
Arabs. The modern nation of Arabs is predominantly Ishmaelite.
Their language is the most developed and the richest of all the
Semitic languages, and is of great value to the student of
The Israelites wandered for forty years in Arabia. In the days
of Solomon, and subsequently, commercial intercourse was to a
considerable extent kept up with this country (1 Kings 10:15; 2
Chr. 9:14; 17:11). Arabians were present in Jerusalem at
Pentecost (Acts 2:11). Paul retired for a season into Arabia
after his conversion (Gal. 1:17). This country is frequently
referred to by the prophets (Isa. 21:11; 42:11; Jer. 25:24,
sojourn of Baal, a place in Arabia (2 Chr. 26:7) where there was
probably a temple of Baal.
father of Mael, one of the sons or descendants of Joktan, in
Northern Arabia (Gen. 10:28; 1 Chr. 1:22).
the designation of Zophar, one of Job's three friends (Job 2:11;
11:1), so called from some place in Arabia, called Naamah
the father-in-law of Herod Antipas, and king of Arabia Petraea.
His daughter returned to him on the occasion of her husband's
entering into an adulterous alliance with Herodias, the wife of
Herod-Philip, his half-brother (Luke 3:19, 20; Mark 6:17; Matt.
14:3). This led to a war between Aretas and Herod Antipas.
Herod's army was wholly destroyed (A.D. 36). Aretas, taking
advantage of the complications of the times on account of the
death of the Emperor Tiberius (A.D. 37), took possession of
Damascus (2 Cor. 11:32; compare Acts 9:25). At this time Paul
returned to Damascus from Arabia.
little, the second of the two sons of Eber (Gen. 10:25; 1 Chr.
1:19). There is an Arab tradition that Joktan (Arab. Kahtan) was
the progenitor of all the purest tribes of Central and Southern
court of death, the third son of Joktan, and a region in
Arabia-Felix settled by him (Gen. 10:26; 1 Chr. 1:20). It is
probably the modern province of Hadramaut, situated on the
Indian Ocean east of the modern Yemen.
probably another name for Ophir (Jer. 10:9). Some, however,
regard it as the name of an Indian colony in Yemen, southern
Arabia; others as a place on or near the river Hyphasis (now the
Ghana), the south-eastern limit of the Punjaub.
the descendants of Dedan, the son of Raamah. They are mentioned
in Isa. 21:13 as sending out "travelling companies" which lodged
"in the forest of Arabia." They are enumerated also by Ezekiel
(27:20) among the merchants who supplied Tyre with precious
chirping, one of Job's friends who came to condole with him in
his distress (Job 2:11. The LXX. render here "king of the
Mineans" = Ma'in, Maonites, Judg. 10:12, in Southern Arabia). He
is called a Naamathite, or an inhabitant of some unknown place
contempt. (1.) The second son of Nahor and Milcah, and brother
of Huz (Gen. 22:21). Elihu was one of his descendants (Job
(2.) One of the chiefs of the tribe of Gad (1 Chr. 5:14).
(3.) A district in Arabia Petrea (Jer. 25:23).
mentioned in 2 Sam. 17:28 as having been brought to David when
flying from Absalom. They formed a constituent in the bread
Ezekiel (4:9) was commanded to make, as they were in general
much used as an article of diet. They are extensively cultivated
in Egypt and Arabia and Syria.
mentioned in Dan. 2:12 included three classes, (1) astrologers,
(2) Chaldeans, and (3) soothsayers. The word in the original
(hakamim) probably means "medicine men. In Chaldea medicine was
only a branch of magic. The "wise men" of Matt. 2:7, who came
from the East to Jerusalem, were magi from Persia or Arabia.
(1.) The name of a tribe referred to in the covenant God made
with Abraham (Gen. 15:19). They are not mentioned among the
original inhabitants of Canaan (Ex. 3:8; Josh. 3:10), and
probably they inhabited some part of Arabia, in the confines of
(2.) A designation given to Caleb (R.V., Num. 32:12; A.V.,
(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.
division, one of the sons of Eber; so called because "in his
days was the earth divided" (Gen. 10:25). Possibly he may have
lived at the time of the dispersion from Babel. But more
probably the reference is to the dispersion of the two races
which sprang from Eber, the one spreading towards Mesopotamia
and Syria, and the other southward into Arabia.
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
only in Deut. 14:5 (Heb. zemer), an animal of the deer or
gazelle species. It bears this Hebrew name from its leaping or
springing. The animal intended is probably the wild sheep (Ovis
tragelephus), which is still found in Sinai and in the broken
ridges of Stony Arabia. The LXX. and Vulgate render the word by
camelopardus, i.e., the giraffe; but this is an animal of
Central Africa, and is not at all known in Syria.
silence, (compare Ps. 94:17), the fourth son of Ishmael; also the
tribe descended from him; and hence also the region in Arabia
which they inhabited (Gen. 25:14; 1 Chr. 1:30).
There was also a town of this name in Judah (Josh. 15:52),
which has been identified with ed-Domeh, about 10 miles
southwest of Hebron. The place mentioned in the "burden" of the
prophet Isaiah (21:11) is Edom or Idumea.
son of contention, one of Job's friends. He is called "the
Shuhite," probably as belonging to Shuah, a district in Arabia,
in which Shuah, the sixth son of Abraham by Keturah, settled
(Gen. 25:2). He took part in each of the three controversies
into which Job's friends entered with him (Job 8:1; 18:1; 25:1),
and delivered three speeches, very severe and stern in their
tone, although less violent than those of Zophar, but more so
than those of Eliphaz.
(1.) The fourth "son" of Japheth (Gen. 10:2), whose descendants
settled in Greece, i.e., Ionia, which bears the name of Javan in
Hebrew. Alexander the Great is called the "king of Javan"
(rendered "Grecia," Dan. 8:21; 10:20; compare 11:2; Zech. 9:13).
This word was universally used by the nations of the East as the
generic name of the Greek race.
(2.) A town or district of Arabia Felix, from which the
Syrians obtained iron, cassia, and calamus (Ezek. 27:19).
dark-skinned, the second son of Ishmael (Gen. 25:13).
It is the name for the nomadic tribes of Arabs, the Bedouins
generally (Isa. 21:16; 42:11; 60:7; Jer. 2:10; Ezek. 27:21), who
dwelt in the north-west of Arabia. They lived in black
hair-tents (Cant. 1:5). To "dwell in the tents of Kedar" was to
be cut off from the worship of the true God (Ps. 120:5). The
Kedarites suffered at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 49:28,
a tribe that dwelt in Arabia Petraea, between the Dead Sea and
the Red Sea. They were not the descendants of Amalek, the son of
Eliphaz, for they existed in the days of Abraham (Gen. 14:7).
They were probably a tribe that migrated from the shores of the
Persian Gulf and settled in Arabia. "They dwelt in the land of
the south...from Havilah until thou comest to Shur" (Num. 13:29;
1 Sam. 15:7). They were a pastoral, and hence a nomadic race.
Their kings bore the hereditary name of Agag (Num. 24:7; 1 Sam.
15:8). They attempted to stop the Israelites when they marched
through their territory (Deut. 25:18), attacking them at
Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-13; compare Deut. 25:17; 1 Sam. 15:2). They
afterwards attacked the Israelites at Hormah (Num. 14:45). We
read of them subsequently as in league with the Moabites (Judg.
3:13) and the Midianites (Judg. 6:3). Saul finally desolated
their territory and destroyed their power (1 Sam. 14:48; 15:3),
and David recovered booty from them (1 Sam. 30:18-20). In the
Babylonian inscriptions they are called Sute, in those of Egypt
Sittiu, and the Amarna tablets include them under the general
name of Khabbati, or "plunderers."
(1.) Used as manure (Luke 13:8); collected outside the city
walls (Neh. 2:13). Of sacrifices, burned outside the camp (Ex.
29:14; Lev. 4:11; 8:17; Num. 19:5). To be "cast out as dung," a
figurative expression (1 Kings 14:10; 2 Kings 9:37; Jer. 8:2;
Ps. 18:42), meaning to be rejected as unprofitable.
(2.) Used as fuel, a substitute for firewood, which was with
difficulty procured in Syria, Arabia, and Egypt (Ezek. 4:12-15),
where cows' and camels' dung is used to the present day for this
(1.) One of the sons of Joktan (Gen. 10:29).
(2.) Some region famous for its gold (1 Kings 9:28; 10:11;
22:48; Job 22:24; 28:16; Isa. 13:12). In the LXX. this word is
rendered "Sophir," and "Sofir" is the Coptic name for India,
which is the rendering of the Arabic version, as also of the
Vulgate. Josephus has identified it with the Golden Chersonese,
i.e., the Malay peninsula. It is now generally identified with
Abhira, at the mouth of the Indus. Much may be said, however, in
favour of the opinion that it was somewhere in Arabia.
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.
warm, hot, and hence the south; also an Egyptian word meaning
"black", the youngest son of Noah (Gen. 5:32; compare 9:22,24).
The curse pronounced by Noah against Ham, properly against
Canaan his fourth son, was accomplished when the Jews
subsequently exterminated the Canaanites.
One of the most important facts recorded in Gen. 10 is the
foundation of the earliest monarchy in Babylonia by Nimrod the
grandson of Ham (6, 8, 10). The primitive Babylonian empire was
thus Hamitic, and of a cognate race with the primitive
inhabitants of Arabia and of Ethiopia. (See ACCAD T0000060.)
The race of Ham were the most energetic of all the descendants
of Noah in the early times of the post-diluvian world.
(1.) The orient (mizrah); the rising of the sun. Thus "the east
country" is the country lying to the east of Syria, the Elymais
(2). Properly what is in front of one, or a country that is
before or in front of another; the rendering of the word
"kedem". In pointing out the quarters, a Hebrew always looked
with his face toward the east. The word "kedem" is used when the
four quarters of the world are described (Gen. 13:14; 28:14);
and "mizrah" when the east only is distinguished from the west
(Josh. 11:3; Ps. 50:1; 103:12, etc.). In Gen. 25:6 "eastward" is
literally "unto the land of kedem;" i.e., the lands lying east
of Israel, namely, Arabia, Mesopotamia, etc.
the Latin for cane, Hebrew "Kaneh", mentioned (Ex. 30:23) as one
of the ingredients in the holy anointing oil, one of the sweet
scents (Cant. 4:14), and among the articles sold in the markets
of Tyre (Ezek. 27:19). The word designates an Oriental plant
called the "sweet flag," the Acorus calamus of Linnaeus. It is
elsewhere called "sweet cane" (Isa. 43:24; Jer. 6:20). It has an
aromatic smell, and when its knotted stalk is cut and dried and
reduced to powder, it forms an ingredient in the most precious
perfumes. It was not a native of Israel, but was imported
from Arabia Felix or from India. It was probably that which is
now known in India by the name of "lemon grass" or "ginger
grass," the Andropogon schoenanthus. (See CANE T0000710.)
No explicit mention of queens is made till we read of the "queen
of Sheba." The wives of the kings of Israel are not so
designated. In Ps. 45:9, the Hebrew for "queen" is not "malkah",
one actually ruling like the Queen of Sheba, but "shegal", which
simply means the king's wife. In 1 Kings 11:19, Pharaoh's wife
is called "the queen," but the Hebrew word so rendered (g'birah)
is simply a title of honour, denoting a royal lady, used
sometimes for "queen-mother" (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chron. 15:16). In
Cant. 6:8, 9, the king's wives are styled "queens" (Heb.
In the New Testament we read of the "queen of the south",
i.e., Southern Arabia, Sheba (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31) and the
"queen of the Ethiopians" (Acts 8:27), Candace.
(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.
as a mineral, consists of carbonate of lime, its texture varying
from the highly crystalline to the compact. In Esther 1:6 there
are four Hebrew words which are rendered marble:, (1.) Shesh,
"pillars of marble." But this word probably designates dark-blue
limestone rather than marble. (2.) Dar, some regard as Parian
marble. It is here rendered "white marble." But nothing is
certainly known of it. (3.) Bahat, "red marble," probably the
verd-antique or half-porphyry of Egypt. (4.) Sohareth, "black
marble," probably some spotted variety of marble. "The marble
pillars and tesserae of various colours of the palace at Susa
came doubtless from Persia itself, where marble of various
colours is found, especially in the province of Hamadan
Susiana." The marble of Solomon's architectural works may have
been limestone from near Jerusalem, or from Lebanon, or possibly
white marble from Arabia. Herod employed Parian marble in the
temple, and marble columns still exist in great abundance at
=Se'lah, rock, the capital of Edom, situated in the great valley
extending from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea (2 Kings 14:7). It
was near Mount Hor, close by the desert of Zin. It is called
"the rock" (Judg. 1:36). When Amaziah took it he called it
Joktheel (q.v.) It is mentioned by the prophets (Isa. 16:1;
Obad. 1:3) as doomed to destruction.
It appears in later history and in the Vulgate Version under
the name of Petra. "The caravans from all ages, from the
interior of Arabia and from the Gulf of Persia, from Hadramaut
on the ocean, and even from Sabea or Yemen, appear to have
pointed to Petra as a common centre; and from Petra the tide
seems again to have branched out in every direction, to Egypt,
Israel, and Syria, through Arsinoe, Gaza, Tyre, Jerusalem,
and Damascus, and by other routes, terminating at the
Mediterranean." (See EDOM T0001129 .)
an oath, seven. (1.) Heb. shebha, the son of Raamah (Gen. 10:7),
whose descendants settled with those of Dedan on the Persian
(2.) Heb. id. A son of Joktan (Gen. 10:28), probably the
founder of the Sabeans.
(3.) Heb. id. A son of Jokshan, who was a son of Abraham by
Keturah (Gen. 25:3).
(4.) Heb. id. A kingdom in Arabia Felix. Sheba, in fact, was
Saba in Southern Arabia, the Sabaeans of classical geography,
who carried on the trade in spices with the other peoples of the
ancient world. They were Semites, speaking one of the two main
dialects of Himyaritic or South Arabic. Sheba had become a
monarchy before the days of Solomon. Its queen brought him gold,
spices, and precious stones (1 Kings 10:1-13). She is called by
our Lord the "queen of the south" (Matt. 12:42).
(5.) Heb. shebha', "seven" or "an oak." A town of Simeon
(6.) Heb. id. A "son of Bichri," of the family of Becher, the
son of Benjamin, and thus of the stem from which Saul was
descended (2 Sam. 20:1-22). When David was returning to
Jerusalem after the defeat of Absalom, a strife arose between
the ten tribes and the tribe of Judah, because the latter took
the lead in bringing back the king. Sheba took advantage of this
state of things, and raised the standard of revolt, proclaiming,
"We have no part in David." With his followers he proceeded
northward. David seeing it necessary to check this revolt,
ordered Abishai to take the gibborim, "mighty men," and the
body-guard and such troops as he could gather, and pursue Sheba.
Joab joined the expedition, and having treacherously put Amasa
to death, assumed the command of the army. Sheba took refuge in
Abel-Bethmaachah, a fortified town some miles north of Lake
Merom. While Joab was engaged in laying siege to this city,
Sheba's head was, at the instigation of a "wise woman" who had
held a parley with him from the city walls, thrown over the wall
to the besiegers, and thus the revolt came to an end.
the queen of the Ethiopians whose "eunuch" or chamberlain was
converted to Christianity by the instrumentality of Philip the
evangelist (Acts 8:27). The country which she ruled was called
by the Greeks Meroe, in Upper Nubia. It was long the centre of
commercial intercourse between Africa and the south of Asia, and
hence became famous for its wealth (Isa. 45:14).
It is somewhat singular that female sovereignty seems to have
prevailed in Ethiopia, the name Candace (compare "Pharaoh,"
"Ptolemy," "Caesar") being a title common to several successive
queens. It is probable that Judaism had taken root in Ethiopia
at this time, and hence the visit of the queen's treasurer to
Jerusalem to keep the feast. There is a tradition that Candace
was herself converted to Christianity by her treasurer on his
return, and that he became the apostle of Christianity in that
whole region, carrying it also into Abyssinia. It is said that
he also preached the gospel in Arabia Felix and in Ceylon, where
he suffered martyrdom. (See PHILIP T0002936.)
the sand region. (1.) A land mentioned in Gen. 2:11 rich in gold
and bdellium and onyx stone. The question as to the locality of
this region has given rise to a great diversity of opinion. It
may perhaps be identified with the sandy tract which skirts
Babylonia along the whole of its western border, stretching from
the lower Euphrates to the mountains of Edom.
(2.) A district in Arabia-Felix. It is uncertain whether the
tribe gave its name to this region or derived its name from it,
and whether it was originally a Cushite (Gen. 10:7) or a
Joktanite tribe (10:29; compare 25:18), or whether there were both
a Cushite and a Joktanite Havilah. It is the opinion of Kalisch,
however, that Havilah "in both instances designates the same
country, extending at least from the Persian to the Arabian
Gulf, and on account of its vast extent easily divided into two
distinct parts." This opinion may be well vindicated.
(3.) One of the sons of Cush (Gen. 10:7).
(4.) A son of Joktan (Gen. 10:29; 1 Chr. 1:23).
the descendants of Rechab through Jonadab or Jehonadab. They
belonged to the Kenites, who accompanied the children of Israel
into Israel, and dwelt among them. Moses married a Kenite
wife (Judg. 1:16), and Jael was the wife of "Heber the Kenite"
(4:17). Saul also showed kindness to the Kenites (1 Sam. 15:6).
The main body of the Kenites dwelt in cities, and adopted
settled habits of life (30:29); but Jehonadab forbade his
descendants to drink wine or to live in cities. They were
commanded to lead always a nomad life. They adhered to the law
laid down by Jonadab, and were noted for their fidelity to the
old-established custom of their family in the days of Jeremiah
(35); and this feature of their character is referred to by the
prophet for the purpose of giving point to his own exhortation.
They are referred to in Neh. 3:14 and 1 Chr. 2:55. Dr. Wolff
(1839) found in Arabia, near Mecca, a tribe claiming to be
descendants of Jehonadab; and recently a Bedouin tribe has been
found near the Dead Sea who also profess to be descendants of
the same Kenite chief.
activity, the most ancient of Oriental cities; the capital of
Syria (Isa. 7:8; 17:3); situated about 133 miles to the north of
Jerusalem. Its modern name is Esh-Sham; i.e., "the East."
The situation of this city is said to be the most beautiful of
all Western Asia. It is mentioned among the conquests of the
Egyptian king Thothmes III. (B.C. 1500), and in the Amarna
tablets (B.C. 1400).
It is first mentioned in Scripture in connection with
Abraham's victory over the confederate kings under Chedorlaomer
(Gen. 14:15). It was the native place of Abraham's steward
(15:2). It is not again noticed till the time of David, when
"the Syrians of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer" (q.v.), 2
Sam. 8:5; 1 Chr. 18:5. In the reign of Solomon, Rezon became
leader of a band who revolted from Hadadezer (1 Kings 11:23),
and betaking themselves to Damascus, settled there and made
their leader king. There was a long war, with varying success,
between the Israelites and Syrians, who at a later period became
allies of Israel against Judah (2 Kings 15:37).
The Syrians were at length subdued by the Assyrians, the city
of Damascus was taken and destroyed, and the inhabitants carried
captive into Assyria (2 Kings 16:7-9; compare Isa. 7:8). In this,
prophecy was fulfilled (Isa. 17:1; Amos 1:4; Jer. 49:24). The
kingdom of Syria remained a province of Assyria till the capture
of Nineveh by the Medes (B.C. 625), when it fell under the
conquerors. After passing through various vicissitudes, Syria
was invaded by the Romans (B.C. 64), and Damascus became the
seat of the government of the province. In A.D. 37 Aretas, the
king of Arabia, became master of Damascus, having driven back
This city is memorable as the scene of Saul's conversion (Acts
9:1-25). The street called "Straight," in which Judas lived, in
whose house Saul was found by Ananias, is known by the name
Sultany, or "Queen's Street." It is the principal street of the
city. Paul visited Damascus again on his return from Arabia
(Gal. 1:16, 17). Christianity was planted here as a centre (Acts
9:20), from which it spread to the surrounding regions.
In A.D. 634 Damascus was conquered by the growing Mohammedan
power. In A.D. 1516 it fell under the dominion of the Turks, its
present rulers. It is now the largest city in Asiatic Turkey.
Christianity has again found a firm footing within its walls.
(Heb. shaphan; i.e., "the hider"), an animal which inhabits the
mountain gorges and the rocky districts of Arabia Petraea and
the Holy Land. "The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they
their houses in the rocks" (Prov. 30:26; Ps. 104:18). They are
gregarious, and "exceeding wise" (Prov. 30:24), and are
described as chewing the cud (Lev. 11:5; Deut. 14:7).
The animal intended by this name is known among naturalists as
the Hyrax Syriacus. It is neither a ruminant nor a rodent, but
is regarded as akin to the rhinoceros. When it is said to "chew
the cud," the Hebrew word so used does not necessarily imply the
possession of a ruminant stomach. "The lawgiver speaks according
to appearances; and no one can watch the constant motion of the
little creature's jaws, as it sits continually working its
teeth, without recognizing the naturalness of the expression"
(Tristram, Natural History of the Bible). It is about the size
and color of a rabbit, though clumsier in structure, and without
a tail. Its feet are not formed for digging, and therefore it
has its home not in burrows but in the clefts of the rocks.
"Coney" is an obsolete English word for "rabbit."
black. (1.) A son, probably the eldest, of Ham, and the father
of Nimrod (Gen. 10:8; 1 Chr. 1:10). From him the land of Cush
seems to have derived its name. The question of the precise
locality of the land of Cush has given rise to not a little
controversy. The second river of Paradise surrounded the whole
land of Cush (Gen. 2:13, R.V.). The term Cush is in the Old
Testament generally applied to the countries south of the
Israelites. It was the southern limit of Egypt (Ezek. 29:10,
A.V. "Ethiopia," Heb. Cush), with which it is generally
associated (Ps. 68:31; Isa. 18:1; Jer. 46:9, etc.). It stands
also associated with Elam (Isa. 11:11), with Persia (Ezek.
38:5), and with the Sabeans (Isa. 45:14). From these facts it
has been inferred that Cush included Arabia and the country on
the west coast of the Red Sea. Rawlinson takes it to be the
country still known as Khuzi-stan, on the east side of the Lower
Tigris. But there are intimations which warrant the conclusion
that there was also a Cush in Africa, the Ethiopia (so called by
the Greeks) of Africa. Ezekiel speaks (29:10; compare 30:4-6) of
it as lying south of Egypt. It was the country now known to us
as Nubia and Abyssinia (Isa. 18:1; Zeph. 3:10, Heb. Cush). In
ancient Egyptian inscriptions Ethiopia is termed "Kesh". The
Cushites appear to have spread along extensive tracts,
stretching from the Upper Nile to the Euphrates and Tigris. At
an early period there was a stream of migration of Cushites
"from Ethiopia, properly so called, through Arabia, Babylonia,
and Persia, to Western India." The Hamite races, soon after
their arrival in Africa, began to spread north, east, and west.
Three branches of the Cushite or Ethiopian stock, moving from
Western Asia, settled in the regions contiguous to the Persian
Gulf. One branch, called the Cossaeans, settled in the
mountainous district on the east of the Tigris, known afterwards
as Susiana; another occupied the lower regions of the Euphrates
and the Tigris; while a third colonized the southern shores and
islands of the gulf, whence they afterwards emigrated to the
Mediterranean and settled on the coast of Israel as the
Phoenicians. Nimrod was a great Cushite chief. He conquered the
Accadians, a Tauranian race, already settled in Mesopotamia, and
founded his kingdom, the Cushites mingling with the Accads, and
so forming the Chaldean nation.
(2.) A Benjamite of this name is mentioned in the title of Ps.
7. "Cush was probably a follower of Saul, the head of his tribe,
and had sought the friendship of David for the purpose of
'rewarding evil to him that was at peace with him.'"
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.) Jonah's gourd (Jonah 4:6-10), bearing the Hebrew name
"kikayon" (found only here), was probably the kiki of the
Egyptians, the croton. This is the castor-oil plant, a species
of ricinus, the palma Christi, so called from the palmate
division of its leaves. Others with more probability regard it
as the cucurbita the el-keroa of the Arabs, a kind of pumpkin
peculiar to the East. "It is grown in great abundance on the
alluvial banks of the Tigris and on the plain between the river
and the ruins of Nineveh." At the present day it is trained to
run over structures of mud and brush to form boots to protect
the gardeners from the heat of the noon-day sun. It grows with
extraordinary rapidity, and when cut or injured withers away
also with great rapidity.
(2.) Wild gourds (2 Kings 4:38-40), Heb. pakkuoth, belong to
the family of the cucumber-like plants, some of which are
poisonous. The species here referred to is probably the
colocynth (Cucumis colocynthus). The LXX. render the word by
"wild pumpkin." It abounds in the desert parts of Syria, Egypt,
and Arabia. There is, however, another species, called the
Cucumis prophetarum, from the idea that it afforded the gourd
which "the sons of the prophets" shred by mistake into their
an Arabian tribe descended from Midian. They inhabited
principally the desert north of the peninsula of Arabia. The
peninsula of Sinai was the pasture-ground for their flocks. They
were virtually the rulers of Arabia, being the dominant tribe.
Like all Arabians, they were a nomad people. They early engaged
in commercial pursuits. It was to one of their caravans that
Joseph was sold (Gen. 37:28, 36). The next notice of them is in
connection with Moses' flight from Egypt (Ex. 2:15-21). Here in
Midian Moses became the servant and afterwards the son-in-law of
Reuel or Jethro, the priest. After the Exodus, the Midianites
were friendly to the Israelites so long as they traversed only
their outlying pasture-ground on the west of the Arabah; but
when, having passed the southern end of Edom, they entered into
the land of Midian proper, they joined with Balak, the king of
Moab, in a conspiracy against them (Num. 22:4-7). Balaam, who
had been sent for to curse Israel, having utterly failed to do
so, was dismissed by the king of Moab; nevertheless he still
tarried among the Midianites, and induced them to enter into
correspondence with the Israelites, so as to bring them into
association with them in the licentious orgies connected with
the worship of Baal-Peor. This crafty counsel prevailed. The
Israelites took part in the heathen festival, and so brought
upon themselves a curse indeed. Their apostasy brought upon them
a severe punishment. A plague broke out amongst them, and more
than twenty-four thousand of the people perished (Num. 25:9).
But the Midianites were not to be left unpunished. A terrible
vengeance was denounced against them. A thousand warriors from
each tribe, under the leadership of Phinehas, went forth against
them. The Midianites were utterly routed. Their cities were
consumed by fire, five of their kings were put to death, and the
whole nation was destroyed (Josh. 13:21, 22). Balaam also
perished by the sword, receiving the "wages of his
unrighteousness" (Num. 31:8; 2 Pet. 2:15). The whole of the
country on the east of Jordan, now conquered by the Israelites
(see SIHON T0003427; OG T0002771), was divided between the two
tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh.
Some two hundred and fifty years after this the Midianites had
regained their ancient power, and in confederation with the
Amalekites and the "children of the east" they made war against
their old enemies the Israelites, whom for seven years they
oppressed and held in subjection. They were at length assailed
by Gideon in that ever-memorable battle in the great plain of
Esdraelon, and utterly destroyed (Judg. 6:1-ch. 7). Frequent
allusions are afterwards made to this great victory (Ps. 83:10,
12; Isa. 9:4; 10:6). They now wholly pass away from the page of
history both sacred and profane.
(Acts 21:2) = Phenice (11:19; 15:3; R.V., Phoenicia), Gr.
phoinix, "a palm", the land of palm-trees; a strip of land of an
average breadth of about 20 miles along the shores of the
Mediterranean, from the river Eleutherus in the north to the
promotory of Carmel in the south, about 120 miles in length.
This name is not found in the Old Testament, and in the New
Testament it is mentioned only in the passages above referred
"In the Egyptian inscriptions Phoenicia is called Keft, the
inhabitants being Kefa; and since Keft-ur, or 'Greater
Phoenicia,' was the name given to the delta of the Nile from the
Phoenician colonies settled upon it, the Philistines who came
from Caphtor or Keft-ur must have been of Phoenician origin"
(compare Deut. 2:23; Jer. 47:4; Amos 9:7)., Sayce's Bible and the
Phoenicia lay in the very centre of the old world, and was the
natural entrepot for commerce with foreign nations. It was the
"England of antiquity." "The trade routes from all Asia
converged on the Phoenician coast; the centres of commerce on
the Euphrates and Tigris forwarding their goods by way of Tyre
to the Nile, to Arabia, and to the west; and, on the other hand,
the productions of the vast regions bordering the Mediterranean
passing through the Canaanite capital to the eastern world." It
was "situate at the entry of the sea, a merchant of the people
for many isles" (Ezek. 27:3, 4). The far-reaching commercial
activity of the Phoenicians, especially with Tarshish and the
western world, enriched them with vast wealth, which introduced
boundless luxury and developed among them a great activity in
all manner of arts and manufactures. (See TYRE T0003737.)
The Phoenicians were the most enterprising merchants of the
old world, establishing colonies at various places, of which
Carthage was the chief. They were a Canaanite branch of the race
of Ham, and are frequently called Sidonians, from their
principal city of Sidon. None could "skill to hew timber like
unto the Sidonians" (1 Kings 5:6). King Hiram rendered important
service to Solomon in connection with the planning and building
of the temple, casting for him all the vessels for the temple
service, and the two pillars which stood in the front of the
porch, and "the molten sea" (1 Kings 7:21-23). Singular marks
have been found by recent exploration on the great stones that
form the substructure of the temple. These marks, both painted
and engraved, have been regarded as made by the workmen in the
quarries, and as probably intended to indicate the place of
these stones in the building. "The Biblical account (1 Kings
5:17, 18) is accurately descriptive of the massive masonry now
existing at the south-eastern angle (of the temple area), and
standing on the native rock 80 feet below the present surface.
The Royal Engineers found, buried deeply among the rubbish of
many centuries, great stones, costly and hewed stones, forming
the foundation of the sanctuary wall; while Phoenician fragments
of pottery and Phoenician marks painted on the massive blocks
seem to proclaim that the stones were prepared in the quarry by
the cunning workmen of Hiram, the king of Tyre." (See TEMPLE
The Phoenicians have been usually regarded as the inventors of
alphabetic writing. The Egyptians expressed their thoughts by
certain symbols, called "hieroglyphics", i.e., sacred carvings,
so styled because used almost exclusively on sacred subjects.
The recent discovery, however, of inscriptions in Southern
Arabia (Yemen and Hadramaut), known as Hemyaritic, in connection
with various philogical considerations, has led some to the
conclusion that the Phoenician alphabet was derived from the
Mineans (admitting the antiquity of the kingdom of Ma'in, Judg.
10:12; 2 Chr. 26:7). Thus the Phoenician alphabet ceases to be
the mother alphabet. Sayce thinks "it is more than possible that
the Egyptians themselves were emigrants from Southern Arabia."
(See MOABITE STONE T0002586.)
"The Phoenicians were renowned in ancient times for the
manufacture of glass, and some of the specimens of this work
that have been preserved are still the wonder of mankind...In
the matter of shipping, whether ship-building be thought of or
traffic upon the sea, the Phoenicians surpassed all other
nations." "The name Phoenicia is of uncertain origin, though it
may be derived from Fenkhu, the name given in the Egyptian
inscriptions to the natives of Israel. Among the chief
Phoenician cities were Tyre and Sidon, Gebal north of Beirut,
Arvad or Arados and Zemar."
(1.) Heb. zahab, so called from its yellow colour (Ex. 25:11; 1
Chr. 28:18; 2 Chr. 3:5).
(2.) Heb. segor, from its compactness, or as being enclosed or
treasured up; thus precious or "fine gold" (1 Kings 6:20; 7:49).
(3.) Heb. paz, native or pure gold (Job 28:17; Ps. 19:10;
(4.) Heb. betzer, "ore of gold or silver" as dug out of the
mine (Job 36:19, where it means simply riches).
(5.) Heb. kethem, i.e., something concealed or separated (Job
28:16,19; Ps. 45:9; Prov. 25:12). Rendered "golden wedge" in
(6.) Heb. haruts, i.e., dug out; poetic for gold (Prov. 8:10;
16:16; Zech. 9:3).
Gold was known from the earliest times (Gen. 2:11). It was
principally used for ornaments (Gen. 24:22). It was very
abundant (1 Chr. 22:14; Nah. 2:9; Dan. 3:1). Many tons of it
were used in connection with the temple (2 Chr. 1:15). It was
found in Arabia, Sheba, and Ophir (1 Kings 9:28; 10:1; Job
28:16), but not in Israel.
In Dan. 2:38, the Babylonian Empire is spoken of as a "head of
gold" because of its great riches; and Babylon was called by
Isaiah (14:4) the "golden city" (R.V. marg., "exactress,"
adopting the reading "marhebah", instead of the usual word
middle district, Vulgate, Messa. (1.) A plain in that part of
the boundaries of Arabia inhabited by the descendants of Joktan
(2.) Heb. meysh'a, "deliverance," the eldest son of Caleb (1
Chr. 2:42), and brother of Jerahmeel.
(3.) Heb. id, a king of Moab, the son of Chemosh-Gad, a man of
great wealth in flocks and herds (2 Kings 3:4). After the death
of Ahab at Ramoth-Gilead, Mesha shook off the yoke of Israel;
but on the ascension of Jehoram to the throne of Israel, that
king sought the help of Jehoshaphat in an attempt to reduce the
Moabites again to their former condition. The united armies of
the two kings came unexpectedly on the army of the Moabites, and
gained over them an easy victory. The whole land was devastated
by the conquering armies, and Mesha sought refuge in his last
stronghold, Kir-harasheth (q.v.). Reduced to despair, he
ascended the wall of the city, and there, in the sight of the
allied armies, offered his first-born son a sacrifice to
Chemosh, the fire-god of the Moabites. This fearful spectacle
filled the beholders with horror, and they retired from before
the besieged city, and recrossed the Jordan laden with spoil (2
The exploits of Mesha are recorded in the Phoenician
inscription on a block of black basalt found at Dibon, in Moab,
usually called the "Moabite stone" (q.v.).
(Heb. nahash; Gr. ophis), frequently noticed in Scripture. More
than forty species are found in Syria and Arabia. The poisonous
character of the serpent is alluded to in Jacob's blessing on
Dan (Gen. 49:17; see Prov. 30:18, 19; James 3:7; Jer. 8:17).
(See ADDER T0000085.)
This word is used symbolically of a deadly, subtle, malicious
enemy (Luke 10:19).
The serpent is first mentioned in connection with the history
of the temptation and fall of our first parents (Gen. 3). It has
been well remarked regarding this temptation: "A real serpent
was the agent of the temptation, as is plain from what is said
of the natural characteristic of the serpent in the first verse
of the chapter (3:1), and from the curse pronounced upon the
animal itself. But that Satan was the actual tempter, and that
he used the serpent merely as his instrument, is evident (1)
from the nature of the transaction; for although the serpent may
be the most subtle of all the beasts of the field, yet he has
not the high intellectual faculties which the tempter here
displayed. (2.) In the New Testament it is both directly
asserted and in various forms assumed that Satan seduced our
first parents into sin (John 8:44; Rom. 16:20; 2 Cor. 11:3, 14;
Rev. 12:9; 20:2)." Hodge's System. Theol., ii. 127.
(1.) Heb. midbar, "pasture-ground;" an open tract for pasturage;
a common (Joel 2:22). The "backside of the desert" (Ex. 3:1) is
the west of the desert, the region behind a man, as the east is
the region in front. The same Hebrew word is rendered
"wildernes," and is used of the country lying between Egypt and
Israel (Gen. 21:14, 21; Ex. 4:27; 19:2; Josh. 1:4), the
wilderness of the wanderings. It was a grazing tract, where the
flocks and herds of the Israelites found pasturage during the
whole of their journey to the Promised Land.
The same Hebrew word is used also to denote the wilderness of
Arabia, which in winter and early spring supplies good pasturage
to the flocks of the nomad tribes than roam over it (1 Kings
The wilderness of Judah is the mountainous region along the
western shore of the Dead Sea, where David fed his father's
flocks (1 Sam. 17:28; 26:2). Thus in both of these instances the
word denotes a country without settled inhabitants and without
streams of water, but having good pasturage for cattle; a
country of wandering tribes, as distinguished from that of a
settled people (Isa. 35:1; 50:2; Jer. 4:11). Such, also, is the
meaning of the word "wilderness" in Matt. 3:3; 15:33; Luke 15:4.
(2.) The translation of the Hebrew "Aribah'", "an arid tract"
(Isa. 35:1, 6; 40:3; 41:19; 51:3, etc.). The name Arabah is
specially applied to the deep valley of the Jordan (the Ghor of
the Arabs), which extends from the lake of Tiberias to the
Elanitic gulf. While "midbar" denotes properly a pastoral
region, "arabah" denotes a wilderness. It is also translated
"plains;" as "the plains of Jericho" (Josh. 5:10; 2 Kings 25:5),
"the plains of Moab" (Num. 22:1; Deut. 34:1, 8), "the plains of
the wilderness" (2 Sam. 17:16).
(3.) In the Revised Version of Num. 21:20 the Hebrew word
"jeshimon" is properly rendered "desert," meaning the waste
tracts on both shores of the Dead Sea. This word is also
rendered "desert" in Ps. 78:40; 106:14; Isa. 43:19, 20. It
denotes a greater extent of uncultivated country than the other
words so rendered. It is especially applied to the desert of the
peninsula of Arabia (Num. 21:20; 23:28), the most terrible of
all the deserts with which the Israelites were acquainted. It is
called "the desert" in Ex. 23:31; Deut. 11:24. (See JESHIMON
(4.) A dry place; hence a desolation (Ps. 9:6), desolate (Lev.
26:34); the rendering of the Hebrew word "horbah'". It is
rendered "desert" only in Ps. 102:6, Isa. 48:21, and Ezek. 13:4,
where it means the wilderness of Sinai.
(5.) This word is the symbol of the Jewish church when they
had forsaken God (Isa. 40:3). Nations destitute of the knowledge
of God are called a "wilderness" (32:15, "midbar"). It is a
symbol of temptation, solitude, and persecution (Isa. 27:10,
"midbar"; 33:9, "arabah").
delight. (1.) The garden in which our first parents dewlt (Gen.
2:8-17). No geographical question has been so much discussed as
that bearing on its site. It has been placed in Armenia, in the
region west of the Caspian Sea, in Media, near Damascus, in
Israel, in Southern Arabia, and in Babylonia. The site must
undoubtedly be sought for somewhere along the course of the
great streams the Tigris and the Euphrates of Western Asia, in
"the land of Shinar" or Babylonia. The region from about lat. 33
degrees 30' to lat. 31 degrees, which is a very rich and fertile
tract, has been by the most competent authorities agreed on as
the probable site of Eden. "It is a region where streams abound,
where they divide and re-unite, where alone in the Mesopotamian
tract can be found the phenomenon of a single river parting into
four arms, each of which is or has been a river of consequence."
Among almost all nations there are traditions of the primitive
innocence of our race in the garden of Eden. This was the
"golden age" to which the Greeks looked back. Men then lived a
"life free from care, and without labour and sorrow. Old age was
unknown; the body never lost its vigour; existence was a
perpetual feast without a taint of evil. The earth brought forth
spontaneously all things that were good in profuse abundance."
(2.) One of the markets whence the merchants of Tyre obtained
richly embroidered stuffs (Ezek. 27:23); the same, probably, as
that mentioned in 2 Kings 19:12, and Isa. 37:12, as the name of
a region conquered by the Assyrians.
(3.) Son of Joah, and one of the Levites who assisted in
reforming the public worship of the sanctuary in the time of
Hezekiah (2 Chr. 29:12).
enclosed; fortified. (1.) A stronghold of the Canaanites in the
mountains north of Lake Merom (Josh. 11:1-5). Jabin the king
with his allied tribes here encountered Joshua in a great
battle. Joshua gained a signal victory, which virtually
completed his conquest of Canaan (11:10-13). This city was,
however, afterwards rebuilt by the Canaanites, and was ruled by
a king with the same hereditary name of Jabin. His army, under a
noted leader of the name of Sisera, swept down upon the south,
aiming at the complete subjugation of the country. This powerful
army was met by the Israelites under Barak, who went forth by
the advice of the prophetess Deborah. The result was one of the
most remarkable victories for Israel recorded in the Old
Testament (Josh. 19:36; Judg. 4:2; 1 Sam. 12:9). The city of
Hazor was taken and occupied by the Israelites. It was fortified
by Solomon to defend the entrance into the kingdom from Syria
and Assyria. When Tiglath-pileser, the Assyrian king, invaded
the land, this was one of the first cities he captured, carrying
its inhabitants captive into Assyria (2 Kings 15:29). It has
been identified with Khurbet Harrah, 2 1/2 miles south-east of
(2.) A city in the south of Judah (Josh. 15:23). The name here
should probably be connected with the word following, Ithnan,
HAZOR-ITHNAN instead of "Hazor and Ithnan."
(3.) A district in Arabia (Jer. 49:28-33), supposed by some to
be Jetor, i.e., Ituraea.
(4.) "Kerioth and Hezron" (Josh. 15: 25) should be
"Kerioth-hezron" (as in the R.V.), the two names being joined
together as the name of one place (e.g., like Kirjath-jearim),
"the same is Hazor" (R.V.). This place has been identified with
el-Kuryetein, and has been supposed to be the home of Judas
Iscariot. (See KERIOTH T0002177.)
The sea so called extends along the west coast of Arabia for
about 1,400 miles, and separates Asia from Africa. It is
connected with the Indian Ocean, of which it is an arm, by the
Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb. At a point (Ras Mohammed) about 200
miles from its nothern extremity it is divided into two arms,
that on the east called the AElanitic Gulf, now the Bahr
el-'Akabah, about 100 miles long by 15 broad, and that on the
west the Gulf of Suez, about 150 miles long by about 20 broad.
This branch is now connected with the Mediterranean by the Suez
Canal. Between these two arms lies the Sinaitic Peninsula.
The Hebrew name generally given to this sea is "Yam Suph".
This word "suph" means a woolly kind of sea-weed, which the sea
casts up in great abundance on its shores. In these passages,
Ex. 10:19; 13:18; 15:4, 22; 23:31; Num. 14:25, etc., the Hebrew
name is always translated "Red Sea," which was the name given to
it by the Greeks. The origin of this name (Red Sea) is
uncertain. Some think it is derived from the red colour of the
mountains on the western shore; others from the red coral found
in the sea, or the red appearance sometimes given to the water
by certain zoophytes floating in it. In the New Testament (Acts
7:36; Heb. 11:29) this name is given to the Gulf of Suez.
This sea was also called by the Hebrews Yam-mitstraim, i.e.,
"the Egyptian sea" (Isa. 11:15), and simply Ha-yam, "the sea"
(Ex. 14:2, 9, 16, 21, 28; Josh. 24:6, 7; Isa. 10:26, etc.).
The great historical event connected with the Red Sea is the
passage of the children of Israel, and the overthrow of the
Egyptians, to which there is frequent reference in Scripture
(Ex. 14, 15; Num. 33:8; Deut. 11:4; Josh. 2:10; Judg. 11:16; 2
Sam. 22:16; Neh. 9:9-11; Ps. 66:6; Isa. 10:26; Acts 7:36, etc.).
God hears. (1.) Abraham's eldest son, by Hagar the concubine
(Gen. 16:15; 17:23). He was born at Mamre, when Abraham was
eighty-six years of age, eleven years after his arrival in
Canaan (16:3; 21:5). At the age of thirteen he was circumcised
(17:25). He grew up a true child of the desert, wild and
wayward. On the occasion of the weaning of Isaac his rude and
wayward spirit broke out in expressions of insult and mockery
(21:9, 10); and Sarah, discovering this, said to Abraham, "Expel
this slave and her son." Influenced by a divine admonition,
Abraham dismissed Hagar and her son with no more than a skin of
water and some bread. The narrative describing this act is one
of the most beautiful and touching incidents of patriarchal life
(Gen. 21:14-16). (See HAGAR T0001583.)
Ishmael settled in the land of Paran, a region lying between
Canaan and the mountains of Sinai; and "God was with him, and he
became a great archer" (Gen. 21:9-21). He became a great desert
chief, but of his history little is recorded. He was about
ninety years of age when his father Abraham died, in connection
with whose burial he once more for a moment reappears. On this
occasion the two brothers met after being long separated. "Isaac
with his hundreds of household slaves, Ishmael with his troops
of wild retainers and half-savage allies, in all the state of a
Bedouin prince, gathered before the cave of Machpelah, in the
midst of the men of Heth, to pay the last duties to the 'father
of the faithful,' would make a notable subject for an artist"
(Gen. 25:9). Of the after events of his life but little is
known. He died at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven years,
but where and when are unknown (25:17). He had twelve sons, who
became the founders of so many Arab tribes or colonies, the
Ishmaelites, who spread over the wide desert spaces of Northern
Arabia from the Red Sea to the Euphrates (Gen. 37:25, 27, 28;
39:1), "their hand against every man, and every man's hand
(2.) The son of Nethaniah, "of the seed royal" (Jer. 40:8,
15). He plotted against Gedaliah, and treacherously put him and
others to death. He carried off many captives, "and departed to
go over to the Ammonites."
of false prophets (Deut. 18:10, 14; Micah 3:6, 7, 11), of
necromancers (1 Sam. 28:8), of the Philistine priests and
diviners (1 Sam. 6:2), of Balaam (Josh. 13:22). Three kinds of
divination are mentioned in Ezek. 21:21, by arrows, consulting
with images (the teraphim), and by examining the entrails of
animals sacrificed. The practice of this art seems to have been
encouraged in ancient Egypt. Diviners also abounded among the
aborigines of Canaan and the Philistines (Isa. 2:6; 1 Sam. 28).
At a later period multitudes of magicians poured from Chaldea
and Arabia into the land of Israel, and pursued their
occupations (Isa. 8:19; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chr. 33:6). This
superstition widely spread, and in the time of the apostles
there were "vagabond Jews, exorcists" (Acts 19:13), and men like
Simon Magus (Acts 8:9), Bar-jesus (13:6, 8), and other jugglers
and impostors (19:19; 2 Tim. 3:13). Every species and degree of
this superstition was strictly forbidden by the law of Moses
(Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:27; Deut. 18:10, 11).
But beyond these various forms of superstition, there are
instances of divination on record in the Scriptures by which God
was pleased to make known his will.
(1.) There was divination by lot, by which, when resorted to
in matters of moment, and with solemnity, God intimated his will
(Josh. 7:13). The land of Canaan was divided by lot (Num. 26:55,
56); Achan's guilt was detected (Josh. 7:16-19), Saul was
elected king (1 Sam. 10:20, 21), and Matthias chosen to the
apostleship, by the solem lot (Acts 1:26). It was thus also that
the scape-goat was determined (Lev. 16:8-10).
(2.) There was divination by dreams (Gen. 20:6; Deut. 13:1, 3;
Judg. 7:13, 15; Matt. 1:20; 2:12, 13, 19, 22). This is
illustrated in the history of Joseph (Gen. 41:25-32) and of
Daniel (2:27; 4:19-28).
(3.) By divine appointment there was also divination by the
Urim and Thummim (Num. 27:21), and by the ephod.
(4.) God was pleased sometimes to vouch-safe direct vocal
communications to men (Deut. 34:10; Ex. 3:4; 4:3; Deut. 4:14,
15; 1 Kings 19:12). He also communed with men from above the
mercy-seat (Ex. 25:22), and at the door of the tabernacle (Ex.
(5.) Through his prophets God revealed himself, and gave
intimations of his will (2 Kings 13:17; Jer. 51:63, 64).
the language of the Hebrew nation, and that in which the Old
Testament is written, with the exception of a few portions in
Chaldee. In the Old Testament it is only spoken of as "Jewish"
(2 Kings 18:26, 28; Isa. 36:11, 13; 2 Chr 32:18). This name is
first used by the Jews in times subsequent to the close of the
It is one of the class of languages called Semitic, because
they were chiefly spoken among the descendants of Shem.
When Abraham entered Canaan it is obvious that he found the
language of its inhabitants closely allied to his own. Isaiah
(19:18) calls it "the language of Canaan." Whether this
language, as seen in the earliest books of the Old Testament,
was the very dialect which Abraham brought with him into Canaan,
or whether it was the common tongue of the Canaanite nations
which he only adopted, is uncertain; probably the latter opinion
is the correct one. For the thousand years between Moses and the
Babylonian exile the Hebrew language underwent little or no
modification. It preserves all through a remarkable uniformity
of structure. From the first it appears in its full maturity of
development. But through intercourse with Damascus, Assyria, and
Babylon, from the time of David, and more particularly from the
period of the Exile, it comes under the influence of the Aramaic
idiom, and this is seen in the writings which date from this
period. It was never spoken in its purity by the Jews after
their return from Babylon. They now spoke Hebrew with a large
admixture of Aramaic or Chaldee, which latterly became the
predominant element in the national language.
The Hebrew of the Old Testament has only about six thousand
words, all derived from about five hundred roots. Hence the same
word has sometimes a great variety of meanings. So long as it
was a living language, and for ages after, only the consonants
of the words were written. This also has been a source of
difficulty in interpreting certain words, for the meaning varies
according to the vowels which may be supplied. The Hebrew is one
of the oldest languages of which we have any knowledge. It is
essentially identical with the Phoenician language. (See MOABITE
STONE T0002586.) The Semitic languages, to which class the
Hebrew and Phoenician belonged, were spoken over a very wide
area: in Babylonia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Israel and Arabia, in
all the countries from the Mediterranean to the borders of
Assyria, and from the mountains of Armenia to the Indian Ocean.
The rounded form of the letters, as seen in the Moabite stone,
was probably that in which the ancient Hebrew was written down
to the time of the Exile, when the present square or Chaldean
form was adopted.
a judge. (1.) The fifth son of Jacob. His mother was Bilhah,
Rachel's maid (Gen. 30:6, "God hath judged me", Heb. dananni).
The blessing pronounced on him by his father was, "Dan shall
judge his people" (49:16), probably in allusion to the judgeship
of Samson, who was of the tribe of Dan.
The tribe of Dan had their place in the march through the
wilderness on the north side of the tabernacle (Num. 2:25, 31;
10:25). It was the last of the tribes to receive a portion in
the Land of Promise. Its position and extent are described in
The territory of Dan extended from the west of that of Ephraim
and Benjamin to the sea. It was a small territory, but was very
fertile. It included in it, among others, the cities of Lydda,
Ekron, and Joppa, which formed its northern boundary. But this
district was too limited. "Squeezed into the narrow strip
between the mountains and the sea, its energies were great
beyond its numbers." Being pressed by the Amorites and the
Philistines, whom they were unable to conquer, they longed for a
wider space. They accordingly sent out five spies from two of
their towns, who went north to the sources of the Jordan, and
brought back a favourable report regarding that region. "Arise,"
they said, "be not slothful to go, and to possess the land," for
it is "a place where there is no want of any thing that is in
the earth" (Judg. 18:10). On receiving this report, 600 Danites
girded on their weapons of war, and taking with them their wives
and their children, marched to the foot of Hermon, and fought
against Leshem, and took it from the Sidonians, and dwelt
therein, and changed the name of the conquered town to Dan
(Josh. 19:47). This new city of Dan became to them a new home,
and was wont to be spoken of as the northern limit of Israel,
the length of which came to be denoted by the expression "from
Dan to Beersheba", i.e., about 144 miles.
"But like Lot under a similar temptation, they seem to have
succumbed to the evil influences around them, and to have sunk
down into a condition of semi-heathenism from which they never
emerged. The mounds of ruins which mark the site of the city
show that it covered a considerable extent of ground. But there
remains no record of any noble deed wrought by the degenerate
tribe. Their name disappears from the roll-book of the natural
and the spiritual Israel.", Manning's Those Holy Fields.
This old border city was originally called Laish. Its modern
name is Tell el-Kady, "Hill of the Judge." It stands about four
miles below Caesarea Philippi, in the midst of a region of
surpassing richness and beauty.
(2.) This name occurs in Ezek 27:19, Authorize Version; but
the words there, "Dan also," should be simply, as in the Revised
Version, "Vedan," an Arabian city, from which various kinds of
merchandise were brought to Tyre. Some suppose it to have been
the city of Aden in Arabia. (See MAHANEH-DAN T0002375.)
The art of writing must have been known in the time of the early
Pharaohs. Moses is commanded "to write for a memorial in a book"
(Ex. 17:14) a record of the attack of Amalek. Frequent mention
is afterwards made of writing (28:11, 21, 29, 36; 31:18; 32:15,
16; 34:1, 28; 39:6, 14, 30). The origin of this art is unknown,
but there is reason to conclude that in the age of Moses it was
well known. The inspired books of Moses are the most ancient
extant writings, although there are written monuments as old as
about B.C. 2000. The words expressive of "writing," "book," and
"ink," are common to all the branches or dialects of the Semitic
language, and hence it has been concluded that this art must
have been known to the earliest Semites before they separated
into their various tribes, and nations, and families.
"The Old Testament and the discoveries of Oriental archaeology
alike tell us that the age of the Exodus was throughout the
world of Western Asia an age of literature and books, of readers
and writers, and that the cities of Israel were stored with
the contemporaneous records of past events inscribed on
imperishable clay. They further tell us that the kinsfolk and
neighbours of the Israelites were already acquainted with
alphabetic writing, that the wanderers in the desert and the
tribes of Edom were in contact with the cultured scribes and
traders of Ma'in [Southern Arabia], and that the 'house of
bondage' from which Israel had escaped was a land where the art
of writing was blazoned not only on the temples of the gods, but
also on the dwellings of the rich and powerful.", Sayce. (See
DEBIR T0000995; PHOENICIA T0002943.)
The "Book of the Dead" was a collection of prayers and
formulae, by the use of which the souls of the dead were
supposed to attain to rest and peace in the next world. It was
composed at various periods from the earliest time to the
Persian conquest. It affords an interesting glimpse into the
religious life and system of belief among the ancient Egyptians.
We learn from it that they believed in the existence of one
Supreme Being, the immortality of the soul, judgement after
death, and the resurrection of the body. It shows, too, a high
state of literary activity in Egypt in the time of Moses. It
refers to extensive libraries then existing. That of Ramessium,
in Thebes, e.g., built by Rameses II., contained 20,000 books.
When the Hebrews entered Canaan it is evident that the art of
writing was known to the original inhabitants, as appears, e.g.,
from the name of the city Debir having been at first
Kirjath-sepher, i.e., the "city of the book," or the "book town"
(Josh. 10:38; 15:15; Judg. 1:11).
The first mention of letter-writing is in the time of David (2
Sam. 11:14, 15). Letters are afterwards frequently spoken of (1
Kings 21:8, 9, 11; 2 Kings 10:1, 3, 6, 7; 19:14; 2 Chr.
21:12-15; 30:1, 6-9, etc.).
Job, Book of
A great diversity of opinion exists as to the authorship of this
book. From internal evidence, such as the similarity of
sentiment and language to those in the Psalms and Proverbs (see
Ps. 88 and 89), the prevalence of the idea of "wisdom," and the
style and character of the composition, it is supposed by some
to have been written in the time of David and Solomon. Others
argue that it was written by Job himself, or by Elihu, or
Isaiah, or perhaps more probably by Moses, who was "learned in
all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and mighty in words and deeds"
(Acts 7:22). He had opportunities in Midian for obtaining the
knowledge of the facts related. But the authorship is altogether
As to the character of the book, it is a historical poem, one
of the greatest and sublimest poems in all literature. Job was a
historical person, and the localities and names were real and
not fictious. It is "one of the grandest portions of the
inspired Scriptures, a heavenly-repleished storehouse of comfort
and instruction, the patriarchal Bible, and a precious monument
of primitive theology. It is to the Old Testament what the
Epistle to the Romans is to the New." It is a didactic narrative
in a dramatic form.
This book was apparently well known in the days of Ezekiel,
B.C. 600 (Ezek. 14:14). It formed a part of the sacred
Scriptures used by our Lord and his apostles, and is referred to
as a part of the inspired Word (Heb. 12:5; 1 Cor. 3:19).
The subject of the book is the trial of Job, its occasion,
nature, endurance, and issue. It exhibits the harmony of the
truths of revelation and the dealings of Providence, which are
seen to be at once inscrutable, just, and merciful. It shows the
blessedness of the truly pious, even amid sore afflictions, and
thus ministers comfort and hope to tried believers of every age.
It is a book of manifold instruction, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in
righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
It consists of,
(1.) An historical introduction in prose (ch. 1,2).
(2.) The controversy and its solution, in poetry (ch. 3-42:6).
Job's desponding lamentation (ch. 3) is the occasion of the
controversy which is carried on in three courses of dialogues
between Job and his three friends. The first course gives the
commencement of the controversy (ch. 4-14); the second the
growth of the controversy (15-21); and the third the height of
the controversy (22-27). This is followed by the solution of the
controversy in the speeches of Elihu and the address of Jehovah,
followed by Job's humble confession (42:1-6) of his own fault
(3.) The third division is the historical conclusion, in prose
Sir J. W. Dawson in "The Expositor" says: "It would now seem
that the language and theology of the book of Job can be better
explained by supposing it to be a portion of Minean [Southern
Arabia] literature obtained by Moses in Midian than in any other
way. This view also agrees better than any other with its
references to natural objects, the art of mining, and other
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.
=Saul (q.v.) was born about the same time as our Lord. His
circumcision-name was Saul, and probably the name Paul was also
given to him in infancy "for use in the Gentile world," as
"Saul" would be his Hebrew home-name. He was a native of Tarsus,
the capital of Cilicia, a Roman province in the south-east of
Asia Minor. That city stood on the banks of the river Cydnus,
which was navigable thus far; hence it became a centre of
extensive commercial traffic with many countries along the
shores of the Mediterranean, as well as with the countries of
central Asia Minor. It thus became a city distinguished for the
wealth of its inhabitants.
Tarsus was also the seat of a famous university, higher in
reputation even than the universities of Athens and Alexandria,
the only others that then existed. Here Saul was born, and here
he spent his youth, doubtless enjoying the best education his
native city could afford. His father was of the straitest sect
of the Jews, a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin, of pure and
unmixed Jewish blood (Acts 23:6; Phil. 3:5). We learn nothing
regarding his mother; but there is reason to conclude that she
was a pious woman, and that, like-minded with her husband, she
exercised all a mother influence in moulding the character of
her son, so that he could afterwards speak of himself as being,
from his youth up, "touching the righteousness which is in the
law, blameless" (Phil. 3:6).
We read of his sister and his sister's son (Acts 23:16), and
of other relatives (Rom. 16:7, 11, 12). Though a Jew, his father
was a Roman citizen. How he obtained this privilege we are not
informed. "It might be bought, or won by distinguished service
to the state, or acquired in several other ways; at all events,
his son was freeborn. It was a valuable privilege, and one that
was to prove of great use to Paul, although not in the way in
which his father might have been expected to desire him to make
use of it." Perhaps the most natural career for the youth to
follow was that of a merchant. "But it was decided that...he
should go to college and become a rabbi, that is, a minister, a
teacher, and a lawyer all in one."
According to Jewish custom, however, he learned a trade before
entering on the more direct preparation for the sacred
profession. The trade he acquired was the making of tents from
goats' hair cloth, a trade which was one of the commonest in
His preliminary education having been completed, Saul was
sent, when about thirteen years of age probably, to the great
Jewish school of sacred learning at Jerusalem as a student of
the law. Here he became a pupil of the celebrated rabbi
Gamaliel, and here he spent many years in an elaborate study of
the Scriptures and of the many questions concerning them with
which the rabbis exercised themselves. During these years of
diligent study he lived "in all good conscience," unstained by
the vices of that great city.
After the period of his student-life expired, he probably left
Jerusalem for Tarsus, where he may have been engaged in
connection with some synagogue for some years. But we find him
back again at Jerusalem very soon after the death of our Lord.
Here he now learned the particulars regarding the crucifixion,
and the rise of the new sect of the "Nazarenes."
For some two years after Pentecost, Christianity was quietly
spreading its influence in Jerusalem. At length Stephen, one of
the seven deacons, gave forth more public and aggressive
testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, and this led to much
excitement among the Jews and much disputation in their
synagogues. Persecution arose against Stephen and the followers
of Christ generally, in which Saul of Tarsus took a prominent
part. He was at this time probably a member of the great
Sanhedrin, and became the active leader in the furious
persecution by which the rulers then sought to exterminate
But the object of this persecution also failed. "They that
were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." The
anger of the persecutor was thereby kindled into a fiercer
flame. Hearing that fugitives had taken refuge in Damascus, he
obtained from the chief priest letters authorizing him to
proceed thither on his persecuting career. This was a long
journey of about 130 miles, which would occupy perhaps six days,
during which, with his few attendants, he steadily went onward,
"breathing out threatenings and slaughter." But the crisis of
his life was at hand. He had reached the last stage of his
journey, and was within sight of Damascus. As he and his
companions rode on, suddenly at mid-day a brilliant light shone
round them, and Saul was laid prostrate in terror on the ground,
a voice sounding in his ears, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou
me?" The risen Saviour was there, clothed in the vesture of his
glorified humanity. In answer to the anxious inquiry of the
stricken persecutor, "Who art thou, Lord?" he said, "I am Jesus
whom thou persecutest" (Acts 9:5; 22:8; 26:15).
This was the moment of his conversion, the most solemn in all
his life. Blinded by the dazzling light (Acts 9:8), his
companions led him into the city, where, absorbed in deep
thought for three days, he neither ate nor drank (9:11).
Ananias, a disciple living in Damascus, was informed by a vision
of the change that had happened to Saul, and was sent to him to
open his eyes and admit him by baptism into the Christian church
(9:11-16). The whole purpose of his life was now permanently
Immediately after his conversion he retired into the solitudes
of Arabia (Gal. 1:17), perhaps of "Sinai in Arabia," for the
purpose, probably, of devout study and meditation on the
marvellous revelation that had been made to him. "A veil of
thick darkness hangs over this visit to Arabia. Of the scenes
among which he moved, of the thoughts and occupations which
engaged him while there, of all the circumstances of a crisis
which must have shaped the whole tenor of his after-life,
absolutely nothing is known. 'Immediately,' says St. Paul, 'I
went away into Arabia.' The historian passes over the incident
[compare Acts 9:23 and 1 Kings 11:38, 39]. It is a mysterious
pause, a moment of suspense, in the apostle's history, a
breathless calm, which ushers in the tumultuous storm of his
active missionary life." Coming back, after three years, to
Damascus, he began to preach the gospel "boldly in the name of
Jesus" (Acts 9:27), but was soon obliged to flee (9:25; 2 Cor.
11:33) from the Jews and betake himself to Jerusalem. Here he
tarried for three weeks, but was again forced to flee (Acts
9:28, 29) from persecution. He now returned to his native Tarsus
(Gal. 1:21), where, for probably about three years, we lose
sight of him. The time had not yet come for his entering on his
great life-work of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles.
At length the city of Antioch, the capital of Syria, became
the scene of great Christian activity. There the gospel gained a
firm footing, and the cause of Christ prospered. Barnabas
(q.v.), who had been sent from Jerusalem to superintend the work
at Antioch, found it too much for him, and remembering Saul, he
set out to Tarsus to seek for him. He readily responded to the
call thus addressed to him, and came down to Antioch, which for
"a whole year" became the scene of his labors, which were
crowned with great success. The disciples now, for the first
time, were called "Christians" (Acts 11:26).
The church at Antioch now proposed to send out missionaries to
the Gentiles, and Saul and Barnabas, with John Mark as their
attendant, were chosen for this work. This was a great epoch in
the history of the church. Now the disciples began to give
effect to the Master's command: "Go ye into all the world, and
preach the gospel to every creature."
The three missionaries went forth on the first missionary
tour. They sailed from Seleucia, the seaport of Antioch, across
to Cyprus, some 80 miles to the south-west. Here at Paphos,
Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul, was converted, and now Saul
took the lead, and was ever afterwards called Paul. The
missionaries now crossed to the mainland, and then proceeded 6
or 7 miles up the river Cestrus to Perga (Acts 13:13), where
John Mark deserted the work and returned to Jerusalem. The two
then proceeded about 100 miles inland, passing through
Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia. The towns mentioned in this
tour are the Pisidian Antioch, where Paul delivered his first
address of which we have any record (13:16-51; compare 10:30-43),
Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. They returned by the same route to
see and encourage the converts they had made, and ordain elders
in every city to watch over the churches which had been
gathered. From Perga they sailed direct for Antioch, from which
they had set out.
After remaining "a long time", probably till A.D. 50 or 51, in
Antioch, a great controversy broke out in the church there
regarding the relation of the Gentiles to the Mosaic law. For
the purpose of obtaining a settlement of this question, Paul and
Barnabas were sent as deputies to consult the church at
Jerusalem. The council or synod which was there held (Acts 15)
decided against the Judaizing party; and the deputies,
accompanied by Judas and Silas, returned to Antioch, bringing
with them the decree of the council.
After a short rest at Antioch, Paul said to Barnabas: "Let us
go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have
preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do." Mark
proposed again to accompany them; but Paul refused to allow him
to go. Barnabas was resolved to take Mark, and thus he and Paul
had a sharp contention. They separated, and never again met.
Paul, however, afterwards speaks with honour of Barnabas, and
sends for Mark to come to him at Rome (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11).
Paul took with him Silas, instead of Barnabas, and began his
second missionary journey about A.D. 51. This time he went by
land, revisiting the churches he had already founded in Asia.
But he longed to enter into "regions beyond," and still went
forward through Phrygia and Galatia (16:6). Contrary to his
intention, he was constrained to linger in Galatia (q.v.), on
account of some bodily affliction (Gal. 4:13, 14). Bithynia, a
populous province on the shore of the Black Sea, lay now before
him, and he wished to enter it; but the way was shut, the Spirit
in some manner guiding him in another direction, till he came
down to the shores of the AEgean and arrived at Troas, on the
north-western coast of Asia Minor (Acts 16:8). Of this long
journey from Antioch to Troas we have no account except some
references to it in his Epistle to the Galatians (4:13).
As he waited at Troas for indications of the will of God as to
his future movements, he saw, in the vision of the night, a man
from the opposite shores of Macedonia standing before him, and
heard him cry, "Come over, and help us" (Acts 16:9). Paul
recognized in this vision a message from the Lord, and the very
next day set sail across the Hellespont, which separated him
from Europe, and carried the tidings of the gospel into the
Western world. In Macedonia, churches were planted in Philippi,
Thessalonica, and Berea. Leaving this province, Paul passed into
Achaia, "the paradise of genius and renown." He reached Athens,
but quitted it after, probably, a brief sojourn (17:17-31). The
Athenians had received him with cold disdain, and he never
visited that city again. He passed over to Corinth, the seat of
the Roman government of Achaia, and remained there a year and a
half, labouring with much success. While at Corinth, he wrote
his two epistles to the church of Thessalonica, his earliest
apostolic letters, and then sailed for Syria, that he might be
in time to keep the feast of Pentecost at Jerusalem. He was
accompanied by Aquila and Priscilla, whom he left at Ephesus, at
which he touched, after a voyage of thirteen or fifteen days. He
landed at Caesarea, and went up to Jerusalem, and having
"saluted the church" there, and kept the feast, he left for
Antioch, where he abode "some time" (Acts 18:20-23).
He then began his third missionary tour. He journeyed by land
in the "upper coasts" (the more eastern parts) of Asia Minor,
and at length made his way to Ephesus, where he tarried for no
less than three years, engaged in ceaseless Christian labour.
"This city was at the time the Liverpool of the Mediterranean.
It possessed a splendid harbour, in which was concentrated the
traffic of the sea which was then the highway of the nations;
and as Liverpool has behind her the great towns of Lancashire,
so had Ephesus behind and around her such cities as those
mentioned along with her in the epistles to the churches in the
book of Revelation, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis,
Philadelphia, and Laodicea. It was a city of vast wealth, and it
was given over to every kind of pleasure, the fame of its
theatres and race-course being world-wide" (Stalker's Life of
St. Paul). Here a "great door and effectual" was opened to the
apostle. His fellow-labourers aided him in his work, carrying
the gospel to Colosse and Laodicea and other places which they
Very shortly before his departure from Ephesus, the apostle
wrote his First Epistle to the Corinthians (q.v.). The
silversmiths, whose traffic in the little images which they made
was in danger (see DEMETRIUS T0001013), organized a riot
against Paul, and he left the city, and proceeded to Troas (2
Cor. 2:12), whence after some time he went to meet Titus in
Macedonia. Here, in consequence of the report Titus brought from
Corinth, he wrote his second epistle to that church. Having
spent probably most of the summer and autumn in Macedonia,
visiting the churches there, specially the churches of Philippi,
Thessalonica, and Berea, probably penetrating into the interior,
to the shores of the Adriatic (Rom. 15:19), he then came into
Greece, where he abode three month, spending probably the
greater part of this time in Corinth (Acts 20:2). During his
stay in this city he wrote his Epistle to the Galatians, and
also the great Epistle to the Romans. At the end of the three
months he left Achaia for Macedonia, thence crossed into Asia
Minor, and touching at Miletus, there addressed the Ephesian
presbyters, whom he had sent for to meet him (Acts 20:17), and
then sailed for Tyre, finally reaching Jerusalem, probably in
the spring of A.D. 58.
While at Jerusalem, at the feast of Pentecost, he was almost
murdered by a Jewish mob in the temple. (See TEMPLE, HEROD'S
T0003611.) Rescued from their violence by the Roman commandant,
he was conveyed as a prisoner to Caesarea, where, from various
causes, he was detained a prisoner for two years in Herod's
praetorium (Acts 23:35). "Paul was not kept in close
confinement; he had at least the range of the barracks in which
he was detained. There we can imagine him pacing the ramparts on
the edge of the Mediterranean, and gazing wistfully across the
blue waters in the direction of Macedonia, Achaia, and Ephesus,
where his spiritual children were pining for him, or perhaps
encountering dangers in which they sorely needed his presence.
It was a mysterious providence which thus arrested his energies
and condemned the ardent worker to inactivity; yet we can now
see the reason for it. Paul was needing rest. After twenty years
of incessant evangelization, he required leisure to garner the
harvest of experience...During these two years he wrote nothing;
it was a time of internal mental activity and silent progress"
(Stalker's Life of St. Paul).
At the end of these two years Felix (q.v.) was succeeded in
the governorship of Israel by Porcius Festus, before whom the
apostle was again heard. But judging it right at this crisis to
claim the privilege of a Roman citizen, he appealed to the
emperor (Acts 25:11). Such an appeal could not be disregarded,
and Paul was at once sent on to Rome under the charge of one
Julius, a centurion of the "Augustan cohort." After a long and
perilous voyage, he at length reached the imperial city in the
early spring, probably, of A.D. 61. Here he was permitted to
occupy his own hired house, under constant military custody.
This privilege was accorded to him, no doubt, because he was a
Roman citizen, and as such could not be put into prison without
a trial. The soldiers who kept guard over Paul were of course
changed at frequent intervals, and thus he had the opportunity
of preaching the gospel to many of them during these "two whole
years," and with the blessed result of spreading among the
imperial guards, and even in Caesar's household, an interest in
the truth (Phil. 1:13). His rooms were resorted to by many
anxious inquirers, both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 28:23, 30, 31),
and thus his imprisonment "turned rather to the furtherance of
the gospel," and his "hired house" became the centre of a
gracious influence which spread over the whole city. According
to a Jewish tradition, it was situated on the borders of the
modern Ghetto, which has been the Jewish quarters in Rome from
the time of Pompey to the present day. During this period the
apostle wrote his epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians,
Philippians, and to Philemon, and probably also to the Hebrews.
This first imprisonment came at length to a close, Paul having
been acquitted, probably because no witnesses appeared against
him. Once more he set out on his missionary labors, probably
visiting western and eastern Europe and Asia Minor. During this
period of freedom he wrote his First Epistle to Timothy and his
Epistle to Titus. The year of his release was signalized by the
burning of Rome, which Nero saw fit to attribute to the
Christians. A fierce persecution now broke out against the
Christians. Paul was siezed, and once more conveyed to Rome a
prisoner. During this imprisonment he probably wrote the Second
Epistle to Timothy, the last he ever wrote. "There can be little
doubt that he appered again at Nero's bar, and this time the
charge did not break down. In all history there is not a more
startling illustration of the irony of human life than this
scene of Paul at the bar of Nero. On the judgment-seat, clad in
the imperial purple, sat a man who, in a bad world, had attained
the eminence of being the very worst and meanest being in it, a
man stained with every crime, a man whose whole being was so
steeped in every nameable and unnameable vice, that body and
soul of him were, as some one said at the time, nothing but a
compound of mud and blood; and in the prisoner's dock stood the
best man the world possessed, his hair whitened with labors for
the good of men and the glory of God. The trial ended: Paul was
condemned, and delivered over to the executioner. He was led out
of the city, with a crowd of the lowest rabble at his heels. The
fatal spot was reached; he knelt beside the block; the
headsman's axe gleamed in the sun and fell; and the head of the
apostle of the world rolled down in the dust" (probably A.D.
66), four years before the fall of Jerusalem.
First mentioned in Gen. 10:11, which is rendered in the Revised
Version, "He [i.e., Nimrod] went forth into Assyria and builded
Nineveh." It is not again noticed till the days of Jonah, when
it is described (Jonah 3:3; 4:11) as a great and populous city,
the flourishing capital of the Assyrian empire (2 Kings 19:36;
Isa. 37:37). The book of the prophet Nahum is almost exclusively
taken up with prophetic denunciations against this city. Its
ruin and utter desolation are foretold (Nah.1:14; 3:19, etc.).
Zephaniah also (2:13-15) predicts its destruction along with the
fall of the empire of which it was the capital. From this time
there is no mention of it in Scripture till it is named in
gospel history (Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32).
This "exceeding great city" lay on the eastern or left bank of
the river Tigris, along which it stretched for some 30 miles,
having an average breadth of 10 miles or more from the river
back toward the eastern hills. This whole extensive space is now
one immense area of ruins. Occupying a central position on the
great highway between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean,
thus uniting the East and the West, wealth flowed into it from
many sources, so that it became the greatest of all ancient
About B.C. 633 the Assyrian empire began to show signs of
weakness, and Nineveh was attacked by the Medes, who
subsequently, about B.C. 625, being joined by the Babylonians
and Susianians, again attacked it, when it fell, and was razed
to the ground. The Assyrian empire then came to an end, the
Medes and Babylonians dividing its provinces between them.
"After having ruled for more than six hundred years with hideous
tyranny and violence, from the Caucasus and the Caspian to the
Persian Gulf, and from beyond the Tigris to Asia Minor and
Egypt, it vanished like a dream" (Nah. 2:6-11). Its end was
strange, sudden, tragic. It was God's doing, his judgement on
Assyria's pride (Isa. 10:5-19).
Forty years ago our knowledge of the great Assyrian empire and
of its magnificent capital was almost wholly a blank. Vague
memories had indeed survived of its power and greatness, but
very little was definitely known about it. Other cities which
had perished, as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, had left ruins
to mark their sites and tell of their former greatness; but of
this city, imperial Nineveh, not a single vestige seemed to
remain, and the very place on which it had stood was only matter
of conjecture. In fulfilment of prophecy, God made "an utter end
of the place." It became a "desolation."
In the days of the Greek historian Herodotus, B.C. 400, it had
become a thing of the past; and when Xenophon the historian
passed the place in the "Retreat of the Ten Thousand," the very
memory of its name had been lost. It was buried out of sight,
and no one knew its grave. It is never again to rise from its
At length, after being lost for more than two thousand years,
the city was disentombed. A little more than forty years ago the
French consul at Mosul began to search the vast mounds that lay
along the opposite bank of the river. The Arabs whom he employed
in these excavations, to their great surprise, came upon the
ruins of a building at the mound of Khorsabad, which, on further
exploration, turned out to be the royal palace of Sargon, one of
the Assyrian kings. They found their way into its extensive
courts and chambers, and brought forth form its hidded depths
many wonderful sculptures and other relics of those ancient
The work of exploration has been carried on almost
continuously by M. Botta, Sir Henry Layard, George Smith, and
others, in the mounds of Nebi-Yunus, Nimrud, Koyunjik, and
Khorsabad, and a vast treasury of specimens of old Assyrian art
has been exhumed. Palace after palace has been discovered, with
their decorations and their sculptured slabs, revealing the life
and manners of this ancient people, their arts of war and peace,
the forms of their religion, the style of their architecture,
and the magnificence of their monarchs. The streets of the city
have been explored, the inscriptions on the bricks and tablets
and sculptured figures have been read, and now the secrets of
their history have been brought to light.
One of the most remarkable of recent discoveries is that of
the library of King Assur-bani-pal, or, as the Greek historians
call him, Sardanapalos, the grandson of Sennacherib (q.v.). (See
ASNAPPER T0000347.) This library consists of about ten thousand
flat bricks or tablets, all written over with Assyrian
characters. They contain a record of the history, the laws, and
the religion of Assyria, of the greatest value. These strange
clay leaves found in the royal library form the most valuable of
all the treasuries of the literature of the old world. The
library contains also old Accadian documents, which are the
oldest extant documents in the world, dating as far back as
probably about the time of Abraham. (See SARGON T0003227.)
"The Assyrian royalty is, perhaps, the most luxurious of our
century [reign of Assur-bani-pal...Its victories and conquests,
uninterrupted for one hundred years, have enriched it with the
spoil of twenty peoples. Sargon has taken what remained to the
Hittites; Sennacherib overcame Chaldea, and the treasures of
Babylon were transferred to his coffers; Esarhaddon and
Assur-bani-pal himself have pillaged Egypt and her great cities,
Sais, Memphis, and Thebes of the hundred gates...Now foreign
merchants flock into Nineveh, bringing with them the most
valuable productions from all countries, gold and perfume from
South Arabia and the Chaldean Sea, Egyptian linen and
glass-work, carved enamels, goldsmiths' work, tin, silver,
Phoenician purple; cedar wood from Lebanon, unassailable by
worms; furs and iron from Asia Minor and Armenia" (Ancient Egypt
and Assyria, by G. Maspero, page 271).
The bas-reliefs, alabaster slabs, and sculptured monuments
found in these recovered palaces serve in a remarkable manner to
confirm the Old Testament history of the kings of Israel. The
appearance of the ruins shows that the destruction of the city
was due not only to the assailing foe but also to the flood and
the fire, thus confirming the ancient prophecies concerning it.
"The recent excavations," says Rawlinson, "have shown that fire
was a great instrument in the destruction of the Nineveh
palaces. Calcined alabaster, charred wood, and charcoal,
colossal statues split through with heat, are met with in parts
of the Nineveh mounds, and attest the veracity of prophecy."
Nineveh in its glory was (Jonah 3:4) an "exceeding great city
of three days' journey", i.e., probably in circuit. This would
give a circumference of about 60 miles. At the four corners of
an irregular quadrangle are the ruins of Kouyunjik, Nimrud,
Karamless and Khorsabad. These four great masses of ruins, with
the whole area included within the parallelogram they form by
lines drawn from the one to the other, are generally regarded as
composing the whole ruins of Nineveh.
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; compare 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 (compare 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.
the land of the Nile and the pyramids, the oldest kingdom of
which we have any record, holds a place of great significance in
The Egyptians belonged to the white race, and their original
home is still a matter of dispute. Many scholars believe that it
was in Southern Arabia, and recent excavations have shown that
the valley of the Nile was originally inhabited by a low-class
population, perhaps belonging to the Nigritian stock, before the
Egyptians of history entered it. The ancient Egyptian language,
of which the latest form is Coptic, is distantly connected with
the Semitic family of speech.
Egypt consists geographically of two halves, the northern
being the Delta, and the southern Upper Egypt, between Cairo and
the First Cataract. In the Old Testament, Northern or Lower
Egypt is called Mazor, "the fortified land" (Isa. 19:6; 37: 25,
where the A.V. mistranslates "defence" and "besieged places");
while Southern or Upper Egypt is Pathros, the Egyptian
Pa-to-Res, or "the land of the south" (Isa. 11:11). But the
whole country is generally mentioned under the dual name of
Mizraim, "the two Mazors."
The civilization of Egypt goes back to a very remote
antiquity. The two kingdoms of the north and south were united
by Menes, the founder of the first historical dynasty of kings.
The first six dynasties constitute what is known as the Old
Empire, which had its capital at Memphis, south of Cairo, called
in the Old Testament Moph (Hos. 9:6) and Noph. The native name
was Mennofer, "the good place."
The Pyramids were tombs of the monarchs of the Old Empire,
those of Gizeh being erected in the time of the Fourth Dynasty.
After the fall of the Old Empire came a period of decline and
obscurity. This was followed by the Middle Empire, the most
powerful dynasty of which was the Twelfth. The Fayyum was
rescued for agriculture by the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty; and
two obelisks were erected in front of the temple of the sun-god
at On or Heliopolis (near Cairo), one of which is still
standing. The capital of the Middle Empire was Thebes, in Upper
The Middle Empire was overthrown by the invasion of the
Hyksos, or shepherd princes from Asia, who ruled over Egypt,
more especially in the north, for several centuries, and of whom
there were three dynasties of kings. They had their capital at
Zoan or Tanis (now San), in the NEern part of the Delta.
It was in the time of the Hyksos that Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph
entered Egypt. The Hyksos were finally expelled about B.C. 1600,
by the hereditary princes of Thebes, who founded the Eighteenth
Dynasty, and carried the war into Asia. Canaan and Syria were
subdued, as well as Cyprus, and the boundaries of the Egyptian
Empire were fixed at the Euphrates. The Soudan, which had been
conquered by the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty, was again annexed
to Egypt, and the eldest son of the Pharaoh took the title of
"Prince of Cush."
One of the later kings of the dynasty, Amenophis IV., or
Khu-n-Aten, endeavoured to supplant the ancient state religion
of Egypt by a new faith derived from Asia, which was a sort of
pantheistic monotheism, the one supreme god being adored under
the image of the solar disk. The attempt led to religious and
civil war, and the Pharaoh retreated from Thebes to Central
Egypt, where he built a new capital, on the site of the present
Tell-el-Amarna. The cuneiform tablets that have been found there
represent his foreign correspondence (about B.C. 1400). He
surrounded himself with officials and courtiers of Asiatic, and
more especially Canaanite, extraction; but the native party
succeeded eventually in overthrowing the government, the capital
of Khu-n-Aten was destroyed, and the foreigners were driven out
of the country, those that remained being reduced to serfdom.
The national triumph was marked by the rise of the Nineteenth
Dynasty, in the founder of which, Rameses I., we must see the
"new king, who knew not Joseph." His grandson, Rameses II.,
reigned sixty-seven years (B.C. 1348-1281), and was an
indefatigable builder. As Pithom, excavated by Dr. Naville in
1883, was one of the cities he built, he must have been the
Pharaoh of the Oppression. The Pharaoh of the Exodus may have
been one of his immediate successors, whose reigns were short.
Under them Egypt lost its empire in Asia, and was itself
attacked by barbarians from Libya and the north.
The Nineteenth Dynasty soon afterwards came to an end; Egypt
was distracted by civil war; and for a short time a Canaanite,
Arisu, ruled over it.
Then came the Twentieth Dynasty, the second Pharaoh of which,
Rameses III., restored the power of his country. In one of his
campaigns he overran the southern part of Israel, where the
Israelites had not yet settled. They must at the time have been
still in the wilderness. But it was during the reign of Rameses
III. that Egypt finally lost Gaza and the adjoining cities,
which were seized by the Pulista, or Philistines.
After Rameses III., Egypt fell into decay. Solomon married the
daughter of one of the last kings of the Twenty-first Dynasty,
which was overthrown by Shishak I., the general of the Libyan
mercenaries, who founded the Twenty-second Dynasty (1 Kings
11:40; 14:25, 26). A list of the places he captured in Israel
is engraved on the outside of the south wall of the temple of
In the time of Hezekiah, Egypt was conquered by Ethiopians
from the Soudan, who constituted the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. The
third of them was Tirhakah (2 Kings 19:9). In B.C. 674 it was
conquered by the Assyrians, who divided it into twenty
satrapies, and Tirhakah was driven back to his ancestral
dominions. Fourteen years later it successfully revolted under
Psammetichus I. of Sais, the founder of the Twenty-sixth
Dynasty. Among his successors were Necho (2 Kings 23:29) and
Hophra, or Apries (Jer. 37:5, 7, 11). The dynasty came to an end
in B.C. 525, when the country was subjugated by Cambyses. Soon
afterwards it was organized into a Persian satrapy.
The title of Pharaoh, given to the Egyptian kings, is the
Egyptian Per-aa, or "Great House," which may be compared to that
of "Sublime Porte." It is found in very early Egyptian texts.
The Egyptian religion was a strange mixture of pantheism and
animal worship, the gods being adored in the form of animals.
While the educated classes resolved their manifold deities into
manifestations of one omnipresent and omnipotent divine power,
the lower classes regarded the animals as incarnations of the
Under the Old Empire, Ptah, the Creator, the god of Memphis,
was at the head of the Pantheon; afterwards Amon, the god of
Thebes, took his place. Amon, like most of the other gods, was
identified with Ra, the sun-god of Heliopolis.
The Egyptians believed in a resurrection and future life, as
well as in a state of rewards and punishments dependent on our
conduct in this world. The judge of the dead was Osiris, who had
been slain by Set, the representative of evil, and afterwards
restored to life. His death was avenged by his son Horus, whom
the Egyptians invoked as their "Redeemer." Osiris and Horus,
along with Isis, formed a trinity, who were regarded as
representing the sun-god under different forms.
Even in the time of Abraham, Egypt was a flourishing and
settled monarchy. Its oldest capital, within the historic
period, was Memphis, the ruins of which may still be seen near
the Pyramids and the Sphinx. When the Old Empire of Menes came
to an end, the seat of empire was shifted to Thebes, some 300
miles farther up the Nile. A short time after that, the Delta
was conquered by the Hyksos, or shepherd kings, who fixed their
capital at Zoan, the Greek Tanis, now San, on the Tanic arm of
the Nile. All this occurred before the time of the new king
"which knew not Joseph" (Ex. 1:8). In later times Egypt was
conquered by the Persians (B.C. 525), and by the Greeks under
Alexander the Great (B.C. 332), after whom the Ptolemies ruled
the country for three centuries. Subsequently it was for a time
a province of the Roman Empire; and at last, in A.D. 1517, it
fell into the hands of the Turks, of whose empire it still forms
nominally a part. Abraham and Sarah went to Egypt in the time of
the shepherd kings. The exile of Joseph and the migration of
Jacob to "the land of Goshen" occurred about 200 years later. On
the death of Solomon, Shishak, king of Egypt, invaded Israel
(1 Kings 14:25). He left a list of the cities he conquered.
A number of remarkable clay tablets, discovered at
Tell-el-Amarna in Upper Egypt, are the most important historical
records ever found in connection with the Bible. They most fully
confirm the historical statements of the Book of Joshua, and
prove the antiquity of civilization in Syria and Israel. As
the clay in different parts of Israel differs, it has been
found possible by the clay alone to decide where the tablets
come from when the name of the writer is lost. The inscriptions
are cuneiform, and in the Aramaic language, resembling Assyrian.
The writers are Phoenicians, Amorites, and Philistines, but in
no instance Hittites, though Hittites are mentioned. The tablets
consist of official dispatches and letters, dating from B.C.
1480, addressed to the two Pharaohs, Amenophis III. and IV., the
last of this dynasty, from the kings and governors of Phoenicia
and Israel. There occur the names of three kings killed by
Joshua, Adoni-zedec, king of Jerusalem, Japhia, king of Lachish
(Josh. 10:3), and Jabin, king of Hazor (11:1); also the Hebrews
(Abiri) are said to have come from the desert.
The principal prophecies of Scripture regarding Egypt are
these, Isa. 19; Jer. 43: 8-13; 44:30; 46; Ezek. 29-32; and it
might be easily shown that they have all been remarkably
fulfilled. For example, the singular disappearance of Noph
(i.e., Memphis) is a fulfilment of Jer. 46:19, Ezek. 30:13.