(Lev. 11:19; Deut. 14:18), ranked among the unclean birds. The
Hebrew name is "'anaphah", and indicates that the bird so named
is remarkable for its angry disposition. "The herons are
wading-birds, peculiarly irritable, remarkable for their
voracity, frequenting marshes and oozy rivers, and spread over
the regions of the East." The Ardea russeta, or little golden
egret, is the commonest species in Asia.
Birds are divided in the Mosaic law into two classes, (1) the
clean (Lev. 1:14-17; 5:7-10; 14:4-7), which were offered in
sacrifice; and (2) the unclean (Lev. 11:13-20). When offered in
sacrifice, they were not divided as other victims were (Gen.
15:10). They are mentioned also as an article of food (Deut.
14:11). The art of snaring wild birds is referred to (Ps. 124:7;
Prov. 1:17; 7:23; Jer. 5:27). Singing birds are mentioned in Ps.
104:12; Eccl. 12:4. Their timidity is alluded to (Hos. 11:11).
The reference in Ps. 84:3 to the swallow and the sparrow may be
only a comparison equivalent to, "What her house is to the
sparrow, and her nest to the swallow, that thine altars are to
mentioned in the list of unclean birds (Lev. 11:18; Deut.
14:16), is sometimes met with in the Jordan and the Sea of
(Heb. kelub', Jer. 5:27, marg. "coop;" rendered "basket" in Amos
8:1), a basket of wicker-work in which birds were placed after
being caught. In Rev. 18:2 it is the rendering of the Greek
"phulake", properly a prison or place of confinement.
The Hebrew word (atalleph') so rendered (Lev. 11:19; Deut.
14:18) implies "flying in the dark." The bat is reckoned among
the birds in the list of unclean animals. To cast idols to the
"moles and to the bats" means to carry them into dark caverns or
desolate places to which these animals resort (Isa. 2:20), i.e.,
to consign them to desolation or ruin.
(Heb. tahmas) occurs only in the list of unclean birds (Lev.
11:16; Deut. 14:15). This was supposed to be the night-jar
(Caprimulgus), allied to the swifts. The Hebrew word is derived
from a root meaning "to scratch or tear the face," and may be
best rendered, in accordance with the ancient versions, "an owl"
(Strix flammea). The Revised Version renders "night-hawk."
(Heb. dohan; only in Ezek. 4:9), a small grain, the produce of
the Panicum miliaceum of botanists. It is universally cultivated
in the East as one of the smaller corn-grasses. This seed is the
cenchros of the Greeks. It is called in India warree, and by the
Arabs dukhan, and is extensively used for food, being often
mixed with other grain. In this country it is only used for
Mentioned among the offerings made by the very poor. Two
sparrows were sold for a farthing (Matt. 10:29), and five for
two farthings (Luke 12:6). The Hebrew word thus rendered is
"tsippor", which properly denotes the whole family of small
birds which feed on grain (Lev. 14:4; Ps. 84:3; 102:7). The
Greek word of the New Testament is "strouthion" (Matt.
10:29-31), which is thus correctly rendered.
the arts of, referred to Ps. 91:3; 124:7; Prov. 6:5; Jer. 5:26;
Hos. 9:8; Ezek. 17:20; Eccl. 9:12. Birds of all kinds abound in
Israel, and the capture of these for the table and for other
uses formed the employment of many persons. The traps and snares
used for this purpose are mentioned Hos. 5:1; Prov. 7:23; 22:5;
Amos 3:5; Ps. 69:22; compare Deut. 22:6, 7.
lame on the feet (Gen. 32:31; Ps. 38:17). To "halt between two
opinions" (1 Kings 18:21) is supposed by some to be an
expression used in "allusion to birds, which hop from spray to
spray, forwards and backwards." The LXX. render the expression
"How long go ye lame on both knees?" The Hebrew verb rendered
"halt" is used of the irregular dance ("leaped upon") around the
altar (ver. 26). It indicates a lame, uncertain gait, going now
in one direction, now in another, in the frenzy of wild leaping.
is found three times in connection with the desolations to come
upon Babylon, Idumea, and Nineveh (Isa. 14:23; 34:11; Zeph.
2:14). This bird belongs to the class of cranes. Its scientific
name is Botaurus stellaris. It is a solitary bird, frequenting
marshy ground. The Hebrew word (kippod) thus rendered in the
Authorized Version is rendered "porcupine" in the Revised
Version. But in the passages noted the kippod is associated with
birds, with pools of water, and with solitude and desolation.
This favours the idea that not the "porcupine" but the "bittern"
is really intended by the word.
in use among the Hebrews for fishing, hunting, and fowling. The
fishing-net was probably constructed after the form of that used
by the Egyptians (Isa. 19:8). There were three kinds of nets.
(1.) The drag-net or hauling-net (Gr. sagene), of great size,
and requiring many men to work it. It was usually let down from
the fishing-boat, and then drawn to the shore or into the boat,
as circumstances might require (Matt. 13:47, 48). (2.) The
hand-net or casting-net (Gr. amphiblestron), which was thrown
from a rock or a boat at any fish that might be seen (Matt.
4:18; Mark 1:16). It was called by the Latins funda. It was of
circular form, "like the top of a tent." (3.) The bag-net (Gr.
diktyon), used for enclosing fish in deep water (Luke 5:4-9).
The fowling-nets were (1) the trap, consisting of a net spread
over a frame, and supported by a stick in such a way that it
fell with the slightest touch (Amos 3:5, "gin;" Ps. 69:22; Job
18:9; Eccl. 9:12). (2) The snare, consisting of a cord to catch
birds by the leg (Job 18:10; Ps. 18:5; 116:3; 140:5). (3.) The
decoy, a cage filled with birds as decoys (Jer. 5:26, 27).
Hunting-nets were much in use among the Hebrews.
are frequently met with at the waters of Merom and the Sea of
Galilee. The pelican is ranked among unclean birds (Lev. 11:18;
Deut. 14:17). It is of an enormous size, being about 6 feet
long, with wings stretching out over 12 feet. The Hebrew name
(kaath, i.e., "vomiter") of this bird is incorrectly rendered
"cormorant" in the Authorized Version of Isa. 34:11 and Zeph.
2:14, but correctly in the Revised Version. It receives its
Hebrew name from its habit of storing in its pouch large
quantities of fish, which it disgorges when it feeds its young.
Two species are found on the Syrian coast, the Pelicanus
onocrotalus, or white pelican, and the Pelicanus crispus, or
(Lev. 11:17; Deut. 14:17), Heb. shalak, "plunging," or "darting
down," (the Phalacrocorax carbo), ranked among the "unclean"
birds; of the same family group as the pelican. It is a
"plunging" bird, and is common on the coasts and the island seas
of Israel. Some think the Hebrew word should be rendered
"gannet" (Sula bassana, "the solan goose"); others that it is
the "tern" or "sea swallow," which also frequents the coasts of
Israel as well as the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan valley
during several months of the year. But there is no reason to
depart from the ordinary rendering.
In Isa. 34:11, Zeph. 2:14 (but in R.V., "pelican") the Hebrew
word rendered by this name is "ka'ath". It is translated
"pelican" (q.v.) in Ps. 102:6. The word literally means the
"vomiter," and the pelican is so called from its vomiting the
shells and other things which it has voraciously swallowed. (See
The Israelites were twice relieved in their privation by a
miraculous supply of quails, (1) in the wilderness of Sin (Ex.
16:13), and (2) again at Kibroth-hattaavah (q.v.), Num. 11:31.
God "rained flesh upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as
the sand of the sea" (Ps. 78:27). The words in Num. 11:31,
according to the Authorized Version, appear to denote that the
quails lay one above another to the thickness of two cubits
above the ground. The Revised Version, however, reads, "about
two cubits above the face of the earth", i.e., the quails flew
at this height, and were easily killed or caught by the hand.
Being thus secured in vast numbers by the people, they "spread
them all abroad" (11:32) in order to salt and dry them.
These birds (the Coturnix vulgaris of naturalists) are found
in countless numbers on the shores of the Mediterranean, and
their annual migration is an event causing great excitement.
(Herb. nesher; properly the griffon vulture or great vulture, so
called from its tearing its prey with its beak), referred to for
its swiftness of flight (Deut. 28:49; 2 Sam. 1:23), its mounting
high in the air (Job 39:27), its strength (Ps. 103:5), its
setting its nest in high places (Jer. 49:16), and its power of
vision (Job 39:27-30).
This "ravenous bird" is a symbol of those nations whom God
employs and sends forth to do a work of destruction, sweeping
away whatever is decaying and putrescent (Matt. 24:28; Isa.
46:11; Ezek. 39:4; Deut. 28:49; Jer. 4:13; 48:40). It is said
that the eagle sheds his feathers in the beginning of spring,
and with fresh plumage assumes the appearance of youth. To this,
allusion is made in Ps. 103:5 and Isa. 40:31. God's care over
his people is likened to that of the eagle in training its young
to fly (Ex. 19:4; Deut. 32:11, 12). An interesting illustration
is thus recorded by Sir Humphry Davy:, "I once saw a very
interesting sight above the crags of Ben Nevis. Two parent
eagles were teaching their offspring, two young birds, the
maneuvers of flight. They began by rising from the top of the
mountain in the eye of the sun. It was about mid-day, and bright
for the climate. They at first made small circles, and the young
birds imitated them. They paused on their wings, waiting till
they had made their flight, and then took a second and larger
gyration, always rising toward the sun, and enlarging their
circle of flight so as to make a gradually ascending spiral. The
young ones still and slowly followed, apparently flying better
as they mounted; and they continued this sublime exercise,
always rising till they became mere points in the air, and the
young ones were lost, and afterwards their parents, to our
aching sight." (See Isa. 40:31.)
There have been observed in Israel four distinct species of
eagles, (1) the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos); (2) the
spotted eagle (Aquila naevia); (3) the common species, the
imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca); and (4) the Circaetos gallicus,
which preys on reptiles. The eagle was unclean by the Levitical
law (Lev. 11:13; Deut. 14:12).
In their wild state doves generally build their nests in the
clefts of rocks, but when domesticated "dove-cots" are prepared
for them (Cant. 2:14; Jer. 48:28; Isa. 60:8). The dove was
placed on the standards of the Assyrians and Babylonians in
honour, it is supposed, of Semiramis (Jer. 25:38; Vulg.,
"fierceness of the dove;" compare Jer. 46:16; 50:16). Doves and
turtle-doves were the only birds that could be offered in
sacrifice, as they were clean according to the Mosaic law (Ge.
15:9; Lev. 5:7; 12:6; Luke 2:24). The dove was the harbinger of
peace to Noah (Gen. 8:8, 10). It is often mentioned as the
emblem of purity (Ps. 68:13). It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit
(Gen. 1:2; Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32); also of
tender and devoted affection (Cant. 1:15; 2:14). David in his
distress wished that he had the wings of a dove, that he might
fly away and be at rest (Ps. 55:6-8). There is a species of dove
found at Damascus "whose feathers, all except the wings, are
literally as yellow as gold" (68:13).
coal; hot stone, the daughter of Aiah, and one of Saul's
concubines. She was the mother of Armoni and Mephibosheth (2
Sam. 3:7; 21:8, 10, 11).
It happened that a grievous famine, which lasted for three
years, fell upon the land during the earlier half of David's
reign at Jerusalem. This calamity was sent "for Saul and for his
bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." David inquired of
the Gibeonites what satisfaction they demanded, and was answered
that nothing would compensate for the wrong Saul had done to
them but the death of seven of Saul's sons. David accordingly
delivered up to them the two sons of Rizpah and five of the sons
of Merab (q.v.), Saul's eldest daughter, whom she bore to
Adriel. These the Gibeonites put to death, and hung up their
bodies before the Lord at the sanctuary at Gibeah. Rizpah
thereupon took her place on the rock of Gibeah (q.v.), and for
five months watched the suspended bodies of her children, to
prevent them from being devoured by the beasts and birds of
prey, till they were at length taken down and buried by David.
Her marriage to Abner was the occasion of a quarrel between
him and Ishbosheth, which led to Abner's going over to the side
of David (2 Sam. 3:17-21).
Its peculiar peaceful and gentle habit its often referred to in
Scripture. A pair was offered in sacrifice by Mary at her
purification (Luke 2:24). The pigeon and the turtle-dove were
the only birds permitted to be offered in sacrifice (Lev. 1:14;
5:7; 14:22; 15:14, 29, etc.). The Latin name of this bird,
"turtur", is derived from its note, and is a repetition of the
Hebrew name "tor". Three species are found in Israel, (1) the
turtle-dove (Turtur auritus), (2) the collared turtle (T.
risorius), and (3) the palm turtle (T. Senegalensis). But it is
to the first of these species which the various passages of
Scripture refer. It is a migratory bird (Jer. 8:7; Cant. 2:11,
12). "Search the glades and valleys, even by sultry Jordan, at
the end of March, and not a turtle-dove is to be seen. Return in
the second week of April, and clouds of doves are feeding on the
clovers of the plain. They overspread the whole face of the
land." "Immediately on its arrival it pours forth from every
garden, grove, and wooded hill its melancholy yet soothing ditty
unceasingly from early dawn till sunset. It is from its
plaintive and continuous note, doubtless, that David, pouring
forth his heart's sorrow to God, compares himself to a
turtle-dove" (Ps. 74:19).
a treaty between nations, or between individuals, for their
Abraham formed an alliance with some of the Canaanite
princes (Gen. 14:13), also with Abimelech (21:22-32). Joshua and
the elders of Israel entered into an alliance with the
Gibeonites (Josh. 9:3-27). When the Israelites entered Israel
they were forbidden to enter into alliances with the inhabitants
of the country (Lev. 18:3, 4; 20:22, 23).
Solomon formed a league with Hiram (1 Kings 5:12). This
"brotherly covenant" is referred to 250 years afterwards (Amos
1:9). He also appears to have entered into an alliance with
Pharaoh (1 Kings 10:28, 29).
In the subsequent history of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel
various alliances were formed between them and also with
neighbouring nations at different times.
From patriarchal times a covenant of alliance was sealed by
the blood of some sacrificial victim. The animal sacrificed was
cut in two (except birds), and between these two parts the
persons contracting the alliance passed (Gen. 15:10). There are
frequent allusions to this practice (Jer. 34:18). Such alliances
were called "covenants of salt" (Num. 18:19; 2 Chr. 13:5), salt
being the symbol of perpetuity. A pillar was set up as a
memorial of the alliance between Laban and Jacob (Gen. 31:52).
The Jews throughout their whole history attached great
importance to fidelity to their engagements. Divine wrath fell
upon the violators of them (Josh. 9:18; 2 Sam. 21:1, 2; Ezek.
Heb. hasidah, meaning "kindness," indicating thus the character
of the bird, which is noted for its affection for its young. It
is in the list of birds forbidden to be eaten by the Levitical
law (Lev. 11:19; Deut. 14:18). It is like the crane, but larger
in size. Two species are found in Israel, the white, which
are dispersed in pairs over the whole country; and the black,
which live in marshy places and in great flocks. They migrate to
Israel periodically (about the 22nd of March). Jeremiah
alludes to this (Jer. 8:7). At the appointed time they return
with unerring sagacity to their old haunts, and re-occupy their
old nests. "There is a well-authenticated account of the
devotion of a stork which, at the burning of the town of Delft,
after repeated and unsuccessful attempts to carry off her young,
chose rather to remain and perish with them than leave them to
their fate. Well might the Romans call it the pia avis!"
In Job 39:13 (A.V.), instead of the expression "or wings and
feathers unto the ostrich" (marg., "the feathers of the stork
and ostrich"), the Revised Version has "are her pinions and
feathers kindly" (marg., instead of "kindly," reads "like the
stork's"). The object of this somewhat obscure verse seems to be
to point out a contrast between the stork, as distinguished for
her affection for her young, and the ostrich, as distinguished
for her indifference.
Zechariah (5:9) alludes to the beauty and power of the stork's
(Heb. kore, i.e., "caller"). This bird, unlike our own
partridge, is distinguished by "its ringing call-note, which in
early morning echoes from cliff to cliff amidst the barrenness
of the wilderness of Judea and the glens of the forest of
Carmel" hence its Hebrew name. This name occurs only twice in
In 1 Sam. 26:20 "David alludes to the mode of chase practised
now, as of old, when the partridge, continuously chased, was at
length, when fatigued, knocked down by sticks thrown along the
ground." It endeavours to save itself "by running, in preference
to flight, unless when suddenly started. It is not an inhabitant
of the plain or the corn-field, but of rocky hill-sides"
(Tristram's Nat. Hist.).
In Jer. 17:11 the prophet is illustrating the fact that riches
unlawfully acquired are precarious and short-lived. The exact
nature of the illustration cannot be precisely determined. Some
interpret the words as meaning that the covetous man will be as
surely disappointed as the partridge which gathers in eggs, not
of her own laying, and is unable to hatch them; others
(Tristram), with more probability, as denoting that the man who
enriches himself by unjust means "will as surely be disappointed
as the partridge which commences to sit, but is speedily robbed
of her hopes of a brood" by her eggs being stolen away from her.
The commonest partridge in Israel is the Caccabis
saxatilis, the Greek partridge. The partridge of the wilderness
(Ammo-perdix heyi) is a smaller species. Both are essentially
mountain and rock birds, thus differing from the English
partridge, which loves cultivated fields.
(1.) Heb. bath-haya'anah, "daughter of greediness" or of
"shouting." In the list of unclean birds (Lev. 11:16; Deut.
14:15); also mentioned in Job 30:29; Isa. 13:21; 34:13; 43:20;
Jer. 50:39; Micah 1:8. In all these passages the Revised Version
translates "ostrich" (q.v.), which is the correct rendering.
(2.) Heb. yanshuph, rendered "great owl" in Lev. 11:17; Deut.
14:16, and "owl" in Isa. 34:11. This is supposed to be the
Egyptian eagle-owl (Bubo ascalaphus), which takes the place of
the eagle-owl (Bubo maximus) found in Southern Europe. It is
found frequenting the ruins of Egypt and also of the Holy Land.
"Its cry is a loud, prolonged, and very powerful hoot. I know
nothing which more vividly brought to my mind the sense of
desolation and loneliness than the re-echoing hoot of two or
three of these great owls as I stood at midnight among the
ruined temples of Baalbek" (Tristram).
The LXX. and Vulgate render this word by "ibis", i.e., the
(3.) Heb. kos, rendered "little owl" in Lev. 11:17; Deut.
14:16, and "owl" in Ps. 102:6. The Arabs call this bird "the
mother of ruins." It is by far the most common of all the owls
of Israel. It is the Athene persica, the bird of Minerva, the
symbol of ancient Athens.
(4.) Heb. kippoz, the "great owl" (Isa. 34:15); Revised
Version, "arrow-snake;" LXX. and Vulgate, "hedgehog," reading in
the text, kippod, instead of kippoz. There is no reason to doubt
the correctness of the rendering of the Authorized Version.
Tristram says: "The word [i.e., kippoz] is very possibly an
imitation of the cry of the scops owl (Scops giu), which is very
common among ruins, caves, and old walls of towns...It is a
migrant, returning to Israel in spring."
(5.) Heb. lilith, "screech owl" (Isa. 34:14, marg. and R.V.,
"night monster"). The Hebrew word is from a root signifying
"night." Some species of the owl is obviously intended by this
word. It may be the hooting or tawny owl (Syrnium aluco), which
is common in Egypt and in many parts of Israel. This verse in
Isaiah is "descriptive of utter and perpetual desolation, of a
land that should be full of ruins, and inhabited by the animals
that usually make such ruins their abode."
the name given by Greek writers of the second century to that
inland sea called in Scripture the "salt sea" (Gen. 14:3; Num.
34:12), the "sea of the plain" (Deut. 3:17), the "east sea"
(Ezek. 47:18; Joel 2:20), and simply "the sea" (Ezek. 47:8). The
Arabs call it Bahr Lut, i.e., the Sea of Lot. It lies about 16
miles in a straight line to the east of Jerusalem. Its surface
is 1,292 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. It
covers an area of about 300 square miles. Its depth varies from
1,310 to 11 feet. From various phenomena that have been
observed, its bottom appears to be still subsiding. It is about
53 miles long, and of an average breadth of 10 miles. It has no
outlet, the great heat of that region causing such rapid
evaporation that its average depth, notwithstanding the rivers
that run into it (see JORDAN T0002112), is maintained with
little variation. The Jordan alone discharges into it no less
than six million tons of water every twenty-four hours.
The waters of the Dead Sea contain 24.6 per cent. of mineral
salts, about seven times as much as in ordinary sea-water; thus
they are unusually buoyant. Chloride of magnesium is most
abundant; next to that chloride of sodium (common salt). But
terraces of alluvial deposits in the deep valley of the Jordan
show that formerly one great lake extended from the Waters of
Merom to the foot of the watershed in the Arabah. The waters
were then about 1,400 feet above the present level of the Dead
Sea, or slightly above that of the Mediterranean, and at that
time were much less salt.
Nothing living can exist in this sea. "The fish carried down
by the Jordan at once die, nor can even mussels or corals live
in it; but it is a fable that no bird can fly over it, or that
there are no living creatures on its banks. Dr. Tristram found
on the shores three kinds of kingfishers, gulls, ducks, and
grebes, which he says live on the fish which enter the sea in
shoals, and presently die. He collected one hundred and eighteen
species of birds, some new to science, on the shores, or
swimming or flying over the waters. The cane-brakes which fringe
it at some parts are the homes of about forty species of
mammalia, several of them animals unknown in England; and
innumerable tropical or semi-tropical plants perfume the
atmosphere wherever fresh water can reach. The climate is
perfect and most delicious, and indeed there is perhaps no place
in the world where a sanatorium could be established with so
much prospect of benefit as at Ain Jidi (Engedi).", Geikie's
(1.) The name of Esau (q.v.), Gen. 25:30, "Feed me, I pray thee,
with that same red pottage [Heb. haadom, haadom, i.e., 'the red
pottage, the red pottage'] ...Therefore was his name called
Edom", i.e., Red.
(2.) Idumea (Isa. 34:5, 6; Ezek. 35:15). "The field of Edom"
(Gen. 32:3), "the land of Edom" (Gen. 36:16), was mountainous
(Obad. 1:8, 9, 19, 21). It was called the land, or "the mountain
of Seir," the rough hills on the east side of the Arabah. It
extended from the head of the Gulf of Akabah, the Elanitic gulf,
to the foot of the Dead Sea (1 Kings 9:26), and contained, among
other cities, the rock-hewn Sela (q.v.), generally known by the
Greek name Petra (2 Kings 14:7). It is a wild and rugged region,
traversed by fruitful valleys. Its old capital was Bozrah (Isa.
63:1). The early inhabitants of the land were Horites. They were
destroyed by the Edomites (Deut. 2:12), between whom and the
kings of Israel and Judah there was frequent war (2 Kings 8:20;
2 Chr. 28:17).
At the time of the Exodus they churlishly refused permission
to the Israelites to pass through their land (Num. 20:14-21),
and ever afterwards maintained an attitude of hostility toward
them. They were conquered by David (2 Sam. 8:14; compare 1 Kings
9:26), and afterwards by Amaziah (2 Chr. 25:11, 12). But they
regained again their independence, and in later years, during
the decline of the Jewish kingdom (2 Kings 16:6; R.V. marg.,
"Edomites"), made war against Israel. They took part with the
Chaldeans when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, and afterwards
they invaded and held possession of the south of Israel as
far as Hebron. At length, however, Edom fell under the growing
Chaldean power (Jer. 27:3, 6).
There are many prophecies concerning Edom (Isa. 34:5, 6; Jer.
49:7-18; Ezek. 25:13; 35:1-15; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11; Obad.; Mal.
1:3, 4) which have been remarkably fulfilled. The present
desolate condition of that land is a standing testimony to the
inspiration of these prophecies. After an existence as a people
for above seventeen hundred years, they have utterly
disappeared, and their language even is forgotten for ever. In
Petra, "where kings kept their court, and where nobles
assembled, there no man dwells; it is given by lot to birds, and
beasts, and reptiles."
The Edomites were Semites, closely related in blood and in
language to the Israelites. They dispossessed the Horites of
Mount Seir; though it is clear, from Gen. 36, that they
afterwards intermarried with the conquered population. Edomite
tribes settled also in the south of Judah, like the Kenizzites
(Gen. 36:11), to whom Caleb and Othniel belonged (Josh. 15:17).
The southern part of Edom was known as Teman.
the third book of the Pentateuch; so called in the Vulgate,
after the LXX., because it treats chiefly of the Levitical
In the first section of the book (1-17), which exhibits the
worship itself, there is, (1.) A series of laws (1-7) regarding
sacrifices, burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, and thank-offerings
(1-3), sin-offerings and trespass-offerings (4; 5), followed by
the law of the priestly duties in connection with the offering
of sacrifices (6; 7). (2.) An historical section (8-10), giving
an account of the consecration of Aaron and his sons (8);
Aaron's first offering for himself and the people (9); Nadab and
Abihu's presumption in offering "strange fire before Jehovah,"
and their punishment (10). (3.) Laws concerning purity, and the
sacrifices and ordinances for putting away impurity (11-16). An
interesting fact may be noted here. Canon Tristram, speaking of
the remarkable discoveries regarding the flora and fauna of the
Holy Land by the Israel Exploration officers, makes the
following statement:, "Take these two catalogues of the clean
and unclean animals in the books of Leviticus  and
Deuteronomy . There are eleven in Deuteronomy which do not
occur in Leviticus, and these are nearly all animals and birds
which are not found in Egypt or the Holy Land, but which are
numerous in the Arabian desert. They are not named in Leviticus
a few weeks after the departure from Egypt; but after the people
were thirty-nine years in the desert they are named, a strong
proof that the list in Deuteronomy was written at the end of the
journey, and the list in Leviticus at the beginning. It fixes
the writing of that catalogue to one time and period only, viz.,
that when the children of Israel were familiar with the fauna
and the flora of the desert" (Palest. Expl. Quart., Jan. 1887).
(4.) Laws marking the separation between Israel and the heathen
(17-20). (5.) Laws about the personal purity of the priests, and
their eating of the holy things (20; 21); about the offerings of
Israel, that they were to be without blemish (22:17-33); and
about the due celebration of the great festivals (23; 25). (6.)
Then follow promises and warnings to the people regarding
obedience to these commandments, closing with a section on vows.
The various ordinances contained in this book were all
delivered in the space of a month (compare Ex. 40:17; Num. 1:1),
the first month of the second year after the Exodus. It is the
third book of Moses.
No book contains more of the very words of God. He is almost
throughout the whole of it the direct speaker. This book is a
prophecy of things to come, a shadow whereof the substance is
Christ and his kingdom. The principles on which it is to be
interpreted are laid down in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It
contains in its complicated ceremonial the gospel of the grace
hill-city, "one of the royal cities, greater than Ai, and all
the men thereof were mighty" (Josh. 10:2). Its inhabitants were
Hivites (11:19). It lay within the territory of Benjamin, and
became a priest-city (18:25; 21:17). Here the tabernacle was set
up after the destruction of Nob, and here it remained many years
till the temple was built by Solomon. It is represented by the
modern el-Jib, to the south-west of Ai, and about 5 1/2 miles
north-north-west of Jerusalem.
A deputation of the Gibeonites, with their allies from three
other cities (Josh. 9;17), visited the camp at Gilgal, and by
false representations induced Joshua to enter into a league with
them, although the Israelites had been specially warned against
any league with the inhabitants of Canaan (Ex. 23:32; 34:12;
Num. 33:55; Deut. 7:2). The deception practised on Joshua was
detected three days later; but the oath rashly sworn "by Jehovah
God of Israel" was kept, and the lives of the Gibeonites were
spared. They were, however, made "bondmen" to the sanctuary
The most remarkable incident connected with this city was the
victory Joshua gained over the kings of Israel (Josh.
10:16-27). The battle here fought has been regarded as "one of
the most important in the history of the world." The kings of
southern Canaan entered into a confederacy against Gibeon
(because it had entered into a league with Joshua) under the
leadership of Adoni-zedec, king of Jerusalem, and marched upon
Gibeon with the view of taking possession of it. The Gibeonites
entreated Joshua to come to their aid with the utmost speed. His
army came suddenly upon that of the Amorite kings as it lay
encamped before the city. It was completely routed, and only
broken remnants of their great host found refuge in the fenced
cities. The five confederate kings who led the army were taken
prisoners, and put to death at Makkedah (q.v.). This eventful
battle of Beth-horon sealed the fate of all the cities of
Southern Israel. Among the Amarna tablets is a letter from
Adoni-zedec (q.v.) to the king of Egypt, written probably at
Makkedah after the defeat, showing that the kings contemplated
flight into Egypt.
This place is again brought into notice as the scene of a
battle between the army of Ish-bosheth under Abner and that of
David led by Joab. At the suggestion of Abner, to spare the
effusion of blood twelve men on either side were chosen to
decide the battle. The issue was unexpected; for each of the men
slew his fellow, and thus they all perished. The two armies then
engaged in battle, in which Abner and his host were routed and
put to flight (2 Sam. 2:12-17). This battle led to a virtual
truce between Judah and Israel, Judah, under David, increasing
in power; and Israel, under Ish-bosheth, continually losing
Soon after the death of Absalom and David's restoration to his
throne his kingdom was visited by a grievous famine, which was
found to be a punishment for Saul's violation (2 Sam. 21:2, 5)
of the covenant with the Gibeonites (Josh. 9:3-27). The
Gibeonites demanded blood for the wrong that had been done to
them, and accordingly David gave up to them the two sons of
Rizpah (q.v.) and the five sons of Michal, and these the
Gibeonites took and hanged or crucified "in the hill before the
Lord" (2 Sam. 21:9); and there the bodies hung for six months
(21:10), and all the while Rizpah watched over the blackening
corpses and "suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on
them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night." David
afterwards removed the bones of Saul and Jonathan at
Jabeshgilead (21:12, 13).
Here, "at the great stone," Amasa was put to death by Joab (2
Sam. 20:5-10). To the altar of burnt-offering which was at
Gibeon, Joab (1 Kings 2:28-34), who had taken the side of
Adonijah, fled for sanctuary in the beginning of Solomon's
reign, and was there also slain by the hand of Benaiah.
Soon after he came to the throne, Solomon paid a visit of
state to Gibeon, there to offer sacrifices (1 Kings 3:4; 2 Chr.
1:3). On this occasion the Lord appeared to him in a memorable
dream, recorded in 1 Kings 3:5-15; 2 Chr. 1:7-12. When the
temple was built "all the men of Israel assembled themselves" to
king Solomon, and brought up from Gibeon the tabernacle and "all
the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle" to Jerusalem,
where they remained till they were carried away by
Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:13).
Noah's ark, a building of gopher-wood, and covered with pitch,
300 cubits long, 50 cubits broad, and 30 cubits high (Gen.
6:14-16); an oblong floating house of three stories, with a door
in the side and a window in the roof. It was 100 years in
building (Gen. 5:32; 7:6). It was intended to preserve certain
persons and animals from the deluge which God was about to bring
over the earth. It contained eight persons (Gen. 7:13; 2 Pet.
2:5), and of all "clean" animals seven pairs, and of "unclean"
one pair, and of birds seven pairs of each sort (Gen. 7:2, 3).
It was in the form of an oblong square, with flat bottom and
sloping roof. Traditions of the Deluge, by which the race of man
was swept from the earth, and of the ark of Noah have been found
existing among all nations.
The ark of bulrushes in which the infant Moses was laid (Ex.
2:3) is called in the Hebrew "teebah", a word derived from the
Egyptian "teb", meaning "a chest." It was daubed with slime and
with pitch. The bulrushes of which it was made were the papyrus
The sacred ark is designated by a different Hebrew word,
"'aron'", which is the common name for a chest or coffer used
for any purpose (Gen. 50:26; 2 Kings 12:9, 10). It is
distinguished from all others by such titles as the "ark of God"
(1 Sam. 3:3), "ark of the covenant" (Josh. 3:6; Heb. 9:4), "ark
of the testimony" (Ex. 25:22). It was made of acacia or shittim
wood, a cubit and a half broad and high and two cubits long, and
covered all over with the purest gold. Its upper surface or lid,
the mercy-seat, was surrounded with a rim of gold; and on each
of the two sides were two gold rings, in which were placed two
gold-covered poles by which the ark could be carried (Num. 7:9;
10:21; 4:5,19, 20; 1 Kings 8:3, 6). Over the ark, at the two
extremities, were two cherubim, with their faces turned toward
each other (Lev. 16:2; Num. 7:89). Their outspread wings over
the top of the ark formed the throne of God, while the ark
itself was his footstool (Ex. 25:10-22; 37:1-9). The ark was
deposited in the "holy of holies," and was so placed that one
end of the poles by which it was carried touched the veil which
separated the two apartments of the tabernacle (1 Kings 8:8).
The two tables of stone which constituted the "testimony" or
evidence of God's covenant with the people (Deut. 31:26), the
"pot of manna" (Ex. 16:33), and "Aaron's rod that budded" (Num.
17:10), were laid up in the ark (Heb. 9:4). (See TABERNACLE
T0003559) The ark and the sanctuary were "the beauty of Israel"
(Lam. 2:1). During the journeys of the Israelites the ark was
carried by the priests in advance of the host (Num. 4:5, 6;
10:33-36; Ps. 68:1; 132:8). It was borne by the priests into the
bed of the Jordan, which separated, opening a pathway for the
whole of the host to pass over (Josh. 3:15, 16; 4:7, 10, 11, 17,
18). It was borne in the procession round Jericho (Josh. 6:4, 6,
8, 11, 12). When carried it was always wrapped in the veil, the
badgers' skins, and blue cloth, and carefully concealed even
from the eyes of the Levites who carried it. After the
settlement of Israel in Israel the ark remained in the
tabernacle at Gilgal for a season, and was then removed to
Shiloh till the time of Eli, between 300 and 400 years (Jer.
7:12), when it was carried into the field of battle so as to
secure, as they supposed, victory to the Hebrews, and was taken
by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:3-11), who sent it back after
retaining it seven months (1 Sam. 5:7, 8). It remained then at
Kirjath-jearim (7:1,2) till the time of David (twenty years),
who wished to remove it to Jerusalem; but the proper mode of
removing it having been neglected, Uzzah was smitten with death
for putting "forth his hand to the ark of God," and in
consequence of this it was left in the house of Obed-edom in
Gath-rimmon for three months (2 Sam. 6:1-11), at the end of
which time David removed it in a grand procession to Jerusalem,
where it was kept till a place was prepared for it (12-19). It
was afterwards deposited by Solomon in the temple (1 Kings
8:6-9). When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and plundered
the temple, the ark was probably taken away by Nebuchadnezzar
and destroyed, as no trace of it is afterwards to be found. The
absence of the ark from the second temple was one of the points
in which it was inferior to the first temple.