Easton's Bible Dictionary
Originally denoted only the sea-coast of the land of Canaan
inhabited by the Philistines ( Exodus 15:14 ; Isaiah 14:29 , 14:31 ; Joel 3:4
), and in this sense exclusively the Hebrew name Pelesheth (rendered "Philistia"
in Psalms 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 ( Genesis 40:15 ). It is also called "the holy land"
( Zechariah 2:12 ), the "land of Jehovah" ( Hosea 9:3 ; Psalms 85:1 ), the "land
of promise" ( Hebrews 11:9 ), because promised to Abraham ( Genesis 12:7 ; 24:7
), the "land of Canaan" ( Genesis 12:5 ), the "land of Israel" ( 1 Samuel 13:19
), and the "land of Judah" ( Isaiah 19:17 ).
The territory promised as an inheritance to the seed of Abraham ( Genesis 15:18
- 21 ; Numbers 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 Samuel 8 ; 1 Chronicles 18 ; 1 Kings 4:1 , 4:21 ). This vast empire was the
Promised Land; but Palestine 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 Palestine, 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.
Palestine, "set in the midst" ( Ezekiel 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"
( Deuteronomy 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 ( Deuteronomy
3:12 - 20 ; Compare Numbers 1:17 - 46 ; Joshua 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, Palestine, and Coele-Syria fell to the
lot of Ptolemy Lagus. Ptolemy took possession of Palestine 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 privileges.
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, Palestine 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 Palestine 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 Palestine
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);
(4) Gaulonitis (Jaulan);
(5) Ituraea or Auranitis, the ancient Bashan;
(8) Decapolis, i.e., the region of the ten cities.
The whole territory of Palestine, 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.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
pal'-es-tin (pelesheth; Phulistieim, Allophuloi; the King
James Version Joel 3:4 (the Revised Version (British and American) "Philistia"),
"Palestina"; the King James Version Exodus 15:14 ; Isaiah 14:29 , 31 ; compare
Psalms 60:8 ; 83:7 ; 87:4 ; 108:9):
The word properly means "Philistia," but appears to be first used in the extended
sense, as meaning all the "Land of Israel" or "Holy Land" (Zechariah 2:12), by
Philo and by Ovid and later Roman authors (Reland, Palestine Illustr., I, 38-42).
I. PHYSICAL CONDITIONS
The Bible in general may be said to breathe air of Palestine; and it is here intended
to show how important for sound criticism is the consideration of its geography,
and of the numerous incidental allusions to the natural features, fauna, flora,
cultivation, and climate of the land in which most of the Bible books were written.
With the later history and topography of Palestine, after 70 AD, we are not here
concerned, but a short account of its present physical and geological conditions
is needed for our purpose.
1. General Geographical Features
Palestine West of the Jordan, between Dan and Beersheba, has an area of about
6,000 square miles, the length from Hermon southward being nearly 150 miles, and
the width gradually increasing from 20 miles on the North to 60 miles on the South.
It is thus about the size of Wales, and the height of the Palestinian mountains
is about the same as that of the Welsh. East of the Jordan an area of about 4,000
square miles was included in the land of Israel. The general geographical features
are familiar to all.
|(1) The land is divided by the deep chasm of the Jordan
valley--an ancient geological fault continuing in the Dead Sea, where its depth
(at the bottom of the lake) is 2,600 ft. below the Mediterranean.
(2) West of the valley the mountain ridge, which is a continuation of Lebanon,
has very steep slopes on the East and long spurs on the West, on which side the
foothills (Hebrew shephelah or "lowland") form a distinct district, widening gradually
southward, while between this region and the sea the plains of Sharon and Philistia
stretch to the sandhills and low cliffs of a harborless coast.
(3) In Upper Galilee, on the North, the mountain ridge rises to 4,000 ft. above
the Mediterranean. Lower Galilee, to the South, includes rounded hills less than
1,000 ft. above the sea, and the triangular plain of Esdraelon drained by the
River Kishon between the Gilboa watershed on the East and the long spur of Carmel
on the West.
(4) In Samaria the mountains are extremely rugged, but a small plain near Dothan
adjoins that of Esdraelon, and another stretches East of Shechem, 2,500 ft. above
the level of the Jordan valley. In Judea the main ridge rises toward Hebron and
then sinks to the level of the Beersheba plains about 1,000 ft. above the sea.
The desert of Judah forms a plateau (500 ft. above sea-level), between this ridge
and the Dead Sea, and is throughout barren and waterless; but the mountains--which
average about 3,000 ft. above the sea--are full of good springs and suitable for
the cultivation of the vine, fig and olive. The richest lands are found in the
shephelah region--especially in Judea--and in the corn plains of Esdraelon, Sharon,
(5) East of the Jordan the plateau of Bashan (averaging 1,500 ft. above the sea)
is also a fine corn country. South of this, Gilead presents a mountain region
rising to 3,600 ft. above sea-level at Jebel Osha', and sloping gently on the
East to the desert. The steep western slopes are watered by the Jabbok River,
and by many perennial brooks. In North Gilead especially the wooded hills present
some of the most picturesque scenery of the Holy Land. South of Gilead, the Moab
plateau (about 2,700 ft. above sea-level) is now a desert, but is fitted for raising
grain, and, in places, for vines. A lower shelf or plateau (about 500 to 1,000
ft. above sea-level) intervenes between the main plateau and the Dead Sea cliffs,
and answers to the Desert of Judah West of the lake.
The water-supply of Palestine is abundant, except in the desert regions above
noticed, which include only a small part of its area. The Jordan runs into the
Dead Sea, which has no outlet and which maintains its level solely by evaporation,
being consequently very salt; the surface is nearly 1,300 ft. below the Mediterranean,
whereas the Sea of Galilee (680 ft. below sea-level) is sweet and full of fish.
The Jordan is fed, not only by the snows of Hermon, but by many affluent streams
from both sides. There are several streams also in Sharon, including the Crocodile
River under Carmel. In the mountains, where the hard dolomite limestone is on
the surface, perennial springs are numerous. In the lower hills, where this limestone
is covered by a softer chalky stone, the supply depends on wells and cisterns.
In the Beersheba plains the water, running under the surface, is reached by scooping
shallow pits--especially those near Gerar, to be noticed later.
3. Geological Conditions
The fertility and cultivation of any country depends mainly on its geological
conditions. These are comparatively simple in Palestine, and have undergone no
change since the age when man first appeared, or since the days of the Hebrew
patriarchs. The country was first upheaved from the ocean in the Eocene age; and,
in the subsequent Miocene age, the great crack in the earth's surface occurred,
which formed a narrow gulf stretching from that of the 'Aqabah on the South almost
to the foot of Hermon. Further upheaval, accompanied by volcanic outbreaks which
covered the plateaus of Golan, Bashan, and Lower Galilee with lava, cut off the
Jordan valley from the Red Sea, and formed a long lake, the bottom of which continued
to sink on the South to its present level during the Pleiocene and Pluvial periods,
after which--its peculiar fauna having developed meanwhile--the lake gradually
dried up, till it was represented only, as it now is, by the swampy Chuleh, the
pear-shaped Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea. These changes all occurred long
ages before the appearance of man. The beds upheaved include:
|(1) the Nubian Sandstone (of the Greensand period), which
was sheared along the line of the Jordan fault East of the river, and which only
appears on the western slopes of Hermon, Gilead, and Moab;
(2) the limestones of the Cretaceous age, including the hard dolomite, and softer
beds full of characteristic fossils;
(3) the soft Eocene limestone, which appears chiefly on the western spurs and
in the foothills, the angle of upheaval being less steep than that of the older
main formation. On the shores of the Mediterranean a yet later sandy limestone
forms the low cliffs of Sharon.
See GEOLOGY OF PALESTINE.
4. Fauna and Flora
As regards fauna, flora and cultivation, it is sufficient here to say that they
are still practically the same as described throughout the Bible. The lion and
the wild bull (Bos primigenius) were exterminated within historic times, but have
left their bones in the Jordan gravels, and in caves. The bear has gradually retreated
to Hermon and Lebanon. The buffalo has been introduced since the Moslem conquest.
Among trees the apple has fallen out of cultivation since the Middle Ages, and
the cactus has been introduced; but Palestine is still a land of grain, wine and
oil, and famous for its fruits. Its trees, shrubs and plants are those noticed
in the Bible. Its woods have been thinned in Lower Galilee and Northern Sharon,
but on the other hand the copse has often grown over the site of former vineyards
and villages, and there is no reason to think that any general desiccation has
occurred within the last 40 centuries, such as would affect the rainfall.
The climate of Palestine is similar to that of other Mediterranean lands, such
as Cyprus, Sicily or Southern Italy; and, in spite of the fevers of mosquito districts
in the plains, it is much better than that of the Delta in Egypt, or of Mesopotamia.
The summer heat is oppressive only for a few days at a time, when (espescially
in May) the dry wind--deficient in ozone--blows from the eastern desert. For most
of the season a moisture-laden sea breeze, rising about 10 AM, blows till the
evening, and fertilizes all the western slopes of the mountains. In the bare deserts
the difference between 90ø F. by day and 40ø F. by night gives a refreshing cold.
With the east wind the temperature rises to 105ø F., and the nights are oppressive.
In the Jordan valley, in autumn, the shade temperature reaches 120ø F. In this
season mists cover the mountains and swell the grapes. In winter the snow sometimes
lies for several days on the watershed ridge and on the Edomite mountains, but
in summer even Hermon is sometimes quite snowless at 9,000 ft. above the sea.
There is perhaps no country in which such a range of climate can be found, from
the Alpine to the tropical, and none in which the range of fauna and flora is
consequently so large, from the European to the African.
The rainfall of Palestine is between 20 and 30 inches annually, and the rainy
season is the same as in other Mediterranean countries. The "former rains" begin
with the thunderstorms of November, and the "latter rains" cease with April showers.
From December to February--except in years of drought--the rains are heavy. In
most years the supply is quite sufficient for purposes of cultivation. The plowing
begins in autumn, and the corn is rarely spoiled by storms in summer. The fruits
ripen in autumn and suffer only from the occasional appearance of locust swarms.
There appears to be no reason to suppose that climate or rainfall have undergone
any change since the times of the Bible; and a consideration of Bible allusions
confirms this view.
7. Drought and Famine
Thus, the occurrence of drought, and of consequent famine, is mentioned in the
Old Testament as occasional in all times (Genesis 12:10 ; 26:2 ; 41:50 ; Leviticus
26:20 ; 2 Samuel 21:1 ; 1 Kings 8:35 ; Isaiah 5:6 ; Jeremiah 14:1 ; Joel 1:10-12
; Haggai 1:11 ; Zechariah 14:17), and droughts are also noticed in the Mishna
(Ta'anith, i. 4-7) as occurring in autumn, and even lasting throughout the rainy
season till spring. Good rains were a blessing from God, and drought was a sign
of His displeasure, in Hebrew belief (Deuteronomy 11:14 ; Jeremiah 5:24 ; Joel
2:23). A thunderstorm in harvest time (May) was most unusual (1 Samuel 12:17 ,
18), yet such a storm does still occur as a very exceptional phenomenon. By "snow
in harvest" (Proverbs 25:13) we are not to understand a snowstorm, for it is likened
to a "faithful messenger," and the reference is to the use of snow for cooling
wine, which is still usual at Damascus. The notice of fever on the shores of the
Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:14) shows that this region was as unhealthy as it still
is in summer. The decay of irrigation in Sharon may have rendered the plain more
malarious than of old, but the identity of the Palestinian flora with that of
the Bible indicates that the climate, generally speaking, is unchanged.
II. PALESTINE IN THE PENTATEUCH
1. Places Visited by Abraham
The Book of Genesis is full of allusions to sites sacred to the memory of the
Hebrew patriarchs. In the time of Abraham the population consisted of tribes,
mainly Semitic, who came originally from Babylonia, including Canaanites ("lowlanders")
between Sidon and Gaza, and in the Jordan valley, and Amorites ("highlanders")
in the mountains (Genesis 10:15-19 ; Numbers 13:29). Their language was akin to
Hebrew, and it is only in Egypt that we read of an interpreter being needed (Genesis
42:23), while excavated remains of seal-cylinders, and other objects, show that
the civilization of Palestine was similar to that of Babylonia.
The first place noticed is the shrine or "station" (maqom) of Shechem, with the
Elon Moreh, the Septuagint "high oak"), where Jacob afterward buried the idols
of his wives, and where Joshua set up a stone by the "holy place" (Genesis 12:6
; 35:4 ; Joshua 24:26). Samaritan tradition showed the site near BalaTa ("the
oak") at the foot of Mt. Gerizim. The "Canaanite was then in the land" (in Abraham's
time), but was exterminated (Genesis 34:25) by Jacob's sons. From Shechem Abraham
journeyed southward and raised an altar between Bethel (Beitin) and Hal (Chayan),
East of the town of Luz, the name of which still survives hard-by at the spring
of Lozeh (Genesis 12:8 ; 13:3 ; 28:11 , 19 ; 35:2).
(2) The Negeb.
But, on his return from Egypt with large flocks (Genesis 12:16), he settled in
the pastoral region, between Beersheba and the western Kadesh (Genesis 13:1 ;
20:1), called in Hebrew the neghebh, "dry" country, on the edge of the cultivated
lands. From East of Bethel there is a fine view of the lower Jordan valley, and
here Lot "lifted up his eyes" (Genesis 13:10), and chose the rich grass lands
of that valley for his flocks. The "cities of the Plain" (kikkar) were clearly
in this valley, and Sodom must have been near the river, since Lot's journey to
Zoar (Genesis 19:22) occupied only an hour or two (Genesis 19:15 , 23) through
the plain to the foot of the Moab mountains. These cities are not said to have
been visible from near Hebron; but, from the hilltop East of the city, Abraham
could have seen "the smoke of the land" (Genesis 19:28) rising up. The first land
owned by him was the garden of Mamre (Genesis 13:18 ; 18:1 ; 23:19), with the
cave-tomb which tradition still points out under the floor of the Hebron mosque.
His tent was spread under the "oaks of Mamre" (Genesis 18:1), where his mysterious
guests rested "under the tree" (Genesis 18:8). One aged oak still survives in
the flat ground West of the city, but this tree is very uncommon in the mountains
of Judah. In all these incidental touches we have evidence of the exact knowledge
of Palestine which distinguishes the story of the patriarchs.
(3) Campaign of Amraphel.
Palestine appears to have been an outlying province of the empire of. Hammurabi,
king of Babylon in Abraham's time; and the campaign of Amraphel resembled those
of later Assyrian overlords exacting tribute of petty kings. The route (Genesis
14:5 - 8) lay through Bashan, Gilead and Moab to Kadesh (probably at Petra), and
the return through the desert of Judah to the plains of Jericho. Thus Hebron was
not attacked (see Genesis 14:13), and the pursuit by Abraham and his Amorite allies
led up the Jordan valley to Dan, and thence North of Damascus (Genesis 14:15).
The Salem whose king blessed Abraham on his return was thought by the Samaritans,
and by Jerome, to be the city near the Jordan valley afterward visited by Jacob
(Genesis 14:18 ; 33:18).
Abraham returned to the southern plains, and "sojourned in Gerar" (Genesis 20:1),
now Umm Jerrar, 7 miles South of Gaza. The wells which he dug in this valley (Genesis
26:15) were no doubt shallow excavations like those from which the Arabs still
obtain the water flowing under the surface in the same vicinity (SWP, III, 390),
though that at Beersheba (Genesis 21:25 - 32), to which Isaac added another (Genesis
26:23 - 25), may have been more permanent. Three masonry wells now exist at Bir
es Seba', but the masonry is modern. The planting of a "tamarisk" at this place
(Genesis 21:33) is an interesting touch, since the tree is distinctive of the
dry lowlands. From Beersheba Abraham journeyed to "the land of Moriah" Septuagint
"the high land") to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:2); and the mountain, according
to Hebrew tradition (2 Chronicles 3:1), was at Jerusalem, but according to the
Samaritans was Gerizim near the Elon Moreh--a summit which could certainly have
been seen "afar off" (2 Chronicles 3:4) on "the third day."
2. Places Visited by Isaac
Isaac, living in the same pastoral wilderness, at the western Kadesh (Genesis
25:11) and at Gerar (Genesis 26:2), suffered like his father in a year of drought,
and had similar difficulties with the Philistines. At Gerar he sowed grain (Genesis
26:12), and the vicinity is still capable of such cultivation. Thence he retreated
Southeast to Rehoboth (Rucheibeh), North of Kadesh, where ancient wells like those
at Beersheba still exist (Genesis 26:22). To Beersheba he finally returned (Genesis
3. Places Visited by Jacob
When Jacob fled to Haran from Beersheba (Genesis 28:10) he slept at the "place"
(or shrine) consecrated by Abraham's altar near Bethel, and like any modern Arab
visitor to a shrine--erected a memorial stone (Genesis 28:18), which he renewed
twenty years later (Genesis 35:14) when God appeared to him "again" (Genesis 35:9).
(1) Haran to Succoth.
His return journey from Haran to Gilead raises an interesting question. The distance
is about 350 miles from Haran to the Galeed or "witness heap" (Genesis 31:48)
at Mizpah--probably Suf in North Gilead. This distance Laban is said to have covered
in 7 days (Genesis 31:23), which would be possible for a force mounted on riding
camels. But the news of Jacob's flight reached Laban on the 3rd day (Genesis 31:22),
and some time would elapse before he could gather his "brethren." Jacob with his
flocks and herds must have needed 3 weeks for the journey. It is remarkable that
the vicinity of Mizpah still presents ancient monuments like the "pillar" (Genesis
31:45) round which the "memorial cairn" (yeghar-sahadhutha) was formed. From this
place Jacob journeyed to Mahanaim (probably Machmah), South of the Jabbok river--a
place which afterward became the capital of South Gilead (Genesis 32:1 ; 1 Kings
4:14); but, on hearing of the advance of Esau from Edom, he retreated across the
river (Genesis 32:22) and then reached Succoth (Genesis 33:17), believed to be
Tell Der'ala, North of the stream.
(2) From the Jordan to Hebron.
Crossing the Jordan by one of several fords in this vicinity, Jacob approached
Shechem by the perennial stream of Wady Far'ah, and camped at Shalem (Salim) on
the east side of the fertile plain which stretches thence to Shechem, and here
he bought land of the Hivites (Genesis 33:18 - 20). We are not told that he dug
a well, but the necessity for digging one in a region full of springs can only
be explained by Hivite jealousy of water rights, and the well still exists East
of Shechem (compare John 4:5 f), not far from the Elon Moreh where were buried
the teraphim (Genesis 35:4) or "spirits" (Assyrian, tarpu) from Haran (Genesis
31:30) under the oak of Abraham. These no doubt were small images, such as are
so often unearthed in Palestine. The further progress of Jacob led by Bethel and
Bethlehem to Hebron (Genesis 35:6 , 19 , 27), but some of his elder sons seem
to have remained at Shechem. Thus, Joseph was sent later from Hebron (Genesis
37:14) to visit his brethren there, but found them at Dothan.
Dothan (Genesis 37:17) lay in a plain on the main trade route from Egypt to Damascus,
which crossed the low watershed at this point and led down the valley to Jezreel
and over Jordan to Bashan. The "well of the pit" (SWP, II, 169) is still shown
at Tell Dothan, and the Ishmaelites, from Midian and Gilead, chose this easy caravan
route (Genesis 37:25 , 28) for camels laden with the Gilead balm and spices. The
plain was fitted for feeding Jacob's flocks. The products of Palestine then included
also honey, pistachio nuts, and almonds (Genesis 43:11); and a few centuries later
we find notice in a text of Thothmes III of honey and balsam, with oil, wine,
wheat, spelt, barley and fruits, as rations of the Egyptian troops in Canaan (Brugsch,
Hist Egypt, I, 332).
4. Mentioned in Connection with Judah
The episode of Judah and Tamar is connected with a region in the Shephelah, or
low hills of Judea. Adullam ('Aid-el-ma), Chezib ('Ain Kezbeh), and Timnath (Tibneh)
are not far apart (Genesis 38:1 , 5 , 12), the latter being in a pastoral valley
where Judah met his "sheep shearers." Tamar sat at "the entrance of Enaim" (compare
Genesis 38:14 , 22 the English Revised Version) or Enam (Joshua 15:34), perhaps
at Kefr 'Ana, 6 miles Northwest of Timnath. She was mistaken for a qedheshah,
or votary (sacred prostitute) of Ashtoreth (Genesis 38:15 , 21), and we know from
Hammurabi's laws that such votaries were already recognized. The mention of Judah's
signet and staff (Genesis 38:18) also reminds us of Babylonian customs as described
by Herodotus (i.195), and signet-cylinders of Babylonian style, and of early date,
have been unearthed in Palestine at Gezer and elsewhere (compare the "Babylonian
garment," Joshua 7:21).
5. Review of Geography of Genesis
Generally speaking, the geography of Ge presents no difficulties, and shows an
intimate knowledge of the country, while the allusions to natural products and
to customs are in accord with the results of scientific discovery. Only one difficulty
needs notice, where Atad (Genesis 50:10) on the way from Egypt to Hebron is described
as "beyond the Jordan." In this case the Assyrian language perhaps helps us, for
in that tongue Yaur-danu means "the great river," and the reference may be to
the Nile itself, which is called Yaur in Hebrew (ye'or) and Assyrian alike.
6. Exodus and Leviticus
Exodus is concerned with Egypt and the Sinaitic desert, though it may be observed
that its simple agricultural laws (Exodus 21 - 23), which so often recall those
of Hammurabi, would have been needed at once on the conquest of Gilead and Bashan,
before crossing the Jordan. In Leviticus 11 we have a list of animals most of
which belong to the desert--as for instance the "coney" or hyrax (Leviticus 11:5
; Psalms 104:18 ; Proverbs 30:26), but others--such as the swine (Leviticus 11:7),
the stork and the heron (Leviticus 11:19)--to the 'Arabah and the Jordan valley,
while the hoopoe (the King James Version "lapwing," Leviticus 11:19) lives in
Gilead and in Western Palestine. In Deuteronomy 14 the fallow deer and the roe
(Deuteronomy 14:5) are now inhabitants of Tabor and Gilead, but the "wild goat"
(ibex), "wild ox" (buball), "pygarg" (addax) and "chamois" (wild sheep), are found
in the 'Arabah and in the deserts.
In Numbers, the conquest of Eastern Palestine is described, and most of the towns
mentioned are known (Numbers 21:18 - 33); the notice of vineyards in Moab (Numbers
21:22) agrees with the discovery of ancient rock-cut wine presses near Heshbon
(SEP, I, 221). The view of Israel, in camp at Shittim by Balaam (Numbers 22:41),
standing on the top of Pisgah or Mt. Nebo, has been shown to be possible by the
discovery of Jebel Neba, where also rude dolmens recalling Balak's altars have
been found (SEP, I, 202). The plateau of Moab (Numbers 32:3) is described as a
"land for cattle," and still supports Arab flocks. The camps in which Israel left
their cattle, women and children during the wars, for 6 months, stretched (Numbers
33:49) from Beth-jeshimoth (Suweimeh), near the northeastern corner of the Dead
Sea over Abel-shittim ("the acacia meadow"--a name it still bears) in a plain
watered by several brooks, and having good herbage in spring.
(1) Physical Allusions.
The description of the "good land" in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 8:7) applies in
some details with special force to Mt. Gilead, which possesses more perennial
streams than Western Palestine throughout--"a land of brooks of water, of fountains
and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills"; a land also "of wheat and barley,
and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates, a land of olive-trees and honey" is
found in Gilead and Bashan. Palestine itself is not a mining country, but the
words (Deuteronomy 8:9), "a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills
thou mayest dig copper," may be explained by the facts that iron mines existed
near Beirut in the 10th century AD, and copper mines at Punon North of Petra in
the 4th century AD, as described by Jerome (Onomasticon, under the word "Phinon").
In Deuteronomy also (Deuteronomy 11:29; compare 27:4; Joshua 8:30) Ebal and Gerizim
are first noticed, as beside the "oaks of Moreh." Ebal the mountain of curses
(3,077 ft. above sea-level) and Gerizim the mountain of blessings (2,850 ft.)
are the two highest tops in Samaria, and Shechem lies in a rich valley between
them. The first sacred center of Israel was thus established at the place where
Abraham built his first altar and Jacob dug his well, where Joseph was buried
and where Joshua recognized a holy place at the foot of Gerizim (Joshua 24:26).
The last chapters of Deuteronomy record the famous Pisgah view from Mt. Nebo (Deuteronomy
34:1-3), which answers in all respects to that from Jebel Neba, except as to Dan,
and the utmost (or "western") sea, neither of which is visible. Here we should
probably read "toward" rather than "to," and there is no other hill above the
plains of Shittim whence a better view can be obtained of the Jordan valley, from
Zoar to Jericho, of the watershed mountains as far North as Gilboa and Tabor,
and of the slopes of Gilead.
But besides these physical allusions, the progress of exploration
serves to illustrate the archaeology of Deuteronomy. Israel was commanded (Deuteronomy
12:3) to overthrow the Canaanite altars, to break the standing stones which were
emblems of superstition, to burn the 'asherah poles (or artificial trees), and
to hew down the graven images. That these commands were obeyed is clear. The rude
altars and standing stones are now found only in Moab, and in remote parts of
Gilead, Bashan, and Galilee, not reached by the power of reforming kings of Judah.
The 'asherah poles have disappeared, the images are found, only deep under the
surface. The carved tablets which remain at Damascus, and in Phoenicia and Syria,
representing the gods of Canaan or of the Hittites, have no counterpart in the
Holy Land. Again when we read of ancient "landmarks" (Deuteronomy 19:14 ; Proverbs
22:28 ; 23:10), we are not to understand a mere boundary stone, but rather one
of those monuments common in Babylonia--as early at least as the 12th century
BC--on which the boundaries of a field are minutely described, the history of
its grant by the king detailed, and a curse (compare Deuteronomy 27:17) pronounced
against the man who should dare to remove the stone.
III. PALESTINE IN THE HISTORIC BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. Book of Joshua
Joshua is the great geographical book of the Old Testament; and the large majority
of the 600 names of places, rivers and mountains in Palestine mentioned in the
Bible are to be found in this book.
(1) Topographical Accuracy.
About half of this total of names were known, or were fixed by Dr. Robinson, between
1838 and 1852, and about 150 new sites were discovered (1872-1878, 1881-1882)
in consequence of the 1-in. trigonometrical survey of the country, and were identified
by the present writer during this period; a few interesting sites have been added
by M. Clermont-Ganneau (Adullam and Gezer), by A. Henderson (Kiriathjearim), by
W.F. Birch (Zoar at Tell esh Shaghur), and by others. Thus more than three-quarters
of the sites have been fixed with more or less certainty, most of them preserving
their ancient names. It is impossible to study this topography without seeing
that the Bible writers had personal knowledge of the country; and it is incredible
that a Hebrew priest, writing in Babylonia, could have possessed that intimate
acquaintance with all parts of the land which is manifest in the geographical
chapters of Joshua. The towns are enumerated in due order by districts; the tribal
boundaries follow natural lines--valleys and mountain ridges--and the character
of various regions is correctly indicated. Nor can we suppose that this topography
refers to conditions subsequent to the return from captivity, for these were quite
different. Simeon had ceased to inhabit the south by the time of David (1 Chronicles
4:24), and the lot of Da was colonized by men of Benjamin after the captivity
(1 Chronicles 8:12 , 13 ; Nehemiah 11:34 , 35). Tirzah is mentioned (Joshua 12:24)
in Samaria, whereas the future capital of Omri is not. Ai is said to have been
made "a heap forever" (Joshua 8:28), but was inhabited apparently in Isaiah's
time (Isaiah 10:28 = Aiath) and certainly after the captivity (Ezra 2:28 ; Nehemiah
7:32 ; 11:31 = Aija). At latest, the topography seems to be that of Solomon's
age, though it is remarkable that very few places in Samaria are noticed in the
Book of Joshua.
(2) The Passage of the Jordan.
Israel crossed Jordan at the lowest ford East of
Jericho. The river was in flood, swollen by the melting snows of Hermon (Joshua
3:15); the stoppage occurred 20 miles farther up at Adam (ed-Damieh), the chalky
cliffs at a narrow place being probably undermined and falling in, thus damming
the stream. A Moslem writer asserts that a similar stoppage occurred in the 13th
century AD, near the same point. (See JORDAN.) The first camp was established
at Gilgal (Jilgulieh), 3 miles East of Jericho, and a "circle" of 12 stones was
erected. Jericho was not at the medieval site (er Richa) South of Gilgal, or at
the Herodian site farther West, but at the great spring 'Ain es SulTan, close
to the mountains to which the spies escaped (Joshua 2:16). The great mounds were
found by Sir C. Warren to consist of sun-dried bricks, and further excavations
(see Mitteil. der deutschen Orient-Gesell., December, 1909, No. 41) have revealed
little but the remains of houses of various dates.
(3) Joshua's First Campaign.
The first city in the mountains attacked by Israel
was Ai, near Chayan, 2 miles Southeast of Bethel. It has a deep valley to the
North, as described (Joshua 8:22). The fall of Ai and Bethel (Joshua 8:17) seems
to have resulted in the peaceful occupation of the region between Gibeon and Shechem
(Joshua 8:30 - 9:27); but while the Hivites submitted the Amorites of Jerusalem
and of the South attacked Gibeon (el Jib) and were driven down the steep pass
of Beth-horon (Beit 'Aur) to the plains (Joshua 10:1 - 11). Joshua's great raid,
after this victory, proceeded through the plain to Makkedah, now called el Mughar,
from the "cave" (compare Joshua 10:17), and by Libnah to Lachish (Tell el Chesy),
whence he went up to Hebron, and "turned" South to Debir (edh Dhaheriyeh), thus
subduing the shephelah of Judah and the southern mountains, though the capital
at Jerusalem was not taken. It is now very generally admitted that the six letters
of the Amorite king of Jerusalem included in Tell el-Amarna Letters may refer
to this war. The 'Abiri or Chabiri are therein noticed as a fierce people from
Seir, who "destroyed all the rulers," and who attacked Ajalon, Lachish, Ashkelon,
Keilah (on the main road to Hebron) and other places.
See EXODUS, THE.
(4) The Second Campaign.
The second campaign (Joshua 11:1 - 14) was against the
nations of Galilee; and the Hebrew victory was gained at "the waters of Merom"
(Joshua 11:5). There is no sound reason for placing these at the Chuleh lake;
and the swampy Jordan valley was a very unlikely field of battle for the Canaanite
chariots (Joshua 11:6). The kings noticed are those of Madon (Madin), Shimron
(Semmunieh), Dor (possibly Tell Thorah), "on the west," and of Hazor (Chazzur),
all in Lower Galilee. The pursuit was along the coast toward Sidon (Joshua 11:8);
and Merom may be identical with Shimron-meron (Joshua 12:20), now Semmunieh, in
which case the "waters" were those of the perennial stream in Wady el Melek, 3
miles to the North, which flow West to join the lower part of the Kishon. Shimron-meron
was one of the 31 royal cities of Palestine West of the Jordan (Joshua 12:9 -
The regions left unconquered by Joshua (Joshua 13:2 - 6) were those afterward
conquered by David and Solomon, including the Philistine plains, and the Sidonian
coast from Mearah (el Mogheiriyeh) northward to Aphek (Afqa) in Lebanon, on the
border of the Amorite country which lay South of the "land of the Hittites" (Joshua
1:4). Southern Lebanon, from Gebal (Jubeil) and the "entering into Hamath" (the
Eleutherus Valley) on the West, to Baal-gad (probably at 'Ain Judeideh on the
northwestern slope of Hermon) was also included in the "land" by David (2 Samuel
8:6 - 10). But the whole of Eastern Palestine (Joshua 13:7 - 32), and of Western
Palestine, except the shore plains, was allotted to the 12 tribes. Judah and Joseph
(Ephraim and Manasseh), being the strongest, appear to have occupied the mountains
and the shephelah, as far North as Lower Galilee, before the final allotment.
Thus, the lot of Simeon was within that inherited by Judah (Joshua 19:1), and
that of Da seems to have been partly taken from Ephraim, since Joseph's lot originally
reached to Gezer (Joshua 16:3); but Benjamin appears to have received its portion
early (compare Joshua 15:5 - 11 ; 16:1 , 2 ; 18:11 - 28). This lot was larger
than that of Ephraim, and Benjamin was not then the "smallest of the tribes of
Israel" (1 Samuel 9:21), since the destruction of the tribe did not occur till
after the death of Joshua and Eleazar (Judges 20:28).
The twelve tribes were distributed in various regions which may here briefly be
described. Reuben held the Moab plateau to the Arnon (Wady Mojub) on the South,
and to the "river of Gad" (Wady Na'aur) on the North, thus including part of the
Jordan valley close to the Dead Sea. Gad held all the West of Gilead, being separated
from the Ammonites by the upper course of the Jabbok. All the rest of the Jordan
valley East of the river was included in this lot. Manasseh held Bashan, but the
conquest was not completed till later. Simeon had the neghebh plateau South of
Beersheba. Judah occupied the mountains South of Jerusalem, with the shephelah
to their West, and claimed Philistia South of Ekron. Benjamin had the Jericho
plains and the mountains between Jerusalem and Bethel. The border ran South of
Jerusalem to Rachel's tomb (1 Samuel 10:2), and thence West to Kiriath-jearim
('Erma) and Ekron. Da occupied the lower hills West of Benjamin and Ephraim, and
claimed the plain from Ekron to Rakkon (Tell er Raqqeit) North of Joppa. Manasseh
had a large region, corresponding to Samaria, and including Carmel, Sharon and
half the Jordan valley, with the mountains North of Shechem; but this tribe occupied
only the hills, and was unable to drive the Cannanites out of the plains (Joshua
17:11 , 16) Ephraim also complained of the smallness of its lot (Joshua 17:15),
which lay in rugged mountains between Bethel and Shechem, including however, the
grain plateau East of the latter city. Issachar held the plains of Esdraelon and
Dothan, with the Jordan valley to the East, but soon became subject to the Canaanites.
Zebulun had the hills of Lower Galilee, and the coast from Carmel to Accho. Naphtali
owned the mountains of Upper Galilee, and the rich plateau between Tabor and the
Sea of Galilee. Asher had the low hills West of Naphtali, and the narrow shore
plains from Accho to Tyre. Thus each tribe possessed a proportion of mountain
land fit for cultivation of figs, olives and vines, and of arable land fit for
corn. The areas allotted appear to correspond to the density of population that
the various regions were fitted to support.
The Levitical cities were fixed in the various tribes as centers for the teaching
of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:10), but a Levite was not obliged to live in such a
city, and was expected to go with his course annually to the sacred center, before
they retreated to Jerusalem on the disruption of the kingdom (2 Chronicles 11:14).
The 48 cities (Joshua 21:13 - 42) include 13 in Judah and Benjamin for the priests,
among which Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 6:13 , 15) and Anathoth (1 Kings 2:26) are
early noticed as Levitical. The other tribes had 3 or 4 such cities each, divided
among Kohathites (10), Gershonites (13), and Merarites (12). The six Cities of
Refuge were included in the total, and were placed 3 each side of the Jordan in
the South, in the center, and in the North, namely Hebron, Shechem and Kedesh
on the West, and Bezer (unknown), Ramoth (Reimun) and Golan (probably Sachem el
Jaulan) East of the river. Another less perfect list of these cities, with 4 omissions
and 11 minor differences, mostly clerical, is given in 1 Chronicles 6:57 - 81.
Each of these cities had "suburbs," or open spaces, extending (Numbers 35:4) about
a quarter-mile beyond the wall, while the fields, to about half a mile distant,
also belonged to the Levites (Leviticus 25:34).
2. Book of Judges
(1) Early Wars.
In Judges, the stories of the heroes who successively arose to save Israel from
the heathen carry us to every part of the country. "After the death of Joshua"
(Judges 1:1) the Canaanites appear to have recovered power, and to have rebuilt
some of the cities which he had ruined. Judah fought the Perizzites ("villagers")
at Berek (Berqah) in the lower hills West of Jerusalem, and even set fire to that
city. Caleb attacked Debir (Judges 1:12 - 15), which is described (compare Joshua
15:15 - 19) as lying in a "dry" (the King James Version "south") region, yet with
springs not far away. The actual site (edh Dhaheriyeh) is a village with ancient
tombs 12 miles Southwest of Hebron; it has no springs, but about 7 miles to the
Northeast there is a perennial stream with "upper and lower springs." As regards
the Philistine cities (Judges 1:18), the Septuagint reading seems preferable;
for the Greek says that Judah "did not take Gaza" nor Ashkelon nor Ekron, which
agrees with the failure in conquering the "valley" (Judges 1:19) due to the Canaanites
having "chariots of iron." The Canaanite chariots are often mentioned about this
time in the Tell el-Amarna Letters and Egyptian accounts speak of their being
plated with metals. Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher and Naphtali, were equally
powerless against cities in the plains (Judges 1:27 - 33); and Israel began to
mingle with the Canaanites, while the tribe of Da seems never to have really occupied
its allotted region, and remained encamped in the borders of Judah till some,
at least, of its warriors found a new home under Hermon (Judges 1:34 ; 18:1 -
30) in the time of Jonathan, the grandson of Moses.
(2) Defeat of Sisera.
The oppression of Israel by Jabin II of Hazor, in Lower Galilee, appears to have
occurred in the time of Rameses II, who, in his 8th year, conquered Shalem (Salim,
North of Taanach), Anem ('Anin), Dapur (Deburieh, at the foot of Tabor), with
Bethanath ('Ainitha) in Upper Galilee (Brugsch, History of Egypt, II, 64). Sisera
may have been an Egyptian resident at the court of Jabin (Judges 4:2); his defeat
occurred near the foot of Tabor (Judges 4:14) to which he advanced East from Harosheth
(el Charathiyeh) on the edge of the sea plain. His host "perished at Endor" (Psalms
83:9) and in the swampy Kishon (Judges 5:21). The site of the Kedesh in "the plain
of swamps" (Judges 4:11) to which he fled is doubtful. Perhaps Kedesh of Issachar
(1 Chronicles 6:72) is intended at Tell Qadeis, 3 miles North of Taanach, for
the plain is here swampy in parts. The Canaanite league of petty kings fought
from Taanach to Megiddo (Judges 5:19), but the old identification of the latter
city with the Roman town of Legio (Lejjun) was a mere guess which does not fit
with Egyptian accounts placing Megiddo near the Jordan. The large site at Mugedd'a,
in the Valley of Jezreel seems to be more suitable for all the Old Testament as
well as for the Egyptian accounts (SWP, II, 90-99).
(3) Gideon's Victory.
The subsequent oppression by Midianites and others would
seem to have coincided with the troubles which occurred in the 5th, year of Minepthah
(see EXODUS, THE). Gideon's home (Judges 6:11) at Ophrah, in Manasseh, is placed
by Samaritan tradition at Fer'ata, 6 miles West of Shechem, but his victory was
won in the Valley of Jezreel (Judges 7:1 - 22); the sites of Beth-shittah (ShaTTa)
and Abel-meholah ('Ain Chelweh) show how Midian fled down this valley and South
along the Jordan plain, crossing the river near Succoth (Tell Der'ala) and ascending
the slopes of Gilead to Jogbehah (Jubeichah) and Nobah (Judges 8:4 - 11). But
Oreb ("the raven") and Zeeb ("the wolf") perished at "the raven's rock" and "the
wolf's hollow" (compare Judges 7:25), West of the Jordan. It is remarkable (as
pointed out by the present author in 1874) that, 3 miles North of Jericho, a sharp
peak is now called "the raven's nest," and a ravine 4 miles farther North is named
"the wolf's hollows." These sites are rather farther South than might be expected,
unless the two chiefs were separated from the fugitives, who followed Zebah and
Zalmunna to Gilead. In this episode "Mt. Gilead" (Judges 7:3) seems to be a clerical
error for "Mt. Gilboa," unless the name survives in corrupt form at 'Ain Jalud
("Goliath's spring"), which is a large pool, usually supposed to be the spring
of Harod (Judges 7:1), where Gideon camped, East of Jezreel.
The story of Abimelech takes us back to Shechem. He was made king by the "oak
of the pillar" (Judges 9:6), which was no doubt Abraham's oak already noticed;
it seems also to be called 'the enchanter's oak' (Judges 9:37), probably from
some superstition connected with the burial of the Teraphim under it by Jacob.
The place called Beer, to which Jotham fled from Abimelech (Judges 9:21), may
have been Beeroth (Bireh) in the lot of Benjamin. Thebez, the town taken by the
latter (Judges 9:50), and where he met his death, is now the village Tubas, 10
miles Northeast of Shechem.
The Ammonite oppression of Israel in Gilead occurred about 300 years after the
Hebrew conquest (Judges 11:26), and Jephthah the deliverer returned to Mizpah
(Judges 11:29), which was probably the present village Cuf (already noticed),
from his exile in the "land of Tob" (Judges 11:3 , 6). This may have been near
Taiyibeh, 9 miles South of Gadara, in the extreme North of Gilead--a place notable
for its ancient dolmens and rude stone monuments, such as occur also at Mizpah.
Jephthah's dispute with the men of Ephraim (Judges 12:1) indicates the northern
position of Mizpah. Aroer (Judges 11:33) is unknown, but lay near Rabbath-ammon
(Joshua 13:25 ; 2 Samuel 24:5); it is to be distinguished from Aroer ('Ar'air)
in the Arnon ravine, mentioned in Judges 11:26.
The scene of Samson's exploits lies in the shephelah of Judah on the borders of
Philistia. His home at Zorah (Sur'ah) was on the hills North of the Valley of
Sorek, and looked down on "the camp of Dan" (Judges 13:25 margin), which had been
pitched in that valley near Beth-shemesh. Eshtaol (Eshu'a) was less than 2 miles
East of Zorah on the same ridge. Timnath (Judges 14:1) was only 2 miles West of
Beth-shemesh, at the present ruin Tibneh. The region was one of vineyards (Judges
14:5), and the name Sorek (Surik) still survives at a ruin 2 miles West of Zorah.
Sorek signified a "choice vine," and a rock-cut wine press exists at the site
(SWP, III, 126). These 5 places, all close together, were also close to the Philistine
grain lands (Judges 15:5) in a region of vines and olives. Samson's place of refuge
in the "cleft of the rock of Etam" (see Judges 15:8) was probably at Beit 'ATab,
only 5 miles East of Zorah, but rising with a high knoll above the southern precipices
of the gorge which opens into the Valley of Sorek. In this knoll, under the village,
is a rock passage now called "the well of refuge" (Bur el Chasutah), which may
have been the "cleft" into which Samson "went down." Lehi (Judges 15:9) was apparently
in the valley beneath, and the name ("the jaw") may refer to the narrow mouth
of the gorge whence, after conference with the Philistines, the men of Judah "went
down" (Judges 15:11) to the "cleft of the rock of Etam" (SWP, III, 83, 137), which
was a passage 250 ft. long leading down, under the town, to the spring. All of
Samson's story is connected with this one valley (for Delilah also lived in the
"Valley of Sorek," Judges 16:4) except his visit to Gaza, where he carried the
gates to the 'hill facing Hebron' (Judges 16:3), traditionally shown (SWP, III,
255) at the great mound on the East side of this town where he died, and where
his tomb is (wrongly) shown. Another tomb, close to Zorah, represents a more correct
tradition (Judges 16:31), but the legends of Samson at this village are of modern
The appendix to Judges includes two stories concerning Levites who both lived
in the time of the 2nd generation after the Hob conquest (Judges 18:30 ; 20:28),
and who both "sojourned" in Bethlehem of Judah (Judges 17:8; 19:2), though their
proper city was one in Mt. Ephraim, In the first case Jonathan, the grandson of
Moses, founded a family of idolatrous priests, setting up Micah's image at Da
(Tell el Qadi) beside the sources of the Jordan, where ancient dolmen altars still
exist. This image may have been the cause why Jeroboam afterward established a
calf-temple at the same place. It is said to have stood there till the "captivity
of the ark" (St. Petersburg MS, Judges 18:30), "all the time that the house of
God was in Shiloh" (Judges 18:31). From this narrative we learn that the tribe
of Da did not settle in its appointed lot (Judges 18:1), but pitched in the "camp
of Dan," west of Kiriath-jearim (Judges 18:12). This agrees with the former mention
of the site (Judges 13:25) as being near Zorah; and the open valley near Beth-shemesh
is visible, through the gorges of Lehi, from the site of Kiriath-jearim at 'Erma.
(4) Appendix: The Defeat of Benjamin.
In the 2nd episode we trace the journey
of the Levite from Bethlehem past Jerusalem to Gibeah (Jeba'), East of Ramah (er-Ram),
a distance which could easily be traversed in an afternoon (compare Judges 19:8
- 14). Gibeah was no doubt selected as a halting-place by the Levite, because
it was a Levitical city. The story of the great crime of the men of Gibeah was
well known to Hosea (Judges 9:9). Israel gathered against them at Mizpah (Tell
en Nacbeh) on the watershed, 3 miles to the Northwest, and the ark was brought
by Phinehas to Bethel (compare Judges 20:1 , 31 ; 18:26 , 27), 3 miles Northeast
of Mizpah. The defeat of Benjamin occurred where the road to Gibeah leaves the
main north road to Bethel (Judges 18:31), West of Ramah. The survivors fled to
the rock Rimmon (Rummon), 3 1/2 miles East of Bethel, on the edge of the "wilderness"
which stretches from this rugged hill toward the Jordan valley. The position of
Shiloh, 9 miles North of this rock, is very accurately described (Judges 21:19)
as being North of Bethel (Beitin), and East of the main road, thence to Shechem
which passes Lebonah (Lubban), a village 3 miles Northwest of Seilun or Shiloh.
The "vineyards," in which the maidens of Shiloh used to dance (Judges 21:20) at
the Feast of Tabernacles, lay no doubt where vineyards still exist in the little
plain South of this site. It is clear that the writer of these two narratives
had an acquaintance with Palestinian topography as exact as that shown throughout
Judges. Nor (if the reading "captivity of the ark" be correct) is there any reason
to suppose that they were written after 722 BC.
3. Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth gives us a vivid picture of Hebrew life "when the judges ruled"
(1:1 the King James Version), about a century before the birth of David. Laws
as old as Hammurabi's age allowed the widow the choice of remaining with the husband's
family, or of quitting his house (compare Ruth 1:8). The beating out of gleanings
(Ruth 2:17) by women is still a custom which accounts for the rock mortars found
so often scooped out on the hillside. The villager still sleeps, as a guard, beside
the heap of winnowed grain in the threshing-floor (Ruth 3:7); the head-veil, still
worn, could well have been used to carry six measures of barley (Ruth 3:15). The
courteous salutation of his reapers by Boaz (Ruth 2:4) recalls the common Arabic
greeting (Allah ma'kum), "God be with you." But the thin wine (Ruth 2:14) is no
longer drunk by Moslem peasants, who only "dip" their bread in oil.
4. Books of Samuel
The two Books of Samuel present an equally valuable picture of life, and an equally
real topography throughout. Samuel's father--a pious Levite (1 Chronicles 6:27)--descended
from Zuph who had lived at Ephratah (Bethlehem; compare 1 Samuel 9:4,5), had his
house at Ramah (1 Samuel 1:19) close to Gibeah, and this town (er-Ram) was Samuel's
home also (1 Samuel 7:17 ; 25:1). The family is described as 'Ramathites, Zuphites
of Mt. Ephraim' (1 Samuel 1:1), but the term "Mt. Ephraim" was not confined to
the lot of Ephraim, since it included Bethel and Ramah, in the land of Benjamin
(Judges 4:5). As a Levite, Elkanah obeyed the law of making annual visits to the
central shrine, though this does not seem to have been generally observed in an
age when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).
The central shrine had been removed by Joshua from Shechem to the remote site
of Shiloh (Joshua 22:9), perhaps for greater security, and here the tabernacle
(Joshua 22:19) was pitched (compare 1 Samuel 2:22) and remained for 4 centuries
till the death of Eli. The great defeat of Israel, when the ark was captured by
the Philistines, took place not far from Mizpah (1 Samuel 4:1), within an easy
day's journey from Shiloh (compare 1 Samuel 4:12). Ekron, whence it was sent back
(1 Samuel 6:16), was only 12 miles from Beth-shemesh ('Ainshems), where the ark
rested on a "great stone" (Septuagint, 1 Samuel 6:18); and Beth-shemesh was only
4 miles West of Kiriath-jearim (1 Samuel 6:21), which was in the mountains, so
that its inhabitants "came down" from "the hill" (1 Samuel 6:21 ; 7:1) to fetch
the ark, which abode there for 20 years, till the beginning of Saul's reign (1
Samuel 14:18), when, after the war, it may have been restored to the tabernacle
at Nob, to which place the latter was probably removed after Eli's death, when
Shiloh was deserted. The exact site of Nob is not known, but probably (compare
Isaiah 10:32) it was close to Mizpah, whence the first glimpse of Jerusalem is
caught, and thus near Gibeon, where it was laid up after the massacre of the priests
(1 Samuel 21:1 ; 22:9 , 18 ; 2 Chronicles 1:3), when the ark was again taken to
Kiriath-jearim (2 Samuel 6:2). Mizpah (Tell en-Nacbeh) was the gathering-place
of Israel under Samuel; and the "stone of help" (Eben-ezer) was erected, after
his victory over the Philistines, "between Mizpah and Shen" (1 Samuel 7:12)--the
latter place (see Septuagint) being probably the same as Jeshanah ('Ain Sinai),
6 miles North of Mizpah which Samuel visited yearly as a judge (1 Samuel 7:16).
(2) Saul's Search.
The journey of Saul, who, "seeking asses found a kingdom," presents a topography
which has often been misunderstood. He started (1 Samuel 9:4) from Gibeah (Jeba')
and went first to the land of Shalisha through Mt. Ephraim. Baal-shalisha (2 Kings
4:42) appears to have been the present Kefr Thilth, 18 miles North of Lydda and
24 miles Northwest from Gibeah. Saul then searched the land of Shalim--probably
that of Shual (1 Samuel 13:17), Northeast of Gibeah. Finally he went south beyond
the border of Benjamin (1 Samuel 10:2) to a city in the "land of Zuph," which
seems probably to have been Bethlehem, whence (as above remarked) Samuel's family--descendants
of Zuph--came originally. If so, it is remarkable that Saul and David were anointed
in the same city, one which Samuel visited later (1 Samuel 16:1 , 2) to sacrifice,
just as he did when meeting Saul (1 Samuel 9:12), who was probably known to him,
since Gibeah and Ramah were only 2 miles apart. Saul's journey home thus naturally
lay on the road past Rachel's tomb near Bethlehem, and along the Bethel road (1
Samuel 10:2 , 3) to his home at Gibeah (1 Samuel 10:5 , 10). It is impossible
to suppose that Samuel met him at Ramah--a common mistake which creates great
confusion in the topography.
(3) Saul's Coronation and First Campaign.
Saul concealed the fact of his anointing (1 Samuel 10:16) till the lot fell upon
him at Mizpah. This public choice by lot has been thought (Wellhausen, History
of Israel, 1885, 252) to indicate a double narrative, but to a Hebrew there would
not appear to be any discrepancy, since "The lot is cast into the lap; but the
whole disposing thereof is of Yahweh" (Proverbs 16:33). Even at Mizpah he was
not fully accepted till his triumph over the Ammonites, when the kingdom was "renewed"
at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14). This campaign raises an interesting question of geography.
Only 7 days' respite was allowed to the men of Jabesh in Gilead (1 Samuel 11:3),
during which news was sent to Saul at Gibeah, and messengers dispatched "throughout
the borders of Israel" (1 Samuel 11:7), while the hosts gathered at Bezek, and
reached Jabesh on the 7th or 8th day (1 Samuel 11:8 - 10) at dawn. Bezek appears
to be a different place from that West of Jerusalem (Judges 1:4) and to have been
in the middle of Palestine at Ibzik, 14 miles North of Shechem, and 25 miles West
of Jabesh, which probably lay in Wady Yabis in Gilead. The farthest distances
for the messengers would not have exceeded 80 miles; and, allowing a day for the
news to reach Saul and another for the march from Bezek to Jabesh, there would
have been just time for the gathering of Israel at this fairly central meeting-place.
The scene of the victory over the Philistines at Michmash is equally real. They
had a 'post' in Geba (or Gibeah, 1 Samuel 13:3), or a governor (compare the Septuagint),
whom Jonathan slew. They came up to Michmash (Mukhmas) to attack Jonathan's force
which held Gibeah, on the southern side of the Michmash valley, hard by. The northern
cliff of the great gorge was called Bozez ("shining") in contrast to the southern
one (in shadow) which was named Seneh or "thorn" (1 Samuel 14:4). Josephus (BJ,
V, ii, 2) says that Gibeah of Saul was by "the valley of thorns," and the ravine,
flanked by the two precipitous cliffs East of Michmash, is still called Wady es
SuweiniT, or "the valley of little thorn trees." Jonathan climbed the steep slope
that leads to a small flat top (1 Samuel 14:14 the King James Version), and surprised
the Philistine 'post.' The pursuit was by Bethel to the Valley of Aijalon, down
the steep Beth-boron pass (1 Samuel 14:23 , 31); but it should be noted that there
was no "wood" (1 Samuel 14:25 , 26) on this bare hilly ridge, and the word (compare
Song of Solomon 5:1) evidently means "honeycomb." It is also possible that the
altar raised by Saul, for fulfillment of the Law (Genesis 9:4 ; Exodus 20:25),
was at Nob where the central shrine was then established.
(4) David's Early Life.
David fed his flocks in the wilderness below Bethlehem, where many a silent and
dreadful "Valley of Shadows" (compare Psalms 23:4) might make the stoutest heart
fail. The lion crept up from the Jordan valley, and (on another occasion) the
bear came down from the rugged mountains above (1 Samuel 17:34). No bears are
now known South of Hermon, but the numerous references (2 Kings 2:24 ; Isaiah
59:11 ; Hosea 13:8 ; Proverbs 17:12 ; 28:15) show that they must have been exterminated,
like the lion, in comparatively late times. The victory over Goliath, described
in the chapter containing this allusion, occurred in the Valley of Elah near Shochoth
(Shuweikeh); and this broad valley (Wady es SunT) ran into the Philistine plain
at the probable site of Gath (Tell es Cafi) to which the pursuit led (1 Samuel
17:1 , 2 , 52). The watercourse still presents "smooth stones" (1 Samuel 17:40)
fit for the sling, which is still used by Arab shepherds; and the valley still
has in it fine "terebinths" such as those from which it took its name Elah. The
bronze armor of the giant (1 Samuel 17:5 , 6) indicates an early stage of culture,
which is not contradicted by the mention of an iron spearhead (1 Samuel 17:7),
since iron is found to have been in use in Palestine long before David's time.
The curious note (1 Samuel 17:54) as to the head of Goliath being taken "to Jerusalem"
is also capable of explanation. Jerusalem was not conquered till at least 10 years
later, but it was a general practice (as late as the 7th century BC in Assyria)
to preserve the heads of dead foes by salting them, as was probably done in another
case (2 Kings 10:7) when the heads of Ahab's sons were sent from Samaria to Jezreel
to be exposed at the gate.
David's outlaw life began when he took refuge with Samuel at the "settlements"
(Naioth) near Ramah, where the company of prophets lived. He easily met Jonathan
near Gibeah, which was only 2 miles East; and the "stone of departure" ("Ezel,"
1 Samuel 20:19) may have marked the Levitical boundary of that town. Nob also
(1 Samuel 20:1) was, as we have seen, not far off, but Gath (1 Samuel 20:10) was
beyond the Hebrew boundary. Thence David retreated up the Valley of Elah to Adullam
('Aid-el-ma), which stood on a hill West of this valley near the great turn (southward)
of its upper course. An inhabited cave still exists here (compare 1 Samuel 22:1),
and the site meets every requirement (SWP, III, 311, 347, 361-67). Keilah (1 Samuel
23:1) is represented by the village Kila, on the east side of the same valley,
3 miles farther up; and Hereth (1 Samuel 22:5) was also near, but "in Judah" (1
Samuel 23:3), at the village Kharas on a wooded spur 7 miles Northwest of Hebron.
Thence David went "down" (1 Samuel 23:4) to Keilah 2 miles away to the West. As
there was no safety for the outlaws, either in Philistia or in Judah, they had
to retreat to the wilderness of Ziph (Tell ez Zif), 4 miles Southeast of Hebron.
The word "wood" (choresh) may more probably be a proper name, represented by the
ruin of Khoreisa, rather more than a mile South of Ziph, while the hill Hachilah
(1 Samuel 23:19) might be the long spur, over the Jeshimon or desert of Judah,
6 miles East of Ziph, now called el Kola. Maon (M'ain) lay on the edge of the
same desert still farther South, about 8 miles from Hebron. En-gedi (1 Samuel
23:29 ; 24:1 , 2) was on the precipices by the Dead Sea. The "wild goats" (ibex)
still exist here in large droves, and the caves of this desert are still used
as folds for sheep in spring (1 Samuel 24:3). The villagers South of Hebron are
indeed remarkable for their large flocks which--by agreement with the nomads--are
sent to pasture in the Jeshimon, like those of Nabal, the rich man of Carmel (Kurmul),
a mile North of Maon (1 Samuel 25:2), who refused the customary present to David's
band which had protected his shepherds "in the fields" (1 Samuel 25:15) or pastures
of the wilderness. In summer David would naturally return to the higher ridge
of Hachilah (1 Samuel 26:1) on the south side of which there is a precipitous
gorge (impassable save by a long detour), across which he talked to Saul (1 Samuel
26:13), likening himself (1 Samuel 26:20) to the desert "partridge" still found
in this region.
(5) The Defeat and Death of Saul.
The site of Ziklag is doubtful, but it evidently lay in the desert South of Beersheba
(Joshua 15:31 ; 19:5 ; 1 Chronicles 4:30 ; 1 Samuel 27:6 - 12), far from Gath,
so that King Achish did not know whether David had raided the South of Judah,
or the tribes toward Shur. Saul's power in the mountains was irresistible; and
it was for this reason perhaps that his fatal battle with the Philistines occurred
far North in the plain near Jezreel. They camped (1 Samuel 28:4) by the fine spring
of Shunem (Sulem), and Saul on Gilboa to the South. The visit to Endor (Andur)
was thus a perilous adventure, as Saul must have stolen by night round the Philistine
host to visit this place North of Shunem. He returned to the spur of Gilboa on
which Jezreel stands (1 Samuel 29:1), and the spring noticed is a copious supply
North of the village Zer'in. Beth-shan (1 Samuel 31:12) was at the mouth of the
valley of Jezreel at Besian, and here the bodies of Saul and his sons were burned
by the men of Jabesh-gilead; but, as the bones were preserved (1 Samuel 31:13
; 2 Samuel 21:13), it is possible that the corpses were cremated in pottery jars
afterward buried under the tree. Excavations in Palestine and in Babylonia show
that this was an early practice, not only in the case of infants (as at Gezcr,
and Taanach), but also of grown men. See PALESTINE EXPLORATION. The list of cities
to which David sent presents at the time of Saul's death (1 Samuel 30:26 - 31)
includes those near Ziklag and as far North as Hebron, thus referring to "all
the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt."
(6) Wellhausen's Theory of a Double Narrative.
The study of David's wanderings, it may be noted, and of the climatic conditions
in the Jeshimon desert, does not serve to confirm Wellhausen's theory of a double
narrative, based on the secret unction and public choice of Saul, on the double
visit to Hachilah, and on the fact that the gloomy king had forgotten the name
of David's father. The history is not a "pious make-up" without "a word of truth"
(Wellhausen, Hist Israel, 248-49); and David, as a "youth" of twenty years, may
yet have been called a "man of war"; while "transparent artifice" (p. 251) will
hardly be recognized by the reader of this genuine chronicle. Nor was there any
"Aphek in Sharon" (p. 260), and David did not "amuse himself by going first toward
the north" from Gibeah (p. 267); his visit to Ramah does not appear to be a "worthless
anachronistic anecdote" (p. 271); and no one who has lived in the terrible Jeshimon
could regard the meeting at Hachilah as a "jest" (p. 265). Nor did the hill ("the
dusky top") "take its name from the circumstance," but Wellhausen probably means
the Sela'-ha-machleqoth ("cliff of slippings" or of "slippings away"), now Wady
Malaqeh near Maon (compare 1 Samuel 23:19 , 24 , 28), which lay farther South
(7) Early Years of David's Reign.
David, till the 8th year of his reign, was king of Judah only. The first battle
with Saul's son occurred at Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:13), where the "pool" was no doubt
the cave of the great spring at el Jib; the pursuit was by the 'desert Gibeon
road' (2 Samuel 2:24) toward the Jordan valley. Gibeon itself was not in a desert,
but in a fertile region. Abner then deserted to David, but was murdered at the
"well of Sirah" ('Ain Sarah) on the road a mile North of David's capital at Hebron.
Nothing more is said about the Philistines till David had captured Jerusalem,
when they advanced on the new capital by the valley of Rephaim (2 Samuel 5:22),
which apparently ran from South of Jerusalem to join the valley of Elah. If David
was then at Adullam ("the hold," 2 Samuel 5:17 the King James Version; compare
1 Samuel 22:5), it is easy to understand how he cut off the Philistine retreat
(2 Samuel 5:23), and thus conquered all the hill country to Gezer (2 Samuel 5:25).
After this the ark was finally brought from Baale-judah (Kiriath-jearim) to Jerusalem
(2 Samuel 6:2), and further wars were beyond the limits of Western Palestine,
in Moab (2 Samuel 8:2) and in Syria (2 Samuel 8:3 - 12); but for "Syrians" (2
Samuel 8:13) the more correct reading appears to be Edomites (1 Chronicles 18:12),
and the "Valley of Salt" was probably South of the Dead Sea. Another war with
the Syrians, aided by Arameans from East of the Euphrates, occurred East of the
Jordan (2 Samuel 10:16 - 18), and was followed by the siege of Rabbath-ammon ('Amman),
East of Gilead, where we have notice of the "city of waters" (2 Samuel 12:27),
or lower town by the stream, contrasted, it seems, with the citadel which was
on the northern hill.
(8) Hebrew Letter-writing.
In this connection we find the first notice of a "letter" (2 Samuel 11:14) as
written by David to Joab. Writing is of course noticed as early as the time of
Moses when--as we now know--the Canaanites wrote letters on clay tablets in cuneiform
script. These, however, were penned by special scribes; and such a scribe is mentioned
early (Judges 8:14). David himself may have employed a professional writer (compare
2 Samuel 8:17), while Uriah, who carried his own fate in the letter, was probably
unable to read. Even in Isaiah's time the art was not general (Isaiah 29:12),
though Hebrew kings could apparently write and read (Deuteronomy 17:18 ; 2 Kings
19:14); to the present day the accomplishment is not general in the East, even
in the upper class. It should be noted that the first evidence of the use of an
alphabet is found in the early alphabetic Psalms, and the oldest dated alphabetic
text yet known is later than 900 BC. The script used in the time of Moses may
have been cuneiform, which was still employed at Gezer for traders' tablets in
649 BC. The alphabet may have come into use first among Hebrews, through Phoenician
influence in the time of David; and so far no script except this and the cuneiform
has been unearthed in Palestine, unless it is to be recognized in signs of the
Hittite syllabary at Lachish and Gezer. Another interesting point, as regards
Hebrew civilization in David's time, is the first mention of "mules" (2 Samuel
13:29 ; 18:9 ; 1 Kings 1:33 , 38), which are unnoticed in the Pentateuch. They
are represented as pack animals on an Assyrian bas-relief; but, had they been
known to Moses, they would probably have been condemned as unclean. The sons of
David fled on mules from Baal-hazor (Tell 'Acur) "beside Ephraim" (now probably
Taiyibeh), North of Bethel, where Absalom murdered Amnon.
(9) The Later Years of David's Reign.
On the rebellion of Absalom David retreated to Mahanaim, apparently by the road
North of the Mount of Olives, if the Targum of Jonathan (2 Samuel 16:5) is correct
in placing Bahurim at Almon ('Almit), Northeast of Jerusalem. It is not clear
where the "wood of Ephraim," in which Absalom perished, may have been, but it
was beyond Jordan in Gilead (2 Samuel 17:22 ; 18:6); and oak woods are more common
there than in Western Palestine. The latest revolt, after Absalom's death, was
in the extreme north at Abel (Abil), in Upper Galilee (2 Samuel 20:14), after
which Joab's journey is the last incident to be studied in the Books of Samuel.
For census purposes he went East of the Jordan to Aroer (perhaps the city on the
Arnon), to the "river of Gad" (Wady Na'aur) near Jazer, and through Gilead. Tahtim-hodshi
(2 Samuel 24:6) is believed (on the authority of three Greek manuscripts) to be
a corruption of "the Hittites at Kadesh" (Qades), the great city on the Orontes
which lay on the northern boundary of David's dominions, South of the kingdom
of Hamath. Thence Joab returned to Zidon and Tyre, and after visiting all Judah
to Beersheba reached Jerusalem again within 10 months. The acquisition of the
temple-site then closes the book.
5. Books of Kings
(1) Solomon's Provinces.
The Books of Kings contain also some interesting questions of geography. Solomon's
twelve provinces appear to answer very closely to the lots of the twelve tribes
described in Josh. They included (1 Kings 4:7 - 19) the following:
(c) Southern Judah (see Joshua 12:17),
(f) Northern Gilead and Bashan,
(g) Southern Gilead,
(j) part of Isaachar and probably Zebulun (the text is doubtful, for the order
of 1 Kings 4:17 differs in the Septuagint),
The Septuagint renders the last clause (1 Kings 4:19), "and one Naseph (i.e. "officer"')
in the land of Judah"--probably superior to the other twelve. Solomon's dominions
included Philistia and Southern Syria, and stretched along the trade route by
Tadmor (Palmyra) to Tiphsah on the Euphrates (4:21,24; compare 9:18 = Tamar; 2
Chronicles 8:4 = Tadmot). Another Tiphsah (now Tafsach) lay 6 miles Southwest
of Shechem (2 Kings 15:16). Gezer was presented to Solomon's wife by the Pharaoh
(1 Kings 9:16).
(2) Geography of the Northern Kingdom.
Jeroboam was an Ephraimite (1 Kings 11:26) from Zereda, probably Curdah, 2 miles
Northwest of Bethel, but the Septuagint reads "Sarira," which might be Carra,
1 1/2 miles East of Shiloh. After the revolt of the ten tribes, "Shishak king
of Egypt" (1 Kings 11:40 ; 14:25) sacked Jerusalem. His own record, though much
damaged, shows that he not only invaded the mountains near Jerusalem, but that
he even conquered part of Galilee. The border between Israel and Judah lay South
of Bethel, where Jeroboam's calf-temple was erected (1 Kings 12:29), Ramah (er-Ram)
being a frontier town with Geba and Mizpah (1 Kings 15:17 , 22); but after the
Syrian raid into Galilee (1 Kings 15:20), the capital of Israel was fixed at Tirzah
(1 Kings 15:21), a place celebrated for its beauty (Song of Solomon 6:4), and
perhaps to be placed at Teiacir, about 11 miles Northeast of Shechem, in romantic
scenery above the Jordan valley. Omri reigned here also for six years (1 Kings
16:23) before he built Samaria, which remained the capital till 722 BC. Samaria
appears to have been a city at least as large as Jerusalem, a strong site 5 miles
Northwest of Shechem, commanding the trade route to its west. It resisted the
Assyrians for 3 years, and when it fell Sargon took away 27,290 captives. Excavations
at the site will, it may be hoped, yield results of value not as yet published:
The wanderings of Elijah extended from Zarephath (Curafend), South of Sidon, to
Sinai. The position of the Brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:3) where--according to one
reading--"the Arabs brought him bread and flesh" (1 Kings 17:6) is not known.
The site of this great contest with the prophets of the Tyrian Baal is supposed
to be at el Machraqah ("the place of burning") at the southeastern end of the
Carmel ridge. Some early king of Israel perhaps, or one of the judges (compare
Deuteronomy 33:19), had built an altar to Yahweh above the Kishon (1 Kings 18:20,40)
at Carmel; but, as the water (1 Kings 18:33) probably came from the river, it
is doubtful whether this altar was on the "top of Carmel," 1,500 ft. above, from
which Elijah's servant had full view of the sea (1 Kings 18:42,43). Elijah must
have run before Ahab no less than 15 miles, from the nearest point on Carmel (1
Kings 18:46) to Jezreel, and the journey of the Shunammite woman to find Elisha
(2 Kings 4:25) was equally long. The vineyard of Naboth in Jezreel (1 Kings 21:1)
was perhaps on the east of the city (now Zer'in), where rock-cut wine presses
exist. In the account of the ascension of Elijah, the expression "went down to
Bethel" (2 Kings 2:2) is difficult, if he went "from Gilgal" (2 Kings 2:1). The
town intended might be Jiljilia, on a high hill 7 miles North of Bethel. The Septuagint,
however, reads "they came."
(3) Places Connected with Elisha.
The home of Elisha was at Abel-meholah (1 Kings 19:16) in the Jordan valley (Judges
7:22), probably at 'Ain Chelweh, 10 miles South of Beth-shan. If we suppose that
Ophel (2 Kings 5:24 the Revised Version margin), where he lived, was the present
'Afuleh, it is not only easy to understand that he would often "pass by" Shunem
(which lay between Ophel and Abel-meholah), but also how Naaman might have gone
from the palace of Jezreel to Ophel, and thence to the Jordan and back again to
Ophel (2 Kings 5:6 , 14 , 24), in the course of a single day in his chariot. The
road down the valley of Jezreel was easy, and up it Jehu afterward drove furiously,
coming from Ramoth in Gilead, and visible afar off from the wall of Jezreel (2
Kings 9:20). The 'top of the ascents' (2 Kings 9:13), at Ramoth, refers no doubt
to the high hill on which this city (now Reimun) stood as a strong fortress on
the border between Israel and the Syrians. The flight of Ahaziah of Judah, from
Jezreel was apparently North by Gur (Qara), 4 miles West of Ibleam (Yebla), on
the road to "the garden house" (Beit Jenn), and thence by Megiddo (Mujedda') down
the Jordan valley to Jerusalem (2 Kings 9:27 , 28). Of the rebellion of Moab (2
Kings 1:1 ; 3:4) it is enough to point out here that King Mesha's account on the
Moabite Stone agrees with the Old Testament, even in the minute detail that "men
of Gad dwelt in Ataroth from of old" (compare Numbers 32:34), though it lay in
the lot of Reuben.
6. Post-exilic Historical Books
The topographical notices in the books written after the captivity require but
short notice. The Benjamites built up Lod (Ludd), Ono (Kerr 'Ana) and Aijalon
(Yalo), which were in the lot of Da (1 Chronicles 8:12 ; Nehemiah 11:35), and
it is worthy of note that Lod (Lydda) is not to be regarded as a new town simply
because not mentioned in the earlier books; for Lod is mentioned (number 64) with
Ono in the lists of Thothmes III, a century before the Hebrew conquest of Palestine
The author of Chronicles had access to information not to be found elsewhere in
the Old Testament. His list of Rehoboam's fortresses (2 Chronicles 11:6 - 10)
includes 14 towns, most of which were on the frontiers of the diminished kingdom
of Judah, some being noticed (such as Shoco and Adoraim) in the list of Shishak's
conquests. He speaks of the "valley of Zephathah" (2 Chronicles 14:10), now Wady
Cafieh, which is otherwise unnoticed, and places it correctly at Mareshah (Mer'ash)
on the edge of the Philistine plain. He is equally clear about the topography
in describing the attack on Jehoshaphat by the Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites.
They camped at En-gedi ('Ain Jidi), and marched West toward Tekoa (Tequ'a); and
the thanksgiving assembly, after the Hebrew victory, was in the valley of Beracah
(2 Chronicles 20:1 , 20 , 26), which retains its name as Breikut, 4 miles West
IV. PALESTINE IN THE POETIC BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. Book of Job
In Job the scene is distinctively Edomite. Uz (Job 1:1 ; compare Genesis 22:21
the English Revised Version; Jeremiah 25:20; Lamentations 4:21) and Buz (Job 32:2
; compare Genesis 22:21) are the Assyrian Chazu and Bazu reached by Esarhaddon
in 673 BC South of Edom. Tema and Sheba (Job 6:19) are noticed yet earlier, by
Tiglath-pileser III, and Sargon, who conquered the Thamudites and Nabateans. We
have also the conjunction of snowy mountains and ice (Job 6:16) with notice of
the desert and the 'Arabah valley (Job 24:5), which could hardly apply to any
region except Edom. Again, we have a nomad population dwelling close to a city
(Job 29:4 - 7)--perhaps Petra, or Ma'an in Edom. There were mines, not only in
the Sinaitic desert, but at Punon in Northern Edom (compare Job 28:2-11). The
white broom (Job 30:4) is distinctive of the deserts of Moab and Edom. The wild
donkey and the ostrich (Job 39:5 , 13) are now known only in the desert East of
Edom; while the stork (Job 39:13 the Revised Version margin) could have been found
only in the 'Arabah, or in the Jordan valley. The wild ox (Job 39:9 the Revised
Version (British and American)), or Boa primi-genius, is now extinct Septuagint
"unicorn," Numbers 23:22 ; Deuteronomy 33:17), though its bones occur in Lebanon
caves. It was hunted about 1130 BC in Syria by Tiglath-pileser I (compare Psalms
29:6), and is mentioned as late as the time of Isaiah (Job 34:7) in connection
with Edom; its Hebrew name (re'em) is the Assyrian rimu, attached to a representation
of the beast. As regards the crocodile ("leviathan," Job 41:1), it was evidently
well known to the writer, who refers to its strong, musky smell (Job 41:31), and
it existed not only in Egypt but in Palestine, and is still found in the Crocodile
River, North of Caesarea in Sharon. Behemoth (Job 40:15), though commonly supposed
to be the hippopotamus, is more probably the elephant (on account of its long
tail, its trunk, and its habit of feeding in mountains, Job 40:17 , 20 , 24);
and the elephant was known to the Assyrians in the 9th century BC, and was found
wild in herds on the Euphrates in the 16th century BC. The physical allusions
in Job seem clearly, as a rule, to point to Edom, as do the geographical names;
and though Christian tradition in the 4th century AD (St. Silvia, 47) placed Uz
in Bashan, the Septuagint defines it as lying "on the boundary of Edom and Arabia."
None of these allusions serves to fix dates, nor do the peculiarities of the language,
though they suggest Aramaic and Arabic influences. The mention of Babylonians
(Job 1:17) (Kasdim) as raiders may, however, point to about 600 BC, since they
could not have reached Edom except from the North, and did not appear in Palestine
between the time of Amraphel (who only reached Kadesh-barnea), and of Nebuchadnezzar.
It is at least clear (Job 24:1 - 12) that this great poem was written in a time
of general anarchy, and of Arab lawlessness.
2. Book of Psalms
In the Psalms there are many allusions to the natural phenomena of Palestine,
but there is very little detailed topography. "The mountain of Bashan" (Psalms
68:15) rises East of the plateau to 5,700 ft. above sea-level; but Zalmon (Psalms
68:14) is an unknown mountain (compare Zalmon, Judges 9:48). This psalm might
well refer to David's conquest of Damascus (2 Samuel 8:6), as Psalms 72 refers
to the time of Solomon, being the last in the original collection of "prayers
of David". In Psalms 83 (verses 6-8) we find a confederacy of Edom, Ishmael, Moab
and the Hagarenes (or "wanderers" East of Palestine; compare 1 Chronicles 5:18-22)
with Gebal (in Lebanon), Ammon, Amalek, and Tyre, all in alliance with Assyria--a
condition which first existed in 732 BC, when Tiglath-pileser III conquered Damascus.
The reference to the "northern" ("hidden") tribes points to this date (Psalms
83:3), since this conqueror made captives also in Galilee (2 Kings 15:29 ; 1 Chronicles
5:26 ; Isaiah 9:1).
3. Book of Proverbs
In Proverbs the allusions are more peaceful, but not geographical. They refer
to agriculture (Proverbs 3:10 ; 11:26 ; 12:11 ; 25:13), to trade (Proverbs 7:16
; 31:14 , 24) and to flocks (Proverbs 27:23 - 27). The most remarkable passage
(Proverbs 26:8) reads literally, "As he that packs a stone into the stone-heap,
so is he that giveth honor to a fool." Jerome said that this referred to a superstitious
custom; and the erection of stone heaps at graves, or round a pillar (Genesis
31:45 , 46), is a widely spread and very ancient custom (still preserved by Arabs),
each stone being the memorial of a visitor to the spot, who thus honors either
a local ghost or demon, or a dead man--a rite which was foolish in the eyes of
a Hebrew of the age in which this verse was written (see Expository Times, VIII,
4. Song of Solomon
The geography of Canticles is specially important to a right understanding of
this bridal ode of the Syrian princess who was Solomon's first bride. It is not
confined, as some critics say it is, to the north, but includes the whole of Palestine
and Syria. The writer names Kedar in North Arabia (Song of Solomon 1:5) and Egypt,
whence horses came in Solomon's time (Song of Solomon 1:9 ; 1 Kings 10:28,29).
He knows the henna (the King James Version "camphire") and the vineyards of En-gedi
(Song of Solomon 1:14), where vineyards still existed in the 12th century AD.
He speaks of the "rose" of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1), as well as of Lebanon,
with Shenir (Assyrian Saniru) and Hermon (Song of Solomon 4:8) above Damascus
(Song of Solomon 7:4). He notices the pastoral slopes of Gilead. (Song of Solomon
6:5), and the brown pool, full of small fish, in the brook below Heshbon (Song
of Solomon 7:4), in Moab. The locks of the "peaceful one" (Song of Solomon 6:13,
Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) pacifica) are like the thick copses
of Carmel; 'the king is caught in the tangles' (Song of Solomon 7:5). See GALLERY.
She is "beautiful as Tirzah (in Samaria), comely as Jerusalem, terrible to look
at" (Song of Solomon 6:4 the King James Version). She is a garden and a "paradise"
("orchard") of spices in Lebanon, some of which spices (calamus, cinnamon, frankincense
and myrrh) have come from far lands (Song of Solomon 4:12 - 15). Solomon's vineyard--another
emblem of the bride--(Song of Solomon 1:6 ; 8:11) was in Baal-hamon, which some
suppose to be Baal-hermon, still famous for its vineyards. He comes to fetch her
from the wilderness (Song of Solomon 3:6); and the dust raised by his followers
is like that of the whirlwind pillars which stalk over the dry plains of Bashan
in summer. The single word "paradise" (Song of Solomon 4:13 margin) is hardly
evidence enough to establish late date, since--though used in Persian--its etymology
and origin are unknown. The word for "nuts" (Hebrew 'eghoz) is also not Persian
(Song of Solomon 6:11), for the Arabic word jauz, is Semitic, and means a "pair,"
applying to the walnut which abounds in Shechem. The "rose of Sharon" (Song of
Solomon 2:1), according to the Targum, was the white "narcisus; and the Hebrew
word occurs also in Assyrian (chabacillatu), as noted by Delitzsch (quoting WAI,
V, 32, number 4), referring to a white bulbous plant. Sharon in spring is covered
still with wild narcissi, Arabic buceil (compare Isaiah 35:1,2). There is perhaps
no period when such a poem is more likely to have been written than in the time
of Solomon, when Israel "dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his
fig-tree" (1 Kings 4:25); when the roe and the fallow deer (Song of Solomon 2:17
; 1 Kings 4:23) abounded; and when merchants (Song of Solomon 3:6) brought "powders"
from afar; when also the dominion included Damascus and Southern Lebanon, as well
as Western Palestine with Gilead and Moab.
See also SONG
V. PALESTINE IN THE PROPHETS
Isaiah (Isaiah 1:8) likens Zion, when the Assyrian armies were holding Samaria,
Moab and Philistia, to "a booth in a vineyard, a lodge in a garden of cucumbers."
He refers no doubt to a "tower" (Matthew 21:33), or platform, such as is to be
found beside the rock-cut wine press in the deserted vineyards of Palestine; and
such as is still built, for the watchman to stand on, in vineyards and vegetable
The chief topographical question (Isaiah 10:28 - 32) refers to the Assyrian advance
from the north, when the outposts covered the march through Samaria (whether in
732, 722, or 702 BC) to Philistia. They extended on the left wing to Ai (Chayan),
Michmash (Mukhmas), and Geba, South of the Michmash valley (Jeba'), leading to
the flight of the villagers, from Ramah (er-Ram) and the region of Gibeah--which
included Ramah, with Geba (1 Samuel 22:6) and Migron (1 Samuel 14:2) or the precipice.
They were alarmed also at Gallim (Beit Jala), and Anathoth ('Anata), near Jerusalem;
yet the advance ceased at Nob (compare Nehemiah 11:32) where, as before noted,
the first glimpse of Zion would be caught if Nob was at or near Mizpah (Tell en
Nacbeh), on the main north road leading West of Ramah.
Another passage refers to the towns of Moab (Isaiah 15:1 - 6), and to Nimrim (Tell
Nimrin) and Zoar (Tell esh Shaghur) in the valley of Shittim. The ascent of Luhith
(Isaiah 15:5) is the present Tal'at el Cheith, on the southern slope of Nebo (Jebel
Neba). The curious term "a heifer of three years old" (compare Jeremiah 48:34
margin) is taken from Septuagint, but might better be rendered "a round place
with a group of three" (see EGLATH-SHELISHIYAH). It is noticed with the "high
places" of Moab (Isaiah 15:2 ; Jeremiah 48:35), and probably refers to one of
those large and ancient stone circles, surrounding a central group of three rude
pillars, which still remain in Moab (SEP, I, 187, 203,233) near Nobo and Zoar.
Sibmah--probably Sumieh, 2 miles Southwest of Heshbon (Chesban)--is said to have
had vines reaching to Jazer (Sa'aur, 6 miles to the North); and rock-cut wine
presses still remain at Sibmah (Isaiah 16:8; Jeremiah 48:32). The Bozrah mentioned
with Edom (Isaiah 34:6 ; 63:1 ; Jeremiah 49:13 , 22 ; Micah 2:12) is probably
Buceirah, near the southern border of Moab. In the last-cited passage there is
a play on the words batsrah ("fortress") and botscah for "sheepfold."
In Jeremiah 1:1, Anathoth ('Anata) is mentioned as a priests' city (compare 1
Kings 2:26). The "place" or shrine of Shiloh was deserted (Jeremiah 7:12), but
the town seems still to have been inhabited (Jeremiah 41:5). The "pit" at Mizpah
(Jeremiah 41:6 - 9) may have been the great rock reservoir South of Tell en-Nacbeh.
The Moabite towns noticed (Jeremiah 48:1 - 5 , 20 - 24 , 31 - 45 ; 49:3) with
Rabbah ('Amman) have been mentioned as occurring in the parallel passages of Isaiah.
The numerous petty kings in Edom, Moab, Philistia, Phoenicia, and Arabia (Jeremiah
25:20 - 24) recall those named in Assyrian lists of the same age. Lamentations
4:3 recalls Job 39:14 in attributing to the ostrich want of care for her young,
because she endeavors (like other birds) to escape, and thus draws away the hunter
from the nest. This verse should not be regarded as showing that the author knew
that whales were mammals, since the word "sea-monsters" (the King James Version)
is more correctly rendered "jackals" (Revised Version) or "wild beasts."
In Ezekiel (chapter 27), Tyre appears as a city with a very widespread trade extending
from Asia Minor to Arabia and Egypt, and from Assyria to the isles (or "coasts")
of the Mediterranean. The "oaks of Bashan" (Ezekiel 27:6 ; Isaiah 2:13 ; Zechariah
11:2) are still found in the Southwest of that region near Gilead. Judah and Israel
then provided wheat, honey, oil and balm for export as in the time of Jacob. Damascus
sent white wool and the wine of Helbon (Chelbon), 13 miles North, where fine vineyards
still exist. The northern border described (Ezekiel 47:15 - 18) is the same that
marked that of the dominions of David, running along the Eleutherus River toward
Zedad (Cudud). It is described also in Numbers 34:8-11 as passing Riblah (Riblah)
and including Ain (el 'Ain), a village on the western slopes of the Anti-Lebanon,
East of Riblah. In this passage (as in Ezekiel 47:18) the Hauran (or Bashan plain)
is excluded from the land of Israel, the border following the Jordan valley, which
seems to point to a date earlier than the time when the Havvoth-jair (Numbers
32:41 ; Deuteronomy 3:14 ; Joshua 13:30 ; Judges 10:4 ; 1 Kings 4:13 ; 1 Chronicles
2:23), in Gilead and Bashan were conquered or built--possibly after the death
of Joshua. The southern border of the land is described by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:19)
as reaching from Kadesh (-barnea)--probably Petra--to Tamar, which seems to be
Tamrah, 6 miles Northeast of Gaza.
4. Minor Prophets
In the Minor Prophets there are fewer topographical notices. Hosea (Hosea 12:11)
speaks of the altars of Gilead and Gilgal as being "as heaps in the furrows of
the fields." He perhaps alludes to the large dolmen fields of this region, which
still characterize the country East of the Jordan. He also perhaps speaks of human
sacrifice at Bethel (Hosea 13:2). In Joel (Joel 1:12) the apple tree (Hebrew tappuach,
Arabic tuffach) is noticed (compare Song of Solomon 2:3 , 5 ; 8:5), and there
seems to be no reason to doubt that the apple was cultivated, since el Muqaddasi
mentions "excellent apples" at Jerusalem in the 10th century AD, though it is
not now common in Palestine. The sycamore fig (Amos 7:14), which was common in
the plains and in the shephelah (1 Kings 10:27), grew also near Jericho (Luke
19:4), where it is still to be found. In Mic (1:10-15), a passage which appears
to refer to Hezekiah's reconquest of the shephelah towns and attack on Gaza before
702 BC (2 Kings 18:8 ; 2 Chronicles 28:18) gives a list of places and a play on
the name of each. They include Gath (Tell es Cafi), Saphir (es Safir), Lachish
(Tell el-Chesy), Achzib ('Ain Kezbeh), and Mareshah (Mer'ash): "the glory
of Israel shall come even unto Adullam" ('Aid-el-ma) perhaps refers to Hezekiah
himself (Micah 1:15). After the captivity Philistia (Zechariah 9:5) was still
independent. See PHILISTINES.
The meaning of the "mourning of Hadadrimmon in the Valley of Megiddon" (Zechariah
12:11) is disputed. Jerome (see Reland, Palestine Illustr., II, 891) says that
the former of these names referred to a town near Jezreel (Maximianopolis, now
Rummaneh, on the western side of the plain of Esdraelon), but the mourning "for
an only son" was probably a rite of the Syrian god called Hadad, or otherwise
Rimmon, like the mourning for Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14).
VI. PALESTINE IN THE APOCRYPHA
1. Book of Judith
The Book of Judith is regarded by Renan (Evangiles, 1877, 29) as a Haggadha' (legend),
written in Hebrew in 74 AD. It is remarkable, however, that its geographical allusions
are very correct. Judith was apparently of the tribe of Manasseh (Judith 8:2 ,
3); and her husband, who bore this name, was buried between Dothaim (Tell Dothan)
and Balamon (in Wady Belameh), East of Dothan. Her home at Bethulia was thus probably
at Mithilieh, on a high hill (Judith 6:11 , 12), 5 miles Southeast of Dothan (SWP,
II, 156), in the territory of Manasseh. The requirements of the narrative are
well met; for this village is supplied only by wells (Judith 7:13 , 10), though
there are springs at the foot of the hill to the South (Judith 7:7 , 12), while
there is a good view over the valley to the North (Judith 10:10), and over the
plain of Esdraelon to Nazareth and Tabor. Other mountains surround the village
(Judith 15:3). The camp of the invaders reached from Dothart to Belmaim (Balamon)
from West to East, and their rear was at Cyamon (Tell Qeimun), at the foot of
Carmel. The Babylonians were allied with tribes from Carmel, Gilead and Galilee
on the North with the Samaritans, and with others from Betane (probably Beth-anoth,
now Belt 'Ainun, North of Hebron), Chellus (Klalach--the later Elusa--8 miles
Southwest of Beersheba), and Kades ('Ain Qadis) on the way to Egypt. Among Samaritan
towns South of Shechem, Ekrebel ('Aqrabeh) and Chusi (Kuzah) are mentioned, with
"the brook Mochmur" (Wady el Chumr) rising North of Ekrebel and running East into
2. Book of Wisdom
The philosophical Book of Wisdom has no references to Palestine; and in Ecclesiasticus
the only allusions are to the palm of En-gaddi (Wisdom 24:14), where palms still
exist, and to the "rose plant in Jericho" (Wisdom 24:14 ; compare 39:13 ; 50:8);
the description of the rose as "growing by the brook in the field" suggests the
rhododendron (Tristram, NHB, 477), which flourishes near the Jordan and grows
to great size beside the brooks of Gilead.
3. 1 Maccabees
Judas Maccabeus.--The first Book of Maccabees is a valuable history going down
to 135 BC, and its geographical allusions are sometimes important. Modin, the
home of Judas-Maccabaeus (1 Macc 2:15), where his brother Simon erected seven
monuments visible from the sea (1 Macc 9:19; 13:25-30), was above the plain in
which Cedron (Qatrah, 5 miles East of Jamnia) stood (1 Macc 15:40,41; 16:4,9),
and is clearly the present village el Midieh on the low hills with a sea view,
17 miles from Jerusalem and 6 miles East of Lydda, near which latter Eusebius
(Onom under the word "Modeim") places Modin. The first victory of Judas (1 Macc
3:24) was won at Beth-horon, and the second at Emmaus ('Amwas) by the Valley of
Aijalon--the scenes of Joshua's victories also.
The Greeks next attempted to reach Jerusalem from the South and were again defeated
at Beth-zur (1 Macc 4:29), now Beit-cur, on the watershed, 15 miles South of Jerusalem,
where the road runs through a pass. Judas next (after cleansing the temple in
165 BC) marched South of the Dead Sea, attacking the Edomites at Arabattine (perhaps
Akrabbim) and penetrating to the Moab plateau as far North as Jazar (1 Macc 5:3-8).
On his return to Judea the heathen of Gilead and Bashan rose against the Israelites
of Tubias (1 Macc 5:13) or Tobit (Taiyibeh), and the Phoenicians against the Galilean
Hebrews who were, for a time, withdrawn to Jerusalem until the Hasmoneans won
complete independence (1 Macc 11:7,59). In the regions of Northern Gilead and
Southern Bashan (1 Macc 5:26,36,37) Judas conquered Bosor (Bucr), Alema (Kerr
el-ma), Caphon (Khisfin), Maged (perhaps el Mejd, North of 'Amman), and Carnaim
(Ashteroth-karnaim), now Tell Ashterah. The notice of a "brook" at the last-named
place (1 Macc 5:42) is an interesting touch, as a fine stream runs South from
the west side of the town. In 162 BC Judas was defeated at Bathzacharias (1 Macc
6:32), now Beit Skaria 9 miles South of Jerusalem, but the cause was saved by
a revolt in Antioch; and in the next year he defeated Nicanor near Caphar-salama
(perhaps Selmeh, near Joppa), and slew him at Adasah ('Adaseh), 8 miles Southeast
of Beth-horon (1 Macc 7:31,40,45). The fatal battle in which Judas was killed
(1 Macc 9:5,15) was fought also near Beth-horon. He camped at Eleasa (Il'asa),
close by, and defeated the Greeks on his right, driving them to Mt. Azotus (or
Beth-zetho, according to Josephus (Ant., XII, xi, 2)), apparently near Bir-ez-Zeit,
4 miles Northwest of Bethel; but the Greeks on his left surrounded him during
this rash pursuit.
On the death of Judas, Bacchides occupied Judea and fortified the frontier towns
(1 Macc 9:50,51) on all sides. Simon and Jonathan were driven to the marshes near
the Jordan, but in 159 BC the Greeks made peace with Jonathan who returned to
Michmash (1 Macc 9:73) and 7 years later to Jerns (1 Macc 10:1,7). Three districts
on the southern border of Samaria were then added to Judea (1 Macc 10:30; 11:34),
namely Lydda, Apherema (or Ephraim) now Taiyibeh, and Ramathem (er-Ram); and Jonathan
defeated the Greeks in Philistia (1 Macc 10:69; 11:6). Simon was "captain" from
the "Ladder of Tyre" (Ras en Naqurah), or the pass North of Accho, to the borders
of Egypt (1 Macc 11:59); and the Greeks in Upper Galilee were again defeated by
Jonathan, who advanced from Gennesaret to the plateau of Hazor (Chazzur), and
pursued them even to Kedesh Naphtali (Qedes), northward (1 Macc 11:63,73). He
was victorious even to the borders of Hamath, and the Eleutherus River (Nahr el
Kebir), North of Tripoils, and defeated the Arabs, called Zabadeans (probably
at Zebdany in Anti-Lebanon), on his way to Damascus (1 Macc 12:25,30,32). He fortified
Adida (Chadditheh) in the shephelah (1 Macc 12:38), West of Jerusalem, where Simon
awaited the Greek usurper Tryphon (1 Macc 13:13,20), who attempted to reach Jerusalem
by a long detour to the South near Adoraim (Dura), but failed on account of the
snow in the mountains. After the treacherous capture of Jonathan at Accho, and
his death in Gilead (1 Macc 12:48; 13:23), Simon became the ruler of all Palestine
to Gaza (1 Macc 13:43), fortifying Joppa, Gezer and Ashdod (1 Macc 14:34) in 140
BC. Five years later he won a final victory at Cedron (Qatrah), near Jamnia (Yebnah),
but was murdered at Dok (1 Macc 16:15), near Jericho, which site was a small fort
at 'Ain Duk, a spring North of the city.
4. 2 Maccabees
The second Book of Maccabees presents a contrast to the first in which, as we
have seen, the geography is easily understood. Thus the site of Caspis with its
lake (2 Macc 12:13,16) is doubtful. It seems to be placed in Idumaea, and Charax
may be the fortress of Kerak in Moab (2 Macc 12:17). Ephron, West of Ashteroth-karnaim
(2 Macc 12:26,27), is unknown; and Beth-shean is called by its later name Scythopolis
(2 Macc 12:29), as in the Septuagint (Judges 1:27) and in Josephus (Ant., XII,
viii, 5; vi, 1). A curious passage (1 Macc 13:4-6) seems to refer to the Persian
burial towers (still used by Parsees), one of which appears to have existed at
Berea (Aleppo), though this was not a Greek custom.
VII. PALESTINE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. Synoptic Gospels
We are told that our Lord was born in "Bethlehem of Judea"; and theory of Neubauer,
adopted by Gratz, that Bethlehem of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15)--which was the present
Beit-Lachm, 7 miles Northwest of Nazareth--is to be understood, is based on a
mistake. The Jews expected the Messiah to appear in the home of David (Micah 5:2);
and the Northern Bethlehem was not called "of Nazareth," as asserted by Rix (Tent
and Testament, 258); this was a conjectural reading by Neubauer (Geog. du Talmud,
189), but the Talmud (Talm Jerusalem, Meghillah 1 1) calls the place Bethlechem-ceridh
(or "of balm"), no doubt from the storax bush (Styrax officinalis) or stacte (Exodus
30:34), the Arabic 'abhar, which still abounds in the oak wood close by.
(1) Galilean Scenery.
The greater part of the life of Jesus was spent at Nazareth in Zebulun, and the
ministry at Capernaum in Naphtali (compare Matthew 4:13 - 15 ; Isaiah 9:1), with
yearly visits to Jerusalem. The Gospel narratives and the symbolism of the parables
constantly recall the characteristic features of Galilean scenery and nature,
as they remain unchanged today. The "city set on a hill" (Matthew 5:14)
may be seen in any part of Palestine; the lilies of the field grow in all its
plains; the "foxes have holes" and the sparrows are still eaten; the
vineyard with its tower; the good plowland, amid stony and thorny places, are
all still found throughout the Holy Land. But the deep lake surrounded by precipitous
cliffs and subject to sudden storms, with its shoals of fish and its naked fishers;
the cast nets and drag nets and small heavy boats of the Sea of Galilee, are more
distinctive of the Gospels, since the lake is but briefly noticed in the Old Testament.
Nazareth was a little village in a hill plateau North of the plain of Esdraelon,
and l,000 ft. above it. The name (Hebrew natsarah) may mean "verdant," and it
had a fine spring, but it is connected (Matthew 2:23) in the Gospels with the
prophecy of the "branch" (netser, Isaiah 11:1) of the house of David. Its population
was Hebrew, for it possessed a synagogue (Luke 4:16). The "brow of the hill whereon
their city was built" (Luke 4:29) is traditionally the "hill of the leap" (Jebel
Qafsi), 2 miles to the South--a cliff overlooking the plain. Nazareth was not
on any great highway; and so obscure was this village that it is unnoticed in
the Old Testament, or by Josephus, while even a Galilean (John 1:46) could hardly
believe that a prophet could come thence. Jerome (Onomasticon, under the word)
calls it a "village"; but today it is a town with 4,000 Christians and 2,000 Moslems,
the former taking their Arabic name (Nacarah) from the home of their Master.
Capernaum (Matthew 4:13 ; 9:1) lay on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, apparently
(Mark 14:34 ; John 6:17) in the little plain of Gennesaret, which stretches for
3 miles on the northwest side of the lake, and which has a breadth of 2 miles.
It may have stood on a low cliff (though this is rendered doubtful by the Sinaiticus
manuscript rendering of Matthew 11:23--"Shalt thou be exalted unto heaven?"),
and it was a military station where taxes were levied (Matthew 9:9), and possessed
a synagogue (Mark 1:21 ; Luke 4:33 ; John 6:59). Christian tradition, since the
4th century AD, has placed the site at Tell Chum, where ruins of a synagogue (probably,
however, not older than the 2nd century AD) exist; but this site is not in the
plain of Gennesaret, and is more probably Kephar 'Achim (Babylonian Talmud, Menachoth
85a). Jewish tradition (Midrash, Qoheleth, vii.20) connects Capernaum with minim
or "heretics"--that is to say Christians--whose name may yet linger at 'Ain Minyeh
at the north end of the plain of Gennesaret. Josephus states (BJ, III, x, 8) that
the spring of Capernaum watered this plain, and contained the catfish (coracinus)
which is still found in 'Ain el Mudawwerah ("the round spring"), which is the
principal source of water in the Gennesaret oasis.
The site of Chorazin (Kerazeh) has never been lost. The ruined village lies about
2 1/4 miles North of Tell Chum and possesses a synagogue of similar character.
Bethsaida ("the house of fishing") is once said to have been in Galilee (John
12:21), and Reland (Palestine Illustr., II, 553-55) thought that there were two
towns of the name. It is certain that the other notices refer to Bethsaida, called
Julias by Herod Philip, which Josephus (Ant., XVIII, ii, 1; iv, 6; BJ, III, x,
7) and Pliny (NH, v.15) place East of the Jordan, near the place where it enters
the Sea of Galilee. The site may be at the ruin edition Dikkeh ("the platform"),
now 2 miles North of the lake, but probably nearer of old, as the river deposit
has increased southward. There are remains of a synagogue here also. The two miracles
of feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000 are both described as occurring' East of the
Jordan, the former (Luke 9:10) in the desert (of Golan) "belonging to the city
called Bethsaida" (the King James Version). The words (Mark 6:45 the King James
Version), "to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida," may be rendered without
any straining of grammar, "to go to the side opposite to Bethsaida." For the disciples
are not said to have reached that city; but, after a voyage of at least 3 or 4
miles (John 6:17 , 19), they arrived near Capernaum, and landed in Gennesaret
(Mark 6:53), about 5 miles Southwest of the Jordan.
(5) Country of the Gerasenes.
The place where the swine rushed down a steep place into the lake (Matthew 8:32
; Mark 5:1 ; Luke 8:26) was in the country of the Gerasenes (see Codex Vaticanus
MS), probably at Qersa on the eastern shore opposite Tiberias, where there is
a steep slope to the water. It should be noted that this was in Decapolis (Mark
5:20), a region of "ten cities" which lay (except Scythopolis) in Southwest Bashan,
where a large number of early Greek inscriptions have been found, some of which
(e.g. Vogue-Waddington, numbers 2412, 2413) are as old as the 1st century AD.
There was evidently a Greek population in this region in the time of our Lord;
and this accounts for the feeding of swine, otherwise distinctive of "a far country"
(Luke 15:13 , 15); for, while no Hebrew would have tended the unclean beast in
Palestine, the Greeks were swine-herds from the time at least of Homer.
The site of Magadan-Magdala (Mejdel) was on the west shore at the Southwest end
of the Gennesaret plain (Matthew 15:39). In Mark 8:10 we find Dalmanutha instead.
Magdala was the Hebrew mighdol ("tower"), and Dalmanutha may be regarded as the
Aramaic equivalent (De'almanutha) meaning "the place of high buildings"; so that
there is no necessary discrepancy between the two accounts. From this place Jesus
again departed by ship to "the other side," and reached Bethsaida (Matthew 16:5
; Mark 8:13,22), traveling thence up the Jordan valley to Caesarea Philippi (Matthew
16:13 ; Mark 8:27), or Banias, at the Jordan springs. There can be little doubt
that the "high mountain apart" (Matthew 17:1) was Hermon. The very name signifies
"separate," applying to its solitary dome; and the sudden formation of cloud on
the summit seems to explain the allusion in Luke 9:34.
(7) Other Allusions in the Synoptic Gospels.
Other allusions in the Synoptic Gospels,
referring to natural history and customs, include the notice of domestic fowls
(Matthew 23:37 ; 26:34), which are never mentioned in the Old Testament. They
came from Persia, and were introduced probably after 400 BC. The use of manure
(Luke 13:8) is also unnoticed in the Old Testament, but is mentioned in the Mishna
(Shebi'ith, ii.2), as is the custom of annually whitening sepulchers (Matthew
23:27 ; Sheqalim, i.1). The removal of a roof (Mark 2:4; compare Luke 5:19) at
Capernaum was not difficult, if it resembled those of modern Galilean mud houses,
though the Third Gospel speaks of "tiles" which are not now used. Finally, the
presence of shepherds with their flocks (Luke 2:8) is not an indication of the
season of the nativity, since they remain with them "in the field" at all times
of the year; and the "manger" (Luke 2:7) may have been (as tradition affirmed
even in the 2nd century AD) in a cave like those which have been found in ruins
North and South of Hebron (SWP, III, 349, 369) and elsewhere in Palestine.
2. Fourth Gospel
|(1) The topography of the Fourth Gospel is important as
indicating the writer's personal knowledge of Palestine; for he mentions several
places not otherwise noticed in the New Testament. Beth-abarah (John 1:28, the
Revised Version (British and American) "Bethany"; 10:40), or "the house of the
crossing," was "beyond the Jordan." Origen rejected the reading "Bethania," instead
of Beth-abarah, common in his time, and still found in the three oldest uncial
manuscripts in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. The place was a day's journey from
Cana (compare John 1:29 , 35 , 43 ; 2:1), which may have been at 'Ain Qana, a
mile North of Nazareth. It was two or three days' distance from Bethany near Jerusalem
(John 10:40 ; 11:3 , 6 , 17), and would thus lie in the upper part of the Jordan
valley where, in 1874, the surveyors found a ford well known by the name 'Abarah,
North of Beisan, in the required situation. John, we are told, baptized in "all
the region round about the Jordan" (Matthew 3:5), including the waters of "AEnon
near to Salim" (John 3:23). There is only one stream which answers to this description,
namely that of Wady Far'ah, Northeast of Shechem, on the boundary of Judea and
Samaria, where there is "much water." AEnon would be 'Ainun, 4 miles North, and
Salim is Salim, 4 miles South of this perennial affluent of the Jordan.
(2) The site of Sychar (Samaritan: Iskar, Arabic: 'Askar) near Jacob's well (John
4:5 , 6) lay West of Salim, and just within the Samaritan border. The present
village is only half a mile North of the well. Like the preceding sites, it is
noticed only in the Fourth Gospel, as is Bethesda, while this Gospel also gives
additional indications as to the position of Calvary. The town of Ephraim, "near
to the wilderness" (John 11:54), is noticed earlier (2 Samuel 13:23; compare Ephraim,
2 Chronicles 13:19 margin), and appears to be the same as Apherema (1 Macc 11:34),
and as Ophrah of Benjamin (Joshua 18:23 ; 1 Samuel 13:17). Eusebius (Onom under
the word) places it 20 Roman miles North of Jerusalem, where the village Taiyibeh
looks down on the desert of Judah.
3. Book of Acts
In the Book of Acts the only new site, unnoticed before, is that of Antipatris
(Acts 23:31). This stood at the head of the stream (Me-jarkon) which runs thence
to the sea North of Joppa, and it was thus the half-way station between Jerusalem
and the seaside capital at Caesarea. The site is now called Ras el 'Ain ("head
of the spring"), and a castle, built in the 12th century, stands above the waters.
The old Romans road runs close by (SWP, II, 258). Caesarea was a new town, founded
by Herod the Great about 20 BC (SWP, II, 13-29). It was even larger than Jerusalem,
and had an artificial harbor. Thence we may leave Palestine with Paul in 60 AD.
The reader must judge whether this study of the country does not serve to vindicate
the sincerity and authenticity of Bible narratives in the Old Testament and the
New Testament alike.
Though the literature connected with Palestine is enormous, and constantly increasing,
the number of really original and scientific sources of knowledge is (as in other
cases) not large. Besides the Bible, and Josephus, the Mishna contains a great
deal of valuable information as to the cultivation and civilization of Palestine
about the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The following 20 works are of primary importance.
The Onomasticon of Eusebius and Jerome shows intimate acquaintance with Palestine
in the 4th century AD, though the identification of Bible sites is as often wrong
as right. The rabbinical geography is discussed by A. Neubauer (La geographie
du Talmud, 1868), and the scattered notices by Greek and Roman writers were collected
by H. Reland (Palaestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata, 2 volumes, 1714).
The first really scientific account of the country is that of Dr. E. Robinson
(Biblical Researches, 1838, and Later Biblical Researches, 1852; in 3 volumes,
1856). The Survey of Western Palestine (7 volumes, 1883) includes the present
writer's account of the natural features, topography and surface remains of all
ages, written while in command (1872-1878) of the 1-inch trigonometric survey.
The Survey of Eastern Palestine (1 vol, 1889) gives his account of Moab and Southern
Gilead, as surveyed in 1881-1882. The natural history is to be studied in the
same series, and in Canon Tristram's Natural History of the Bible, 1868. The geology
is best given by L. Lartet (Essai sur la geologie de la Palestine) and in Professor
Hull's Memoir on the Geol. and Geog. of Arabia Petrea, etc., 1886. The Archaeological
Researches of M. Clermont-Ganneau (2 volumes, 1896) include his discoveries of
Gezer and Adullam. Much information is scattered through the PEFQ,(1864-1910)
and in ZDPV. G. Schumacher's Across the Jordan, 1885, Pella, 1888, and Northern
'Ajlun, 1890, give detailed information for Northeast Palestine; and Lachish,
by Professor Flinders Petrie, is the memoir of the excavations which he began
at Tell el-Chesy (identified in 1874 by the present writer), the full account
being in A Mound of Many Cities by F.J. Bliss, 1894. Other excavations, at Gath,
etc., are described in Excavations in Palestine (1898-1900), by F.J. Bliss, R.A.S.
Macalister, and Professor Wunsch; while the memoir of his excavations at Gezer
(2 volumes) has recently been published by Professor Macalister. For those who
have not access to these original sources, The Historical Geography of the Holy
Land by Professor G.A. Smith, 1894, and the essay (300 pp.) by Professor D.F.
Buhl (Geographie des alten Palastina, 1896) will be found useful. The best guide
book to Palestine is still that of Baedeker, written by Dr. A. Socin and published
in 18765, 1912. This author had personal acquaintance with the principal routes
of the country. Only standard works of reference have been herein mentioned, to
which French, German, American, and British explorers and scholars have alike
C. R. Conder
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