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A Chorographical Century
The Jewish writers divide the whole world into "The land of Israel," and "Without the land": that is, the countries of the heathen. Both which phrases the book of the gospel owns: "The land of Israel," Matthew 2:20: and it calls the heathens, "those that are without," 1 Corinthians 5:13; 1 Timothy 3:7, &c. And sometimes the unbelieving Jews themselves, as Mark 4:11.
They distinguish all the people of the world into "Israelites," and "the nations of the world." The book of the gospel owns that phrase also, Matthew 6:32; "After all these things, do the Gentiles (or nations) seek": which, in Luke 12:30, is, "The nations of the world." Hence the word 'world' is most commonly used for the Gentiles; John 3:16,17; 1 John 2:2, &c.
Somewhere a distinction is made into "The land [of Israel]," and "The region of the sea"; "And every foreign region is called the region of the sea, except Babylon":--they are the words of Rabbi Solomon. Which, nevertheless, fall under the censure of R. Nissim: "It is something hard (saith he) to reckon every country, which is out of the land, to be the region of the sea: for then, under that name, would be included all the neighbouring places, and which are, as it were, swallowed up by the land. They say, therefore, that the more remote places are called, 'The region of the sea.' But neither does this please me: for there is no need of so great a distance, to make any place to be called, 'The region of the sea,' &c. But it is spoken in relation to the western coast of the land of Israel; on which side there are no [heathen] cities near, and swallowed up by the land. But the sea sets the bounds; but it doth not set the bounds on other sides, &c. The sense, therefore, of R. Solomon, when he saith, 'that every region, without the land, is the region of the sea,' comes to this,--That every region, which is like to that region, is so called."
Heathen cities were on that western coast; but seeing they lay within the ancient bounds of the land, namely, the 'lip of the Mediterranean sea,'--they could not so properly be said to be 'without the land,' as those which were altogether 'without the limits.' Those cities and that country, therefore, are called by a peculiar title, the "coast or country by the Mediterranean sea." Which title all other cities of the like condition underwent also, wheresoever seated within the bounds of the land. Examples will not be wanting as we go along.
They commonly define the 'land of Israel' under a double notion: to wit, that "which they possessed, who went up out of Egypt"; and that "which they possessed, who went up out of Babylon." This was, in very many places, circumscribed within narrower limits than that, not only by reason Samaria was rejected and shut out,--but also, because certain portions were cut off (and they neither a few nor small), which became the possessions of those, that went up out of Egypt; but, under the second Temple, had passed into the possessions of the heathen.
Now they were, upon this account, the more exact in observing their bounds, distinguishing this land by known bounds, both from all others, and, in some places, as it were, from itself; because they decreed, that very many mysteries of their religion were to be handled nowhere but within these limits. For besides the rites of that dispensation, which the Holy Scripture doth openly and evidently fix to that land, such as Sacrifices, Passovers, the Priesthood, and other appointments of that nature (which are commonly, and not improperly, called "Statutes appendant to that land,") very many others also are circumscribed within the same borders by the fathers of the traditions.
"The land of Israel (say they), above all other lands, is sanctified by ten holinesses. And what is the holiness of it? Out of it they bring the sheaf, and the first-fruits, and the two loaves. And they do not so out of any other land."
"The law of beheading the cow doth not take place any where, but in the land of Israel, and beyond Jordan."
"They do not appoint or determine concerning the new moons, nor do they intercalate the year any where but in the land of Israel: as it is said, The law shall go forth out of Sion."
"They do not prefer to eldership out of the land of Israel: no, not although they that do prefer, have themselves been preferred within the land."
And that I heap not together more, they do, in a manner, circumscribe the Holy Spirit himself within the limits of that land. For "Shechinah (say they) dwells not upon any out of the land." Compare Acts 10:45.
The land, which the Jews, that came up out of Babylon, possess, they divide after this manner:--
"There are three lands (or countries)--Judea, the land beyond Jordan, and Galilee; and each of those have three countries":--those we shall take notice of in their places. To this received division our Saviour hath respect, when, sending his disciples to preach to the "lost sheep of Israel," he excludes Samaria, Matthew 10:5; which, according to the condition of the nation, was not merely heathen, nor was it truly Israel. It was not heathen; for "The land of Samaria is reckoned clean, and the gathering together of its waters clean, and its dwellings clean, and its paths clean": which the Jewish curiosity would by no means pronounce of a heathen land. But as to many other things, they made no difference between them and the Gentiles...
What all these things mean, I cannot so much as conjecture; yea, nor can I scarce conjecture, what the meaning is of some of them. Neither is there any Oedipus at hand, nor Sphinx herself, to explain and unriddle them. The Talmudists are silent from making any comments here, nor have we the advantage of any other commentator. We must, therefore, act here according to the uncertain instruction of nods and winks; and that either by saying nothing, or by mere conjecture, since that the mind of the authors is either altogether unknown, or it is wholly doubtful, whether it be known or no. Expect not, that I go from street to street to knock at all the gates of these places: it will be enough, if we can scrape out, in what regions these places lie, and are able to guess at what points of the heaven they are disposed. We will at present take in hand only the first and last clause of this place quoted; which may have some tendency towards our entrance into our present business. The rest (if there be any we can attain unto) we shall handle in their proper places.
"These (say they) are the bounds of the land of Israel, which they possessed that came out of Babylon."
"The division, or part, of the walls of the tower Sid." Nor dare I confidently to assert, that this is spoken of the 'tower of Strato,' or 'Caesarea'; nor yet do I know to what it may more fitly be applied. We observe in its place, that that tower is called by the Talmudists, "The tower Sir": which, by how very little a point it differs from this words, and how very apt it is by want of care in writing to be confounded with it, the eye of any reader is witness...
These places, concerning which the Talmudists here treat, are of a different condition from those, which were called "The region of the sea." For those places were certain towns, here and there, on this sea-coast, and elsewhere; which were, indeed, inhabited by heathens, and so could not properly be reckoned the 'land of Israel'; yet they were such, as between which, and the outmost bounds of the land, was again the land of Israel. But these places, which we are now handling, are those, which were the utmost bounds, and beyond which were no places at all, but what was reckoned the 'land of the heathen': the Phoenicians, Syrians, or other Gentiles, possessing all that coast thence forward unto the shore of the Mediterranean sea.
We cannot also pass by those things, that are said by the Gemarists in the very same page, from whence the scheme before-mentioned is taken. "You see isles in the sea; and if a line were drawn from the mountains of Amana to the river of Egypt,--whatsoever is within the line, belongs to the land of Israel; whatsoever is without the line, is without the land." After the same manner speaks the Targum of Jerusalem upon Numbers 34:4: "And their western bounds shall be the great sea, and the isles of it." Isles? What isles? Let the authors of the maps well weigh these passages.
The Talmudic girdle ends, as you see, in "Kadesh, Barnea, and Ascalon." Hence it cannot but be observed, that these two places are placed, as it were, in parallel; and whatsoever space lies between Ascalon and the river of Egypt, is excluded,--to wit, fifty-four miles. And one might, indeed, almost see some footsteps of that exclusion under the first Temple, in that very common expression, "From Dan even to Beer-sheba."
This country, that was excluded, was something barren. The Talmudists speak thus of it; "That tract, which lies in Gerariku [Gerar] is ill to dwell in. How far? To the river of Egypt." And Strabo thus; "The country, which follows Gaza, is barren and sandy," &c.
It was anciently inhabited by the Avites,--namely, from Gaza to the river of Egypt. "The Avims dwelt in Hazerim," Deuteronomy 2:23. Hazar is a word of most frequent mention in that southern land, "Hazar-Addar, Hazar-Gaddah, Hazar-Shua, Hazar-Susah," &c. And it seems to denote some champaign plain and level, lying between the mountains. Hence the habitation of the Avites is called 'Hazerim'; who are numbered with the Philistines, but yet by themselves, Joshua 13:3:--for see there, how the holy text promising to number five nations only, numbers six.
This excluded portion is passed into the name of Idumea. Hence Pliny: "Presently from the rising up of the lake Sirbon, begins Idumea and Palestine." Nor that alone, but another very great part of Judea. Hence the sea of Sodom, is said, by Diodorus Siculus, to be "about the middle of Idumea." And in Josephus, and the Book of the Maccabees, we find very many places mentioned under the name of Idumea, which were almost in the very middle of Judea. For example's sake; "He came even to the Gadari, and the plains of Idumea, and Azotus, and Jamnia." And again; "And Judas and his brethren left not off fighting with the Idumeans: but fell upon them everywhere: and taking the city Chebron, &c. and the city Marissa, &c. And having come unto Azotus," &c. And more to this purpose may be read here and there. So that distinction may be made, between Idumea the Greater and the Less. Simon of Gerasa overran the towns along the mountainous country, &c. And he overran Acrabatene, and the parts as far as Idumea the Great. And there is mention of "Idumean, called the Upper." With these passages, compare Mark 3:8.
Whilst the Jews were absent from their own country, enduring the seventy years' bondage in Babylon,--it is easy to be believed, that their ancient enemies, the Edomites, and that were so from the very first original of them, had invaded their possessions, as much as they could, and had fixed their roots in that country especially, which was nearest their own: but at length, by the powerful arms of the Maccabees, and the Asmoneans, they were either rooted out, or constrained to embrace Judaism. So Josephus speaks of Hyrcanus: "Hyrcanus takes Ador and Marissa, cities of Idumea: and, having subdued all the Idumeans, suffered them to remain in the country, on condition they were willing to be circumcised, and to use the Jewish laws. And they, out of a desire of their own country, underwent circumcision, and conformed to the same course of life with the Jews." Hence there became a mingled generation in that country, between Jew and Edomite: and the name of the place was mingled also, and called both Idumea and Judea: "And Palestine was divided into five countries,--Idumea, Judea, Samaria, Galilee, and the country beyond Jordan."
"Seven seas (say they) and four rivers compass the land of Israel. I. The Great Sea, or the Mediterranean. II. The sea of Tiberias. III. The sea of Sodom. IV. The lake of Samocho...
The three first named among the seven are sufficiently known, and there is no doubt of the fourth:--only the three names of it are not to be passed by.
IV. 1. The Sibbichaean. The word seems to be derived from a bush. 2. ... 3. ...
V. Perhaps the sandy sea. Which fits very well to the lake of Sirbon, joining the commentary of Diodorus Siculus. For he relates, that that lake, for the most part, is so covered with sand, that it hath often deceived and supplanted travellers, yea, whole armies, thinking it to be firm land...
After these seas, mentioned by the Talmudists, hear also no lean story of theirs concerning the fish: "R. Chaninah Bar R. Abhu said, Seven hundred kinds of clean fish, and eight hundred kinds of clean locusts, and of birds an infinite number, travelled with Israel into Babylon, and returned when Israel returned, except [a certain] fish. But how did the fish travel? R. Houna Bar Joseph saith, they travelled by the way of the deep, and by the deep they came back." Surely it requires a Jewish invention (which is able to frame any thing out of any thing), to trace a way, either by any sea, or by any river, through which fish might swim out of Palestine into Babylon. By the same art they bring Jonah in the belly of the whale, out of the Phoenician sea, into the Red sea.
That, indeed, is somewhat hard, yet not to be doubted of, what is said, 2 Chronicles 8:18, concerning Hiram sending ships to Solomon into the Red sea. What! ships to come from Tyre into the Red sea? Which way sailed they? It is answered, He sent such Tyrian ships, which had much and long traded before in the Red sea, to accompany Solomon's fleet. To this belongs that, that it is said there likewise (and in 1 Kings 9:27), that "he sent seamen, that had knowledge of the sea"; that is, knowledge of that sea: and they probably not such, who had never yet adventured themselves into the Red sea, but had experience of it before, and were not ignorant of the Ophir voyage.
The four rivers for the compassing of the land (they say) are, 1. Jordan; that is sufficiently known. II. Jarmoch. In Pliny, 'Hieramax': "Gaddara (saith he), Hieramax flowing before it." III. Kirmion. IV. Pigah. Concerning which, thus the Aruch: "Kirmion is a river in the way to Damascus, and is the same with Amanah. Pigah is Pharphar. and Jarmoch is also a river in the way to Damascus." And the Talmudists: "The waters of Kirmion and Pigah are not fit" (to sprinkle the unclean), "because they are muddy waters. The waters also of Jordan, and the waters of Jarmoch, are not fit, because they are mixed waters":--that is, as the Gloss speaks, mixed with the waters of other rivers, which they receive within themselves.
To the seven seas, concerning which we have spoken, those things which are said by Midras Tillim, do refer: "I have created seven seas, saith the Lord, but out of them all I have chosen none, but the sea of Gennesaret."--And of the river of Amanah, of which the Aruch speaks, mention is made in the Targum upon Canticles 4:8: "They that dwell upon the river Amanah, shall offer thee a gift," &c.
The bounds of Judea, on both sides, are the sea; the western bound is the Mediterranean,--the eastern, the Dead sea, or the sea of Sodom. This the Jewish writers every where call, which you may not so properly interpret here, "the salt sea," as "the bituminous sea." In which sense word for word, "Sodom's salt," but properly "Sodom's bitumen," doth very frequently occur among them. The use of it was in the holy incense. They mingled 'bitumen,' 'the amber of Jordan,' and [an herb known to few], with the spices that made that incense.
"The lake Asphaltitis is distant from Jerusalem three hundred furlongs":--about eight-and-thirty miles.
"It is extended in length five hundred and eighty furlongs"; seventy-two miles.--"In breadth a hundred and fifty furlongs"; eighteen miles.
Pliny speaks thus of it: "In length it is more than a hundred miles: in its greatest breadth, it makes five-and-twenty,--in its least, six." What agreement is there between these two? I suppose Josephus does not comprehend within his measure the tongue of the sea, of which mention is made, Joshua 15:2--and defines the breadth, as it was generally every where diffused. Concerning its distance from Jerusalem, Solinus also speaks: "In a long retreat from Jerusalem (saith he) a sad bay openeth itself; which that it was struck from heaven, the ground, black and dissolved into ashes, testifies. There were two towns there, one named Sodom, the other Gomorrha." But that distance was not directly southward, but by a very long declination eastward.
The Talmudists devote "to the sea of Sodom," any thing, that is destined to rejection and cursing, and that by no means is to be used.
"Let him devote the use of such a thing to the bituminous sea." "Let the price of an oblation for sin, the owner whereof is dead, depart into the salt sea."
"The proselyte Aquila divided the inheritance with his brother a Gentile, and devoted the use and benefit of it to the salt sea. Of three doctors one saith, That he devoted the moneys of idolatry into the salt sea." Hence is that allusion, Revelation 20:14, "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire."
It doth not please me, that Sodom, in the maps, is placed in the northern bounds of the Asphaltites; when it seems rather to be placed in the southern extremity of it. For,
I. The bounds of the land are thus defined by Moses, Genesis 10:19: "The borders of the Canaanites were from Sidon" (on the north) "unto Gaza" (on the south), "as thou goest forward, or until thou comest to Sodom." Are not the bounds here bent from Gaza to the farthest term opposite to it on the east?
II. Josephus, in the description of the Asphaltites, which we quoted a little above, hath these words: "The length of it is five hundred and eighty furlongs: and it is stretched out as far as Zoar of Arabia." Note, that the farthest coast of the extension of it southward, is to Zoar. But now Zoar was not far distant from Sodom, when Lot, with his company, got thither before the rising of the sun, Genesis 19:23. "It is written (say the Gemarists), 'The sun was risen upon the earth, when Lot entered into Sodom.'--Now Sodom was four miles from Zoar."
The maps show you Zoar and Lot's Cave in Judea, at the northern coast almost of the Asphaltites:--by what authority, I do not apprehend. The Talmudists, indeed, do mention a certain Zoar, which they also call, "The City of Palms."--"There is a story (say they) of some Levites, who travelled to Zoar, the city of palms: and one of them fell sick, whom they brought to an inn, and there he died." But I should sooner believe, that there were two Zoars, than I should believe, that the father of the Moabites were not conceived and born near Zoar of the land of Moab. See Isaiah 15:5.
Concerning the age of Sodom, when it perished, see the places in the margin, and weigh them well.
"On the western shore" (of the Asphaltites) "dwell the Essenes; whom persons, guilty of any crimes, fly from on every side. A nation it is that lives alone, and of all other nations in the whole world, most to be admired; they are without any woman; all lust banished, &c. Below these, was the town Engadda, the next to Jerusalem for fruitfulness, and groves of palm-trees, now another burying-place. From thence stands Massada, a castle in a rock, and this castle not far from the Asphaltites."
Solinus, Pliny's shadow, speaks the like things: "The Essenes possess the inner parts of Judea, which look to the west. The town Engadda lay beneath the Essenes; but it is now destroyed: but its glory for the famous groves, that are there, doth still endure: and in regard of its most lofty woods of palms, it hath received no disparagement either by age or war. The castle Massada is the bounds of Judea."
We are looking for the places, not the men:--we might otherwise begin the history of the Essenes from those words, Judges 1:16: "And the sons of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went out of the city of palms, with the sons of Judah, into the deserts of Judah." From these we suppose came the Rechabites,--and from their stock, or example, the Essenes. Which if it be true, we make this an argument of the ill placing of En-gedi in the maps, being set too much towards the north, when it ought to have been placed towards the utmost southern coasts.
If the Essenes were the same with the Kenites in seat and place, and the Kenites dwelt beyond Arad southward, or indeed even with Arad, which is asserted in the text alleged,--and if below these were En-gedi, which is also asserted by the authors cited,--certainly, then, the maps have laid it a long way distant from its own proper place, too much northward. View them, and think of these things. To which we also add this:--
The southern borders of the land, Ezekiel 47:19 (the very same which are mentioned Numbers 34 and Joshua 15:2), are thus declared; "The southern coast southward from Tamar to the waters of Meribah in Cadesh," &c. But now Tamar and En-gedi are the same, 2 Chronicles 20:2. Nor have we any reason why we should seek another Tamar elsewhere. Certainly, the Chaldee paraphrast, and Rabbi Sol. Jarchi, and Kimchi following him, have rendered Tamar, in Ezekiel, Jericho. But upon what reason? For how, I beseech you, was it possible, that Jericho should be the bounds of the south land, when it was the utmost bounds of Judea northward? It was this, without all doubt, drove them to that version of the word, because Jericho is called the City of Palms,--and Tamar signifies a palm; since En-gedi would not give place to Jericho, one inch in regard of the glory of palm-groves.
Whether Tadmor, 1 Kings 9:18, be the same with this our Tamar,--and whether Tadmor in the Talmudists be the same with that Tadmor,--we leave to the reader to consider. We produce these few things concerning it, which are related by them--for the sake of such consideration:--
"They receive proselytes from those of Cardya and Tadmor. Rab. Abhu, in the name of R. Jochanan, saith, The tradition asserts, that the proselytes of Tadmor are fit to enter into the congregation." It was said a little before; "Haggai the prophet taught these three lessons:--The rival of a daughter" (of a priest) "may be married by a priest. The Moabites and Ammonites ought to tithe the poor's tithe the seventh year. And the proselytes of Tadmor are fit to enter into the congregation."
This story is recited, in the Jerusalem Misna: "Mary, of Tadmor, having part of the blood sprinkled upon her" (whereby she was to be purified), "heard in that very juncture of time, that her daughter was dead," &c. But the Babylonian calls her "of Tarmod."--"From the place Tarmud," saith the Gloss.--The 'Tarmudeans,' are said, by those of the Babylonian Talmud, to be certain poor people, who got themselves a livelihood by gathering up wood, and selling it.
R. Jochanan said, "Blessed is he, who shall see the destruction of Tadmor: for she communicated in the destruction of the first and second Temple. In the destruction of the first, she brought eighty thousand archers: and so she did, in the destruction of the second."
The readers of the eastern interpreters will observe, that Kadesh is rendered by all Rekam, or in a sound very near it. In the Chaldee, it is 'Rekam': in the Syriac, 'Rekem': in the Arabic, 'Rakim'...
There are two places noted by the name Rekam in the very bounds of the land,--to wit, the southern and eastern: that is, a double Kadesh.
I. Of Kadesh, or Rekam, in the south part, there is no doubt.
II. Of it, in the eastern part, there is this mention: "From Rekam to the east, and Rekam is as the east": that is, R. Nissim interpreting, "Rekam itself is reckoned for the east of the world" (that is, for the land of the heathen), "not for the land of Israel." Behold! a Rekam, or a Kadesh, also, on the east. But the maps have feigned to themselves another Kadesh, besides Barnea, and this eastern Rekam; whither, they think, the people of Israel came in the fortieth year of their travel, Numbers 20. These, we suppose, were some of the reasons, whereby the authors of them were drawn to it.
I. Because Kadesh-barnea was in the desert of Paran, Numbers 12:16, 14:1. But the Kadesh, whither they came the fortieth year, was in the desert of Zin, Numbers 20:1.--I answer, The searchers of the land, departing from Kadesh-barnea, are said, also, to go out of the deserts of Zin, Number 13:21. Paran was the general name of that dreadful desert; Zin only one part of it.
II. In Kadesh-barnea they encamped many days, Deuteronomy 1:46. But in that Kadesh, concerning which mention is made, Numbers 20, there was not provision sufficient, whereby they might be sustained one day. For they complain, that it was a place altogether destitute of seed, figs, vines, and pomegranates, Numbers 20:5: which they did not at all complain of, while they remained in Kadesh-barnea.--I answer, Omitting, that wheresoever they encamped, they were fed by manna; the complaint arose among them, not so much of the place itself, as of the ill boding and prejudice, as I may so say, of the place; because, from the barrenness of this place, they prejudged of the like barrenness of that land, into which they were to enter,--and the porch, as it were, of which, was Kadesh-barnea. When they came hither first, now thirty-eight years before, "Ye came to the mountain of the Amorites (saith Moses) which the Lord giveth you," Deuteronomy 1:20,21. 'Is it so?' (think they with themselves) 'Does the first entrance of the land of promise, promise no better? There is little hope of the land itself, if the beginnings of it are such. It is convenient, therefore, that we send before us spies, who may bring us word, whether it is of so great account, that we should tire and hazard ourselves by going to that soil, whose first appearance is so horrid and desperate.'--And hence was that unhappy argument before their eyes, by the inducement of which the whole multitude, by so unanimous a vote, concluded and resolved against the land. And since now, after so much time passed, they are come back to the same place, they think, distrust, and complain of the same things.
III. In Kadesh-barnea, they had a supply of water; in Kadesh, whither they came the fortieth year, there was no water, Numbers 20, &c.--I answer, They drank, when they first came to Kadesh-barnea, of the rock, which followed them (1 Cor 10:2), which dried up, when they were now ready to enter into the land. If you ask, Why had those rivers that followed them, dried up, as soon as they came at Kadesh-barnea, which before had not dried up when they came thither;--then I ask also, Why had they dried up, when they came to another Kadesh?
IV. Concerning the Kadesh, whither they came the last year of their travel, it is said, that the city was in the utmost bounds of the land of Edom: and therefore, they desire leave of the king to pass through the land of Edom, Numbers 20:16,17.--I answer, Nothing at all hinders, but these things may be spoke of Kadesh-barnea, which lying contiguous to the mountain of the Amorites, that is, to mountainous Judea, showed so great an army an access, and promised it; only that access was winding, and very difficult to be passed. They desire, therefore, a more level way of the king of Edom, but obtain it not.
V. Perhaps that which chiefly moved them, was this; that supposing one Kadesh only, to wit, Barnea,--it will be scarce possible not to confound the encampings of Israel in the wilderness, and their movings from place to place.--I answer, There will be the same easiness of ordering them, if you do but reduce the sixth and seventh verses of Deuteronomy 10, into a true sense, and into agreement with Numbers 33 from verses 31 to 41; which is not hard to do. But let these things suffice, for the present, to have spoke besides our scope. That that Kadesh, to which they came in the fortieth year (which is called Meribah, Numbers 20:13), is the same with Kadesh-barnea, is clear enough from hence,--that Meribah in Kadesh is assigned for the southern border of the land, Ezekiel 47:19; which border of old was Kadesh-barnea, Numbers 34:4; Joshua 15:3.
Pliny writes, "From Pelusium are the intrenchments of Chabrias: mount Casius: the temple of Jupiter Casius: the tomb of Pompey the Great: Ostracine: Arabia is bounded sixty-five miles from Pelusium: soon after begins Idumea and Palestine from the rising up of the Sirbon lake." Either my eyes deceive me, while I read these things,--or mount Casius lies nearer Pelusium, than the lake of Sirbon. The maps have ill placed the Sirbon between mount Casius and Pelusium.
Sirbon implies burning; the name of the lake being derived from its nature, which is fiery and bituminous. It is described by Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and others, whom you may look upon. A lake like to that of Sodom, and perhaps was of the like fate and original; to wit, an example of divine indignation. What if it be the monument of that dreadful earthquake in the days of Uzziah, Amos 1:1, Zechariah 14:5? when God contended also in fire, Amos 7:4: so that some cities perished after the manner of Sodom and Gomorrha, Amos 4:11; Isaiah 1:9.
The farthest border of the land of Israel southward is not Nile in Egypt, but Shihor in the way to Egypt, Joshua 13:3; Jeremiah 2:18. In the Seventy interpreters, it is Rhinocorura; for they render that in Isaiah 27:12, "unto the stream of Egypt." "Unto Rhinocorura." Of which place and name, derived from the 'cutting of nostrils,' see Diodorus Siculus, lib. 1. [60.]
"In Judea is the mountainous country, the plain, and the vale. What is the mountainous country of Judea? It is the king's mountain. The plain of it is the plain of the south. The vale is from En-gedi to Jericho. The plain of Lydda is as the plain of the south: and its mountainous country is as the king's mountainous country. From Beth-horon to the sea is one circumjacent region. Rabbi Jochanan saith, Yet it hath a mountainous part, a plain, and a vale. From Beth-horon to Emmaus is mountainous,--from Emmaus to Lydda is plain,--from Lydda to the sea is valley."
Judea is not divided amiss into four parts:--namely, into the country, which formerly was the Philistines', which takes up the western part. To this joins, on the east, the mountainous country of Judea, which is also called "The king's mount." To the mountainous country, on the east, joins a plain, a country more low and level than the mountains, which nevertheless here and there hath its hills..."A valley, lying between mountains, is reckoned with the mountains, and mountains in a valley are numbered with the valley." To the plain eastwardly joins a valley, lower than the plain,--namely, the coast of the sea of Sodom, and at length of Jordan.
The land of Benjamin, in like manner, which is numbered with Judea, in respect of its superficies, was of the same nature; which, although "it was a portion of the narrowest limits, by reason of the goodness of the soil," yet had its mountainous part, its plain, and vale: and that, not only towards Lydda, and the great sea, but towards Jericho and Jordan.
Judea did excel all the other parts of the land of Israel in very many privileges. For, besides that in it was seated Jerusalem, the metropolis of the whole nation, and in Jerusalem stood the Temple, and in the Temple sat the Sanhedrim:--this was also peculiar to it out of the Canons, that "it was not lawful to intercalate the year out of Judea, while they might do it in Judea." Maimonides gives the reason of the thing, "Because there dwelt the divine glory."--"Nor was the sheaf of the first-fruits of the barley to be fetched elsewhere, than from Judea, and as near as might be to Jerusalem." Once it was fetched a great way off, &c.
"Idumea and Palestine begin from the rising up of the Sirbon lake. The towns of Rhinocorura, and within Raphea. Gaza, and within Anthedon. Mount Angaris. The country along the coast, Samaria. The free town Ascalon, Azotus. The two Jamnes, the one a village" (otherwise Jamne within). "Joppe of the Phoenicians. Thence Apollonia. The tower of Strato; the same is Caesarea. The bounds of Palestine are a hundred and eighty-nine miles from the confines of Arabia. Then begins Phoenice."
And chapter 19: "We must go back to the coast, and Phoenice. There was the town Crocodilon; it is now a river. Rains of some cities. Dorum. Sycaminum. The promontory Carmel: and, in the mountain, a town of the same name, heretofore called Ecbatana. Near that, Getta, Lebba, the river Pagida or Belus, mingling glassy sand with its small shore: it flows from the lake Cendevia, at the root of Carmel. Next that is Ptolemais, a colony of Claudius Caesar, which heretofore was called Ace. The town Ecdippa. The White Promontory. Tyrus, heretofore an island, &c. It is in compass nineteen miles, Palae-Tyre, lying within, being included. The town itself contains two-and-twenty furlongs. Then the towns, Enhydra, Sarepta, and Ornithon; and Sidon, the artist of glass, and the mother of Thebes in Boeotia."
Strabo goes backward: "Tyrus is not distant from Sidon above two hundred furlongs":--five-and-twenty miles.
The masters of the Jews have observed this neighbourhood in that canon, whereby provision is made, that nobody betake himself to sail in the Mediterranean sea within three days before the sabbath: "But if any (say they) will sail from Tyre to Sidon, he may, even on the eve of the sabbath: because it is well known, that that space may be sailed, while it is yet day."
"Between Tyre and Sidon there is the little city Ornithon" (the city of birds). "At Tyre a river goes out."
"Thirty furlongs beyond Tyre is Palae-Tyrus": three miles three quarters. When, therefore, Pliny saith, the compass of Tyre is nineteen miles, "Palae-Tyre, that lies within, being included," he shows manifestly, that it is not to be understood of the compass of the city itself, since he saith, "The town itself held two-and-twenty furlongs": nor can it well be taken of the whole circumference of the Tyrian jurisdiction, but rather of the extent of the bounds of it that way, which he went.
"Moreover, from Tyre" (southward) "is Ptolemais, formerly called Ace. And between Ace and Tyre, is a shore heaped with sands fit to make glass."
"Beyond Ace is the tower of Strato. The mountain Carmel lies between: and the names of some small cities, and nothing more. The cities of Sycamines, of Herdsmen, of Crocodiles, and others. And going thence, is a certain great wood."
"After that, Joppa; next which, the shore of Egypt, which before had stretched out towards sun-rising, does remarkably bend towards the north. There some talk, that Andromeda was exposed to the whale. A place sufficiently high; so high, indeed, that from thence (they report) Jerusalem may be seen, the metropolis of the Jews. The Jews, also, that go down to the sea, use this port. But these ports are receptacles for robbers. And so was the wood and Carmel."
"And this place was so well peopled, that, out of Jamnia, a near village, and the dwellings neighbouring about, might be armed forty thousand men."
"Thence to mount Casius towards Pelusium, the distance is a thousand furlongs, and a little more. And three hundred more to Pelusium."
Here we must stop, and see how these two authors do agree. For, according to Strabo's account, one thousand three hundred furlongs, and a little more, run out from Pelusium to Joppa: that is, one hundred and sixty three miles, or thereabouts: but according to Pliny's, at first sight, more by far. For "Arabia (saith he) is bounded sixty-five miles from Pelusium: and the end of Palestine is one hundred and eighty-nine miles from the confines of Arabia. And then begins Phoenice." The sum is two hundred and fifty-four miles. He had named Joppa before, 'Joppa of the Phoenicians.' But now, supposing he makes Joppa the border of Palestine, and the beginning of Phoenice, there are from Pelusium to Joppa, himself reckoning, almost a hundred miles more than in Strabo. Nor is there any thing to answer from the difference of the measure of Strabo's furlongs, and Pliny's miles. For they go by the same measure, themselves being witnesses: for to Strabo, "Eight furlongs make a mile"; and, to Pliny, "A furlong makes a hundred and twenty-five of our paces":--which comes to the same thing.
We must therefore say, that by the 'end of Palestine,' in Pliny, is properly signified the end of it, touching upon Phoenicia properly so called;--that is, upon the borders of Tyre and Sidon. For when he calls Joppa, "Joppa of the Phoenicians,"--he does not conclude Joppa within Phoenicia; but because the sea, washing upon that shore of Palestine, was divided in common speech into the Phoenician and the Egyptian sea (so Strabo before, "Afterward Joppe; after that, the shore of Egypt," &c.); and because the Phoenicians were famous for navigation,--he ascribed their name to Joppa, a very eminent haven of that shore. But he stretched the borders of Palestine a great way farther;--namely, so far till they meet with the borders of Tyre and Sidon. So far, therefore, doth Pliny's measure extend itself; to wit,--that, from Idumea, and the rising of the Sirbon lake, to the borders of Tyre and Sidon, there be one hundred and eighty-nine miles. The place that divided these meeting-bounds to the Jews, was Acon, or Ptolemais; which we shall note, when we come thither:--but whether it was so to Pliny, remains obscure. But it is a more probable opinion, that he computed according to the vulgar and most known distinction.
Gulielmus Tyrius, measuring the borders of the Tyre of his time southward, extends them to four or five miles: "For it is extended southward towards Ptolemais, as far as to that place, which, at this day, is called 'the district of Scandarion,' which is four or five miles." If, therefore, it should be granted, that Pliny's measure extended so far, we might compute the length of the land from the Sirbon, where also is the river of Egypt, to Sidon, by this account:
I. From the Sirbon to the borders of Phoenice, one hundred and eighty-nine miles.--Pliny.
II. From the first borders of Phoenice to Tyre, five miles.--Gul. Tyrius.
III. From Tyre to Sidon, twenty-five miles.--Strabo.
Sum total is two hundred and nineteen miles.