Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I shall go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I shall go to the left. 10. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the district of the Jordan, that it was all well watered, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, towards Zoar. 11. And Lot chose for himself the district of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed in the east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the district, and pitched his tents as far as Sodom. 13. But the men of Sodom were wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.

:-14. And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot was

are here, and in some other passages, synonymous with all the inhabitants of Canaan. Now the etymology of the word Perizzite proves, that they were the inhabitants of open towns and villages; it is clearly explained by the prophet Ezekiel, to denote the population of places without walls and bars and gates”; and it is, in the book of Esther, similarly used for the unfenced cities, in contradistinction to the metropolis, or royal residence. The two names of the Canaanites and the Perizzites, if so coupled, designate, therefore, both the in. habitants of the walled towns and of the open country; and describe, with a certain emphasis, the two chief portions of the population: which is peculiarly appropriate in our passage, where the narrowness of the land is urged.--Hence it is explicable that we find Perizzites mentioned in almost every part of Canaan, as inhabiting the mountains, and the forest plains; in Judah ad Ephraim; near Bethel and near Shechem.

14-18. By the departure of Lot, the land was divided into two parts; the district of the Jordan was separated from the rest of Canaan, and formed a distinct territory. Henceforth, the history of the former was unconnected with that of the latter, except by a tie of relationship soon to be scvered by the guilt of Lot's immc.

diate offspring, when the very existence of that district was blotted out. Our narrative tends to this point with a steady progress. It was already alluded to in the express remark regarding the extreme impiety of the inhabitants; and it is more decidedly approached by the following renewed promise made to Abraham. The latter was now the only Hebrew in the land Canaan, properly so called; and to his descendants alone it was now again guaranteed. The family of Lot could not remain so closely associated with the house of Abraham without seriously endangering its development; the separation of both removed a difficulty which had clouded the future prospects of Abraham's secd; and it was, therefore, important, that these prospects should now be clearly repeated. But they are not only renewed, but expanded and enlarged. Abraham was invited to look around in all directions; the whole land was to belong to his secd; it was to be their inheritance “ for ever”; and that seed was to be endless, “ like the dust of the earth which no man can number.” So much grander and more comprehensive was this pledge than the first simple promise: "To thy secd will I give this land” (xii. 7). Eternity and infinitude were granted, notions that lie above the stretch of human capacity; hopes that

separated from him, Lift up now thy eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15. For all the land which thou seest, to thee shall I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16. And I shall make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then

reach beyond a natural realisation. The new promise was, therefore, intended as a prophecy; and if we look upon the fulfilment, we must acknowledge in it the same ideal yearnings, which form the genial sun-beams of the Old Testament; the seed of Abraham comprises not merely his bodily descendants, but all the heirs of that faith, which it was hoped would in time embrace the universe, not to cease in all eternity.—Abraham was further commanded, confidently to pass through the land in its length and its breadth; and wherever he set his foot, the territory was marked as his possession. The migrations of the patriarch are, therefore, not indifferent or uniinportant; they hallow the soil and determine the boundaries of the future empire; they are deeds both to guide and to encourage his progeny. Hence, even his journey to Egypt must have an importance from this point of view also; it foreshadows the future extent of the Hebrew land down “to the river of Egypt,” as indeed the Euphrates, from which Abraham's wanderings began, was named as the utmost eastern limit of the promised empire.

From Bethel, Abraham travelled southward till he pitched his tents in the oukgrove of Mamre, at Hebron, situated in a cool and elevated region, and commanding a fertile valley; about twenty-two Roman miles south of Jerusalem, and belonging to the later territory of Judali. Hebron was one of the oldest towns of Palestine; it was built seven years before Tanis in Egypt; and was early the residence of a heathen king. However, it was, by Joshua, appointed as one of the cities of refuge, and assigned to the Levites; it thus assumed the character of a holy town where vows were taken and

performed; and David chose it as his abode when he was king of Judah, during seven years and a half. These circumstances suffice to explain the interest evinced for Hebron in the history of the patriarchs; Abraham resided here when the angels made him the happy announcement of the birth of a son; here he acquired the first territorial property in Canaan; and here was the burial-place of himself, of Isaac, and of Jacob, of Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah. The town was, therefore, appropriately distinguished by the erection of an altar (ver. 18). Later, it was fortified by Rehoboam among many other cities; it is still mentioned after the exile; it then belonged to the Idumeans, who were, however, expelled from it by Judas Maccabæus; in the Roman war, it was captured and burnt by the enemies, without, however, being destroyed. In the period of the Crusades, after hav. ing, for a time, suffered from heavy attacks, it was made the seat of the bishopric of St. Abraham (in 1167), but returned already in 1187 into the possession of the Moslems, who have ever since retained it, though it was several times assailed and plundered by rebellious pashas or lawless chiefs. In the fifteenth century, it was distinguished by a magnificent hospital and general charity for the distribution of bread and other necessaries to strangers. The present Hebron is a large village rather than a town; it counts among its inhabitants about a hundred Jewish families, living together in a separate quarter; as, in fact, Jews, though often ill-treated, oppressed, and insulted, seem always to have lived in the town), with few interruptions; but it is not unimportant in its commerce; though it is chiefly celebrated for its glass-works, which form

thy seed shall also be numbered. 17. Arise, pass through the land in its length and in its breadth; for to thee I shall give it. 18. And Abram pitched his tents, and came and dwelt in the oak-grove of Mamre, which is at Hebron, and built there an altar to the Lord. the principal articles of export. It is peans to enter. The town itself was, from surrounded by elevations, containing the that structure, called the Castle of Abrahighest peaks in the range of the moun- ham, and received, therefore, from the tains of Judah. Its blooming vicinity, Mohammedans the name of Bet El-Khalil, with its vine-yards and orchards, its wells, that is, the House of the “Friend of its rich pastures and numerous flocks and God,” which is the honorary title given herds, is one of the proofs, that the care to Abraham by the Arabians. The cave of the agriculturist may still convert Pa- itself is, at present, no more permitlestine's desolation into smiling prosperity. ted to be seen, except so far as the light The tombs of the patriarchs and of their of the lamp allows, which is suspended wives, situated at the eastern end of Hebron in a small opening on the top; though it on the slope of a ravine, attracted conti. was, in the twelfth century, still accessible nually the visits of travellers; over the to Jews; and Benjamin of Tudela found cave of Machpelah, called Al Magr hy the here tubs filled with the bones of his coArabians, and surrounded by a high and religionists. The mosque contains, in imistrong wall, a mosque was erected which tation of the sarcophagi below, six coffins the Moslems regard as one of the four with pyramidal tops, each of them surholiest sanctuaries of the world, from rounded by small structures, with a window which Christians are excluded, and which on each side, and folding-doors in front. stratagem only has enabled a few Euro- It is jealously watched by the Moslems.

CHAPTER XIV. SUMMARY.-Four eastern kings invaded the land of Palestine, in order to exact tribute

from the five monarchs of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zoar, and of the Zeboiim. They marched victoriously along the eastern districts of the Jordan, defeating the Rephaim, Zuzim, and Emim; passed round the Dead Sea, subduing the Horites and Edomites, as far as the borders of the desert of Shur or Dshofar; returned southward, and beat the Amalekites and the Amorites in Hazezon-Tamar (vers. 1-7). The five monarchs met them in the valley of Siddim, or the Salt Sea; but they were entirely defeated; and all, except those who escaped into the mountain, were carried away by the conquerors, with the rest of the population and their wealth. When Abraham heard that Lot also was among the captives, he went out with his three hundred and eighteen slaves, assisted by Mamre, and his brothers Eshcol and Aner, reached the enemies at Dan, attacked them, put them to flight, and pursued them to Hobah, in the north of Damascus. When he returned with all the men and the booty, he was met in the north of Jerusalem, in the valley of Shaveh, by the king of Sodom, and by Melchizedek, at once king and high-priest of Salem, serving the God of heaven and earth. He blessed Abraham, who, receiving the benediction with submission, gave him the tenth part of the property. But the patriarch declined for himself every share in the spoil, only reserving the rights of his allies, and asking to be indemnified for the provision which his men had consumed (vers. 8—24). 1. And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king 1-11. The calm narrative of Abra- interrupted by a grand political event, in bam's personal and domestic atlairs is here which kings stand arrayed against kings;

of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; 2. That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is Zoar. 3. All these joined in the vale of Siddim, that is the Salt Sea. 4. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5. And in the fourteenth

the voice of prophecy is drowned in the clatter of arms; the hopes are forgotten in the threatening dangers; and, for a moment, the spiritual hue which hovers over the pages of the narrative, seems to be overshadowed by the dark clouds which envelope the destructive thunderbolt, or hide the fierce god of battles. It is impossible to read the history of this war of “ four kings against five,” without feeling a different atmosphere, a strange scene, a foreign spirit. The world with its strife and ambition, its selfishness and conflicting interests, is substituted for the mind with its noble aspirations, and its distant longings; and man leads instead of fol. lowing, acts instead of resigning. Let us, with a quick step, pursue the rapid course of events which the text unfolds with a steady hand. An eastern conqueror, Chedorlaomer, the king of Elam, had subdued the important district along the valley of the Jordan, which secures the connection between the Euphrates and the Nile, which guarantees the commerce between the Mediterranean Sea and Arabia, and between Arabia and eastern Asia, which forms the military road leading to the west and the south, and which extends the empires of the Euphrates and Tigris beyond the trackless Arabian Desert down to the wealthy provinces of the Arabian Gulf. At that time, there existed in the valley five chief towns (Pentapolis) which, by their power and position, commanded almost exclusively all those important advantages. They had been made tributary by the king of Elam; during twelve years they bore the yoke; in the thirteenth they revolted; and, in the fourteenth, their mighty oppressor, supported by threc powerful kings, marched out with a rast army, to chastize their disobedience, and to renew their fetters. The progress of the united hosts was one of irresistible violence; they curbed and enslaved all the

tribes they encountered. From the banks of the Euphrates, they proceeded on the great military road, south-westward; but, in order not to retard their progress by a long siege, they passed at once to the south of Damascus, no doubt reserving their attack upon the fortified town till after their return (ver. 15). They marched as conquerors through the territory of those formidable giants, the Rephaim, and took their principal town, Ashteroth Karnaim, in the district of Bashan; they swept along southward through the land of the Amorites, where they defeated the fearful Zuzim in Ham; they crossed the Arnon, and continued their ravages and destructions in the province of the Moabites, where the Emim, “the terrible people,” succumbed to their arms in Shaveh Kiriathaim; but, as if certain of their prey, they did not at once attack the five cities against which their expedition had originally been undertaken; they passed proudly beyond it, despising the advantages which a sudden assault would have afforded them; they advanced into the abodes of the Idumeans; they attacked and defeated the ancient Horites in their strong mountain-fastnesses of the range of Seir; they ventured, in presumptuous bo ness, westward even to the very border of the dreary wilderness which separates Arabia from Egypt, and carried desolation so far as the oasis of Paran. But now they remembered the real object of their long campaign; they returned to terrify the cities of the Jordan, not, however, without on their way subduing and crushing mighty nations; they reached the frontiers of Idumca, and conquered Kadesh; they invaded the land of the Amalekites, and subjected it in its whole extent; they defeated the mighty Amorites, and advanced to their important town, Engedi, or Hazezon-Tamar; and thus, from the south-west, approached the region

of the Dead Sea (ver. 7). The kings of be contented to know that he governed the five towns saw with consternation the in the southern part of Mesopotamia, in advance of their powerful adversaries; the Babylonian provinces (see p. 178).the wanton expedition of the latter far to 2. Arioch, king of Ellasur. The identity the south, had, indeed, allowed them more of this latter locality has always been time for their armament and the matur- the subject of the most conflicting coning of strategic plans; they went out to en- jectures. The recent study of Assyrian counter the enemy with a strong army; they inscriptions has, however, led to the offered them battle in a valley, in the dan- decipherment of a name Larsa, or Largerous bitumen-pits of which they hoped cha, supposed to be the Ellasar of our to ensnare the strangers;- but they were chapter. Josephus introduces here the overpowered by the number and the valour Assyrians; and we see no improbability of the inimical hosts; they suffered a fear- in this opinion: for as the king of Elymais ful defeat; a part perished in those very was able to carry his arms westward pits which they had hoped would be fatal beyond the territory of Shinar, or southern to their enemics, and a part, in irregular Mesopotamia; he seems to have been unflight, sought the eastern mountains. All molested by his northern neighbours; the the wealth of the five towns, their provi- more so as our text supposes a friendly sions, their men and their women, fell into relation between the kings of Central the hands of the East-Asiatic conquerors, Asia. In Daniel (ii. 14) Arioch occurs who commenced their triumphant return as the name of a high Babylonian official, in a north-eastern direction.

which seems to prove, what is indeed This is the general picture which the clear from our context, that in fixing the text offers regarding the impetuous expe

situation of Ellasar, we are scarcely perdition, and in which no trait is wanting, mitted to go beyond the districts of the as none is superfluous.-We shall now Euphrates and Tigris (comp. Judith i. 6). consider the instructive statements in - 3 Tidal, king of nations, the third ally, detail.

was no doubt the ruler over several The principal king interested in the smaller districts or tribes, so gradually war of conquest was Chedorlaomer, the subjugated, that it was impossible to ruler of Elam;it was his sceptre to which the describe him briefly with any degree of Pentapolis of the Dead Sea had been sub- accuracy. mitted, and under which he intended again These four kings undertook an agto force it; the other three kings were, gressive campaign against the five printherefore, only his confederates; and in cipal towns of the district of the Jordan, the history of the expedition itself, his among which Sodom seems to have ocname occupies the first place. The ter- cupied the first rank. The Sodomites ritory of Elymais, over which he ruled, were the richest, as they were the most is sufficiently known (see p. 189); but the wicked, of the inhabitants; and the proopinions concerning his person are merely sperity which had caused their moral ruin, conjectural.

was now on the point of effecting their The allies of the mighty king of political destruction. The mission assigned Elymais, who at this period had extended to the Hebrew patriarch with regard to the boundaries of his empire as far as that part of Canaan's population will soon Canaan, were:-1. Amraphel, king of become manifest. Shinar; about whose dominion we must The allied kings defeated :--1. The

« ElőzőTovább »