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purchased of the sons of Heth : there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife. 11. And after the death of Abraham, God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.
and solemnly to his eternal resting place is, especially among eastern nations, regarded as imperative and most sacred; and one generation later, we shall again see two brothers, scarcely less different in character, harmoniously unite in fulfilling the
same mournful obligation (xxxv. 29). – The blessing of God descended, by right of inheritance, upon Isaac; and immediately after his father's death, he felt the gloriousness of his mission by the abundance of his privileges.
II.-- THE HISTORY OF ISHMAEL AND ISAAC.
CHAPTERS XXV. 12 to XXVIII. 9.
12. And these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bore
12-18. The traditions of the Arabians foreign father, were tolerated rather than invariably insist upon the distinction of acknowledged, and were called the mire! three successive elements of their popula- Arabs (Mostarabi; see p. 245). Now, it tion. They hand down the memory of a appears, that the Biblical statements reprimeval race, which comprised many garding the population of Arabia, entirely heroic and powerful tribes; which was coincide with those national traditions. long extolled in song for its marvellous The first and oldest tribes may correspond feats, commanding wealth, and daring with those enumerated among the Cushites designs; but which became extinct at (in x. 7); the pure Arabs are the Shemitic a very early period, partly by the wrath descendants of Joktan (x, 26–29); and of the gods, and partly by the invasion of the mixed tribes are both the Ishmaelites other warlike nations. The new immigrants here mentioned, and the other Abrahamwere the direct descendants of Kachtan ites, traced to Keturah as their mother (who corresponds with the Joktan of (vers. 1-4). So much is certain, that the Scripture), and called themselves “the Ishmaelites are, in our chapter also, careArabs of the Arabs," a certain proud de- fully separated from the other inhabitants nomination, describing the nobility and of Arabia, and none of their tribes is conpurity of their origin. Through Yarab nected with another ancestry. This sig. and Jorliam, the sons of Kachtan, they nificant fact adds considerably to the hisbecame the founders of the principal torical value of the Biblical gencalogies. and most powerful kingdoms of the pen- Among the Ishmaelites, the first and by insula, especially those of Yemen and far the most powerful, are the NABATEANS, Ilejaz. But later, twelve other tribes, the wbo are represented by Ishmael's eldest descendants of Ishmael and a daughter son NEBAJOTH. They belong to the few of Modad, king of Hejaz, are asserted to remarkable tribes of Arabia which have have partly joined the pure Arabs, and passed through a historical development, partly occupied the vast deserted tracts of and offer epochs of progress and decline. Arabia and of the northern districts. It appears, that they originally applied These Ishmaelites, both on account of their themselves chiefly to breeding of cattle; later origin, and of their descent from a “the rams of Nebajoth” are mentioned as
to Abraham : 13. And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations :
offerings acceptable in the temple; they preserved long this simplicity of life; they are described by ancient historians as inhabiting tents in a vast desert tract without streams or fountains; they then had no houses, neither did they cultivate the soil; they watched with anxious jealousy over the preservation of their traditional customs; their chief wealth consisted in an abundance of horses, camels, and sheep; the principal articles of their food were flesh and milk, besides the free vegetable and other produce of the country, of which they esteemed especially pepper and wild honey; their districts brought forth most of the southern fruits, except the olive; they worshipped the sun, to which they offered daily sacrifices; they were famous for prudence in the arrangement of their domestic affairs; prodigality and carelessness were punished by the state, while economical and circumspect individuals who increased their property were rewarded; habits of industry were, therefore, eminently fostered; indolence existed in so limited a degree that they had among them very few slaves ; even wealthy families served themselves, or offered their services to each other; and a love of liberty was thus naturally engendered. Although they had a monarchical government, the king was responsible for his conduct, and might at any time be called to account by the people; their sovereigns bore usually the names of Aretas or Obodas; they were assisted by a vizier or chief minister, who was called “the king's brother”; to obey a foreign power was regarded by them as more disastrous than annihilation; and they exerted their intelligence efficiently to defy the attacks of conquer
For this purpose, they built an almost impregnable town, Petra, in one of the rockiest parts of the chain of Mount Seir; this is probably the Biblical Selah, also called Arke or Rekem, in the present Wady Musa, 300 stadia south of the Dead Sea, and ninety-eight Roman miles north of the Elanitic Gulf, over
topped by the memorable double-peaked Mount Hor, on which Aaron died, but which is only seen from the eastern side of the town. It lies between rugged cliffs of red sandstone, and rocky ravines of 50 to 250 feet in height, surrounded by barren and streamless deserts, but less obstructed by the rocks in the north and south. The plain in which it is situated, and which seems wrung from the mountain, is only about one mile square, but is sufficiently watered; the breadth of the valley of Wady Musa varies from 150 to 12 feet, and is in some parts so overhung by cliffs that the rays of the sun cannot penetrate. Through this ravine, about a mile in length, was formerly the only avenue to the town; and that access was the work of human hands. It contains piles of tombs, with columns and pyramids in various styles of architecture. Behind this necropolis, a bold arch connects the two sides of the ravine. Along the valley flows the little river Wady Musa; its bed was formerly paved; several bridges were constructed over it; its sides were enclosed with stone quays; in the rainy season, it is augmented by two smaller streams coming from the gorges of the northern mountain; and it supplied the town with water through many small canals, Into this fortress of Petra, the Nabatæans brought their wives, children, aged people, and their cattle, whenever a hostile invasion threatened; and for their own defence and safety they planned a device which always proved successful. In the most sterile part of the dreary desert, they dug vast subterranean water-reservoirs, with very narrow mouths, which could easily be stopped and concealed, while the interior gradually widened to the dimensions of a hundred feet square. Into these regions they marched at the approach of the enemies, who, excruciated by thirst, either suffered immense losses, or hastened to return. But gradually the Nabataans applied themselves to commerce also; they imported especially incense and spices from
the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, 14. And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15. Hadad, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah : 16. These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names by their villages and by their tents; twelve princes according to their nations. 17. And these are the
Arabia Felix, and disposed of them lucratively in the marts of the Mediterranean, for instance, at Rhinocolura (El Arish); and the port Leuke Kome, which belonged to Petra, and was situated near Elath, on the Elanitic Gulf, facilitated their speculations and transactions. - It appears from the Assyrian monuments, that Sen. nacherib attacked the nomadic portion of them, and carried off an enormous amount of horses and camels, oxen and sheep. But the first serious danger, more fully recorded by profane writers, threatened them at the end of the fourth century before the present era. Antigonus, king of Syria (in B.c. 312), sent his general Athenæus against them with 4,000 light-armed troops, and 600 cavalry. When this commander approached, the greater part of the Nabatæans were assembled at a fair, annually held for commercial purposes in the interior of the land. Athenæus, therefore, suddenly attacked Petra at night, killed a great number of the people, and carried away very considerable booty in frankincense, myrrh, and silver. The Nabatæans, speedily informed of the disaster, met the hostile army, and routed it almost completely. A second expedition of the Syrians, under Demetrius,was unsuccessful in consequence of the prudent preparations made by the Nabatæans when informed of the contemplated invasion. — But the ancestral habits imperceptibly changed; commerce produced wealth, and wealth engendered luxury and immoderate ambition; sumptuousness succeeded the primitive simplicity; at last, in the time of Alexander's successors, no longer content with the slow gains of trading, and tempted by their indomitable courage, they attacked, as pirates, the merchant vessels which passed through the Elanitic Gulf. Thus, the peaceful shepherd tribes had degenerated into lawless robbers, whose audacity it was necessary to curb and to punish by repeated expeditions. It appears, however, that those checks had the salutary effect of leading them back to more honest pur
suits; and though the new channels of trade opened through Egypt increased the competition and imposed the necessity of greater exertions, they regained wealth and respect by their commercial industry. They showed friendship and lent assistance to Judas and Jonathan Maccabæus, whose full confidence they enjoyed (B.C. 163, 161). About the beginning of the present era the Greek philosopher, Athenodorus, who stayed some time in Petra, spoke with admiration of the harmony and unity in which they lived, of their excellent laws, and the readiness with which they were obeyed. They long maintained their independence, in spite of many struggles; though Pompey sent from Syria an army against them and defeated them, they were not materially weakened; an expedition, in the time of Augustus, under Ælius Gallus, governor of Egypt, was without decided effect; but they were subdued, in the reign of the emperor Trajan (105 after Christ), by Cornelius Palma, the governor of Syria But Petra remained one of the chief centres of Arabian trade. Trajan's successor, Hadrian, seems to have bestowed material benefits upon the town, which in grateful acknowledgement, was called by his name, on coins, some of which have been preserved. More caravans than ever before traversed the vast desert. Under the protection of Roman garrisons unwonted security was afforded to commercial enterprise; the roads became more accessible and invited foreign traders; regular routes of caravans were formed; from Elath, or Leuke Kome, the harbour at the Elanitic Gulf, one road ran to Petra; another from this metropolis to Jerusalem, Gaza, and along the coast of the Mediterranean; and a third from the same point more directly northward to Damascus. On all these lines, especially along the eastern frontier of Arabia Petræa, towns sprang up, embellished by the increasing wealth of the inhabitants, and still exciting admiration in their colossal ruins. It was, no doubt, during this period that Petra was adorned with those magnificent architectural works which render that town one of singular interest for the antiquarian and the traveller. The tombs in the ravine leading to the city to which we have above alluded, then received their comparatively modern additions of Ionic columns and other Roman-Greek ornaments; in another ravine-like but broader valley is that astounding structure El-Khuzneh, probably used as a temple, one of the wonders of the east, the façade of which consists of “two rows of six columns over one another, with statues between, with capitals and sculptured pediments.” This edifice shines still in all the freshness of colour, and attracts notice by the elaborate detail of sculptural ornament; but its interior is merely a lofty, hall, with a chamber on each of its three sides. Behind the El-Khuzneh the eye is struck by many beautiful and varied façades, leading to apartments excavated in the cliffs, used either as tombs, or as temples, and later, as churches; but in a wider part of the valley, on its left side, is the splendid Greek theatre, entirely hewn out of the rock, 120 feet in diameter at the base, with more than thirty rows of sents, in the native rock red and purple alternately, and holding upwards of 3,000 spectators, surrounded with tombs, and overgrown, on the sides, with the wild fig-tree and the tamarisk. In the ancient site of Petra itself, every variety of ruins, of streets, houses, temples, and palaces, bespeaks the vanished glory of a town once splendid and wealthy; they are, further, “the palace of Pharaoh'(Kasr Faron); the isolated column likewise bearing the name of the Egyptian monarch (Zub Faron), and indicating the former site of a large pillared temple; the remains of triumphal arches; the colossal columns of a depraved Corinthian or Doric order, hewn out of the solid rock, and still forming part of the native mass; and majestic colonnades,
giving the whole base of the mountain the appearance of a vast pile of grand architecture. Astounding and almost numberless excavations are everywhere wrought in the front of the mountain, in its ravines and recesses, and even in the precipitous rocks around it, in many cases one rising over the other, and sometimes several hundred feet above the level of the valley, with steps cat in the solid rocks; some widely conspicuous, others hidden in the most inaccessible cliffs. These excavations shine in all the magic of variegated, though not uniformly bright, colours, equalling in softness those of flowers, or of the plumage of birds, and exhibiting a gorgeous crimson, streaked with purple, and often intermixed, ribbon-like, with yellow and blue; they are of the most various dimensions, and serve the most manifold purposes. Some are small niches, perhaps intended for votive offerings; others are designed for tombs and exhibit an endless variety in size, workmanship, and style: they consist of spacious chambers with recesses, sometimes near the ceiling, at the height of eight or ten feet, and often adorned, in the front, with architectural embellishments of astonishing richness and striking beauty. The cloister (deir) at the northwestern extremity of the cliffs, also hewn out of the rock, with a most splendid façade, and a vast urn on the summit, is accessible through a long and tortuous ravine, by a path, five or six feet broad, and steps cut in the stone with immense exertion; is surrounded by ruins; covered with inscriptions in the Sinaitic character, crosses, and figures of the wild goat or ibex, indicating its sacred character; but rather modern in effect. All this engages and deserves the research of the historian. - That Petra is identical with Kadesh is not probable. — Long was the Roman power prevalent in these districts, which, in the fourth century, were included under the general name of Palestine, or separately known as Palestina
Tertia, or Salutaris; but when, in conse- Basemath (xxviii. 9; xxxvi. 3); and quence of confusion and anarchy, the hence we may explain the fact that Pedominion of the Romans declined, the tra, or Sela, during a certain period, safety and regularity of Arabian com- either belonged or was considered as bemerce were again endangered; plunder longing to Idumæa; for Amaziah, king of and vexation were rife; the Bedouins Judah, “slew of Edom, in the valley of obtained unrestrained sway; for many Salt, ten thousand, and took Selah by centuries the name of the Nabatæans dis- war” (2 Kings xiv. 7). As their herds appears from the annals of history; a and flocks increased, they wandered bishop of Petra, Theodorus, is indeed more and more southward, till they joined mentioned so late as the year 536, when very near the abodes of the Kedrei, with he attended the council of Jerusalem; whom they are, indeed, mentioned togebut the town was destroyed in the time ther not only by Isaiah (lx. 7) but by of Mohammed; and was re-visited, for Pliny (v. 12). The attacks to which their the first time, by some crusaders, and a increasing wealth exposed them, rendered few single adventurous travellers; till the building of the fortified town, Petra, recent explorers, Scetzen and Burckhardt, necessary, where, in time of danger, the Robinson and Laborde, and others, made defenceless part of their population could us again familiar with a tribe, not only dis- be kept in safety. This town received a tinguished by commerce and agriculture, still greater importance when they began but long excelling in poetry and music.- to engage in trade and to accumulate The northern part of the valley contained, vast property. It is but natural that their no doubt, the greater number of the commercial activity should have led them houses which, however, formed a striking still more southward to the coast of the contrast with the public edifices; for they Red Sca, to the centres of the transit were for the most part mean and frail; trade from India, Arabia, and Egypt; hence but few traces at present indicate and thus they gradually obtained power their former existence; of some, indeed, a at the head of the Elanitic Gulf, with kind of substruction has remained; while Leuke Kome as their harbour, from where the site of others is discernible only by the the goods where brought northward to broken pottery which covers the surface; Petra. Hence Diodorus Siculus places the houses themselves having crumbled them on the Lainites Sinus, a bay of the away; the very rubbish having been wash- Elanitic Gulf; and assigns to them many ed down by the mountain torrents which villages, both on the coast and in the often ravage the plain; and even the rocks interior; and Strabo mentions them in themselves constantly mouldering away. the same southern districts; but adds, that
The extent of the territory inhabited they spread northward into Arabia Peby the Nabatæans is very differently
træa, where Petra was recognised as stated by various ancient writers; but their capital. Since their caravans trathe following reconciliation may be at- versed many districts beyond their imtempted. As long as they applied them- mediate habitations, they were imperselves simply to pastoral pursuits, they ceptibly induced either to settle, or to seem to have lived chiefly in the south wander with their cattle, more northand south-east of Palestine, in or near ward; and thus we find, that & three the districts of the Edomites. Their days' journey south of the Jordan, close and early connection with the latter brought Judas Maccabæus into their is recognised in the book of Genesis it- territory; they had then spread to the self; for Esau is represented as marrying provinces of Gilead, and some of them the sister of Nebajoth, Mahalath or lived near Bozrah and Karnaim. But their