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years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty-seven years; and he expired and died; and was gathered to his progress seems, at that time, to have nection with whom they are mentioned been retarded by the Idumeans, their both by Biblical and profane writers, they kinsmen, against whom Judas Maccabæus extended in the cast and north partly to found it necessary to undertake a most Arabia Felix, and partly to the territory sanguinary war. This appears to have of Chaldæa. For this reason, no doubt, had the effect of causing a conciliation Kedar was later used for the whole of between the Idumæans and Nabatæans; Arabia; Ezekiel speaks of “ Arabia and for it is testified not only by Josephus, all the princes of Kedar" (xxvii.21); and but by Strabo, that those Idumæans the Rabbins call the Arabian language from whom Herod sprang were called the “tongue of Kedar.” The Kedarites Nabatæans. Now they extended their are characterized as a nation inhabiting abodes more and more to the north dark-coloured tents; famous for their and the east; and hence Pliny mentions cattle, and providing the market of Tyre them as contiguous to the Scenite Arabs, with sheep and goats; as traversing the of whom they formed a very important desert with their camels, and reputed for part. As they increased in influence, no great wealth and prosperity; as a nation doubt other, less powerful, tribes joined long unmolested by invaders, dwelling them to enjoy their protection, and all in security, “without gates and bars," in were of course known under the common solitary tracts, safe by their undaunted name of Nabataans; and thus it is ex- valour and their far-famed skill in archery: plicable that both Josephus and Jerome but at last, attacked by the armies of Nerelate, that they lived from the Euphrates buchadnezzar, and suffering fearful devasto the Red Sea. Nabat is, in fact, on tation. the one hand, still the name of a swampy It is at present agreed, that DUMAH district, forming a part of the "marshes is represented by the fortified place still of the Chaldæans” (palustria Chaldææ), called “the rocky or Syrian Dumah” between Wasith and Basra; and, on the (in contradistinction to Dumah in Irak), other hand, a town Nabat occurs two between the Syrian Desert and Arabia days south of El-Haura, near the Red Proper, in the province of Nedshed, about Sea. But after their subjugation by the six day's journey from Damascus, and Romans under Trajan, the Nabatæans about double that distance from Medinah. were gradually repelled from the more The district of Tema lay in the south northern and eastern territories; and of the Idumeans, and was the natural therefore Ptolemy describes the king- refuge of the latter in times of danger. It dom of Arabia Petræa as bounded on is sometimes coupled with Dedan, and the east by the desert, on the west by sometimes with Sheba, and, like the latter, Egypt, on the north by Palestine and part described as carrying on lively commerce of the Roman province of Syria, and ex- through the caravans of the desert. tending southward to the Elanitic Gulf- Jetur is undoubtedly the province in which seem, indeed, for the greater part the east of the Jordan, later called Ituræa, of their history, to have been the bounda- and still traceable in the present Jedur, ries within which they ived.
containing about twenty inhabited vilThe second tribe of the Ishmaelites is lages; for the two tribes and a hali of KEDAR. It is described as a distant peo- the Hebrews there domiciled, were under ple (Jer. ii. 10), in the remote south, in the necessity of carrying on war against opposition to the Moschi, one of the them. The Ituræans were indeed formidmost northern nations. But they roamed able, not only by their skilful use of the to the Red Sea, the confines of Arabia bow, but by their audacions rapacity, as Petræa, and, like the Nabatæans, in con- robbers and waylayers lurking in wait
people. 18. And they dwelt from Havilah to Shur, which is in the east of Egypt, towards Assyria : his lot was cast in the presence of all his brethren.
19. And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son : Abraham begat Isaac: 20. And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramaan, of Padan-Aram, the sister of Laban the Aramæan.--21. And Isaac entreated the Lord for his
for the pilgrim and the merchant, while they themselves generally eluded the pursuit of their enemies in their innumerable native caverns and ravines. But a great portion of them, defeated by king Aristobulus (B.C. 100), were compelled to submit to the rite of circumcision; and though temporarily regaining their independence, they suffered repeated discomfitures from the Roman legions, and were, under the emperor Claudius, incorporated in the province of Syria. Ituræa was bounded, in the west, by the heights of Mount Hermon; in the east, by the province of Auranitis; in the north, by the territory of Damascus; and in the south, by Gaulonitis and Bashan. But, like the names of many of the more powerful tribes, Icuræa was, by later writers, used to designate other and much wider districts, not only including Gaulonitis and Auranitis, but comprising the whole region in the north-east of Palestine; whence it is sometimes designated as lying in Cælesyria, or on the Lebanon, or as adjoining the tracts of Arabia Deserta. It is, of course, impossible to decide whether the province Ituræa was, during the whole period to which we have alluded, inhabited by the original descendants of Jetur, who gave the name to the district, or whether it was, in the course of time, occupied by different tribes, while the Ituræans, expelled or emigrating, sought new abodes in other regions equally congenial to their tastes and pursuits.
It is generally known, that the Arabs are, according to their mode of life, divided into two chief classes: those of towns or villages, and those of the deserts, or the dwellers in the tents"; the latter, of course, nomadic in their habits, are the Bedouins and Scenite. It is not improbable, that these two different classes are alluded to in the words: “ by their vil. lages and by their tents” (ver. 16). The
roaming Bedouins regard the agricultural population with a certain contempt as slaves of toil and drudgery; they seldom cultivate the land which they may have inherited, or won by their valour; but rent it out for a fixed annual sum to peasants subordinated to them in a kind of vassalage. Their tents, of goats' or camels' hair, or coarse woollen stuff, and seldom or never of linen, of a brown or black colour, supported by poles from three to nine in number, and fastened to the ground by ropes and pegs, are sometimes circular, but more frequently of an oblong shape, about 6 to 10 feet high in the middle, 20 to 30 long, and 10 broad. The interior is, by curtains, divided into two parts, the inner one of which is allotted to the women, though wealthy persons provide separate tents for their wires (xxiv. 67); and not unfrequently a third division is added for the reception of the young and tender cattle, or, in greater households, for the servants. If the Be. douins encamp, they arrange their tents in an irregular circle, within which the cattle are kept during the night, and in the centre of which stand the tents of the emir or sheikh.— Each tribe is presided over by a chief or prince. The dignity, though in most cases hereditary in certain families, is elective with regard to individuals. It does not confer very great or distinguished privileges, and the only means by which the emir can maintain his authority, are superior valour, generosity, and justice. If he shows himself deficient in these virtues, he is abandoned, and replaced by
19, 20. The history of the first founder of the Hebrew nation has been brought to a close; though his life reaches considerably beyond the events immediately succeeding, his demise has been recorded; he left the scene, in order to allow his son, the heir of the Divine promises, greater
prominence, and a fuller scope: with Isaac, saw in his own life a repetition of the trials therefore, the narrative assumes another to which his father had been submitted; phase, rises to a new and higher interest; and he was required, like him, to display and in order to indicate this epoch in the unwavering faith and confidence that he history of patriarchal development, the would increase into a mighty nation. After text commences with the characteristic the lapse of that protracted period only ho heading: “These are the generations addressed a fervent prayer to God: then of Isaac, Abraham's son.” As genealo- only he urged his own wish against the gies were the primitive form of his- will of God; he had not ceased to betorical tradition, it is natural that the lieve; his supplication was the natural imword signifying genealogy or generation, pulse of an afflicted heart; and as lie should have assumed the meaning of expected his progeny from God alone, he history; the former was originally the thereby acknowledged the great fundasubstance, and remained always the mental truth, which had been embodied groundwork, of the latter (see p. 162). in the sacred covenant concluded with Less educated minds will always be more Abraham, and which implies so many interested by persons than by events; all virtues of a modest and pious mind. Sigbeginnings of history are cpical, till nificantly, therefore, our text adds after: imperceptibly, by a greater culture of Isaac entreated the Lord,” with the mental powers, the abstract facts them- same phrase, the Lord was prevailed selves are viewed as active agencies, en- upon by his entreaties”; the sons of Isaac dowed with life and individuality, and ac- were a gift of God; and they were, by knowledged to represent the working of the father, acknowledged as such. Το the Universal Mind.—The commencement make these two important and necessary of a perfectly new section is, further, mark- facts the more strikingly obvious, the ined by the comprehensiveness with which terval of twenty years and the prayer of some anterior facts are repeated : that Isaac Isaac were necessary. took to wife Rebekah; that the latter was The hostility of the Edomites and Hethe daughter of Bethuel; that she was brews dates from the very beginning of born in “the plain of Aramæa"; and that their national existence. When the Isshe was Laban's sister. These reiterations, raelites, on their wanderings from Egypt natural in themselves, and far from causing to Canaan, had reached the territory of difficulty, are in harmony not only with the Edomites, they asked in vain for perthe style of the Bible, but of ancient his- mission to pass through their territory; toriography in general; they are, in this though they promised to abstain from instance, not without a positive gain; for every act of violence, to pay for all they add the valuable chronological fact, the necessaries they might require, and that Isaac was forty years old when he to perform their journey on the ordinary married Rebekah; a statement of decided public roads. Not only was their reimportance for the exact understanding quest haughtily rejected, but a strong of several circumstances connected with army of the Edomites marched out to Isaac's history.
oppose them. Their enmity grew with 21–26. For his matrimony remained the advancing generations; wars were long without an offspring; during nearly almost continually carried on between twenty years, he had in vain hoped for both nations; the Edomites were alterthe realisation of his wishes (ver. 26); he nately subjected and free: till, tho
wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was prevailed upon by his entreaties, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it is so, wherefore do I live? And she went to enquire of the Lord. 23. And the Lord said to her,
time of the destruction of the first temple, they displayed the most inveterate hatred and the most ungenerous jealousy. And yet the near ethnological affinity of both nations could not be denied; it was acknowledged by the Hebrew people, and was ratified by the Hebrew lawgiver; the former addressed the Edomites always in the most brotherly terms; and the latter facilitated their admission into the sacred community of Israel by express injunctions. The unnatural animosity between two tribes so nearly akin is represented in the history of the birth of their respective founders. Their enmity commences even before they are fully developed and capable of seeing the light of the day. Their blind antagonism threatens destruction to each other. The tormented mother, in the agony of her grief and pain, breaks forth in a passionate exclamation; with a vehemence characteristic to her nature, she utters an imprecation against her life, and against the conception for which SO
fervent prayers had been
Seeing no human issue in this dangerous position, she again turns to God to learn His will and His design. But a prayer was this time not sufficient; she desired not merely a release from her pains, but she wished to know their end and meaning; she was convinced that the extraordinary symptoms felt by her prophetically pointed to important future events. By her long sojourn in Isaac's house, she was still more strengthened in her firm reliance in a universal rule of Providence; and she was, above all, certain of God's especial care for the seed of Abraham; she went, therefore, to enquire of the Lord.” The meaning of this phrase can scarcely be doubtful in this place. In most passages in which it occurs, it is clearly explained to imply an
appeal to the propbet: “when a man went to enquire of God, he spoke thus, Come and let us go to the seer,” for a Prophet was originally called a Seer. Now, Abraham had before been designated a prophet, and had formed the intermediate link between God and man; and nothing is, therefore, more natural, than that the Hebrew author intended to intimate that Rebekah enquired of God through Abraham, the prophet, her father-in-law, who still survived, and was, no doubt, awaiting with intense anxiety the birth of a grandson from Isaac.— The answer of God, communicated to Rebekah in a solemn form, and possessing all the beautiful characteristics of poetical prophecy, fully explained the remarkable state which caused her uneasiness and apprehension; for it informed her that she was about to give birth to the founders of two mighty nations, who, unequal in power, would be divided in rivalry and antagonism from their youth; and that the descendants of the older son would be subjected to those of the younger.—This prediction, fully satisfying Rebekah, sank deep into her heart; nor was it long before it began to realise itself. She became the mother of twins. The first son might have been repulsive to her by his external appearance, for he was “red, all over like a hairy garment." This strange circumstance was to her, no doubt, a foreboding of the animal violence of his character; it implied at once a proof that he would possess superior strength, but that he would deserve to obey rather than to govern; and he received, accordingly, the name Esau, the hairy man. The second son “ took hold of Esau's heel, and his name was hence called Jacob.” This is certainly the sense of the words, which we are not permitted to modify by an explanation
Two nations are in thy womb,
And two peoples will be separated from thy bowels; And people shall be stronger than people,
And the elder shall serve the younger. 24. And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled,
designed to remove a supposed impropriety, or suggested by the physical difficulties which it involves. This is the less perinitted as there exists a striking parallel in the case of Acrisius and Protus, who, according to Apollodorus, “ contended against each other when still in the mother's womb." It is impossible, to the historical critic, to deny facts or to distort conceptions plainly expressed in the text; and we have, in this instance, the additional testimony of the prophet Hosea, who adverts to this tradition in nearly the same terms (xii. 4). But it is a perfectly different thing to question the truth of a legend, and to search after its origin; the latter task is as legitimate as it is important; and, in this case, it leads to a very satisfactory result. The name of the father of the twelve tribes was undoubtedly known to have been Jacob; but this appellation, if taken in its obvious etymological meaning, implies a deep ignominy; for the root from which it is derived signifies to deceive, to defraud. Jacob would, therefore, be nothing else but the crafty impostor ; in this sense, Esau, in the heat of his animosity, in fact, clearly explains the word: “justly is his name called Jacob (cheat), because he has cheated me twice" (xxvii. 36); which exclaniation, moreover, proves that the name Jacob was not given to him by Esau in his anger, nor was derived from his later cunning conduct in the house of Laban; but that it belonged to him from his birth. The etymology teaches that Jacob means, " he who is on the heel of somebody, or follows"; so that the name would simply signify, the second son. Thus understood, a clearer light is thrown on another passage, connected with the same appellation; the angel of God said to Jacob: “thy name shall no more be
called Jacob (the second), but Israel, for thou hast obtained the mastery with God and man, and hast prevailed”; that is, thou art now the first or the highest in rank (xxxii. 29). But though this appears to have been the original meaning of Jacob, the name was later understood, on the one hand, more literally, as in our text, and in Hosea; and, on the other hand, more figuratively, as in the words of Esau (xxvii. 36); while the narrative of this chapter, no doubt, originated in the desire of graphically representing the fact concerning the early contentions between the two kindred nations; and whatever the modern reader may think of the form in which this fact has been embodied, he will at least not fail to perceive and to appreciate the manifold historical allusions which it implies. For, as we have observed, the conflict began even before the Israelites reached Palestine; from this time, the Edomites were regarded with suspicion; and when Saul undertook an expedition around the boundaries of the Holy Land, to check the doubtful nations, he includ. ed the land of Edom in his operations; but this seems to have excited rather than pacified the nation; for David, during six months, carried on a most sanguinary war against them with the whole army of Israel; and in order to keep them in submission, he was compelled to place garrisons in every part of the territory. But in Solomon's time already, Hadad, from the royal house of Edom, appears to have caused a revolution, or at least endangered the possession of the land; and the harbour which that king opened at Ezion-geber, near Elath, at the Red Sea, seems to have served at once a political and military purpose. After the division of the empire, Edom remained subject to Judah; though a stadtholder, even then bearing