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there to see if they can perceive any smoke, or dust, or tracks on the ground, or any other marks of people passing along.'* When attacked by a powerful foe, they withdraw into the depths of the wilderness, au fond du desert, (Je. 49. 8.) as Niebuhr expresses it, (Descript. de l'Arabie, p. 329. Voyage, tom. ii. p. 199.) whither none can follow them. So M. Savary (Lettre i. sur l'Egypt, tom. ii. p. 8.) says, speaking of the Bedouins, 'Always on their guard against tyranny, on the least discontent that is given them, they pack up their tents, lade their camels with them, ravage the flat country, and, laden with plunder, plunge (s'enfoncent) into the burning sands, where none can pursue them.'*
(5.) The descendants of ESAU, or the EDOMITES, who possessed themselves of the country originally occupied by the Horites, (namely, Mount Seir,) the descendants of Ham, who appear to have been finally blended with their conquerors. It was a mountainous though fertile tract, on the south of Judah, including the mountains of Gebal, Seir, and Hor, and the provinces of Uz, Dedan, Teman, &c. (Gen. xxv. 25, 30. Deut. ii. 12.) forming a continuation of the eastern Syrian chain of mountains, beginning with Antilibanus, and extending from the southern end of the Dead Sea, to the eastern gulf of the Red Sea. It is evidently comprehended under the modern names of Djebal and Shera, mentioned by Burckhardt.t
The blessing bestowed upon Esau by his father Isaac was in the following terms: "Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck." (Gen. xxvii. 39, 40.) It is here foretold, says Bishop Newton, that as to situation, and other temporal advantages, the two brothers should be much alike, (See ver. 28.) Mount Seir, and the adjacent country, were at first the possession of the Edomites; and they afterwards extended themselves farther into Arabia, and into the south of Judea. But wherever they were situated, in temporal advantages they were little inferior to the Israelites. Esau had cattle, beasts, and substance in abundance, and he went to dwell in Mount Seir of his own accord; but had it been such a barren and desolate country as some represent it, he would hardly have removed thither with so much cattle. The Edomites had dukes and kings reigning over them, while the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. (Gen. xxxvi.) When the Israelites, on their return, desired leave to pass through the territories of Edom, it appears the country abounded with fruitful fields and vineyards. (Num. 20. 17.) If the country is barren and unfruitful now, neither is Judea what it was formerly.‡
Subsequently they appear to have applied themselves with great success to trade and commerce, their principal ports being Elath and Ezion-gaber on the Red Sea; and for upwards of 400 years they maintained their in
• Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco.
+ Idem, Note on Gen. 32. 3.
dependence, till the time of David, who entirely conquered them, slew several thousands, and compelled the rest to become tributaries and servants, placing garrisons among them to secure their obedience, agreeably to Gen. 25. 23; 27. 29, 37, 40. (2 Sam. 8. 14; 1 Kings 11. 15, 16; 1 Chr. 18. 12.) Notwithstanding the attempt of Hadad to revolt, they continued subject to Judah for about 150 years, being governed by viceroys or deputies appointed by the kings of Judah. (1 Kings 11. 15-22; 22. 47; 2 Kings 3. 7.) They revolted, however, from Jehoram king of Judah, and ultimately succeeded in rendering themselves independent, thus fulfilling Gen. 26. 40 (2 Chr. 21. 8-10); though afterwards Amaziah and Uzziah terribly ravaged their country, the former taking Petra their capital, the latter taking Elath on the Red Sea. (2 Kings 14. 7; 2 Chr. 25. 11, 12; 26. 2.) Subsequently they invaded the south of Judah, and slew and took prisoners a number of the inhabitants; but they were quickly punished for their cruelty by the Assyrians, who ravaged Edom and destroyed Bozra their capital. When Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, the Edomites joined him, and incited him to raze the city to its foundations. This cruel and implacable conduct, however, did not long go unpunished; for, about five years after the capture of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Edom, and rendered it a desolate wilderness. Many of the Edomites, during the Babylonian captivity, being driven from their ancient habitation by the Nabatheans, seized upon the south-western part of Judea (Strabo, l. xvi.) When the Chaldean monarchy was dissolved, they re-collected themselves; and, while part of them were incorporated with the Nabathean Arabs, others seized upon the southern parts of Judah.
The Jews having returned to their own land, the house of Jacob and the house of Joseph did also break out as a flame upon the Idumeans, (Obad. 18,) for under Judas Maccabæus they attacked and defeated them several times, killed no less than twenty thousand at one time, and more than twenty thousand at another, and took their chief city Hebron,' with the towns thereof, and pulled down the fortress of it, and burned the towns thereof round about,' (1 Mac. v; 2 Mac. x); and at last, about thirty years afterwards, his nephew, Hyrcanus, son of Simon, took other of their cities, and reduced them to the necessity of either embracing the Jewish religion, or of leaving their country, and seeking other habitations; in consequence of which they submitted to be circumcised, became proselytes to the Jewish religion, and ever after were incorporated into the Jewish church and nation. (Josephus, Ant. 1. xiii. c. 9, § 1, or c. 17.) Thus they were actually masters of Edom, and judged and governed the Mount of Esau. (Obad. 21.)
Before the sacking of Jerusalem by Titus, a body of Edomites deserted the Jews, and got off, laden with booty; but since that period, their very name has perished from among the nations. (Jer. xxv. Obad.) We know indeed, as Bp. Newton remarks, little more of the history of the Edomites
than as it is connected with that of the Jews: and where is the name or the nation now? They are swallowed up and lost, partly among the Nabathean Arabs, and partly among the Jews; and the very name was abolished and disused about the end of the first century after Christ. Thus were they rewarded for insulting and oppressing their brethren the Jews; and, while at this day we see the Jews subsisting as a distinct people, Edom is no more. Agreeably to the words of this prophet, he has been cut off for ever,' for his violence against his brother Jacob (ver. 10); and there is now not any remaining of the house of Esau, for the Lord had spoken it.' (ver. 18.) Their country is now barren and unfruitful; and their cities, even their ancient capitals Bozra and Petra, totally demolished and in ruins. See Prideaux's Connection, an. 129; Newton on the Prophecies, Dissert. iii. and Burckhardt's Travels in Syria, &c.*
(6.) AMALEK. The Amalekites, a people of Arabia Petræa, according to the Arabian historians, were descended from Amalek, a son of Ham; and resided in a tract of country on the frontiers of Egypt and Canaan, south and south-west of Canaan, between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, (Gen. 14.7; Num. 24. 7-20; 1 Sam. 15. 7; 27. 8; 1 Chron. 4. 39, 40.) They were very formidable enemies to the Israelites, whom they greatly annoyed in their march from Egypt to Sinai, acting with great cruelty towards them on this occasion; to punish which, God not only enabled Joshua to obtain a signal victory over them, but enjoined the Hebrews to exterminate them from the earth, God then purposing that Amalek, as a nation, should be blotted out from under heaven, (Ex. 17. 8—16; Deut. 25. 17-19.) The following year, they assisted the Canaanites against the presumptuous Israelites, (Num. 14. 45 ;) and in the time of the Judges, they first assisted the Moabites, and then the Midianites, against Israel; on both which occasions they shared the miserable fate of their allies, (Ju. 3. 13; 6. 6.) Spared till they had filled up the measure of their iniquities, the purpose of God was carried into effect by Saul, upwards of four hundred years afterwards. Nothing could justify such an exterminating decree but the absolute authority of God; and this was given all the reasons of it we do not know; but this we know well, the Judge of all the earth doth right. Saul being thus appointed to destroy them utterly, he effected it by cutting off the greater part of them, (1 Sam. 14. 48; xv;) and a few scattered bands of those who escaped this destruction, having attacked and pillaged Ziklag, were completely destroyed or routed by David, (1 Sam. 30. 1-20.) After Haman the Amalekite, who by his enmity to Israel drew down ruin upon himself and friends, (Es. 3. 7-9,) there is no further mention of them in the histories of mankind.+
(7.) NINEVEH, the capital of Assyria, was situated on the eastern bank
• Comprehensive Bible, Notes on Ezek. 25. 14; 35. 7; Introd. p. 93; and Concluding
of the river Tigris, opposite the present Mosul, about 280 miles N. of Babylon, and 400 N. E. of Damascus, in lat. 36° 20′ N. long. 73° 10′ E. It was not only a very ancient, (Gen. 10. 11,) but also a very great city. Strabo, (1. xvi.) says, that it was much larger than Babylon, the circuit of which he estimates at 385 furlongs; and, according to Diodorus Siculus, (1. ii.) it was an oblong parallelogram, extending 150 furlongs in length, 90 in breadth, and 480 in circumference, i. e, about 20 miles long, 12 broad, and 60 in compass. This agrees with the account given Jon. 3. 3, of its being an exceeding great city of three days' journey,' i. e. in circuit; for 20 miles a day was the common computation for a pedestrian. (See Herodotus, 1. v. c. 35.) It was surrounded by large walls 100 feet high, so broad that three chariots could drive abreast on them, and defended by 1500 towers 200 feet in height. Of its population, it is stated in Jon. 4. 11, that it contained 'more than sixscore thousand persons, that could not discern between their right hand and their left hand: and also much cattle.' It is generally calculated, that the young children of any place are a fifth of the inhabitants; and consequently the whole population of Nineveh would amount to above 600,000; which is very inferior to that of London and Paris, though they occupy not one quarter of the ground. In eastern cities there are large vacant spaces for gardens and pasturages, so that there might be very much cattle.'* Agreeably to the prophecy of Nahum, Nineveh was taken and utterly ruined by Assuerus, or Cyaxares, king of Media, and Nabuchonosor, or Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, B. C. 606, or 612. The prophet declared, that at the approach of destruction she should be drunken, (Nah. 3. 11 ;) and accordingly, Diodorus, who with others, ascribes the taking of it to Arbaces the Mede, and Belesis the Babylonian, relates, that while the Assyrian army were feasting for their former victories, those about Arbaces being informed of their negligence and drunkenness, fell upon them unexpectedly, slew many, and drove the rest into the city. So according to the same inspired writer, her shepherds and nobles were to desert her, (ch. 3. 18.)—that is, the rulers and tributary princes, who, as Herodotus informs us, deserted Nineveh in the day of her distress, and came not to her succour. Diodorus also says, that when the enemy shut up the king in the city, many nations revolted; each going over to the besiegers for the sake of their liberty; that the king dispatched messengers to all his subjects, requiring power from them to succour him; and that he thought himself able to endure the siege, and remained in expectation of armies which were to be raised throughout his empire, relying on the oracle that the city would not be taken till the river became its enemy. This oracle, Diodorus Siculus informs us, (1, ii.) was an ancient prophecy, received from their forefathers, that Nineveh should not be taken till the river first became an enemy to the city and in the third year of the siege, the Euphrates (Tigris) being swollen with continued rains, overflowed part of the city, and threw down twenty stadia of the
• Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco,
wall; thus fulfilling the prophecy of Nahum, (ch. 2. 6,) that the gates of the rivers should be opened.' The king then thinking that the oracle was fulfilled, the river having manifestly become an enemy to the city, casting aside all hope of safety, and lest he should fall into the enemy's hands, built a large funeral pyre in the palace; and, having collected all his gold and silver and royal vestments, together with his concubines and eunuchs, placed himself with them in a little apartment built in the midst of the pyre, and burnt them, himself, and the palace together. When the death of the king was announced by certain deserters, the enemy entered at the breach the waters had made, and took the city. Having thus taken the city, the same historian states, the conquerors dispersed the citizens in the villages, levelled the city with the ground, transferred the gold and silver, of which there were many talents, to Ecbatana, the metropolis of the Medes; and thus subverted the empire of the Assyrians; and Nineveh became empty, and void, and waste,' (Nah. 2. 10.)*
Thus was the destruction of Nineveh effected a little more than a century afterwards; and its utter desolation is unanimously attested both by ancient and modern writers. "But," as Bp. Newton justly observes, "what probability was there, that the capital of a great kingdom, a city which was sixty miles in compass, a city which contained so many thousand inhabitants, . . . should be totally destroyed? And yet so totally was it destroyed, that the place is hardly known where it was situated. We have seen that it was taken and destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians; and what we may suppose helped to complete its ruin and devastation was Nebuchadnezzar's soon afterwards enlarging and beautifying Babylon. From that time no mention is made of Nineveh by any of the sacred writers; and the most ancient of the heathen authors, who have occasion to say any thing about it, speak of it as a city that was once great and flourishing, but now destroyed and desolate. Great as it was formerly, so little of it was remaining, that authors are not agreed even about its situation... Lucian, who flourished in the second century after Christ, affirms, that 'Nineveh was utterly perished, and there was no footstep of it remaining, nor could you tell where once it was situated.'... There is at this time a city called Mosul, situated upon the western side of the river Tigris, and on the opposite eastern shore are ruins of a great extent, which are said to be the ruins of Nineveh. . . . But it is more than probable, that these ruins are the remains of the Persian Nineveh, and not of the Assyrian. Ipsa periere ruina: even the ruins of old Nineveh have been, as I may say, long ago ruined and destroyed. Such an utter end' hath been made of it; and such is the truth of the Divine predictions! This perhaps may strike us the more strongly by supposing only a parallel instance. Let us then suppose, that a person should come in the name of a prophet, preaching repentance to the people of this kingdom, or otherwise denouncing the destruction of the capital city within a few years.... I presume we should