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ance of Israel, were traced with extraordinary accuracy and minuteness of detail by Moses to that people before their occupation of it :- When ye come into the land of Canaan (this is the land that shall fall unto you
for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan, with the coasts thereof); then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin, along by the coast of Edom (i. e. from El Ghor and El Araba along by Idumea), and (more particularly as to the boundary), your south border shall be the outmost coast of the Salt Sea eastward (i.e. the south-eastern extremity of lake Asphaltites); and your
border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Acrabbim (the mountains of Accaba, which extend as far as the head of the Elanitic, or eastern gulf of the Red Sea), and pass on to Zin (the wilderness on the east of mount Hor); and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadesh-barnea, and shall go on to Hazaradar, and pass on to Azmon (the last city the Israelites possessed towards Egypt, it was east of the river of Egypt, or Rhinocolura), and the border shall fetch a compass (turn westwards) from Azmon unto the River of Egypt, and the going out of it shall be at the sea (Mediterranean).
[' And as for the western border, ye shall even have the Great Sea for a border; this shall be your west border (the Mediterranean was called the Great Sea, in comparison with the small inland seas, the Dead Sea, and Sea of Tiberias).
[And this shall be your north border; from the Great Sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor (Hebrew, Hor-ha-hor, the two-fold mountain, Libanus and Antilibanus, which extend in a north-easterly direction from the Mediterranean to Damascus): From mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath* (a petty kingdom extending along Lebanon
* Or, as it is more particularly described,' All Lebanon, towards the sun-rising, from (the valley of) Baal-gad under mount Hermon, unto the entrance of Hamath,' Joshua xiii. 5. Dr Wells is of opi
from the Mediterranean on the west to the kingdom of Damascus on the east), and the goings forth of the border shall be Zedad (now Súdúd, a large village situated in the desert east of the road from Damascus to Hurus), and the border shall go to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazar-enan (in the neighbourhood of Damascus*), this shall be your north border.
[ And ye shall point out your east border from Hazarenan to Shepham (Apamea), and the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah (said by Theodoret to have been called Emesa in his time, and to have been situated on the Orontes ; but thought by Dr Robinson to be the modern Ribleh, a village ten or twelve hours SS.W. of Hurus, on the Orontes), on the east side of Ain (the source of the Jordan), and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward. And the border shall go down to Jordan on the east side, and the goings out of it shall be at the Salt Sea ; this shall be your land, with the coasts thereof round about.'
[Political Divisions. In order to understand the incidents of the sacred narrative, and the doings of the principal personages who are introduced into its pages, it is essential that we consider the condition of Palestine at four different epochs of its history,--at the conquest of Joshua,-during the administration of Solomon,in and after the reign of Rehoboam,—and in the time of our Lord,—for at each of these successive periods, a new and very different distribution of the country obtained.
[Division on the conquest of Joshua.-The children of Israel did not obtain possession of their inheritance immediately on their arrival at the borders of the promised land. It was then, as has already been described, in the occupation of a great variety of petty tribes or kingdoms, the people of which are often included in
nion, that Hor-ha-hor, or the two-fold mountain, included mount Hermon.-Editor. * Ezekiel xlviii. 1.
scripture under the general name of Canaanites. But the original inhabitants of Palestine having been doomed by the justice of God, on account of their iniquities, to be dispossessed, and his mercy having, at the same time, provided that their expulsion should be effected, not by one fell swoop through the relentless elements of nature employed as the instruments of his vengeance, as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, but by the gradual progress
of a people, a knowledge of whose history, and intercourse with whom might wean them from idolatry to the service of the true God,—Joshua had no sooner reached the confines of the promised inheritance, than he made preparations for its invasion. In the course of five years he undertook two different expeditions for that purpose ; during the first of which he made himself master of the eastern, and during the latter of which he obtained possession of the northern, quarters of the country. And no sooner had the Lord given him rest from his enemies round about, and secured him in the entire and undisputed possession of the land,* than he distributed the inheritance among the various tribes of Israel. Having made a scheme of division of the land into twelve parts, he assigned to each tribe its portion by lot; so that, according to this arrangement, each tribe was put in possession of a distinct and independent territory, within the limits of which, all who resided, or who had any property, were connected by the ties of a common brotherhood, while its smaller subdivisions and localities were so appropri
* The expressions in the text are to be taken with considerable limitations. The command was given the Israelites, “to drive out all the inhabitants of the land ;' and they were told, that . if they did not drive out the inhabitants of the land before them, then it should come to pass, that those which ye shall let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell,' Num. xxxiii. 51-55. They in several instances were negligent or supine in the execution of this command, and consequently they were subjected to annoyances during the whole progress of their history from their restless neighbours, particularly the Philistines.-Editor.
ated, that members of the same families and near relations were placed in the immediate neighbourhood of each other. In the circumstances of the chosen people at that period, this distribution of the land was made on a principle the most prudent, equitable, and best calculated to preserve harmony, good-feeling, and contentment among so vast a population; and, at the same time, it was accompanied with such provisions as afforded an effectual guarantee, that no change of circumstances,-neither the formation of new family connexions, nor the occurrence of misfortunes in life, should disturb this original division of property. Every man's possession was, from the first, declared inalienable in his family, nor even on the marriage of an heiress in one tribe to a person belonging to another, could the property be conveyed from that to which it originally belonged. *
Moreover, to prevent the loss of property by casualties of another description, a provision was made for the discharge of all debts every seventh year; while another singular law, the law of jubilee, enacted that every fiftieth
year, in order to restore, as far as possible, the face of society, there should be a general restitution,—that all servants of Hebrew origin should obtain their freedom, and that inheritances, which had been sold or given up, in the way of mortgage or pledge for debts, and not previously redeemed, should return all over the land, to the families by whom they were originally possessed. There was consummate wisdom
* Numb. xxxvi. 6, 7.
+ Deut. xv. 1-12. # Lev. xxv. 10. Every Israelite held his possession on the condition of his bearing arms in the defence of his country. A very striking illustration of this is afforded by the procedure of the public council, composed of the heads of tribes in reference to a case that occurred during the unhappy war against the Benjamites. When the allied army rendezvoused at Mizpeh, it appeared that Jabeshgilead had not furnished a single volunteer for the camp ; whereupon, to chastise that refractory city, and strike salutary terror into the whole commonwealth of Israel, 12,000 soldiers were marched to put all the inhabitants of the place to the sword, Judges xxi. 8-13. - Editor.
displayed in this constitution, for not only was it admirably calculated to foster a race of independent freemen, whose family attachments would bind them to the soil, and furnish the tribes in common with a strong bond of union in repelling the aggressions of an enemy; but by preserving equality in families, it tended to prevent the machinations of the ambitious,-none having an opportunity of acquiring the power to oppress, or the wealth that could enable him to bribe accomplices to aid in such unprincipled designs. By securing every one a sufficient, though small independence, it put an effectual bar to the introduction of those vices that arise out of a state of riches and luxuriousness; while, by the constant and patient industry, that was required in the cultivation of every corner of their little possessions, it tended to rear a frugal people, in circumstances the best adapted for their education in the principles of sound morality and genuine religion.
[The division of the land into tribes was in the following order :
[Asher, tribe of, was located in the north-west province of Palestine, and was bounded on the north by Libanus, on the south by Carmel, on the west by the Mediterranean, except on the more northerly parts, reaching to Tyre and Sidon, which, through sloth or cowardice, were never recovered from the Phænicians. * Its greatest length may be estimated at about fifty miles, and its greatest breadth about thirty-four ; but its territory in general did not equal this extent. It was a very fertile country, and being well watered by the numerous streams that poured down the sides of the adjoining ridge of Lebanon, it was clothed with a rich and luxuriant verdure. But, lying on the seacoast, it was principally a maritime province; and hence, in the song of Deborah, Asher is said to have continued on the sea-shore, and abode in his creeks.'t The population of this tribe in the wilderness amount* Judges iii. 3.
† Judges v. 17.