« AnteriorContinuar »
strength, and remained in subjection during the whole of his reign. During the course of succeeding centuries they frequently rose and fell, were independent or tributary to the great masters of the world,—their rich and populous country always exciting the cupidity of every new conqueror. Not only after the commencement of the christian era, was their name sunk in that of the Arabians, but the prediction of Ezekiel has been signally fulfilled, “that they should not be remembered among the nations.'* The whole country is an immense waste, lying in atter desolation through the ignorance, sloth, and lawless aggressions of the Turks and Arabs, although here and there the uncommon fertility of the soil appears in the verdant wadys that form places of regular encampment, and in which some tribes of Bedouins pasture their cattle. Numerous vestiges remain of the ancient wealth and grandeur of the Ammonites. * At every step,' says Burckhardt, ' are to be found the remains of cities, temples, and public edifices.'
[Moab was bounded on the north by the river Arnon, which divided it from Ammon, and then from Reuben; on the east by Arabia; on the south and west by Midian. It was occupied at first by a people called the Emims,t who were dispossessed by the descendants of Moab, son of Lot; and although, in consequence of that descent they were, in common with the Ammonites, specially protected by God from all injuries during the progress of the Israelites to the promised land, I the king of Moab showed a spirit of determined hostility to that people, manifesting the greatest inhumanity, and concerting, besides, a deep laid plot, in conjunction with the Midianites, to entice them to apostacy.Ş Their inhospitable and villainous conduct was punished by a stern and irrevocable sentence that excluded every Moabite from the congregation of the Lord till the tenth generation. In the time
# Deut. ii. 9. § Num. xxii. ; xxiv.
* Ezek. xxv. 10.
| Deut. ii. 11.
of the Judges, Moab acquired the ascendancy over Israel for eighteen years, till Ehud, by the assassination of the king, and the slaughter of about 10,000 of his army, delivered his country from this state of ignominious vassalage.* Being in a succeeding age completely subdued by David,t they were so humbled and dispirited, that they never made any attempts to recover their independence, but continued tributary to Solomon; and, on the revolt of the ten tribes, to the powerful kingdom of Israel until the reign of Ahab, when their threatened rebellion was punished by the total desolation of their country, and that of Jehoshaphat, when their mighty army was almost annihilated. I At a subsequent period, they formed a league with Zedekiah to repel the encroachments of Nebuchadnezzar their common foe. But no sooner had that proud conqueror heard of their proposed alliance than he marched against Moab at the head of an immense army, laid waste the country with fire and sword, and carried multitudes of the people into captivity.$ Although a few were still left, the inhabitants never recovered from the effects of this disastrous invasion, but fell an easy prey to successive conquerors, till at length. in common with the rest of the world, this country became a province of the Roman empire. Thus, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah, Moab was destroyed from being a distinct people.'|| Their religion was idolatry, and the principal objects of their worship were Baal-peor and Chemosh. |
[The natural resources of Moab are great, and were it not for the barbarity and ignorance of the Arabs, who have made it a perfect desert, it would be a beautiful and smiling country. Even amid the wide-spread desolation, however, that reigns every where around, this country contains evident traces of its ancient pro
* Judges iii. 14.
+ 2 Samuel viii. 2.
ductiveness and grandeur. The ruins of temples and gigantic edifices that are still to be found, the traces of hanging gardens, the dilapidated columns and broken cisterns, the vestiges of ploughed fields and high walls, bear testimony to the wealth, enterprise, and taste of its ancient inhabitants.
[Its chief towns were Ar or Kir-Aroer, Bozra, Dibon, Diblath, Eleale, Heshbon, Jazer, Jahazah, Halon, Horonaim, Kirjathaim, Medeba, Sibmah, which for the most part were wrested from the Israelites. Ruth was a native of this country.
[Midian, an extensive country lying between the Dead and the Red Seas; the whole region, as far south as Sinai, receiving the general appellation of the land of Midian,
[The Midianites early distinguished themselves by their pursuits in commerce, being travelling merchants who carried on a lucrative trade with Egypt* in the days of Joseph. They seem to have been so widely scattered over that vast country, that in many places, particularly in the north, they long subsisted in the form of numerous petty independent sheikdoms, like that of Jethro, who preserved the primitive form of patriarchal government, and the principles of pure and undefiled religion. In other parts, however, they were idolaters, assumed the character of a regular society, and became a populous and powerful nation, divided into five tribes, and governed by native kings, who were afterwards reduced by foreign conquest to the subordinate rank of dukes. During the march of the Israelites to Canaan, the northern Midianites joined with Moab to resist the progress of that formidable body of emigrants,-a measure of which they had soon bitter cause to repent.g In the time of the Judges, they had risen to so great a population and power, that they held Israel in thraldom for seven years; which might have continued longer, had
+ Exodus ii. 15-22; xviii. 1. # Joshua xiii. 21.
§ Num. xxii. ; xxxi.
* Genesis xxxvii.
not the Lord inspired Gideon with the energy and determination to assert the freedom of his country.* This country has long been in the possession of the roving Arabs.
[In the time of Christ, the country of Phænicia on the north-west corner of Palestine, formed a part of Syria under the name of Syro-Phænicia. Its two principal towns were Sidon and Tyre.
[Sidon and Tyre, as has been formerly stated, lay within the territory assigned to Asher, but were never possessed by that tribe. Their celebrity as maritime cities demands for them a particular notice.] Sidon was one of the most ancient cities in the world, and long the wealthiest and the greatest of which Phænicia could boast. It was very strong both by nature and art. On the north side a citadel, built on an inaccessible rock, and environed on all sides by the sea; and on the south side, another fort defended the mouth of the harbour. Secured on all sides against the assaults of her enemies, and enriched by the extensive commerce which she carried on with the surrounding nations of Asia and Europe, her inhabitants lived in the greatest splendour, and indulged without restraint in every voluptuous gratification. So great was their luxury, that to live after the manner of the Sidonians, became a sort of proverbial phrase for living quietly and securely in ease and pleasure.t But their wealth and luxury do not seem, at least for several ages, to have enervated their minds, and destroyed their powers of exertion and habits of industry; for we know, from the testimony of an inspired writer, that in the days of Solomon
none were skilled to hew timber like the Zidonians.' They are represented by writers, both sacred and profane, as excellent artificers in several other professions or trades; and in proof of this fact, many of them were * Judges vi.; viii. ; Psalm lxxxiii. 9. | Judges xyiii. 7.
retained in the pay of Solomon, and employed as his principal workmen in building the temple of Jehovah.*
Though the Tyrians were accustomed to boast of the great antiquity of their city, it cannot be doubted that Sidon can trace her history to a remote date; for in the same chapter where the prophet Isaiah records the vain boast of the Tyrians, he expressly calls Tyre the daughter of Sidon;t by which he means, that the Tyrians were a colony of the Sidonians.
Indeed Tyre rose, by degrees, to a height of greatness and splendour, which her illustrious parent was never able to reach; yet it is evident, from ancient writers, that she was for several ages greatly her inferior. The former was distinguished by the name of the strong city so early as the days of Joshua; but in the very same passage, the latter receives the more significant and honourable title of the great Zidon,' to intimate, that she was then the capital of Phænicia. Nor ought it to be forgotten, that Homer never mentions Tyre in any part of his writings, while he often celebrates the ingenuity and industry of the Sidonians. Many years after Sidon was built, says an ancient writer, the Sidonians being attacked by the king of Ascalon, escaped in their ships, and laid the foundations of Tyre, sometime before the destruction of Troy. This event happened, according to Josephus, about two hundred and forty years before the building of Solomon's temple. || [Sidon, being taken by Nebuchadnezzar, became successively tributary to the Chaldeans and Persians, although it still continued to be governed by native kings. Disgusted with the intolerable exactions of Darius Ochus the Persian monarch, they formed a league against him with the king of Egypt, the intelligence of which so exasperated him that he immediately raised an army, and arrived by
* Well's Hist. Geog. vol. i. p. 136.
+ Isaiah xxiii. 7, 12. # Iliad, lib. xxiii. 1. 743; Odyss. lib. xv. I. 114. § Justin. lib. xviii. cap. 1, sec. 5, p. 381.
Antiq. book yiii. c. 3, sec. 1.