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Top, properly a sentinel. Now, as we learn from Josephus, (Ant. I. xviii.c. v. § 1, 2.) that Herod was at this very time engaged in the war with Aretas king of Arabia, in consequence of Herod having divorced his daughter in order to marry Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; and as this event occurred at an entertainment given at the castle of Machærus, while his army was on its march against his father-in-law; we are furnished with an additional reason why a speculator, or sentinel, should have been employed as an executioner; and are thus enabled to discover such a latent and undesigned coincidence as clearly evinces the truth of the evangelical narrative. See Bp. Marsh, Lectures, P. v. pp. 78—82, and Horne's Introduction, vol. i. pp. 101, 102.*
In Acts xxiii. 5, St. Paul says of Ananias, “ I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest.” Now soon after the holding of the first council at Jerusalem, Ananias, son of Nebedenus, was deprived of the high priest's office, for certain acts of violence, and sent to Rome, whence he was afterwards released, and returned to Jerusalem. Between the death of Jonathan, who succeeded him and was murdered by Felix, and the high priesthood of Ismael, who was invested with that office by Agrippa, an interval elapsed in which this dignity was vacant.
This was the precise time when St. Paul was apprehended ; and the Sanhedrin being destitute of a president, Ananias undertook to discharge the office. It is probable that Paul was ignorant of this circumstance. See Michaelis, Introd. vol. i. pp. 51–54.*
8. To this it may be added, that the names still borne by places,
and traditions respecting many of them, still current on the spot, tend further to confirm the reality of the facts detailed in the Scriptures.
It is true, the geography of the Sacred writings presents many difficulties, occasioned by the changes which Canaan has undergone, especially for the last 2000 years. Many of the ancient towns and villages have had their names so totally changed that their former appellations are no longer discernible-several lie buried under their own ruins, and others have been so long destroyed, that not a vestige of them remains. Many of the towns were small, and we may rationally conclude, slightly built; and consequently have perished more than 2000 years ago. It would therefore be useless to look for such places now; though in many instances, their ancient names have been preserved, and their sites identified. Several towns even in England, mentioned by Casar and other writers, are no longer discernible : several have changed their names, and not a few their situation. On these accounts it is very difficult to ascertain the precise situation of many places mentioned in Joshua; but this cannot affect the truth of the narrative. Some of the principal cities in the universe, as Babylon and Troy, are not only reduced to ruins, but so completely
* Comprehensive Bible in lucis.
blotted out of the map of the world, that their situation cannot be ascertained. This circumstance cannot invalidate the history of the ancient world, in which they made such a conspicuous figure; nor can the authenticity of the sacred writers be impaired because several places no longer exist.*
But, notwithstanding these things, sufficient traces of places remain to evince their absolute accordance with the inspired writers. Thus Abulfeda, speaking of the city of Midian, says, “ Madyan is a city, in ruins, on the shore of the Red Sea, on the opposite side to Tabuc, from which it is distant about six days' journey. At Midian may be seen the famous well at which Moses watered the flocks of Shoáib, (Jethro.) This city was the capital of the tribe of Midian in the days of the Israelites.'+
Respecting Pi-hahiroth, Dr. Shaw (Travels, p. 310.) is of opinion that Chiroth denotes the valley which extends from the wilderness of Etham to the Red Sea. This valley,' he observes, 'ends at the sea in a small bay made by the eastern extremities of the mountains (of Gewoubee and Attackah, between which the valley lies) which I have been describing, and is called Tiah-Beni-Israel, i. e. the road of the Israelites, by a tradition that is still kept up by the Arabs, of their having passed through it; so it is also called Baideah, from the new and unheard of miracle that was wrought near it, by dividing the Red Sea, and destroying therein Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.''
The wilderness of Shur, which lay on the eastern shore of the Heroopolitic gulf of the Red sea, is still called the desart of Sdur, according to Dr., Shaw.ş
Elim, “ where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees,” (Exodus xv. 27) was situated on the northern skirts of the desart of Sin, according to Dr. Shaw, two leagues from Tor, and near thirty from Corondel, which he conjectures to be Marah, where there is a small rill which is brackish. He found but nine of the wells, the other three being filled up with sand'; but the seventy palm trees had increased into more than two thousand. Under the shade of these trees is the Hammam Mousa, or bath of Moses, which the inhabitants of Tor have in great esteem and veneration, and say that it was here the household of Moses was encamped.||
Mount Sinai is called by the Arabs Jibbel Mousa, the Mountain of Moses, and sometimes by way of eminence, El Tor, the Mount, and is a range of mountains in the Peninsula formed by the gulfs of the Red Sea. It consists of several peaks, the principal of which are Horeb and Sinai ; the former, still called Oreb, being on the west, and the latter, called Tur Sina, on the east, at the foot of which is the convent of St. Catherine. (See Niebuhr, Travels, p. 247.) Mount Hor, on which Aaron died, was situated in Arabia Petræa, on Comprehensive Bible, Notes on Josh. xv. 1. xvii. 7. + Idem, Note on Exod. iv. 19.
ý Idem, Note on Exod. xv. 22. || Note in loco.
Idem, Note on Exod. xiv. 2.
the confines of Edom. It is described by Burckhardt (in a letter to the Secretary of the African Institution, and Travels in Syria, &c. pp. 420–423.) as being situated on the western side of a valley called Wady Mousa ; in which are found the ruins of the ancient Petra, and which is two long days' journey north-east of Accaba (on the northern point of the Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea), in the Djebel Shera, or mount Seir, and on the east side of the Araba, the valley which forms the continuation of that of the Jordan. On the summit of the mountain is the tomb of Haroun, or Aaron, which is held in great veneration by the Arabs; which agrees with the testimonies of Josephus (Ant. 1. iv. c. 4.) Eusebius, and Jerome, (Onomast, in 2p), all persons well acquainted with these countries, who agree in proving that the sepulchre of Aaron, in mount Hor,
near Petra. When visited by Mr. Legh, it was attended by a crippled Arab hermit, about 80 years of age, who conducted them into
small white building, crowned by a cupola, that contains the tomb of Aaron. The monument is of stone, about three feet high; and round the chamber where it stood were suspended beads, &c. the votive offerings of the devotees. (Macmichael's Journey, p. 230.)*
Respecting Dibon, in Gad, which Eusebius says was a large town, near the river Arnon, Burckhardt, (Travels in Syria, p. 372), says, that when he was about an hour's distance north of the Modjeb or Arnon, he was shewn to the N. E. the ruins of Diban, the ancient Dibon, situated in the low ground of the Koura, or plains of Moab. +
Aroer was situated, according to Eusebius, on a mountain on the north bank of the river Arnon. This is confirmed by Burckhardt, (Travels in Syria, &c. p. 372.), who says it is called Araayr, and is seated on the edge of the precipice, at the foot of which the river flows.f
Respecting Beth-nimrah, or Nimrim, Je. 48. 34, probably the Bethnabris mentioned by Eusebius, five miles north from Livias, Burckhardt, (Travels, p. 391) says, that in the valley of the Jordan, south of Abou Obeida, are the ruins of Nemrin, probably the Beth-nimrah of the Scriptures.'I
According to the same authority, Elealah which is placed by Eusebius a mile from Heshbon, is now called El Aal, the high,' and is situated on a hill. §
Thus also Heshbon, situated, according to Eusebius, 20 miles east of Jordan, is said by Jerome, who places it at the same distance, to have been, in his time, a very considerable city, and it still subsists, in ruins, under the name of Heshban.||
Respecting Og, king of Bashan, which was called the land of giants,' Deut. iii. 13. Michaelis says, “The tradition that giants formerly dwelt in this part still remains in Arabia, only that it makes them rather taller than Moses does Оg, and calls the land in which they lived, not Bashan, but Hadrach, which name appears in Zech. 9. 1. I received this information from the verbal communication of a credible Arab, who was born on the other side of the Jordan, about three days' journey from Damascus.' Burder's Oriental Literat. Vol. i. p. 274.*
Comprehensive Bible, Note on Num. xx. 29.
+ Idem, Note on Num. xxxii. 34. | Idem, Note ou Num. xxxii. 36.
Idem, Note on Num. xxxii. 37. || Idem, Note on Num. xxi. 26.
Bethshean, the Scythopolis of the Greek and Roman writers, was situated in the plain of Jordan, west of that river, 120 furlongs (south) from Tiberias, according to Josephus, and 600 furlongs (north) from Jerusalem, (2 Mac. 12. 29.) and was the largest city of the Decapolis, and the only one on that side of Jordan. It is now called after its ancient name, Bisan, eight hours or twenty-four miles from Tiberias ; and is described by Dr. Richardson, exclusive of its ruins, as "a collection of miserable hovels, containing 200 inhabitants.'t
Dr. Richardson says, that in about twenty minutes, in an easterly direction, from the cave of St. John, (which is about two hours or six miles, in a westerly direction, from Jerusalem), they came to the valley of Elah : which position seems to agree with that of Shocoh and Azekah. He describes it as “a small valley, and the place of their encampment is pointed out where it narrows into a broad, deep ravine ; part of it was in crop, and part of it was under the plough, which was drawn by a couple of oxen.
A small stream, which had shrunk almost under its stony bed, passes through it from east to west, from which, we are informed, that David chose out five smooth stones, and hasted and ran to meet the haughty champion of Gath. A well of water under the bank, with a few olive trees above, on the north side of the valley, are said to mark the spot of the shepherd's triumph over his boasting antagonist. Saul and his men probably occupied the side of the valley which is nearest to Jerusalem, on which the ground is higher and more rugged than on the other side.'t
Bethlehem, called Bethlehem Judah, (Ju. 17. 7.) to distinguish it from another Bethlehem in Zebulun, (Jos. 19. 15.), and also Ephratah, i. e. fruitful, is still called by the Arabs, Bait-el-lahm, and is situated on a rising ground on the southern side of a deep and extensive valley, and reclining from to W. not quite six miles S. of Jerusalem. The surrounding country is full of hills and valleys; and the soil is the best in all these districts ; fruits, vines, olives, and sesamum, succeed extremely well: The village contains about 300 inhabitants, the greater part of whom gain their livelihood by making beads, carving mother of pearl shells with sacred subjects, and manufacturing small tables and crucifixes.
Bethany was a village to the east of the Mount of Olives, on the road to Jericho, 15 stadia, (Jno. 11. 18.) or nearly two miles, as Jerome states, from Jerusalem. This village is now small and poor, and the cultivation of the soil around it is much neglected; but it is a pleasant romantic spot, shaded by the Mount of Olives, and abounding in vines and long grass. It consists of from thirty to forty dwellings, inhabited by about 600 Mahommedans, for whose use there is a neat little mosque standing on an eminence. Here they shew the ruins of a sort of castle as the house of Lazarus, and a grotto as his tomb; and the house of Simon the leper, of Mary Magdalene, and of Martha, and the identical tree which our Lord cursed, are among the monkish curiosities of the place. See Maundrell, March 29, Richardson, vol. ii. p. 371. Buckingham, p. 200.*
Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco.
+ Idem, Note ou Josh. xvii. 11.
Gethsemane was a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives, beyond the brook Cedron; an even plat of ground, says Maundrell, (Journey, April 7.), not above fifty-seven yards square, where are shown some old olive trees, supposed to identify the spot to which our Lord was wont to resort. +
Cana, a town of Galilee, now called Cane Galil, or Kepher Kenna, is situated, according to the authority of modern travellers, between fifteen and sixteen miles west of Tiberias, about six miles S. E. of Sephoris or Safoury, and between four and five miles N. E. by E. of Nazareth. It is a neat little village, pleasantly situated on the descent of a hill, facing the south-west, with a copious spring, surrounded with plantations of olive and other fruit trees; and contains about 300 inhabitants, chiefly Catholic Christians. Pococke saw a large ruined building, the walls of which were entire, and which they said occupied the site of the house of the marriage. Near it was a large new Greek church; and on the south side of the village, near the fountain, there were the ruins of another church, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, and said to have been his house.
• It is worthy of remark,' says Dr. E. D. Clarke, who visited Cana a few years ago, that, walking among the ruins of a church, we saw large massy pots, answering the description given of the ancient vessels of the country; not preserved, but lying about, disregarded by the present inhabitants, as antiquities with whose original use they were unacquainted. From their appearance, and the number of them, it was quite evident that a practice of keeping water in large pots, each holding from eighteen to twentyseven gallons, was once common in the country.' (Travels, part ii. c. xiv. p. 445.) Compare the account of the water pots, Jno. 2. 6.1
Aceldama, also called the Potter's Field, is situated about half way down the ravine between Mount Zion, and the Hill of Evil Counsel, on the side of the hill, and south of Jerusalem. It is described by Maundrell, (Journey, April 6.) as “a small piece of ground, not above thirty yards long, and half as much broad. One moiety of it is taken up by a square fabric, twelve yards high, [an oblong square cavern, about twentysix paces long, twenty broad, and about twenty feet deep, says Pococke,] built for a charnel house. The corpses are let down into it from the top, there being five holes left open for that purpose. Looking down these
* Comprehensive Bible, Note on Matt. xxi. 7. + Idem, Note on Matt. xxvi. 36.
| Idem, Notes on John 2. 11 ; 4. 46.