« AnteriorContinuar »
proceeded from their great communication and intermixture with the neighbouring nations. It was this corrupt dialect that led to the detection of Peter, as one of Christ's disciples. (Mark xiv. 70.) The Galileans are repeatedly mentioned by Josephus as a turbulent and rebellious people, and upon all occasions ready to disturb the Roman authority. They were particularly forward in an insurrection against Pilate himself, who proceeded to a summary mode of punishment, causing a party of them to be treacherously slain, during one of the great festivals, when they came to sacrifice at Jerusalem. This character of the Galileans explains the expression in St. Luke's Gospel (xiii. 1.), whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices; and also accounts for his abrupt question, when he heard of Galilee, and asked if Jesus were a Galilean? (Luke xxiii. 6.) Our Redeemer was accused before him of seditious practices, and of exciting the people to revolt; when, therefore, it was stated, among other things, that he had been in Galilee, Pilate caught at the observation, and enquired if he were a Galilean; having been prejudiced against the inhabitants of that district, by their frequent commotions, and being on this account the more ready to receive any charge which might be brought against any one of that obnoxious community.2
The principal cities of Lower Galilee, mentioned in the New Testament, are Tiberias, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, Nain, Cæsarea of Palestine, and Ptolemais.
2. SAMARIA. The division of the Holy Land, thus denominated, derives its name from the city of Samaria, and comprises the tract of country which was originally occupied by the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh within Jordan, lying exactly in the middle between Judæa and Galilee; so that it was absolutely necessary for persons who were desirous of going expeditiously from Galilee to Jerusalem, to pass through this country. This sufficiently explains the remark of St. John (iv. 4.) which is strikingly confirmed by Josephus.3 The three chief places of this district, noticed in the Scriptures, are Samaria, Sichem or Sechem, and Antipatris.
3. JUDEA. Of the various districts, into which Palestine was divided, Judæa was the most distinguished. It comprised the territories which had formerly belonged to the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Simeon, and to part of the tribe of Dan; being nearly co-extensive with the antient kingdom of Judah. Its metropolis was JERUSALEM: and of the other towns or villages of note contained in this region, the most remarkable were Arimathea, Azotus or Ashdod, Bethany, Bethlehem, Bethphage, Emmaus, Ephraim, Gaza, Jericho, Joppa, Lydda, and Rama.
1 Josephus, Antiq. book xviii. c. 3. §2 and Mr. Whiston's note there. In another place (book xvii. c. 10. § 2.) after describing a popular tumult, he says, A great number of these were GALILEANS and Idumaans.
2 Gilly's Spirit of the Gospel, or the Four Evangelists elucidated, p. 328. 3 Antiq. book xx. c. 5. § 1.* De Bell. Jud. book ii. c. 12. 6 3.
4. The district of PEREA comprised the six cantons of Abilene, Trachonitis, Ituræa, Gaulonitis, Batanæa, and Peræa, strictly so called, to which some geographers have added Decapolis.
(1.) ABILENE was the most northern of these provinces, being situated between the mountains of Libanus and Anti-libanus, and deriving its name from the city Abila. It is supposed to have been within the borders of the tribe of Nephtali, although it was never subdued by them, and is one of the four tetrarchies mentioned by St. Luke. (iii. 1.) The evangelist's account is confirmed by the geographer Ptolemy, who states that Abila bore the name of Lysanias.
(2.) TRACHONITIS was bounded by the desert Arabia on the east, Batanæa on the west, Ituræa on the south, and the country of Damascus on the north. It abounded with rocks, which afforded shelter to numerous thieves and robbers.
(3.) ITURAA antiently belonged to the half tribe of Manasseh, who settled on the east of Jordan: it stood to the east of Batanæa and to the south of Trachonitis. Of these two cantons Philip the son of Herod the Great was tetrarch at the time John the Baptist commenced his ministry. (Luke iii. 1.) It derived its name from Jetur the son of Ishmael (1 Chron. i. 31.), and was also called Aurantis from the city of Hauran. (Ezek. xlvii. 16. 18.) This region exhibits vestiges of its former fertility, and is most beautifully wooded and picturesque.1
(4.) GAULONITIS was a tract on the east side of the lake of Gennesareth and the river Jordan, which derived its name from Gaulan or Golan the city of Og, king of Bashan. (Josh. xx. 8.) This canton is not mentioned in the New Testament.
(5.) BATANEA, the antient kingdom of Bashan, was situated to the north-east of Gaulonitis: its limits are not easy to be defined. It was part of the territory given to Herod Antipas, and is not noticed in the New Testament.
(6.) PEREA, in its restricted sense, includes the southern part of the country beyond Jordan, lying south of Ituræa, east of Judæa and Samaria; and was antiently possessed by the two tribes of Reuben and Gad. Its principal place was the strong fortress of Macharus, erected for the purpose of checking the predatory incursions of the Arabs. This fortress though not specified by name in the New Testament, is memorable as the place where John the Baptist was put to death. (Matt. xiv. 3-12.)
(7.) The canton of DECAPOLIS (Matt. iv. 25. Mark v. 20. and vii. 31.), which derives its name from the ten cities it contained, is considered by Reland and other eminent authorities as part of the region of Peræa. Concerning its limits, and the names of its ten cities, geographers are by no means agreed; but according to
1 Buckingham's Travels in Palestine, pp. 408, 409. London, 1821. 4to. Mr. Burckhardt, who visited this region in the years 1810 and 1812, has described its present state, together with the various antiquities which still remain. See his Travels in Syria and the Holy Land, pp. 51–119, 211–310. London, 1822. 4to.
Josephus (whose intimate knowledge of the country constitutes him an unexceptionable authority), it contained the cities of Damascus, Otopos, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis (the capital of the district), Gadara, Hippos, Dios, Pella, and Gerasa.
5. IDUMEA.-This province was added by the Romans, on their conquest of Palestine. It comprised the extreme southern part of Judæa, together with some small part of Arabia. During the Babylonish captivity, being left destitute of inhabitants, or not sufficiently inhabited by its natives, it seems to have been seized by the neighbouring Idumæans; and though they were afterwards subjugated by the powerful arms of the Maccabees and Asmonean princes, and embraced Judaism, yet the tract of country, of which they had thus possessed themselves, continued to retain the appellation of Idumæa in the time of Christ, and indeed for a considerable subsequent period.
VIII. Of the whole country thus described, JERUSALEM was the metropolis during the reigns of David and Solomon: after the secession of the ten tribes, it was the capital of the kingdom of Judah, but during the time of Christ, and until the subversion of the Jewish polity, it was the metropolis of Palestine.
1. Jerusalem is frequently styled in the Scriptures the Holy City (Isa. xlviii. 2. Dan. ix. 24. Nehem. xi. 1. Matt. iv. 5. Rev. xi. 2.) because the Lord chose it out of all the tribes of Israel to place his name there, his temple and his worship Deut. xii. 5. xiv. 23. xvi. 2. xxvi. 2.); and to be the centre of union in religion and government for all the tribes of the commonwealth of Israel. It is held in the highest veneration by Christians for the miraculous and important transactions which happened there, and also by the Mohammedans, who to this day never call it by any other appellation than El-Kods, or The Holy, sometimes adding the epithet El-Sherif, or The Noble. The original name of the city was Salem, or Peace (Gen. xiv. 18.): the import of Jerusalem is, the vision or inheritance of peace; and to this it is not improbable that our Saviour alluded in his beautiful and pathetic lamentation over the city. (Luke xix. 41.) It was also formerly called Jebus from one of the sons of Canaan. (Josh. xviii. 28.) After its capture by Joshua (Josh. x.) it was jointly inhabited both by Jews and Jebusites (Josh. xv. 63.) for about five hundred years, until the time of David; who, having expelled the Jebusites, made it his residence (2 Sam. v. 6-9.), and erected a noble palace there, together with several other magnificent buildings, whence it is sometimes styled the City of David. (1 Chron. xi. 5.) By the prophet Isaiah (xxix. 1.) Jerusalem is termed Ariel, or the Lion of God; but the reason of this name, and its meaning, as applied to Jerusalem, is very obscure and doubtful. It may possibly signify the strength of the place, by which the inhabitants were enabled to resist and overcome their enemies; in the same manner as the Persians term one of their cities Shiraz, or the Devour
1 This is a contraction from Medinet-el-KADESS, that is, the Sacred City. Capt. Light's Travels in Egypt, Nubia, &c. p. 177.