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the Ghor, is known by the name Djebel, i. e. mountains, the Gebal of the Hebrews, and the Gebalene of the Romans. The next portion of mountains, extending to the wady Gharendel, and in which are the ruins of the ancient Petra, is called Djebel Shera. The third portion reaching to the Elanitic gulf, is named Djebel Hesma. Eastward of this mountainous tract, which seems in general not to be more than from eight to twelve miles broad, lies the great Arabian desert. The mountains, as seen from the Ghor, appear to have a very considerable elevation ; but as seen from the eastern plain, they look only like low hills ; the desert being upon a much higher level than the Ghor. This great valley also seems to have a rapid slope towards the south ; for the eastern mountains apparently increase in height towards the south, those of Hesma being higher than any of the others further north; while as seen from the eastern plain they all appear to continue of the same altitude. The height of the mountains of Hesma near Akaba has been estimated at about 3250 English feet above the sea.*
We learn from Genesis, that before any king reigned over Israel, no fewer than eight kings had succeeded each other in the government of the land of Edom, or Idumaea ; and that these kings were followed by eleven princes, (wrongly translated dukes), the descendants of Esau. The fertility of the territory of Edom is thus stated in the blessing given by Isaac to Esau: “Behold thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above." Its cultivated state appears from the description given of it by the messengers of Moses, when they requested permission for the Israelites to pass through Edom, in their way from Egypt to the promised land : “Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country; we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells; we will go by the king's highway; we will not turn to the right hand, nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders. And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. And the children of Israel said unto him, we will go by the highway ; and if I or my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it. I will only, (without doing any thing else), go through on my feet. And he said, Thou shalt not go
* Rosenmüller Bib. Geog. III. p. 65. 1828. Also Bib. Repos. III. 248. Vol. IX. No. 26.
through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border; wherefore Israel turned away from him.”
In subsequent times, we find that the Edomites were generally in a hostile attitude towards the children of Israel. Saul made war against them successfully. David subdued them and placed garrisons in their cities. Solomon had a port on the Elanitic gulf. In the last years of the reign of Solomon, we find an Edomitish prince, who had fled to Egypt, returning to his native land, and again asserting his independence; but, as it seems, without much success, as we read in the reign of Jehoshaphat that there was no king in Edom, but a deputy merely, who was, without doubt, a Jew. Jehoshaphat had a haven of ships in Ezion Geber, in the land of Edom. Later we find a king of Edom, in alliance with Jehoshaphat and with Joram king of Israel, making war on the Moabites.* Under Joram, the successor of Jehoshaphat, the Edomites again asserted their independence. Amariah, however, brought them into subjection, and took Sela, or Petra, their capital. Uzziah took possession of Elath on the Red Sea. In the reign of Ahaz, the Edomites made incursions into Judea, and carried away some prisoners. Rezin, king of Syria soon after took Elath and expelled the Jews, while the Edomites returned to it. Afterwards, we find no mention of the Edomites in the historical books of the Old Testament. During the decline of the kingdom of Judah, the Edomites so enlarged their territory, that in the time of Jeremiah, they had possession of Bozrah in the Haourân, and of Dedân in southern Arabia. When the Chaldeans invaded Judah, the Edomites joined with them, and enjoyed the malicious pleasure of witnessing the overthrow of Jerusalem.
By the merciless conduct of the Edomites, the national hatred of the Jews against them was carried to the highest pitch. Possibly, Idumaea was laid waste by foreign invasions
land waste by foreign
• Num. 20: 17, 21, I Sam. 14: 47. 2 Sam. 8: 14. Ps. 60: 2, 10, 11. 1 Chron. 18: 12, 13. I K. 11: 14, 15, 16. 9: 26. 22: 48. 2 K. 3:9, 12, 26.
ť 2 K. 8: 20, 21, 22. 14. 7. 16: 6. 2 Chron. 21: 8, 9, 10. 25: 11, 12, 14. 26: 2. 28: 17. Isa. 31: 6. 63: 1. Jer. 49: 8, 20. Ezek. 25: 13, 15. 35: 10. 36: 5. Obad, v. 12.
| Ps. 137: 7--2. Obad. v. 2 sq. Isa. 34: 8. Jer. 49: 7.
about this time.* The Edomites probably obtained possession of the southern part of Judah, including Hebron, whence Judas Maccabaeus expelled them.t John Hyrcanus, 130 B. C., subdued the Edomites, caused them to be circumcised, and incorporated them with the Jews. Subsequently, Herod the Great, an Idumean, became king of Judea, and was so till the birth of Christ. Shortly before Jerusalem was besieged by Titus, 20,000 Idumeans threw themselves into the city, to defend it against the Romans, though, at the same time, they plundered and murdered the peaceful citizens. Afterwards, doubtless, the Edomites became, like the Ammonites and Moabites, mingled with the Arabians. I
With respect to Arabia Petraea, scarcely any information is to be found amongst the Greek authors. As early as 301 B.C., it would seem that the Nabatheans, a powerful nomadic tribe, descended from Nebajoth, son of Ishmael, had got possession of a part of Arabia Petraea, including the capital, Petra. They gradually became less nomadic in their character, and at length united under a regular government of kings. The kingdom was probably small in extent, perhaps, 100 miles from north to south, and 250 from east to west. A favorite name of these kings of Arabia was Aretas. 2 Cor. 11, 32. The kingdom was but nominally independent, it being in fact subject in a great degree to the Romans. In the reign of Trajan, it was annexed to the Roman empire. As the power of Rome gave way, the hordes of Arabs again prevailed; they plundered the cities, but did not destroy them; and hence those regions are still full of uninhabited, yet stately and often splendid remains of former Wealth and power. In the third or fourth century, the christian religion spread itself over the whole region. The names of several episcopal cities have been preserved. In the fifth century, Arabia Petraea went under the name of Palaestina Tertia, and also Palaestina Salutaris. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the crusaders obtained possession of some of the more important places. In 1188, Saladin had conquered the country.
Petra, in Heb. sp, Sela, rock, seems to be first mentioned in Judg. 1:36, where the coast of the Amorites” is described as being from “ the rock, and upwards.” In 2 K. 14:7, it is said that Amaziah “slew of Edom in the valley of Salt ten thou
sand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it, Joktheel unto this day.” Is. 16: 1, alludes to the lamb, or tribute to be sent to the ruler of the land from Sela to the wilderness.
These are the only obvious notices of Petra contained in the Scriptures. About 300 B. C., it had passed into the possession of the Nabatheans and become a place of trade. The caravans from the interior of Arabia, from the Persian gulf, from Hadramât, and even from Yemen, appear to have pointed to Petra as a common centre; and from Petra the trade branched out into every direction, to Egypt, Palestine, Gaza, Tyre, Jerusalem, Damascus, etc. The troops of Antigonus, (who died in 301 B. C.), by an unexpected assault, upon Petra, took a large quantity of frankincense, myrrh, and about 500 talents of silver. Athenaeus, the general of Antigonus, retired immediately, but was pursued by the Arabians, who, falling upon his troops unawares, killed not less than 8,000 men. Antigonus sent another expedition under his son Demetrius, which was wholly baffled, as the Nabatheans had deposited all their wealth, under the protection of a strong garrison in Petra, to which there was but a single approach, and had, moreover, driven their flocks into the desert.
Pliny states that “the Nabataei inhabit a city called Petra, in a hollow somewhat less than two miles in circumference, surrounded by inaccessible mountains, with a stream running through it. It is distant from the town of Gaza, on the coast, 600 miles.” Strabo
says : “ the capital of the Nabataei is called Petra; it lies in a spot which is in itself level and plain, but fortified all round with a barrier of rocks and precipices; within, it is furnished with springs of excellent quality, for the supply of water, and the irrigation of gardens; without the precincts, the country is in great measure desert, and especially towards Judea.” Petra is often mentioned by Josephus, as the capital of Arabia Petraea. Adrian seems to have given the city his own name.* In the acts of councils, and in all the ecclesiastical notices, Petra appears as the capital of Palaestina Tertia. Of the bishops of Petra, Germanus was present at the council of Seleucia, A. D. 359; and Theodorus at the council of Jerusalem, A. D. 536.7 In the time of the crusades, Petra ap
• Coins are extant bearing the inscriptions 'Asgarn Terga untgóπολις. .
# Reland, p. 219.
pears to have been in ruins, and to have borne the name of. Wady Mousa, Valley of Moses.
Diodorus places the geographical position of Petra 300 stadia south of the Dead Sea. Strabo says it is three or four days march from Jericho. Pliny describes it as 600 Roman miles distant from Gaza, and 130 from the Persian Gulf; where Cellarius justly suggests that the two numbers are to be transposed, since thus they will nearly accord with the other accounts. The Tabula Peutingeriana, (or Tabula Thedosiana, compiled in the fourth century,) places Petra about 80 Roman miles north of Ailah on the Elanitic Gulf; and this accords entirely with Burckhardt's statement, that it is “two long days' journey northeast from Akaba.” Josephus and Eusebius state that mount Hor, where Aaron died, was in the vicinity of Petra. At what time Petra yielded to the assaults of the Arabs, it is now impossible to determine. It probably fell some centuries before the crusades.
Previously to adducing the testimonies of modern travellers in respect to the ruins of Petra, we will translate some of the more prominent portions of the prophetical Scriptures, which have relation to the subject.
In five of the Hebrew prophets we have predictions of the final and utter destruction of Edom. We will first adduce the brief prediction of Amos. This prophet was born in Tekoa in the tribe of Judah, about twelve miles south of Jerusalem, and six south of Bethlehem. He exercised the prophetical office, for about twenty-five years, in the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah, and of Jeroboam II, king of Israel.
I. 11. Thus saith Jehovah :
Because of three transgressions of Edom,
* As is common among the Hebrews, definite numbers are here used for indefinite. “On account of the many transgressions of Edom." See Job 33: 29. Prov. 30: 15, 18, 21. Hos. 6: 2.