A Chorographical Century
Bethany seems to be the same with Beth-hene among the Talmudists. Of which they write thus. They(1) 1. Bab. Pesachin, fol. 53a. treat in the place, noted in the margin, concerning eating of fruits the seventh year, and concerning Beor, of which we have spoke before.(2) 2. Chap. 1. They inquire, How long one may eat of these or the other fruits?And they state the business thus: "They eat Olives (say they) until the last ceases in Tekoa. R. Eleazar saith, Until the last ceases in Gush Chalab" (in the tribe of Asher). "They eat dry figs, until green figs cease in Beth-hene. R. Judah saith, The green figs of Beth-hene are not mentioned; unless in respect of the tenths; as the tradition is. The figs of Beth-hene, and the dates of Tubni, are bound to be tithed." The Gloss is this; "They are not mentioned in the schools among fruits, unless in respect of tithing." These words are recited in Erubhin: where(3) 3. Erubin, fol. 28b. the word Beth-hene is writ, Beth-jone, and Tubni is writ Tubina.
Beth-hene certainly seems to be the same altogether with our Bethany; and the name to be drawn from the word Ahene, which signifies the "dates of palm-trees," not come to ripeness: as the פגי also signifies "green-figs," that is, such figs as are not yet ripe.
And now take a prospect a little of mount Olivet. Here you may see olive-trees; and in that place is Gethsemane, "The place of oil-presses." There you may see palm-trees growing; and that place is called Bethany, "The place of dates." And we may observe in the gospel-history, how those that met Christ, as he was going forward from Bethany, had branches of palm-trees ready at hand. There you may see fig-trees growing; and that place was called Bethphage, "The place of green-figs."
Therefore, some part of Olivet was called Bethany from the palm-trees; there was a town also, called of the same name, over-against it. The town was fifteen furlongs distant from Jerusalem. And the coast of that name went on, till it reached the distance of a sabbath-day's journey only from the city.
צופים. Σκοπος. Scopo
In that manner as mount Olivet lay over-against the city on the east, the valley of Kedron running between,so, on the north, behind a valley somewhat broader, stretched out from Sion northward, the land swelled into a hill, at the place which from thence was called Zophim; because thence there was a prospect on all sides, but especially towards the city.
Concerning it Josephus(4) 4. Joseph. de Bello, lib. 5.2.3. thus: "Caesar, when he had received a legion by night from Ammaus, the day after moving his tents thence, He entered into Scopo so called. Where the city appeared, and the greatness of the Temple shining out: as that plain tract of land, touching upon the north coast of the city, is truly called Scopus, The Viewer."
Hence those canons and cautions: "He(5) 5. Jer. Berakoth, fol. 13. 2. that pisseth, let him turn his face to the north: he that easeth nature, to the south. R. Josi Ben R. Bon saith, The tradition is, From Zophim and within":that is, if this be done by any one from Zophim inwards, when he is now within the prospect of the city; when he pisseth, let him turn his face to the north, that he do not expose his modest parts before the Temple: when he easeth nature, let him turn his face to the south, that he expose not his buttocks before it.
"If(6) 6. Bab. Berakoth, fol. 49b. any one, being gone out of Jerusalem, shall remember, that holy flesh is in his hand, if he be now gone beyond Zophim, let him burn it in the place where he is." (For it is polluted by being carried out of the walls of Jerusalem.) "But if he be not beyond Zophim, let him go back, and burn it before the Temple." Where the Gloss thus; "Zophim is a place whence the Temple may be seen." But another Gloss doth not understand the thing here of that proper place, but of the whole compass about the city, wheresoever the city could first be seen. So R. Eliezer, of Abraham, going from the south to Jerusalem, "The(7) 7. Pirke R. Eliezer, cap. 31. third day they came to Zophim: but when he came to Zophim, he saw the glory of the Divine Majesty sitting upon the Mount" (Moriah).
Ramah. Ramathaim Zophim. Gibeah.
There was a certain Ramah, in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:25, and that within sight of Jerusalem, as it seems, Judges 19:13; where it is named with Gibeah:and elsewhere, Hosea 5:8; which towns were not much distant. See 1 Samuel 22:6; "Saul sat in Gibeah, under a grove in Ramah." Here the Gemarists(8) 8. Bab. Taanith, fol. 5b. trifle: "Whence is it (say they) that Ramah is placed near Gibea? To hint to you, that the speech of Samuel of Ramah was the cause, why Saul remained two years and a half in Gibeah." They blindly look over Ramah in the tribe of Benjamin,and look only at Ramah in Ephraim, where Samuel was born.
His native town is very often called Ramah, once Ramathaim Zophim, 1 Samuel 1:1. "There was a certain man of Ramathaim": that is, one of the two Ramaths, which were surnamed also 'Zophim.' A like form of speech is that 1 Samuel 18:21; "In one of the two, thou shalt be my son-in-law." That town of Samuel was Ramath Zophim; and this of Benjamin, was Ramath Zophim also: but by a different etymology, as it seems:that, it may be, from Zuph, Saul's great-great-grandfather, whence that country was so called, 1 Samuel 9:5; this, from Zophim, of which place we have spoke in the foregoing chapter.
Gibeah was Saul's town. "The(9) 9. Joseph. de Bello lib 5.2.1. town called Gabath-Saul. This signifieth Saul's-hill, which is distant from Jerusalem about thirty furlongs." Hence you may guess at the distance of Rama from Jerusalem. Josephus calls the neighbouring place of Gibeah, "the long Valley of Thorns": perhaps, the valley under the rock Seneh: of which mention is made, 1 Samuel 14:4.
That Nob was placed in the land of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem, whence Jerusalem also might be seen,the words of the Chaldee paraphrast, upon Isaiah 10:32, do argue. For so he speaks; "Sennacherib came and stood in Nob, a city of the priests, before the walls of Jerusalem; and said to his army, 'Is not this the city of Jerusalem, against which I have raised my whole army, and have subdued all the provinces of it? Is it not small and weak in comparison of all the fortifications of the Gentiles, which I have subdued by the valour of my hand?' He stood nodding with his head against it, and wagging his hand up and down," &c. Where Kimchi thus; "Jerusalem might be seen from Nob. Which when he saw from thence, he wagged his hand, as a man is wont to do, when he despiseth any thing," &c. And Jarchi thus; "When he stood at Nob, he saw Jerusalem," &c.
The Talmudists(10) 10. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 94b and 95a. do concur also in the same sense with the Chaldee paraphrast, and in his very words; adding this moreover,that all those places, which are numbered-up by Isaiah in the place alleged, were travelled through by the enemy with his army in one day.
The tabernacle sometime resided at Nob, when that was destroyed, it was translated to Gibeon. "And the days of Nob and Gibeon" (they are the words of Maimonides)(11) 11. Maim. in Beth Habbechirah, cap. 1. "were seven-and-fifty years."
We meet with mention of Bahurim, 2 Samuel 16:5. It was a Levitical city, the same with Almon, Joshua 21:18; which is also called Alemeth,
1 Chronicles 6:60. Those words, "And David came to Bahurim," in the place alleged in the Book of Samuel, the Chaldee renders, "And David the king came to Almath." Where Kimchi thus; "Bahurim was a city of the Benjamites, and is called in the Books of the Chronicles, 'Alemeth'; for Bahurim and Alemeth are the same." Both sound as much as, young men.
"From Beth-horon(12) 12. Jer. Shebiith, fol. 38. 4. to Emmaus it was hilly." It was sixty furlongs distant from Jerusalem (Luke 24:13)."To(13) 13. Joseph. de Bello, lib. 7.6.6. eight hundred only, dismissed the army, (Vespasian) gave a place, called Ammaus, for them to inhabit: it is sixty furlongs distant from Jerusalem."
I inquire, whether this word hath the same etymology with Emmaus near Tiberias, which, from the 'warm baths,' was called חמת Chammath. The Jews certainly do write this otherwise; namely, either אמאוס, as the Jerusalem Talmudists in the place above cited; or, עימאוס, as the Misna.
"The(14) 14. Erachin, cap. 2. hal. 4. family (say they) of Beth-Pegarim, and Beth Zipperia wasמעימאוס out of Emmaus."The Gloss is this; "Emmaus was the name of a place, whose inhabitants were Israelite gentlemen, and the priests married their daughters."
Josephus, mentioning some noblemen, slain by Simeon the tyrant, numbers one Aristeus, who was "a(15) 15. De Bello, lib. 5.13.1. scribe of the council, and by extraction from Ammaus." By the same author is mentioned also, "Ananus(16) 16. Ibid. lib. 6.4.2. of Ammaus," one of the seditious of Jerusalem; who nevertheless at last fled over to Caesar.
Kiriath-jearim was before-time called Baale, 2 Samuel 6:2; or Baalath, 1 Chronicles 13:6. Concerning it, the Jerusalem writers speak thus; "We(17) 17. Jer. Sanhedr. fol. 18. 3. find, that they intercalated the year in Baalath. But Baalath was sometimes assigned to Judah, and sometimes to Dan. Eltekah, and Gibbethon, and Baaleth; behold, these are Judah." (Here is a mistake of the transcribers, for it should be written, of Dan, Joshua 19:44.) "Baalah, and Jiim, and Azem,behold, these are of Dan" (it should be written, of Judah, Joshua 15:29); "namely, the houses were of Judah,the fields of Dan."
In Psalm 132:6; "We heard of it" (the ark) "in Ephratah" (that is, Shiloh, a city of Ephraim); "we found it in the fields of the wood" (that is, in Kiriath-jearim, 1 Samuel 7:1, &c.).
The country of Jericho, and the situation of the City.
Here we will borrow Josephus'(18) 18. Joseph. de Bello, lib. 4.8.2. pencil, "Jericho is seated in a plain, yet a certain barren mountain hangs over it, narrow, indeed, but long; for it runs out northward to the country of Scythopolis,and southward, to the country of Sodom, and the utmost coast of the Asphaltites."
Of this mountain mention is made, Joshua 2:22, where the two spies, sent by Joshua, and received by Rahab, are said to "conceal themselves."
"Opposite against this, lies a mountain on the other side Jordan, beginning from Julias on the north, and stretched southward as far as Somorrha, which bounds the rock of Arabia. In this is a mountain, which is called the Iron mountain, reaching out as far as the land of Moab. But the country which lies between these two mountainous places, is called the Great Plain, extended from the village Ginnaber to the lake Asphaltites, in length a thousand two hundred furlongs" (a hundred and fifty miles), "in breadth, a hundred and twenty furlongs" (fifteen miles); "and Jordan cuts it in the middle."
Hence you may understand more plainly those things that are related of "the plains of Jericho," 2 Kings 25:5; and what "the region about Jordan," means, Matthew 3:5.
"Jericho is distant from Jerusalem a hundred and fifty furlongs" (eighteen miles and three quarters), "and from Jordan sixty furlongs" (seven miles and a half). "The space from thence to Jerusalem is desert and rocky; but to Jordan and the Asphaltites, more plain, indeed, but alike desert, and barren."
This our author asserts the same distance between Jericho and Jordan elsewhere, in these words: "But(19) 19. Antiq. lib. 5.1.4. the Israelites, travelling forward fifty furlongs from Jordan, encamped the distance of ten furlongs from Jericho": that is, in Gilgal, in the east coast of Jericho, Joshua 4:19.
But concerning the distance between Jericho and Jerusalem, he does not seem to agree with his countrymen. For, however they, according to their hyperbolical style, feign very many things to be heard from Jerusalem as far as Jericho,to wit,(20) 20. Tamid, cap. 3. hal. 8. the sound of the gate of the Temple, when it was opened,the sound of Migrephah, or the little bell, &c. yet there are some of them, who make it to be the distance of 'ten parsae.' "Rabbath(21) 21. Bab. Yoma, fol. 20b et 39b. Bar Bar Channah saith, Rabbi Jochanan saith, from Jerusalem to Jericho were ten parsae: and yet, from thence thither the voice of the high priest, in the day of expiation, pronouncing the name Jehovah, was heard, &c. The hinges of the gates of the Temple are heard as far as the eighth bound of the sabbath"; that is, as far as a sabbath-day's journey eight times numbered. The Gloss hath these words; "The hinges, indeed, not farther, but the gates themselves are heard to Jericho." There is an hyperbole in their measuring of the space, as well as in the rest.
"And that plain burns in the summer, and, by too much heat, renders the air unhealthful: for it is all without water, except Jordan; the palms that grow in whose banks are more flourishing and more fruitful than those that grow more remote."
"Near Jericho is a very plentiful spring, and very rich for watering and moistening the ground; it riseth near the old city, and Jesus the son of Nave took it. Of which spring there is a report, that, in former times, it did not only make the fruits of the earth and of the trees to decay, but also the offspring of women; and was universally unwholesome and harmful to all: but it was changed into a better condition by Elizeus, &c. (see 2 Kings 2:21). So that those waters, which before were the cause of barrenness and famine, did thenceforth produce fruitfulness and abundance: and they have so great a virtue in their watering, that whatsoever place they touch, they bring on to a very speedy ripeness."
"And they overflow the plain seventy furlongs in length, and twenty in breadth: and there they nourish very fair and thick gardens of palm-trees of divers kinds, &c. That place also feeds bees, and produceth opobalsamum, and cyprinum, and myrobalanum: so that one might not call it amiss, 'a divine country,'" &c.
Strabo(22) 22. Starbo, Geogr. lib. 100.2. speaks like things, "Jericho is a plain surrounded with mountains, which in some places bend to it after the manner of a theatre. A grove of palm-trees is there, with which are mixed also other garden plants, a fruitful place, abounding with palm-trees for the space of a hundred furlongs, all well watered, and full of habitations. The royal court and paradise of balsam is there," &c.
And Pliny;(23) 23. Pliny, lib. 5. cap. 14. "Jericho, planted with groves of palms, and well watered with springs," &c.
Hence the city is called, the "city of palm-trees," Deuteronomy 34:3, and Judges 1:16: where for that, which, in the Hebrew, is From the city of palm-trees, the Targum hath From the city Jericho: which nevertheless Kimchi approves not of, reckoning the city of palm-trees to be near Hebron: whom see. See also the Targum upon Judges 3:13, and Kimchi there; and the Targum upon Judges 4:5.
When you take a view of that famous fountain, as it is described by Josephus, thence you understand what waters of Jericho the Holy Ghost points out in Joshua 16:1.And when you think of that most pleasant country watered from thence, let that Rabbinical story come into your mind, of The gift of Jericho, of five hundred cubits square, granted to the sons of Hobab, Moses' father-in-law: of which see Baal Turim, upon Numbers 10:29, and the Rabbins upon Judges 1.
We read, that this city was not only wasted by Joshua with fire and sword, but cursed also. "Cursed be he before the Lord, who shall rise up and build that city Jericho," Joshua 6:26. "Nor was another city to be built (says the Talmudists)(24) 24. Jer. Sanhedr. fol. 29. 4., which was to be called by the name of Jericho: nor was Jericho itself to be built, although to be called by another name." And yet I know not by what chance this city crept out of dust and rubbish, lived again, and flourished, and became the second city to Jerusalem. The same persons which were just now cited, suppose that the restorer of it was Hiel, the son of Jehoshaphat, to wit, the same with Jechiel, 2 Chronicles 21:2; "Hiel (say they)(25) 25. Id. ibidem. was of Jehoshaphat, and Jericho of Benjamin." And that is a just scruple, which R. David(26) 26. Kimchi upon 1 Kings 16. objects,how it came about, that the pious king Jehoshaphat should suffer such a horrid thing to be done within his kingdom? Much more, how this should have been done by his son? Let them dispute the business; we hasten somewhere else.
That, which ought not to be done,being once done, stands good. Hiel did a cursed thing in building Jericho: yet Jericho was not to be cursed, being now built. A little after its restoration, it was made noble by the schools of the prophets, 2 Kings 2:5; and it flourished with the rest of the cities of Judea unto the destruction of the nation by the Babylonians.
It flourished more under the second Temple, so that it gave place to no city in Judea; yea, all gave place to it, besides Jerusalem. A royal palace(27) 27. Strabo, lib. 100.2. was in it, where Herod(28) 28. Joseph. Antiq. lib. 17.8. ended his days: a Hippodromus,(29) 29. Joseph. Antiq. lib. 17.6.5. where the Jewish nobility, being imprisoned by him, were to be slain, when he expired: an amphitheatre,(30) 30. Joseph. de Bello, lib. 1.33.8. where his will was publicly opened, and read over; and sometime a sessions of the Sanhedrim, and "a noble troop of those, that waited in their courses at the Temple."
"The(31) 31. Jer. Abod. Zarah, fol. 42. 3. elders sometime assembled together in the chamber Beth-gadia in Jericho: the Bath Kol went forth, and said to them, There are two among you, who are fit to receive the Holy Ghost, and Hillel is one of them: they cast their eyes upon Samuel the Little, as the second. Another time the elders assembled together in a chamber in Jafne; the Bath Kol went forth, and said, There are two among you, who are fit to receive the Holy Ghost, and Samuel the Little is one of them: they cast their eyes upon R. Lazar. And they rejoiced, that their judgment agreed with the sentence of the Holy Ghost."
"There is a tradition,(32) 32. Jer. Taanith, fol. 67.4. that there were, at Jerusalem, twenty-four thousand men of the station; and half a station" (that is, twelve thousand men) "at Jericho. Jericho also could have produced a whole station; but because she would give place to Jerusalem, she produced only the half of a station."
Behold! five hundred men of every course residing at Jericho! But what were they? They were ready at hand to supply any courses that wanted, if there were any such at Jerusalem; and they took care of supplying them with necessaries, who officiated at Jerusalem. Hence it is the less to be wondered at, if you hear of a priest and a Levite passing along in the parable of him, that travelled between Jerusalem and Jericho, Luke 10:31, 32.
In so famous and populous a town, there could not but be some council of three-and-twenty, one, at least, of more remark, if not more,when so many of the stations dwelling there were at hand, who were fit to be employed in government; and so many to be governed.
"The men of Jericho(33) 33. Pesach. cap. 4. hal. 8. are famed for six things done by them: in three of which the chief council consented to them, but in the other three they consented not." Those things, concerning which they opposed them not, were these:
I. "They ingrafted, or folded, together, palm-trees every day." Here is need of a long commentary, and they produce one, but very obscure. The business of the men of Jericho was about palm-trees; which they either joined together, and mingled males with females, or they ingrafted, or (as they commonly say) inoculated the more tender sprouts of the branches into those, that were older. So much indulgence was granted them by the wise men concerning the time, wherein these things are done, which elsewhere, would scarcely have been suffered; unless, as it seems, the nature of the place, and of the groves of palms, required it.
II. "They folded up the recitations of their phylacteries": that is, either not speaking them out distinctly; or omitting some doxologies or prayers; or pronouncing them with too shrill a voice. See the Gemara and the Gloss.
III. "They reaped, and gathered-in their sheaves, before the sheaf [of first-fruits] was offered": and this, partly, because of the too early ripeness of their corn in that place; and, partly, because their corn grew in a very low valley, and therefore it was not accounted fit to be offered unto the Mincha, or daily sacrifice. See the Gloss.
The three things, concerning which the wise men consented not to them, were these:
I. Such fruits and branches, also certain fruits of the sycamine-trees, which their fathers had devoted to sacred uses,they alienated into common.
II. "They ate, on the sabbath-day, under the tree, such fruits, as fell from the tree," although they were uncertain whether they had fallen on the sabbath-day or the eve of the sabbath: for such as fell on the sabbath were forbidden.
III. They granted a corner of the garden for herbs, in the same manner as a corner of the field was granted for corn.
Let the description of this city and place be concluded with those words of the Talmud, in the place(34) 34. Bab. Berakoth, fol. 43a. noted in the margin: "Do they use a certain form of prayer upon balsam? Blessed be he, who hath created the ointment of our land." The Gloss is, "The ointment of our land: for it grows at Jericho; and, for its smell, it is called Jericho: and it is that Pannag of which mention is made in the Book of Ezekiel. 'Judah and the land of Israel were thy merchants in wheat of Minnith and Pannag.' This I have seen in the book of Josephus Ben Gorion." Judge, reader.
Some miscellaneous matters belonging to the Country about Jericho.
Let us begin from the last encampings of Israel beyond Jordan.
Numbers 33:49: "They encamped near Jordan from Beth-jeshimoth unto Abel-shittim.""From(35) 35. Jer. Shebiith, fol. 36. 3. & Gittin, fol. 43. 3. Beth-jeshimoth to Abel-shittim were twelve miles." It is a most received opinion among the Jews, that the tents of the Israelites in the wilderness contained a square of twelve miles. So the Targum of Jonathan, upon Number 2:2; "The encamping of Israel was twelve miles in length, and twelve miles in breadth." And the Gemarists(36) 36. Jer. in the place above. say, "It is forbidden a scholar to teach a tradition before his master, yea, not to do it, until he be twelve miles distant from him, according to the space of the encamping of Israel. But whence is that space proved? 'And they encamped near Jordan from Beth-jeshimoth to Abel-shittim.'How far is that? Twelve miles."
They(37) 37. Bab. Sotah, fol. 34a in the Gloss. believe, also, that the bulk of the host took up the same space, while they passed Jordan. Nor is it unfit so to believe: for it, indeed, seems at least to have taken up a very large space in its passage: this especially being observed, that, while the ark stood in the middle of Jordan, none might come within two thousand cubits near it, Joshua 3:4. When, therefore, it is said, "that the people passed over against Jordan," it is to be understood of the middle of the host,or of those that carried the ark, and of those that went next after the ark.
From(38) 38. Jos. Antiq. lib. 5.1.1. Abel to Jordan, were sixty furlongs (seven miles and a half). The breadth of Jordan from bank to bank was but of a moderate space. The Jerusalem Talmudists(39) 39. Baba Kamma, fol. 3. 5. do write thus of it, in some part of it: "A fire sometime passed over Jordan" (that is, a flame kindled on this bank flew over to that). "But how far is the flame carried? R. Eleazar saith, For the most part to sixteen cubits; but when the wind drives it, to thirty.R. Judah saith, To thirty cubits; and, when the wind drives it, to fifty.R. Akibah saith, To fifty cubits; and when the wind blows, to a hundred."
From(40) 40. Jos. Antiq. lib. 5.1.1 Jordan to Gilgal were fifty furlongs (six miles and a quarter). Therefore the whole journey of that day, from Abel to Gilgal, was fourteen miles, or thereabouts. The Talmudists, being deceived by the ambiguity of the word Gilgal, extend it to sixty(41) 41. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 44a. miles, and more: whom see afterward quoted in the eighty-eighth chapter. It is thus said in Midras Tillin, "Saul(42) 42. Midr. Till. fol. 7. 4. went, in one day, threescore miles."
Of the stones, set up by Joshua in Jordan and Gilgal, the Gemarists(43) 43. Bab. Sotah 34a. Tosapht. in Sotah, cap. 8. have these words:"R. Judah saith, Aba Chalaphta, and R. Eleazar Ben Mathia, and Chaninah Ben Chakinai, stood upon those stones, and reckoned them to weigh forty sata each."
From Jericho we proceed to Hebron, far off in situation, but next to it in dignity: yea, there was a time, when it went before Jerusalem itself in name and honour;namely, while the first foundations of the kingdom of David were laid; and, at that time, Jericho was buried in rubbish, and Jerusalem was trampled upon by the profane feet of the Jebusites.
Hebron was placed, as in the mountainous country of Judea, so in a place very rocky, but yet in a very fruitful coast.
"There(44) 44. Bab. Sotah in the place above. is no place, in all the land of Israel, more stony than Hebron: thence, a burying-place of the dead is there." The Gemarists sift what that means: "Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt," Numbers 13:22. And they reduce it to this sense, which you may find cited also in R. Solomon, upon that text of Moses, "There is no land more excellent than Egypt; as it is said, 'As the garden of the Lord, as Egypt': nor is there in Egypt any place more excellent than Zoan; as it is said, 'Her princes were in Zoan'; and yet Hebron was seven times nobler, however it were rocky, than Zoan." For this tradition obtained among them, "Rams from Moab, lambs from Hebron." And to this they apply that of Absalom, "Let me go, I pray, to Hebron, that I may pay my vow.And why to Hebron?R. Bar Bar Chanan saith, He went thither, that thence he might fetch lambs for sacrifice. For the turf was fine, yielding grass acceptable to sheep," &c.
You may observe the situation of Hebron, in respect of Jerusalem, from those things which are related of a daily custom and rite in the Temple. "The(45) 45. Yoma, cap. 3. hal. 2. Tamid, cap. 3. hal. 2. president of the service in the Temple was wont to say every morning, Go, and see whether it be time to kill the sacrifice. If it were time, he, that was sent to see, said, It is light. Mathia Ben Samuel said, The whole face of the east is light unto Hebron: to whom another answers, Well," &c. Upon which words Rambam(46) 46. Rambam in משניות in Yoma. thus; "There was a high place in the Temple, whither he who was sent to see went up; and when he saw the face of the east shining, he said, It is light, &c. And they who were in the court, said, What! As the light is unto Hebron?That is, Is the light come so far, that thine eyes may see Hebron?And he answered, Yes." So also the Gloss upon Tamid; "The morning (saith he, who is on the roof) is seen as far as Hebron; because they could see Hebron thence."
"And(47) 47. Juchasin, fol. 63. 1. therefore they made mention of Hebron, (although the east was on that coast), that the memory of the merit of those, that were buried in Hebron, might occur at the daily sacrifice." They are the words of the author of Juchaisn, out of which those are especially to be marked, "Though the east was on that coast"; or, "Though the east were on that quarter of the heaven." Consider which words, and consult the Gemarists upon the place quoted: for they understand those words,"What! As the light is unto Hebron?"of the light reaching as far as Hebron; just as the Gloss understands them of his eyes reaching thither that went to look. All which things compared, come at last to this,if credit may be given to these authors,that Hebron, however it be placed south of Jerusalem, yet did decline somewhat towards the east, and might be seen from the high towers in the Temple and in Jerusalem. Let the reader judge.
Of Machpelah, the burying-place near Hebron, very many things are said by very many men. The city was called Hebron, that is, a consociation,perhaps, from the pairs there buried, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives.
Not a few believe Adam was buried there in like manner: some, that he was buried once, and buried again. "Adam said, (say they),(48) 48. Juchasin, fol. 5. 1. After my death, they will come perhaps, and, taking my bones, will worship them; but I will hide my coffin very deep in the earth, 'in a cave within a cave.' It is therefore called, the cave Machpelah, or the doubled cave."
Of the cities of Refuge.
Hebron, the most eminent among them, excites us to remember the rest. "The(49) 49. Bab. Makkoth, fol. 9b. Rabbins deliver this; Moses separated three cities of refuge beyond Jordan, [Deut 4:41-43;] and, against them, Joshua separated three cities in the land of Canaan, [Josh 20:7,8]. And these were placed by one another, just as two ranks of vines are in a vineyard: Hebron in Judea against Bezer in the wilderness: Shechem in mount Ephraim against Ramoth in Gilead: Kedesh in mount Napthali against Golan in Basan. And these three were so equally disposed, that there was so much space from the south coast of the land of Israel to Hebron, as there was from Hebron to Shechem; and as much from Hebron to Shechem, as from Shechem to Kedesh; and as much from Shechem to Kedesh, as from Kedesh to the north coast of the land."
It(50) 50. Maimon. in רוצח, cap. 8. was the Sanhedrim's business to make the ways to those cities convenient, by enlarging them, and by removing every stop, against which one might either stumble or dash his foot. No hillock or river was allowed to be in the way, over which there was not a bridge: and the way, leading thither, was, at least, two-and-thirty cubits broad. And in every double way, or in the parting of the ways, was written "Refuge, refuge,"lest he that fled thither might mistake the way.
The(51) 51. Makkoth, fol. 11a. mothers of the high priest used to feed and clothe those, that for murder were shut up in the cities of refuge, that they might not pray for the death of their sons,since the fugitive was to be restored to his country and friends at the death of the high priest: but if he died before in the city of refuge, his bones were to be restored after the death of the high priest.
The Jews dream,(52) 52. Maimon. in the place above. that in the days of the Messias, three other cities are to be added to those six which are mentioned in the Holy Scripture,and they to be among the Kenites, the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites.
"Let(53) 53. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 18b. him that kills the high priest by a sudden chance, fly to a city of refuge; but let him never return thence."
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