contained the tribe of Ephraim, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, which was on this side Jordan, so that it was to the north of Judea, and between the Great Sea, Galilee, and Jordan; and there was therefore no going from Galilee to Jerusalem, without passing through this province.° Sichem, called by the Hebrews Sichar, was its capital, and was situated between the mountains Gerizim and Ebal. The name of Sichar was a term of reproach, which the Jews gave this city in allusion to that passage of Isaiah, Woe to the drunkards of Ephraim:' for the Hebrew word the prophet here makes use of comes from sachar, which signifies to get drunk; and St. John therefore calls this city by the name the Jews used to do. Near it was Jacob's well.

Josephus distinguishes between two Galilees, the Upper and the Lower : they both join to Syria and Phænicia to the west ; Samaria and Scythopolis, as far as Jordan, to the south ; the towns of Hippus and Gadara, and the territory of Gaulonitis, to the east; and Tyre and its territory to the north ; so that Galilee contained the tribes of Issachar, Zabulon, Asher and Naphthali, except Paneadis, which took its name from the city of Paneas, formerly Dan, and since called Cesarea-Philippi, situated at the foot of Mount Libanus ; and all this latter territory is out of Galilee. This province had the happiness to receive the light of the Gospel the first of

any : it then contained a great number of very

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

populous cities. Josephus, from whom we take this account, reckons up to the number of two hundred and four cities, or villages: the least of which had above fifteen thousand inhabitants !

The country that the tribes of Reuben and Gad possessed beyond Jordan was called Perea, which signifies a distant province, because it was beyond Jordan. Its length, according to Josephus, 6 was from the city of Macheron to that of Pella ; and its breadth from Philadelphia, a country of the antient Moabites, to Jordan. Pella was to the north of it; Jordan to the west; the country of the Moabites to the south ; and Arabia to the east. The country which extends towards Libanus northwards, and towards the mountains of Hermon eastwards near Damascus, was the portion of the half-tribe of Manasseh : but afterwards it comprehended Gaulonitis, so called from the city of Gaulon, (which Josephus states to have been two cities, the Upper and the Lower ;') Batanea, which was formerly the kingdom of Bashan ; and Trachonitis, which took its name from the craggy mountains with which it abounded. Strabo says it touched upon Colosyria. To the north lay Auranitis, which took its name from the city of Auran, which was situated between Cesarea and Damascus. And near it was Iturea, which joined to Colosyria, beyond Mount Libanus. Pliny places Iturea in Cælosyria itself; and Adricomius says Iturea begins at Jordan, and extends all along Libanus, as far as

Wars of the Jews, Book iii. c. 3. " Wars of the Jews, Book i. c. 1.

[ocr errors]

to the mountains of Tyre and Sidon towards the west. So that they must be mistaken who place Iturea in Peren. They found their opinion, indeed, upon what the Scripture tells us of the Itureans having assisted the tribes of Reuben and Gad: but it does not follow from thence that Iturea was in the middle of those tribes, or even in their neighbourhood. Perea was subject to Herod the Tetrarch ; and the Gospel tells us that Iturea was a part of Philip's tetrarchy.'

But, besides these, there was yet another canton in Judea, which was called Decapolis, because it contained ten cities, whose inhabitants lived after the Grecian manner, and therefore Josephus calls them Grecian cities. Pliny reckons among the cities of Decapolis,-Damascus, Opoton, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, and Hippus; and Josephus tells us," that Cæsar separated Gaza, Gadara, and Hippus, from the kingdom of Judea, and joined them to Syria. But those geographers who place Capernaum, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Cesarea-Philippi, in Decapolis, are certainly mistaken ; though it be true that some of those ten cities were round about the Sea of Tiberias and Jordan; and that Josephus therefore says, that Galilee was encompassed with strangers. Agreeably to which he says, in another place, that the Gentiles killed a great number of the Jews in the cities of Scythopolis, Gadara, and Hippus ; and it is probably cities of this kind that the Gospel means by the name of Galilee of the Gentiles.

· Luke iji. 1.

* Antiq. Book xvii. c. 11. sect. 4 ; and Wars of the Jews, Book ii. c. 3. sect. 6.

Gadara, the metropolis of Perea, according to Strabo, gave the name of Gadarenes to its territory, in like manner as that of Gergesenes came from the city of Gergesa. These two little countries were in the neighbourhood of each other; and it ought not therefore to be wondered at that, in the relation of the same miracle, St. Mark and St. Luke' should say, that Jesus Christ did it in the country of the Gadarenes, and St. Matthew in that of the Gergesenes ; nor is it any thing more strange that these people should keep swine, since they were Gentiles. And we find them likewise in the same relation of the Evangelists, a proof that Gadara and Gergesa were parts of Decapolis. For St. Mark says," that the demoniac who was delivered from the unclean spirits, which Jesus CHRIST permitted to go into the herd of swine, published the miracles which Jesus Christ had wrought in his favour in Decapolis ; whereas, St. Matthew and St. Lukeo only say, that he published them throughout ihe whole city, that is, either Gadara or Gergesa.

These two cities were in the neighbourhood of a lake which was called Gennesareth, from the city of Chinnereth. This lake the book of Joshua P places in the tribe of Naphthali; and in Numbers 9 it is

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

called the Sea of Chinnereth; for both this passage and that in Joshua are to be understood of this lake. Afterwards the name of Gennesareth was given both to the lake and the country round about it; which, as Josephus testifies,' was watered by a spring called Capernaum; whence without doubt the city so called had its name. The Sea of Gennesareth, as the Hebrews speak, was likewise called the Sea of Tiberias, from the city of that name which stood near it.

Some have thought that the city of Tiberias was the antient Chinnereth ; but this is a a mistake. Josephus expressly says, that Herod built it in a place where there was no city before. “ Herod the Tetrarch," says he, "to testify his gratitude to Tiberius, who honoured him with his friendship, chose out an agreeable place upon the borders of the lake called Gennesareth ; and there he built a city, which he called Tiberias. *

Calosyria is without the borders of Judea, but joins to them. One part of it is called Abilene, from the city Abila, its capital ; which I observe, because this little province was a part of the kingdom of Herod the Great ; and St. Luke, speaking of the princes who governed at the time that St. John began to preach, mentions it. This king, under whom JESUS Christ was born, possessed Idumea, Judea, Samaria, Perea, Galilee, Paneadis, Gaulonites, Batanea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, and Abilene.

Wars of the Jews, Book iii. c. 10. sect, 8.

Antiq. Book xviii. c. 2. sect. 3. i Luke iii. 1.

« VorigeDoorgaan »