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The earliest mention of wages is of a recompense, not in money, but in
kind, to Jacob from Laban. (Genesis 29:15,20; 30:28; 31:7,8,41) In Egypt
money payments by way of wages were in use, but the terms cannot now be
ascertained. (Exodus 2:9) The only mention of the rate of wages in
Scripture is found in the parable of the householder and the vineyard,
(Matthew 20:2) where the laborer's wages was set at one denarius per day,
probably 15 to 17 cents, a sum which may be fairly taken as equivalent to
the denarius, and to the usual pay of a soldier (ten asses per diem) in
the later days of the Roman republic. Tac. Ann. i. 17; Polyb. vi. 39. In
earlier times it is probable that the rate was lower; but it is likely
that laborers, and also soldiers, were supplied with provisions. The law
was very strict in requiring daily payment of wages. (Leviticus 19:13;
24:14,15) The employer who refused to give his-laborers sufficient
victuals is censured (Job 22:11) and the iniquity of withholding wages is
denounced. (Jeremiah 22:13; Malachi 3:5; James 6:4)


The Oriental wagon, or arabah, is a vehicle composed of two or
three planks fixed on two solid circular blocks of wood from two to five
feet in diameter, which serve as wheels. For the conveyance of passengers,
mattresses or clothes are laid in the bottom and the vehicle is drawn by
buffaloes or oxen. [CART and CHARIOT]


Only a few points need be noticed.

  • The practice common in Palestine of carrying foundations down to the
    solid rock, as in the case of the temple, with structures intended to be
    permanent. (Luke 6:48)

  • A feature of some parts of Solomon's buildings, as described by
    Josephus, corresponds remarkably to the method adopted at Nineveh of
    incrusting or veneering a wall of brick or stone with slabs of a more
    costly material, as marble or alabaster.

  • Another use of walls in Palestine is to support mountain roads Or
    terraces formed on the sides of hills for purposes of cultivation.

  • The "path of the vineyards," (Numbers 22:24) is a pathway through
    vineyards, with walls on each side.




The most important topic in connection with war is the formation of the
army which is destined to carry it on. [ARMY] In (1 Kings 9:22) at a
period (Solomon's reign) when the organization of the army was complete,
we have apparently a list of the various gradations of rank in the
service, as follows:

  • "Men of war" = privates ;

  • "servants," the lowest rank of officers -- lieutenants ;

  • "princes" = captains ;

  • "captains," perhaps = staff officers ;

  • "rulers of the chariots and his horsemen" = cavalry officers.
    Formal proclamations of war were not interchanged between the
    belligerents. Before entering the enemy's district spies were seat to
    ascertain the character of the country and the preparations of its
    inhabitants for resistance. (Numbers 13:17; Joshua 2:1; Judges 7:10; 1
    Samuel 26:4) The combat assumed the form of a number of hand-to-hand
    contests; hence the high value attached to fleetness of foot and strength
    of arm. (2 Samuel 1:23; 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8) At the same time various
    strategic devices were practiced, such as the ambuscade, (Joshua 8:2,12;
    Judges 20:36) surprise, (Judges 7:16) or circumvention. (2 Samuel 5:23)
    Another mode of settling the dispute was by the selection of champions, (1
    Samuel 17; 2 Samuel 2:14) who were spurred on to exertion by the offer of
    high reward. (1 Samuel 17:25; 18:25; 2 Samuel 18:11; 1 Chronicles 11:6)
    The contest having been decided, the conquerors were recalled from the
    pursuit by the sound of a trumpet. (2 Samuel 2:28; 18:16; 20:22) The siege
    of a town or fortress was conducted in the following manner: A line of
    circumvallation was drawn round the place, (Ezekiel 4:2; Micah 5:1)
    constructed out of the trees found in the neighborhood, (20:20) together
    with earth and any other materials at hand. This line not only cut off the
    besieged from the surrounding country, but also served as a base of
    operations for the besiegers. The next step was to throw out from this
    line one or more mounds or "banks" in the direction of the city, (2 Samuel
    20:15; 2 Kings 19:32; Isaiah 37:33) which were gradually increased in
    height until they were about half as high as the city wall. On this mound
    or bank towers were erected, (2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 52:4; Ezekiel 4:2;
    17:17; 21:22; 26:8) whence the slingers and archers might attack with
    effect. Catapults were prepared for hurling large darts and stones;
    and the crow, a long spar, with iron claws at one end and ropes at
    the other, to pull down stones or men from the top of the wall.
    Battering-rams, (Ezekiel 4:2; 21:22) were brought up to the walls
    by means of the bank, and scaling-ladders might also be placed on it. The
    treatment of the conquered was extremely severe in ancient times. The
    bodies of the soldiers killed in action were plundered, (1 Samuel 31:8) 2
    Macc 8:27; the survivors were either killed in some savage manner, (Judges
    9:45; 2 Samuel 12:31; 2 Chronicles 25:12) mutilated, (Judges 9:45; 2
    Samuel 12:31; 2 Chronicles 25:12) mutilated, (Judges 1:6; 1 Samuel 11:2)
    or carried into captivity. (Numbers 31:26)


As knives and forks were not used in the East, in Scripture times, in
eating, it was necessary that the hand, which was thrust into the common
dish, should be scrupulously clean; and again, as sandals were ineffectual
against the dust and heat of the climate, washing the feet on entering a
house was an act both of respect to the company and of refreshment to the
traveller. The former of these usages was transformed by the Pharisees of
the New Testament age into a matter of ritual observance, (Mark 7:3) and
special rules were laid down as to the time and manner of its performance.
Washing the feet did not rise to the dignity of a ritual observance except
in connection with the services of the sanctuary. (Exodus 30:19,21) It
held a high place, however, among the rites of hospitality. Immediately
that a guest presented himself at the tent door it was usual to offer the
necessary materials for washing the feet. (Genesis 18:4; 19:2; 24:32;
43:24; Judges 19:21) It was a yet more complimentary act, betokening
equally humility and affection, if the host himself performed the office
for his guest. (1 Samuel 25:41; Luke 7:38,44; John 13:5-14; 1 Timothy
5:10) Such a token of hospitality is still occasionally exhibited in the


The Jews, like the Greeks and Romans, divided the night into military
watches instead of hours, each watch representing the period for which
sentinels or pickets remained on duty. The proper Jewish reckoning
recognized only three such watches, entitled the first or "beginning of
the watches," (Lamentations 2:19) the middle watch, (Judges 7:19) and the
morning watch. (Exodus 14:24; 1 Samuel 11:11) These would last
respectively from sunset to 10 P.M.; from 10 P.M. to 2 A.M.; and from 2
A.M. to sunrise. After the establishment of the Roman supremacy, the
number of watches was increased to four, which were described either
according to their numerical order, as in the case of the "fourth watch,"
(Matthew 14:25) or by the terms "even," "midnight," "cock-crowing" and
"morning." (Mark 13:35) These terminated respectively at 9 P.M., midnight,
3 A.M. and 6 A.M.


(Numbers 5:11-31) The ritual prescribed consisted in the husband's
bringing before the priest the woman suspected of infidelity, and the
essential part of it is unquestionably the oath to which the "water" was
subsidiary, symbolical and ministerial. With her he was to bring an
offering of barley meal. As she stood holding the offering, so the priest
stood holding till earthen vessel of holy water mixed with the dust from
the floor of the sanctuary, and, declaring her free from all evil
consequences if innocent, solemnly devoted her in the name of Jehovah to
be "a curse and an oath among her people" if guilty. He then "wrote these
curses in a book and blotted them out with the bitter water." and having
thrown the handful of meal on the altar, "caused the woman to drink" the
potion thus drugged, she moreover answering to the words of his
imprecation, "Amen, amen." Josephus adds, if the suspicion was unfounded,
she obtained conception; if true, she died infamously, (This was entirely
different from most trials of this kind, for the bitter water the woman
must drink was harmless in itself, and only by a direct act of God could
it injure her it guilty while in most heathen trials the suspected party
must take poison, or suffer that which only a miracle would save them from
if they were innocent. -- ED.)




This rite, together with that of "heaving" or "raising" the offering was
an inseparable accompaniment of peace offerings. In such the right
shoulder, considered the choicest part of the victim, was to be ("heaved,"
and viewed as holy to the Lord, only eaten therefore by the priest: the
breast was to be "waved," and eaten by the worshipper. The scriptural
notices of these rites are to be found in (Exodus 29:24,28; Leviticus
7:30,34; 8:27; 9:21; 10:14,15; 23:10,15,20; Numbers 6:20; 18:11,18,26-29)
etc. In conjecturing the meaning of this rite, regard must be had that it
was the accompaniment of peace offerings, which were witnesses to a
ratified covenant -- an established communion between God and man.




(choled) occurs only in (Leviticus 11:29) in the list of unclean
animals; but the Hebrew word ought more probably to be translated "mole."
Moles are common in Palestine.


The art of weaving appears to be coeval with the first dawning of
civilization. We find it practiced with great skill by the Egyptians at a
very early period; The vestures of fine linen" such as Joseph wore,
(Genesis 41:42) were the product of Egyptian looms. The Israelites were
probably acquainted with the process before their sojourn in Egypt; but it
was undoubtedly there that they attained the proficiency which enabled
them to execute the hangings of the tabernacle, (Exodus 35:35; 1
Chronicles 4:21) and other artistic textures. The Egyptian loom was
usually upright, and the weaver stood at his work. The cloth was fixed
sometimes at the top, sometimes at the bottom. The modern Arabs use a
procumbent loom, raised above the ground by short legs. The textures
produced by the Jewish weavers were very various. The coarser kinds, such
tent-cloth, sack-cloth and the "hairy garments" of the poor, were made
goat's or camel's hair. (Exodus 26:7; Matthew 3:4) Wool was extensively
used for ordinary clothing, (Leviticus 13:47; Proverbs 27:26; 31:13;
Ezekiel 27:18) while for finer work flax was used, varying in quality, and
producing the different textures described in the Bible as "linen" and
"fine linen." The mixture of wool and flax in cloth intended for a garment
was interdicted. (Leviticus 19:19; 22:11)




There can be no doubt about the great antiquity of measuring time by a
period of seven days. (Genesis 8:10; 29:27) The origin of this division of
time is a matter which has given birth to much speculation. Its antiquity
is so great its observance so widespread, and it occupies so important a
place in sacred things, that it must probably be thrown back as far as the
creation of man. The week and the Sabbath are thus as old as man himself.
A purely theological ground is thus established for the week. They who
embrace this view support it by a reference to the six days’
creation and the divine rest on the seventh. 1st. That the week rests on a
theological ground may be cheerfully acknowledged by both sides; but
nothing is determined by such acknowledgment as to the original cause of
adopting this division of time. Whether the week gave its sacredness to
the number seven, or whether the ascendancy of that number helped to
determine the dimensions of the week, it is impossible to say. 2d. The
weekly division was adopted by all the Shemitic races, and, in the later
period of their history at least, by the Egyptians. On the other hand,
there is no reason for thinking the week known till a late period to
either Greeks or Romans. So far from the week being a division of time
without ground in nature, there was much to recommend its adoption. And
further, the week is a most natural and nearly an exact quadri-partition
of the month, so that the quarters of the moon may easily have suggested
it. It is clear that if not in Paul's time, yet very soon after, the whole
Roman world had adopted the hebdomadal division. Weeks, Feast of.


A. WEIGHTS. -- The general principle of the present inquiry is to give the
evidence of the monuments the preference on all doubtful points. All
ancient Greek systems of weight were derived, either directly or
indirectly, from an eastern source. The older systems of ancient Greece
and Persia were the AEginetan, the Attic, the Babylonian and the Euboic.

  • The AEginetan talent is stated to have contained 60 minae, 6000

  • The Attic talent is the standard weight introduced by Solon.

  • The Babylonian talent may be determined from existing weights found
    by. Mr. Layard at Nineveh. Pollux makes it equal to 7000 Attic

  • The Euboic talent though bearing a Greek name, is rightly held to have
    been originally an eastern system. The proportion of the Euboic talent to
    the Babylonian was probably as 60 to 72, or 5 to

  • Taking the Babylonian maneh at 7992 grs., we obtain 399,600 for the
    Euboic talent. The principal if not the only Persian gold coin is the
    daric, weighing about 129 grs.

  • The Hebrew talent or talents and divisions. A talent of silver is
    mentioned in Exodus, which contained 3000 shekels, distinguished as "the
    holy shekel," or "shekel of the sanctuary." The gold talent contained 100
    manehs, 10,000 shekels. The silver talent contained 3000 shekels, 6000
    bekas, 60,000 gerahs. The significations of the names of the Hebrew
    weights must be here stated. The chief unit was the SHEKEL (i.e.
    weight), called also the holy shekel or shekel of the
    ; subdivided into the beka (i.e. half) or
    half-shekel, and the gerah (i.e. a grain or
    beka). The chief multiple, or higher unit, was the kikkar
    (i.e. circle or globe, probably for an aggregate
    ), translated in our version, after the LXX., TALENT; (i.e.
    part, portion or number), a word used in Babylonian and in
    the Greek hena or mina. (1) The relations of these weights,
    as usually: employed for the standard of weighing silver, and
    their absolute values, determined from the extant silver coins, and
    confirmed from other sources, were as follows, in grains exactly and in
    avoirdupois weight approximately: (2) For gold a different shekel was
    used, probably of foreign introduction. Its value has been calculated at
    from 129 to 132 grains. The former value assimilates it to the Persian
    daric of the Babylonian standard. The talent of this system was
    just double that of the silver standard; if was divided into 100
    manehs, and each maneh into 100 shekels, as follows: (3)
    There appears to have been a third standard for copper, namely, a shekel
    four times as heavy as the gold shekel (or 528 grains), 1500 of which made
    up the copper talent of 792,000 grains. It seems to have been subdivided,
    in the coinage, into halves (of 264 grains), quarters (of 132 grains) and
    sixths (of 88 grains). B. MEASURES. -- I. MEASURES OF LENGTH. -- In
    the Hebrew, as in every other system, these measures are of two classes:
    length, in the ordinary sense, for objects whose size we wish to
    determine, and distance, or itinerary measures, and the two are connected
    by some definite relation, more or less simple, between their units. The
    measures of the former class have been universally derived, in the first
    instance, from the parts of the human body; but it is remarkable that, in
    the Hebrew system, the only part used for this purpose is the hand and
    fore-arm, to the exclusion of the foot, which was the chief unit of the
    western nations. Hence arises the difficulty of determining the ratio of
    the foot to the CUBIT, (The Hebrew word for the cubit (ammah)
    appears to have been of Egyptian origin, as some of the measures of
    capacity (the hin and ephah) certainly were.) which appears
    as the chief Oriental unit from the very building of Noah's ark. (Genesis
    6:15,16; 7:20) The Hebrew lesser measures were the finger's breadth
    , (Jeremiah 52:21) only; the palm or handbreadth, (Exodus 25:25; 1 Kings
    7:26; 2 Chronicles 4:5) used metaphorically in (Psalms 39:5) the
    span, i.e. the full stretch between the tips of the thumb and the
    little finger. (Exodus 28:16; 1 Samuel 17:4; Ezekiel 43:13) and
    figuratively (Isaiah 40:12) The data for determining the actual length of
    the Mosaic cubit involve peculiar difficulties, and absolute certainty
    seems unattainable. The following, however, seem the most probable
    conclusions: First, that three cubits were used in the times of the Hebrew
    monarchy, namely : (1) The cubit of a man, (3:11) or the common cubit of
    Canaan (in contradistinction to the Mosaic cubit) of the Chaldean
    standard; (2) The old Mosaic or legal cubit, a handbreadth
    larger than the first, and agreeing with the smaller Egyptian cubit; (3)
    The new cubit, which was still larger, and agreed with the larger
    Egyptian cubit, of about 20.8 inches, used in the Nilometer. Second, that
    the ordinary cubit of the Bible did not come up to the full length of the
    cubit of other countries. The reed (kaneh), for measuring
    buildings (like the Roman decempeda), was to 6 cubits. It occurs
    only in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40:5-8; 41:8; 42:16-29) The values given In the
    following table are to be accepted with reservation, for want of greater

  • Of measures of distance the smallest is the pace, and
    the largest the day's journey. (a) The pace, (2 Samuel
    6:13) whether it be a single, like our pace, or double,
    like the Latin passus, is defined by nature within certain limits,
    its usual length being about 30 inches for the former and 5 feet for the
    latter. There is some reason to suppose that even before the Roman
    measurement of the roads of Palestine, the Jews had a mile of 1000 paces,
    alluded to in (Matthew 5:41) It is said to have been single or double,
    according to the length of the pace; and hence the peculiar force of our
    Lord's saying: "Whosoever shall compel thee [as a courier] to go a mile,
    go with him twain" -- put the most liberal construction on the demand. (b)
    The day's journey was the most usual method of calculating distances in
    travelling, (Genesis 30:36; 31:23; Exodus 3:18; 5:3; Numbers 10:33; 11:31;
    33:8; 1:2; 1 Kings 19:4; 2 Kings 3:9; Jonah 3:3) 1 Macc. 5:24; 7:45; Tobit
    6:1, though but one instance of it occurs in the New Testament (Luke 2:44)
    The ordinary day's journey among the Jews was 30 miles; but when they
    travelled in companies, only ten miles. Neapolis formed the first stage
    out of Jerusalem according to the former and Beeroth according to the
    latter computation, (a) The Sabbath day's journey of 2000 cubits, (Acts
    1:12) is peculiar to the New Testament, and arose from a rabbinical
    restriction. It was founded on a universal, application of the prohibition
    given by Moses for a special occasion: "Let no man go out of his place on
    the seventh day." (Exodus 16:29) An exception was allowed for the purpose
    of worshipping at the tabernacle; and, as 2000 cubits was the prescribed
    space to be kept between the ark and the people as well as the extent of
    the suburbs of the Levitical cities on every side, (Numbers 35:5) this was
    taken for the length of a Sabbath-day's journey measured front the wall
    of the city
    in which the traveller lived. Computed from the value
    given above for the cubit, the Sabbath-day's journey would be just six
    tenths of a mile
    . (d) After the captivity the relations of the Jews
    to the Persians, Greeks and Romans caused the use, probably, of the
    parasang, and certainly of the stadium and the mile
    . Though the first is not mentioned in the Bible, if is well to exhibit
    the ratios of the three. The universal Greek standard, the stadium of 600
    Greek feet, which was the length of the race-course at Olympia, occurs
    first in the Maccabees, and is common in the New Testament. Our version
    renders it furlong ; it being, in fact, the eighth part of the
    Roman mile, as the furlong is of ours. 2 Macc. 11:5; 12:9,17,29;
    (Luke 24:13; John 6:19; 11:18; Revelation 14:20; 21:18) One measure
    remains to be mentioned. The fathom, used in sounding by the
    Alexandrian mariners in a voyage, is the Greek orguia, i.e. the
    full stretch of the two arms from tip to tip of the middle finger, which
    is about equal to the height, and in a man of full stature is six feet.
    For estimating area, and especially land there is no evidence that the
    Jews used any special system of square measures but they were content to
    express by the cubit the length and breadth of the surface to be
    measured (Numbers 35:4,5; Ezekiel 40:27) or by the reed. (Ezekiel 41:8;
    42:16-19; Revelation 21:16) II. MEASURES OF CAPACITY. --

  • The measures of capacity for liquids were: (a) The log,
    (Leviticus 14:10) etc. The name originally signifying basin. (b)
    The hin, a name of Egyptian origin, frequently noticed in the
    Bible. (Exodus 29:40; 30:24; Numbers 15:4,7,8; Ezekiel 4:11) etc. (c) The
    bath, the name meaning "measured," the largest of the liquid
    measures. (1 Kings 7:26,38; 2 Chronicles 2:10; Ezra 7:22; Isaiah

  • The dry measure contained the following denominations: (a) The
    cab, mentioned only in (2 Kings 6:25) the name meaning literally
    hollow or concave. (b) The omer, mentioned only in
    (Exodus 16:16-36) The word implies a heap, and secondarily a sheaf. (c)
    The seah, or "measure," this being the etymological meaning of the
    term and appropriately applied to it, inasmuch as it was the ordinary
    measure for household purposes. (Genesis 18:6; 1 Samuel 25:18; 2 Kings
    7:1,16) The Greek equivalent occurs in (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:21) (d) The
    ephah, a word of Egyptian origin and frequent recurrence in the
    Bible. (Exodus 16:36; Leviticus 5:11; 6:20; Numbers 5:15; 28:5; Judges
    6:19; Ruth 2:17; 1 Samuel 1:24; 17:17; Ezekiel 45:11,13; 46:5,7,11,14) (e)
    The lethec, or "half homer" literally meaning what is poured out;
    it occurs only in (Hosea 3:2) (f) The homer, meaning heap.
    (Leviticus 27:16; Numbers 11:32; Isaiah 5:10; Ezekiel 45:13) It is
    elsewhere termed cor, from the circular vessel in which it was
    measured. (1 Kings 4:22; 5:11; 2 Chronicles 2:10; 27:5; Ezra 7:22; Ezekiel
    45:14) The Greek equivalent occurs in (Luke 16:7) The absolute
    of the liquid and the dry measures are stated differently by
    Josephus and the rabbinists, and as we are unable to decide between them,
    we give a double estimate to the various denominations. In the new
    Testament we have notices of the following foreign measures: (a) The
    metretes, (John 2:6) Authorized Version "firkin," for liquids. (b)
    The choenix, (Revelation 6:6) Authorized Version "measure," for
    dry goods. (c) The xestec, applied, however, not to the peculiar
    measure so named by the Greeks, but to any small vessel, such as a cup.
    (Mark 7:4,8) Authorized Version "pot." (d) The modius, similarly
    applied to describe any vessel of moderate dimensions, (Matthew 5:15; Mark
    4:21; Luke 11:33) Authorized Version "bushel," though properly meaning a
    Roman measure, amounting to about a peck. The value of the Attic
    metretes was 8.6696 gallons, and consequently the amount of liquid
    in six stone jars, containing on the average 2 1/2 metretae each,
    would exceed 110 gallons. (John 2:6) Very possibly, however, the Greek
    term represents the Hebrew bath ; and if the bath be taken at the
    lowest estimate assigned to it, the amount would be reduced to about 60
    gallons. The choenix was 1-48th of an Attic medimnus, and
    contained nearly a quart. It represented the amount of corn for a day's
    food; and hence a choenix for a penny (or denarius), which
    usually purchased a bushel (Cic. Verr. iii 81), indicated a great
    scarcity. (Revelation 6:6)


Wells in Palestine are usually excavated from the solid limestone rock,
sometimes with steps to descend into them. (Genesis 24:16) The brims are
furnished with a curb or low wall of stone, bearing marks of high
antiquity in the furrows worn by the ropes used in drawing water. It was
on a curb of this sort that our Lord sat when he conversed with the woman
of Samaria, (John 4:6) and it was this, the usual stone cover, which the
woman placed on the mouth of the well at Bahurim, (2 Samuel 17:19) where
the Authorized Version weakens the sense by omitting the article. The
usual methods for raising water are the following:

  • The rope and bucket, or waterskin. (Genesis 24:14-20; John 4:11)

  • The sakiyeh, or Persian wheel. This consists of a vertical
    wheel furnished with a set of buckets or earthen jars attached to a cord
    passing over the wheel. which descend empty and return full as the wheel

  • A modification of the last method, by which a man, sitting opposite to
    a wheel furnished with buckets, turns it by drawing with his hands one set
    of spokes prolonged beyond its circumference, and pushing another set from
    him with his feet.

  • A method very common in both ancient and modern Egypt is the
    shadoof, a simple contrivance consisting of a lever moving on a
    pivot, which is loaded at one end with a lump of clay or some other
    weight, and has at the other a bowl or bucket. Wells are usually furnished
    with troughs of wood or stone into which the water is emptied for the use
    of persons or animals coming to the wells. Unless machinery is used, which
    is commonly worked by men, women are usually the water-carriers.


As to the signification of the Hebrew terms tan and tannin,
variously rendered in the Authorized Version by "dragon," "whale,"
"serpent," "sea-monster" see DRAGON. It remains for us in this article to
consider the transaction recorded in the book of Jonah, of that prophet
having been swallowed up by some great fish" which in (Matthew 12:40) is
called cetos (ketos), rendered in our version by "whale." In
the first glace, it is necessary to observe that the Greek word
cetos, used by St. Matthew is not restricted in its meaning to "a
whale," or any Cetacean ; like the Latin cete or
cetus, it may denote any sea-monster, either "a whale," Or "a
shark," or "a seal," or "a tunny of enormous size." Although two or three
species of whale are found in the Mediterranean Sea, yet the "great fish"
that swallowed the prophet cannot properly be identified with any
Cetacean, for, although the sperm whale has a gullet sufficiently
large to admit the body of a man, yet, it can hardly be the fish intended,
as the natural food of Cetaceans consists of small animals,such as medusae
and crustacea. The only fish, then, capable of swallowing a man would be a
large specimen of the white shark (Carcharias vulgaris), that
dreaded enemy of sailors, and the most voracious of the family of
Squalidae. This shark, which sometimes attains the length of
thirty feet, is quite able to swallow a man whole. The whole body of a man
in armor has been found in the stomach of a white shark: and Captain King,
in his survey of Australia, says he had caught one which could have
swallowed a man with the greatest ease. Blumenbach mentions that a whole
horse has’ been found in a shark, and Captain Basil Hall reports the
taking of one in which, besides other things, he found the whole skin of a
buffalo which a short time before had been thrown overboard from his ship
(p. 27). The white shark is not uncommon in the Mediterranean.


the well-known valuable cereal, cultivated from the earliest times, is
first mentioned in ((Genesis 30:14) in the account of Jacob's sojourn with
Laban in Mesopotamia. Egypt in ancient times was celebrated for the growth
of its wheat; the best quality was all bearded; and the same varieties
existed in ancient as in modern times, among which may be mentioned the
seven-eared quality described in Pharaoh's dream. (Genesis 41:22)
Babylonia was also noted for the excellence of its wheat and other
cereals. Syria and Palestine produced wheat of fine quality and in large
quantities. (Psalms 81:16; 147:14) etc. There appear to be two or three
kinds of wheat at present grown in Palestine, the Triticum vulgare
, the T. spelta, and another variety of bearded wheat which
appears to be the same as the Egyptian kind, the T. compositum. In
the parable of the sower our Lord alludes to grains of wheat which in good
ground produce a hundred-fold. (Matthew 13:8) The common Triticum
will sometimes produce one hundred grains in the ear. Wheat is
reaped to ward the end of April, in May, and in June, according to the
differences of soil and position; it was sown either broadcast and then
ploughed in or trampled in by cattle, (Isaiah 32:20) or in rows, if we
rightly understand (Isaiah 28:25) which seems to imply that the seeds were
planted apart in order to insure larger and fuller ears. The wheat was put
into the ground in the winter, and some time after the barley; in the
Egyptian plague of hail, consequently, the barley suffered, but the wheat
had not appeared, and so escaped injury.


Under the Mosaic dispensation no legal provision was made for the
maintenance of widows. They were left dependent partly on the affection of
relations, more especially of the eldest son, whose birthright, or extra
share of the property, imposed such a duty upon him, and partly on the
privileges accorded to other distressed classes, such as a participation
in the triennial third tithe, (14:29; 26:12) in leasing, (24:19-21) and in
religious feasts. (16:11,14) With regard to the remarriage of widows, the
only restriction imposed by the Mosaic law had reference to the
contingency of one being left childless in which case the brother of the
deceased husband had a right to marry the widow. (25:5,6; Matthew
22:23-30) In the apostolic Church the widows were sustained at the public
expense, the relief being daily administered in kind, under the
superintendence of officers appointed for this special purpose, (Acts
6:1-6) Particular directions are given by St.Paul as to the class of
persons entitled to such public maintenance. (1 Timothy 5:3-16) Out of the
body of such widows a certain number were to be enrolled, the
qualifications for such enrollment being that they were not under sixty
years of age; that they had been "the wife of one man," probably meaning
but once married ; and that they had led useful and charitable
lives. vs. (1 Timothy 5:9,10) We are not disposed to identify the widows
of the Bible either with the deaconesses or with the presbutides Of
the early Church. The order of widows existed as a separate institution,
contemporaneously with these offices, apparently for the same eleemosynary
purpose for which it was originally instituted.




(The region in which the Israelites spent nearly 38 years of their
existence after they had left Egypt, and spent a year before Mount Sinai.
They went as far as Kadesh, on the southernmost border of Palestine, from
which place spies were sent up into the promised land. These returned with
such a report of the inhabitants and their walled cities that the people
were discouraged, and began to murmur and rebel. For their sin they were
compelled to remain 38 years longer in the wilderness, because it showed
that they were not yet prepared and trained to conquer and to hold their
promised possessions. The wilderness of the wandering was the great
central limestone plateau of the sinaitic peninsula. It was bordered on
the east by the valley of the Arabah, which runs from the Dead Sea to the
head of the eastern branch of the Red Sea. On the south and south west
were the granite mountains of Sinai and on the north the Mediterranean Sea
and the mountainous region south of Judea. It is called the Desert of
, and Badiet et-Tih, which means "Desert of the
Wandering." The children of Israel were not probably marching as a nation
from place to place in this wilder new during these 38 years, but they
probably had a kind of headquarters at Kadesh, and were "compelled to
linger on as do the Bedouin Arabs of the present day, in a half-savage,
homeless state, moving about from place to place, and pitching their tents
wherever they could find pasture for their flocks and herds." -- E.H.
Palmer. Toward the close of the forty years from Egypt they again
assembled at Kadesh, and, once more under the leadership of the Shechinah,
they marched down the Arabah on their way to the promised land. --


are mentioned in (Leviticus 23:40; Job 40:22; Psalms 137:2; Isaiah 44:4)
With respect to the tree upon which the captive Israelites hung their
harps, there can be no doubt that the weeping willow Salix
, is intended. This tree grows abundantly on the banks of
the Euphrates, in other parts of Asia as in Palestine. The Hebrew word
translated willows is generic, and includes several species of the large
family of Salices, which is well represented in Palestine and the
Bible lands, such as the Salix alba, S. viminalis (osier), S.


a wady mentioned by Isaiah, (Isaiah 15:7) in his dirge over Moab. It is
situated on the southern boundary of Moab, and is now called Wady


Under a system of close inheritance like that of the Jews, the scope
forbid bequest in respect of land was limited by the right of redemption
and general re-entry in the jubilee year; but the law does not forbid
bequests by will of such limited interest in land as was consistent with
those rights. The case of houses in walled towns was different, and there
can be no doubt that they must, in fact, have frequently been bequeathed
by will, (Leviticus 25:30) Two instances are recorded in the Old Testament
under the law of the testamentary disposition, (1) effected in the case of
Ahithophel, (2 Samuel 17:23) (2) recommended in the case of Hezekiah. (2
Kings 20:1; Isaiah 38:1) [HEIR]


an old English word for hood or veil, used in the Authorized Version of
(Isaiah 3:22) The same Hebrew word is translated "veil" in (Ruth 3:15) but
it signifies rather a kind of shawl of mantle.


The window of an Oriental house consists generally of an aperture closed
in with lattice-work. (Judges 5:28; Proverbs 7:6) Authorized Version
"casement;" (Ecclesiastes 12:3) Authorized Version "window;" (Solomon 2:9;
Hosea 13:3) Authorized Version "chimney." Glass has been introduced into
Egypt in modern times as a protection against the cold of winter, but
lattice-work is still the usual, and with the poor the only, contrivance
for closing the window. The windows generally look into the inner court of
the house, but in every house one or more look into the street. In Egypt
these outer windows generally project over the doorway. [HOUSE]


That the Hebrews recognized the existence of four prevailing winds as
issuing, broadly speaking, from the four cardinal points, north, south,
east and west, may be inferred from their custom of using the expression
"four winds" as equivalent to the "four quarters" of the hemisphere.
(Ezekiel 37:9; Daniel 8:8; Zechariah 2:6; Matthew 24:31) The north wind,
or, as it was usually called "the north," was naturally the coldest of the
four, Ecclus. 43:20 and its presence is hence invoked as favorable to
vegetation in (Solomon 4:16) It is described in (Proverbs 25:23) as
bringing rain; in this case we must understand the northwest wind. The
northwest wind prevails from the autumnal equinox to the beginning of
November, and the north wind from June to the equinox. The east wind
crosses the sandy wastes of Arabia Deserts before reaching Palestine and
was hence termed "the wind of the wilderness." (Job 1:19; Jeremiah 13:14)
It blows with violence, and is hence supposed to be used generally for any
violent wind. (Job 27:21; 38:24; Psalms 48:7; Isaiah 27:8; Ezekiel 27:26)
In Palestine the east wind prevails from February to June. The south wind,
which traverses the Arabian peninsula before reaching Palestine, must
necessarily be extremely hot. (Job 37:17; Luke 12:55) The west and
southwest winds reach Palestine loaded with moisture gathered from the
Mediterranean, and are hence expressly termed by the Arabs "the fathers of
the rain." Westerly winds prevail in Palestine from November to February.
In addition to the four regular winds, we have notice in the Bible of the
local squalls, (Mark 4:37; Luke 8:23) to which the Sea of Gennesareth was
liable. In the narrative of St. Paul's voyage we meet with the Greek term
Lips to describe the southwest wind; the Latin Carus or
Caurus, the northwest wind (Acts 27:12) and Euroclydon, a
wind of a very violent character coming from east-northeast. (Acts


The manufacture of wine is carried back in the Bible to the age of Noah,
(Genesis 9:20,21) to whom the discovery of the process is apparently,
though not explicitly, attributed. The natural history and culture of the
vine are described under a separate head. [VINE] The only other plant
whose fruit is noticed as having been converted into wine was the
pomegranate. (Solomon 8:2) In Palestine the vintage takes place in
September, and is celebrated with great rejoicing. The ripe fruit was
gathered in baskets, (Jeremiah 6:9) as represented in Egyptian paintings,
and was carried to the wine-press. It was then placed in the upper one of
the two vats or receptacles of which the winepress was formed, and was
subjected to the process of "treading," which has prevailed in all ages in
Oriental and south European countries. (Nehemiah 13:15; Job 24:11; Isaiah
18:10; Jeremiah 25:30; 48:33; Amos 9:13; Revelation 19:15) A certain
amount of juice exuded front the ripe fruit from its own pressure before
treading commenced. This appears to have been kept separate from the rest
of the juice, and to have formed the "sweet wine" noticed in (Acts 2:13)
[See below] The "treading" was effected by one or more men, according to
the size of the vat. They encouraged one another by shouts. (Isaiah
16:9,10; Jeremiah 25:30; 48:33) Their legs and garments were dyed red with
the juice. (Genesis 40:11; Isaiah 63:2,3) The expressed juice escaped by
an aperture into the lower vat, or was at once collected in vessels. A
hand-press was occasionally used in Egypt, but we have no notice of such
an instrument in the Bible. As to the subsequent treatment of the wine we
have but little information. Sometimes it was preserved in its unfermented
state and drunk as must, but more generally it was bottled off after
fermentation and if it were designed to be kept for some time a certain
amount of lees was added to give it body. (Isaiah 25:6) The wine
consequently required to be "refined" or strained previous to being
brought to table. (Isaiah 25:6) To wine, is attributed the
"darkly-flashing eye," (Genesis 40:12) Authorized Version "red," the
unbridled tongue, (Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 28:7) the excitement of the
spirit, (Proverbs 31:6; Isaiah 5:11; Zechariah 9:15; 10:7) the enchained
affections of its votaries, (Hosea 4:11) the perverted judgment, (Proverbs
31:5; Isaiah 28:7) the indecent exposure, (Habakkuk 2:15,16) and the
sickness resulting from the heat (chemah, Authorized Version
"bottles") of wine. (Hosea 7:5) The allusions to the effects of
tirosh are confined to a single passage, but this a most decisive
one, viz. (Hosea 4:11) "Whoredom and wine (yayin) and new wine
(tirosh) take away the heart," where tirosh appears as the
climax of engrossing influences, in immediate connection with yayin
. It has been disputed whether the Hebrew wine was fermented; but the
impression produced on the mind by a general review of the above notices
is that the Hebrew words indicating wine refer to fermented, intoxicating
wine. The notices of fermentation are not very decisive. A certain amount
of fermentation is implied in the distension of the leather bottles when
new wine was placed in them, and which was liable to burst old bottles. It
is very likely that new wine was preserved in the state of must by placing
it in jars or bottles and then burying it in the earth. The mingling that
we read of in conjunction with wine may have been designed either to
increase or to diminish the strength of the wine, according as spices or
water formed the ingredient that was added. The notices chiefly favor the
former view; for mingled liquor was prepared for high festivals, (Proverbs
9:2,5) and occasions of excess. (Proverbs 23:30; Isaiah 5:22) At the same
time strength was not the sole object sought; the wine "mingled with
myrrh," given to Jesus, was designed to deaden pain, (Mark 15:23) and the
spiced pomegranate wine prepared by the bride, (Solomon 8:2) may well have
been of a mild character. In the New Testament the character of the "sweet
wine," noticed in (Acts 2:13) calls for some little remark. It could not
be new wine in the proper sense of the term, inasmuch as about eight
months must have elapsed between the vintage and the feast of Pentecost.
The explanations of the ancient lexicographers rather lead us to infer
that its luscious qualities were due, not to its being recently made, but
to its being produced from the very purest juice of the grape. There can
be little doubt that the wines of palestine varied in quality, and were
named after the localities in which they were made. The only wines of
which we have special notice belonged to Syria these were the wine of
Helbon (Ezekiel 27:18) and the wine of Lebanon, famed for its aroma.
(Hosea 14:7) With regard to the uses of wine in private life there is
little to remark. It was produced on occasions of ordinary hospitality,
(Genesis 14:18) and at festivals, such as marriages. (John 2:3) Under the
Mosaic law wine formed the usual drink offering that accompanied the daily
sacrifice, (Exodus 29:40) the presentation of the first-fruits, (Leviticus
23:13) and other offerings. (Numbers 15:5) Tithe was to be paid of wine,
as of other products. The priest was also to receive first-fruits of wine,
as of other articles. (18:4) comp. (Exodus 22:29) The use of wine at the
paschal feast was not enjoined by the law, but had become an established
custom, at all events in the post-Babylonian period. The wine was mixed
with warm water on these occasions. Hence in the early Christian Church it
was usual to mix the sacramental wine with water. (The simple wines of
antiquity were incomparably less deadly than the stupefying and ardent
beverages of our western nations. The wines of antiquity were more like
sirups; many of them were not intoxicant; many more intoxicant in a small
degree; and all of them, as a rule, taken only when largely diluted with
water. They contained, even undiluted, but 4 or 5 percent of alcohol. --
Cannon Farrar.)


From the scanty notices contained in the Bible we gather that, the
wine-presses of the Jews consisted of two receptacles of vats placed at
different elevations, in the upper one of which the grapes were trodden,
while the lower one received the expressed juice. The two vats are
mentioned together only in (Joel 3:13) "The press is full: the fats
overflow" -- the upper vat being full of fruit, the lower one overflowing
with the must. [WINE] The two vats were usually hewn out of the solid
rock. (Isaiah 5:2) margin; (Matthew 21:33) Ancient winepresses, so
constructed, are still to he seen in Palestine.






a, book of the Apocrypha, may be divided into two parts, the first, chs.
1-9, containing the doctrine of wisdom in its moral and intellectual
aspects: the second, the doctrine of wisdom as shown in history. chs.
10-19. The first part contains the praise of wisdom as the source of
immortality, in contrast with the teaching of sensualists; and next the
praise of wisdom as the guide of practical and intellectual life, the stay
of princes, and the interpreter of the universe. The second part, again,
follows the action of wisdom summarily, as preserving God's servants, from
Adam to Moses, and more particularly in the punishment of the Egyptians
and Canaanites. Style and language. -- The literary character of
the book is most remarkable and interesting. In the richness and freedom
of its vocabulary it most closely resembles the Fourth Book of Maccabees,
but it is superior to that fine declamation in both power and variety of
diction. The magnificent description of wisdom ch. 7:22-8:1, must rank
among the noblest passages of human eloquence, and it would be perhaps
impossible to point out any piece of equal length in the remains of
classical antiquity more pregnant with noble thought or more rich in
expressive phraseology. Doctrinal character. -- The theological
teaching of the book offers, in many respects, the nearest approach to the
language and doctrines of Greek philosophy that is found in any Jewish
writing up to the time of Philo. There is much in the views which it gives
of the world of man and of the divine nature which springs rather from the
combination or conflict of Hebrew and Greek thought than from the
independent development of Hebrew thought alone. The conception is
presented of the body as a mere weight and clog to the soul. ch, 9:15;
contrast (2 Corinthians 5:1-4) There is, on the other hand no trace of the
characteristic Christian doctrine of a resurrection of the body. The
identification of the tempter, (Genesis 3:1) ... directly or indirectly
with the devil, as the bringer "of death into the world" ch. 2:23, 24, is
the most remarkable development of biblical doctrine which the book
contains. Generally, too, it may be observed that, as in the cognate
books, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, there are few traces of the recognition
of the sinfulness even of the wise man in his wisdom, which forms in the
Psalms and the prophets, the basis of the Christian doctrine of the
atonement: yet comp. (Genesis 15:2) In connection with the Old Testament
Scriptures, the book, as a whole, may be regarded as carrying on one step
farther the great problem of life contained in Ecclesiastes and Job.
Date. -- From internal evidence it seems most reasonable to believe
that the work was composed in Greek at Alexandria some time before the
time of Philo-about 120-80 B.C. It seems impossible to study this book
dispassionately and not feel that it forms one of the last links in the
chain of providential connection between the Old and New Covenants. It
would not be easy to find elsewhere any pre-Christian view of religion
equally wide, sustained and definite.






Among people with whom writing is not common the evidence of a transaction
is given by some tangible memorial or significant ceremony: Abraham gave
seven ewe-lambs to Abimelech as an evidence of his property in the well of
Beersheba. Jacob raised a heap of stones, "the heap of witness." as a
boundary-mark between himself and Laban. (Genesis 21:30; 31:47,52) The
tribes of Reuben and Gad raised an "altar" as a witness to the covenant
between themselves and the rest of the nation. Joshua set up a stone as an
evidence of the allegiance promised by Israel to God. (Joshua 22:10,26,34;
24:26,27) But written evidence was by no means unknown to the Jews.
Divorce was to be proved by a written document. (24:1,3) In civil
contracts, at least in later times documentary evidence was required and
carefully preserved. (Isaiah 8:16; Jeremiah 32:10-16) On the whole the law
was very careful to provide and enforce evidence for all its infractions
and all transactions bearing on them. Among special provisions with
respect to evidence are the following:

  • Two witnesses at least are required to establish any charge. (Numbers
    35:30; 17:6; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1) comp. 1Tim 5:19

  • In the case of the suspected wife, evidence besides the husband's was
    desired. (Numbers 5:13)

  • The witness who withheld the truth was censured. (Leviticus 5:1)

  • False witness was punished with the penalty due to the offence which
    it sought to establish.

  • Slanderous reports and officious witness are discouraged. (Exodus
    20:16; 23:1; Leviticus 18:16,18) etc.

  • The witnesses were the first executioners. (15:9; 17:7; Acts

  • In case of an animal left in charge and torn by wild beasts, the
    keeper was to bring the carcass in proof of the fact and disproof of his
    own criminality. (Exodus 22:13)

  • According to Josephus, women and slaves were not admitted to bear
    testimony. In the New Testament the original notion of a witness is
    exhibited in the special form of one who attests his belief in the gospel
    by personal suffering. Hence it is that the use of the ecclesiastical term
    ("martyr." the Greek word for "witness," has arisen.




There can be little doubt that the wolf of Palestine is the common
Canis lupus, and that this is the animal so frequently mentioned
in the Bible. (The wolf is a fierce animal of the same species as the dog,
which it resembles. The common color is gray with a tinting of fawn, and
the hair is long and black. The Syrian wolf is of lighter color than the
wolf of Europe it is the dread of the shepherds of Palestine. -- ED.)
Wolves were doubtless far more common in biblical times than they are now,
though they are occasionally seen by modern travellers. The following are
the scriptural allusions to the wolf: Its ferocity is mentioned in
(Genesis 49:27; Ezekiel 22:27); Habb 1:8; Matt 7:15 Its nocturnal habits,
in (Jeremiah 5:6; Zephaniah 3:3); Habb 1:8 Its attacking sheep and lambs,
(Matthew 10:16; Luke 10:3; John 10:12) Isaiah (Isaiah 11:6; 65:25)
foretells the peaceful reign of the Messiah under the metaphor of a wolf
dwelling with a lamb: cruel persecutors are compared with wolves. (Matthew
10:16; Acts 20:29)


The position of women in the Hebrew commonwealth contrasts favorably with
that which in the present day is assigned to them generally in eastern
countries. The most salient point of contrast in the usages of ancient as
compared with modern Oriental society was the large amount of liberty
enjoyed by women. Instead of being immured in a harem, or appearing in
public with the face covered. The wives and maidens of ancient times
mingled freely and openly with the other sex in the duties and amenities
of ordinary life. Rebekah travelled on a camel with her face unveiled
until she came into the presence of her affianced. (Genesis 24:64,65)
Jacob saluted Rachel with a kiss in the presence of the shepherds.
(Genesis 29:11) Women played no inconsiderable part in public celebrations
(Exodus 15:20,21; Judges 11:34) The odes of Deborah, Judg 5, and of
Hannah, (1 Samuel 2:1) etc., exhibit a degree of intellectual cultivation
which is in itself a proof of the position of the sex in that period.
Women also occasionally held public office, particularly that of
prophetess or inspired teacher. (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14;
Nehemiah 6:14; Luke 2:36) The management of household affairs devolved
mainly on the women. The value of a virtuous and active housewife forms a
frequent topic in the book of Proverbs. ch. (Proverbs 11:16; 12:4; 14:1;
31:10) etc. Her influence was of course proportionably great.




was an article of the highest value among the Jews, as the staple material
for the manufacture of clothing. (Leviticus 13:47; 22:11; Job 31:20;
Proverbs 31:13; Ezekiel 34:3; Hosea 2:5) The importance of wool is
incidentally shown by the notice that Mesha's tribute was paid in a
certain number of rams "with the wool." (2 Kings 3:1) The wool of Damascus
was highly prized in the mart of Tyre. (Ezekiel 27:18)


the representative in the Authorized Version of several Hebrew words.
Sas, which occurs in (Isaiah 51:18) probably denotes some
particular species of moth, whose larva is injurious to wool.
Rimmah, (Exodus 16:20) points evidently to various kinds of
maggots and the larvae of insects which feed on putrefying animal matter,
rather than to earthworms. Toleah is applied in (28:39) to some
kinds of larvae destructive to the vines. In (Job 19:26; 21:26; 24:20)
there is an allusion to worms (insect larvae) feeding on the dead bodies
of the buried. There is the same allusion in (Isaiah 66:24) which words
are applied by our Lord, (Mark 9:44,46,48) metaphorically to the torments
of the guilty in the world of departed spirits. The valley of Hinnom near
Jerusalem, where the filth of the city was cast, was alive with worms. The
death of Herod Agrippa I, was caused by worms. (Acts 12:23)


Four kinds of wormwood are found in Palestine -- Artemisia nilotica
, A. Judaica, A. fructicosa and A. cinerea. The
word occurs frequently in the Bible, and generally in a metaphorical
sense. In (Jeremiah 9:15; 23:15; Lamentations 3:15,19) wormwood is
symbolical of bitter calamity and sorrow; unrighteous judges are said to
"turn judgment to wormwood." (Amos 5:7) The Orientals typified sorrows,
cruelties and calamities of any kind by plants of a poisonous or bitter


a translation of the Greek word neocoros, used once only, (Acts
19:35) in the margin, "temple-keeper." The neocoros was originally
an attendant in a temple probably intrusted with its charge. The term
neocoros became thus applied to cities or communities which
undertook the worship of particular emperors even during their lives. The
first occurrence of the term in connection with Ephesus is on coins of the
age of Nero, A.D. 54-68.




There is no account in the Bible of the origin of writing. That the
Egyptians in the time of Joseph were acquainted with writing of a certain
kind there is evidence to prove, but there is nothing to show that up to
this period the knowledge extended to the Hebrew family. At the same time
there is no evidence against it. Writing is first distinctly mentioned in
(Exodus 17:14) and the connection clearly implies that it was not then
employed for the first time but was so familiar as to be used for historic
records. It is not absolutely necessary to infer from this that the art of
writing was an accomplishment possessed by every Hebrew citizen. If we
examine the instances in which writing is mentioned in connection with
individuals, we shall find that in all cases the writers were men of
superior position. In (Isaiah 29:11,12) there is clearly a distinction
drawn between the man who was able to read and the man who was not, and it
seems a natural inference that the accomplishments of reading and writing
were not widely spread among the people, when we find that they are
universally attributed to those of high rank or education-kings, priests,
prophets and professional scribes. In the name Kirjathsepher
(book-town), (Joshua 15:15) there is an indication of a knowledge
of writing among the Phoenicians. The Hebrews, then, a branch of the great
Semitic family, being in possession of the art of writing, according to
their own historical records, at a very early period, the further
questions arise, what character they made use of, and whence they obtained
it. Recent investigations have shown that the square Hebrew character is
of comparatively modern date, and has been formed from a more ancient type
by a gradual process of development. What then was this ancient type? Most
probably the Phoenician. Pliny was of opinion that letters were of
Assyrian origin. Dioderus Siculus (v. 74) says that the Syrians invented
letters, and from them the Phoenicians, having learned them transferred
them to the Greeks. According to Tacitus (Ann. xi. 14,, Egypt was believed
to be the source whence the Phoenicians got their knowledge. Be this as it
may, to the Phoenicians, the daring seamen and adventurous colonizers of
the ancient world the voice of tradition has assigned the honor of the
invention of letters. Whether it came to them from an Aramean or an
Egyptian source can at best he but the subject of conjecture. It may,
however, be reasonably inferred that the ancient Hebrews derived from or
shared with the Phoenicians the knowledge of writing and the use of
letters. The names of the Hebrew letters indicate that they must have been
the invention of a Shemitic people, and that they were moreover a pastoral
people may be inferred from the same evidence. But whether or not the
Phoenicians were the inventors of the Shemitic alphabet, there can be no
doubt of their just claim to being its chief disseminators; and with this
understanding we may accept the genealogy of alphabets as given by
Gesenius, and exhibited in the accompanying table. The old Semitic
alphabets may he divided into two principal classes:

  • The Phoenician as it exists in the inscriptions in Cyprus, Malta,
    Carpentras, and the coins of Phoenicia and her colonies. From it are
    derived the Samaritan and the Greek character.

  • The Hebrew-Chaldee character; to which belong the Hebrew square
    character; the which has some traces of a cursive hand; the Estrangelo, or
    ancient Syriac; and the ancient Arabic or Cufic. It was probably about the
    first or second century after Christ that the square character assumed its
    present form; though in a question involved in so much uncertainty it is
    impossible to pronounce with great positiveness. The alphabet. --
    The oldest evidence on the subject of the Hebrew alphabet is derived from
    the alphabetical psalms and poems: Psal 25,34,37,111,112,119,145;
    (Proverbs 31:10-31; Lamentations 1:1-4) From these we ascertain that the
    number of the letters was twenty-two, as at present. The Arabic alphabet
    originally consisted of the same number. It has been argued by many that
    the alphabet of the Phoenicians at first consisted of only sixteen
    letters. The legend, as told by Pliny (vii. 56), is as follows; Cadmus
    brought with him into Greece sixteen letters; at the time of the Trojan
    war Palamedes added four others, theta, epsilon, phi, chi, and Simonides
    of Melos four more dzeta, eta, psi, omega. Divisions of words. --
    Hebrew was originally written, like most ancient languages, without any
    divisions between the words. The same is the case with the Phoenician
    inscriptions, The various readings in the LXX. show that, at the version
    was made, in the Hebrew MSS. which the translators used the words were
    written in a continuous series. The modern synagogue rolls and the MSS. of
    the Samaritan Pentateuch have no vowel-points, but the words are divided,
    and the Samaritan in this respect differs hut little from the Hebrew.
    Writing materials, etc. -- The oldest documents which contain the
    writing of a Semitic race are probably the bricks of Nineveh and Babylon,
    on which are impressed the cuneiform Syrian inscriptions. There is,
    however, no evidence that they were ever used by the Hebrews. It is highly
    probable that the ancient as well as the most common material which the
    Hebrews used for writing was dressed skin in some form or other. We know
    that the dressing of skins was practiced by the Hebrews, (Exodus 25:5;
    Leviticus 13:48) and they may have acquired the knowledge of the art from
    the Egyptians, among whom if had attained great perfection, the
    leather-cutters constituting one of the principal subdivisions of the
    third caste. Perhaps the Hebrews may have borrowed among their either
    acquirements, the use of papyrus from the Egyptians, but of this we have
    no positive evidence. In the Bible the only allusions to the use of
    papyrus are in (2 John 1:12) where chartes (Authorized Version
    "paper") occurs, which refers especially to papyrus paper, and 3 Macc.
    4:20, where charteria is found in the same sense. Herodotus, after
    telling us that the Ionians learned the art of writing from the
    Phoenicians, adds that they called their books skins, because they made
    use of sheep-skins and goat-skins when short of paper. Parchment was used
    for the MSS. of the Pentateuch in the time of Josephus, and the
    membranae of (2 Timothy 4:13) were skins of parchment. It was one
    of the provisions in the Talmud that the law should be written on the
    skins of clean animals, tame or wild, or even of clean birds. The skins
    when written upon were formed into rolls (megilloth). (Psalms 40:7)
    comp. Isai 34:4; Jere 36:14; Ezek 2:9; Zech 5:1 They were rolled upon one
    or two sticks and fastened with a thread, the ends of which were sealed.
    (Isaiah 29:11; Daniel 12:4; Revelation 5:1) etc. The rolls were generally
    written on one side only, except in (Ezekiel 2:9; Revelation 5:1) They
    were divided into columns (Authorized Version "leaves,") (Jeremiah 36:23)
    the upper margin was to be not less than three fingers broad, the lower
    not less than four; and a space of two fingers breadth was to be left
    between every two columns. But besides skins, which were used for the more
    permanent kinds of writing, tablets of wood covered with wax, (Luke 11:63)
    served for the ordinary purposes of life. Several of these were fastened
    together and formed volumes. They were written upon with a pointed style,
    (Job 19:24) sometimes of iron. (Psalms 45:1; Jeremiah 8:8; 17:1) For
    harder materials a graver, (Exodus 32:4; Isaiah 8:1) was employed. For
    parchment or skins a reed was used. (3 John 1:13) 3 Macc. 5:20. The ink,
    (Jeremiah 36:18) literally "black," like the Greek melan, (2
    Corinthians 3:3; 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:13) was of lampblack dissolved in
    gall-juice. It was carried in an inkstand which was suspended at the
    girdle, (Ezekiel 9:2,3) as is done at the present day in the East. To
    professional scribes there are allusions in (Ezra 7:8; Psalms 45:1) 2
    Esdr. 14:24.

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