When the Assyrians first became acquainted with the West, the Hittites were the ruling people in Syria. As, therefore, the Babylonians had included all the inhabitants of Syria and Palestine, whatever might be their origin, under the general name of Amorites, the Assyrians included them under the name of Hittites. Even the Israelites and Ammonites are called "Hittites" by an Assyrian king. It is possible that traces of this vague and comprehensive use of the name are to be met with in the Old Testament; indeed, it has been suggested that the Hittites, or "sons of Heth," from whom Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah, owed their name to this cause. In the later books of the Hebrew Scriptures the Hittites are described as a northern population, in conformity with the Egyptian and Assyrian accounts.
The Hittites of Hebron, however, may really have been an offshoot of the Hittite nations of the north. The "king of the Hittites" accompanied the northern barbarians when they invaded Egypt in the reign of Ramses III., and Hittite bands may similarly have followed the Hyksos conquerors of Egypt several centuries before. One of these bands may easily have settled on its way at Hebron, which, as we are told, was built seven years before Zoan, the Hyksos capital. At Karnak, moreover, an Egyptian artist has represented the people of Ashkelon with faces of a Hittite type, while Ezekiel bears witness to the presence of a Hittite element in the founders of Jerusalem. But the fact that Thothmes III. in the century before Moses calls the Hittite land of the north "the Greater," is the best proof we can have that there was a Hittite colony elsewhere, which was well known to the Egyptian scribes. The "Greater" implies the Less, and the only Lesser Hittite land with which we are acquainted is that of which the Book of Genesis speaks.
So far as we can judge from the evidence of proper names, the Hittites belonged to a race which was spread from the Halys in Asia Minor to the shores of Lake Urumiyeh. The early inhabitants of Armenia, who have left us inscriptions in the cuneiform character, also belonged to it. So also did the people of Comagene, and it seems probable that the ruling class in northern Mesopotamia did the same. Here there existed a kingdom which at one time exercised a considerable amount of power, and whose princesses were married to the Pharaohs of the Eighteenth dynasty. This was the kingdom of Aram Naharaim, called Naharina in the Egyptian texts, Mitanni by its own inhabitants. The language of Mitanni was of a very peculiar type, as we learn from the tablets of Tel el-Amarna, one or two of which are written in it. Like the Hittites in Syria, the Mitannians appear to have descended from the north upon the cities of the Semites, and to have established themselves in them. Mitanni was at the height of its influence in the sixteenth and fifteenth centuries before our era; its armies made their way even into Canaan, and the Canaanite princes intrigued from time to time against their Egyptian masters, not only with the Babylonians and Hittites, but also with the kings of Mitanni.
Before the time of David the power and almost the name of Mitanni had passed away. The Hittite empire also had been broken up, and henceforth we hear only of "the kings of the Hittites" who ruled over a number of small states. The Semites of Syria had succeeded in rolling back the wave of Hittite conquest, and in absorbing their Hittite conquerors. The capture of Carchemish by Sargon of Assyria in B.C. 717 marks the end of Hittite dominion south of the Taurus.
But the Hittite invasion had produced lasting results. It had severed the Semites of Assyria and Babylonia from those of the West, and planted the barrier of a foreign population on the highroad that ran from Nineveh to the Mediterranean. The tradition of Babylonian culture in western Asia was broken; new influences began to work there, and the cuneiform system of writing to be disused. Room was given for the introduction of a new form of script, and the Phoenician alphabet, in which the books of the Old Testament were written, made its way into Canaan. When Joshua crosses the Jordan there is no longer any trace in Palestine of either Babylonian or Egyptian domination.
Like the Amorites and the Amorite tribe of Jebusites at Jerusalem, the Hittites were mountaineers. The hot river-valleys and the sea-coast were inhabited by Canaanites. Canaan is supposed to mean "the lowlands" of the Mediterranean shore; here the Canaanites had built their cities, and ventured in trading ships on the sea. But they had also settled in the inland plains, and more especially in the valley of the Jordan. The plain of Jezreel formed, as it were, the centre of the Canaanitish kingdoms.
The Canaanites were Semites in speech, if not in blood. The language of Canaan is what we term Hebrew, and must have been adopted either by the Israelites or by the patriarchs their forefathers. Between the dialect of the Phoenician inscriptions and that of the Old Testament the difference is but slight, and the tablets of Tel el-Amarna carry back the record of this Canaanitish speech to the century before the Exodus.
In person, as we learn from the Egyptian monuments, the Canaanites resembled their descendants, the modern inhabitants of Palestine. They belonged to the white race, but had black hair and eyes. They dressed in brilliantly-coloured garments, stained with that purple or scarlet dye in search of which they explored the coasts of the Greek seas, and which was extracted from the shell of the murex. On their feet they wore high-laced sandals; their hair was bound with a fillet. Their skill as sailors was famous throughout the Oriental world; the cities of the Phoenician coast already possessed fleets of ships in the age of the Eighteenth Egyptian dynasty, and their merchants carried on a maritime trade with the islands of the AEgean and the coast of Africa. Before the time of Solomon their vessels had found their way to Tartessus in Spain, perhaps even to Cadiz, and the alliance between Hiram and the Israelitish king enabled the Tyrians to import gold and other precious things from Africa and Arabia through the ports of southern Edom. The Tel el-Amarna letters refer to the riches of Tyre, and excavations on the site of Lachish have brought to light amber beads ef the same age, which indicate intercourse with the Baltic. It is possible that the tin which was needed in such large quantities for the bronze tools and weapons of the ancient East was derived from Cornwall; if so, it would have been brought, like the amber, across Europe along the road which ended at the extremity of the Adriatic Gulf.
The wealth of the Canaanitish merchants was great. The spoils carried away to Egypt by Thothmes III. after his conquest of Palestine are truly astonishing. Beautiful vases of gold and silver, artistically moulded bronzes, furniture carved out of ebony and cedar and inlaid with ivory and precious stones, were among the booty. Iron, which was found in the hills, was freely used, and made into armour, weapons, and chariots. It was "the chariots of iron" which prevented the Israelites from capturing and sacking the cities of the plains. Wealth brought with it a corresponding amount of luxury, which to the simpler Hebrews of the desert seemed extravagant and sinful. It was associated with a licentiousness which Canaanitish religion encouraged rather than repressed.
The religion was a nature-worship. The supreme deity was addressed as Baal or "Lord," and was adored in the form of the Sun. And as the Sun can be baleful as well as beneficent, parching up the soil and blasting the seed as well as warming it into life, so too Baal was regarded sometimes as the friend and helper of man, sometimes as a fierce and vengeful deity who could be appeased only by blood. In times of national or individual distress his worshippers were called upon to sacrifice to him their firstborn; nothing less costly could turn away from them the anger of their god. By the side of Baal was his colourless wife, a mere reflection of the male divinity, standing in the same state of dependence towards him as the woman stood to the man. It was only the unmarried goddess, Asherah as she was called by the Canaanites, who had a personality of her own. And since Asherah came in time to be superseded by Ashtoreth, who was herself of Babylonian origin, it is probable that the idea of separate individuality connected with Asherah. was due to the influence of Babylonian culture. Asherah was the goddess of fertility, and though the fertility of the earth depends upon the Sun, it was easy to conceive of it as an independent principle.
The name Baal was merely a title. It was applied to the supreme deity of each city or tribe, by whatever special name he might otherwise be known. There were as many Baals or Baalim as there were states or cults. Wherever a high-place was erected, a Baal was worshipped. His power did not extend beyond the district in which he was adored and to which he was territorially attached. The Baal of Lebanon was distinct from the Baal of Tyre or Sidon, though in every case the general conception that was formed of him was the same. It was the attributes of particular Baalim which differed; Baal was everywhere the Sun-god, but in one place he showed himself under one shape, in another place under another. The goddesses followed the analogy of the gods. Over against the Baalim or Baals stood the Ashtaroth or Ashtoreths. The Canaanitish goddess manifested herself in a multitude of forms.
As the firstborn was sacrificed to the god, so chastity was sacrificed to the goddess. The temples of Ashtoreth were crowded with religious prostitutes, and the great festivals of Canaan were orgies of licentious sin. It was a combination of nature-worship with the luxury that was born of wealth.
The Canaanites of Phoenicia believed that they had originally migrated from the Persian Gulf. In Canaan, at all events, according to the Book of Genesis, the "Fishers" city of Sidon was the first that was built. But Tyre also, a few miles to the north of it, claimed considerable antiquity. The temple of Melkarth or Melek-Kiryath, "the King of the City," the name under which the Baal of Tyre was worshipped, had been built on the island-rock twenty-three centuries before the time of Herodotus, or B.C. 2700. Gebal or Byblos, still farther to the north, had been renowned for its sanctity from immemorial times. Here stood the sanctuary of Baalith, the "lady" of Gebal, of whom we hear in the tablets of Tel el-Amarna. Still farther north were other cities, of which the most famous was Arvad, with its harbour and fleet. Southward were Dor and Joppa, the modern Jaffa, while inland were Zemar and Arqa, mentioned in the Book of Genesis and the Tel el-Amarna correspondence, but which ceased to be remembered after the age of the Exodus. Before the Israelites entered Canaan they had been captured by the Amorites, and had passed into insignificance.
Between the Canaanites of the coast and the Canaanites of the interior a difference grew up in the course of centuries. This was caused by the sea-trade in which the cities on the coast engaged. The "Phoenicians," as they were termed, on the coast became sailors and merchants, while their brethren farther inland were content to live on the products of agriculture and import from abroad the luxuries they required. While Tyre and Sidon were centres of manufacture and maritime trade, Megiddo and Hazor remained agricultural. After the Hebrew invasion the difference between them became greater: Phoenicia continued independent; the Canaanites of the interior were extirpated by the Israelites or paid tribute to their conquerors. Little by little the latter amalgamated with the conquered race; towns like Shechem contained a mixed population, partly Hebrew and partly native; and the Israelites adopted the manners and religion of the Canaanites, worshipping at the old high-places of the country, and adoring the Baalim and Ashtaroth. The Amorite heads depicted at Karnak above the names of the places captured by Shishak in Judah show how little the population of southern Palestine had changed up to the time of Solomon's death.
Canaan was ruined by its want of union. The Canaanitish cities were perpetually fighting with one another; even the strong hand of the Pharaoh in the days of Egyptian supremacy could not keep them at peace. Now and again, indeed, they united, generally under a foreign leader, but the union was brought about by the pressure of foreign attack, and was never more than temporary. There was no lack of patriotism among them, it is true; but the patriotism was confined to the particular city or state to which those who were inspired by it belonged. The political condition of Canaan resembled its religious condition; as each district had its separate Baal, so too it had its separate political existence. If there were many Baals, there were also many kinglets.
The fourteenth century B.C. was a turning-point in the history of Canaan. It witnessed the fall of the Egyptian supremacy which had succeeded the supremacy of Babylonia; it also witnessed the severance of western Asia from the kingdoms on the Euphrates and Tigris, and the consequent end of the direct influence of Babylonian culture. The Hittites established themselves in Syria "in the land of the Amorites," while at the same time other invaders threatened Canaan itself. The Israelites made their way across the Jordan; the Philistines seized the southern portion of the coast.
The Philistine invasion preceded that of the Israelites by a few years. The Philistines were sea-robbers, probably from the island of Krete. Zephaniah calls them "the nation of the Cherethites" or Kretans, and their features, as represented on the Egyptian monuments, are of a Greek or Aryan type. They have the straight nose, high forehead, and thin lips of the European. On their heads they wear a curious kind of pleated cap, fastened round the chin by a strap. They are clad in a pair of drawers and a cuirass of leather, while their arms consist of a small round shield with two handles, a spear, and a short but broad sword of bronze. Greaves of bronze, like those of the Homeric heroes, protected their legs in battle.
The Philistines formed part of the host which invaded Egypt in the reign of Ramses III. Along with their kinsfolk, the Zakkal, they had already made themselves formidable to the coast of the Delta and of southern Canaan. The sea had long been infested by their ships, bent on plunder and piracy; the Zakkal had attacked Egypt in the time of Meneptah, and the road from Egypt to Asia which skirted the sea had long been known as "the way of the Philistines." When Ramses III. overran southern Canaan, Gaza still belonged to Egypt, as it had done for the three preceding centuries; but it is probable that the Philistines were already settled in its neighbourhood. At all events, it was not long before they made themselves masters of Gaza, and thus closed for Egypt the way to Asia. Henceforward Gaza and its four companion cities became the strongholds of the Philistines (B.C. 1200). The southern coast as far north as Mount Carmel fell into their hands: the Zakkal established themselves at Dor, and the port of Joppa was lost to the Phoenicians.
Hardly were the Israelites planted in the Promised Land before they were confronted by the Philistines. Shamgar, we are told, one of the earliest of the Judges, slew six hundred of them "with an ox-goad." But it was not until the close of the period of the Judges that they became really formidable to Israel. Judah had become a distinct and powerful tribe, formed out of Hebrew, Kenite, and Edomite elements, and its frontier adjoined Philistia. At first there was desultory warfare; the Philistines made raids into Judaean territory, and the Jews retaliated whenever the opportunity occurred. But the Philistines were a nation of warriors, and their forces were recruited from time to time by fresh arrivals from Krete or other parts of the eastern Mediterranean. Year by year, therefore, the Philistine attack became more formidable; the raids of the enemy were no longer confined to Judah, but extended into Benjamin and Mount Ephraim. The Philistines began to dream of conquering the whole of Canaan, which was henceforth to bear the name of Palestine, "the land of the Philistines."
The Israelitish army was shattered in a decisive battle, the ark of the covenant between Israel and its national God was taken by the heathen, and the priests of Shiloh, the central sanctuary, were slain. The victors marched unresisted through the country, burning and spoiling, and securing the passes by means of permanent garrisons. Shiloh and its temple were destroyed, and its priesthood scattered abroad.
The Philistine supremacy lasted for several years. A few outlaws maintained a guerilla warfare in the mountains of Benjamin, and the prophet Samuel, the representative of Shiloh, was allowed to declare the oracles of Yahveh to his countrymen. But the vanquished population was deprived of the means for revolt. The Israelites were forbidden the use of arms, and no itinerant smith was permitted to enter their territory. The Hebrew who wished to sharpen his ploughshare or axe was forced to go to a Philistine city.
The condition of Israel became intolerable. There was but one remedy: the people needed a leader who should organise them into an army and a nation, and lead them forth against their foes. Saul was elected king, and the choice was soon justified by the results. The Philistines were driven out of the country, and Saul set up his court in the very spot where a Philistine garrison had stood.
But the Philistines were not yet subdued. Civil war broke out in Israel between Saul and his son-in-law David; the troops which should have been employed in resisting the common enemy were used in pursuing David, and David himself took service as a mercenary under Achish, King of Gath. Saul and his sons fell in battle on Mount Gilboa; the relics of the Israelitish army fled across the Jordan, and the Philistine again ruled supreme on the western side of the Jordan. David was allowed to govern Judah as a tributary vassal of the Philistine "lords."
The murder of the feeble scion of Saul's house who had the name of king on the eastern side of the Jordan put an end to all this. David threw off his allegiance to the Philistines, and was crowned King of Israel. This act of open defiance was speedily followed by the invasion of Judah. At first the war went against the Israelitish king; he was forced to fly from his capital, Hebron, and take refuge in an inaccessible cavern. Here he organised his forces, and at last ventured into the field. The Philistine forces were defeated in battle after battle; the war was carried into their own territory, and their cities were compelled to surrender. Philistia thus became a part of the Israelitish kingdom, and never again made any serious attempt to recover its independence. At the division of the Israelitish kingdom it fell to Judah, and its vassal princes duly paid their tribute to the Jewish kings. It would seem from the Assyrian inscriptions that they were played off one against the other, and that signs of disaffection in any one of them were speedily followed by his imprisonment in Jerusalem. At all events, the Philistine cities remained in the possession of Judah down to the time of the overthrow of the monarchy, and the most devoted of David's body-guard were the Philistines of Gath.
It has been said above that Judah was a mixture of Hebrew, Kenite, and Edomite elements. Kenite means "smith," and the tribe furnished those itinerant smiths who provided Canaan with its tools and arms. Reference is made to one of them in the Travels of a Mohar, a sarcastic description of a tourist's misadventures in Palestine which was written by an Egyptian author in the reign of Ramses II., and of which a copy on papyrus has been preserved to us. The horses of the hero of the story, we are told, ran away and broke his carriage to pieces; he had accordingly to betake himself to "the iron-workers" and have it repaired. Similar itinerant ironsmiths wandered through Europe in the Middle Ages, handing down from father to son the secrets of their craft.
The Kenites came from the desert, and were apparently of Midianitish descent. Balaam had looked down upon their rocky strongholds from the heights of Moab; and they had accompanied their Hebrew comrades of Judah from their first camping-ground near Jericho to the wilderness south of Arad. Here they lived among the Amalekite Bedawin down to the days of Saul. To the last they maintained their nomadic habits, and the Kenite family of Rechab still dwelt in tents and avoided wine in that later age when the kingdom of Judah was about to fall.
The Edomite element in Judah was stronger than the Kenite. It consisted of the two clans of Jerahmeel and Kenaz, or the house of Caleb as it was called in the time of David. Kenaz was a grandson of Esau, and the fact that the Kenizzites shared with the Israelitish tribes in the conquest of Canaan throws light on the law of Deuteronomy which gave the Edomite of "the third generation" all the rights and privileges of a Jew. Caleb, the conqueror of Hebron, was a Kenizzite; so also was Othniel, the first of the Judges of Israel. Edomites, rather than Hebrews, were the founders of the future Judah.
This accounts for the comparatively late appearance of Judah as a separate tribe in the history of Israel, as well as for the antagonism which existed between it and the more pure-blooded tribes of the north. In the Song of Deborah and Barak, Judah is not mentioned; Ephraim and Benjamin, and not Judah, are still regarded as forming the bulwark of Israel against the Amalekite marauders of the southern wilderness. It was the Philistine wars which first created the Judah of later days. They forced Hebrews, Edomites, and Kenites to unite against the common enemy, and welded them into a single whole. Though the three peoples still continued to be spoken of separately, this was but a survival of ancient modes of speech, and after the accession of David all distinction between them disappears. From this time forward the kingdom of Judah is one undivided community.
But the Amalekites were ever on its borders. The Amalekite of the Old Testament is the Bedawi of to-day. Now, as ever, he is the scourge of his more settled neighbours, whose fields he harries and whose families he murders. He lives by robbery and theft; too idle to work himself, he plunders those who do. A strong government forces him to hide himself in the depth of the wilderness; when the countries that skirt the desert fall into decay he emerges from his retreat like a swarm of flies. The ancient Oriental world saw in Amalek "the firstborn of nations;" he was for them the representative of the primitive savage who had survived in the wilds of the desert. Untamed and untamable, his hand was against every man, and every man's hand against him.
Before Babylonian culture had been brought to the West, Amalek already existed. He was older than the oldest of the civilised kingdoms of the earth. But civilisation had raised a barrier against him which he was ever on the watch to break through. He never lost the opportunity of raiding the inhabitants of the cultivated lands, and escaping again into the desert with his booty before he could be overtaken and punished. The desert between Palestine and Egypt was his chief camping-ground. He had occupied the wadis of Mount Seir before the Edomites had entered them, and a part of the later population of the country traced its descent from a mixture of the Bedawi with the Edomite. The Egyptians had many names for the Bedawin hordes. Sometimes they were the Herusha or "Lords of the Sands," sometimes the Shasu or "Plunderers," sometimes again the Sute or "Archers." The third name was borrowed from the Babylonians; in return, as we learn from the tablets of Tel el-Amarna, the Babylonians adopted the second.
Hardly had the Israelites escaped from Egypt when they were called upon to dispute with the Amalekites the possession of the desert. At Rephidim the Bedawin robbers fell upon the Israelitish camp. But they were beaten off with slaughter, and never again ventured to molest the people of Yahveh during their wanderings in the wilderness. The attack, however, was never forgotten, and vengeance was exacted for it in the reign of Saul. Then the Amalekites were pursued into their desert domain and mercilessly slaughtered. They had their home, it is said, in the desert which extended from Shur to Havilah. Shur was the line of fortification which defended the eastern frontier of Egypt, and ran pretty much where the Suez Canal has been dug to-day; Havilah was the "sandy" desert of northern Arabia. Here was the "city" of tents of which Agag was shekh, and which the troops of the Israelitish king burnt and spoiled.
But the remembrance of the expedition did not last long. When civil war had weakened the power of Saul, and the march of the Philistine army to the north had left the south of Canaan without defenders, an Amalekite tribe again poured into Judah and sacked the Philistine town of Ziklag. The wives and property of David and his followers were carried off into the wilderness. But the marauders were overtaken by the Israelites they had robbed, and summary vengeance taken upon them. Men, women, and children were alike put to the sword; four hundred only escaped through the fleetness of their camels.
In the Tel el-Amarna tablets we find the Bedawin and their shekhs playing a part in the politics of Canaan. Their services were hired by the rival princes of Palestine, and from time to time we hear of their seizing or plundering its cities on their own account. They have never ceased indeed to infest the land. Amalekite bands joined with the Midianites in devastating the villages of central Israel in the days of Gideon, and the Amalekite who brought to David the news of Saul's death was one of those who had hovered on the skirts of the contending armies, eager when the fight was over to murder the wounded and strip the slain. In a later age the "Arabs" who, according to the inscriptions of Sennacherib, formed the body-guard of Hezekiah were probably Bedawin, and Geshem the Arabian in the time of Nehemiah seems to have represented the Amalekite chieftain of an earlier epoch. The Bedawin still haunt the plains and unfrequented paths of Palestine, waylaying the traveller and robbing the peasant of his flocks.
The peasantry or fellahin are the Perizzites of the Hebrew Scriptures. "Perizzite," in fact, means "villager," and the word is a descriptive title rather than the name of a people or a race. It denotes the agricultural population, whatever their origin may have been. Another word of similar signification is Hivite. If any distinction is to be drawn between them, it is that the term Perizzite was specially applied to the fellahin of southern Canaan, while the term Hivite was restricted to the inhabitants of the north. In two passages, it is true, "Hivite" seems to be used with an ethnic meaning. Esau is said in one of them to have married the granddaughter of "Zibeon the Hivite," while in the other we read of "the Hivite" who dwelt under Mount Hermon. But a comparison of the first passage with the later verses of the same chapter shows that "Hivite" must be corrected into "Horite," and in the second passage it is probable that "Hittite" instead of "Hivite" should be read.
Amorite and Hittite, Canaanite and Philistine, were all alike emigrants from other lands. The Hittites had come from the mountains of Asia Minor, the Amorites had probably wandered from the northern coast of Africa, the Canaanites traced their ancestry to the Persian Gulf, the Philistines had sailed from the harbours of the Greek seas. Canaan had been inhabited, however, before any of them had found their way to it, and this prehistoric population of the country was known to the Hebrews by the name of Rephaim. In the English translation of the Bible the word is usually rendered "giants;" it seems, however, to have been a proper name, which survived in the name of one of the cities of Bashan. Doubtless it often included other elements besides that to which it was properly applied. At times it was extended to the Amorites, whose occupation of Palestine went back to a remote past, just as in the Babylonian inscriptions the name of Amorite itself was extended to the aboriginal population. Among the Philistines this older population was called Avvim, the people of "the ruins."
Such then were the races who lived in Canaan, and with whom the invading Israelites had to contend. There was firstly the primitive population of the country, whose rude rock-sculptures may still be seen in the Wadi el-Qana near Tyre. Then there were the intrusive Amorites and Canaanites, the Amorites with their fair skins and blue eyes who made themselves a home in the mountains, and the Semitic Canaanites who settled on the coast and in the plains. The Amorite migration went back to an epoch long before that of the first Babylonian conquests in the West; the Canaanitish migration may have been coeval with the latter event. Next came the Hittites, to whom the Jebusites of Jerusalem may have belonged; then the Philistines, who seized the southern coast but a few years previously to the Israelitish invasion. Canaan was a land of many races and many peoples, who had taken shelter in its highlands, or had found their further progress barred by the sea. Small as it was, it was the link between Asia and Africa, the battle-ground of the great kingdoms which arose on the Euphrates and the Nile. It formed, in fact, the centre of the ancient civilised world, and the mixture of races within it was due in great measure to its central position. The culture of Babylonia and Egypt met there and coalesced.
[Footnote 2: Numb. xiii. 29.]
[Footnote 3: 1 Chr. ii. 55; Jer. xxxv. 3-10.]
[Footnote 4: 1 Sam. xxx. 14.]
[Footnote 5: Deut. xxiii 8.]
THE NATIONS OF THE SOUTH-EAST
Israel was cut in two by the Jordan. The districts east of the Jordan were those that had first been conquered; it was from thence that the followers of Joshua had gone forth to possess themselves of Canaan. But this division of the territory was a source of weakness. The interests of the tribes on the two sides of the river were never quite the same; at times indeed they were violently antagonistic. When the disruption of the monarchy came after the death of Solomon, Judah was the stronger for the fact that the eastern tribes followed those of the north. The eastern tribes were the first to lose their independence; they were carried into Assyrian captivity twelve years before the fall of Samaria itself.
The eastern side of Jordan, in fact, belonged of right to the kinsfolk of the Israelites, the children of Lot. Ammon and Moab derived their origin from the nephew of Abraham, not from the patriarch himself, the ancestor of Ammon being Ben-Ammi, "the Son of Ammi," the national god of the race. It was said that the two peoples were the offspring of incest, and the cave was pointed out where they had been born. Ammon occupied the country to the north which in earlier days had been the home of the aboriginal Zuzini or Zamzummim. But they had been treated as the Canaanites were treated by the Israelites in later days; their cities were captured by the invading Ammonites, and they themselves massacred or absorbed into the conquerors.
To the north the territory of Ammon was bounded by the plateau of Bashan and the Aramaic kingdoms of Gilead. Southward it extended towards the frontier of Moab, if indeed the borders of the two nations did not at one time coincide. When the Israelitish invasion, however, took place, the Amorites under Sihon had thrust themselves between, and had carved for themselves a kingdom out of the northern half of Moab. The land north of the Arnon became Amorite; but the Ammonite frontier was too well defended to be broken through.
The kingdom of Ammon maintained itself down to the time of David. At one time, in the days of the Judges, the Ammonites had made the Israelitish tribes on the eastern side of the Jordan tributary to them, and had even crossed the river and raided the highlands of Ephraim. Under Saul, Ammon and Israel were at constant feud. Saul had begun his reign by rescuing Jabesh in Gilead from the Ammonite king Nahash, who had threatened to treat its inhabitants with innate Semitic barbarity. When civil war broke out in Israel, Nahash naturally befriended David, and the alliance continued after David's accession to the throne. Common interests brought them together. Esh-Baal, the successor of Saul in Gilead, was the enemy of both: his frontier adjoined that of Ammon, while between him and the King of Judah there was perpetual war. David had strengthened himself by marrying the daughter of the king of the Aramaic district of Geshur, which bounded Gilead on the north, and Ammonites and Aramaeans were in close alliance with each other.
As long as Nahash lived, there was peace between him and David. But with the accession of his son Hanun came a change. The King of Judah had become King of Israel, and his general, Joab, had subdued the neighbouring kingdom of Moab, and was looking out for a fresh field of fame. Hanun determined to forestall the war which he believed to be inevitable, and, in alliance with the Aramaeans, to crush the rising power of David. Family quarrels also probably conspired to bring about this resolution. In the after days of Absalom's rebellion we find David entertained in Gilead by Shobi the brother of Hanun; it may be, therefore, that Hanun had had a rival in his brother, who had received shelter and protection at David's court. At all events the Israelitish ambassadors were grossly insulted, and a long war with Ammon began. Campaign followed upon campaign; the City of Waters, Rabbah, the "capital" of Ammon, was closely invested, and the Aramaic allies of Hanun were put to flight. Rabbah fell at last; its defenders were tortured and slain, and the kingdom of Ammon annexed to the Israelitish empire.
When it recovered its independence we do not know. In the days of Assyrian conquest in the West it was already again governed by its own kings. One of them, Baasha, the son of Rehob, was, like Ahab of Samaria, an ally of Damascus against the Assyrian invader, and we hear of two others, one of whom bears the same name as "Shinab, King of Admah." The storm of Babylonian conquest which overwhelmed Judah spared Ammon; after the destruction of Jerusalem Baalis was still king of the Ammonites, and ready to extend his power over the desolated fields of Judah.
The language of Ammon, if we may argue from the proper names, was, like that of Moab, a mere dialectal variety of that of Israel. The "language of Canaan" must have been adopted by the Ammonites and Moabites just as it was by the Israelitish tribes. The Moabite Stone has proved this conclusively. Moabite and Ammonite, Phoenician and Hebrew, were all alike dialects of one language, which differed from one another merely as one English dialect differs from another. Hebrew had retained a few "Arabisms," a few traces of its ancient contact with Arabic-speaking tribes; that was all. In other respects it was the same as "the language of Canaan" on either side of the Jordan.
The Ammonites believed themselves to be the children of the national god Ammi. But Ammi was usually worshipped under the title of Malcham or Milcom, "the King." It was to Milcom that Solomon erected an altar at Jerusalem, in honour of that Ammonite wife whose son Rehoboam succeeded him on the throne, and it was from the head of his image at Kabbah that his crown of gold and precious stones, 131 pounds in weight, was removed to grace the triumph of David.
Moab was more exposed to the inroads of its nomadic neighbours from the wilderness than its sister-kingdom of Ammon. It lay along the eastern shores of the Dead Sea, and was a land of lofty mountains and fertile river-plains. Its wadis were coveted by the tribes of the desert; the well-watered valley of the Arnon attracted more powerful foes. When the Israelites encamped in "the plain of Moab," Balak, the Moabite king, sent in terror to Balaam, the seer of Pethor. He had indeed cause for alarm. The Amorites had already robbed him of the fairest portion of his dominions; Moab north of the Arnon had fallen into their hands. The Amorite song of triumph has been preserved in the Book of Numbers. "Come unto Heshbon," it said; "let the city of Sihon be built and fortified. For a fire has gone forth from Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon; it hath consumed Ar of Moab, and the Baalim of the high-places of Arnon. Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: [Chemosh] hath given his sons that escaped [the battle], and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon, King of the Amorites."
Moab was avenged by Israel. The Amorites were crushed by the Israelitish forces, though the lands they had taken from Moab were not restored to their original owners. The conquerors settled in them, and a mixed Israelitish and Moabite population was the result. The Moabites, in fact, were powerless to resist. The southern portion of the kingdom had been overrun by Midianite hordes; the enemy with whom the Israelites had to contend on Moabite soil was Midianite and not Moabite. Those who corrupted Israel on the high-place of Peor were Midianites in race.
The Midianites seem to have continued in occupation of Moabite territory for several generations. Reuben was enabled to pasture his flocks in peace in its valleys, and it is probable that it was not till Hadad, the King of Edom, "smote Midian in the plain of Moab" that Midianitish supremacy came finally to an end. It may be that Gideon's success against the Midianite oppressors of Gilead was one of the results of their overthrow by the Edomite prince.
At the same time, Midianitish supremacy did not mean the destruction of the Moabite kingdom. Moab was still governed by its own kings, tributary vassals though they were to the foreigner. One of them, Eglon, made himself master of southern Palestine shortly after the Israelitish conquest of the country, and was murdered by the Benjamite Ehud. Between Moab and Judah there was, as might be expected from their geographical position, constant intercourse. A Moabitess was the ancestress of David, and it was to the court of the King of Moab that David entrusted his parents when hard pressed by Saul. Possibly the Moabite prince was not ill pleased to befriend the enemy of his own enemy, the King of Israel.
It had been better for the Moabites, however, had David never lived to succeed Saul. The conquest of the Philistines by his troops was followed by the conquest of Moab. The vanquished people were decimated, every second man being mercilessly slain. So thoroughly was the country subdued that it was more than a century before it ventured to break away from its Israelitish master. After the disruption of Solomon's heritage it fell to the share of the northern kingdom, though native kings once more sat upon its throne. Now and again they revolted, to be brought back to obedience, however, when Israel recovered its strength. Such was the case when Omri founded his dynasty at Samaria; Moab again became a dependency of the Israelitish monarch, and its ruler was forced to pay tribute and homage to his over-lord. The tribute consisted in sheep, or rather in their skins, which were tanned by the Israelites into leather, while the fleeces upon them were woven into cloth. In the time of Ahab, Mesha, the son of Chemosh-melech, sent each year 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams.
Mesha subsequently succeeded in shaking off the foreign yoke. He has left us a record of his victories, the so-called Moabite Stone, which was discovered among the ruins of his capital, Dibon. The country north of the Arnon was wrested from Israelitish hands, and the King of Israel, in spite of help from Judah and Edom, failed to recover it. Moab was permanently lost to the kingdom of Samaria. The Assyrian texts mention some of its later rulers. One of them was Shalman, who may be the spoiler of Beth-Arbel referred to by Hosea; another was Chemosh-nadab, the contemporary of Hezekiah.
Chemosh-nadab signifies "Chemosh is noble." Chemosh was the national god of Moab, as Milcom or Ammi was of Ammon. Like Yahveh of Israel, he stood alone, with no wife to share his divinity. So entirely, in fact, had the conception of a goddess vanished from the mind of the Moabite, that, as we learn from the Moabite Stone, the Babylonian Istar, the Ashtoreth of Canaan, had been transformed into a male deity, and identified with Chemosh. It was to Ashtar-Chemosh, Mesha tells us, and not to Ashtoreth, that he devoted the captive women of Israel.
The older population, expelled or enslaved by the conquering Moabites, went by the name of Emim. It is probable that they belonged to the same stock as the Zamzummim or Zuzim whose country had been seized by the Ammonites. We may gather from the narrative in Genesis that the invaders forced their way eastward and northward from the valley of the Jordan and the shores of the Dead Sea.
South of Moab were the rugged and barren mountains of Seir, the seat of the kingdom of Edom. In prehistoric days they had been the home of the Horites, whose name may denote that they were of the "white" Amorite race or that they were dwellers in "caves." To the Egyptians it was known as "the Red Land," along with the desert that stretched westward; "Edom" is merely the Hebrew or Canaanitish translation of the Egyptian title. The title was one which well befitted the red cliffs of Seir.
Through the centre of the mountains a rift extended from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. In geological times it had been the channel of the Jordan; now it is called the Wadi el-Araba. It was this rift which brought wealth to Edom; through it passed the highroad of commerce which connected Syria with the harbours at the head of the gulf. The spices of Arabia, the gold of Africa, were unshipped at Elath and Ezion-gaber, and carried from thence on the backs of camels to the nations of the north. The tolls levied on the merchandise made the kingdom of Edom wealthy, and at the same time an object of envy to its poorer neighbours. In conquering Edom, David doubtless desired to secure the trade with the Red Sea and the ports through which the trade passed.
Edom was the elder brother of Israel. The two nations never forgot that they were of one blood and one parentage. Their languages were the same, as we may gather from the Edomite proper names; indeed, it would seem that the dialect of Edom agreed with Hebrew in those Arabising peculiarities which marked it off from the language of the Canaanites. Edomites took part in the Israelitish conquest of Palestine, and both Caleb and Othniel were Kenizzites by race.
The Edomite occupation of Seir was long subsequent to the settlement of the Ammonites and Moabites in the regions which bore their names, though it preceded the Israelitish settlement in Canaan. While Israel was herding its flocks in Egypt, Edom was establishing itself in the mountains of Seir. Esau, the brother of Jacob, had already gathered around him a body of followers, and had married into the family of a Horite chief. His descendants, partly by conquest, partly by absorption, planted themselves securely in the country which was henceforth to be called Edom. Horite and Amalekite Bedawin were alike absorbed into the new-comers, whose position in Edom resembled that of the Israelites in Canaan.
How long the work of conquest and settlement lasted we do not know. It resulted in the formation of numerous tribes, each under its chieftain, the aluph or "duke" as he was termed. These "dukes" corresponded with the "princes" of the tribes of Israel. But whereas the "princes" of the Israelitish tribes did not survive the life in the desert, the "dukes" of Edom give way only to kings. For this there was a good reason. The invasion of Canaan and the promulgation of the Mosaic Law changed the whole organisation of the Hebrew people. On the one hand, the Israelites required a leader who should lead them in the first instance against the Canaanites, in the second against the foreign oppressors who enslaved them from time to time. On the other hand, the high-priests at Shiloh exercised many of the functions which would naturally have belonged to the head of the tribe. Neither "judge" nor high-priest was needed in Edom. There the native population was weak and uncivilised; it possessed neither cities nor chariots of iron, and its subjugation was no difficult task. Once in possession of the fastnesses of Seir, the Edomites were comparatively safe from external attack. It was a land of dangerous defiles and barren mountains, surrounded on all sides by the desert. There was no central sanctuary, no Levitical priesthood, no Mosaic Law. The "duke" consequently had no rival; the history of Edom knows nothing of judges or high-priests.
The law of evolution, however, which governed other Semitic communities prevailed also in Edom. The dukes had to give place to a king. The tribes were united under a single leader, and the loosely federated clans became a kingdom. As in Israel, so too in Edom the kingdom was elective. But, unlike Israel, it remained elective; there was no pressure of Philistine conquest, no commanding genius like David, no central capital like Jerusalem to make it centralised and hereditary. Several generations had to pass before the Edomites were called upon to fight for their independence against a foreign invader, and when they did so the struggle ended in their subjugation. The elective principle and the want of a common centre and feeling of unity that resulted from it had much to do with the victory of David.
The song of triumph with which the Israelitish fugitives celebrated the overthrow of their Egyptian enemies mentions the aluphim or "dukes" of Edom. But before the Israelites had emerged from the wilderness the dukes had been supplanted by a king. It was a king who refused a passage through his dominions to Moses and his followers, and in this king some scholars have seen the Aramaean seer Balaam the son of Beor. At all events, the first Edomite king is said to have been Bela or Balaam the son of Beor, and the name of the city of Din-habah, from which he came, has a close resemblance to that of Dunip in northern Syria.
A list of the kings of Edom is given in the thirty-sixth chapter of Genesis, extracted from the state annals of the country. It seems to be brought down to the time when Saul was elected king over Israel. The chronicles of Edom were probably taken to Jerusalem at the time of its conquest by David; at any rate, they would then have become accessible to an Israelitish writer. The conquest was very thorough, all the male population being put to the sword, and a few only escaping to Egypt. Among these was a member of the royal house, Hadad by name, who grew up at the Egyptian court, and, after marrying the sister-in-law of the Pharaoh, returned to his native mountains, where he played the part of a bandit chief. The caravans which passed from the Gulf of Aqaba to the north were attacked and plundered, and Solomon up to the end of his reign failed to suppress the brigands. With the disruption of the Israelitish monarchy, Edom, as was natural, fell to the lot of Judah, and for many years was governed by a viceroy. It was not until after the death of Jehoshaphat that the Edomites succeeded in revolting from their masters, and in recovering their ancient independence. Three of their rulers are mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions, from which we learn that there was a city of Edom, as well as a country of that name.
Of the religion of the Edomites we know but little. The supreme Baal was the Sun-god Hadad; another god worshipped by them was Qaus or Kos. Of goddesses we hear nothing. The Israelites, however, recognised in the Edomites brethren of their own, whose religion was not far removed from that of the descendants of Jacob. An Edomite of the third generation could enter "into the congregation of the Lord," and we hear of no rival deity in Edom to Yahveh of Israel. Indeed, in the old poetry of Israel Yahveh was said to have risen up "from Seir," and the charge brought against Edom by the prophet Obadiah is not that of idolatry or the worship of a "strange god," but of standing on the side of the "foreigners" on the day that Jerusalem was destroyed.
The southern part of Edom was known as Teman; it was to the east of Teman that the Kadmonites or "children of the East" pitched their tents. We first hear of them in an Egyptian papyrus of the age of the Twelfth dynasty (B.C. 2500). Then they received with hospitality a political fugitive from Egypt; he married one of their princesses and became one of their chiefs. Their wisdom was celebrated in Palestine like that of their Edomite neighbours of Teman, and the highest praise that could be bestowed on Solomon was that his "wisdom excelled all the wisdom of the children of the East."
Not far from the camping-places of the Kadmonites was the land of Uz, famous as the home of Job. Uz, in fact, was a province of Edom; Edomite colonists, so we are told in the Book of Lamentations, inhabited it. Indeed, it has been suggested that the difficulties presented by the language of the Book of Job are due to the fact that it is the language of Edom rather than of the Jews, differing from the latter only as an English dialect may differ from that of a neighbouring county. At all events, Job was as much a hero of Hebrew as of Edomite tradition, while the last chapter of the Book of Proverbs contains the wise sayings of a king whose territory adjoined the land of Edom. Lemuel, according to the Hebrew text, which is mistranslated in the Authorised Version, ruled over Massa, and Massa, the Mash of Genesis, is described in the Assyrian inscriptions as that part of northern Arabia which spread eastward from Edom. The Hebrew of Palestine doubtless included it in the country of "the children of the East."
The larger part of northern Arabia, however, was the home of the Ishmaelites. They lived, it is said, "from Havilah unto Shur," like the Amalekites or Bedawin. But whereas the Amalekites were the wild, untamable natives of the desert, the Ishmaelites came of a cultured ancestry, half Babylonian, half Egyptian, and the traditions of it were never forgotten. They lived a settled life in fenced villages and fortified castles, as their descendants still do to-day. Like the Israelites, they were divided into twelve tribes, the eldest and most important of which were the Nabatheans, who spread from the frontiers of Babylonia to Petra in the far west. Kedar was another powerful tribe; in the days of the later Assyrian empire its kings contended in battle with the armies of Nineveh.
The name of Ishmael is met with in Babylonian contracts of the age of Abraham. It is a name which belongs to Canaan rather than to Babylonia or Arabia. The Ishmaelite tribes, in fact, spoke dialects in which Canaanitish and Arabic elements were mingled together. They are the dialects we term Aramaic, and represent a mixture of Arabic with Canaanitish or Hebrew. As we go northwards into Syria the Canaanitish element predominates; southward the Arabic element is the more pronounced.
The Ishmaelites were merchants and traders. They lived on the caravan-road which brought the spices of southern Arabia to Canaan and Egypt, and the trade was largely in their hands. In the history of Joseph we hear of them carrying the balm of Gilead and the myrrh of the south on their camels to Egypt, and in the second century before the Christian era the merchant princes of Petra made their capital one of the wealthiest of Oriental cities. It was not until 105 A.D. that the Nabathean state was conquered by Rome, and the Ishmaelites of northern Arabia transformed into Roman subjects. They have left their tombs and inscriptions among the rocks of Petra, while the cliffs of the Sinaitic Peninsula are covered with the scrawls of Nabathean travellers.
Southward of the Ishmaelites came the Midianites. Midianites and Ishmaelites were alike of the same blood. Both traced their descent from Abraham; it was only on the side of the mother that their origin was different. While the Ishmaelites claimed connection with Egypt, the Midianites were more purely Arabic in race. The name of Keturah their ancestress means "incense," and points to the incense-bearing lands of the south. Midian was properly the district which stretched along the western coast of the Gulf of Aqaba towards Mecca, if not towards Yemen. But Midianite tribes had also pushed northwards and mingled with the descendants of Ishmael. "Ishmaelites" and "Midianites" seem convertible terms in the story of Joseph, and the Midianites who swarmed into the north of Israel in the days of Gideon, along with the Amalekites and "the children of the East," must have been as much Ishmaelite as Midianite in descent.
Between the Midianites and the Israelitish fugitives from Egypt there had been close affinity. Moses had found a refuge in Midian, and his wife and children were Midianite in race. His father-in-law, "the priest of Midian," had visited him under the shadow of Sinai, and had given him his first lessons in political organisation. A Midianite remained to guide the Israelites through the wilderness, and the Kenites, who took part with the tribe of Judah in the conquest of Canaan, appear to have migrated from Midian. It was not until just before the invasion of Palestine that the old bonds of friendship and mixture between Israel and Midian were broken asunder. Midianite hosts had overrun the land of Moab as at a later time they overran the land of Israel, and the Israelites had forsaken Yahveh for the worship of the Midianite Baal-Peor. This was the result of intermarriage; the Israelites had taken Midianite wives and conformed to the licentious rites of a Midianite god.
Israel, however, was saved by its Levite priests. They rallied round Yahveh and Moses, and in the struggle that ensued the forces on the side of the national God proved the stronger. The Midianitish faction was annihilated, its leaders put to death, and the Midianites themselves attacked and despoiled. Among the slain was the seer of Pethor, Balaam the son of Beor.
The Moabites must have hailed the Israelites as saviours. They had delivered them from their two assailants, the Amorites on the north, the Midianites on the east. But the Midianite power was broken only for a time. We hear at a subsequent date of the Edomite king Hadad "who smote Midian in the field of Moab," and a time came when Midianite shekhs overran Gilead, and penetrated into the valleys and villages of Manasseh on the western side of the Jordan. After their defeat by Gideon, however, we hear of them no more. They passed out of the Israelitish horizon; henceforth their raiding bands never approached the frontiers of Israel. The land of Midian alone is mentioned as adjoining Edom; the Midianites who had traversed the desert and carried terror to the inhabitants of Canaan become merely a name.
Midian was originally governed by high-priests. This was the case among other Semitic peoples as well. In Assyria the kings were preceded by the high-priests of Assur, and recently-discovered inscriptions show that in southern Arabia, in the land of Sheba, the high-priest came before the king. Jethro, "the priest of Midian," represented a peculiarly Arabian institution.
The name of "Arab" was applied to certain tribes only of northern Arabia. We hear of them in the Old Testament as well as in the Assyrian inscriptions. In the Old Testament the name seems to include the Ishmaelite clans to the east of Edom. Their "kings," it is said, brought tribute to Solomon; a colony of them was established at Gur-Baal in the south of Judah. We learn from the Assyrian texts that they could be governed by queens; two of their queens indeed are mentioned by name.
It was also a "queen of the south," it will be remembered, who came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Sheba, the Saba of classical antiquity, was an important kingdom of south-western Arabia, which had grown wealthy through its trade in spicery. From time immemorial Egypt had imported frankincense from the southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula, and the precious spices had been carried by merchants to the far north. The caravan-road of trade ran northward to Midian and Edom, touching on the one side on the frontier of Egypt, on the other on that of Palestine. The road and the country through which it passed were in the hands of the south Arabian kings. Their inscriptions have been discovered at Teima, the Tema of the Old Testament, not far inland from El-Wej, and in the days of Tiglath-pileser the kings of Saba claimed rule as far as the Euphrates. It was no strange thing, therefore, for a queen of Sheba to have heard of the power of Solomon, or to have sought alliance with so wealthy and luxurious a neighbour. His province of Edom adjoined her own possessions; his ports on the Gulf of Aqaba were open to her merchants, and the frankincense which grew in her dominions was needed for the temple at Jerusalem.
The people of Sheba belonged to the south Arabian stock. In both blood and language they differed considerably from the Semites of the north. Physically they bore some resemblance to the Egyptians, and it has been suggested that the Egyptians were originally emigrants from their shores. They lived in lofty castles, and terraced the slopes of the mountains for the purpose of cultivation, as they still do to-day. Civilisation among them was old; it was derived, at least in part, from Babylonia, and the dynasty which reigned over Babylon in the age of Abraham was of south Arabian descent. Some of them crossed the Red Sea and founded colonies in Africa, in the modern Abyssinia, where they built cities and introduced the culture of their former homes. Like the Egyptians and the Babylonians, they were a literary people; their inscriptions are still scattered thickly among the ruins of their towns, written in the letters of the alphabet which is usually termed Phoenician. But it is becoming a question whether it was not from south Arabia that Phoenicia first borrowed it, and whether it would not be more truthfully called Arabian.
The religion of southern Arabia was highly polytheistic. Each district and tribe had its special god or gods, and the goddesses were almost as numerous as the gods. Along with Babylonian culture had come the adoption of several Babylonian divinities;—Sin, the Moon-god, for instance, or Atthar, the Ashtoreth of Canaan. How far westward the worship of Sin was carried may be judged from the fact that Sinai, the sacred mountain whereon the law of Israel was promulgated, took its name from that of the old Babylonian god.
In the tenth chapter of Genesis Sheba is one of the sons of Joktan, the ancestor of the south Arabian tribes. Foremost among them is Hazarmaveth, the Hadhramaut of to-day; another is Ophir, the port to which the gold of Africa was brought. But the same chapter also assigns to Sheba a different origin. It couples him with Dedan, and sees in him a descendant of Ham, a kinsman of Egypt and Canaan. Both genealogies are right. They are geographical, not ethnic, and denote, in accordance with Semitic idiom, the geographical relationships of the races and nations of the ancient world. Sheba belonged not only to south Arabia but to northern Arabia as well. The rule of the Sabaean princes extended to the borders of Egypt and Canaan, and Sheba was the brother of Hazarmaveth and of Dedan alike. For Dedan was a north Arabian tribe, whose home was near Tema, and whose name may have had a connection with that sometimes given by the Babylonians to the whole of the west.
Such, then, was Arabia in the days of the Hebrew writers. The south was occupied by a cultured population, whose rule, at all events after the time of Solomon, was acknowledged throughout the peninsula. The people of the north and the centre differed from this population in both race and language, though all alike belonged to the same Semitic stock. The Midianites on the western coast perhaps partook of the characteristics of both. But the Ishmaelites were wholly northern; they were the kinsmen of the Edomites and Israelites, and their language was that Aramaic which represents a mixture of Arabic and Canaanitish elements. Wandering tribes of savage Bedawin pitched their tents in the desert, or robbed their more settled neighbours, as they do to-day; these were the Amalekites of the Old Testament, who were believed to be the first created of mankind, and the aboriginal inhabitants of Arabia. Apart from them, however, the peninsula was the seat of a considerable culture. The culture had spread from the spice-bearing lands of the south, where it had been in contact with the civilisations of Babylonia on the one side and of Egypt on the other, and where wealthy and prosperous kingdoms had arisen, and powerful dynasties of kings had held sway. It is to Arabia, in all probability, that we must look for the origin of the alphabet—in itself a proof of the culture of those who used it; and it was from Arabia that Babylonia received that line of monarchs which first made Babylon a capital, and was ruling there in the days of Abraham. We must cease to regard Arabia as a land of deserts and barbarism; it was, on the contrary, a trading centre of the ancient world, and the Moslems who went forth from it to conquer Christendom and found empires, were but the successors of those who, in earlier times, had exercised a profound influence upon the destinies of the East.
[Footnote 6: 2 Sam. xvii. 27.]
[Footnote 7: Jer. xl. 14.]
[Footnote 8: Rehoboam is an Ammonite name, compounded with that of the god Am or Ammi. Rehob, which is the first element in it, was also an Ammonite name, as we learn from the Assyrian inscriptions.]
[Footnote 9: Numb. xxi. 27-29.]
[Footnote 10: x. 14.]
[Footnote 11: iv. 21.]
THE NATIONS OF THE NORTH-EAST
Canaan is but the southern continuation of Syria, which shades off, as it were, into the waterless wilderness. The name of Syria is usually supposed to be an abbreviation of Assyria, but it is more probable that it comes from Suri, the name by which the Babylonians denoted Mesopotamia and Syria of the north, and in which Assyria itself was sometimes included. As we have seen, the Syria of our own maps, and more especially the southern half of it, was commonly known to the Babylonians as the land of the Amorites; in the later inscriptions of Assyria the place of the Amorites is taken by the Hittites. When Assyria appeared upon the scene of history the Hittites had become the dominant people in the west.
The main part of the population of Syria and Mesopotamia was Aramaean—that is to say, it consisted of Semites from Arabia who spoke Aramaic dialects. But it was exposed to constant attacks from the north, and from time to time passed under the yoke of a northern conqueror. At one time it was the Hittites who poured down the slopes of Mount Taurus and occupied the fertile plains and cities of northern Syria. At another time a kindred people from the highlands of Armenia established a kingdom in Mesopotamia known as that of Mitanni to its own subjects, as that of Aram-Naharaim to the Hebrews.
The northern invaders sundered the Semites of the West from those of the East. The kings of Mitanni held guard over the fords of the Euphrates, and intrigued in Palestine against the Egyptian Pharaohs. But this did not prevent them from marrying into the Pharaoh's family, while their daughters were sent to the harem of the Egyptian king. Towards the end of the Eighteenth dynasty the sacred blood of the Pharaohs became contaminated by these foreign alliances. For two generations in succession the queen-mother was a Mitannian princess, and a king finally sat upon the Pharaohs' throne who attempted to supplant the religion of which he was the official head by a foreign cult, and thereby brought about the fall of his house and empire.
The power of Mitanni or Aram-Naharaim—Aram of the Two Rivers—does not seem to have long survived this event. Chushan-rishathaim, we learn from the Book of Judges, held Palestine in subjection for eight years, until he was driven out by the Kenizzite Othniel, and about the same time Ramses III. of Egypt records his victory over the Mesopotamian king. After this we hear no more of a king of Aram-Naharaim in Canaan or on the frontier of Egypt, and when the name of Mitanni is met with a little later in the Assyrian inscriptions it is that of a small and insignificant state.
The Hittites had grown at the expense of Mitanni, but their glory too was of no long duration. In the days of Ramses II., the Pharaoh of the Oppression, their power was at its height. From their southern capital at Kadesh on the Orontes their armies had gone forth to contend on equal terms with the forces of the Nile, and after twenty-one years of warfare, peace was made between the two combatants, neither side having gained an advantage in the long struggle. The text of the treaty is engraved on the walls of Karnak. There we may read how the two rivals swore henceforth to be friends and allies, how the existing boundaries of their respective territories in Syria were to remain unchanged for ever, and how a general amnesty was to be granted to the political fugitives on either side. It was only the criminal to whom the right of asylum in the dominions of the other was denied.
In the war they had waged with Egypt the Hittite princes of Kadesh had summoned their vassal allies from the distant coasts of Asia Minor. Lycians and Dardanians had come from the far west; and were joined by the troops of Aram-Naharaim from the east. The extension of Hittite supremacy to the shores of the AEgean Sea is testified by the monuments it has left behind. Hittite inscriptions have been found near Smyrna engraved on the rocks, as well as the figures of Hittite warriors guarding the westernmost pass of the ancient road. The summer residences of the Hittite princes were on the eastern bank of the Halys. Here the roads of Asia Minor converged, and here we still see the sculptured bas-reliefs of a Hittite palace and long rows of Hittite deities.
The Hittite empire broke up into a multitude of small principalities. Of these Carchemish, now Jerablus, on the Euphrates, was perhaps the most important. It commanded the ford across the river, and the high-road of commerce from east to west. Its merchants grew rich, and "the mina of Carchemish" became a standard of value in the ancient world. Its capture by Sargon destroyed a rival of Assyrian trade, and opened the road to the Mediterranean to the armies of Assyria.
The decay of the Hittite and Mitannian power meant the revival of the older Aramaean population of the country. The foreigner was expelled or absorbed; Syria and Mesopotamia became more and more Semitic. Aramaean kingdoms arose on all sides, and a feeling of common kinship and interests arose among them at the same time. To the north of the Gulf of Antioch, in the very heart of the Hittite territory, German excavators have lately found the earliest known monuments of Aramaean art. The art, as is natural, is based on that of their Hittite predecessors; even the inscriptions in the alphabet of Phoenicia are cut in relief like the older hieroglyphs of the Hittites. But they prove that the triumph of the Aramaean was complete. The foreigner and his works were swept away; no trace has been discovered of a Hittite text, barely even of a Hittite name. The gods are all Semitic—Hadad the Sun-god and Shahr the Moon-god, the Baal of Harran, and Rekeb-el, "the Chariot of God."
Hittite inscriptions have been found at Hamath on the Orontes. But they must belong to a period earlier than that of David. The rulers of Hamath who made alliance with David bear Semitic names. The crown-prince came himself to Jerusalem, bringing with him costly vessels of gold and silver and bronze. His name was Hadoram, "Hadad is exalted;" but out of compliment to the Israelitish king, the name of Hadad was changed into that of the God of Israel, and he became known to history as Joram. A common enmity united Hamath and Israel. The war with Ammon had brought David into conflict with Zobah, an Aramaic kingdom which under Hadad-ezer was aiming at the conquest of the whole of Syria. In the reign of Saul, Zobah was divided into a number of separate clans or states; these had been welded together by Hadad-ezer, who had added to his empire the smaller Aramaic principalities of central Syria. Geshur, Maachah, Damascus all acknowledged his authority. He had secured the caravan-road which led across the desert, past the future Palmyra, to the Euphrates, and eastward of that river the Aramaean states sent him help in war. Like the Pharaohs of a former generation, he had erected a monument of his victory on the banks of the great river, marking the farthest limit of his dominions.
Hamath was threatened by the growing power of Hadad-ezer, when a new force entered the field. Joab, the commander of the Israelitish army, was a consummate general, and the veterans he led had been trained to conquer. Ammon was easily crushed, and while its capital was closely invested the Israelitish troops fell upon the Aramaeans in campaign after campaign. Victory followed victory; the forces of Zobah and its allies were annihilated, and the Aramaean states as far as Hamath and even the Euphrates became the tributaries of David. Wealth flowed into the royal treasury at Jerusalem; the cities of northern Syria were plundered of their bronze, and the yearly tribute of the subject states, as well as the proceeds of the desert trade, yielded an unfailing revenue to the conqueror. The attempt of Hadad-ezer to found an Aramaean empire had failed.
But the empire of David was hardly longer lived. The murder of Joab, and the unwarlike character and extravagance of Solomon, brought about its downfall. Damascus revolted under Rezon; and though in the war that ensued Solomon succeeded in keeping the cities of Zobah which kept guard over the caravan road, it never returned to Israelitish rule. When the disruption of the Israelitish kingdom came after Solomon's death, the Aramaeans rallied round the successors of Rezon. Damascus increased in strength, and at times laid northern Israel under tribute. Between the two kingdoms there was indeed constant intercourse, sometimes peaceful, sometimes hostile. Syrian merchants had bazaars in Samaria, where they could buy and sell, undisturbed by tolls and exactions, and Israelitish traders had similar quarters assigned to them by treaty in Damascus. "Damask couches" were already famous, and Ahab sent a contingent of 10,000 men and 2000 chariots to the help of Ben-Hadad II. in his war against Assyria. This Ben-Hadad is called Hadad-idri or Hadad-ezer in the Assyrian texts; Ben-Hadad, in fact, was a god, who was worshipped by the Syrians by the side of his father Hadad.
In the struggle with Assyria the Aramaean forces were led by Hamath. Most of the states of western Asia contributed troops; even the "Arabs" took part in the conflict. But the confederates were overthrown with great slaughter at Karkar on the Orontes in B.C. 853, and immediately afterwards we find Ahab at war with his late ally. Hadad-idri lived only a few years longer. In B.C. 842 he was murdered by Hazael, who seized the throne. But Hazael, like his predecessor, was soon called upon to face an Assyrian army. Year after year the Assyrians invaded the territories of Damascus, and though they never succeeded in capturing the capital, the country was devastated, and a countless amount of booty carried away. The Syrian kingdom was utterly exhausted, and in no condition to resist the attacks of the Israelitish kings Jehoash and Jeroboam II. Jehoash, we are told, gained three victories over his hereditary enemy, while Jeroboam occupied its cities. When an Assyrian army once more appeared at the gates of Damascus in B.C. 797, its king Mariha was glad to purchase peace by rich presents and the offer of homage. Gold and silver, bronze and iron in large quantities were yielded up to the conqueror, and Damascus for a while was the vassal of Nineveh.
But a respite was granted it in which to recover its strength. Civil war sapped the strength of the kingdom of Israel, and Assyria fell into decay. Freed from its enemies, Damascus again amassed wealth through the trade across the desert, and was recognised as the head of the smaller Aramaean states. In conjunction with the Israelitish king Pekah, Rezon II. proposed to overthrow Judah and supplant the Davidic dynasty by a Syrian vassal-prince. The fall of Judah would have meant the fall also of Edom and the submission of the Philistines, as well as that of Moab and Ammon. The strength of its capital made Judah the champion and protector of southern Canaan; with Jerusalem in their hands, the confederate rulers of Damascus and Samaria could do as they chose. Ahaz of Judah turned in his despair to the Assyrians, who had once more appeared on the scene. Tiglath-pileser III. had overthrown the older Assyrian dynasty and put new life into the kingdom. In the interests of the merchants of Nineveh he aimed at incorporating the whole of western Asia and its commerce into his empire, and the appeal of Ahaz gave him an excuse for interfering in the affairs of Palestine. Ahaz became his vassal; Pekah was put to death, and an Assyrian nominee made king in his place, while Rezon was shut up in his capital and closely besieged. For two years the siege continued; then Damascus was taken, its last king slain, and its territory placed under an Assyrian satrap.
Hamath had already fallen. A portion of its population had been transported to the north, and their places filled with settlers from Babylonia. Its king had become an Assyrian vassal, who along with the other subject princes of Asia attended the court held by Tiglath-pileser at Damascus after its capture, there to pay homage to the conqueror and swell his triumph. A few years later, on the accession of Sargon, Hamath made a final effort to recover its freedom. But the effort was ruthlessly crushed, and henceforward the last of the Aramaean kingdoms was made an Assyrian province. When an Aramaean tribe again played a part in history it was in the far south, among the rocky cliffs of Petra and the desert fortress of the Nabathean merchants.
In the Book of Genesis, Mesopotamia, the country between the Euphrates and Tigris, is called not only Aram-Naharaim, "Aram of the Two Rivers," but also Padan-Aram, "the acre of Aram." Padan, as we learn from the Assyrian inscriptions, originally signified as much land as a yoke of oxen could plough; then it came to denote the "cultivated land" or "acre" itself. The word still survives in modern Arabic. In the Egypt of to-day land is measured by feddans, the feddan (or paddmi) being the equivalent of our acre. Paddan was used in the same sense in the Babylonia of the age of Abraham. Numerous contracts have been found for the lease or sale of estates in which the "acreage" or number of paddani is carefully stated. The application of the name to the plain of Mesopotamia was doubtless clue to the Babylonians. An early Babylonian king claims rule over the "land of Padan," and elsewhere we are told that it lay in front of the country of the Arman or Aramaeans.
It was in western Padan that the kingdom of Mitanni was established. Its founders, as we have seen, came from the north. From the river Halys in Asia Minor to Lake Urumiyeh, east of Armenia, there was a multitude of tribes, most of whom seem to have belonged to the same race and to have spoken dialects of the same language. The Hittites of Cappadocia and the ranges of the Taurus have already been described. East of them came the Meshech and Tubal of the Bible as well as the kingdom of Comagene, of which we often hear in the Assyrian texts. But of all these northern populations the most important—at all events in the later Old Testament age—were the inhabitants of a country called Biainas, but to which its neighbours gave the name of Ararat. Ararat corresponded to southern Armenia, Biainas being the modern Van, and the Mount Ararat of modern geography lying considerably to the north of it. In the ninth century before our era a powerful dynasty arose at Van, which extended its conquests far and wide, and at one time threatened to destroy even the Assyrian empire. It signalised its accession to power by borrowing the cuneiform writing of Nineveh, and numerous inscriptions exist recording the names and victories of its sovereigns, the buildings they erected, and the gods they served. The language of the inscriptions is strange and peculiar; it seems to be distantly related to modern Georgian, and may be akin to the dialects of the Hittites or of Mitanni.
If we may trust the representations of the Assyrian artists, the people of Ararat did not all belong to the same race. Two ethnic types have been handed down to us—one with beardless faces, resembling that of the Hittites, the other of a people with high fore-heads, curved and pointed noses, thin lips, and well-formed chin. Both, however, wear the same dress. On the head is a crested helmet like that of the Greeks, on the feet the Hittite boot with upturned end; the body is clad in a tunic which reaches to the knee, and a small round target is used in battle.
For many centuries the Semites and the people of the north contended for the possession of the Syrian plains. Horde after horde descended from the northern mountains, capturing the Aramaean cities and setting up kingdoms in their midst. At one time it seemed as if the Semites of the east and west were to be permanently sundered from one another. The decay of Babylonia and Egypt enabled the Mitannians and Hittites to establish themselves in Mesopotamia and Syria, and to gain possession of the fords of the Euphrates and the great lines of trade. But the northerner was not suited by nature for the hot and enervating climate of the south. His force diminished, his numbers lessened, and the subjugated Semite increased in strength. Mitanni perished like the Hittite empire, and with the rise of the second Assyrian empire the intruding nations of the north found themselves compelled to struggle for bare existence. Ararat had become the leader among them, and in the latter days of the older Assyrian dynasty had wrested territory from the Assyrians themselves, and had imposed its dominion from the borders of Cappadocia to the shores of Lake Urumiyeh. But on a sudden all was changed. Tiglath-pileser swept the land of Ararat to the very gates of its capital, destroying and plundering as he went, and a war began between north and south which ended in the triumph of Assyria. Ararat indeed remained, though reduced to its original dimensions in the neighbourhood of Lake Van; but its allies in Comagene and Cappadocia, in Cilicia and among the Hittites, were subjugated and dispersed. The tribes of Meshech and Tubal retreated to the coasts of the Black Sea, and Ararat and its sister-kingdom of Minni were too exhausted to withstand the invasion of a new race from new quarters of the world. The Aryan Kimmerians from Russia poured through them, settling on their way in Minni; while other Aryans from Phrygia made themselves masters of Ararat, which henceforth took the name of Armenia. The Aramaean was avenged: the invaders who in days before the Exodus had already robbed him of his lands were themselves pursued to their northern retreats. The south proved to them a land of decay and destruction; Gog and his host were given, "on the mountains of Israel," to the vulture and the beast of prey.
Egypt had been the bondhouse of Israel. It was there that Israel had grown from a family into a people, which the desert was to transform into a nation. The Exodus out of Egypt was the beginning of Israelitish history, the era from which it dated. Down to the last the kingdom of the Pharaohs exercised upon it an influence more or less profound; the extravagant splendour of Solomon was modelled after that of the Egyptian monarchs, his merchants found their best market on the banks of the Nile, and the last Canaanitish city which passed into Israelitish hands was the gift to him of the Pharaoh. The invasion of the Egyptian king prevented Rehoboam from attempting to reconquer the revolted tribes, and in the days of Assyrian ascendancy it was Egypt that was played off against the Assyrian invader by the princes and statesmen of the west. The defeat of Necho at Carchemish handed Palestine over to the Babylonians, and indirectly brought about the destruction of Jerusalem; even in the age of the Ptolemies Egypt still influenced the history of Israel, and the Jews of Alexandria prepared the way for the Christian Church. For centuries Palestine was the battle-ground of the nations; but it was so because it lay between the two great powers of the ancient East, between Egypt on the one side and Assyria and Babylonia on the other.
Egypt is the creation of the Nile. Outside the Delta and the strip of land which can be watered from the river there is only desert. When the annual inundation covers the fields the land of Egypt exists no more; it becomes a watery plain, out of which emerge the villages and towns and the raised banks which serve as roads. For more than 1600 miles the Nile flows without an affluent; in the spring it falls so low that its channel becomes almost unnavigable; but in the late summer, its waters, swollen by the rains and melted snows of Central Africa, and laden with the fertilising silt of the Abyssinian mountains, spread over the cultivated country, and bring fertility wherever they go.
The waters of the inundation must have been confined by dykes, and made to flow where the cultivator needed them, at a very remote date. Recent discoveries have thrown light on the early history of the country. We find it inhabited by at least one race, possibly of Libyan origin, which for the present we must term pre-historic. Its burial-places are met with in various localities in Upper Egypt. The members of the race were not acquainted with the use of metals, but they were expert artificers in stone and clay. Stone was skilfully carved into vessels of different forms, and vases of clay were fashioned, with brightly polished surfaces. Sometimes the vases were simply coloured red and black, or adorned with patterns and pictures in incised white lines; at other times, and more especially in the later tombs, they were artistically decorated with representations of men and animals, boats, and geometrical patterns in red upon a pale drab ground.
The pre-historic race or races had already reached a fair level of civilisation—neolithic in type though it may have been—when a new people appeared upon the scene, bringing with them the elements of a high culture and a knowledge of working in metals. These were the Pharaonic Egyptians, who seem to have come from Babylonia and the coasts of southern Arabia. Cities were built and kingdoms were founded on the banks of the Nile, and the older population was forced to become the serfs of the new-comers, to cultivate their fields, to confine the Nile within artificial boundaries, and to carry out those engineering works which have made the valley of the Nile what it is to-day.
The Pharaonic Egyptians are the Egyptians of history. They were acquainted with the art of writing, they mummified their dead, and they possessed to a high degree the faculty of organisation. The gods they worshipped were beneficent deities, forms of the Sun-god from whom their kings derived their descent. It was a religion which easily passed into a sort of pantheistic monotheism in the more cultivated minds, and it was associated with a morality which is almost Christian in its character. A belief in a future world and a resurrection of the flesh formed an integral part of it; hence came the practice of embalming the body that it might be preserved to the day of resurrection; hence too the doctrine of the dead man's justification, not only through his own good works, but through the intercession of the Sun-god Horus as well. Horus was addressed as "the Redeemer;" he had avenged the death of his father Osiris upon his enemy Set, the lord of evil, and through faith in him his followers were delivered from the powers of darkness. Horus, however, and Osiris were but forms of the same deity. Horus was the Sun-god when he rises in the morning; Osiris the Sun-god as he journeys at night through a world of darkness; and both were identical with Tum, the Sun-god of the evening. The gods who watched over the great cities of Egypt, some of which had been the capitals of principalities, were identified with the Sun-god in these his various forms. Thus Ptah of Memphis became one with Osiris; so also did Ra, the Sun-god of Heliopolis, while in those later days when Thebes rose to sovereign power its local god Amon was united with Ra.
Along with this higher and spiritual religion went—at least in historical times—a worship of sacred animals. The anomaly can be explained only by that mixture of races of which archaeology has assured us. Beast-worship must have been the religion of the pre-historic inhabitants of Egypt, and just as Brahmanism has thrown its protection over the superstitions of the aboriginal tribes of India and identified the idols of the populace with its own gods, so too in ancient Egypt a fusion of race must have brought about a fusion of ideas. The sacred animals of the older cult were associated with the deities of the new-comers; in the eyes of the upper classes they were but symbols; the lower classes continued to see in them what their fathers had seen, the gods themselves. While the Pharaonic Egyptian adored Horus, the older race knew of Horus only as a hawk. If we may trust Manetho, the Egyptian historian, it was not till the beginning of the Second historical dynasty that the sacred animals of popular worship were received into the official cult.
The Pharaonic Egyptian resembled in body and character the typical native of Central Egypt to-day. He was long-headed, with a high and intellectual forehead, straight nose, and massive lower jaw. His limbs were well-proportioned and muscular, his feet and hands were small. He belonged to the white race, but his hair and eyes were black, the hair being also straight. His artistic and intellectual faculties were highly developed, he was singularly good-tempered and light-hearted, averse to cruelty, though subject at times to fits of fanatical excitement and ferocity. At once obstinate and industrious, he never failed to carry out what he had once taken in hand. The Nile valley was reclaimed for the use of man, and swamp and jungle, the home of wild beasts and venomous serpents, were turned by his labours into a fruitful paradise.
By the side of the long-headed Egyptian of the ruling classes we find in the age of the earlier dynasties a wholly different type, of which the famous wooden statue now in the Cairo Museum, and commonly known as the "Shekh el-Beled," may be taken as an illustration. Here the skull is round instead of long, the lips and nostrils are thick and fleshy, the expression good-humoured rather than intellectual. The type is that of a portion of the lower classes, and disappears from the monuments after the fall of the Sixth dynasty. After that epoch the races which inhabited Egypt were more completely fused together, and the rounded skull became rare.
Egyptian history begins with Menes, the founder of the united monarchy, and of the First historical dynasty. Our glimpses of the age that preceded him—the age of the followers of Horus, as the Egyptians termed it—are few and scanty. Egypt was divided into several kingdoms, which were gradually unified into two only, those of the north and the south. The northern kingdom was symbolised by the snake and papyrus, the southern kingdom by the vulture and aloe. The vulture was the emblem of Nekheb, the goddess of the great fortress whose ruins are now called El-Kab; and it is probable that the city of Nekhen, which stood opposite it on the western bank of the Nile, was once the capital of the south. However this may be, when Menes mounted the throne he was hereditary ruler of This, a city which adjoined the sacred burial-place of Osiris at Abydos, and of which Girgeh is the modern successor.
Menes made himself master of the north, and so united all Egypt under one rule. He then undertook and carried through a vast engineering work, one of the greatest the world has ever seen. The Nile was turned aside out of its old channel under the Libyan cliffs into a new channel to the east. The dyke which forced the river from its old course still remains, and two or three thousand years before the bed of the valley had risen to its present level the destruction of the dyke would have meant the return of the Nile to its former path. North of the dyke English engineers have found that the alluvial soil bears witness to interference with the natural course of the river of a far-reaching kind, and its long straight course resembles that of a canal rather than of the naturally winding stream of the Nile.
On the embankment thus won from the waters Menes built his capital, which bore the two names of Men-nefer or Memphis, "the Beautiful Place," and Ha-ka-Ptah or AEgyptos, "the Temple of the Double of Ptah." On the north side of it, in fact, stood the temple of Ptah, the local god, the scanty remains of which are still visited by the tourist. In front of the shrine was the sacred lake across which, on days of festival, the image of the god was ferried, and which now serves as a village pond.
Menes was followed by six dynasties of kings, who reigned in all 1478 years. The tombs of the two first dynasties have been found at Abydos. Menes himself was buried on the edge of the desert near Negada, about twenty miles to the north of Thebes. His sepulchre was built in rectangular form, of crude bricks, and filled with numerous chambers, in the innermost and largest of which the corpse of the king was laid. Then wood was heaped about the walls and the whole set on fire, so that the royal body and the objects that were buried with it were half consumed by the heat. The mode of burial was peculiar to Babylonia. Here, in an alluvial plain, where stone was not procurable, and where the cemeteries of the dead adjoined the houses of the living, brick was needful instead of stone, and sanitary considerations made cremation necessary. But in the desert of Egypt, at the foot of rocky cliffs, such customs were out of place; their existence can be explained only by their importation from abroad. The use of seal-cylinders of Babylonian pattern, and of clay as a writing material, in the age of Menes and his successors, confirms the conclusion to which the mode of burial points. The culture of Pharaonic Egypt must have been derived from the banks of the Euphrates.