Page images
PDF
EPUB

.

ging up the soil ; but unfortunately they did not remain long in my possession. A few days afterwards they were snatched from me, at a moment when I was glad to escape with my life. Great numbers of these coins, I was informed, are found round this city; but most of them are thrown away as useless.

Busrah is almost deserted. Only some twenty or thirty families inhabit it, occupying the lower rooms of the ancient houses. As a city it has long ceased to exist ;, it is now one vast field of confused ruins. The number of its inhabitants is decreasing every year; and ere long the place must be entirely abandoned, for the desert tribes are fast encroaching on the domains of the settled cultivators of the soil.

Sunday, 6th February.-To-day it continued to rain heavily at intervals; but we enjoyed comparative peace and solitude. It was with mingled feelings of awe and thankfulness I read in my Bible the things written in former days of Bozrah, and of Bashan and Moab. The terrible fulfilment of many prophecies was now visible around me, and awe filled my heart as I gazed on the

, predicted desolations ; but it was with deep thankfulness I remembered that the very judgments of God here tend to confirm and strengthen the Christian's faith.

HISTORY OF BUSRAH.

The first mention of the name Bozrah in the Word of God is in the Book of Genesis, where, in giving a list of the kings of Edom who governed that country before the days of Israel's greatness, it is said that “ Jobab the son

2

of Zerah, of Bozrah, reigned.” It is not possible now to determine whether that city can be identified with the present Busrah. Dr. Robinson suggests that another Bozrah lay within the proper boundaries of Edom, somewhere near to Petra ;9 and a careful examination of several passages of Scripture appear to confirm this hypothesis. In the two places where the name occurs in Isaiah it is connected with Idumæa in such a way as leaves the impression that it was situated within that kingdom proper ;' and still more definite are the words of Jeremiah when Bozrah is threatened in connection with Edom and Teman, whose inhabitants are represented as dwelling in the clefts of the rocks, and as holding the heights of the hills, and as making their houses like the nests of the eagles. This cannot in any way be applied to the extensive and fertile plains of the Haurân, which are nowhere richer or more beautiful than around the ruins of Busrah. The prophet Amos also uses the words, “ I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah ;"3 and the name Teman is never applied to the country so far north as the present city. It appears then, from these various statements, that we have every reason to believe with Dr. Robinson that the Bozrah referred to in these several passages was a city of Edom situated among the mountains around Petra. But it also appears to me, from a careful examination of the words of Jeremiah in another place, that a Bozrah is referred to by him distinct from the Bozrah of Edom. While pronouncing the judgment of God upon Moab he says, “ Judgment

Judgment is come upon the

[ocr errors]

9 Bib. Res. ii. pp. 570-1. 2 Jer. xlix. 7-22.

Isaiah xxxiv. 6; lxiii. 1. 3 Chap. i. 12.

4

plain country;" and he then gives a list of some of the cities situated in the plain-among which we find the names of Beth-gamul, Bozrah, and Kerioth. His description in this passage could not apply to the land of Edom, which is an exclusively mountainous country, any more than his description in the passage above quoted could apply to the region around Busrah, which is an unbroken plain. We know that Edom comprehended the mountainous tract on the east side of the great valley of the 'Arabah. It was originally called Mount Seir, and was inhabited by the gigantic race of the Horites.5 Moab lay north of it, extending eastward from the shores of the Dead Sea and the banks of the Jordan over a portion of the now desert plain. It was originally possessed by the powerful Emims, who were allied to the Anakims that held Bashan. It would appear, from a comparison of Gen. xiv. 5-7 with Deut. ii. 10-12, 20-23, that the whole country east of the Jordan was in primitive times held by a race of giants, comprehending the Rephaims on the north, next the Zuzims, after them the Emims, and then the Horites on the south; and that afterwards the kingdom of Bashan embraced the territories of the first; the country of the children of Lot, Moab and Ammon, the possessions of the second and third ; while Idumæa took in the mountainous district of the Horites. The Amorites, a short time before the children of Israel left Egypt, seized the northern part of the kingdom of Moab," and from them it was taken by the tribes of Reuben and Gad; but it is doubtful whether the Moabites were ever completely expelled, and, if they were, there can be no doubt that they returned again and occupied the land during the decline of Israel's power. The predictions of Jeremiah above alluded to were pronounced against cities of Moab that had been at one time in possession of the Israelites.8 From these several statements and facts I cannot but conclude that the cities here mentioned by Jereminh in connection with Bozrah are all far north of Edom; and that therefore the Bozrah of Edom is distinct from the Bozrah of Moab. There is another circumstance connected with the prophetic denunciations which is strongly corroborative of this view. After completing the sentence of Moab, the Spirit of God adds, “ Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days."Whereas in Edom's doom we have these terrible words : "For I have sworn by myself, saith the Lord, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse ; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes. As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomor

4 Jer. xlviii. 21-24.
6 Gen. id.; Deut. ii. 10, 12-23.

5 Gen. xiv. 6; Deut. ii. 12.
7 Num. xxi, 26.

. rah, and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the Lord, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it.”] These two sentences cannot apply to one country ; and I cannot therefore think with Dr. Robinson that the two Bozrahs were the same. I consider, moreover, that there is here sufficient ground for identifying the present Busrah with the Bozrah of the plain of Moab.?

Reland, who seems inclined to identify Busrah with Beeshterah, one of the cities of the Levites in the halftribe of Manasseh, says that it is different from both

"1

2

8 Compare Num. xxxii. 34-39 with Jer. xlviii. 19-25. 9 Jer. xlviii. 47; xlix. 6.

| Id. xlix. 13, 18. ? This appears also to be the opinion of Dr. Smith. See Bib. Res. iii. App. p. 153, note 4.

3

6

the Bozrah of Moab and that of Edom. With this view, however, I cannot agree, as I can see no data on which it rests. The situation of Busrah answers in every respect to the description given of the Bozrah of Moab. It is this city also which is mentioned in the Book of the Maccabees as having been taken by Judas, with Carnaim and several others. It is here described as lying in the wilderness ;4 and Josephus, who gives a narrative of the same events, speaks as if it lay about three days' journey in the wilderness east of the JordanThe Greek and Roman name of this city was Bostra, and we find it mentioned by Strabo, but without any description. Ptolemy calls it “ Bostra Legio,” probably because it constituted the head-quarters of the legion stationed in Arabia."

It has been maintained by Ritter and others that the name of Busrah is nowhere mentioned in the Scriptures. The Bozrah of Moab, say they, is quite distinct from Bostra, the Roman colony and metropolitan city. It strikes me, however, as somewhat strange, independent of the arguments brought forward above, that a situation so desirable from the numerous springs around it and the rich soil, should have remained unoccupied during the most prosperous period of this country's history; and it seems stranger still that it should at once spring into existence and become the metropolis of an extensive and populous province immediately upon the conquest of that

7

8

3 Palest. p. 621; Josh. xxi. 27.

4 1 Mac. v. 26-28. 5 Ant. Jud. xii. 8, 3.

6 Geog. xvi. p. 520. There is some doubt about the reading of the original in this name. Some read Botpuw, but others Bootca. The Latin translation in Casaubon's edition reads Bostra. It is probable that this Bostra is a Phænician town on the coast. 7 Geog. v. 17.

8 Palästina und Syrien, ii. 968-9.

« PreviousContinue »