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the border of Palestine proper, which extended from Dan to Beersheba.' Over these swelling hills the flocks of the patriarchs once roved by thousands.
The grove which Abraham planted at Beer-sheba, and all other trees, have long since disappeared from this deserted site; and it is now, and for centuries has been, utterly forsaken, except by the Bedawîn, who continue to water their flocks and herds at the wells.
Beer-sheba was first assigned to Judah, and afterwards to Simeon.' In later times it appears to have been the seat of idolatrous worship,' but it was one of the places to which the Jews returned after the Captivity. “The name does not occur in the New Testament, nor is it referred to as then existing by any writer earlier than Eusebius and Jerome in the fourth century. They describe it as a large village with a Roman garrison." It was the seat of a bishopric in the early Christian times, before the country was conquered by the Moslems. Travellers who visited the place in the fourteenth century speak of churches still standing, although the place itself was then uninhabited ; and for the succeeding five centuries it remained unvisited and unknown.
Traces of the ancient village are found on the low hills to the north of the wells, the ruins of former habitations, but scarcely one stone remains upon another. The houses appear not to have stood compactly, but scattered over several little hills; and they were built mostly of round stones and mud, and were, no doubt, perishable structures. Many travellers have recently visited this once celebrated site, but they have added little to our general information. Lieutenant Conder encamped at the main well, and believes that he discovered an Arabic inscription on a stone, “built in evidently its proper place, in the fourtecnth course of the masonry on the south side," with the date of A.H. 505, which "would place the date of the present masonry in the twelfth century, thus sadly contradicting the romantic fancy that the great furrows may have been first traced by the ropes of the followers of the first patriarch, who
1 Gen. xxi. 31; xxii. 19; xxvi. 23 ; xxviii. 10; xlvi. I; 1 Sam. viii. 2; 1 Kings xix. 3 ; Judg. xx. 1 ; 2 Sam. xvii. u. ? Rob. Res. vol. i. pp. 203–205.
Josh. xv. 28 ; xix. 2. 4 Amos v. 5; viii. 14.
5 Neh. xi. 27, 30.
TELL ES SEBA', SHEBA.—EDH DHOHERÎYEH, DEBIR.
dug the well.” Even if this were so, the well itself may be as old as the times of the patriarchs; and the curb-stones, with their deep indentations, now found around the mouth of the well, may be equally ancient.
Lieutenant Conder describes a large double tell, called "Tell es Seba', within two miles of Beer-sheba, on the direct line to Moladah,” and suggests that this tell marks the site of the Sheba mentioned in Joshua xix. 2, in connection with Beer-sheba and Moladah; and this may well be correct, for the latter place has been identified with Tell el Milh, where are wells and extensive ruins.
Half-way between Hebron and Beer-sheba is edḥ Dhoherîyeh, a village recently identified by Lieutenant Conder with Debir, the city conquered by Joshua, probably from the Anakims, for it was one of the places held by them, and after he had taken Hebron. "And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it: and he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining."
From this account, it appears that Debir was at no great distance from Hebron, and probably to the south and west of it; and this is corroborated by the narrative of its subsequent capture by “Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, who took it;" and Caleb "gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.” And she said to her father, "Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land [an arid or dry land]; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs. This narrative is repeated verbatim in the first chapter of Judges."
Lieutenant Conder locates Debir at edh Dhoherîyeh, and the identification is quite satisfactory in all respects, with the single exception of the considerable distance of the “springs of water"-the chief point in the request of Achsah. He finds "the upper springs and the nether springs” in “Seil ed Dilbeh, a secluded valley to the west of Yutta, and only six and a half miles north of edh Dhoherîyeh."
There are no less than fourteen springs in this beautiful valley, "and these so copious that the various translations-pools of waJosh. x. 36-39. ? Josh. xv. 13-19.
3 Judg. i. 9-15.
ter, fountains for irrigation, or well-watered places—are all fully accounted for." These fountains meet all the demands of the narrative, so far as water and the supply of it is concerned; but six and a half miles is a long distance from Debir, and one is rather surprised at the large extent of territory that must have been included in the dowry of Achsah, if the springs she coveted were those in the valley of Seil ed Dilbeh. This may not be a fatal objection to the identification ; and as the region about edh Dhoherîyeh is certainly a dry land, and there are no other copious fountains in the vicinity, we may, at least for the present, adopt that place as the site of Debir.
Edh Dhoherîyeh has no remarkable ruins about it. “It is a rude assemblage of stone hovels, many of which are half underground, and others broken down. A castle or fortress, called el Húsn, once stood here;" but rock-cut tombs, caves, and traces of old foundations establish its claims to be the site of an ancient place.
The original name of Debir was Kirjath - sepher, the city of books;' but in Joshua xv. 49 it is called Kirjath-sannah, the city of the palm. The former name has led some critics to the conclusion that it was celebrated amongst the Canaanites as a seat of learning of the Amalekites, or for the manufacture of books. Debir stood in the hill-country, and was assigned to Judah, but was afterwards allotted to the Levites.' The Arabic name, edh Dhoherîyeh, may be translated ridge or promontory, and hence this signification corresponds with its position, and also with the meaning of the word.
Josh. xv. 15; Judg. i. 11.
? Josh. xv. 49; xxi. 15; i Chron. vi. 58.