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as they did the most excellent oil, whence our Jews, butter being forbidden in the law of Moses, use goose's fat. The word hxon very often occurs in the Sacred Scriptures, which is generally translated butter. But on what foundation does this interpretation depend? What is the philological reason? I suppose they have been led by some prejudice to fix that signification io this word If we make that the signification, the sense of sone places in scripture will be rendered truly ridiculous and disgusting. ther means in particular curdled milk, and in general any milk. Which signification suits well all the places where the word is found. The root in the Arabic is on, which signifies milk was thick and hard. In Jud. v. 25, it is said, that Joel gave to Sissera drink of non, not of butter, but of milk. In Job xx. 17, is an Oriental discription of Palestine, in these words : he shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey, Xon) and milk. And so the Arabic and Syriac versions render it. In Job xxix. 6, there is mention of washing the feet 700) with milk. translators allow, although they err in the translation, rendering it, with butter: this is ridiculous ; for who would wash his feet in butter? This word occurs in Isa. vii. 15, the sense of which place is, he shall eat milk and honey, until he shall know to refuse evil and choose good. So the Syriac translation : but the LXX and the Vulgate, and from that Luther and others translate it butter. For the LXX living in Egypt always had butter in their minds, as that region abounded in it. From these places it will appear
manifest, that 7x0n means, not butter but milk. Also milk appears to have been the usual drink amongst the ancients; whence many nations are called by the Greeks yuraxTOTOTOU that is drinkers of milk, in the number of which were the Ethiopians especially : also columella gives this name to the Nomades and the Geta;
as all the חמאה is put for חמה In this place
Galen* to the Scythians; and Strabo and Pomponius Mela to the Germans. Jeromet says, the Arabs use camel's milk. At this day the Tartars are very fond of that drink.
$ XIII. The testimonies of Greek and Latin writers re
specting Palestine ; to which are added those of Travellers.
The enemies of religion inflamed with ardent desires to fix on the character of Moses the charge of the basest falsehood, because he has described Palestine as very fertile, bring forth Greek and Latin authors, and cite many places from them to prove its sterility ; but almost all these places speak only of the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. which is called unfruitful, and to their testimony that of Maundrell and Kort are added. The latter calls Palestine an ill-fated region, that suffers for want of water; and why ? He saw two rivers that were dried up
within twenty feet of their origin. But in this thing Kort is by no means a competent judge, for he is a native of Holsatia ; and moreover a general opinion is not to be formed from one observation, for a river may be dry one year and this may seldom or never occur again. Also, if the rivers of Palestine are easily and suddenly dried, that may not be owing to the land, but to the cultivation. But no one will deny that the condition of Palestine at this day is different from what it was in the time of Moses.
Tacitus and Julius Cæsar have written on Germany, and represented it as an unfruitful country, but no one in our age will think of using their testimony, and from it pronounce against the present productiveness of this country. But if we consider the condition and changes of Palestine, by how many eruptions of the Arabs and other nations it has been injured, who laboured to destroy every thing in their way ; it will necessarily follow that, agriculture being neglected, the whole region must have suffered incalculable loss and calamity. If we take these things into the account, it will appear evident that Palestine has deteriorated; but it is by no means so much changed as the adversaries of religion assert ; so that by the testimony of ancient and modern writers it is allowed to be favourable for cultivation. Tacitus* says of Palestine, it has few showers, a rich soil, and produces sour fruits, and besides them balsam and dates. Thus that author speaks, from whom we find no mention of its barrenness, but rather praise of its fertility. I will allow that the neighbourhood of Jerusalem does not produce so great a supply of fruits as the rest of Palestine ; but I disagree with the opinions of those who pronounce it barren. Maundrell has asserted that the land about Sichem is unfruitful, but Thomson denies it, saying that the land about Naplosa, (so Sichemt is now called) is very fruitful ; its hills are finely cultivated, abounding with olive trees, citron trees, and other fruit trees, and watered with clear rivulets which descend from the mountains. Strabo is cited by all the adversaries as their favourite author, who is said to have described the whole of Palestine as barren. I will quote his words: “Moses," says he, “ brought his people into those places where Jerusalem is now built: which country he easily obtained, as it was not an object of contention, not being worthy of it. For it is a stony place, abounding in water, but the country around is dry and barren, and for sixty stadia, it has a stony surface.” It will therefore strike every one that reads it, that the adversaries have been drawn into a great error: for he by no means speaks of the whole of Palestine, but of the neighbourhood of Jerusalem only : and in what part of the world is there a country that has not some barren spots, if we take even the most fertile parts ? It would be more to the purpose, says
* Lib. ii. ad Glauc. de curat. cap. 10. * Lib. ii. in loyianum.
* Lib. v. cap. 6.
+ Neapolis in Samaria, Ptolem. lib. v. c. 16. Sichem it was called in the time of Christ according to Benjamin in Itiner. p. 38. By the inhabitants it was called Mabortha according to Josephus, lib. v. bell. Jud. cap. 4. Pliny calls it Mamortha. At this day it is called Naplosa.
$ In rebus Geograph. lib. xvi. p. 761. edit. Paris.
John Toland, * if the commentators woulil cite the words of Strabo to the iii. chapter of Exodus, and not those fictitious writers Aristeus, Hecateus, and I know not what others who have exaggerated the fertility of Palestine. But what Vitringat answered to Phaletranus who depended f on the authority of Strabo, that we also oppose to Toland: for what is brought from Strabo describing the region of Jerusalem as barren, rocky and dry, ought to be received with considerable allowance.
For in the first place, if you should transfer it to the whole lot of the tribe of Judah, you would commit a gross blunder. Then if you should apply it to the whole region near Jerusalem on all sides, you would not have the truth. For although something may be wanting, yet it is not so as Phaletranus and others say from Strabo: but it is to be understood especially of the mountainous and sterile land, which above the Mount of Olives lies in a long tract eastwardly towards Jericho. Strabo applied that without sufficient cause, to the whole region, and that excellent author who excels in describing other parts of this land, has not used the greatest accuracy, as the learned have already discovered. It is moreover a very false argument to say, a country is stony and therefore it is unfruitful : I freely grant that land of that kind is little suited to agriculture, but it may be very good for vines. The Jebusites would
* In libro de origine Jud. sect. ii. p. 139. + Comment in Esaiam. Tom. I. p. 199. # In dissertat, de oblatione sceptri Judaici, cap. 7.
have acted very foolishly in fixing their habitation there, if the testimony of Strabo was true. Allow me to bring forward the testimony of Aristeus about Judea. He says Jerusalem is well situated : the region is large and good, and some part of it consists of plain, as that towards Samaria, and also the parts contiguous to Idumea: but some parts are mountainous, where they need agriculture and perpetual care to produce fertility, and from this it happens that all parts are cultivated, and there is a great abundance throughout the whole country. A little farther on, he states, that there is there a great attention to agriculture ; the region abounds in olives; it is fruitful in corn, pulse and vines, and it produces much honey. There are many fruit trees, but the palm trees especially are innumerable. There are also many flocks of various kinds, and plenty of provision for them. Josephus* mentions some places from Hecatæus, in which the fertility of Palestine is praised. Hecatæus Abderita, a philosopher, and a man renowned for his exploits, who lived with king Alexander, and conversed with Ptolemy, son of Layus, has made mention of the Jews, not merely by the way, but has written a book concerning them. This Hecatæus, says Josephus, has written an account of the extent of our country, and its excellence. They have, says Hecatæus three hundred thousand acres of land, generally of the very best and most fertile soil : for of so great extent is Judea. Shaw also testifies that the greater part of Palestine is very fruitful. [ Which fertility he makes to include fitness for cultivating the vine, and therefore, he says, the region of Je
* Contra Apionem lib. i. p. 596. Antiq. Jud. lib. xv. c. 5. dc bello Jud. lib, iii. c. 2. et 12. Ammianus Marcellinus lib. xiv. c. 26. Polybius lib. v. c. 70. Justinus lib. xxxvi. c. 3.
of Many doubt whether Judea is of so great exicnt, but this is nothing to us; we want only his testimony respecting its fertility.
# Travels and observations in several parts of the Levant, p. 336. Radzivili Peregrinat. Hierosol. p. 47.