Page images

Bochart, Geog. Sac. pars post. lib. 1. c. 42.) The syllable bec, in the word Baalbec, is the abbreviation of the word Becaa, and Baalbecaa; nypa bya, "the Baal," or "temple of the Sun of the valley;" Baal or the Sun having been worshipped there in a very remote period of antiquity. Pococke erroneously supposes Baalbec to be a corruption of Baalbeit, the house of Baal. The name of Heliopolis is given to the place by the Greek and Roman writers, but it still retains its original name of Baalbec; for, as Ammianus Marcellinus (lib. xiv.) observes, the Greek names of places in Asia were never adopted by the natives.

It will be curious to consider the account which the earliest of modern travellers, or rather, one who belonged to the middle ages, gives of Baalbec, and see how it accords with the accounts of recent travellers. Benjamin of Tudela, a native of Spain, who returned from his travels in the year 1173, thus speaks of Baalbec: "And from thence (Salcah) I came to Baalbic

and this is Baaleth ,(בקעה the abbreviation for ביק) לבעל ביק

in the valley of Lebanon, which Solomon built for the daughter of Pharaoh; and the structure of the palace (the temple) is of vast stones; the length of each stone is twenty spans, and the breadth twelve spans; and there is nothing between stone and stone ( ja pa 'N) (that is, there is no cement), and men say that this structure was not built but by the hands of Asmodaius3. And at the head of the city a great spring issues forth, and flows through the midst of the city like a large river; and on its banks are mills and gardens and orchards, in the midst of the city." If we compare this account of Benjamin with the most recent description of the place, we shall find it wonderfully exact., "In the wall which encompassed some of the buildings at Baalbec, the stones still to be seen are of vast magnitude; three of the stones, which lie end to end in the same row, extend sixty-one yards in length, depth and breadth four yards each." (Maundrell.) Other travellers (Pococke Richardson, &c.) equally attest the amazing dimensions of the stones. Josephus mentions the vast size of the stones used in the construction of the walls, towers, and temple of Jerusalem. Some used in the walls were twenty cubits long and ten broad. (De Bello Jud. lib. v. c. 4.) Those used in the construction

3 'Aoμodaios rò novηpòv daiμóviov. (Septuagint, Book of Tobit, 111. 8.)

of the principal towers were of equal dimensions; but those used in the construction of the temple were twenty-five cubits long, twelve broad, and eight thick (Antiq. lib. xv. c. 11); and some of them even nearly double this length. (De Bello Jud. p. 1228, ed. Huds.) It is amusing to read Jenning's sceptical observations (Jewish Antiq. b. 2, c. 1) on the account given by Josephus of the magnitude of these stones. "I apprehend it would puzzle all the mathematicians of the present age to contrive machines by which stones of such prodigious weight and size as those mentioned by Josephus could be raised and managed. We are to consider he wrote before the invention of printing, when books could not be soon and easily published and dispersed into many hands as they now are. It is possible, therefore, a vain desire of exalting the glory of his nation, might prevail with him, in some cases, above a strict regard to truth, when it was probable none who were able to contradict him might ever see his book; or if they should, and were of his own nation, they would not be inclined to do it."

But many of the ancient nations constructed buildings on a scale of such vast magnificence, and with materials so gigantic, that their ruins even strike the spectator with amazement: The very ruins of which astonish us, as Niebuhr says when speaking of the old Etruscan cities. (Hist. of Rome, Vol. 1. p. 129, 3rd ed.) The great architectural works of the Etruscans and of the Romans were built by compulsory labour. (Plin. lib. xxxvI. c. 15, and Niebuhr as above.) Etruscan artists were employed by the Roman kings. (Liv. lib. 1. c. 55.) Tyrian artists were employed by Solomon. (1 Kings, v. and vii. 13, 14; Joseph. Antiq. lib. vIII. p. 341.)

Benjamin of Tudela says there is no cement between the large stones in the buildings at Baalbec: this is attested by modern travellers. Maundrell, speaking of the lofty columns of the great temple, says: "It is remarkable that the shafts of these columns consist of three pieces, most exactly joined together without cement, which is used in no part of these buildings; they being only strengthened with iron pins received into a socket worked in each stone." Lieutenant-Colonel Squire, in his Travels, observes, "The workmanship of the buildings at Baalbec is excellent; the stones are large, and so closely joined together without cement, that the blade of a knife could not be inserted between them." (Mod. Trav. Syria, p. 197, note.)

Benjamin remarks, that men say the buildings were erected by the hands of Asmodaius, the evil spirit. Maundrell says, "the stones are of such a prodigious size, that the present natives of the country ascribe this piece of architecture to the devil."

Of the river mentioned by Benjamin, Maundrell says, “the Litane rises from Antilibanus, a little to the north of Baalbec, and receives great increase from a fine spring close to the city walls." Thus we find that Benjamin's brief account of Baalbec is substantiated by the more ample descriptions of modern travellers.


Palmyra, by the Greek and Roman writers. Palmyra, or Palmira, and adauópa, by Josephus. 77, Syriac. 77, Hebrew.

Under the reigns of David and Solomon, the Hebrew dominions were extended as far north as Thapsacus on the Euphrates. (2 Sam. vIII. 3; 1 Chron. XVIII. 3; 1 Kings Iv. 21. 24; in the Heb. it is v. 1. 4.) In this northern part of his dominions Solomon built Tadmor, which afterwards became so celebrated in Roman history under the name of Palmyra: "And Solomon built Tadmor in the wilderness." (1 Kings IX. 18; 2 Chron. VIII. 4.) "Solomon marching into the desert of Upper Syria," says Josephus, "built there a large city." (Antiq. lib. VIII. c. 6, p. 354.) In the Book of Kings it is written, which means a palm-tree; but it is corrected, in the margin, by the Masorets, and read on, as it is in 2 Chron. In the Septuagint, according to the Vatican manuscript, it is, in Kings, ᾠκοδόμησε τὴν Θέρμαι: in Chron. Θοεδμορ. In the Alexandrine manuscript it is, in Kings, Oɛpμál; in Chron. Oεdμòp: it is Оepμowe by Eusebius, in locis Hebraicis. (Onomast.)

Josephus describes Palmyra as being two days journey from Upper Syria, one from the Euphrates, and six from Babylon; and says that the springs of water there induced Solomon to build in that particular place. (Antiq. lib. vIII. c. vI. p. 354.)

I do not know that any writer has satisfactorily explained the word Palmyra, or the word Tadmor, the name given to the city by Solomon. It is said to have derived its name of

Palmyra from the multitude of palm-trees for which the place was remarkable. "Amid the barren deserts of Arabia," says Gibbon, "a few cultivated spots rise like islands out of the sandy ocean. Even the name of Tadmor, or Palmyra, by its signification in the Syriac, as well as in the Latin language, denoted the multitude of palm-trees which afforded shade and verdure to that temperate region." (Vol. II. c. 11.) Notwithstanding the laborious accuracy of investigation which may be ascribed to this historian, yet, here, he is incorrect in both points. Tadmor does not denote the multitude of palm-trees; has no relation whatsoever to a palm-tree, but the word on which has been assumed as the reading in the Hebrew text, 1 Kings, Ix. 18, signifies a palm-tree; but this word, supposed to be in the Hebrew text, originates from the faulty omission of the letter, and in the Hebrew text of 1 Kings 1x. 18, is written thus,, evidencing the omission of a letter, which is supplied by the marginal correction of the Masorets, and read, as it is in 2 Chron. VIII. 4. The name Palmyra cannot be derived from palma, a palm-tree. Had the name of the place been derived from the multitude of palm-trees, it would have been called Palmetum. Another derivation is given in a note in Hudson's Josephus-quasi condita ¿p' âλμvpā, scilicet y. This derivation may be illustrated by what Wood remarks respecting the nature of the ground in the vicinity. "About three or four miles to the S.E. of the ruins, in the desert, is the Valley of Salt (supposed to be the place where David smote the Syrians (2 Sam. VIII. 13), which now supplies, in a great measure, Damascus and the neighbouring towns with that commodity. We went to see it, and found they had hollowed the ground in several places deep enough to receive a foot or more of the rain-water, which, when once lodged, covers the part so hollowed with a fine white salt. Wherever we could thrust the Arabs' pikes into the ground, we found it was impregnated with salt to a considerable depth."

is a name given to the city of Jericho, because the vicinity abounded in palm-trees; it was also called " the city of palm-trees," D'¬pon ny (Jud. 1. 16, 111. 13; Deut. xxxiv. 3): in 2 Chron. xxviii. 15, d'on y 107. In Jud. xx. 23, the

,במישרי יריחו are in the Targum explained by בבעל תמר words

"in the plains of Jericho."

The name of Tadmor was given to the city by Solomon when

he built it. Solomon surrounded the city with very strong walls, and called it Thadamora, says Josephus, and so called by the Syrians in his time, but by the Greeks Palmira (Palmyra). (Antiq. lib. vIII. c. vI. p. 354.) Its name of Tadmor, or Thadamora, as it is in Josephus, is derived from the Syriac language, in which it signifies "admiration," "wonder," " 07 admiratus est, admiratio, on by the Hebrews; being built in such a situation, and no doubt splendidly, it was an object of admiration, of wonder.

Why is it translated in the Septuagint Θέρμαι, and Θερμάθ? Can it be in reference to the hot-springs, Sépuaι wŋyaí, for which it is remarkable? But if so, we might expect the words to be, not τὴν Θέρμαι, but τὰς Θέρμας. These springs are thus described by Wood: "This might be made a very agreeable spot, by a proper distribution of two springs which are now entirely neglected by the Arabs. They are both hot, sulphureous water, which, however, the inhabitants find wholesome and not disagreeable. The most considerable rises westward of the ruins, from a beautiful grotto at the foot of the mountains, almost high enough in the middle to admit us standing upright. The whole bottom is a basin of very clear water about two feet deep. The heat thus confined makes it an excellent bath, for which purpose the Arabs use it. The stream, which runs from it in a pretty smart current, is about a foot deep, and more than three feet over, confined in some places by an old paved channel; but after a very short course it is soaked up in the sand, eastward of the ruins . . . While Palmyra flourished, this beautiful source must, no doubt, have been of great value. The other stream, whose source we could not see, contains nearly the same quantity of water, and runs through the ruins in an ancient aqueduct underground, near the long portico, and in the same direction; it joins the first, to the east of the ruins, and is lost with it in the sands. The Arabs told us there was a third stream not quite so considerable as these two, and conveyed in an aqueduct underground through the ruins, as the last, but that its passage was so broken and choked up with rubbish, that it had not appeared for some time." (Mod. Trav. Syria, Vol. 1. p. 32, &c.)

The name of the place in the Septuagint, Oɛpuál, may, I think, be accounted for thus: the Greeks may have named the place Oépμai, from the hot-springs there. This word, trans

« PreviousContinue »