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SCRIPTURE GEOGRAPHY.

PART I.

Geographical and Historical: extending from the Creation

of the World to the final settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan.

CHAPTER I.

ANTEDILUVIAN GEOGRAPHY.

Our knowledge of the antediluvian world is limited to very narrow bounds, owing to the extreme brevity of Scripture in relating the events which occurred before the deluge. This conciseness in the history has prevented any extended geographical account of the places where those events occurred; there being no mention of any excepting the Garden of Eden, with the Rivers which determine its situation; the Land of Nod, and the city of Enoch, which Cain built therein. With regard to the situation of these places, we must in the beginning acknowledge that considerable uncertainty exists; and that, though many pious and learned men have examined, with great diligence and attention, all the existing sources of information, yet their opinions and conclusions are various, and even sometimes contradictory. In such cases we shall consider it our duty to designate that which we conceive to be the most satisfactory decision, and leave the reader to form his own opinion from proper investigation of the subject.

1. The situation of the Garden of Eden. The name Eden, in Hebrew, signifies bliss, pleasure, or delight; and as this place was remarkable as the residence of our first parents, in their state of innocence and happiness, its

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situation is particularly denoted by the sacred historian as lying eastward, and having a river going out of in, which from thence was rted and became into four heads. By the term eastward, Moses probably means that it was situated eastward from the place where he then wrote, i. e. from the Land of Canaan or its vicinity. But this is very general and indefinite; for it may apply to any of the countries east of the Land of Canaan. It is then to the rivers that we must look for data upon which to found a conclusion respecting the location of Eden. These rivers were four, namely, the Pison, the Gihon, the Hiddekel, and the Euphrates. I. The Pison, we are told, “compasses the whole land of Chavila, or Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good : there is bdellium and the onyx-stone." Some have supposed this land of Chavila to be the present Cabul, a country between Persia and Hindostan; and the Pison to be one of the rivers falling into the Indus from the west, as gold and precious stones are known to exist in that region. The Gihon they suppose to be the western branch of the Oxus, now called Jihon: and the Hiddekel the eastern branch of the same, both of which unite near Balk, a city in the eastern part of the Persian dominions. The Euphrates, written in Hebrew Phrath or Perath, they suppose to be the Hirmend, or Hindmend. According to this theory, then, Eden must have been situated somewhere in the eastern part of the Persian empire, or in the country now called Cabulistan, between Persia and Hindostan.

II. The learned Huetius and others suppose Eden to have been placed in the southern part of Babylonia, not far from the Persian Gulf, where they conjecture that the Tigris and Euphrates joined, and afterwards separated; consequently there were two rivers above and two below that junction, making the four mentioned by Moses. But this certainly does not well answer the description given in Scripture, and this conjecture is also liable to other objections.

II. The most probable idea concerning the situation of Eden, we conceive to be, that it was placed in or near Armenia; because,

1. We have the name of a river which flowed from Eden, Euphrates, which name has continued almost unchanged to the present day. This river has its source in the mountains of Armenia, near lake Arsissa. There are two streams at first flowing westward, but after their junction near Mount Taurus, turning to the south-west, the river receives a smaller stream, and flows towards the Mediterranean; but coming near the Caucasian mountains, it is turned to the south-east, and at length joining the Tigris, it empties into the Persian Gulf by several mouths.

2. The Hiddekel is generally agreed by historians to be the Tigris. The prophet Daniel also says he had a vision “in Babylonia, by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel.” Now by the “great river,” he must mean the Tigris, as it was the only great river in Babylonia, except the Euphrates. The Tigris rises near the head of the Euphrates, and pursuing a south-easterly direction, divides Assyria from Mesopotamia. And we are told (Gen. ii. 14, margin) that the Hiddekel goeth eastward to Assyria. Therefore, we consider there can be little doubt as to the identity of the two rivers

3. The Pison is more difficult to determine, but has been generally taken to be the Phasis, or Absarus of the ancients, now called Batoum, which empties into the Euxine or Black Sea. The Havilah, which was encompassed by this river, was probably Colchis, between the Euxine and the Caspian. This region was celebrated among the ancients for the abundance and excellence of its gold. It must, however, be borne in mind, that there was another Havilah, in Arabia, different from this country, and of which we shall speak in another place.

4. The Gihon, which is said to have compassed the whole land of Ethiopia. The Hebrew word, here translated Ethiopia, is Cush, which was a term used to designate several regions in Asia, and one in Africa. (See Cush, Part II. of this work.) Now, as the Cush here mentioned could be neither in Africa nor Arabia, we must suppose it was either in Assyria west of the Caspian, or in Bactria east of the Oxus or Jihon, both of which countries were settled by the descendants of Cush. According to the first supposition, the Gihon may be the river Kerah, called by the Greeks Gyndus, which is possibly a corruption of the name Gihon. But it is more generally believed that the Gihon was the Oxus, yet called in that country Jihon.

All reasoning upon the subject of the situation of Eden must, however, be vague, and all conclusions naturally appear unsatisfactory, when we reflect that as the surface of the earth must have been convulsed and broken up by the universal deluge, so the course of the rivers must have been, in many instances, greatly, if not entirely, altered; and that many other changes in the face of the country would be the natural and obvious consequence of the general desolation produced by that awful visitation of the Deity upon a guilty world. It is also possible that God chose to blot out this

beautiful spot from his creation, after the expulsion of our first parents from the garden, and so destroy both the scene and the memorial of man's transgression.

II. The Land of Nod, and the City of Enoch. The land of Nod, in which Cain is said to have dwelt after he had been cursed for the murder of Abel, if it mean a country, was situated on the east of Eden; or as some translators render it, before or over-against Eden; meaning that Cain removed no further from Eden than he was compelled, and that he remained not far from it. There is, however, a strong presumption that the original meaning of this term was not any particular country, but merely descriptive of the state of Cain after his exile. The expression of the Samaritan version of the Old Testament is Nad, a vagabond or trembler in the land, and the Hebrew word in our Bible will bear the same meaning, as may be seen by reference to the margin in Gen. iv. 16. And even if taken as the name of a region of country, Nod imports wandering, exile, wildness, or the wilds, in allusion to the unsettled and wandering state of the unhappy fugitive.

With regard to the situation of the city of Enoch, which Cain built, nothing is known with any degree of certainty

CHAPTER II.

FROM THE DELUGE TO THE BUILDING OF BABEL, AND THE

CONFUSION OF TONGUES.

I. The Country and Mountains of Ararat. THERE is no mention in Scripture of any particular place during the continuance of the flood; we are only told of the general prevalence of the waters, their depth on the mountains, and of their gradual subsiding, until the Ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. Gen. visi. 4.

The country of Ararat has been generally admitted to be in Persian Armenia, west of the Caspian Sea, in which region is situated the city now called Erivan. In the northeast part of Armenia are lofty mountains, and upon one of these, called Mount Masis, and by the Turks Agridah, it is supposed the Ark rested. It has two peaks, distinguished by the names Greater and Lesser Ararat. The height of this mountain is said to be not less than 15,000 feet: it is covered with snow and ice, and may be distinguished at a distance of nearly 200 miles. It has been visited by modern travellers, but its summit has proved inaccessible. Some years ago, a large reward was offered by the Turkish governor of Beyazid to any one who should reach the top; but though many of the natives who lived at the foot of the mountain have made the attempt, they have always failed to reach the summit, which it is probable has never been visited by a human being since the days of Noah.

There is, however, an expression in Scripture which seems to lead to a contrary conclusion from that which places the mountains of Ararat in Armenia. We read (Gen. xi. 2.) that as mankind journeyed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Now Armenia is not east, but very far north of Shinar, and indeed somewhat to the west, so that this journey could not have been from the direction of Armenia. Inquiries have therefore been made to discover the mountains of Ararat in some country to the east of Shinar; and some, relying on ancient traditions, have placed Ararat in the mountainous region between India and Persia, not far from the sources of the Indus, on whose banks the traditions and sacred books of the Hindoos affirm that Noah lived for some time after the flood. The mountain Aryavarta or Aryawart certainly has some affinity in name to the Hebrew Araraut, and these mountains were far east from the plain of Shinar, as the expression in Genesis would seem to imply. Still we think it most probable that, after all, Ararat was in Armenia; and that when the posterity of Noah, or a part of them, left Armenia, they first went eastward towards the Caspian Sea, then south-eastward, and finally westward to Shinar.

II. The Land of Shinar, and the Cities built there. We are now naturally led to inquire into the situation of the land of Shinar, where the famous tower of Babel was begun; where the language of mankind was confounded, and

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