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empire. The inhabitants have always been distinguished for personal comeliness. The rich Turks and Persians have always filled their harems with female slaves from Georgia and Circassia. The passage before us proves, that when Tyre was at the height of its splendor, this kind of traffic was common.Horses and horsemen from Togarmah are mentioned. Formerly, the country of Armenia-supposed to be the same as Togarmah-was celebrated for producing horses for the kings of Persia ; and in later times the people have paid their tribute in horses.—Ivory and ebony are mentioned as obtained from Dedan. If Dedan here means a part of the country adjacent to the Persian Gulf, then these articles were probably obtained from India. That ebony is intended by the word on, seems to be indubitable. The Hebrew word has passed into the Bevos of the Greeks, the ebenum of the Latins, and our ebony. It occurs only in the plural, probably, according to Gesenius, because the wood was obtained only in planks, or split into pieces for exportation. Ebony is the heart-wood of a tree called, in botanical language, diospyros ebenum, or the ebony tree-a native of India. Its great hardness made it an article of value.—“Emeralds, purple, broidered work, fine linen, coral and agate" are mentioned as obtained from Syria. Probably they were brought by land from the Gulf of Persia, through Syria. It is not known that they are productions of this country; but they are procured in abundance in India. The word rendered “ coral,” 7972, more probably means a ruby. It is enumerated among precious stones, and was undoubtedly one of them.—“ Wheat, honey, oil and balm” are enumerated as articles obtained from Judah. These are well-known productions of ancient Palestine; and Tyre derived no small part of its importance from its vicinity to this rich agricultural region.“ Wine of Helbon and white wool” are mentioned as obtained from Damascus. Wool was procured in the fleece, and dyed and manufactured at Tyre. The wine of Helbon-awas celebrated in ancient times.
Helbon was a Syrian city—the Xonxßor of the Greeks. The table of the Persian kings was supplied with this wine, and they drank no other. Strabo XV., p. 1068. The city was famous in Arabian history in the middle ages, under the name of Haleb. It is now Aleppo. See Bochart's Hieroz., 1: 543.—"Bright iron, cassia and calamus” are mentioned as obtained from Dan and Javan. Cassia and calamus are supposed by Dr. Vincent to have been
undoubted productions of India; and this passage is regarded by him as an important historical proof that the intercourse with India was carried on through Arabia. Cassia--777—was a species of aromatic bark resembling cinnamon, but less fragrant and less valuable. Like cinnamon, it was obtained from India. Calamus—927—was a sweet cane, or an aromatic reed, growing in marshes-the κάννα, κάννη, or κάνη of the Greeks. It was used as an article of perfume, and the Hebrews employed it in public worship. According to Pliny (12: 22), it grew in Arabia, Syria and India; according to Theophrastus (Hist. Plant. 9,7), it grew in the vales of Lebanon.—“Precious clothes for chariots" are mentioned as procured from Dedan. Dedan here referred to was probably in Arabia. But this verse is very
obscure. The word rendered “chariots” may mean “riding ;” and the clothes," or garments, may have been for horsemen, for chariots or for charioteers. Whether they were manufactured in Dedan or not, it is impossible now to determine.—“ Lambs, rams and goats” are mentioned as procured from Arabia.—“Spices, precious stones and gold” are mentioned as procured from Sheba and Raamah; and“ blue clothes, and broidered work," from Haran, Canneh, Eden, etc.
This enumeration shows that a large part of the commerce of Tyre was in articles of luxury; though it was the grand mart for all the trade of the Eastern and Western world.
In the consideration of this subject, it is natural to inquire to what extent the Jews embarked in the commercial enterprises of ancient times. With a somewhat extended sea-coast, and such a location that some part of the traffic between India and Europe must of necessity pass through their territory, it was to be expected, perhaps, that they would seek to share in the immense profits which had made Tyre so splendid an emporium. Yet the idea of engaging in foreign commerce seems never to have occurred to them until the time of Solomon; and the plan was never extensively prosecuted after his reign. They were essentially an agricultural people. Till the time of David, they were extensively occupied in wars, and had little leisure for more peaceful employments. They shrunk from all communication with foreign nations; even from that temporary intercourse which was needful in commercial pursuits. They were a peculiar people—designed to have within themselves all that was necessary for their welfare, and intended to be kept distinct from all the nations of the earth. Indeed, the commercial
enterprises of Solomon were a decided departure from the spirit of the national institutions. They were a part of that system of luxury and splendor and extravagance in which, unhappily, he indulged ; and which was so much the object of the divine displeasure.
The accounts of the Scriptures respecting the commerce of Solomon are brief; and perhaps no other part of the Bible has given rise to so many speculations. 1 Kings 9: 26–28; 2 Chron. 9: 21. The amount of the statement is, that the port of Ezion-geber was selected; that a traffic was carried on with Ophir and with Tarshish, consisting in gold, silver, ivory, apes and peacocks.
1. The port selected was Ezion-geber. This was a city of Arabia Deserta, on the Elanitic Gulf of the Red Sea. It was selected by Solomon with a view to his securing the India trade, and as a part of the enterprise for which he had built Tadmor. The idea seems to have occurred to him, that by passing to the sea, and thence departing by vessels, it would be easier to reach the East than by overland journeys through Babylon and Persia. According to this plan, it was necessary to pass through Petra; and probably Petra derived some of its importance from this enterprise. There is now at the head of the Red Sea, a castle or fortress, called the fortress of Akaba, which is the usual stopping-place for pilgrims on their way to Mecca; though it is entirely undistinguished as a place of commerce. “ In the region of Akaba,” says Rippell, who visited it in 1822,“ there is not a single boat or water-craft of any kind; the Arabs in fishing use only rafts made of the trunks of palm trees tied together.” . It could never have been a very advantageous place for commerce, and seems early to have been abandoned. Its selection was only a part of that great experiment, pursued for ages, to devise the best means of securing the rich commerce of the East. The articles which were brought by vessels to Ezion-geber, or Akaba as it is now called, were conveyed by caravans through the long valley, now known as the EỈ Ghor or the El Araba, and which is a continuance of the valley of the Jordan, and thence to Hebron and Jerusalem.*
2. A more important, and much more difficult question is: Where was the Ophir situated to which the vessels of Solomon
* See the Travels of Burckhardt, who was the first among the moderns to discover this valley.
traded ? Few inquiries have been more perplexing, and more unsatisfactory than this.* The places where Ophir has been sought are the following.
(1.) Arabia, particularly the southwestern part, or the country now called Yemen. This was the opinion of Prideaux, and many others. To this opinion, the objection so often urged is, in my view, unanswerable. It is incredible that a fleet should be fitted out with so much care and expense to convey productions by water which could have been conveyed in a very few days, and with much less risk and expense by land. The whole account in the Scriptures, indicates that the ships were fitted for a distant voyage. Indeed it is expressly stated that the voyage lasted three years.
(2.) The more common opinion is, that the Ophir of the Scriptures was eastern Africa. This was the opinion of Bruce, and on his map it is located a little south of Abyssinia. This opinion has also been defended by Huet. In support of this, he adduces seven arguments, which are drawn from the name Ophir (from which he supposes Africa to be derived); from the fact that eastern Africa was a region which produced gold in abundance, and indeed all the articles enumerated in the account of the commerce of Solomon ; from the fact that various inscriptions are found in Sofala on the eastern coast of Africa, which he supposes to have recorded the voyages made by the ships of Solomon; from the facility of the navigation to that place, etc. This opinion was first broached, it is believed, by the friar John don Sanctos, who resided in Sofala. It is but justice to let the friar speak for himself. “ Near to Massapa is a great hill, called Fura-supposed to have derived its name from Ophirwhence may be discerned a great part of the kingdom of Monamotapa; for which cause he (the king) will not suffer the Portugals to go thither, that they should not covet his great country and hidden mines. On the top of that hill are yet standing pieces of old walls and ancient ruins of lime and stone, which testify that there have been strong buildings; a thing
* Those who may be disposed to read what has been written on the subject, may consult the following dissertations in Ugolin: Thesau. Ant. Sac. vii. pp. 276–419 ; Dan. Huetti Commentarium de navigatione Salomonis, Martini Lipenii Dissertatio de navigatione Salomonis, and Johannis Christophori Wichmanshausen dissertatio de navigatione Ophiritica.
not seen in all Caffraria ; for even the king's houses are of wood, daubed with clay, and covered with straw. The natives, and especially the Moors, have a tradition from their ancestors, that those houses belonged to the queen of Saba, who carried much gold thence down to the Cuama to the sea, and so along the coast of Ethiopia to the Red Sea. Others say
that these ruins were Solomon's factory, and that this Fura, or Afura, is no other than Ophir, the name not being much altered in so long a time. This is certain, that round about that hill, there is much fine gold. The navigation might in those times have been longer, for want of so good ships or pilots as now are to be had, and by reason of much time spent in trucking with the Cafares, as even in this time the merchants often spend a year or more in that business, although the Cafares be grown more covetous of our wares, and the mines be better known. Much time is also spent in the voyage by the rivers, and by that sea, which hath differing monsoons, and can be sailed but by two winds, which blow six months from the east, and as many from the west. Solomon's fleet had, besides those mentioned, this let, that the Red Sea is not safely navigable but by day, by reason of many isles and shoals; likewise it was necessary to put into harbors for fresh water and provisions, and to take in new pilots and mariners and to make reparation ; which considered, with their creeping by the shore for the want of compass and experience in those seas, and their Sabbath rests, and their truck with the Cafares, might extend their whole voyage, in going, staying and returning, to three years. Further, the ivory, apes, gems, and precious woods (which grew in the wild places of Tebe within Sofala), whence they make almaidias, or canoes, twenty yards long of one timber, and much fine black wood grows in the coast, and is carried thence to India and Portugal; all these may make the matter probable. As for peacocks, I saw none there, but there must needs be some within land ; for I have seen some Cafares wear their plumes on their heads. As there is store of fine gold, so also is there fine silver in Chicona where there are rich mines.” These circumstances are so striking and so full of probability, and the difficulties respecting any other place have been so great, as to appear conclusive to many in regard to the situation of Ophir ; and accordingly this opinion has been embraced by D'Anville, Huet, Montesquieu, Bruce and Robertson ; and even Dr. Vincent allows that Op must there be sought for by those who object to Arabia.