BL - 41 Bible people & Sects

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Purpose of the Course
                   This course is designed so that every student would know the ancient people of Bible and know the background of the Bible.
Objective of the Course
                   The study of this course helps the students
  • to know the people of Bible Times
  • to understand the basic history of ancient people
  • to understand the culture of ancient people of Bible
  • to interpret the Biblical passages in relevant to the history and culture of ancient people
Method of Study
                   As everyone reads this notes, he / she is advised to read the Bible references given in the notes.  This practice would certainly help him to understand the subject elaborately.  The  students are also motivated to read any other history book that deals with the history and culture of ancient people of the Bible.
                   Amalekites were descendants of Amalek, who was the son of Eliphaz and who was the grandson of Esau (Gen. 36 : 12, 16; Ex. 17 : 8; Num. 24 : 20; Deut. 25 : 17; Jud. 3 : 13).  Israel first met the Amalekites at Rephidim in the wilderness of Sinai on their way to the promised land (Ex. 17 : 8 – 13).  The Amalekites were the people who first attacked Israel.  Because of this act, the Amalekites came under a permanent ban and were to be destroyed (Deut. 25 : 19; I Sam. 15 : 2-3).  On that occasion, Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands, so Joshua defeated the Amalekites.  In order to thank God, Moses built an altar there and called its name “JEHOVAH NISSI”.
                   A year later, when Israel tried to enter Palestine by hearing the reports of spies, they were defeated by the Amalekites (Num. 14 : 43 – 45).  The Amalekites became a permanent enemy to Israel. There were two encounters during the period of Judges (Jud. 3 : 13; 6 : 3-5, 33; 7 : 12; 10 : 12).  Samuel commanded Saul to destroy the Amalekites, but Saul disobeyed (I Sam. 15).  David fought the Amalekites in Ziklag (I Sam. 27 : 6; 30 : 1-26).  Finally in Hzekiah’s day, the sons of Simeon attacked and destroyed them (1 Chro. 4 : 42, 43).  The Amalekites are no more, now.  They have been destroyed completely.
                   The descendants of Benammi, Lot’s younger son by his daughter, born in a cave near Zoar (Gen. 19 : 38).  Ammonites were regarded as relatives of the Israelites, who were commanded to treat them kindly (Deut. 2 : 19).  The Ammonites lived in the area to the East of the Jabbok (Num. 21 : 24; Deut. 2 : 37; Josh. 12 : 2; 13 : 10, 25; Jud. 11 : 13, 22).
                   The Ammonites joined with the Moabites in hiring Balaam.  They were forbidden to enter the congregation of Israel to the tenth generation (Deut. 23 : 3-6).  During the days of Judges, the Ammonites attacked Israel.  Jephthah drive them out (Jud. 10 : 11).  Later, the Ammonites King Nahash besieged Jabesh-Gilead, but Saul drove off Nahash (1 Sam. 11 : 1 – 11; 12 : 12; 14 : 47).  During David’s time, Nahash became friend to Israel, but son of Nahash, Hanun rejected David’s friendship and insulted them.  Hanun’s army was defeated by David’s army (II Sam. 10) and after one year Israel captured Rabbah, the capital of Ammonites.  So, a few Ammonites again became friends to David.  Notably Shobi, son of Nahash cared for David, when he fled from Absalom (II Sam. 17 : 27-29).
                   Solomon included some Ammonites women in his harem.  An Ammonitess, Naamah was the mother of Rehoboam (I King 14 : 21-31).  However, the enemity between Israel and the Ammonites continued for centuries (2 Chro. 20 : 1-30; 24 : 26; 26 : 8; 27 : 5; 2 Kings 23 : 13; 24 : 2 ; 25 : 25).  Even the prophets attacked the Ammonites bitterly (Jer. 40 : 11-14; 49 : 1-6; ,Ezek. 21 : 20; 25 : 1-7; Zep. 2 : 8-11).  After Israel return from Babylonian exile, Tobiah, the governor of Ammon hindered the works of Nehemiah (Neh.  2 : 10, 19; 4 : 3,7).  Often the Israelites were influenced by the Ammonites religion and worshiped their God Molech / Milcom (Jud. 10 : 6; 1 King 11 : 1,5,7,33).  After exile, inter marriage between the Jews and the Ammonites were consured by Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 9 : 1-2; Neh. 13 : 1, 23-31).  In 2nd century BC, Judas Maccabaeus fought against the Ammonites (1 Macc. 5 : 6).  The Ammonites are nowhere in the world and in the history after 1st century BC.
                   They were a group of people of Canaan and opponents of Israel.  They were spread through out the hills on either side of  the Jordan (Gen. 10 : 16; Ex. 33 : 2; Num. 13 : 29).  They were desert people, not much civilizied.  Their head-quarter was in the mountain of Basar.  They were idol worshippers.
                    Although Abraham had an alliance with the Amorites of Hebron (Gen. 14 : 5-7), the Amorites became enemy of Israel, when they returned from Egyptian slavery and settled in the promised land.  Israel first defeated the kings of Amorites in order to possess the promised land (Josh. 12 : 1-6; Jud. 1 : 36; Amos 2 : 9; Ps. 135 : 11; 136 : 19).  Gad, Reuben and half tribe of Manasseh settled in the eastern Amorite land (Num. 32 : 33).  The people of Ai are called Amorites (Jos. 7 : 7; 10 : 1-27; 11 : 1-14).  After Israel possessed the promised land, the Amorites became menials (I King 9 : 20).  Ahab and Manasseh were influenced by the idolatry of the Amorites (1 King 21 : 26; 2 Kings 21 : 11 cf. Gen. 15 : 16).  There were no Amorites after the first century BC.
                   They were the descendants of an eponymous ancestor of Anak.  They lived in Palestine before the Israelites occupied it (Num. 13 : 33; Deut. 9 : 2).  Arba was the forefather of Anak (Josh. 15 : 13).  They were physically giants (Deut. 1 : 28; 2 : 10, 21; 9 : 2; Num. 13 : 22).  They lived in the hill country of Hebron.  Joshua cut off the Anakim from Hebron, but some were left in Gaza.  Caleb finally defeated and drive them out (Josh. 11 : 21 ff).  Nothing is known about the Anakim (people of Anakim) outside the Bible.
                   The people of Arabia is not often mentioned as the Arabians in the Bible; because they were many small tribes.  The list of nations in Gen. 10 mentions a number of Arabian people as the descendants of Joktan and of Cush.  The North Arabian tribes are listed as being descendants of Abraham through Keturah and Hagar (Gen. 25) and some are of Esau (Gen. 36).  The Ishmaelites and the Midianites were Arabs and Caravan merchants (Gen. 37 : 25-36).  The Queen of Sheba from Arbia visited Solomon (I King 9 : 26-28; 10).  In the period of Hezekiah these people were very familiar (Is. 13 : 20; 21 : 13), some served as mercenaries in the defence of Jerusalem against Sennacherib.
Read :  (Je. 3 : 2; 25 : 23-24; Ezk. 24).  In the New Testament, Paul went and stayed in Arabia (Gal. 1 : 17).  There was a church, which was probably started by the visitors in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Act. 2 : 11).  Now Arabs are against Israel.
                   They were the descendants of Shem (Aram in Gen. 10 : 22, 23; 1 Chro. 1 : 17; Am. 9 : 7; Is. 22 : 6).  They probably lived in the area near the upper Mesopotamia, and near Syria about 2000 BC.  The chief gods of the Arameans were Boial-Shamain, Hadad-the storm god, Ashtar, Marduk, Nebo etc.
                   After leaving Ur, Abraham’s relatives settled in Haran. (Nahor, Bethuel, Laban).  Since they lived in Aramean area, they were also called Arameans.  So the wives of Isaac and Jacob came from the Aramean area (Gen. 11 : 28-34; 24 : 28 ff. 31 : 47; Deut. 26 : 5).  Later David’s Aramean contact was with Talmai whose daughter he married (Maacah – mother of Absolom.  II Sam. 3 : 3, 5).  Talmai ruled Geshur late in David’s reign when Absalom fled there for 3 years.  Absalom fled to Geshur because they were his relatives through mother (2 Sam. 13 : 37-39).
                   However, in the second half of David’s reign, he clashed with Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Aram – Zobah (north of Damascus).  David defeated the Arameans for joining with the Ammonites to oppose Israel (2 Sam. 10 – the Syrians in this chapter is Arameans – according to some scholars). The opposition between the Arameans and the Israel continued even during Solomon’s reign (2 Ch. 8 : 3,4; 1 King 11 : 23-25). There were many wars between the Aramean State of Damascus and Israel for many times (2 King 13 : 14-19, 22-25; 2 King 14:28).  Later, Assyrian King Tiglath – Pilesar III in 732 BC defeated Rezin on the request from Ahaz (2 King 16 : 5-9).  Assyrian king deported the Arameans of Syria to Qir (Kir), ironically their ancient home land, as prophesied by Amos (1 : 4-5).  (Syrians in Old Testament were often identified with the Arameans).
                   They were a kind of leaders in provinces of Asia of the Roman Empire.  The league of cities of the province of Asia was politically administred by the Asiarchs.  They were chosen annually from the richest and the most aristocratic citizens.  From their ranks were drawn the honorary high priests of the provincical cult of “Rome and the Emperor:, established by the league with its headquarters at Pergamum in 29 BC.
                   In Acts 19:31, some of the Asiarchs were mentioned as the friends of Paul.  They warned him not to risk his life by going into the Ephesian theatre during the riotous demonstration in honour of Artemis (Acts 19:21-41).
                   It is the  name of the ancient people who lived in Assyria.  The land of Asyria lay in the upper Mesopotamian plain. The capital of Assyria was Nineveh. Assur and Calah were other principle cities.  Assyria was a strong political power in 8-7th  centuries BC. The Assyrian king acted as regent on earth for the national god Ashur, to whom he reported his activities daily. Ashur’s primary temple was at its religious capital Assur,and various gods were believed to guard the interests of the other cities.  Anu and Adad resided at Assur, having temples and Ziggurats there. Ishtar (goddess of war and love), Nabu (god of wisdom) Sin(moon god), Ninurta (god of war and hunting) were other important deities.  Assyrians were known in the ancient world for their art and literature.  For example, Ashurbanipal an educated person, created a library with a large quantities of various literature. Archaeologist discovered 26,000 fragmentary tablets, representing about 10,000 different texts.
                   The land of Assyria was inhabited from the very early period of history (c.4000 BC).  The early seventeen kings lived in tents.  However the New-Assyrian period was between  900-612 BC. The Assyrians under Tukulti – Ninurta II (890 – 884 BC) began to take more vigorous military action against the tribes oppressing Assyria.  His dynasty carried on the plan of extending Assyrian territory. Tukulti’s son Ashurnasirpal II (883 – 859 BC) through his brilliant campaigns reached Lebanan and Philistia.  The kings of this Assyrian dynasty had many strong kings like Shalmaneser III (858 – 824BC).  Samsi – Adad V (823 – 811BC).  When Samsi-Adad died young, his wife Sammuramat (Semiramis) acted as regent until 805 BC, till their son Adad – Nirari III was old enough to assume authority.  Then Shalmaneser IV (782 – 773 BC) became king.  When he died, young and childless, Assyrian kingdom faced some internal dissension for some years.
                   However, Tiglath–Pileser III (744 – 727 BC) became king and he by his relentless campaigning defeated many neighbouring kings. He even received tributes from Menaham of Samaria and Hiram of Tyre (2 King 15: 20).  Tiglath – Pilesar’s other campaigns are recorded in 2 Kings 15 : 29, 30 and 16 : 1-10ff.  After him, his son Shalmaneser (726 – 722 BC) became king and defeated Israel (Northern kingdom).  He carried the people of Samaria into exile.  In Exile, the people of Northern Israel had inter-marriage with Assyrian. Hence the Samaritans were mixture of the Israelites (10 tribes)and the Assyrians.  This reason, the Jews of Jesus day hated the Samaritans and counted the Samaritans as lower class to the Jews.
                   After, Shalmaneser V, his son Sargon II (721 – 705 BC) became king, and had many successful campaigns.  The history of this period is an essential background for the prophecies of Isaiah. After Sargon, his son Sennacherib (704 – 681 BC) became king.  He had successful campaigns, and besieged Lachish (2 King 18 : 13-16; Isa. 36 – 39)  But he did not come to Jerusalem.  Hezekiah was king in Jerusalem at this time.  After Sennacherib, his son Esarhaddon (680 – 669 BC) became king of Assyria (2 King 21 : 2-7, 9; 2 Ch. 33 : 11). 
                   Then his son Ashurbanipal (668 – 627 BC) became king.  He loved arts and built a big library with many collections. Neverthless, Assyria was domed to fall swiftly.  His sons were weak in war.  The vassal countries rebelled against Assyria.  In 625 BC, the Chaldeans draw the Assyrians out of Babylon.  The Babylonians joined the Medas to capture Assur (614 & 612 BC), as foretold by Prophets Nahum and Zephaniah. In 609 BC, Asyria as a kingdom ceased to exist and its territory was taken over by the Babylonians.(Ezk. 16 : 28; 23 : 5-23).  In later years, Assyria became a part of Persians, Hellenistic (Seleucid) and Parthian empires.
                   Babylon was a great city in the  region of Babylon.  Babylon was a later development of Babel (Gen. 10 : 10; 11 : 9) which means ‘gate of God’. It is believed by some that Nimrod founded the city as his capital (Gen. 10 : 10). The people of Babylon were called as Babylonians who comprised Chaldean and Akkadian speaking.
                   Babylon was earlier controlled by the Assyrians.  When the Assyrian Empire declined, Nabopolassar, a Chaldean founded a new dynasty in Babylon in 626 BC.  His son Nobuchadnezzar II, the king of Babylon built a great beautiful city (2 King 24 : 1; Dan. 4 : 30).  Babylonians attacked Jerusalem three times (605, 597, 586 BC).  Finally Babylon fall before the Persians in 539 BC, as predictred by Isaiah and Jeremiah (Is. 14 : 21, 46, 47, Jer. 51, 52).  Babylon is referred as Bagdad in modern times.
                   This term was used by the Greeks to denote all non-Greek-speaking peoples of the ancient world.  It was not originally pejorative.  Luke actually appreciated and praised the Barbarians of Malta for their kindness (Acts 28 : 2-4). “Greeks and Barbarians” together (Rom. 1 : 14) comprise all kinds of men without discrimination (Col. 3 : 11). So barbarians refer to all non-Greeks of First Century World.
                   The name Canaanites is derived from the land Canaan, where the descendants of Canaan lived (Gen. 10 : 15-19).  It is believed that they were principally from Phoenicia.  However, their racial affinities are at present uncertain.  They mostly lived in the Syro-Palestinian coastland – from Sidon to Gaza and inland to the Dead sea cities.  Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 12 : 5, 13:12; Jud. 4 : 2, 23-24).  The term ‘Canaanite can bear the more restricted meaning of ‘merchant, trafficker’ trading being a most characteristic Canaanite occupation (Job. 41 : 6; Is. 23 : 8; Ezk. 17 : 4; Zep. 1 : 11; Jer. 10 : 17).
                   The Canaanites believed in many gods and goddesses and worshipped idols.  Their prominent deities were Baal, Dagon and goddesses – Asherah, Astarte (Ashtaroth) and Anath. They were goddesses of sex and war.  They gave animal sacrifices to the gods.  Their religion had cult – prostitutes.  Hence, the Canaanites practices were forbidden to Israel (Deut. 23 : 17-18).  The Canaanites probably offered human sacrifices too.  They had many epics, especially, Baal Epic.
                   Their language was Ugaritic.  However, scholars have many different opinions about their language.  Some think Ugaritic was related with Aramaic and other say that it was related with early Hebrew (But conclusion is difficult).  The Canaanite society was ruled by the Kings.  Military, religious and economic matters were under the direct control of king.  That was the reason Samuel first denounced the request of the Israelites, when they asked for a king like the Canaanites (1 Sam. 8;  c. 1050 BC).  The basic unit of the Canaanite society was the family.  They mostly lived in villages and small towns.  They involved in many works – farmers, herdsman, artisans, potters and traders etc.  They were known for merchandise and trade both local and long – distance.
                   Some scholars suggest the Canaanite and the Amorites were different people.  But others say, since Gen. 10 : 15-19mention the Jebusite, the Amorites, the Girgashite, the Hirite, the Arkite et al with the son of Canaan, all these people were included with the people of Canaanites.  So the Amorites were also a branch of Canaanites(Ex.) Shechem was a Canaanite principality under a Hivite ruler (Gen. 12 : 5-6; 34 : 2,30) but can be called Amorite (Gen. 48 : 22).  (Read : Phoenicians)
                   The name of land and its people in South Babilionia were called Chaldeans (Gen. 11 : 28; Job. 1 : 17; Acts 7 : 4).  Later, the name Chaldea was used to denote Babylonia as a whole.  (626 – 539 BC).  During 721 – 702 BC, Babylon wanted to rebel against the Assyrian Empire and asked the help of neighbouring kingdoms, especially of Judah.  The prophet Isaiah warned of the danger of Judah of supporting the Chaldean rebels and predicted their defeat (Is. 23 : 13; 39; 43 : 14).
                   Nabopolassar, a native Chaldean began the Babylonian dynasty in 626 BC.  The Chaldeans became more powerful and defeated the Assyrians, as the result, the Chaldeans (Babylon) became super power and became an empire. Later, the Chaldeans attacked Judah and its capital Jerusalem (2 King. 24 – 25).  Nebuchadnezzar, Evil – Merodach (Amal – Marduk), Nabonidus and Belshazzar (Dan. 5 : 30) were the important emperors of Babylon.  In 539 BC, the Medes defeated the Babylonians and established the Medo-Persian Empire.
 The language of Babylonia was Chaldee.  The term Chaldeans sometimes applied to astrologers and Babylonian priests (Dan. 2 : 10; 3 : 8; 4 : 7; 5 : 7,11).  (Read : Isa. 13 : 19; 47 : 1,5; 48 : 14,  20; 23 : 23; Daniel 1, 9)
                   The people who were settled alongside the Philistians in South Palestine were known the Cherethites. (I Sam. 30 : 14; Ezk. 25 : 16; Zp. 2 : 5).  They lived at the border territory of Judah.  During David’s reign, they were the personal body guards with the Pelesthites. (2 Sam. 8 : 18; 20 : 23; 1 Ch. 18 : 17).  They remained loyal to David during the rebellion of Absalom (2 Sam. 15 : 18; 20 : 7). They were present at the anointing ceremony of Solomon (1 King 1 : 38, 44).  After David’s death their name was not mentioned much with Judah.  It probably shows their loyalty was based on their personal friendship.  Jehoiada no longer used them (2 King 11 : 4, 19).  However the origin of Cherethites is uncertain.  They were probably the natives of Crete.
Children of the East
                   It was a general term given for the people who lived at the East of Palestine / Canaan (Gen. 29 : 1).  It often referred to the neighbours of Canaan such as Midianites, Amalekites, (Jud. 6 : 3), Moabites, Ammonites (Ezk. 25 : 10) and Kedarites (Jer. 49 : 28).  Nomads were also called so (Ezk. 25 : 4) specifically the inhabitants of Mesopotamia were called by this term (1 King 4 : 30).  Job is described (Job. 1 : 3).
                   The followers of Jesus Christ were named Christians by non-folowers (Non Christians)(Act 11 : 26).  It seems the followers of Christ called themselves, by using the terms, Disciples, Believers etc. But unbelievers used the terms “Christians”  to identify the believers in Christ.  The term Christian occurs in two other passages of New Testament(Act 26 : 28, 29; 1 Pet. 4 : 16).
                   The believers were first called by the new  title Christians by the people of Syrian Antioch (Act. 11 : 26).  The believers were thus called with this title probably after 50 AD in Antioch. The term Christian is a combination of two words (Christ+Iani).  Christ refers to Jesus Christ.  In Latin “Iani” refers and denotes a slave or man  or soldier of a particular person.  Hence the term Christiani (Christian) means “A slave of Christ / man of Christ / soldier of Christ”.  The term “Christians” as told already was not used by the believers to refer themselves.  However,  later on the term “Christians” was adopted by the recipients (1 Pet. 4 : 16).  In the second century literature, the name (Christian) is employed by the Christian bishop Ignatius (in Antioch) and the pagan  governer Pliny (in the area addressed in I Peter).
                   The people who lived in the island Crete were called as Cretans.  This name is not mentioned in this name in the Old Testament, but it is probable that Cherethites  supposed Cretans who came from it.  In Old Testament, the name Caphtor probably referred to this island.  In the New Testament, Cretans are mentioned among those present at Pentecost (Act 2 : 11).  When Paul was taken to Rome, the ship he travelled was blown to Crete (Acts 27 : 7-21).  Probably Paul used this opportunity to preach gospel to the Cretans.  After his first Roman imprisonment he revisited Cretans and established a Church and appointed Titus as pastor to carry on the work.  The general characteristics of Cretans described in Titus 1 : 12, by Paul, quoting a poet of Cretans.  The Cretans poet was Epimenides (Tit. 1 : 12 and Acts 17 : 28a).
                   The people lived in the area of Dedan were called Dedanites.  The town Dedan was situated at North west of Arabia.  The town Dedan was situated on the ancient trade route, hence it was known for Caravan trade.  When there was a trade relation between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, it probably played an important role in Israels trade.          After the fall of Babylonian empire, this town came under the rule of Persian Empire.  The modern name of this site is “Al-Ula” some 110 Km. Southwest of Taima.
Read : Isa. 21 : 13; Ezk. 27 : 20; 38: 13; Gen. 10 : 7; 1 Ch. 1 : 9; Gen. 25 : 3; 1 Chr. 1 : 32; Jer. 25 : 23; 49 : 8; Ezk. 25 : 13).
Dehavites (Dehaites)
                   This name appears in the Aramaic list of Ezra 4 : 9(AV).  Some scholars say that these people were non other than the Susians that is the Elamites.  Probably these people were settled in Samaria by Ashurbanipal. However, it seems very difficult to determine the exact identity of this people group.
                   A group of people who were the descendants of Javan, a son of Japheth, who was a son of Noah (Gen. 10 : 4; 1 Chr. 1 : 7).  They were named as Rodanim too.
                   The descendants of Esau are known as Edomites.  They lived in the mountains of Seir which is located between the Dead Sea and the Red sea.  The Horites probably lived in this area before the Edomites occupied it (Gen. 14 : 6).  During Exodus, Israel sought permission to travel by the Kings highway, but their request was refused (Num. 20 : 14-21; 21 : 4; Jud. 11 : 17-18; Deut. 23 : 7-8).  In those days, Balaam predicted the conquest of Edom (Num. 24 : 18).
                   When Joshua allotted the land to each tribe, he did not encroach the land of Edom (Josh. 15 : 1, 21).  Later David conquered Edom (2 Sam. 8 : 13-14).  During Jehoshaphat’s time, the Edomites joined with the enemies of Judah and raided Judah along with the Ammonites and Moabites, but they failed (2 Chr. 20 : 1, 22 – 23).  Later the king of Edom supported Judah in an attack on Moab (2 King 3 : 4-27).  However, during Jehoram’s rule (Joram), Edom again rebelled against Judah (2 King 8 : 20-22; 2 Ch. 21 : 8-10).  This enimity between Judah and Edom continued for many years under successors of kings.  During Ahaz, the Edomites again invaded Judah and took many captives (2 Ch. 28 : 17).  Judah never recovered Edom.
                   Later, when Assyria became the super power of the world then, Edom became a vassal-state of Assyrian in 736 BC.  After one century, when Judah fell to Babylon, Edom rejoiced (Ps. 137 : 7).  Hence, the prophets foretold judgement on Edom (Jer. 49 : 7-22, Lam. 4 : 21-22; Ezk. 25 : 12-14; Joel 3 : 19; Amos 9 : 12; Obadia 10 ff).
                   Edom fell to the Arabian in 5th Century BC and in the 3rd century BC the Nabataeans overrun Edom.  Hence, many Edomites escaped to Judah.  Judas Maccabaeus subdued them (1 Mac. 5 : 65).  John Hyrcanus forced them to be circumcised and incorporated the Edomites into the Jewish people and religion.  The Herods were from the descendants of Edomites, who accepted the  Jewish religion.
                   The northern part of Africa near the Mediterranean sea is known as Egypt.  The Hebrew word to denote Egypt is ‘Misrayim”.  The Nile is an important water resource in Egypt.
                   Egypt was one of the earliest civilized people.  The earliest people of Egypt lived in villages.  They had interest in literature related to religion and wisdom. Their wisdom literature were collection of instructions (Teachings) which taught young men as to how to conduct in every day life to achieve high office.
                   They worshipped greater gods and lesser gods.  The greater gods were in high walled temples.  Only the officiating priesthood worshipped in such temples.  It was only when – at least once in a year – the god wentforth in glittering procession on great festivals that the populace could  worship those greater gods.  Other times the populace worshipped the household and lesser gods or goddesses.  In all times, there were hymns and prayers to the gods.  Some important gods were: Ptah, aftificer god of Memphis; Thoth, god of Learning; Amun, the state god; Mentu, god of war; Hathor, goddess of joy; Re (or) Atum, the sun-god; Maet, goddess of Justice; Nut, the sky-godess; Shu, Geb,and Nu, the gods of air, earth and waters respectively.  Osiris, the god of vegetation.
                   The earliest civilization in Egypt lived in villages before forming Egyptian dynasties.  The first Egyptian Dynasty was established by Narmer.  It grew in 2nd Dynasty and reached its peak of prosperity between 3rd and 6th Dynasty.  As it continued till 8th Dynasty, the new kings (Pharaoh) probably Asiatic infiltrators invaded Egypt and established 9 and 10th Dynasties.  Due to inner struggle, there arose 11th dynasty.  Then Amenemhat I, founded the 12th dynasty (c. 1991 BC).  This period was contemporary to Abraham.
                   About 1786 BC, a new dynasty (13) was formed in Egypt.  At this time there were many slaves in Egypt.  Later, in 15th and 16th Hyksos Dynasties, the slaves were also appointed in high offices.  (Probably Joseph lived in this period – Gen. 37 – 50).           Ahmose I founded 19th dynasty and expelled the Hyksos.  The first half of this dynasty marked the people of Israel and their exodus from Egypt.  Moses led the Israelites from Egypt.
                   The ancient name for the plain of Khuzistan is Elam.  People lived there were called Elamites whose culture was similar to Mesopotamia.  Their race cannot be connected with any other race but their language was related to the Dravidian family.  They were probably a son of Sham (Gen. 10 : 22).  Elam was located in the trade routes to the Iranian Plateau and to the South East.  Hence Elam was attacked from the plains of Mesopotamia.  Those who won the battle got much wealth through these atacks.
                   A strong dynasty of Elamite about 2000 BC destroyed the Sumarian rulers of Ur. Chedorlaomer was probably associated with this period of Elamite Supremacy (Gen. 14 : 1).  Later Hammurapi of Babylon defeated the Elamites about 1760 BC.  Then Hammurapi’s dynasty (Amorites Dynasty) fell to the joined attack of the Hittite and the Elamites.  After 1000 BC, Elamites history was unknown.  Until the campaign of Sargon of Assyria (c. 721-705 BC)  Ashurbanipal deported the Elamites to Samaria while taking Israelites to Elam.  After, the collapse of Assyria, Elam was probably annexed by Persian rulers.
                   Isaiah called Elam to crush Babylon (Is. 21 : 2).  This was fulfilled (Dan. 8 : 2).  Yet Elam in turn would be crushed (Je. 25 : 25: 49 : 34-39 cf. Is. 22 : 6; Ezk. 32 : 24).  Elam then became an important part of Medo – Persia.
                   The people from Elam who visited Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost were probably the Jewish community who settled there during the period of Cyrus or Esther (Act 2: 9-10).
                   This people were early inhabitants of Moab.  They were smitten by Chedorlaomer in the time of Abraham (Gen. 14 : 5).  They were numerous and strong and to be compared in stature to the Anakim (Deut. 2 : 10).  Emim means “Terrifying beings” by the Moabites who later settled in this area (Deut. 2 : 11).
                   This is a group of Philosophical school.  Paul met some of them in Athens (Acts 17 : 18).  Epicurus was born in 341 BC on the island of Samos.  He taught that the world was as the result of the random motion and combination of atomic particles.  He was poor but gained many friends and taught them his doctrine.  He established a place called “Garden” in Athens, which was the headquarters of the school in 306 BC.  He died in 270 BC, after great suffering of sickness but in peace of mind.
                   The Epicureans found great contentment in limiting their desire and in the enjoyment and solaces of friendship.  They also taught that death brings a final dispersion of our constituent atoms of body.  They did not believe resurrection after death.  That was why, they found Paul’s teaching about the resurrection strange and unpalatable.
Essenes (Jewish Sect)
                   They were a Jewish religious community, which developed in 1st century BC and grew in 1st century AD.  It was probably a philosophical school of Jews after Pharisees and Sadducees.  Essenes lived in villages, working hard at agriculture or similar pursuits. They devoted much time to study of the sacred writings.  They gave importance to ceremonial purity; hold their property common, practice celibracy, keep no slaves, abstain from animal sacrifice, swear no oaths, take no part in military or business activity, give hospitablity.
                   Some of Essenes lived in and around the Dead Sea areas and Engedi.  They renounced women and money.  According to Josephus, the Jewish historian they lived in all parts of Judah, including Jerusalem.  Any Jew could become an Essenes, but he had to go three year period of discipling and observation by other Essenes community member.  First year he wore the white habit of the order. At the end of first year, the novice was admitted to the ritual purification in water (like baptism).  Then he had to wait for two years by swearing of a succession of oath to share the common meal with the Essenes.  Sharing common meal was considered of becoming full membership.
                   They prayed early morning and spoke no word to others until they have sung a hymn of praise to God. Some scholars identify the Essenes with Qumran Community.  The Essenes of Qumran community practiced marriage.  But the Essenes of other locality practiced celibacy (Some scholars identity John, the Baptist as one from the Essenes).
                   Ethiopia is in African continent. It was settled by the descendants of Cush during the early period of Biblical history. It was dominated by Egypt for 500 years from 18th dynasty of Egypt (c. 1500 BC).  However, when there was internal conflict in Egypt, Ethiopia’s heyday began about 720 BC.  One Ethiopian ruler (Tirhakah) probably assisted Hezekiah to forestall Assyrian invasion by Sennacherib (2 King 19 : 9; Is. 37 : 9).  However, Ethiopia and Egypt became a tributaries to Asyria about 663 BC as Isaiah’s prophetic Symbolism (Is. 20 : 2 – 6).  In 605 BC, Ethiopian troops fought vainly in Pharaoh Neco’s army at Carchemish (Jer. 46 : 2,9).  Cambysus’ conquest brought Egypt and Ethiopiia under Persia (Esther1 : 1 ; 8 : 9).
                   Ethiopia refers to the Nilotic kingdom of Candace (Act 8 : 27).  Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion was probably a fulfillment of Ps. 68 : 31.  He was converted as a Christian when he returned from Jerusalem after worshipping God (Act. 8 : 26- 40).
                   Freedmen were the Jewish slaves who were taken as prisoners of war (POW) under Pompey in 63 BC to Rome. After a few years of imprison, those prisoners of war were subsequently released.  They were also free to live in Rome or to go to Palestine.  Those freedmen probably had separate synagogue in which they and their descendants worshipped (Acts 6 : 9) in Jerusalem.
                   This was a general term for nations.  However, the Jews used this term to denote nations other than Israel.  In fact, the Israelites were proud of their nation Israel that it was a special nation after their exodus from Egypt.  They believed that God had made covenant with them.  Hence they used to say other nations in a scornful way “Gentiles”.
                   Yet the Gentiles were given a special place in prophecies of the kingdom.  They shall be blessed along with Israel by Messiah. (Is. 60 : 5 – 6; 11 : 10; Mal. 1 : 11; Is. 42 : 6; 49 : 6; Lk. 2 : 32; Mt. 12 : 18, 21; Act 10 : 45; 11 : 18; Rom. 1 : 16; Col. 3 : 11; Gal. 2 : 14 ff)
                   The people who lived in the city of Geshur in Syria (2 Sam. 15 : 8; 1 Ch. 3 : 2; Jos. 12 : 5; 13 : 11,13).  David married Maacah, the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur.  Absalam was the son of Maacah (2 Sam. 3 : 3).  After killing his brother Ammon (13 : 37), Absalom fled to the Geshurites, because they were his relatives, through his mother.
                   The people who lived in the city of Gibeon when Israel invaded Canaan were known as Gibeonites.  They were basically a Canaanite tribe of Hivites or Horites (Jos. 9 : 17).  When Israelites invaded Canaan after defeating Jericho and Ai, they tricked Joshua and made peace treaty with him.  Later Joshua found that he was deceived by the Gibeonites.  So Joshua did not kill them but made them to do menial services to Israelites.
                   When the Amorite Kings of South Canaan attacked the Gibeoinites for their defection with Israel, Joshua led his army to aid the Gibeonites. (Jos. 9 – 10 : 11 : 19).  King Saul had close link with Gibeon. One of the important acts of Gibeonites was that they helped Nehemiah when he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 3 : 7), after the Jews returned from 70 years of Babylonian captivity.
                   It is a tribe, listed among the descendants of Canaan (Gen. 10 : 16; 1 Chro. 1 : 14).  They lived in the mixed population of Canaan during the period of Abraham (Gen. 15 : 21; Neh. 9 : 8).  Later, they were overcome by Israel (Deut. 7 : 1; Jos. 3 : 10; 24 : 11).
                   This people are also known as Gezrites (A.V.).  It is a little known semi-nomadic clan.  They were probably associated with Geshurites (Josh. 13 : 2; 1 Sam. 27 : 8) and Amalekites in the North west of the Negeb.  They were extirpated by David (1 Sam. 27 : 8), while he governed Ziklag under Achish, the Philistine.
                    This term is derived from the Greek word “gnosis” meaning knowledge.  In general, Gnosticism was a heresy, as supposed by the early church fathers.  They believed that the supreme god dwelt in unapproachable splendor in the spiritual world and he had no dealings with the  world of matter; matter was the creation of an inferior being, the Demiurge.  He and his aides (Archons) kept mankind imprisoned and barred their soul which try to ascend to the spirit world after death. Only those who possessed the divine sparke (pneuma) could  escape from this imprisonment to the spirit world.  This escape is possible by the enlightenment  of gnosis.  However this Gnostic idea of God is wrong because God of the Bible loves man (Jn. 3 : 16).  Souls get salvation by the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  The New Testament warns the Christians against this heresy (1 Tim. 6 : 20).
                   The people of Greece were called the Greeks.  They were known for philosophy and republican government.  The Greeks were also called as “Hellenes”.  Hence their culture is called Hellenestic culture.
                   The Greek language is identified with Indo-European family.  During the period of Alexander, the great, the Greek State was extended as far East as India.  After Alexander, the Greek Empire was divided into his four generals.  The political system of Greeks were most of time a fragmentation in history.
                   Greece mentioned in Act 20:2 refers to Achaia, where many Greeks settled after their Empire was taken by the Romans. Although the political power of Greeks came to an end by the emerging Roman empire,  the Greek culture was popular in the Roman empire.  The knowledge of Greek language marked a man as civilized in the Roman period too especially in the first century AD. (Act. 21 : 37 – 39).  Such persons were called a Greek, whatever his  race (Mk. 7 : 26) all others were called barbarians (Rom. 1 : 14).  The term hellenist in Acts 6 : 1 ; 9 : 29 probably refers to the Jews who spoke Greek language.  However, this term Greek (Act 11 : 20; 19 : 17; Rom. 1 : 16) refers to the gentiles.
                   The Greek speaking Jews translated the Old Testament into the Greek.  This Greek Translation of Old Testament was called Septuagint, with Roman numeral (LXX). 
                   This tribal people lived in the East of Gilead, which was attacked by Saul (1 Ch. 5 : 10, 18 – 22).  They were listed as the enemies of Israel (Ps. 83 : 6-8).  This people are mentioned with Aramaean tribes in an inscription of Tiglath – pileser III.  Some assume from the name Hagrites and its similary with Haggar, the Hagrites were the decendants of Hagar, that is Ishmailites, but this is improbable.  Hence, Hagrites were a separate non-Israelites tribe only.
                   This title or designation is found with some of David’s heroes (2 Sam. 23 : 11,33; 1 Ch. 11 : 34, 35).  This name is unknown in any records outside the Bible.  Probably this may not be a separate tribe, but a title was given to a person based on his nativity or his birth place.  Since the world is derived from “har” (mountain, hill), Hararite probably refers to “mountain dweller”.  That means a man with title hararite was a mountain dweller or born in  mountain area as his birth place.
Hasidaens (Jewish Sect)
                   Hasidaens were probably derived from the term “Hasidim”, meaning “loyal ones”.  This word was taken by the Zealoks for the law, when the Greek Hellenistic idea spread in 2 century BC.  Hasidaens were loyal to the law and opposeod the Greek culture. Their leader was the high priest Onias III, who was deposed by Antiochus Epiphanes.
                   They avoided arm struggle with the Greeks and withdraw into wilderness.  However, later they probably joined with Maccabees (1 Mac. 2 : 42; 7 : 13; 2 Macc. 14 : 6).  It was probable they later divided into two groups; known as Pharisees and Essenes.  Pharsees were majority group and Essenes and Qumran covenanters were minority group.  Pharisees lived with people to win them to their view, but Essenes lived a separated life from general public, probably at caves at Qumran area.  (Read :  Hasmonaeans & Maccabees)
                   Antiochus Epiphanes was a selucid Greek ruler.  When he ruled Syria, he occupied Jerusalem temple and tried to abolish Jewish worship system and customs.  Moreover, he killed Mattathias, the high priest and Epiphanes encouraged prostitution in Jerusalem.  So Jews started opposing him, under the leadership of Judas Ben Mattathias.  According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, Mattathias family title was Hasmon.  So, Matathias’ family and their rule was called as Hasmonaeans. They were also called Maccabees.  (Read Maccabees)
                   The title Hebrew used for the decendants of Abraham, probably derived from Aber, an ancestor to Abraham (Gen. 10 : 21ff; 11 : 14ff).  Some scholars believe that “hebrew” basically means “beyond” or “beyond the river”.  According to them the title Hebrew was given to Abraham because he came to Canaan from far beyond the river Euprates.  Later all his discendants were called Hebrews.  The language spoken by Abraham’s decendants through Isaac was also called “Hebrews”.  (Read : Notes on Israel)
                   The people who themselves not the Greeks by birth but accepted the Greek language and the Greek culture as their life style in the 1 & 2 century BC and first century AD were called Hellenists (2 Macc. 4 : 10).
                   The Jews who had adopted the Greek way of life were also thus called Hellenists.  The Greek speaking Jews were distinguished from the Hebrew speaking Jews, probably Aramaic speaking (Acts 6 : 1-5).  However, the demarcation between Hellonistic and Hebrew Jews is little difficult, for many Jews were bilingual.  (Ex. Paul was able to speak Greek habitually but he called himself, a Hebrew born of Hebrews (Phil. 3 : 5 ; 2 Cor. 11 : 22)).
                   The Greek speaking Jews often had their own synagogues.  Stephen, the first martyr was probably a Greek speaking Jews before his conversion to Christian faith.
                   They were the members of a Jewish party who supported Herodian dynasty.  Herod also used his political power to help them by all means.  The Herodians were enemies of Jesus because they thought Jesus could become a rival to Herod.  They opposed Jesus in Galilee and in Jerusalem (Mk. 3 : 6; 12 : 13; Mt. 22 : 16).  In opposing Jesus, they also joined with Pharisees.  Hence they played a keyrole in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
                   The Hittite  Empire was located near Syria during the Old Testament times.  The people Hittite were the descendants of Heth a son of Canaan (Gen. 23 : 3; 10 : 15).  The Hittite probably found their great empire in 1800 BC.  It was also a powerful empire during the patriarchal period and was a kingdom during Israelite settlement in Canaan (Gen. 15 : 20; Dt. 7 : 1 ; Jud. 3 : 5).       Esau married a wife from the Hittites who later grieved his parents ( Gen. 27 : 46; 26 : 34).          David had a few Hittites with him (2 Sam. 23 : 39; 24 : 16; 1 Sam. 26 : 6).
                   Once some scholars doubted about the realities of history of Hittites.  But it has been proved by the archaeological discoveries the facts and history of Hittites.  The Hittites had a system of law which has some striking affinities with the law of Pentateuch.
                   The Hittite empire reached its high peak of power under Suppiluliumas I (ĉ 1380 – 1350 BC).  Hittites had hostilities with Egypt.  However, they later made a peace treaty in 1284 BC.  Finally the Hittite empire lost its power in 1200 BC; due to the attacks of its western enemies.
                   One of the son of Canaan (Gen. 10 : 17; 1 Chro. 1 : 15).  They were also an early settlers of Palestine and Syria.  They were a distinct group from Jebusites, Perizzites, Girgashites. (Ex. 3 : 8; 23 : 28; Dt. 7 : 1; Gen. 10 : 17).  Their main dwelling location was the hills of Lebanon (Jud. 3 : 3; Josh. 11 : 3).  Hivites worked in Solomon’s building projects (1 King 9 : 20; 2 Ch. 8 : 7) (Read:  Gen 34 : 2 ; Josh. 9 : 7; 11 : 19).  However, some scholars equate Hivites with Horites or with Hittites.  But most probably Hivites were a separate people group.
                   The Horites were living in the mountains of Seir, the Horites (Gen. 36: 20).  They were once defeated by Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14 : 6); later they were driven out by the sons of Esau, although Esau himself had married a daughter of Horite (Gen. 36 : 25; Dt. 2 : 12, 22).  The Horites not only lived in the mountains of Seir, but also they lived Shechem and Gilgal (Gen. 34 : 2, Jos. 9 : 6,7).  Their identity was lost during the New Testament period.
                   The people lived in Idumaea were known as Idumaens.  Idumaea was  a Greek form for Edom.  Sons of Esau lived in Edom (Idumaea). There were enemity between Judah and Edom (Idumaea) from the time of David.  Even the prophets prophecied against Edom (Idumaea) for it was against Judah (Jer. 49 : 7-22; Lam. 4 : 21,22; Ezk. 25 : 12-14; 35 : 3; Obediah).  Judas Maccabaeus had successful campaign against Idumaens (I Macc. 4 : 29; 5 : 65).  The word Idumaea was used only in Mark 3 : 8.
                   Ishmael was a son of Abraham through Hagar.  Ishmael mean “God hears”.  The descendants of Ishmael were called Ishmaelites.  Like Israel, Ishmalites had also twelve princes (Gen. 25 : 12-16).
                   The twelve tribes of Israel were called Israelites.  Israelites were the descendant of Jacob, the son of Isaac.  Israelites believed their forefather was Abraham.  They had high regard for their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They also believed that they had received the promise of God through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They lived in slavery in Egypt for 400 years.
                   Israelities occupied the land of Palestine and then their land was called Israel.  Most of the Old Testament narratives centre around the people of Israel.  They were united as one nation until the time of Solomon.  After Solomon, during the rule of his son Rehoboam the united Israel was divided into two nations.  Northern 10 tribes were known as Israel and Southern two tribes were known as Judah (Read :  Hebrews, Jew)
                   They were descendants of Jetur,  a son of Ishmael (Gen. 25 : 15-16: 1 Ch. 1 : 31).  They were a warring tribe with Israel at East of Jordan (1 Chro. 5 : 19).  Itureans were sometimes called Syrians and Arabians because they were probably a wandering tribe in the areas of Syria and Arabia.  When the Romans conquered Syria, they found Itureans   as a wild robber tribe, highly proficient in the use of bow and arrow.
                   A minority ethnic hill tribe lived in the hill area of Jerusalem, before David conquered it and made it as his capital (Num. 13 : 29; Jos. 11 : 3; 15 : 8; 18 : 16)  Jebusites were the descendants through the third son of Canaan (Gen. 10 : 16; 1 Chr. 1 : 14).  Jebus (Jerusalem) was the capital city of Jebusites (Jud. 19 : 10-11; 1 Chr. 11 : 4-5; Jebusi-in Josh. 18 : 16, 28 RSV).  Jebusites were the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Gen. 15 : 21; Ex. 3 : 8). Jebusite had ally with the Amorites to protect the city from the Israelites entering the area (Jos. 10 : 1-11).  Jebus was attacked by the Israelites during Judges period (Jud. 1 : 8), however, finally it was fully taken by David (2 Sam. 5 : 6).
                   The citizen of Judah were called Jew.  In the Old Testament period particularly after the division of United Kingdom after Solomon, the two tribes including Judah became a separate nation or southern kingdom of Judah.  Hence the tribe of Judah primarily known as Jew (2 King 16 : 6; Neh. 1 : 2; Jer. 32 : 12).  The non-Jews also used this title to denote their Judean enemies(Est. 9 : 15; Dan. 3 : 8; Zech. 8 : 23).  The gentiles who converted to Judaism were also later called the Jews. (Est. 8 : 17; 1 Ch. 4 : 18; Act 16 : 1; 24 : 24; Gal. 2 : 24).  Female of Jewish nation was called Jewess.
                   During Jesus period Jews spoke many dialects, Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek or the mixture of these languages (Tit. 1 : 14; Jer. 34 : 9).  Jewry, Israel  and Hebrew names are also used to denote Jews.  In modern times all Israelites are known as Jews. (Read : Hebrew / Israelites)
                   This people were probably a tribe of Arabia, lived eastern direction of Judah or Jerusalem beyond Jordan.  They were known as “Eastern”  people (Ezk. 47 : 18; Gen. 15 : 19).  Some scholars think they were probably to be identified with Abraham’s seed through Kethurah. However, much details are not available about this non-Israelite tribe.
Kedar / Kedarites
                   This people were a nomadic tribefolk of the syro-Arabian desert from Palestine to Mesopotamia. They probably lived in tents and in villages, as an uncivilized people of desert.  Dwelling with the people of Kedar (Kedarites) was like a barbaric exile (Ps. 120:5).  Isaiah prophecied the downfall of Kedar (Is. 21 : 16,17).  Kedarites had trade with Tyre (Ezk. 27 : 21) and they were keeping flock too (Is. 60 : 7).  They were attacked by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 49 : 28) in 599 BC. Later they had ally with Medo-Persian to protect their trade with Egypt.  However this tribe could be observed by the other Arabian tribes later.
                   The Kenites were a Midianite tribe of Arabian desert probably. (Num. 10 : 29; Jud. 1 : 16; 4 : 11).  The word ‘Kenite’ means ‘Smith’. They first appear during patriarchal period (Gen. 15 : 19).  Moses married a daughter of Rauel to accompany him in the promised land (Num. 10 : 29). Later the Kenites accompanied Judah into their inheritance in the promised land (Jud. 1 : 16; 1 Sam. 27 : 10).  The Kenites were protected by Saul in his war with the Amelekites and David made friendship with them (1 Sam.15 : 6; 30 : 29).  The Rechabites were the sub-tribe of Kenite (1 Ch. 2 : 55; Neh. 3 : 14).
                   Some scholars assume, the name Jehovah was learnt by Moses from Kenites through his father-in-law.  They use to support Gen. 4 : 15, Cain as their ancestor.  However the truth is opposite. Because the Name Jehovah was known to Patriarchs (Gen. 4 : 1, 26).  Moreover, Moses  by  his testimony led his father-in-law into faith on Jehovah (Ex. 18 : 11, 12).
                   They were a leading Edomite family through Eliphaz, Esau’s eldest son (Gen. 36 : 11, 15, 42 ; 1 Ch. 1 : 36, 53).  A part of them joined with Judah (1 Ch. 4 : 13 ff).  Kenizzites are mentioned in Gen. 15 : 19 with nine other people groups (nations) which occupied the land promised to Abraham.
Lawyers (Jewish Religious Class)
                   The men who were interpreting the law of Moses were called Lawyers.  They were sometimes called Scribes. Lawyers had the prominent seats in the Sanhedrin, which was the supreme body of Jewish religious matters (Mt. 16 : 21; Lk. 22 : 66; Acts 4 : 5).
                   The people who lived in Libya at west of Egypt were called Libyans.  They entered in Egypt and settled there. Later they joined as soldiers in Egyptian Army too. (2 Ch. 12 : 3; 14 : 9; 16 : 8). Some scholars think Lud (Ludim) also refer to Libya(Gen. 10 : 13; 1 Ch. 1 : 11; Jer. 46 : 9).
                   The Greek Selucid King Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) killed Mattathias the high priest of Jerusalem temple and sold the priesthood to Menelaus.  Jews opposed Antiochus and his interference in the temple affairs. So Antiochus started persecuting the Jews.  The five sons of Mattathias (assassinated Priest) and other faithful Jews opposed and attacked  the Greek army under the leadership of Jewish Hero Judas Ben Mattathias (1 Mac. 2 : 4). Judas Ben Mattathias was a son of Killed high Priest Mattathias.  Judas Ben Mattathias and his brothers were called Maccabees, as their sur-name.  Maccabees mean “The Hammerer” or “the eradicator”.
                   Maccabes and their small army attacked the Greek enemies many times.  Finally Maccabees got victory in 165 BC and marched into Jerusalem.  They cleaned the temple and the worship of God restored (1 Macc. 4).  This re-dedication of Temple by Maccabees were celebrated by a festival of the feast of Hanukkah (Jn. 10 : 22).  The rule of Maccabees was called Hasmonaean rule.  (Read : Hasmonaeans / Hasidaens)
                   They were the descendants of Abraham and his concubine Keturah.  Abraham sent Keturah and her sons to the East so that they would not be a problem to Isaac (Gen. 25 : 1-6).  They were later associated with Ishmaelites and Medanites (Gen. 37 : 28, 36; Jud. 8 : 24 – Medaniteis men also another son of Abraham and Keturah).
                   Moses married Zipporah who was a  Medianite and his father-in-law wasJethro (Reuel) and brother-in-law was Hobab (Ex. 2 : 21; 3 : 1, Num. 10 : 20; 29-32; Jud. 4 : 11).  Later when Balaam was hired to curse Israel by Moab, Midianites also joined with Moabites (Num. 22).  During the period of Judges Midianites oppressed  Israel.  God delivered Israel from Midianites through Gideon (Jud. 6-8; 9 : 17) (Read: Ps. 83:9; Is. 9:4; 10 : 26; 60:6).  Medianites later probably amalgamated with  Arabian Tribes.  In Hab. 3 : 7, Midian is put in parallel with Cush (Cushan).
                   They were tribal people liveid in (1000 BC; near modern Yemen, which probably Sheba (Saba – Queen of Shaba who met Solomon to know his wisdom).  So Minaeans were later obsorbed into Sheba.  Although this name does not occur in the Bible with certainty, some scholars identify  them with Maonites – Jud. 10 : 12. (1 Ch. 4 : 41; 2 Ch. 20 : 1; Ammonites) (2 Ch. 26 : 7 – Mehunims; Ezra 2 : 50; 7 : 52).
                   Jeremiah mentioned about them for their war with Babylonian (Jer. 51 : 27).  The Asyrians dominated them until 673 BC.  Later Mannai joined the Assyrians who were their former enemy in 616 BC(Bab Chronicle).  Mannai were another name for Minni.
                   Moabites were the descendants of Moab who was the son of Lot by incestuous union with his eldest daughter (Gen. 19 : 37).  Their nation was also called Moab, which was located the East of the Dead Sea. Moab was an organized kingdom.  They involved in agricultural and pastoral works.
                   When Israel sought permission to pass through kings high way and to enter into the promised land, Moab refused (Jud. 11 : 17).  Moses did not attack them but Moab was excluded from Israel (Deu. 2 : 9; 23 : 3-6; Neh. 13 : 1). Balak, king of Moab called the prophet Balaam to curse Israel.  But he could not curse Israel (Num. 22-24; Jos. 24 : 9).          After Israel settled in the promised land, Moab invaded Israel during Judges rule (Jud. 3 : 12-30).  When there was a famine in Israel, Elimelech went to Moab and his sons married Moabite women.  Ruth was one of them (Ruth 1-4).  She later married Boaz and became ground parents of Dvid.
                   However the enemity between Israel and Moab continued.  There were wars between the kings of Israel and Moab from the days of Saul (1 Sam 14 : 47; 2 Sam. 8 : 2, 12; 2 King 1 : 1; 3 : 4-27; 2 Ch. 20 : 1-30).  Babylonian King subdued Moab.  Then, Moab gradually lost its independent existence as a nation.  Probably as result of prophecy against them (Is. 15-16; 25 : 10; Jer. 9 : 26; 25 : 21; Amos 2 : 1-3; Ezk. 25 : 8-11; Zep. 2 : 8-11).
Money Changers
                   There were money-changers in the Temple precincts, probably in the court of the Gentiles (Jn. 2 : 14, 15; Mt. 21 : 12; Mk. 11 : 15).  The money-changer trade arose with the need that money for the Temple including the obligatory half-skekel (Ex. 30 : 13; Mt. 17 : 24) had to be in Tyrian standard silver coin, with its high level of silver purity and not in the current Roman standard. A surcharge was made when money was changed  from Roman standard to Tyrian standard silver coin.  This money-changing made way for many malpractices.  Hence the Lord chased them from the Temple (Mt. 21 : 12).
                   (However, there were exchangers Mt. 25 : 27.  These exchangers were true Bankers.  These exchangers were different from money-changers.  Both were different trades, but related with money).
                   They were the descendants of Nebaioth, a son of Ishmael and brother-in-law of Edom (Gen. 25 : 13; 28:9).  They were called Arabian tribe during Alexander period.  They lived like nomads.  They lived in the caves of Petra.  After Alexanders death, Antigonus of Syria send army to subdue Nabataeans (312 BC).  But, he could not.  Later Nabataeus developed as people lived in villagers and towns and built dams for cultivation.  They controlled the trade route and collected tax from the traders from Arabia and India who passed through their lands to Rome (2 Macc. 5 : 8).  Later  period, the Nabataeans fully obsorbed into the Arabian People.
                   Jesus was called first Nazarene because he was grown in Nazareth (Mk. 1 : 24; 10 : 47; 14 : 67; 16 : 6; Mt. 2 : 23; Lk. 24 : 19).  Later the followers of Christ were called “Nazarene” (Act 24 : 5).  More specifically Jewish Christians were called Nazarenes.
                   This term is derived from Hebrew “Nazir”  which means “to separate, consecrate, abstain” or from “Nezer” which means “a diadom” which means “crown of God”.  Normally Nazirites were identified by uncut hair.  A Nazirite separates and consecrates himself from others and dedicate himself to God, with a special vow.  A nazirite must abstain from wine (Num. 6) and must not go near the dead.  However, he can do his domestic and social duties.  At the end of his nazirite vow, he had to offer various special sacrifices and cut his hair and burn it on the altar.  After doing some rituals by the priest, a nazirite was freed from his vow.  There were some Nazirites, for life time, especially Samuel, Samson and John, the Baptist (1 Sam. 1 : 22; Jud. 13 ; Lk. 1,2).  Nazirite could marry  but some did not marry (Ex. John, the Baptist).  Some observed Nazirite vow for life time but some for temporary period (Read: Am. 2 : 11, 12; Act. 22 : 23 ff; 18 : 18).
                   They were a false teaching group among Christians in the first century (2 Pet. 2 : 15; Jude 11; Rev. 2 : 6, 15; 2 : 20-23).  They brought degraded immoral practices within the sect of early church.  The origin of this group was unknown.  But some scholars suggest that they were the followers of Nicolaus of Antioch (Act 6 : 5).  He was faithful as a deacon.  But his followers probably mis-interpreted his ideas and brought false teaching in the early church.  So from his name, (Nicolaus) the title Nicolatians was derived.
                   Ophir was a son of Yoqtan in the genealogy of Shem (Gen. 10 : 29; 1 Ch. 1 : 23; 1 King 10 : 11).  This tribe is known from pre-islamic inscriptions.  Their area was between Saba (Sheba) and Yamen.  Gold of  Ophir was known for its quality (2 Ch. 8 : 18; Job 22 : 24; Ps. 45 : 9; Is. 13 : 12).  Although some believe it was near Yemen, some other scholars suggest various theories about the possible location of Ophir.  Some including Josephus even sugest that Ophir refers to India, because the commodities named with Ophir were familiar in ancient India.
                   Parthia was a place near Caspian Sea and it was a part of the Persian empires conquered by Alexander. The people of Parthia were called Parthians.  After Alexander, the Parthians rebelled against Seleucid rulers.  Their religion was Iranian Mazdaism.  But they were tolerant of other religions.  Some Israelites were deported to Parthia by Assyrians and they settled there. 
                   The descendants of deported Jews learnt Aram and spoke  it.  They sent offering to the Temple of Jerusalem according to Josephus.  On the day of Pentecost Parthians were in Jerusalem (Act 2 : 9).
                   It was a sub-tribal people of Aramaean tribe, near Tigris.  Jeremiah mentioned about them against Babylon (Jer. 50 : 21).  They were lovers of Israel but later become enemy of Israel (Ezk. 23 : 23).
                   They were probably hill dwelling tribe because they were mentioned  with Jebusites (Jos. 11 : 3), with Canaanites (Gen. 13 : 7; 34 : 30) and in Judaean hills (Jud. 1 : 4).  Some scholars suggest they lived in the villages of Canaan in general (Gen. 15 : 20; Ex. 3 : 8; Deut. 7 : 1; 20 : 17; Jos. 3 : 10; 9 : 1; Jud. 3 : 5).  They were not mentioned  with the sons of Canaanites (Gen. 10 : 15ff).
                   They were an Indo – European people, who were pastoralists.  They entered into Iranian area (Persia) from South Russia, in c. 2000 BC.  Assyria controlled this area.  However Persian dynasty was established by Achaemenes in 680 BC.  His grandson Cyrus-I opposed Ashurbanipal of Assyria but he could not succeed.  But, Cyrus-II, a grandson of Cyrus-I  rebelled against his Median ruler Astyages and killed him and took his capital Ecbatana in 550 BC.  Thus Persian Kingdom was also known as Medo-Persian  kingdom.  Persians later defeated Babylonians and became great empire extended from Ethiopia in west and India in the East (Est. 1).
                   Cyrus returned the vessals of Jerusalem temple which was taken by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon in 586BC.  The Persian rulers had maintained good relation with the Jews.  The events of Esther happened during the rule of Persians.
                   The Persian palaces and courts were known for luxury.  The Persians followed Zoroasterism founded by Zoroaster.  However Persian rulers had some amount of religious tolerance.  The main principle of their religion was “Do good, hate evil”.
                   The Persian empire came to the end when Alexander the Great of Creece defeated the Persians in 331 BC.
                   The name Pharisee first appears in the context of the early Hasmonaean Priest-Kings.  Hasidim (Loyal ones) known as Hasidaeans were loyal to the Law of Moses after the period of Ezra.  These Hasidim later divided into two groups.  The minority group withdraw themselves from public and lived a separated life.  This minority group was related with Essenes.  The majority group lived with the public and tried to control the religion of Jews, from the 2nd century BC.  This majority group of divided Hasidim were called Pharisees.
                   The Pharisees believed the law of Moses, and strictly tried to follow it along with their added traditions.  They believed angels and Resurrection after death.  But their rival group known as Sadducees did not believe angels and resurrection.  Jesus equally condemned both Pharsees and Sadducees for their traditions and unbelieve respectively.  Pharisees believers were more ethical than theological.  Pharisees said the law of Moses has 613 commandments in which 248 positive 365 negative.  But Pharisees later added 31 customs of “immemorial usage formed the oral law”.  They gave more value to these oral laws than the law of Moses.  They called those oral laws in tradition of elders”  (Mk. 7 : 3).  Jesus condemned their tradition by saying Pharisees as Hypocrites (Mt. 15 : 1-20; Mk. 7 : 1-23).
                   The Philistines derived from Casluhim were the descendants of Mizraim (Egypt), who was the son of Ham (Gen. 10 : 14;  I Chr.  1 : 12).  However, they lived in Caphtor (Amos. 9 : 7).  Later they invaded the land of Canaan and lived coastal area of Mediterranean sea between Egypt and Gaza.  Since they originally came from Caphtor, their land near coastal area was called Caphtorim (Deut. 2 : 23).  Later,  due to the invasion and influence of Philistine, Canaan was also called Palestine.  The principal cities of Philistines were Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath (Jos. 13 : 2-3).
                   The  Israelites did not encounter the Philistines in Canaan during their campaign against Canaanite tribes.  But during the period of Judges, there were wars  between Israel and Philistines.  God used the Philistines to chastise Israel  when Israel failed to honor God (Jud. 3 : 2-3; 31 : 10 : 6-7; 13-16).
                   During the rule of kings, the enemity between Israel and Philistians continued.  King Saul could not succeed fully, but David was successful in defeating Philistines including killing of Goliath (1 Sam. 17, 18; 2 Sam. 5 : 25).  Philistines were always aggressive people.  Even the Assyrian inscriptions mention Philistians and their area often revolt.
                   Philistines were good in pottery and in making iron weapons during Souls period. Their exact language was unknown.  However, they worshipped idols.  Their chief deities were three; namely Dagon, Ashtoreth and Baalzebub.  They offered sacrifices and wore charms in battle (Jud. 16 : 23; 2 Sam. 5 : 21).  The enemity between Israel and Philistines continues even in these days.
                   The people lived in Phoenicia were called Phoenicians.  Phoenicia was located east of Mediterranean coast between rivers Litani and Arvad near Lebanon.  In the Old Testament times, the Hebrews called it also Canaanites (Is. 23 : 11; Gen. 10 : 15).  Phoenicians were sea-faring people.  Their origin was unknown.  However, they might have come from the Persian Gulf via the Red sea and founded Sidon first.  They settled along the coast of Joppa, Dor, Acre and Ugarit (Ras  Sharma) (Jud. 1 : 27-31).
                   In the 18 and 19 dynasty of Egypt, Phoenicia was controlled by Egypt in economy by military power.  After Egyptian control over, Phoenicians established Tyre port city.  Phoenicians had trade link with David (2 Sam. 5 : 11; 1 King 5 : 1).  King Hiram supplied materials to Jerusalem Temple (1 King 5 : 1-12; 2 Chr. 2 : 3-16) and helped to build ships to Solomon at Ezion-geber (1 King 9 : 27).  However the alliance between Israel and Phoenicians brought spiritual corruption in Israel.  Ahab married Jezebel, a daughter of Phoenician high priest Ethbaab. She brought Baal worship in Israel to corrupt spiritually(1 King 16 : 31).
                   Zarephath was at Phoenicia where a woman fed Elijah (1 King 18 : 19).  Phoenicia was politally controlled by Assyria, Baylon, Persia, Greece and Romans.  Phoenicians worshipped idols.  Their gods were Baal, Melek, Sap, Tammuz and many others.  Phoenicians were famous in Sea Trade, art. Some scholars think that Phoenicians first developed writing alphabets, abacus for calculating and papyrus for books.
                   After the death of Alexander, the Great, his empire was divided into his four generals.  Among them, Ptolemy, son of Lagus took over Egypt and and made himself the ruler of Egypt, in 304 BC.  Pharaoh’s rule came to the end, and Ptolemy and his descendants ruled Egypt till 285 BC.  This dynasty of Egypt was knows Ptolemy dynasty.  Ptolemies spread the Greek culture in Egypt through their policy of Hellenization.  Alexandria was its capital and famous for building, education and Library.  There were a large community of Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria.  Those Alexandrian Jews translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek.
                   There were always wars between the Ptolemis and the Seleucus who ruled Syria after Alexander.  However, Ptolemies power declined due to opposition in Egypt and growth of Roman power.  Cleopatra, the queen was  also a reason for the decline of Ptolemies.  Finally Romans captured, Egypt and Ptolemis rule came to the end.
Qumran Community
                   Qumran was an area located, North West of Dead  Sea.  There were caves too.  It seems, the Essenes and other monks of 2nd century BC lived  there.   They were  known as Qumran community.  Some scholars believe, John, the Baptist was also one among them probably.  The people of Qumran community lived a holy separated life.  They gave importance to preserving the Old Testament scrolls in caves.  Such scrolls were found from the caves of Qumran in 1947.  Those scrolls proved the genuiness of Old Testament Texts.
                   This was a group of pre-Israel people of Palestine.  They were mentioned with Zuzium and Emim.  They lived before and during the time of Abraham. (Gen. 14 : 5; 15 : 20).  Zamzummim and Emim were probably other names for Raphaim (Deut. 2 : 20-21).  They were compared in stature with the Anakim (Deut. 2 : 21; 14 : 5; Jos. 12 : 4; 13 : 12; 1 Chr. 11 : 15; 14 : 9; 20 : 4; 2 Sam. 21 : 16, 18, 20, 22; 1 Ch. 20 : 6, 8).
                   The city Rome was traditionally founded in 753 BC on its seven hills.  Through conquest, the Romans enlarged their empire, from Britain at west and Arabia at East.  Rome was cosmopolitan and all the world was Roman.  During the periods of ceasars, Rome got beautiful buildings and streets.
                   Rome’s diplomatic imperialism was developed during its early dealings with her neighbours in Italy.  Hence Rome acquired the leadership of the league of Latin cities.  Through treaty relations, Rome enlarged its boundaries.  Sometime through wars, Rome enlarged its area.  For example, Egypt the last Helenistic state became a province after Augustus’ defeat of Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC.  However Rome had already became an empire in 63 BC, when it captured Palestine.
                   Roman provinces were ruled by Governers.  If there was any mal administration in provinces such provinces came under the direct rule of Emperor of Rome.  The high peaceful and civilized provinces were called senatorial provinces.  The governers of provinces were careful enough to rule so that they could avoid the direct intervention of Emperor.
                   Since Roman empire was large enough from Britain to Arabia, Palestin and Jews were also under Roman rule after 63 BC.  Roman collected tax from its provinces.  Harvest tax was 12.5 percent in Judea.  This tax was collected by publicans on behalf of Romans.  Hence the Jews hated Roman rule and publicans.  Zacchaeus was also a publican (Lk. 19).  Although the Jews hated paying tax to Romans, Jesus (Lk. 20 : 22-25) as well as Paul (Rom. 13 : 6-7) defended the Roman’s right of tax.
                   Roman judicial system was also a well established.  Justice was granted for those who seek justice in general.  However, there  were corruption in Judicial system too.  Sometime, to please the local people, governers acted in favour of local leaders and people.  That was one of the reasons, Pilate could not grant justice to Jesus.  Paul was also suffered in prison because he  did not bribe (Acts 24, 25).  Howeve, for a short time in early centuries, the Christians appreciated the Roman Justice.  As the church grew in following centuries, Roman empire became weak and finally lost its empirehood.
                   They claimed that they were the decendants of Zadok, the high priest at the time of king David.  The sudducees were highly educated and rich.  They were the supporters of Greek culture (Hellenism).  During Roman rule, Sadducees predominated in the Sanhedrin.  Although they were Jews, they did not believe in angels and resurrection.  So, when they questioned Jesus about resurrection,  He gave them fitting reply (Mt. 22 : 29-33).  For their disbelief in resurrection and angels, Pharisees opposed them.  However the Sadducees were powerful and controlled the affair of the temple.  The Sadducees finally disappeared from history after the destruction of Jerusalem temple in 70 AD.
                   After the fall of the Northern kingdom (Israel) in 722 BC, the largely depopulated land was settled by the Assyrians from other parts of their empire (2 King 17 : 24).  The newly settled Assyrians inter-married with Israelites who lived in Northern Kingdom.  The children born to Israelites and Assyrians due to their inter-marriage were called Samaritans.  Since these people were  a mixture of Assyrians and Israelites, the Jews of Judea dispised the Samaritans.  The Samaritans opposed rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem in 5th century BC (Neh. 2 : 10 – 6 : 14; 13 : 28).  The Samaritans worshipped on their own Temple built on Mt. Gerizim (Jn. 4 : 20).  They built this Temple at Gerizim during the Period of Alexander, the great.  This temple at Mt. Gerizim was partly destroyed in 128 BC by John Hyrcanus.  The Samaritans accepted Pentateuch written by Moses as their only law Book.
                   It was the name of the Highest tribunal of the Jews, like our supreme court.  This met in Jerusalem to decide the affairs of Jewish matters, especially on religious matters.  Although, its origin is not clear, it originated with the seventy elders who helped Moses in dealing the problems of people during their wilderness journey (Num. 11 : 16-24).  However, during the period of Ezra, this group of seventy elders was again organized systematically and recognized officially and legally by the Jews who returned from Babylonian captivity.  It was a powerful body among Jews.
                   However, its power was limited by Gabinius of Rome.  But, Julius Caesar extended the power of Sanhedrin once again over all Judea.  However, its influence was recognized by Jews diaspora.  From the days of Archelaus, son of Herod the Great, its direct power was limited to Judea only.  So it had no power over Jesus, while he lived and ministered in Galilean area.
                   The Parisees, Scribes and Saducees were the members of Sanhedrin.  The High-Priest was also a member of Sanhedrin.  However, the method of selecting a member of Sanhedrin was unclear.  But, some scholars believe, a member of noble Jewish families could be selected to  be in Sanhedrin. The members were married as one of their qualifications to be in Sanhedrin as suggested by some scholars.  The High Priest was the president of Sanhedrin council.  Thus, during the trial of Jesus, Caiaphas was President and at the trial of Paul, Ananias was President (Act. 23 : 2).
                   It had authority in religious matters and could order arrest warrents by its own (Mt. 26 : 47; Mk. 14 : 43; Act 4 : 1ff; 5 : 17ff; 9 : 2).  It could judge cases which did not involve capital punishment (Act 4-5),  because capital punishment required the approval of Roman authorities (Jn. 18 : 31).  Normally Roman authorities judge the capital punishments in accordance with the demands of Sanhedrin (Mt. 26 : 66).  The capital punishment granted by Sanhedrin in New Testament was of our Lord, but its execution was carried out by the judgement of the Roman governer, Pilate.  Although Sanhedrim had freedom in religious matters, the Roman authorities reserved the rights to interfere in any matter if necessary (Ex. Paul’s case.  Act 23).
                   After 70 AD, on the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the Sanhedrin was abolished.  Sanhedrin did not meet on festival days and Sabbath days of Jews.  The Sanhedrin sat in a Semi-circle.  There were two clerks of court; one to record votes of acquittal and the other votes of condemnation.  In voting members stood.  For acquittal simple majority sufficed, but for condemnation a two-thirds majority was required.
                   This median term means “protector of the kingdom”.  This title was used by Medo-Persian rulers to denote their provincial governers (Ezra 8 : 36; Est. 3 : 12; Dan. 3 : 2; 6 : 1).  Probably this system was introduced in Persian Empire by Darius I, who divided the kingdom into 20 satrapies.
                   Scribes were in Jerusalem and they were experts in the Law of Moses.  This occupation was mainly belong to Priest families.  Ezra was a priest and scribe (Neh. 8 : 9).  The scribe class was a development in Jewism after Babylonian exile (1 Ch. 2 : 55).  They had good influence among the Jews in Judea, Galilee and diaspara in 70 AD (Lk. 5 : 17).  Scribe served in Synagogues, some became the members of Sanhedrin.  They claimed the oral law was more authoritative than the written law (Mk. 7 : 5ff).  But Jesus rejected their views.  They lectured in the Temple (Lk. 2 : 46; Jn. 18 : 20).  They were also called teachers of law (Mt. 22 : 35; Mk. 14 : 43, 53; Lk. 22 : 66; Act 4 : 5).  Almost all Scribes were from Pharisee sects.  The gospel of John did not mention about them.
                   It was a horse-riding nomads and warriors of West Siberia.  They inhabited the Black Sea-Caspian area from 2000 BC.  In 8th century BC, they moved into North Persia.  Their advances at South west was checked by Sargon II of Assyria (722-705 BC).  They dominated Asia for about 25 years.  Later they assisted Assyria against the Medes.  However, they attacked Harran and raided Palestin after a few years.  Scholars divide themselves in agreeing of the time of Scythians raiding Palestine for a short time.  Scythians were not a strong group, it seems.  Some Scythians probably settled in Scythopolis (Jud. 1 : 27. LXX) at Bethshean.
                   The Scythians established their capital at Neapolis in the Crimea in 110 BC.  They had trade link with Russia and other South parts of Asia.  Paul used their name once (Col. 3 : 11).  They traded grains and slaves.
                   Seleucus was one of a general of Alexander, the Great.  After Alexander’s death he took control over Syrian province and Asia minor.  He made Seleucia (Act 13 : 4) as his port to serve his new west capital of Antioch.  The rulers of this dynasty bore the name of either Seleucus or Antiochus.  Their dynasty ruled from Syria about 250 years, until Roman captured Syria.  Seleucus were the Greek speaking.  So they were active in hellenization – spreading the Greek culture.  They attempted to destroy other cultures, including the Jewish cultures. So, the Jews opposed them under the leadership of Maccabuees.  Hence, the Jewish revolt was called Maccabaean revolt.
                   The Seleucus kings were always fighting wars with the Ptolemies, who were controlling Egypt after Alexander.  Antiochus Epiphanes was a wicked ruler of Seleucus dynasty.  He tried to abolish the Jewish worship systems, but he could not succeed in it due to Maccabaean revolt.
                   They were Semitic nomads living in Syrian desert later moved to east of Bagdad in 14th century BC.  Ezekial prophecies that this people with other Mesopotamian tribes would attack Jerusalem (23 : 21-24).  (Some scholars suggest the word usually translated crying (shouting) in Isaiah 22 : 5 to be the name Shoa).
                   Sidon (Zidon) was a port city in ancient Phoenicia in Lebanon. It had a twin harbours (Jos. 11 : 8). People lived in this city were called Sidonians – Jesus ministered to Sidonians too (Mk. 3 : 8; Lk. 6 : 17; 10 : 13, 14).  Sidon was a famous centre for Greek Philosophy and education (Mk. 7 : 26).  Many coins found in Archaeological findings bear witness of Sidonian rulers.
                   In ancient days both in Old Testament and New Testament times, there were slaves.  These men became slaves by seven means; first by capture in wars (Gen. 14 : 21; Num. 31 : 9; Dt. 20 : 14; Jud. 5 : 30).  Second, by purchase from slave markets. (Gen. 17 : 12-13, 27; Eccl 2 : 7).  The Law allowed, Hebrews to by foreign slaves (Lev. 25 : 44 ff).  Third, by birth. (Gen. 15 : 3; 17 : 12-13, 27 ; Ecc. 2 : 7; Jer. 2 : 14); children born to slave parents became slave of masters; Fourth as restitution, if a convicted thief could not make restitution to pay fines, he sells himself as slave to pay his fine (Ex. 22 : 3).  Fifth by default on debts.   Debtors who went bankrupt often sold their children or themselves as slaves or the creditors took the debtors as slaves ( 2 Kg. 4 : 1 ; Neh. 5 : 5, 8), Sixth, by Self-sale.  Some who had no means to live sold themselves to be slaves to escape poverty (Lev. 25 : 39-43).  They would be redeemed at Jubilee year.  Seventh: by abduction.  Some steal people from weaker class and sell them as slaves (Ex. 21 : 16; Dt. 24 : 7).  Stealing others to be slave was punishable.  The price of slave was varied depending upon age and sex.  Normally young man priced more than children and women.
                   Slavery was practiced even in the early centuries of New Testament Times.  Onesimus was a slave of Philemon.  However, as the church grew, slavery was abolished.  The church directly or indirectly influenced the governments of nations to abolish slavery.
                   The stoic school of Philosophy derived its name from the stoa Poikile, the Portico in Athens.  The Portico called “Stoa Poikile” was the place where Zeno of Citium (335 – 263 BC) first taught his philosophy.  Chrysippus was the second founder of Stoicism.  It modified its teaching from taking some elements from Platonism.  Paul encountered some stoics with the ideas of Platonism (Act 17 : 18).  But Paul was not a stoic.  He probably quoted stoic poets in order to attract the Greeks toward his message of gospel.
                   The origin of Sumerians is unknown.  Some think they migrated from the East.  Their history might fall between Gentiles.  They lived in the areas of Euprates and Tigris.  It is believed that Sumerians first developed wheels for transport (carts) and for potters.
                   The Hebrew term “Sinim” refers to a distant land from where people shall return (Is. 49 : 12).  Some scholars suggest hence Syene refers to classical :Sinae” (China), but it is unlikely that Jews had settled in so distant place by this period.  Therefore, most likely is identification with Syene of Ezk. 29 : 10; 30 : 6; on the far south border of Egypt.  Some think Sinites (Heb – Sini) were a Canaanite people (Gen. 10 : 17; 1 Ch. 1 : 15).  Having seen this arguments, Syene may never refer to China and its people as many scholars declare.
                   The land and nation which is at the North-East of Israel is called Syria.  The people of it, were known as Syrians in Old Testament as well as New Testament.  Syrian Kings mostly treated Israel as their enemy.  Syria and Israel fought many battles during the rule of kings in Israel and Judah.  (2 Kings 6 : 18 – 7 : 20).  Naaman was a chief of army in Syria.  He was healed by prophet Elisha (2 Kings 5).  In the 4th century BC Syria was ruled by Alexander.
                   After the death of Alexander, the Great Seleucus-I founded Seleucid dynasty in Syria.  During Seleucid rule, Syria fought with Ptolemies of Egypt in attempting to control Palestine.  Due to the wars between Syria and Egypt, the Israelites suffered much.  Moreover, Seleucid Kings of Syria attempted to Hellenize and to destroy Jewish culture.  Jews opposed their moves under the leadership of Maccabees.  Finally Syrian domnation over Palestine came to an end when Pompey annexed Syria with Rome in 64 BC.
                   The inhabitants of  Phoenicia were called Syrophoenicians.  It was a part of Roman province of Cilicia and Syria.  The Syrophoenician woman, a Greek from the region of Tyre and Sidon asked Jesus to heal her daughter (Mk. 7 : 28; Mt. 15 : 21-28). They were sometimes called Canaanitee because this part of Phoenicia was a part of Canaan in ancient times (Mt. 15 : 22).  Syrophoienician area includes Tyre and Sidon, and was a larger part of Roman province of Syria.  Phoenicians who lived in Carthage were known Libyphoenicians.
                   The land where sons of Javan, grandson of Noah lived.  Tarshish odccurs 4 times in Authorisied version of English Bible (Gen. 10 : 4;  I Ch. 1 : 7; 1 King 10 : 22; 22 : 48; 1 Ch. 7 : 10).  The people of the land were called Tarshish.  Jonah attempted to go to Tarshish (Jona. 1 : 3; 4 : 2).  Some scholars identify Tarshish with Tartessus in Spain.  Tarshish was known for precious metal. Solomon got gold from it (1 Kg. 10 : 22; 22 : 48; 2 Ch. 20 : 36).
Tax Collector
                   The Roman Empire collected taxes from the people who lived in the nations which Romans captured.  To collect tax from those people the Romans appointed officers. Those officers were called Tax Collectors (Mt. 9 : 10; 11 : 19; Mk. 2 : 15; Lk. 5 : 30; 7 : 34; 15 : 1).  The Jews hate tax-collectors but Jesus loved them (Lk. 18 : 10ff; Lk. 19 – Zaccheaus).
                   Ugarit was a trade – centre flourished as the capital of a city – state in Northern Syria.  In the history, there developed a language after the style of Canaanite language and in the form of Hebrew.  The people who spoke this language was known as Ugaritic people.  Ugaritic is closely related to Hebrew and it has broadened appreciation of the language of the Old Testament in many ways.
                   The sluggards were called vagabonds in Pro. 6 : 11.  A vagabond refers to a wanderer to describe Cain’s lot after God’s sentence (Gen. 4 : 12, 14).    It refers to lazy and beggarly life (Ps. 109 : 10).  It also refers to Jewish exorcists (Act 19 : 13).
                   There were two kinds of watch Towers in Israel. First, watch – towers were built in vineyards and on pastures to protect cattle and sheep against wild animals and thieves (Gen. 35 : 21 ; 2 Chr. 26 : 10; Mic. 4 : 8; Is. 27 : 3).  Second watch  towers were erected in cities to watch alert for hostile action against the city.  Jerusalem had three watch-towers, built by Herod. 
                   In those watch-towers, watchmen watched day and night on the alert.  They had to give message to the kings of any person approaching the city wall.  (2Sam 18 : 24-27; 2 Kg. 9 : 17-20).  In times of hostility the dangers of the night were feared, hence the watchmen eagerly looked forward to the break of day (Is. 21 : 11).
                   It always refers to young people.  In the Bible Times, young men were trained as warriors, and workers at the Court or palace.  Hebrew people trained their young men (young women) in the scripture.  A Hebrew young man became eligible to be a member of Synagogue at the age of twelve / thirteen.  Every young men must by-heart the scripture, and must obey to them (Deut. 6 : 6-25).  Disobedient were punished.  Young people were first trained by parents, then by Rabbis if parent could afford to pay to Rabbi.
                   The Hebrew Historian Josephus described about the party of the Zealots. They were called Zealot because they had great zeal for the law and God.  They followed the great examples of Phinehas (Num. 25 : 11; Ps. 106 : 30) and Mattathias of Maccabees (1 Macc. 2 : 24-27).  The Zealots made war with Roman because they did not like Roman occupation of Jerusalem and Roman tax system on the Jews.  The final strondhold, Masada fell in the hands of Roman in 74 AD.  Although Zealots failed, the Zealot spirit was not completely quenched.
                   One of the disciples of Jesus, Simon (Lk. 6 : 15; Act 1 : 13) was called the Zealot; either because of his Zealous temperament or because of some former association with the party of Zealots before becoming the disciple of Jesus.  Paul spoke himself as a religious Zealot (Act 22 : 3; Gal. 1 : 14).  Many early Christians at Jerusalem church are described as all Zealots for the Law  (Act 21 : 20).
                   They were a Canaanite  tribe.  Their name is lisited between Arvadites and Hamathites (Gen. 10 : 18; 1 Ch. 1 : 16).  The people lived in the city of Arvad was called as Arvadites.  So also people of Hamath city were called Hamathites.  Zemarites probably lived in these cities.
                   Abraham was called by God with a promise that His descendants would have a promised land.  That promise was given to Jacob the son of Isaac who was the promised son of Abraham.  Jacob the grandson of Abraham got twelve sons.  Their names were given to their descendants, who were also twelve tribes.  These twelve tribes possessed the promised land after they were redeemed from the Egyptian slavery.  The names of twelve sons of Jacob are Reuben, Simeon,Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Napthali, Gad, Asher, Joseph and Benjamn.
                   Jacob adapted Ephraim and Manesseh, the two sons of Joseph.  Hence, Ephraim and Manasseh were included in the tribes of Israel instead of Joseph.  Therefore the tribes of Israael are Asher, Benjamin, Dan, Ephraim, Gad, Issachar, Judah, Levi, Manasseh, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon and Zebulun.  However, the tribe of Levi was not allotted land in the promised land, because they were called for the service of God in the Temple and its related works.  Hence only twelve tribes got allotment in the promised land.  So Israel is normally said of twelve tribes.
                   Asher was the eight son of Jacob through Leah’s maid Zilph (Gen. 30 : 13; 35 : 26).  Asher means “Happy or Blessed”.  Asher had four sons and a daughter (Gen. 46 : 17; Num. 26 : 46; 1 Ch. 7 : 30-40).  His descendants were called the tribes of Asher.  This tribe had five main families or clans (Num. 26 : 44-47).  This tribe shared the organization of the tribes in the wilderness journeys (Num. 1 : 13; 2 : 27; 7 : 72; 13 : 13) and had a part in Moses’ blessings (Deut. 33 : 24).  Joshua assigned Asher’s territory in the plain of Acre at the western slopes of Galilean hills (Josh. 19 : 24 – 31, 34).
                   Asher got four Gershonite levite cities (1 Ch. 6 : 62, 74-75).  Although Joshua assigned their land, Asher failed to expel the Cananites fully from their portion (Jud. 1 : 31-32).  During Judges period, Asher failed to support Deborah, but helped to Gideon (Jud. 5 : 17; 6 : 35; 7 : 23).  This tribe supplied warriors to David (1 Ch. 12 : 36).  Solomon formed an administrative district at Asher (1 King 4 : 16).  After the fall of Northern kingdom to Assyria, some people of Asherites responded to Hezekiah’s call to revive the Passover at Jerusalem (2 Ch. 30 : 11).  In the New Testament, the aged prophets Anna, who rejoiced by seeing the infant Jesus was of the tribe of Asher (Lk. 2 : 36).
                   Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob, through Rachel (Gen. 35 : 18,24).  Benjamin means “Son of the right hand”, signifying “lucky”.  The descendants of Banjamin were Benjaminite Tribe, possibly at least three clans (1 Chr. 7 : 6ff).  Benjaminites occupied a strip of land in the passes between  Mt. Ephraim and the hills of Judah (Jos. 18 : 15ff; 15 : 5ff).  Under David’s rule, Ephraim (i.e. the Northern kingdom) occupied Bethel and part of East Benjamin area (2  Chr. 13 : 9).
                   As blessed by Jacob, Benjaminite were very skillful in war (Gen. 49 : 27; Jud. 3 : 15; 20 : 16; 1 Ch. 8 : 40).  Ehud, a judge of Israel, Saul the king (1 Sam. 9 : 1), Queen Esther,(2 : 5) and apostle Paul were of Benjaminites.
                   Dan was a son of Jacob through Rachel’s maid servant Bilhah (Gen. 30 : 1-6).  Dan means “God has judged me”.  He was the ancestor of the Tribe of Dan.  This tribe got settlement between Ephraim, Benjamin, and Judah (Jos. 19 : 40ff).  But gradually majority of Danites moved to the northern part of promised land due to Amorites opposition (Jos. 19 : 47; Jud. 1 : 34; 18 : 1ff).  However, Samson, the Judge was from the Danites who remained in their original region (Jud. 13).  The southern Danites ultimately obsorbed in the tribe of Judah.  The Northern Danites were deported by Tiglath-Pileser in 732 BC during Assyrian invasion (2 Kg. 15 :  29).
                   The tribe of Dan is missing in Rev. 7 : 5-8, either intentionally or by a primitive corruption.  Ireanaeus and some other scholars suggests the omission by saying that Antichrist is to come from the tribe of Dan – a belief which he possibly bases on Jeramiah 8 : 16 as Septuagint version (. . . From Dan shall we hear the noice of his swift horses).  However, Jeremiah certainly did not mean Antichrist.
                   Ephraim was the second son of Joseph born to him in Egypt by Asenath, the second daughter of Potipherah, before famine come (Gen. 41 : 50-52).  Jacob, the grandfather adopted Ephraim and blessed him with his right hand (Gen. 48).  Ephraim probably means “Fruitful”.
                   In the wilderness journey of Israel, the tribe of Ephraim marched on the west side of Tabernacle (Num. 2 : 18).  Joshua, the captain of Israel’s army was from this tribe (Num. 13 : 8; 34 : 17).  From the very history of Israel, Ephraim got prominent role in battles.  When the kingdom divided after Solomon, Ephraim joined with the Northern kingdom.  There also its supremacy was acknowledged.  Hence the prophet Jeremiah prophised “I am a father to Israel and Ephraim is my first-born” (Jer. 31 : 9).
                   Gad was the seventh son of Jacob, his first by Leah’s maid Zilpah (Gen. 30 : 10-11).  The tribe got seven clans (Gen. 49 : 19; Num. 26: 15-18; Num. 1 : 14; 2 : 14; 7 : 42 ; 10 : 20).  Gad means   “Good Fortune”.  When Israel reached the promised land, Gad, along with Reuben and half-tribe of Manasseh requested Moses to allot their portion at the East of Jordan river where they could feed their livestock.  Moses agreed to their request on the condition that they should first help other tribes to possess their allotment west of Jordan (Num. 32).  Then they did according to their promise to their brethren (Jos. 22 : 1-34).  Gad as their tribal territory got a part of Amorite kingdom of Sihon (Jos. 13).  Heshbon was allotted as a levitical city in Gad’s territory.  In Saul’s day, Gad offered a place of refugee (1 Sam. 13 : 7).  Gadites joined with the fugitive David and later supported his becoming King (1 Ch. 12 : 1, 8-15, 27-38).
                   After the division of Kingdom, during Rehoboam’s rule Gad joined with Northern Kingdom.  When Tiglath – Pileser III carried Transjordanian Israel tribes including Gad, the land was empty.  Hence the Ammonites invaded it again (2Kg 15 : 29; 1 Ch. 5 : 25, 26; Jer. 49 : 1-6).
                   Issachar was the ninth son of Jacob.  His mother was Leah (Gen. 30 : 18; 35 : 23).  His name verbally means “May God Show Mercy” but as compound name means “a hired worker”.  His descendants became the tribe of Issachar in Israel.  Their portion in the promised land was between Mt. Gilboa and the hills of lower Galilee.  Issachar tribe was involved in the campaign led by Deborah, who was probably from this tribe (Jud. 5 : 15).  Minor Judge Tola was also of Issachar (Jud. 10 : 1).  Solomon set up twelve administrative districts in Issachar (1 Kg. 4 : 17).  This tribe was known for its wisdom during the period of David (1 Ch. 12 : 32).  Even in Sanhedrin, a supreme body of Jewish religion, many wise members were from this tribe, according to the Talmudic statement.
                   Judah was the fourth son of Jacob through Leah (Gen. 29:35).  Judah means “Praise” (Gen. 49 : 8).  The descendants of Judah were known as the tribe of Judah.  Judah played no important role during the wilderness journey, although the promise given to them to be the leader (Num. 2 : 9).  The territory of Judah was at South of the promised land.
                   Achan was the member of this tribe, and he was the cause of Israel’s defeat at Ai (Jos. 7).  After possessing the promised land, there were judges in Israel.  Othniel was the first judge who was of Judah (Jud. 3 : 9-11).
                   During Kings rule, David became the king of Israel after the death of king Saul.  David and Solomon was of Judah (2 Sam. 2 : 4, 5; 5 : 105).  After the division of Israel during Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, his kingdom  was called kingdom of Judah or Southern kingdom.  After the defeat of Northern kingdom of Israel of ten tribes by Assyrian in 732 BC, the Southern kingdom of Judah existed for more than hundred years (146 years).  But due to its sin and repeatedly failure   to repent after many invitations of prophets Isaiah, and Jeremiah, God punished Judah by the hands of ‘Babylonians’.  Finally in 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon King destroyed Jerusalem including the temple.  He took captives from Judah to Babylon; then Judah was captive for seventy years (Jer. 25 : 11).  After seventy years of Babylonian captivity, the Jews returned to Jerusalem  in three batches.  Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah were the leaders of those three group of Jews who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem.  During Persians rule Judah was little cared.
                   After Persian, Alexander the Great captured Judah (Jerusalem).  Then Roman aptured Jerusalem in 63 BC from the Greeks.  During Romans rule, Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  Jesus was from the tribe of Judah sympathitically.
                   Levi was the third son of Jacob through Leah (Gen. 29 : 34).  Levi means “Attached” or “Associated”.  Levi had only three sons.  Gershon, Kohath and Merari.  The descendants of Levi were called Levites.  They were assigned for religious duty in Tabernacle.  Hence they were not given separate territory in the promised land.  However, they received levitical cities (Jos. 20 : 7; 21 : 32).  Moses and Aaron were from this tribe.  Aaron was chosen as the first Chief  High Priest of Israel.
                   Manasseh was the elder son of Joseph, born in Egypt of an Egyptian mother Asenath (Gen. 41 : 51). Manasseh probably means “making to forget” (worries).  Jacob accepted Manasseh and Ephraim as co-equals with Reuban and Simeon.  So Manasseh and Ephraim got tribal status and territory in the promised land.  The tribe of Manasseh includes seven families (clans) one from Machir and the other six from Gilead.  They occupied the land on both sides of Jordan; East portion was granted by Moses and West side by Joshua (Jos. 22 : 7; Num. 32 : 33; Deu. 3 : 13; Jos. 17 : 1-2).  The place called Megido was in the western part of Manasseh.  Golan, a city of Bashan in Eastern Manasseh was one of the six cities of Refuge (Jos. 20 : 8; 21 : 27; 1 Ch. 6 : 71).  This tribe was known for valour.  Gideon was from west (Jud. 6 : 15) and Jephthah in the East (Jud. 11 : 1).
                   During kings period, some of the people of Manasseh joined with David at Ziklag (1 Chr. 12 : 19-20, 31).  After division of kingdom, Manasseh joined with the northern kingdom.  Later, when Assyria captured the Northern kingdeom of Israel in 732 BC, the Assyrians deported Manasseh (1 Ch. 5 : 18-26).
                   Naphtali was the sixth  son of Jacob, through Rachal’s maid servant Bilhah.  Naphtali means “Wrestler”.  He was younger brother of Dan, with whom he was usually associated (Gen. 30 : 5-8).  His descendants were called the tribe of Naphtali.  They got their portion in the promised land, area west of Galilee near upper Jordan (Deu. 33 : 23; Jos. 19 : 32-39).  Kedesh was their important city of Refuge in Naphtali (Jos. 20 : 7; 21 : 32).  Barak, Deborah’s partner in delivering Israel from Canaanites was of Naphtali (Jud. 4 : 6).  Naphtali was the first tribe west of Jordan which was deported by the Assyrians in 734 BC (2 King 15 : 29: Is. 9 : 1).
                   Hiram, the Chief architect of Solomon’s temple was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali (1 King 7 : 14).  Solomon’s son-in-law Ahimaaz was the governer of Naphtali during Solomon’s rule (1 King 4 : 15).  Jesus spent much of his public life in the regions of Naphtali.  Naphtali was generally despised by the Jews of Jerusalem during Jesus times because of new settlers through many deportations.
                   Reuben was the first born of Jacob, through mother Leah (Gen. 29 : 32)  His name means “the Lord has looked upon my affliction” or “Behold a son”.  His descendants were called the tribe of Reuben or Reubenites.  This tribe was involved in the rebellion in the wilderness (Num. 16 : 1).  This tribe occupied territory East of Jordan and the Dead Sea in the promisied land, south of Gad.  They attacked Hagarites with Saul (1 Chr. 5 : 10, 19ff).  Reubenites were mainly doing pastoral works at East of Jordan.
                   Simeon was the second son of Jacob through Leah (Gen. 29 : 33).  Simeon means “Heard”.  Simeon had six sons.  His descendants were called the tribe of Simeon.  They got their portion in the promised land at the south of Judah’s territory.  They supplied more warriors to David’s army than Judah (1 Chr. 12 : 24 – 25).
                   When the kingdom was divided during Rehoboan’s reign, the tribe of Simeon joined with the northern kingdom although its territory was located in the extreme south of the promised land.  However many Simeonites joined hand with Asa, the king of Judah in restoring the worship of Yahweh (2 Chro. 15 : 9).  This tribe is not mentioned after exile.  However, Simeonites are added in the list of sealed in Revelation (Rev. 7 : 7).
                   Zebulun was the tenth son of Jacob and the sixth of Leah (Gen. 30 : 19ff).  Zebulun probably means “honour”.  Zebulun had three sons who formed their respective tribal clans (Gen. 46 : 14).  Zebulun got territory between Asher at west, Naphtali at north, Issachar at East and Manasseh at South (Jos. 19 : 10-16).  Elon, a minor judge was from Zebulun (Jud. 12 : 11).  The prophet Jonah was also from Zebulun (2 King 14 : 25; Josh. 19 : 18).  Zebulun suffered much by Assyrian invasion (2 King 15 : 29 cf. Is. 9 : 1).  Some of Zebulunites joined in Hezekiah’s Passover (2 Chr. 30 : 10-12).  Nazareth was in the border of Zebulun (Mt. 4 : 13-16).
Clans and Families
                   The tribes got their class after the families of first ancestors.  Often, they were called after name of Fathers (Ex. Rechabites – 2 King 10 : 15-31; Jer. 35 : 18-19).  Sometimes they were called after their towns they lived (Ex. Gileadites were those who lived in Gilead and Eshtaolites lived at Eshtaol – Josh. 15 : 33; 19 : 41; Jud. 1 : 34; 13 : 25; 16 : 31; 18 : 2-11).
Other Special People Groups
                   Some specific group of people were in Israel.  Such as Priests, Prophets and Rabbis.  Priests were only from Aaron’s family of Levi Tribes.  Prophets were from various tribes.  It is believed Rabbis were also from various tribes of Israel especially of Judah and Levi.
Students Assignment
Write short notes on Romans, Pharisees, Sadducees, Babylonians, Zealots, and Samaritans.
Note :  Send your assignment to the Director, CALS.  Please do not forget to write your name and Register Number on your assignment papers.