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206. Jacob's BLESSING ON SIMEON, v.5-7.
• Simeon and Leri are brethren ;
The Simeonites, in concert with the men of Levi, must have been notorious for some fierce and bloody transaction to account for the words here, used. The writer, no doubt, is directly referring to his own account of the sack of Shechem in xxxiv. But, as that story can hardly be regarded as historical, it is probable that he had some other more recent events in his mind, which may not have been recorded in the history.
207. The language, however, here addressed to Simeon and Levi, involves manifestly a curse rather than a blessing. They were to be “portioned out in Jacob and scattered in Israel. We have already shown (II1.816,817) that the Simeonites seem to have gradually dwindled away as a tribe, so that in the Blessing of Moses, D.xxxiii, written about the time of Josiah, and even in the song of Deborah, Ju.v, they are passed over altogether. Though seventeen cities are assigned to them in Jo.xix.1-9, yet in Saul's time one of them, Ziklag, was given hy the Philistine king Achish to David, 1S.xxvii.6, and another, Hormah, was reckoned among the cities of Judah, 1S.xxx.30, and in David's time Beersheba was also reckoned to Judah, 29.xxiv.7. Three others, Gaza, Askelon, Ekron, are reckoned as Philistine cities in 1S.vi.17: we are told in 2Ch.xi.6 that Rehoboam rebuilt Etham (or Ether), which was another of Simeon's towns, Jo xix.7. In fact, almost all the seventeen Simeonite towns of Jo.xix.2–7 are reckoned to the tribe of Judah in Jo.xv.26,28-32. Either the tribe was ultimately absorbed in that of Judah, or they were reduced in numbers greatly by some cause, such as migration, of which we see signs in 1Ch.iv.39. Appendix I.
208. The real fact was probably this, that the Simeonites were never strong enough to wrest from its original occupants any considerable portion of the land which they occupied, and make it their own. There are tribes such as these at this day in Natal, which in former times have migrated out of the Zulu country, as the Israelites from Egypt or elsewhere. Some have taken possession of lands in Natal, and acquired a settlement therein. Pakade's powerful tribe might be regarded as the
Ephraim of the northern portion of the colony; it is surrounded by other strong tribes; and, if at any time they resolved to form a confederacy, it would very probably be acknowledged by many of them as their head—the pre-eminent of his brethren. It cannot now be said who was the first-born' in Natal of the Zulu,—or of Zulu, as the natives would say, using their ancestor's name, like ‘Jacob'or · Israel,' as a personal name,-in other words, which is the oldest tribe now left, either remaining from the ravages of their former tyrant Chaka, or having since his time been the first to come across the frontier river, the Tugela, which separates Natal from Zululand, as the Hebrews (lit. crossers-over ') crossed the Jordan (or the Euphrates) when they came into Canaan. But it is, no doubt, some tribe, like Reuben, that will not now dare to claim its birthright.
209. Of course, under British rule, no tribe would be allowed to lord it over his brethren : nor, in fact, is there in Natal any royal tribe, like that of “Judah,' which has at any time been acknowledged as sovereign over the whole native population. But we have ‘Simeonites’ in Natal,-people who really belong to one tribe, and call themselves by their tribal name, yet have never been able to get possession of land to any extent which they can call their own. Many of these have been absorbed in other tribes, or migrated to other districts; while the rest live as they can,—“portioned-out and scattered,'— squatting, where they are allowed, upon the unoccupied lands of white-men, or settling down under the protection of some more powerful and prosperous tribe.
210. Jacob's BLESSING ON ZEBULUN, v.13.
*ZEBULUN, on the shore of seas shall he dwell,
And his extreme-side unto f Zidon.' There is considerable difficulty in reconciling this account of Zebulun's position with that assigned to Asher in Jo.xix. 24–31. In the carefully-drawn map of Dean STANLEY'S Sinai and Palestine it will be seen that no part of Zebulun reaches to the coast. And in fact Jo.xix.28 describes the tract of Asher as reaching 'to Great Zidon'—
' and then the coast turneth to Ramah and to the fortress of Tyre,' v.29. · And accordingly LAND observes, p.60—
Where the maritime coast of Zebulun can have been I cannot see, Manasseh and Asher dividing between themselves the whole of the sea-coast in those parts. And eren Keil, a very stout defender of the traditionary view, distinctly says— So far as the boundaries of this tribe can be determined by our Book of Joshua, its limits did not quite reach to the Mediterranean.' He adds, however, 'Perhaps, somewhat later it may have extended itself so far.' But he has no kind of proof for this but what is derived from the Poem before us.
211. In short, it is plain that to Zebulun is here assigned a portion of territory which in Jo.xix is ascribed to Asher. On this point EWALD writes as follows, Gesch.V.I.ii.p.381 (Ed.1853):
* LAND, p.61, suggests that this line may be merely a note of a later Editor, enlarging by way of explanation on the preceding clause. Near Jokneam, the town of Zebulun, which approached nearest to the sea, is found the best part of the Sinus Ptolemaicus, called by the Greeks Zukauívos, by the natives, 'HỌa (Euseb. Sub voce 'Idded). May not, he asks, this latter be derived from gin, 'shore,' or niyx gin,
shore of merchantmen,' which was, perhaps, the Hebrew designation of this port or rather roadstead? Thus in the first word of the clause in question, 1971, should be translated 'And that is '&c. = 'that is to say &c.,' and not ' And he &c.'
+ 7y, unlo,' with all the old Versions and Sam. Text, instead of Sy, 'upon.'
We have no intimation from any other quarter that Zebulun reached to the sea with even the smallest strip of its territory. But who will not admit, after the preceding explanations, that this utterance is much more suited to Asher ? Deborah, in fact, speaks in these very terms of Asher, Ju.v.17, · Asher dwelt on the shore of seas, &c.'; and since Deborah so exactly uses this strange expression, (which occurs nowhere else in the older passages, for in D.i.7, Jo.ix.1, it is the Deuteronomist who speaks,) it is plain that one of these passages must have a connection with the other. Thus the verse in Jacob's Blessing sounds only like a modification of the shorter words of Deborah. Meanwhile, since we can scarcely be helped by supposing here a transposition of the names · Asher' and Zebulun,' there remains no alternative but to assume that the writer of this Blessing,-according to all indications a man of Judah,2—had not quite accurately distinguished some of the four northern tribes according to their locality, as on the other hand Deborah does pot Dame Judah. This would thus be only a further indication of the great separation which subsequently developed itself between the most northerly and most southerly tribes, as will hereafter be shown.
Ans. (1) The notice about Zebulun in Deborah's Song, Ju.v.17, can scarcely be regarded as shorter than that in Jacob's Blessing, G.xlix.13,-especially, if the middle clause of the latter be removed (p.138, note) as a note of a later Editor.
(2) We have seen reason to believe (175,201,202) that the writer of Jacob's Blessing' was by birth a man of Ephraim, though attached to the kingdom of Judah, and probably one of the Prophets who lived in the Court of David.
(8) In Deborah's Song Judah may not be named because in the days referred to it was not very distinguished, and took no part at all in Barak's warfare.
212. May not the following conjecture explain the whole difficulty before us?
The words of Jacob's Blessing were written, as we have seen good reason for concluding, during the second decade of David's reign. At that time, no statistical information was possessed by the authorities as to the extent of the population or the territory of Israel. And it cannot be a matter of wonder that there should be some inaccuracy in describing the limits of some of the tribes,
-as that of Zebulun,- which the writer knew to be living near the coast, and may have supposed actually to reach to it. But some time afterwards, David's famous Census of the whole land was taken-when Joab and the other commissioners, we are told,
came to Dan-Jaan, and about to Zidon, and came to the stronghold of Tyre, &c.: and, when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.'-28.xxiv.5-8.
During this time, then, the land was thoroughly surveyed. May not the Jehovistic portions of the Book of Joshua, which contain such a complete list of towns, &c., and define so precisely the boundaries of tribes, be the result of this inspectionhaving been written, as other portions of the Jehovistic narrative, towards the very end of David's reign, or in the beginning of Solomon's ?
213. As to the 'Song of Deborah' we have already seen some reason to conclude (11.472) that it was written in David's reign, after the time when (as we still maintain) Ps.lxviii was composed, viz. the occasion of bringing up the Ark to Zion. There may then be, as EWALD suggests, a very close connection between • Deborah's Song' and “Jacob's Blessing,' for they may be the work of the very same age, though written at different times, the Blessing before the census of David, and the Song after it. That the writer has not removed the contradiction in question, will surprise no one who has considered how careless the Jehovist shows himself about contradicting himself, as well as the Elohist, in other instances.
214. It is noticeable that both here, in xlix.13, as well as in x.19, Sidon only is mentioned, and not Tyre, which became at a later time so famous, and was, in fact, nearer to the border of the land of Israel than Sidon. Dean STANLEY writes, Sinai and Palestine, p.270, note:
The original city or sanctuary [? stronghold] of Tyre [as at Gades, and as implied in Is.xxiii.2,6,] was on the rooky island: the city then spread itself far along the shore of the mainland. This city was entirely destroyed by Alexander, and its ruins were known as Pale-Tyrus or 'ancient Tyre,' in distinction from the 'new Tyre,' which he built, partly on the island, partly on the mole by which he joined the island to the shore.
Thus, at the time when the Jehovist wrote, Tyre may have had no territory on the mainland; and when it is said that the side of Zebulun should “reach unto Zidon,' it may mean not to the city of great Zidon,' but merely to the territory belonging to it.