What all these things mean, I cannot so much as conjecture; yea, nor can I scarce conjecture, what the meaning is of some of them. Neither is there any Oedipus at hand, nor Sphinx herself, to explain and unriddle them. The Talmudists are silent from making any comments here, nor have we the advantage of any other commentator. We must, therefore, act here according to the uncertain instruction of nods and winks; and that either by saying nothing, or by mere conjecture, since that the mind of the authors is either altogether unknown, or it is wholly doubtful, whether it be known or no. Expect not, that I go from street to street to knock at all the gates of these places: it will be enough, if we can scrape out, in what regions these places lie, and are able to guess at what points of the heaven they are disposed. We will at present take in hand only the first and last clause of this place quoted; which may have some tendency towards our entrance into our present business. The rest (if there be any we can attain unto) we shall handle in their proper places.
|These (say they) are the bounds of the land of Israel, which they possessed that came out of Babylon.|
|The division, or part, of the walls of the tower Sid.| Nor dare I confidently to assert, that this is spoken of the 'tower of Strato,' or 'Caesarea'; nor yet do I know to what it may more fitly be applied. We observe in its place, that that tower is called by the Talmudists, |The tower Sir|: which, by how very little a point it differs from this words, and how very apt it is by want of care in writing to be confounded with it, the eye of any reader is witness...
These places, concerning which the Talmudists here treat, are of a different condition from those, which were called |The region of the sea.| For those places were certain towns, here and there, on this sea-coast, and elsewhere; which were, indeed, inhabited by heathens, and so could not properly be reckoned the 'land of Israel'; yet they were such, as between which, and the outmost bounds of the land, was again the land of Israel. But these places, which we are now handling, are those, which were the utmost bounds, and beyond which were no places at all, but what was reckoned the 'land of the heathen': the Phoenicians, Syrians, or other Gentiles, possessing all that coast thence forward unto the shore of the Mediterranean sea.
We cannot also pass by those things, that are said by the Gemarists in the very same page, from whence the scheme before-mentioned is taken. |You see isles in the sea; and if a line were drawn from the mountains of Amana to the river of Egypt, -- whatsoever is within the line, belongs to the land of Israel; whatsoever is without the line, is without the land.| After the same manner speaks the Targum of Jerusalem upon Numbers 34:4: |And their western bounds shall be the great sea, and the isles of it.| Isles? What isles? Let the authors of the maps well weigh these passages.