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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter 4 The seven Seas according to the Talmudists, and the four Rivers compassing the Land.

From The Talmud And Hebraica by John Lightfoot

Chapter 4 The seven Seas according to the Talmudists, and the four Rivers compassing the Land.

|Seven seas (say they) and four rivers compass the land of Israel. I. The Great Sea, or the Mediterranean. II. The sea of Tiberias. III. The sea of Sodom. IV. The lake of Samocho...

The three first named among the seven are sufficiently known, and there is no doubt of the fourth: -- only the three names of it are not to be passed by.

IV.1. The Sibbichaean. The word seems to be derived from a bush.2. ...3. ...

V. Perhaps the sandy sea. Which fits very well to the lake of Sirbon, joining the commentary of Diodorus Siculus. For he relates, that that lake, for the most part, is so covered with sand, that it hath often deceived and supplanted travellers, yea, whole armies, thinking it to be firm land...

After these seas, mentioned by the Talmudists, hear also no lean story of theirs concerning the fish: |R. Chaninah Bar R. Abhu said, Seven hundred kinds of clean fish, and eight hundred kinds of clean locusts, and of birds an infinite number, travelled with Israel into Babylon, and returned when Israel returned, except [a certain] fish. But how did the fish travel? R. Houna Bar Joseph saith, they travelled by the way of the deep, and by the deep they came back.| Surely it requires a Jewish invention (which is able to frame any thing out of any thing), to trace a way, either by any sea, or by any river, through which fish might swim out of Palestine into Babylon. By the same art they bring Jonah in the belly of the whale, out of the Phoenician sea, into the Red sea.

That, indeed, is somewhat hard, yet not to be doubted of, what is said, 2 Chronicles 8:18, concerning Hiram sending ships to Solomon into the Red sea. What! ships to come from Tyre into the Red sea? Which way sailed they? It is answered, He sent such Tyrian ships, which had much and long traded before in the Red sea, to accompany Solomon's fleet. To this belongs that, that it is said there likewise (and in 1 Kings 9:27), that |he sent seamen, that had knowledge of the sea|; that is, knowledge of that sea: and they probably not such, who had never yet adventured themselves into the Red sea, but had experience of it before, and were not ignorant of the Ophir voyage.

The four rivers for the compassing of the land (they say) are, 1. Jordan; that is sufficiently known. II. Jarmoch. In Pliny, 'Hieramax': |Gaddara (saith he), Hieramax flowing before it.| III. Kirmion. IV. Pigah. Concerning which, thus the Aruch: |Kirmion is a river in the way to Damascus, and is the same with Amanah. Pigah is Pharphar. and Jarmoch is also a river in the way to Damascus.| And the Talmudists: |The waters of Kirmion and Pigah are not fit| (to sprinkle the unclean), |because they are muddy waters. The waters also of Jordan, and the waters of Jarmoch, are not fit, because they are mixed waters|: -- that is, as the Gloss speaks, mixed with the waters of other rivers, which they receive within themselves.

To the seven seas, concerning which we have spoken, those things which are said by Midras Tillim, do refer: |I have created seven seas, saith the Lord, but out of them all I have chosen none, but the sea of Gennesaret.| -- And of the river of Amanah, of which the Aruch speaks, mention is made in the Targum upon Canticles 4:8: |They that dwell upon the river Amanah, shall offer thee a gift,| &c.

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