Ajalon and Aij'alon, place of deer. (1.) A town and valley originally assigned to the tribe of Dan, from which, however, they could not drive the Amorites (Judg. 1:35). It was one of the Levitical cities given to the Kohathites (1 Chr. 6:69). It was not far from Beth-shemesh (2 Chr. 28:18). It was the boundary between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and is frequently mentioned in Jewish history (2 Chr. 11:10; 1 Sam. 14:31; 1 Chr. 8:13). With reference to the valley named after the town, Joshua uttered the celebrated command, "Sun, stand thou still on Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon" (Josh. 10:12). It has been identified as the modern Yalo, at the foot of the Beth-horon pass (q.v.). In the Tell Amarna letters Adoni-zedek (q.v.) speaks of the destruction of the "city of Ajalon" by the invaders, and describes himself as "afflicted, greatly afflicted" by the calamities that had come on the land, urging the king of Egypt to hasten to his help.
(2.) A city in the tribe of Zebulun (Judg. 12:12), the modern Jalun, three miles north of Cabul.
Akkub (another form of Jacob). (1.) The head of one of the families of Nethinim (Ezra 2:45).
(2.) A Levite who kept the gate of the temple after the return from Babylon (1 Chr. 9:17; Ezra 2:42; Neh. 7:45).
(3.) A descendant of David (1 Chr. 3:24).
Akrabbim scorpions, probably the general name given to the ridge containing the pass between the south of the Dead Sea and Zin, es-Sufah, by which there is an ascent to the level of the land of Palestine. Scorpions are said to abound in this whole district, and hence the name (Num. 34:4). It is called "Maaleh-acrabbim" in Josh. 15:3, and "the ascent of Akrabbim" in Num. 34:4.
Alabaster occurs only in the New Testament in connection with the box of "ointment of spikenard very precious," with the contents of which a woman anointed the head of Jesus as he sat at supper in the house of Simon the leper (Matt. 26:7; Mark 14:3; Luke 7:37). These boxes were made from a stone found near Alabastron in Egypt, and from this circumstance the Greeks gave them the name of the city where they were made. The name was then given to the stone of which they were made; and finally to all perfume vessels, of whatever material they were formed. The woman "broke" the vessel; i.e., she broke off, as was usually done, the long and narrow neck so as to reach the contents. This stone resembles marble, but is softer in its texture, and hence very easily wrought into boxes. Mark says (14:5) that this box of ointment was worth more than 300 pence, i.e., denarii, each of the value of sevenpence halfpenny of our money, and therefore worth about 10 pounds. But if we take the denarius as the day's wage of a labourer (Matt. 20:2), say two shillings of our money, then the whole would be worth about 30 pounds, so costly was Mary's offering.
Alamoth virgins, a musical term (1 Chr. 15:20), denoting that the psalm which bears this inscription (Ps. 46) was to be sung by soprano or female voices.
Alarm a particular quivering sound of the silver trumpets to give warning to the Hebrews on their journey through the wilderness (Num. 10:5, 6), a call to arms, or a war-note (Jer. 4:19; 49:2; Zeph. 1:16).
Alemeth covering. (1.) One of the nine sons of Becher, the son of Benjamin (1 Chr. 7:8).
(2.) One of the sons of Jehoadah, or Jarah, son of Ahaz (1 Chr. 8:36).
(3.) A sacerdotal city of Benjamin (1 Chr. 6:60), called also Almon (Josh. 21:18), now Almit, a mile north-east of the ancient Anathoth.
Alexander man-defender. (1.) A relative of Annas the high priest, present when Peter and John were examined before the Sanhedrim (Acts 4:6).
(2.) A man whose father, Simon the Cyrenian, bore the cross of Christ (Mark 15:21).
(3.) A Jew of Ephesus who took a prominent part in the uproar raised there by the preaching of Paul (Acts 19:33). The Jews put him forward to plead their cause before the mob. It was probably intended that he should show that he and the other Jews had no sympathy with Paul any more than the Ephesians had. It is possible that this man was the same as the following.
(4.) A coppersmith who, with Hymenaeus and others, promulgated certain heresies regarding the resurrection (1 Tim. 1:19; 2 Tim. 4:14), and made shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience. Paul excommunicated him (1 Tim. 1:20; comp. 1 Cor. 5:5).
Alexander the Great the king of Macedonia, the great conqueror; probably represented in Daniel by the "belly of brass" (Dan. 2:32), and the leopard and the he-goat (7:6; 11:3,4). He succeeded his father Philip, and died at the age of thirty-two from the effects of intemperance, B.C. 323. His empire was divided among his four generals.
Alexandria the ancient metropolis of Lower Egypt, so called from its founder, Alexander the Great (about B.C. 333). It was for a long period the greatest of existing cities, for both Nineveh and Babylon had been destroyed, and Rome had not yet risen to greatness. It was the residence of the kings of Egypt for 200 years. It is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and only incidentally in the New. Apollos, eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, was a native of this city (Acts 18:24). Many Jews from Alexandria were in Jerusalem, where they had a synagogue (Acts 6:9), at the time of Stephen's martyrdom. At one time it is said that as many as 10,000 Jews resided in this city. It possessed a famous library of 700,000 volumes, which was burned by the Saracens (A.D. 642). It was here that the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek. This is called the Septuagint version, from the tradition that seventy learned men were engaged in executing it. It was, however, not all translated at one time. It was begun B.C. 280, and finished about B.C. 200 or 150. (See VERSION.)
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