Fence (Heb. gader), Num. 22:24 (R.V.). Fences were constructions of unmortared stones, to protect gardens, vineyards, sheepfolds, etc. From various causes they were apt to bulge out and fall (Ps. 62:3). In Ps. 80:12, R.V. (see Isa. 5:5), the psalmist says, "Why hast thou broken down her fences?" Serpents delight to lurk in the crevices of such fences (Eccl. 10:8; comp. Amos 5:19).
Fenced cities There were in Palestine (1) cities, (2) unwalled villages, and (3) villages with castles or towers (1 Chr. 27:25). Cities, so called, had walls, and were thus fenced. The fortifications consisted of one or two walls, on which were towers or parapets at regular intervals (2 Chr. 32:5; Jer. 31:38). Around ancient Jerusalem were three walls, on one of which were ninety towers, on the second fourteen, and on the third sixty. The tower of Hananeel, near the north-east corner of the city wall, is frequently referred to (Neh. 3:1; 12:39; Zech. 14:10). The gateways of such cities were also fortified (Neh. 2:8; 3:3, 6; Judg. 16:2, 3; 1 Sam. 23:7).
The Hebrews found many fenced cities when they entered the Promised Land (Num. 13:28; 32:17, 34-42; Josh. 11:12, 13; Judg. 1:27-33), and we may estimate the strength of some of these cities from the fact that they were long held in possession by the Canaanites. The Jebusites, e.g., were enabled to hold possession of Jerusalem till the time of David (2 Sam. 5:6, 7; 1 Chr. 11:5).
Several of the kings of Israel and Judah distinguished themselves as fortifiers or "builders" of cities.
Ferret Lev. 11:30 (R.V., "gecko"), one of the unclean creeping things. It was perhaps the Lacerta gecko which was intended by the Hebrew word (anakah, a cry, "mourning," the creature which groans) here used, i.e., the "fan-footed" lizard, the gecko which makes a mournful wail. The LXX. translate it by a word meaning "shrew-mouse," of which there are three species in Palestine. The Rabbinical writers regard it as the hedgehog. The translation of the Revised Version is to be preferred.
Ferry boat (2 Sam. 19:18), some kind of boat for crossing the river which the men of Judah placed at the service of the king. Floats or rafts for this purpose were in use from remote times (Isa. 18:2).
Festivals, Religious There were daily (Lev. 23), weekly, monthly, and yearly festivals, and great stress was laid on the regular observance of them in every particular (Num. 28:1-8; Ex. 29:38-42; Lev. 6:8-23; Ex. 30:7-9; 27:20).
(1.) The septenary festivals were,
(a) The weekly Sabbath (Lev. 23:1-3; Ex. 19:3-30; 20:8-11; 31:12, etc.).
(b) The seventh new moon, or the feast of Trumpets (Num. 28:11-15; 29:1-6).
(c) The Sabbatical year (Ex. 23:10, 11; Lev. 25:2-7).
(d) The year of jubilee (Lev. 23-35; 25: 8-16; 27:16-25).
(2.) The great feasts were,
(a) The Passover. (b) The feast of Pentecost, or of weeks. (c) The feast of Tabernacles, or of ingathering.
On each of these occasions every male Israelite was commanded "to appear before the Lord" (Deut. 27:7; Neh. 8:9-12). The attendance of women was voluntary. (Comp. Luke 2:41; 1 Sam. 1:7; 2:19.) The promise that God would protect their homes (Ex. 34:23, 24) while all the males were absent in Jerusalem at these feasts was always fulfilled. "During the whole period between Moses and Christ we never read of an enemy invading the land at the time of the three festivals. The first instance on record is thirty-three years after they had withdrawn from themselves the divine protection by imbruing their hands in the Saviour's blood, when Cestius, the Roman general, slew fifty of the people of Lydda while all the rest had gone up to the feast of Tabernacles, A.D. 66."
These festivals, besides their religious purpose, had an important bearing on the maintenance among the people of the feeling of a national unity. The times fixed for their observance were arranged so as to interfere as little as possible with the industry of the people. The Passover was kept just before the harvest commenced, Pentecost at the conclusion of the corn harvest and before the vintage, the feast of Tabernacles after all the fruits of the ground had been gathered in.
(3.) The Day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev. 16:1, 34; 23:26-32; Num. 29:7-11). (See ATONEMENT, DAY OF.)
Of the post-Exilian festivals reference is made to the feast of Dedication (John 10:22). This feast was appointed by Judas Maccabaeus in commemoration of the purification of the temple after it had been polluted by Antiochus Epiphanes. The "feast of Purim" (q.v.), Esther 9:24-32, was also instituted after the Exile. (Cf. John 5:1.)
Festus, Porcius the successor of Felix (A.D. 60) as procurator of Judea (Acts 24:27). A few weeks after he had entered on his office the case of Paul, then a prisoner at Caesarea, was reported to him. The "next day," after he had gone down to Caesarea, he heard Paul defend himself in the presence of Herod Agrippa II. and his sister Bernice, and not finding in him anything worthy of death or of bonds, would have set him free had he not appealed unto Caesar (Acts 25:11, 12). In consequence of this appeal Paul was sent to Rome. Festus, after being in office less than two years, died in Judea. (See AGRIPPA.)
Fever (Deut. 28:22; Matt. 8:14; Mark 1:30; John 4:52; Acts 28:8), a burning heat, as the word so rendered denotes, which attends all febrile attacks. In all Eastern countries such diseases are very common. Peter's wife's mother is said to have suffered from a "great fever" (Luke 4:38), an instance of Luke's professional exactitude in describing disease. He adopts here the technical medical distinction, as in those times fevers were divided into the "great" and the "less."
Field (Heb. sadeh), a cultivated field, but unenclosed. It is applied to any cultivated ground or pasture (Gen. 29:2; 31:4; 34:7), or tillage (Gen. 37:7; 47:24). It is also applied to woodland (Ps. 132:6) or mountain top (Judg. 9:32, 36; 2 Sam. 1:21). It denotes sometimes a cultivated region as opposed to the wilderness (Gen. 33:19; 36:35). Unwalled villages or scattered houses are spoken of as "in the fields" (Deut. 28:3, 16; Lev. 25:31; Mark 6:36, 56). The "open field" is a place remote from a house (Gen. 4:8; Lev. 14:7, 53; 17:5). Cultivated land of any extent was called a field (Gen. 23:13, 17; 41:8; Lev. 27:16; Ruth 4:5; Neh. 12:29).
Fig First mentioned in Gen. 3:7. The fig-tree is mentioned (Deut. 8:8) as one of the valuable products of Palestine. It was a sign of peace and prosperity (1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4; Zech. 3:10). Figs were used medicinally (2 Kings 20:7), and pressed together and formed into "cakes" as articles of diet (1 Sam. 30:12; Jer. 24:2).
Our Lord's cursing the fig-tree near Bethany (Mark 11:13) has occasioned much perplexity from the circumstance, as mentioned by the evangelist, that "the time of figs was not yet." The explanation of the words, however, lies in the simple fact that the fruit of the fig-tree appears before the leaves, and hence that if the tree produced leaves it ought also to have had fruit. It ought to have had fruit if it had been true to its "pretensions," in showing its leaves at this particular season. "This tree, so to speak, vaunted itself to be in advance of all the other trees, challenged the passer-by that he should come and refresh himself with its fruit. Yet when the Lord accepted its challenge and drew near, it proved to be but as the others, without fruit as they; for indeed, as the evangelist observes, the time of figs had not yet arrived. Its fault, if one may use the word, lay in its pretensions, in its making a show to run before the rest when it did not so indeed" (Trench, Miracles).
The fig-tree of Palestine (Ficus carica) produces two and sometimes three crops of figs in a year, (1) the bikkurah, or "early-ripe fig" (Micah 7:1; Isa. 28:4; Hos. 9:10, R.V.), which is ripe about the end of June, dropping off as soon as it is ripe (Nah. 3:12); (2) the kermus, or "summer fig," then begins to be formed, and is ripe about August; and (3) the pag (plural "green figs," Cant. 2:13; Gr. olynthos, Rev. 6:13, "the untimely fig"), or "winter fig," which ripens in sheltered spots in spring.
Fillets Heb. hashukum, plur., joinings (Ex. 27:17; 38:17, 28), the rods by which the tops of the columns around the tabernacle court were joined together, and from which the curtains were suspended (Ex. 27:10, 11; 36:38).
In Jer. 52:21 the rendering of a different word, hut, meaning a "thread," and designating a measuring-line of 12 cubits in length for the circumference of the copper pillars of Solomon's temple.