THE GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BIBLICAL WORLD
Extent of the Biblical World . In its widest bounds, the biblical world included practically all the important centres of early human civilization. Its western outpost was the Phœnician city of Tarshish in southern Spain (about 5° west longitude) and its eastern outpost did not extend beyond the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf (about 55° east longitude). Its southern horizon was bounded by the land of Ethiopia (about 5° south latitude) and its northern by the Black Sea (about 45° north latitude). Thus the Old and New Testament world extended fully sixty degrees from east to west, but at the most not more than fifty degrees from north to south. With the exception of Arabia, all of these lands gather about the Mediterranean, for although the waters of the Tigris and the Euphrates ultimately find their way into the Indian Ocean, the people living in these fertile valleys ever looked toward the Mediterranean and for the most part found their field for conquest and commerce in the west rather than in the east and south.
Conditions Favorable to Early Civilizations . The greater part of this ancient world consisted of wastes of water, of burning sands or of dry, rocky, pasture lands. Less than one-fifth was arable soil, and yet the tillable strips along the river valleys on the eastern and northern Mediterranean were extremely fertile. Here in four of five favored centres were supplied in varying measure the conditions requisite for a strong primitive civilization: (1) a warm, but not enervating climate; (2) a