Biblical Geography and History

By Charles Foster Kent | Go to book overview

IX
THE GREAT HIGHWAYS OF THE BIBLICAL WORLD

Importance of the Highways . Upon the direction and character of the highways depend to a great extent the growth and history of early civilization. By the great roads which entered Palestine the Hebrews came as immigrants. Along the same roads those later waves of both hostile and peaceful invasion swept in upon them that largely shaped their history. These highways were to them the open doors to the life and civilization of the outside world. Over these same roads the Hebrews later fled as fugitives or were dragged as captives. Along these channels of communication and commerce the missionaries and apostles at a still later day went forth to their peaceful conquest of the Roman empire. Thus, next to the land itself, the highways of the ancient world have exerted the most powerful influence upon biblical history, literature, and religion.

Lack of the Road-building Instincts among the Semites . The Semitic races, as a rule, were not road-builders. Their earlier nomadic experiences had accustomed them to long and arduous marches over rough, rocky roads. The ox, the camel, the horse, and the donkey furnished the common means of transportation. Most of the people went from place to place on foot, and in Palestine the distances were so short that this mode of travel was easy and practical. To-day in well-travelled roads large boulders lie in the middle of the way, worn smooth by the hoofs of pack-animals and by the feet of countless passersby, who through the centuries have stumbled over them rather than put forth the effort of a few moments in removing them.

-73-

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