Genesis 25:15: the tenth son of Yishma-El (also 1 Chronicles 1:31); founder of the Itureans near the foot of Mount Chermon and on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee; which seems odd, since the territory of Edom never stretched that far north and generally these tribal genealogies are really descriptions of either the map of the heavens or that of the tribal territories. Here, we are essentially in Gil'ad and Geshur, north of Mo-Av and Amon, let alone Edom. Yet it was precisely here that Ya'akov (Jacob) agreed his land treaty with Lavan (Laban), before the wrestling match at Penu-El in which he became the mythological king of Yisra-El. So what was Edom really: its territory, its meaning?

1 Chronicles 5:19 tells of a war in the reign of Yotam (
יוֹתָם - Jotham) of Yehudah and Yarav-Am (יָרָבְעָם  - Jeroboam) of Yisra-El, between the Beney Re'u-Ven (who inhabited the area we most think of as Edom, immediately to the east of the Dead Sea, in modern Jordan), supported by Gad and the half-tribe of Menasheh, against the Hagarites, Yetur, Naphish and Nodav (נוֹדָב). The half-tribe of Menasheh occupied the Jordan Valley on the west bank and Gad the same on the east bank. Naphish was the eleventh of Yishma-El's sons, Nodav's clan is uncertain, but the Hagarites - despite the addition of an Aramaic Aleph (הגראים) in their name - refer to Yishma-El's mother Hagar. The passage tells that the tribes of the Beney Yisra-El were victorious, and thereafter occupied the land previously occupied by the Beney Yishma-El - which makes a nonsense of the division of the land given in Joshua and suggests that these tribes were not where we think they were even in King David's time.

Iturea is mentioned in Luke 3:1/2:
"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being Tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip Tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias Tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness."

Yetur means "an enclosure" from the root Tur (טור) and was used for an encampment of nomads.

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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