And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh
Pursuing their victories as far as Elparan by the wilderness, they had passed by the country of the Amalekites; wherefore they "returned", or came back to fall upon them, and they came to a place called Enmishpat, or the "fountain of judgment"; which was not its future name, as Jarchi thinks, because there Moses and Aaron were to be judged concerning the business of that fountain, even the waters of Meribah, with which agrees the Targum of Jonathan;
``and they returned and came to the place where the judgment of Moses the prophet was determined by the fountain of the waters of contention:''but it seems to have been the ancient name of the place, and by which it was called at this time, as Kadesh was the name of it at the time of Moses writing this; and therefore he adds, which [is] Kadesh;
that is, which is now called Kadesh, because there the Lord was sanctified, when the rock at that place was smitten, and waters gushed out: it was a city on the uttermost border of the land of Edom, ( Numbers 20:1 Numbers 20:12 Numbers 20:13 Numbers 20:16 ) , and seems formerly to have been a place where causes were heard and judgment passed; and so Onkelos paraphrases it,
``to the plain of the division or decision of judgment;''which, as Jarchi himself interprets it,
``is a place where the men of the province gathered together for all judgment;''or for hearing all causes and determining them: and smote all the country of the Amalekites;
which, according to Josephus F11, reached from Pelusium in Egypt to the Red sea; they inhabited Arabia Petraea, for he F12 says, the inhabitants of Gobolitis and Petra are called Amalekites; which name is generally supposed to have been given them here by way of anticipation, since the commonly received opinion is, that they were the descendants of Amalek, a grandson of Esau, who was not born when this war was waged, see ( Genesis 36:12 ) ; but the Mahometan writers derive the pedigree of Amalek, from whom these people had their name, from Noah in the line of Ham, and make him to be some generations older than Abram, which with them stands thus, Noah, Ham, Aram, Uz, Ad, Amalek F13; and they speak of the Amalekites as dwelling in the country about Mecca, from whence they were driven by the Jorhamites F14: and indeed it seems more probable that the Amalekites were of the posterity of Ham, since Chedorlaomer, a descendant of Shem, falls upon them, and smites them; and they being confederates with the Canaanites, and are with the Amorites, Philistines, and other Canaanitish nations, always mentioned, seem to be a more ancient nation than what could proceed from Amalek the son of Eliphaz, since Amalek is said to be the first of the nations, ( Numbers 24:20 ) ; nor does there ever appear to be any harmony and friendship between them and the Edomites, as it might be thought there would, if they were a branch of Esau's family; nor did they give them any assistance, when destroyed by Saul, so that they seem rather to be a tribe of the Canaanitish nations; and they are, by Philo F15 the Jew, expressly called Phoenicians: and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar;
the same with the Emorites, see ( Genesis 10:16 ) ; another tribe or nation of the Canaanites descended from Amor or Emor, a son of Canaan: the place of their habitation has its name of Hazezontamar from the multitude of palm trees which grew there: for Tamar signifies a palm tree, and Hazezon is from (Uux) "to cut"; and this part of the name seems to be taken from the cutting of the top, crown, or head of the palm tree, for the sake of a liquor which has a more luscious sweetness than honey; and is of the consistence of a thin syrup, as Dr. Shaw F16 relates; the head of the palm tree being cut off, the top of the trunk is scooped into the shape of a basin, as he says, where the sap in ascending lodges itself at the rate of three or four quarts a day during the first week or fortnight, after which the quantity daily diminishes; and at the end of six weeks or two months the juices are entirely consumed, and the tree becomes dry, and serves only for timber or, firewood. This place is the same with Engedi, ( 2 Chronicles 20:2 ) ; and so the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan here translate it, "in Engedi"; and which place Pliny F17 says was famous for groves of palm trees; it was a city near the Dead sea, see ( Ezekiel 47:8-10 ) ; and Josephus says F18 it was situated by the lake Asphaltites, that is, the place where Sodom and Gomorrah stood; and he adds, that it was three hundred furlongs distant from Jerusalem, where were the best palm trees and balsam: so that now the four kings had got pretty near Sodom; wherefore it follows,
F11 Antiqu. l. 6. c. 7. sect. 3.
F12 lbid. l. 3. c. 2. sect. 1.
F13 Taarich, M. S. apud Reland. Palestina illustrata, tom. 1. p. 81.
F14 Alkodaius, apud Pocock. Specimen Arab. Hist. p. 173.
F15 De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 636.
F16 Travels, tom. 1. p. 143. Ed. 2.
F17 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 17.
F18 Antiqu. l. 9. c. 1. sect. 2.