As to the tetrarchies of Herod and Philip, this, I suppose, we may determine without prejudice or question, that nothing was within their jurisdiction but what was within the confines of the land of Israel, properly so called. As to what may be objected concerning Iturea, we shall consider in its own place. Whilst we are, therefore, looking into these countries, our main business will be with what was beyond Jordan; for that on this side the river was only Galilee, about which we shall not much trouble ourselves, because there is no difficulty concerning it.
The Transjordanine country, if I mistake not, from greatest antiquity, is divided in that story, Genesis 14:5: "Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, smote the Rephaims in Ashtaroth-karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in mount Seir."
These two things we may apprehend from this passage: 1. That the country of Bashan was inhabited by the Rephaims; Perea (another part of the land beyond Jordan), by the Zuzims, Moab by the Emims. 2. That Ashtaroth-karnaim, Ham, and Shaveh-kiriathaim are not every one the names of whole countries, but particular places in those countries; perhaps where the several fights were, or where the people of that country had been subdued.
As to Ashtaroth-karnaim, there is little doubt but that was in the kingdom of Bashan; the larger region being called Ashtaroth, Karnaim is added in a distinguishing limited sense: Deuteronomy 1:4, "Og, the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Ashtaroth in Edrei."
Of the place itself, the Jewish doctors thus: "At twenty cubits, a man sits in the shadow of his tent" (viz. in the feast of Tabernacles); "he does not sit in the shadow of his tabernacle beyond twenty cubits, but in the shadow of its sides" [that is, if the roof or cover of his tabernacle be above twenty cubits high]. "Abai saith unto him, If, therefore, any one shall pitch a tabernacle in Ashtaroth-karnaim, is not the tabernacle so also?" Gloss: "Ashtaroth-karnaim were two great mountains, with a valley between; and, by reason of the height and shadow of those mountains, the sun never shone upon the valley."
Why the Samaritan copy should use here Aphinith Karnaiah, instead of "Ashtaroth-karnaim," especially when it retains the word Ashtaroth elsewhere, is not easy to say, unless it should have some relation to boughs; as a place thick and shady with boughs. But such is the confusion of the guttural letters in the Samaritan language, that we can determine nothing positively.
That the Zuzims inhabited Perea, as it is distinguished from the country of Bashan, may be evident from the progress of the conqueror; for whereas it is plain that the Rephaims dwelt in Bashan, and the Emims in the country of Moab, Deuteronomy 2:10,11, it is manifest that the Zuzims, who were conquered after the Rephaims, and before the Emims, lay in a country between both, and that was Perea.
And hence are those to be corrected that would correct the reading here, and instead of "the Zuzims in Ham," would render it, "the Zuzims with them." So the Greek, Vulgar, &c.: as if the Zuzims were amongst the Rephaims, when they were distinguished both in nation and dwelling.
When the Israelites went out of Egypt into that land, the whole Transjordanine region was divided into these two seigniories,--the kingdom of Sehon, and the kingdom of Og. That of Sehon was Perea, strictly so called now; that of Og, was all the rest under the name of Bashan. But after the return of Israel from Babylon, Bashan was so subdivided, that Batanea, or Bashan, was only a part of it, the rest going under the name of Trachonitis, Auranitis, and, if you will, Gaulonitis too; for we meet with that distinction also in Josephus. To give, therefore, all these countries at this time their proper bounds and limits, if it does not exceed all human skill and wit, I am sure it doth mine.
So that all we can do in this matter, is only to propound a few things of these places thus divided, as far as conjecture may carry us, which we submit fairly to the fair and candid judgment of the reader. Let us, therefore, begin with Trachonitis.