While I am thinking of this New Idumea, I have a suspicion whether the 'third Palestine,' which is also called 'the Healthful,' may not be understood of this very part of Palestine; and, while I think upon it, I doubt again of the division of Palestine into two parts, in the code of Justinian and Theodosius; and into three parts in the Notitia.
In the edict of Theodosius and Valentinian are these words; "The chief of the Jews, who were over the Sanhedrims in both Palestines, or live in other provinces," &c.
The mention of 'both Palestines' seems plainly to exclude a threefold division; or at least to conclude, that there were no Sanhedrims in the third part. For without all scruple, the 'Notitia Imperii' gives us a 'third part,' in which are ranked, "Under the disposition of the worthy man, the Earl of the East, these provinces underwritten: Palestine, Phoenice, Syria, Cyprus, Palestine the second, Palestine the Healthful, Phoenice of Libanus."
And Justinian hath these words; "When all Palestine formerly was one, it was afterward divided into three parts."
The head of the first the same emperor assigns to be Caesarea; Gulielmus Tyrius to be Jerusalem: and concerning the second and third, he and Pancirolus do not agree. For the metropolis of the second, according to Tyrius, is Caesarea,--and Scythopolis of the third:--according to Pancirolus, Samaria is the metropolis of the second,--and Jerusalem of the third.
On the credit of Justinian, you may with good reason suppose the first to be that, whose head is Caesarea; the second, reason itself will persuade us to have been that of Jerusalem; and where you will go to seek the third, I, for my part, know not, if not in this our Idumea. It is not indeed to be dissembled, that, in the Notitia Imperii, in the scheme adorned with the pictures of the Roman garrisons, Jordan is painted, running between them, five being placed on this side, and eight on that. So that it may seem that the country beyond Jordan was the third part. But I shall not dispute here, whether that be not in part to be disposed under the governor of Syria or Arabia; but there are some things which seem to favour such an opinion, partly in the Notitia itself, but especially in the authors alleged.
If, therefore, I may be allowed my conjecture concerning this New Idumea, then some answer may be given about the Sanhedrims of both Palestines, in the meantime not denying the threefold division of it. We must consider, indeed, that there were councils or Sanhedrims in the times of Theodosius and Valentinian, &c. They were, in times past, in that Palestine whose head was Caesarea, and in that Palestine whose head was Jerusalem: but not in that Idumea concerning which we speak, whose head, whether ye state it to be Gaza or Ascalon, or Eleutheropolis, concerning which Jerome so often speaks, and perhaps Bereshith Rabba, we do not define.
Mention indeed occurs in the Talmudists of "The southern Rabbins"; but not so called, because they dwelt in the furthest southern parts of Judea, for those of Jafne and Lydda had that name, but because Judea was south of Galilee. For the Rabbins of Tiberias give them that title.
But, whatsoever at last that 'Third Palestine' was, no less scruple arises why it was called 'Salutaris,' the 'Healthful.' Pancirolus will have it to be from the wholesome waters: and he learned from Sozomen, that they ran from Emmaus into Judea, namely, that fountain where Christ washed his disciples' feet: "From whence the water (to use his words), became medicinal for divers distempers."
But besides that that story savours enough of fable, the word Emmaus, if I may be judge, deceived its first author, which indeed sometimes is written for Ammaus, denoting "hot baths," and translates the word Chammath into Greek pronunciation; but he, whosoever was the first author of it, had scarcely found that town of Judea called Emmaus, written by the Jews Chammath, but Ammaus, very far from the signification of 'warm baths.'
To this add also, that mention is made in the same Notitia, of Galatia Salutaris, or the 'Healthful'; and there is a distinction between Macedonia and Macedonia the Healthful; Phrygia Pacatiana, and Phyrgia the Healthful; Syria of Euphrates, and Syria the Healthful. In all which it will be somewhat hard to find medicinal waters: and the examples which the author alleged produecth concerning some of them are so incredulous, that I would be ashamed to relate them after him.
I should rather think these countries so called from the companies and wings of the Roman army, called 'Salutares': for mention is made, in the same Notitia, of 'Ala Salutis,' 'the wing of health,' or safety; as 'the second wing of safety,' under the duke of Phoenice; or perhaps the best appointed and strongest garrisons of the Romans, and such as conduced most to the safety and peace of the whole country, had their stations there. And in this our Idumea, which we suppose to be the Third Palestine, or Salutaris, were placed, and that out of the greater muster-roll,--
"The Dalmation horse of Illyria, at Berosaba," or in Beersheba.
"The shield-bearing horse of Illyria, at Chermula," or in Carmel, where Nabal dwelt.
"The promoted horse, inhabitants at Zodecath"; which I suspect to be the cave of Zedekiah, concerning which the Talmudists speak.
"The javelin-bearing horse, inhabitants at Zoar." But let these things be left in suspense.
And now to return thither whence this whole dispute was raised, when it is said by St. Mark, that "a great multitude followed Jesus from Galilee and Judea, and Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan"; he retains the known and common division of the land of Israel at that time, although not in the same terms. The division was into Judea, and Galilee: and "The country beyond Jordan."--'Galilee and the country beyond Jordan,' he expresseth in terms: and for Judea in general, he names the parts of it, Jerusalem and Judea, as distinguished from Idumea, and Idumea as the south part of Judea.