By occasion of the mention of Beth-shean, I cannot but subjoin the mention of the city Orbo from the words of R. Judah, in the place at the margin:--"R. Judah saith, the ravens (or the people of Orbo) brought bread and flesh, morning and evening, to Elias. [1 Kings 17:6] That city was in the borders of Beth-shean, and was called Orbo."
Some Jews raise a scruple whether ravens brought Elias bread and flesh, or men called Ravens. So Kimchi upon the place: "There are some, who, by ravens understand merchants, according to that which is said, 'The men of Orbo of thy merchandise,'" Ezekiel 27:27. Hence you may smell the reason why the Arabic renders it Orabimos. To which sense our R. Judah, who thinks that they were not ravens, but the inhabitants of the city of Orbo, that ministered to Elias. But here the objection of Kimchi holds "God commanded Elias (saith he), that he should hide himself, that none should know that he was there. And we see that Ahab sought him every where," &c.
But omitting the triflingness of the dream, we are searching after the chorographical concern: and if there be any truth in the words of R. Judah, that there was a city Orbo by name near Beth-shean, we find the situation of the brook Cherith,--or, at least, where he thought it ran. That brook had for ever laid hid in obscurity, had not Elias lay hid near it; but the place of it as yet lies hid. There are some maps which fix it beyond Jordan, and there are others fix it on this side; some in one place, and some in another, uncertainly, without any settled place. But I especially wonder at Josephus, who saith, that "he went away towards the north, and dwelt near a certain brook"; when God in plain words saith, And thou shalt turn thee,, or go towards the east, for he was now in Samaria. God adds, "Hide thee at the brook Cherith, which is before Jordan." So, you will say, was every brook that flowed into Jordan. But the sense of those words, "which is before Jordan," is this, "which (brook), as thou goest to Jordan, is flowing into it on this side Jordan." So that although the Rabbin mistakes concerning the creatures that fed Elias, yet perhaps he does not so mistake concerning the place where the brook was.
The story of the Syrophoenician woman, beseeching our Saviour for her possessed daughter, and of his return thence by Decapolis to the sea of Galilee, hath occasioned a discourse of 'the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and the region of Decapolis.' And now, having finished the search after the places, let us speak one word of the woman herself. She is called by Mark 'a Syrophoenician Greek,' which is without all scruple; but when she is called 'a Canaanitish woman,' by Matthew, that is somewhat obscure. If those things which in our animadversions upon Matthew we have said upon that place do not please any, let these things be added: 1. That Canaan and Phoenicia are sometimes convertible terms in the Seventy, Joshua 4:1,12, &c. 2. If I should say that a Greek woman, and a Canaanitish woman, were also convertible terms, perhaps it may be laughed at; but it would not be so among the Jews, who call all men-servants and women-servants, not of Hebrew blood, Canaanites. It is a common distinction, a Hebrew servant, and a Canaanite servant; and so in the feminine sex. But now a Canaanite servant, say they, is a servant of any nation besides the Hebrew nation. Imagine this woman to be such, and there is nothing obscure in her name: because she was a servant-woman of a heathen stock, and thence commonly known among the Jews under the title of a Canaanite woman-servant.