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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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India, Modern
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(Heb. Hoddu', הֹדּוּ, for הֹנְדּוּ, i.e. Hindu, of Sanscrit origin; see Gesenius, Thesaur. Heb. p. 366; Sept. Ι᾿νδική, Vulg. India), occurs in the Bible only in Esther 1:1; Esther 8:9, where the Persian king is described as reigning "from India unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and seven and twenty provinces;" the names of the two countries are similarly connected by Herodotus (Esther 7:9). It is found again, however, in the Apocrypha (compare Esther 13:1), where India is mentioned among the countries which the Romans took from Antiochus and gave to Eumenes (1 Maccabees 8:8). It is also with some reason conceived that in the list of foreign Jews present at the Pentecost (Acts 2:9) we should read Ι᾿νδίαν, India, and not Ι᾿ουδαίαν , Judaea; but the still more probable reading is Ι᾿δουμαίαν, Idumaea, if indeed the common reading ought to be changed at all (see Kuinol, Conmment. ad loc.). The Hebrew form "Hoddu" is an abbreviation of Honadu, which is identical with the indigenous names of the river Indus, "Hindu," or "Sindhu," and again with the ancient name of the country as it appears in the Vendidad, "Hapta Hendu." The native form "Sindus" is noticed by Pliny (vi, 23). The India of the book of Esther is not the peninsula of Hindostan, but the country surrounding the Indus - the Punjab, and perhaps Scinde the India which Herodotus describes (3, 98) as forming part of the Persian empire under Darius, and the India which at a later period was conquered by Alexander the Great. The name occurs in the inscriptions of Persepolis and Nakhsh-Rustam, but not in those of Behistufn (Rawlinson, Herod. 2, 485). In 1 Maccabees 8:8, it is clear that India proper cannot be understood, inasmuch as this never belonged either to Antiochus or Eumenes. At the same time, none of the explanations offered by commentators are satisfactory: the Eneti of Paphlagonia have been suggested, but these people had disappeared long before (Strabo, 12:534): the India of Xenophon (Cyrop. 1, 5, 3; 3:2, 25), which may have been above the Carian stream named Indus (Pliny, 5, 29; probably the Calbis), is more likely; but the emendation "Mysia and Ionia" for ilfedia and India offers the best solution of the difficulty. (See IONIA). A more authentic notice of the country occurs in 1 Maccabees 6:37; where Indians are noticed as the drivers of the war-elephants introduced into the army of the Syrian king (see also 1 Esdras 3:2; Esther 16:1). (See ELEPHANT).

But, though the name of India occurs so seldom, the people and productions of that country must have been tolerably well known to the Jews. There is undoubted evidence that an active trade was carried on between India and Western Asia: the Tyrians established their depots on the shores of the Persian Gulf, and procured "horns of ivory and ebony," "broidered work and rich apparel" (Ezekiel 27:15; Ezekiel 27:24), by a route which crossed the Arabian desert by land, and then followed the coasts of the Indian Ocean by sea. The trade opened by Solomon with Ophir through the Red Sea chiefly consisted of Indian articles, and some of the names even of the articles, Algummim, "sandal wood," kophims, "apes," tukiims, "peacocks," are of Indian origin (Humboldt, Kosmos, 2, 133); to which we may add the Hebrew name of the "topaz," pitdah, derived from the Sanscrit pita. There is a strong probability that productions of yet greater utility were furnished by India through Syria to the shores of Europe, and that the Greeks derived both the term κασσίτερος (compare the Sanscrit kastira), and the article it represents, "tin," from the coasts of India. The connection thus established with India led to the opinion that the Indians were included under the ethnological title of Cush (Genesis 10:6), and hence the Syriac, Chaldee, and Arabic versions frequently render that term by India or Indians, as in 2 Chronicles 21:16; Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 18:1; Jeremiah 13:23; Zephaniah 3:10. For the connection which some have sought to establish between India and Paradise, (See EDEN).

The above intimations, and indeed, all ancient history, refer not to the whole of Hindostan, but chiefly to the northern parts of it, or the countries between the Indus and the Ganges; although it is not necessary to assert that the rest of that peninsula, particularly its western coast, was then altogether unknown. It was from this quarter that the Persians and Greeks (to whom we are indebted for the earliest accounts of India) invaded the country; and this was consequently the region which first became generally known. The countries bordering on the Ganges continued to be involved in obscurity, the great kingdom of the Prasians excepted, which, situated nearly above the modern Bengal, was dimly discernible. The "nearer we approach the Indus, the more clear becomes our knowledge of the ancient geography of the country; and it follows that the districts of which at the present day we know the least, were anciently best known. Besides, the western and northern boundaries were not the same as at present. To the west, India was not then bounded by the river Indus, but by a chain of mountains which, under the name of Koh (whence the Grecian appellation of the Indian Caucasus), extended from Bactria to Makran, or Gedrosia, inclosing the kingdoms of Candahar and Cabul, the modern kingdom of Eastern Persia, or Afghanistan. These districts anciently formed part of India, as well as, further to the south, the less perfectly known countries of the Arabi and Haurs (the Arabitse and Oritse of Arrian, 6:21), bordering on Gedrosia. This western boundary continued at all times the same, and was removed to the Indus only in consequence of the victories of Nadir Shah. Towards the north, ancient India over passed not less its present limit. It comprehended the whole of the mountainous region above Cashmir, Badakshan, Belur Land, the western boundary mountains of Little Bucharia, or Little Thibet, and even the desert of Cobi, so far as it was known. (See Heeren's Historical Researches, 1, c. 1, § 3, on Persian India; and Rennell's Geography of Herodotus. For other conjectures respecting the location of the Scriptural India, see Winer's Realworterbuch, s.v. Indien. For the history of ancient India, see Anthon's Class. Diet s.v.) Smith; Kitto.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'India'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​i/india.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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