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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


(Hebrew Yaazeyr', יִעֲזֵיר, 1 Chronicles 6:81; 1 Chronicles 26:31; elsewhere the more abbreviated form יִעְזֵר Yazer', helper; Sept. Ι᾿αζήρ [2 Samuel 24:5, Ε᾿λιεζηρ ]; Auth. Vers. "Jaazer" in Numbers 21:32; Numbers 32:35; elsewhere "Jazer"), a city on the east of the Jordan, taken by the Israelites under Moses from the Amorites (Numbers 21:32), and assigned, with other neighboring places of Gilead, to the tribe of Gad (Numbers 33:1; Numbers 33:3; Numbers 33:35; Joshua 13:25); also constituted a Levitical city (Joshua 21:39; 1 Chronicles 6:81). It must have been a place of importance, for it gave its name to a large section of country. The "land of Jazer" was fertile, and its rich pastures attracted the attention of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh (Numbers 32:1). As it is mentioned between Dibon and Nimrah, it appears to have stood on the high plain north of Heshbon (Numbers 32:3). It was allotted to the Merarite Levites (Joshua 21:39; 1 Chronicles 6:81), but in the time of David it would appear to have been occupied by Hebronites, i.e. descendants of Kohath (1 Chronicles 26:31). It seems to have given its name to a district of dependent or "daughter" towns (Numbers 21:32, A.T "villages;" 1 Maccabees 5:8). It is mentioned in connection with the census under David (2 Samuel 24:5; 1 Chronicles 26:31), and was among the Moabitish places that experienced the desolating march of the Chaldaean invaders (Isaiah 16:8; Jeremiah 48:32, in which latter passage a sea of Jazer" is spoken of). In the "burdens" proclaimed over Moab by the prophets, Jazer is mentioned so as to imply that there were vineyards there, and that the cultivation of the vine had extended thither from Sibmah (Isaiah 16:8-9; Jeremiah 48:32). After the exile it remained in the hands of the Ammonites (1 Maccabees 5:8). According to Eusebias (Ononast. s.v. Ι᾿αζήρ ), it lay 10 R. miles west (southwest) of Philadelphia (Rabbath-Ammon), and 15 from Heshbon. Josephus calls the place Jazorus (Ι᾿αζωρός, Ant. 12, 8, 1), and Ptolemy Gazorus (Γάζωρος , 5, 16, 9). Seetzen (in Zach's Monatl. Corresp. 18, 429) thinks it is found in the present ruins called Syr or Sar (Burckhardt's Trav. in Syria, p. 355, 357), but this is too near Rabbah according to Zimmerman's map, which also gives the village of Seir at the head of a wady of the same name, at about the proper location to correspond with that of Eusebius. Raumer (Palast. p. 254) thinks it is rather the Ain Hazir (Burckhardt, Trav. p. 609); but this is in consequence of the statement of Eusebius in another place (Onomast. s.v. Ἀζώρ ), that it lay eight miles from Philadelphia, confounding Jazer with Hazor (see Keil's Comment. on Joshua 13, 25). As to the "sea of Jazer" mentioned by Jeremiah (48:32), which Gesenius (Comment. on Isaiah 16:8) thinks an error, while Relan confounds it with the Jabbok (Palaestina, p. 825), and others with other streams (Bü sching, Erdbesch. 11, 389); it is probably (see Hitzig, Comm. zu Jes. p. 196) the Nahr Syr or the above-named wady (see Prof. Stuart, in the Bibl. Repos. 1836, p. 157).

With this identification Schwarz coincides (Palestine, p. 230). Porter (in Kitto's Cyclop. s.v.) suggests that "the land of Jazer" must have extended to the shore of the Dead Sea, and that ; the sea of Jazer" may therefore have been so called by the inhabitants of the district, just as the northern lake took the name of "Tiberias," and ; Genesaret," and "Chinnereth." But this is unconfirmed by any other passage. In Numbers 21:24, where the present Hebrew text has עֵז (A.V. "strong"), the Sept. has put Ι᾿αζήρ . Burckhardt, in traveling from Es-Salt to Heshbon, passed the last-named-above ruined town, called Sir, situated on the side of a hill, and immediately below it was the source of a stream which ran down to the Jordan (Trav. in Syria, p. 364). The ruins appear to have been on the left (east) of the road, and below them' and the road is the source of the wady Szir (Burckhardt), or Mojeb es-Szir (Seetzen), answering, though certainly in position, yet imperfectly in character, to the ποταμὸς μέγιστος of Eusebius. Seetzen conjectures that the sea of Jazer may have been at the source of this brook, considerable marshes or pools sometimes existing at these spots. (Comp. his earlier suggestion of the source of the wady Serka, p. 393.) Szir, or Seir. is shown on the map of Van de Velde as 9 Roman miles W. of Amman, and about 12 from Heshbon. There can be little doubt that this is the Jazer of the Bible (Van de Velde, Memoir, p. 323). The prophecies of Scripture are fulfilled. The city and country are alike desolate. The vineyards that once covered the hillsides are gone; and the wild Bedawin from the eastern desert make cultivation of any kind impossible (Porter, Handbook for Syria and Palestine, p. 298 sq.).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Jaaizer'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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