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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Hebrew Elishah', אלִֵישָׁה deriv. unknown; Sept. Ε᾿λισά and Ε᾿λισαί ; Josephus, Ε᾿λισᾶς, Vulg. Elisa), the oldest of the four sons of Javan (Genesis 10:4; 1 Chronicles 1:7). B.C. cir. 2450. He seems to have given name to a region on the Mediterranean, "the isles (אִיּיס, shores) of Elishah," which are described as exporting fabrics of purple and scarlet to the markets of Tyre (Ezekiel 27:7). If the descendants of Javan peopled Greece, we may expect to find Elishah in some province of that country. The circumstance of the purple suits the Peloponnesus, for the fish affording the purple dye was caught at the mouth of the Eurotas, and the purple of Laconia was very celebrated. (See PURPLE). The name seems kindred to Elis (Bochart, Phaleg, 3:4), which, in a wider sense, was applied to the whole Peloponnesus; and some identify Elishah with Hellas (Michaelis, Spicileg. 1:79). Kitto, s.v. Josephus, however, identified the race of Elishah with the AEolians (Ant. 1:6, 1). His view is adopted by Knobel (Volkertrfel, page 81 sq.). It appears correct to treat it as the designation of a race rather than of a locality; and if Javan represents the Ionians, then Elishah the AEolians, whose name presents considerable similarity (Αίολεῖς having possibly been Αίλεῖς ), and whose predilection for maritime situations quite accords with the expression in Ezekiel. In early times the AEolians were settled in various parts of Greece, Thessaly, Boeotia, AEtolia, Locris, Elis, and Messenia: from Greece they emigrated to Asia Minor, and in Ezekiel's age occupied the maritime district in the N.W. of that country, named after them AEolis, together with the islands Lesbos and Tenedos. The purple shell-fish was found on this coast, especially at Abydus (Virgil, Georg. 1:207), Phocaea (Ovid, Metam. 6:9), Sigeum and Lectum (Athenaeus, 3:88). Not much, however, can be deduced from this as to the position of the "isles of Elishah," as that shell- fish was found in many parts of the Mediterranean, especially on the coast of Laconia (Pausan. 3:21, § 6). Schulthess (Paradies, page 264), without the slightest probability, argues in favor of a position on the western coast of Africa, on the ground of the resemblance to Elisa as the Phoenician name of Carthage. (See ETHNOLOGY).

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

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