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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Wait, Lying in

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(מִאֲרָב, ἔνεδρα ). The natives of Western and Central Asia have in all ages been infamous for their plundering propensities. Their daring in watching caravans can only be equaled by their patient watchings in ambuscade; they will remain sometimes for days and even weeks, with a very scanty supply of provisions, waiting to surprise the unguarded caravan or the unwary traveler. Homer aptly describes such characters (Iliad, 18): "A place for ambush fit they found, and stood Cover'd with shields beside a silver flood, Two spies at distance lurk, and watchful seem, If sheep or oxen seek the windig' stream. Soon the white flocks proceeded o'er the plains, And steers slow moving, and two shepherd swains Behind them, piping on their reeds, they go, Nor fear al ambush, nor suspect a foe; In arms the glittering squadron rising round, Rush sudden; hills of slaughter heap the ground; Whole flocks and herds lie bleeding on the plains," And all amidst them, dead, the shepherd swains!"

It appears from various parts of Scripture that Palestine and the adjoining regions were much infested by persons who lived by violence, and took refuge in the many large caves and mountain fastnesses which the country afforded them. In the civil wars which arose out of the usurpation of Abimelech, we find that the men of Shechem adopted the Canaanitish, or, as we should call it in modern times, the Oriental custom of employing "liers in wait." The sacred historian restates, "The men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech"(Judges 9:25). The chapter from which we have quoted then proceeds to describe how Abimelech, by planting an ambush of "liers in wait," succeeded in surprising the city of Shechem, which he leveled to the ground. (See AMBUST).

During the Roman sway, the unsettled state of affairs, the frequent wars, and intestine divisions were very favorable to such banditti, who continued to increase, so that at last the road to Jericho from Jerusalem was so overrun by them that it was called "the bloody way." In the time of Antigonus, Herod, son of Antipater, was obliged to have recourse to the Roman soldiers to extirpate them. The robbers lived with their families in caves, on the steep faces of the mountain precipices, guarded with sharp rocks, and apparently inaccessible to invaders. Herod caused large wooden chests to be made, and let down by an iron chain from an engine on the top of the mountains, till they came on a level with the mouth of each cave. The chests contained soldiers, well armed, and provided with long hooks. They slew with their darts and spears as many of the robbers as they could reach at the entrance of the caves, and pulled out others with their hooks, and cast them down headlong; and they set fire to the bushes, etc., about the caves, and smothered many more; so by these means the mountain robbers were extirpated (Josephus, Ant. 24:15). Dr. Thomson well describes such scenes (Land and Book, 1, 487):

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Wait, Lying in'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/w/wait-lying-in.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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