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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Hebrew Eshkol', אֶשְׁכֹּל [twice plenu אֶשְׁכּוֹל, Numbers 13:24; Numbers 33:9], a bunch of grapes), the name of a man and also of a place.

1. (Sept. Ε᾿σχώλ , Josephus Ε᾿σχώλης, Vulg. Eschol.) A young Amoritish chieftain, who, with his brothers Mamre and Aner, being in alliance with Abraham, when the latter resided near Hebron, joined him in the recovery of Lot from the hands of Chedorlaomer and his confederates (Genesis 14:13; Genesis 14:24; comp. 13:18). B.C. cir. 2085. According to Josephus (Ant. 1:10, 2) he was the foremost of the three brothers, but the Bible narrative leaves this quite uncertain (comp. Genesis 14:13 with 24). Some have thought that the name of Eshcol remained attached to one of the fruitful valleys in that district till the arrival of the Israelites (Numbers 13:24), who then interpreted the appellation as significant of the gigantic "cluster" (in Hebr. eshcol) which they obtained there; but this does not accord with the independent origin of the latter name as assigned in the narrative (see below).

2. A wady (נִחִל, winter-torrent; Sept. and Vulg. [translating likewise the name itself] φάραξ βότρυος, vallis botri, or [Numbers 13:24] Nehelescol; A.V. "brook" and "valley") in which the Hebrew spies obtained the fine cluster of grapes which they took back with them, borne " on a staff between two," as a specimen of the fruits of the Promised Land (Numbers 13:24). The cluster was doubtless large; but the fact that it was carried in this manner does not, as usually understood, imply that the bunch was as much as two men could carry, seeing that it was probably so carried to prevent its being bruised in the journey. (See GRAPE).

From the fact that the name had existed in this neighborhood centuries before, when Abraham lived there with the chiefs Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, not Hebrews, but Amorites (see Genesis 14:13), many have supposed that the appellation in this instance ("because of the cluster, הָאֶשְׁכּוֹל, Sept. βότρυς, Vulg. torrens botri) was merely the Hebrew way of appropriating the ancient name derived from that hero into the language of the conquerors, consistently with the paronomastic turns so much in favor at that time, and with a practice traces of which are deemed to appear elsewhere; but it is more probable that the same reason which led the Israelites to apply to the valley such a designation, had operated also among the original possessors of the soil. In that case the Amoritish chieftain may have been so called (that dialect being doubtless akin to the Heb.) from his fertile region. From the terms of two of the notices of this transaction (Numbers 32:9; Deuteronomy 1:24), it might be inferred that Eshcol was the farthest point to which the spies penetrated; but this would contradict the express statement of Numbers 13:21, that they went as far northward, as Rehob. They must, therefore, either have carried the bunch of grapes this whole distance and back, or, as is more likely, they cut it on their return. From the context (Numbers 13:22), the valley in question seems to have been in the vicinity of Hebron. Accordingly, the valley through which lies the commencement of the road from Hebron to Jerusalem is traditionally indicated as that of Eshcol. This valley is now full of vine. yards and olive-yards, the former chiefly in the valley itself, the latter.up the sides of the inclosing hills. "These vineyards are still very fine, and produce the finest and largest grapes in all the country" (Robinson, Researches, 1:317). Eusebius, however (Onomast. s.v. φάραγξ βότρυος ), places it, with some hesitation, at Gophna, 15 miles north of Jerusalem, on the Neapolis road. By Jerome it is given as north of Hebron, on the road to Bethsur (Epitaph. Paulae). The Jewish traveler Ha-Parchi speaks of it as north of the mountain on which the (ancient) city of Hebron stood (Benjamin of Tudela, ed. Asher, 2:437); and here the name has apparently been observed still attached to a spring of remarkably fine water called 'Ain-Eskali, in a valley which crosses the vale of Hebron north-east and southwest, and about two miles north of the town (Van de Velde, Narrative, 2:64). Dr. Rosen, however, still more recently, writes the name as Ain el-Rashkala (Zeitschr. d. morpenl. Gesellsch. 1858, page 481).

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

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