Wait, Lying in
Wait, Lying in (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"'(Jg 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):
"The Arla robber lurks like a wolf among these sand heaps, and often spring out suddenly upon the solitary traveler, robs him in a trice and then plunges again into the wilderness of sand-hills and reedy downs, where pursuit is fruitless. Our friends are careful not to allow us to straggle about or lag behind; and yet it seems absurd to fear a surprise here-Khaifa before, Acre in the rear, and travelers in sight on both sides. Robberies, however, do often occur, just where we now are. Strange country! and it has always been so. There are a hundred allusions to just such things in the history, the Psalms, and the prophets of Israel. A whole class of imagery is based upon them. Thus, in Ps 10:8-10. He sits in the lurking-places of the villages, in the secret places doth he murder the innocent. He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den; he lieth in wait to catch the poor; he doth catch the poor when he draweth him into his net; he croucheth and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. And a thousand rascals, the living originals of this picture, are this day crouching and lying in wait all over the country to catch poor helpless travelers. You observe that all these people we meet or pass are armed; nor would they venture to go from Acre to Khaifa without their musket, although the cannon of the castles seem to command every foot of the way. Strange, most strange land! but it tallies most wonderfully with its ancient story."
In modern times, the Kurds are the most distinguished among Asiatic- nations for their inordinate and determined spirit of plunder, and they faithfully preserve all the habits which the Old Test. ascribes to the "liers in wait" of ancient times. A writer in the Saturday Magazine thus describes them:
"With them plundering is a natural occupation; and every unhappy stranger whom chance or curiosity throws in their way they regard as their lawful prey. Should the unfortunate being happen to be poor and ragged, he is severely beaten for not having brought sufficient property to make him worth robbing. They are not only daring robbers, but skilful thieves; and their boldness is solely equaled by their address. Sir John Malcolm, on his mission to the court of Persia, in 1810, had scarcely set his foot in their territory when he was attacked, in spite of his imposing appearance and his numerous attendants. Captain Keppel was closely watched for several miles, and narrowly escaped a similar visitation. Mr. Buckingham was less fortunate; a contribution of 2501 piastres (about $125) was levied on the caravan by which he journeyed, before it was allowed to proceed." These marauders not only beset mountain passes and defiles, but frequently come into the neighborhood of cities for the purpose of kidnapping the unprotected and driving them off to be sold as slaves, or murdering and robbing those whom they suspect of carrying wealth about their persons. The Kurds usually place themselves in ambush near a well, in order to gain possession of the persons of young women who come to draw water; or near the groves planted round ponds, which are sometimes found in the vicinity of Oriental cities, and are favorite haunts of the merchants who come to enjoy the refreshment of pure air, coolness, and shade. SEE ROBBER.