From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

Alliance . In the patriarchal age alliances between the Chosen People and foreign nations were frequent. Many of the agreements between individuals recorded in Genesis implied, or really were, treaties between the tribes or clans represented (  Genesis 21:22 ff;   Genesis 31:44 ff.). ‘During the period of the Judges confederations between the more or less isolated units of which the nation was composed were often made under the pressure of a common danger (  Judges 4:10;   Judges 6:35 ). When Israel became consolidated under the monarchy, alliances with foreigners were of a more formal character, e.g. Solomon’s treaty with Hiram (  1 Kings 5:1-18;   1 Kings 9:1-28 ). His marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter probably had a political significance (  1 Kings 3:1;   1 Kings 9:16 ). The policy of alliance between Israel and PhÅ“nicia was continued by Omri and Ahab (  1 Kings 16:31 );   Amos 1:9 speaks of it as a ‘covenant of brethren’; it rested, no doubt, on reciprocal commercial interests (cf.   Acts 12:20 ). Asa and Baasha contended for alliance with Benhadad (  1 Kings 15:19 ), and Judah and Israel themselves are allied during the reigns of Jehoshaphat and Ahab. Such a friendship is denounced in   2 Chronicles 25:1-28 , Pekah and Rezin are united against Judah (  2 Kings 16:5 ,   Isaiah 7:1-25 ). With the appearance of Assyria, relations with foreign nations become important and complicated. The temptation is to stave off the danger from the east by alliance with Damascus or Egypt. Sennacherib assumes that this will be the policy of Hezekiah (  2 Kings 18:21;   2 Kings 18:24 ). The prophets from the first set their faces against it (  Deuteronomy 17:16 ,   Hosea 8:9 , Is 20, 30,   Jeremiah 2:18;   Jeremiah 2:36 ). It is ‘the hiring of lovers’ in place of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , leading to sin and idolatry (  2 Kings 16:1-20 ), and is politically unsound, resting ‘on a broken reed.’ The parties being so unequal, the ally easily becomes the tributary (  2 Kings 16:7 ). After the Return, Ezra and Nehemiah oppose any alliance with ‘the people of the land.’ In later times, for a short period only, did the nation gain sufficient independence to make an alliance; in this case it was with Rome ( 1Ma 8:17; 1Ma 15:16 ).

C. W. Emmet.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [2]

Abraham formed an alliance with some of the Canaanitish princes ( Genesis 14:13 ), also with Abimelech (21:22-32). Joshua and the elders of Israel entered into an alliance with the Gibeonites ( Joshua 9:3-27 ). When the Israelites entered Palestine they were forbidden to enter into alliances with the inhabitants of the country ( Leviticus 18:3,4;  20:22,23 ).

Solomon formed a league with Hiram ( 1 Kings 5:12 ). This "brotherly covenant" is referred to 250 years afterwards ( Amos 1:9 ). He also appears to have entered into an alliance with Pharaoh ( 1 Kings 10:28,29 ).

In the subsequent history of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel various alliances were formed between them and also with neighbouring nations at different times.

From patriarchal times a covenant of alliance was sealed by the blood of some sacrificial victim. The animal sacrificed was cut in two (except birds), and between these two parts the persons contracting the alliance passed ( Genesis 15:10 ). There are frequent allusions to this practice ( Jeremiah 34:18 ). Such alliances were called "covenants of salt" ( Numbers 18:19;  2 Chronicles 13:5 ), salt being the symbol of perpetuity. A pillar was set up as a memorial of the alliance between Laban and Jacob ( Genesis 31:52 ). The Jews throughout their whole history attached great importance to fidelity to their engagements. Divine wrath fell upon the violators of them ( Joshua 9:18;  2 Samuel 21:1,2;  Ezekiel 17:16 ).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

On the Israelites entering into Canaan they were forbidden to make any league with the people of the land, they were not to show them any mercy, nor to make any marriages with them,  Deuteronomy 7:2,3; and later, when Joshua was about to die, he said to them, that with the nations that were still left they were to make no marriages, nor to go in unto them. If they did, God would drive out no more of the nations, and they would be snares and traps unto them, and scourges in their sides and thorns in their eyes.  Joshua 23:12,13 . Joshua and the princes of Israel were, alas, deceived by the Gibeonites, and without seeking counsel of God they made a covenant with them.  Joshua 9:3-21 . The failure of the Israelites in this particular (cf.  Ezra 9,10;   Nehemiah 13 .) is typical of the church making alliances with the world which have so sadly dimmed and destroyed the testimony which should have been borne by a heavenly people.

Webster's Dictionary [4]

(1): (n.) The persons or parties allied.

(2): (v. t.) To connect by alliance; to ally.

(3): (n.) The state of being allied; the act of allying or uniting; a union or connection of interests between families, states, parties, etc., especially between families by marriage and states by compact, treaty, or league; as, matrimonial alliances; an alliance between church and state; an alliance between France and England.

(4): (n.) Any union resembling that of families or states; union by relationship in qualities; affinity.

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]


Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [6]

a confederacy formed by treaty between two nations for their amicable intercourse and mutual advantage. Compacts of this character are designated in Scripture by various terms, e.g. (See League) ; (See Covenant) ; (See Treaty) , etc.

1. History Of Jewish Treaties. Anterior to the Mosaical institutions, such alliances with foreigners were not forbidden. Abraham was in alliance with some of the Canaanitish princes ( Genesis 14:13); he also entered into a regular treaty of alliance with the Philistine king Abimelech (ch.  Genesis 21:22 sq.), which was renewed by their sons (ch.  Genesis 26:26-30). This primitive treaty is a model of its kind; it leaves all details to the honest interpretation of the contracting parties. Abimelech says: "Swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son; but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee thou shalt do unto me and unto the land wherein thou hast sojourned." Even after the law it appears that such alliances with distant nations as could not be supposed to have any dangerous effect upon the religion or morals of the people were not deemed to be prohibited. Thus, in the case of the treaty with the Gibeonites, Joshua and the elders are condemned for it only on the ground that the Gibeonites were in fact their near neighbors ( Joshua 9:3-27).

On the first establishment of the Israelites in Palestine, lest the example of foreign nations should draw them into the worship of idols, intercourse and alliance with such nations were strongly interdicted ( Leviticus 18:3-4;  Leviticus 20:22-23). For the same object of political isolation a country was assigned to them shut in by the sea on the west, by deserts on the south and east, and by mountains and forests on the north. But with the extension of their power under the kings, the Jews were brought more into contact with foreigners, and alliances became essential to the security of their commerce (q.v.). These diplomatic arrangements may primarily be referred to a partial change of feeling which originated in the time of David, and which continued to operate among his descendants. During his wanderings he was brought into association with several of the neighboring princes, from some of whom he received sympathy and support, which, after he ascended the throne, he gratefully remembered ( 2 Samuel 10:2). He married the daughter of a heathen king, and had by her his favorite son ( 2 Samuel 3:3); the king of Moab protected his family ( 1 Samuel 22:3-4); the king of Ammon showed kindness to him ( 2 Samuel 10:2); the king of Gath showered favors upon him (1 Samuel 27;  1 Samuel 28:1-2); the king of Hamath sent his own son to congratulate him on his victories ( 2 Samuel 8:15); in short, the rare power which David possessed of attaching to himself the good opinion and favor of other men, extended even to the neighboring nations, and it would have been difficult for a person of his disposition to repel the advances of kindness and consideration which they made. Among those who made such advances was Hiram, king of Tyre; for it eventually transpires that "Hiram was ever a lover of David" ( 1 Kings 5:2), and it is probable that other intercourse had preceded that relating to the palace which Hiram's artificers built for David ( 2 Samuel 5:11). The king of Tyre was not disposed to neglect the cultivation of the friendly intercourse with the Hebrew nation which had thus been opened.

He sent an embassy to condole with Solomon on the death of his father, and to congratulate him on his own accession ( 1 Kings 5:1). The plans of the young king rendered the friendship of Hiram a matter of importance, and accordingly "a league" was formed ( 1 Kings 5:12) between them; and that this league had a reference not merely to the special matter then in view, but was a general league of amity, is evinced by the fact that more than 250 years after a prophet denounces the Lord's vengeance upon Tyre, because she "remembered not the brotherly covenant" ( Amos 1:9). Under this league large bodies of Jews and Phoenicians were associated, first in preparing the materials for the Temple ( 1 Kings 5:6-18), and afterward in navigating the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean ( 1 Kings 9:26-28). Solomon also contracted an alliance with a Pharaoh, king of Egypt, which was cemented by his marriage with a princess of the royal family; by this he secured a monopoly of the trade in horses and other products of that country ( 1 Kings 10:28-29). After the division of the kingdom the alliances were of an offensive and defensive nature; they had their origin partly in the internal disputes of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and partly in the position which these countries held relatively to Egypt on the one side, and the great Eastern monarchies of Assyria and Babylonia on the other. The scantiness of the historical records at our command makes it probable that the key to many of the events that occurred is to be found in the alliances and counter-alliances formed between these people, of which no mention is made. Thus the invasion of Shishak in Rehoboam's reign was not improbably the result of an alliance made with Jeroboam, who had previously found an asylum in Egypt ( 1 Kings 12:2;  1 Kings 14:25). Each of these monarchs sought a connection with the neighboring kingdom of Syria, on which side Israel was particularly assailable ( 1 Kings 15:19); but Asa ultimately succeeded in securing the active co-operation of Benhadad against Baasha ( 1 Kings 15:16-20). Another policy, induced probably by the encroaching spirit of Syria, led to the formation of an alliance between the two kingdoms under Ahab and Jehoshaphat, which was maintained until the end of Ahab's dynasty; it occasionally extended to commercial operations ( 2 Chronicles 20:36).

The alliance ceased in Jehu's reign; war broke out shortly after between Amaziah and Jeroboam II; each nation looked for foreign aid, and a coalition was formed between Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah on the one side, and Ahaz and Tiglath Pileser, king of Assyria, on the other ( 2 Kings 16:5-9). By this means an opening was afforded to the advances of the Assyrian power; and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, as they were successively attacked, sought the alliance of the Egyptians, who were strongly interested in maintaining the independence of the Jews as a barrier against the encroachments of the Assyrian power. Thus Hoshea made a treaty with So (Sabaco, or Sevechus), and rebelled against Shalmaneser ( 2 Kings 17:4); Hezekiah adopted the same policy in opposition to Sennacherib ( Isaiah 30:2): in neither case was the alliance productive of much good the Israelites were abandoned by So; it appears probable that his successor Sethos, who had offended the military caste, was unable to render Hezekiah any assistance; and it was only when the independence of Egypt itself was threatened that the Assyrians were defeated by the joint forces of Sethos and Tirhakah, and a temporary relief afforded thereby to Judah ( 2 Kings 19:9;  2 Kings 19:36; Herod. 2:141). The weak condition of Egypt at the beginning of the 26th dynasty left Judah entirely at the mercy of the Assyrians, who, under Esarhaddon, subdued the country, and by a conciliatory policy secured the adhesion of Manasseh and his successors to his side against Egypt ( 2 Chronicles 33:11-13). It was apparently as an ally of the Assyrians that Josiah resisted the advance of Necho ( 2 Chronicles 35:20). His defeat, however, and the downfall of the Assyrian empire, again changed the policy of the Jews, and made them the subjects of Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar's first expedition against Jerusalem was contemporaneous with and probably in consequence of the expedition of Necho against the Babylonians ( 2 Kings 24:1;  Jeremiah 46:2); and lastly, Zedekiah's rebellion was accompanied with a renewal of the alliance with Egypt ( Ezekiel 17:15). A temporary relief appears to have been afforded by the advance of Hophrah ( Jeremiah 37:11), but it was of no avail to prevent the extinction of Jewish independence.

On the restoration of independence, Judas Maccabaeus sought an alliance with the Romans, who were then gaining an ascendency in the East, as a counterpoise to the neighboring state of Syria (1 Maccabees 8; Joseph. Ant. 12, 10, 6): this alliance was renewed by Jonathan ( 1 Maccabees 12:1; Ant. 13, 5, 8), and by Simon ( 1 Maccabees 15:17; Ant. 13, 7, 3); on the last occasion the independence of the Jews was recognised and formally notified to the neighboring nations, B.C. 140 ( 1 Maccabees 15:22-23). Treaties of a friendly nature were at the same period concluded with the Lacedemonians under an impression that they came of a common stock ( 1 Maccabees 12:2;  1 Maccabees 14:20; Ant. 12, 4, 10; 13:5, 8). The Roman alliance was again renewed by Hyrcanus, B.C. 128 (Ant. 13, 9, 2), after his defeat by Antiochus Sidetes, and the losses he had sustained were repaired. This alliance, however, ultimately proved fatal to the independence of the Jews: the rival claims of Hyrcanus and Aristobulus having been referred to Pompey, B.C. 63, he availed himself of the opportunity of placing the country under tribute (Ant. 14, 4, 4). Finally, Herod was raised to the sovereignty by the Roman senate, acting under the advice of M. Antony (Ant. 14, 14, 5).

2. Their Religious And Political Effects. This intercourse with the heathen appears to have considerably weakened the sentiment of separation, which, in the case of the Hebrew, it was of the utmost importance to maintain. The disastrous consequences of even the seemingly least objectionable alliances may be seen in the long train of evils, both to the kingdom of Israel and of Judah, which ensued from the marriage of Ahab with Jezebel, the king of Tyre's daughter. (See Ahab); (See Jezebel). These consequences had been manifested even in the time of Solomon; for he formed matrimonial alliances with most of the neighboring kingdoms, and to the influence of his idolatrous wives are ascribed the abominations which darkened the latter days of the wise king ( 1 Kings 11:1-8). The prophets, who were alive to these consequences, often raised their voices against such dangerous connections ( 1 Kings 20:38;  2 Chronicles 16:7;  2 Chronicles 19:2;  2 Chronicles 25:7, etc.;  Isaiah 7:17); but it was found a difficult matter to induce even the best kings to place such absolute faith in Jehovah, the Head of their state, as to neglect altogether those human resources and alliances by which other nations strengthened themselves against their enemies. Remarkable instances of this are those of Asa, one of the most pious monarchs of Judah ( 1 Kings 15:16-20), and, in a less degree, of Ahaz ( 2 Kings 16:5, etc.;  2 Chronicles 18:16, etc.). In later times the Maccabees appear to have considered themselves unrestrained by any but the ordinary prudential considerations in contracting alliances; but they confined their treaties to distant states, which were by no means likely ever to exercise that influence upon the religion of the people which was the chief object of dread. The most remarkable alliances of this kind in the whole Hebrew history are those which were contracted with the Romans, who were then beginning to take a part in the affairs of Western Asia. Judas claimed their friendly intervention in a negotiation then pending between the Jews and Antiochus Eupator ( 2 Maccabees 11:34 sq.); and two years after he sent ambassadors to the banks of the Tiber to propose a treaty of alliance and amity. By the terms of this treaty the Romans ostensibly threw over the Jews the broad shield of their dangerous protection, promising to assist them in their wars, and forbidding any who were at peace with themselves to be at war with the Jews, or to assist directly or indirectly those who were so. The Jews, on their part, engaged to assist the Romans to the utmost of their power in any wars they might wage in those parts. The obligations of this treaty might be enlarged or diminished by the mutual consent of the contracting parties. This memorable treaty, having been concluded at Rome, was graven upon brass and deposited in the Capitol ( 1 Maccabees 8:22-28; Joseph. Ant. 12, 10; ether treaties with the Romans are given in lib. 13).

3. Rites By Which They Were Ratified. From the time of the patriarchs a covenant of alliance was sealed by the blood of some victim. A heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon were immolated in confirmation of the covenant between the Lord and Abraham ( Genesis 15:9). The animal or animals sacrificed were cut in two (except birds,  Genesis 15:10), to typify the doom of perjurers. Between the two parts the contracting parties passed, involving imprecations of a similar destruction upon him who should break the terms of the alliance ( Genesis 15:10; cf. Liv. 1:24); hence the expression כָּרִת בְּדַית (= Ὅρκια Τέμνειν , Foedus Icere), to make (lit. to cut) a treaty; hence, also, the use of the term אָלָה (lit. Imprecation) for a covenant. This usage often recurs in the prophets, and there are allusions to it in the New Testament ( Jeremiah 34:18; Daniel 13:55;  Matthew 24:51;  Luke 12:46). The perpetuity of covenants of alliance thus contracted is expressed by calling them "covenants of salt" ( Numbers 18:19;  2 Chronicles 13:5), salt being the symbol of incorruption, or fidelity, inasmuch as it was applied to the sacrifices ( Leviticus 2:13), and probably used, as among the Arabs, at hospitable entertainments. See SALT. Occasionally a pillar or a heap of stones was set up as a memorial of the alliance, ( Genesis 31:52). Presents were also sent by the party soliciting the alliance ( 1 Kings 15:18;  Isaiah 30:6;  1 Maccabees 15:18). The event was celebrated by a feast ( Exodus 24:11;  2 Samuel 3:12;  2 Samuel 3:20).

The fidelity of the Jews to their engagements was conspicuous at all periods of their history. The case of the Gibeonites affords an instance scarcely equalled in the annals of any nation. The Israelites had been absolutely cheated into the alliance; but, having been confirmed by oaths, it was deemed to be inviolable ( Joshua 9:19). Long afterward, the treaty having been violated by Saul, the whole nation was punished for the crime by a horrible famine in the time of David ( 2 Samuel 21:1 sq.). The prophet Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 17:13-16) pours terrible denunciations upon King Zedekiah for acting contrary to his sworn covenant with the king of Babylon. From numerous intimations in Josephus, it appears that the Jewish character for the observance of treaties was so generally recognised after the captivity, as often to procure for them consideration from the rulers of Western Asia and of Egypt.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [7]

a - lı̄´ans

1. In the Patriarchal Stories

Frequent references are made to alliances between the patriarchs and foreigners. Abraham is reported to have had "confederates" among the chiefs of the Canaanites ( Genesis 14:13 ). He also allied with Abimelech, king of Gerar ( Genesis 21:22-34 ). Isaac's alliance with Abimelech ( Genesis 26:26-34 ), which is offered as an explanation of the name Beer-sheba ( Genesis 26:33 ), appears to be a variant of the record of alliance between Abraham and Abimelech. Jacob formed an alliance with Laban, the Syrian ( Genesis 31:44-54 ), by which Gilead was established as a boundary line between Israel and Aramaic. These treaties refer, in all probability, to the early period of Israel's history, and throw a good deal of light upon the relation between Israel and the Philistines and the Syrians immediately after the conquest of Canaan.

2. In Pre-Canaanitic History

The only reference to an alliance between Israel and foreign people prior to the conquest of Canaan, that might be regarded as historical, is that made between Israel and the Kenite tribes at the foot of Sinai, the precise nature of which, however, is not very clearly indicated. Such alliances led to intermarriages between the members of the allied tribes. Thus Moses married a Kenite woman ( Judges 1:16;  Judges 4:11 ). The patriarchal marriages refer to the existing conditions after the conquest. Possibly one more alliance belonging to that period is that between Israel and Moab ( Numbers 25:1-3 ). According to the narrative, Israel became attached to the daughters of Moab, at Shittim, and was led astray after Baal-peor. Its historicity is proven from the prophetic allusions to this event (compare  Hosea 9:10;  Micah 6:5 ).

3. During the Conquest

The invading hordes of Israel met with strong opposition on the part of the natives of Palestine ( Judges 1:21 ,  Judges 1:27-36 ). In time, alliances were formed with some of them, which generally led, as might be expected, to considerable trouble. One concrete illustration is preserved in the story of the Gibeonites (Josh 9). Intermarriages were frequent. The tribe of Judah thus became consolidated through the alliance and the amalgamation with the Kenites and Calebites ( Judges 1:10-16 ). These relations between Israel and the Canaanites threatened the preservation of Yahwism.

4. The Monarchy

Prohibitory measures were adopted in the legal codes with a view to Jewish separateness and purity ( Exodus 23:32;  Exodus 34:12 ,  Exodus 34:15;  Deuteronomy 7:2; compare  Judges 2:2 ,  Judges 2:3;  Leviticus 18:3 ,  Leviticus 18:4;  Leviticus 20:22 f).

But at a very early date in the history of the Jewish kingdom the official heads of the people formed such alliances and intermarried. David became an ally to Achish of Gath ( 1 Samuel 27:2-12 ) and later on with Abner, which led to the consolidation of Judah and Israel into one kingdom ( 2 Samuel 3:17-21;  2 Samuel 5:1-3 ). It appears likewise that Toi, king of Hamath, formed an alliance with David ( 2 Samuel 9:10 ) and that Hiram of Tyre was his ally (  1 Kings 5:12 ). Alliances wrath foreign nations became essential to the progress of trade and commerce during the reign of Solomon. Two of his treaties are recorded: one with Hiram of Tyre ( 1 Kings 5:12-18;  1 Kings 9:11-14 ) and one with Pharaoh, king of Egypt ( 1 Kings 9:16 ).

5. The Divided Kingdom

After the disruption, Shishak of Egypt invaded Judea, and probably also Israel. This meant an abrogation of the treaty existing between Israel and Egypt during the reign of Solomon. In consequence of the war between the two kingdoms, Asa formed an alliance with Benhadad of Syria ( 1 Kings 15:18-20 ). Later on Ahab sought an alliance with Ben-hadad ( 1 Kings 20:31-34 ). Friendly relations ensued between Israel and Judah, during the reign of Jehoshaphat, which continued to the close of the dynasty of Omri ( 1 Kings 22:2-4 ,  1 Kings 22:50;  2 Kings 3:7 ). With the accession of Jehu, hostilities were resumed. In the Syro-Ephraimitic war, Israel was allied with Syria, and Judah with Assyria ( 2 Kings 16:6-9; Isa 7). This opened the way to the Assyrian power into both kingdoms. Relief against Assyria was sought in Egypt; Hoshea rebelled against Shalmaneser, and allied with So (Sevechus, the Shabaka of the 25th Dynasty) and thus brought about the fall of Samaria.

6. The Kingdom of Judah

Hezekiah likewise sought an alliance with So, but derived no assistance from him. He is recorded to have formed friendly relations with Berodach-baladan of Babylon ( 2 Kings 20:12-18 ). These alliances resulted in the introduction of foreign cults into Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 16:10 ,  2 Kings 16:11 ). During the reign of Manasseh, Yahwism was seriously threatened by foreign religious practices ( 2 Kings 21:2-9 ). The protesting spirit against the prevailing conditions found expression in the Deuteronomic code, which emphasizes the national policy. Josiah fought against Pharaoh-necoh as an ally of Assyria ( 2 Kings 23:29 ). Jehoahaz continued the Assyrian alliance and was dethroned in consequence by Pharaoh-necoh ( 2 Kings 23:33 ). Jehoiakin was disposed to be friendly with Egypt, and even after his subjection to Nebuchadnezzar, he remained loyal to the Pharaoh ( 2 Kings 23:35 ). Zedekiah came to the throne as an ally of Babylon. When he broke this alliance, the destruction of Jerusalem resulted (2 Ki 25).

7. In Post-Exilic Times

Judas Maccabeus sought an alliance with the Romans (1 Macc 8; Josephus, Ant , Xii , x, 6) which was renewed by Jonathan (1 Macc 12:1; Ant , Xiii , v, 8) and by Simon (1 Macc 15:17; Ant , Xiii , vii, 3). Treaties were concluded with the Spartans (1 Macc 12:2; 14:20; Ant , Xii , iv, 10; Xiii , v, 8). The Roman alliance was again renewed by Hyrcanus about 128 bc ( Ant. , Xiii , ix, 2). This alliance proved to be of fatal consequence to the independence of the Jews ( Ant. , Xiv , iv, 4; and xiv, 5). For the rites connected with the formation of the earlier alliances, see Covenant .