The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness. The robbers shall enter into it, &c. [Jeremiah 12.12; 7.22]
The land of Israel has not only been given into the hands of strangers for a prey, and unto the wicked of the earth for a spoil, as foreign nations have successively subjugated and despoiled it; but it has also been the prey of bordering marauders, to whose assaults it has for ages been exposed. “These precautions, on the part of travellers, are above all necessary in the countries exposed to the Arabs, such as Palestine and the whole frontier of the desert.” [Volney’s Travels, vol. ii. p. 417.] “The Arabs are plunderers of the cultivated lands, and robbers on the highroads. —On the slightest alarm the Arabs cut down their (the peasants’) harvests, seize their flocks, &c. The peasants with good cause call them thieves. The Arab makes his incursions against hostile tribes, or seeks plunder in the country or on the highways. He became a robber from greediness, and such is in fact his present character. A plunderer rather than a warrior, the Arab attacks only to despoil.” [Ibid. chap. xxiii.] Such is the systematic spoliation and robbery to which the inhabitants of Palestine have been subjected for ages. Mr Stanley’s testimony may here be added: “In Greece and Italy and Spain, it is the mountainous tract which is beset with banditti—the level country which is safe. In Palestine, on the contrary, the mountain tracts are comparitively secure, though infested by villages of hereditary ruffians here and there; but the plains, with hardly an exception, are more or less dangerous . . . . The Bedouin tribes are the corsairs of the wilderness. Far up in the plains of Philistia and Sharon come the Arabs of the Tîh; deep into the centre of Palestine, into the plain of Esdraelon, especially when the harvest has left the fields clear for pasturage, come the Arabs of the Haurân and of Gilead. But now, like the sands of their own deserts which engulph the monuments of Egypt, no longer defended by a watchful and living population, they have broken in upon the country far and near; and in the total absence of solitary dwelling-places—in the gathering together of all the settled inhabitants into villages, and in the walls which, as at Jerusalem, enclose the cities round, with locked gates and guarded towers—we see the effect of the constant terror which they inspire.” [Stanley, pp. 135, 136.]
The Rev Alexander Keith. Evidence of the Truth of the Christian Religion Derived From the Literal Fulfilment of Prophecy: Particularly As Illustrated by the History of the Jews and by the Discoveries of Recent Travellers. Thirty-Ninth Edition. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1872. Pages 189-190. Emphasis his.