Go Home
The BIBLE       Definitions       Images       Topics       Versions    
stitch border
stitch border


pal'-es-tin ((Philistia) Land of Israel, Holy Land)
Canaan, Canaanite(s), Israel, Jerusalem, Jordan (River), Rephaim
4.0 star rating


Easton's Bible Dictionary

Originally denoted only the sea-coast of the land of Canaan inhabited by the Philistines ( Exodus 15:14 ; Isaiah 14:29 , 14:31 ; Joel 3:4 ), and in this sense exclusively the Hebrew name Pelesheth (rendered "Philistia" in Psalms 60:8 ; 83:7 ; 87:4 ; 108:9 ) occurs in the Old Testament.

Not till a late period in Jewish history was this name used to denote "the land of the Hebrews" in general ( Genesis 40:15 ). It is also called "the holy land" ( Zechariah 2:12 ), the "land of Jehovah" ( Hosea 9:3 ; Psalms 85:1 ), the "land of promise" ( Hebrews 11:9 ), because promised to Abraham ( Genesis 12:7 ; 24:7 ), the "land of Canaan" ( Genesis 12:5 ), the "land of Israel" ( 1 Samuel 13:19 ), and the "land of Judah" ( Isaiah 19:17 ).

The territory promised as an inheritance to the seed of Abraham ( Genesis 15:18 - 21 ; Numbers 34:1 - 12 ) was bounded on the east by the river Euphrates, on the west by the Mediterranean, on the north by the "entrance of Hamath," and on the south by the "river of Egypt." This extent of territory, about 60,000 square miles, was at length conquered by David, and was ruled over also by his son Solomon ( 2 Samuel 8 ; 1 Chronicles 18 ; 1 Kings 4:1 , 4:21 ). This vast empire was the Promised Land; but Palestine was only a part of it, terminating in the north at the southern extremity of the Lebanon range, and in the south in the wilderness of Paran, thus extending in all to about 144 miles in length. Its average breadth was about 60 miles from the Mediterranean on the west to beyond the Jordan. It has fittingly been designated "the least of all lands." Western Palestine, on the south of Gaza, is only about 40 miles in breadth from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, narrowing gradually toward the north, where it is only 20 miles from the sea-coast to the Jordan.

Palestine, "set in the midst" ( Ezekiel 5:5 ) of all other lands, is the most remarkable country on the face of the earth. No single country of such an extent has so great a variety of climate, and hence also of plant and animal life. Moses describes it as "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt not eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass" ( Deuteronomy 8:7 - 9 ).

"In the time of Christ the country looked, in all probability, much as now. The whole land consists of rounded limestone hills, fretted into countless stony valleys, offering but rarely level tracts, of which Esdraelon alone, below Nazareth, is large enough to be seen on the map. The original woods had for ages disappeared, though the slopes were dotted, as now, with figs, olives, and other fruit-trees where there was any soil. Permanent streams were even then unknown, the passing rush of winter torrents being all that was seen among the hills. The autumn and spring rains, caught in deep cisterns hewn out like huge underground jars in the soft limestone, with artificial mud-banked ponds still found near all villages, furnished water. Hills now bare, or at best rough with stunted growth, were then terraced, so as to grow vines, olives, and grain. To-day almost desolate, the country then teemed with population. Wine-presses cut in the rocks, endless terraces, and the ruins of old vineyard towers are now found amidst solitudes overgrown for ages with thorns and thistles, or with wild shrubs and poor gnarled scrub" (Geikie's Life of Christ).

From an early period the land was inhabited by the descendants of Canaan, who retained possession of the whole land "from Sidon to Gaza" till the time of the conquest by Joshua, when it was occupied by the twelve tribes. Two tribes and a half had their allotments given them by Moses on the east of the Jordan ( Deuteronomy 3:12 - 20 ; Compare Numbers 1:17 - 46 ; Joshua 4:12 - 13 ). The remaining tribes had their portion on the west of Jordan.

From the conquest till the time of Saul, about four hundred years, the people were governed by judges. For a period of one hundred and twenty years the kingdom retained its unity while it was ruled by Saul and David and Solomon. On the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam ascended the throne; but his conduct was such that ten of the tribes revolted, and formed an independent monarchy, called the kingdom of Israel, or the northern kingdom, the capital of which was first Shechem and afterwards Samaria. This kingdom was destroyed. The Israelites were carried captive by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, B.C. 722, after an independent existence of two hundred and fifty-three years. The place of the captives carried away was supplied by tribes brought from the east, and thus was formed the Samaritan nation ( 2 Kings 17:24 - 29 ).

Nebuchadnezzar came up against the kingdom of the two tribes, the kingdom of Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, one hundred and thirty-four years after the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel. He overthrew the city, plundered the temple, and carried the people into captivity to Babylon (B.C. 587), where they remained seventy years. At the close of the period of the Captivity, they returned to their own land, under the edict of Cyrus ( Ezra 1:1 - 4 ). They rebuilt the city and temple, and restored the old Jewish commonwealth

For a while after the Restoration the Jews were ruled by Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and afterwards by the high priests, assisted by the Sanhedrin. After the death of Alexander the Great at Babylon (B.C. 323), his vast empire was divided between his four generals. Egypt, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele-Syria fell to the lot of Ptolemy Lagus. Ptolemy took possession of Palestine in B.C. 320, and carried nearly one hundred thousand of the inhabitants of Jerusalem into Egypt. He made Alexandria the capital of his kingdom, and treated the Jews with consideration, confirming them in the enjoyment of many privileges.

After suffering persecution at the hands of Ptolemy's successors, the Jews threw off the Egyptian yoke, and became subject to Antiochus the Great, the king of Syria. The cruelty and opression of the successors of Antiochus at length led to the revolt under the Maccabees (B.C. 163), when they threw off the Syrian yoke.

In the year B.C. 68, Palestine was reduced by Pompey the Great to a Roman province. He laid the walls of the city in ruins, and massacred some twelve thousand of the inhabitants. He left the temple, however, unijured. About twenty-five years after this the Jews revolted and cast off the Roman yoke. They were however, subdued by Herod the Great (q.v.). The city and the temple were destroyed, and many of the inhabitants were put to death. About B.C. 20, Herod proceeded to rebuild the city and restore the ruined temple, which in about nine years and a half was so far completed that the sacred services could be resumed in it (Compare John 2:20 ). He was succeeded by his son Archelaus, who was deprived of his power, however, by Augustus, A.D. 6, when Palestine became a Roman province, ruled by Roman governors or procurators. Pontius Pilate was the fifth of these procurators. He was appointed to his office A.D. 25.

Exclusive of Idumea, the kingdom of Herod the Great comprehended the whole of the country originally divided among the twelve tribes, which he divided into four provinces or districts. This division was recognized so long as Palestine was under the Roman dominion. These four provinces were,

(1) Judea, the southern portion of the country;

(2) Samaria, the middle province, the northern boundary of which ran along the hills to the south of the plain of Esdraelon;

(3) Galilee, the northern province; and

(4) Peraea (a Greek name meaning the "opposite country"), the country lying east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea.

This province was subdivided into these districts,

(1) Peraea proper, lying between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok;

(2) Galaaditis (Gilead);

(3) Batanaea;

(4) Gaulonitis (Jaulan);

(5) Ituraea or Auranitis, the ancient Bashan;

(6) Trachonitis;

(7) Abilene;

(8) Decapolis, i.e., the region of the ten cities.

The whole territory of Palestine, including the portions alloted to the trans-Jordan tribes, extended to about eleven thousand square miles. Recent exploration has shown the territory on the west of Jordan alone to be six thousand square miles in extent, the size of the principality of Wales.


Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names

(no entry)


Smith's Bible Dictionary

(no entry)


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

pal'-es-tin (pelesheth; Phulistieim, Allophuloi; the King James Version Joel 3:4 (the Revised Version (British and American) "Philistia"), "Palestina"; the King James Version Exodus 15:14 ; Isaiah 14:29 , 31 ; compare Psalms 60:8 ; 83:7 ; 87:4 ; 108:9):

The word properly means "Philistia," but appears to be first used in the extended sense, as meaning all the "Land of Israel" or "Holy Land" (Zechariah 2:12), by Philo and by Ovid and later Roman authors (Reland, Palestine Illustr., I, 38-42).


The Bible in general may be said to breathe air of Palestine; and it is here intended to show how important for sound criticism is the consideration of its geography, and of the numerous incidental allusions to the natural features, fauna, flora, cultivation, and climate of the land in which most of the Bible books were written. With the later history and topography of Palestine, after 70 AD, we are not here concerned, but a short account of its present physical and geological conditions is needed for our purpose.

1. General Geographical Features

Palestine West of the Jordan, between Dan and Beersheba, has an area of about 6,000 square miles, the length from Hermon southward being nearly 150 miles, and the width gradually increasing from 20 miles on the North to 60 miles on the South. It is thus about the size of Wales, and the height of the Palestinian mountains is about the same as that of the Welsh. East of the Jordan an area of about 4,000 square miles was included in the land of Israel. The general geographical features are familiar to all.

(1) The land is divided by the deep chasm of the Jordan valley--an ancient geological fault continuing in the Dead Sea, where its depth (at the bottom of the lake) is 2,600 ft. below the Mediterranean.

(2) West of the valley the mountain ridge, which is a continuation of Lebanon, has very steep slopes on the East and long spurs on the West, on which side the foothills (Hebrew shephelah or "lowland") form a distinct district, widening gradually southward, while between this region and the sea the plains of Sharon and Philistia stretch to the sandhills and low cliffs of a harborless coast.

(3) In Upper Galilee, on the North, the mountain ridge rises to 4,000 ft. above the Mediterranean. Lower Galilee, to the South, includes rounded hills less than 1,000 ft. above the sea, and the triangular plain of Esdraelon drained by the River Kishon between the Gilboa watershed on the East and the long spur of Carmel on the West.

(4) In Samaria the mountains are extremely rugged, but a small plain near Dothan adjoins that of Esdraelon, and another stretches East of Shechem, 2,500 ft. above the level of the Jordan valley. In Judea the main ridge rises toward Hebron and then sinks to the level of the Beersheba plains about 1,000 ft. above the sea. The desert of Judah forms a plateau (500 ft. above sea-level), between this ridge and the Dead Sea, and is throughout barren and waterless; but the mountains--which average about 3,000 ft. above the sea--are full of good springs and suitable for the cultivation of the vine, fig and olive. The richest lands are found in the shephelah region--especially in Judea--and in the corn plains of Esdraelon, Sharon, and Philistia.

(5) East of the Jordan the plateau of Bashan (averaging 1,500 ft. above the sea) is also a fine corn country. South of this, Gilead presents a mountain region rising to 3,600 ft. above sea-level at Jebel Osha', and sloping gently on the East to the desert. The steep western slopes are watered by the Jabbok River, and by many perennial brooks. In North Gilead especially the wooded hills present some of the most picturesque scenery of the Holy Land. South of Gilead, the Moab plateau (about 2,700 ft. above sea-level) is now a desert, but is fitted for raising grain, and, in places, for vines. A lower shelf or plateau (about 500 to 1,000 ft. above sea-level) intervenes between the main plateau and the Dead Sea cliffs, and answers to the Desert of Judah West of the lake.

2. Water-Supply

The water-supply of Palestine is abundant, except in the desert regions above noticed, which include only a small part of its area. The Jordan runs into the Dead Sea, which has no outlet and which maintains its level solely by evaporation, being consequently very salt; the surface is nearly 1,300 ft. below the Mediterranean, whereas the Sea of Galilee (680 ft. below sea-level) is sweet and full of fish. The Jordan is fed, not only by the snows of Hermon, but by many affluent streams from both sides. There are several streams also in Sharon, including the Crocodile River under Carmel. In the mountains, where the hard dolomite limestone is on the surface, perennial springs are numerous. In the lower hills, where this limestone is covered by a softer chalky stone, the supply depends on wells and cisterns. In the Beersheba plains the water, running under the surface, is reached by scooping shallow pits--especially those near Gerar, to be noticed later.

3. Geological Conditions

The fertility and cultivation of any country depends mainly on its geological conditions. These are comparatively simple in Palestine, and have undergone no change since the age when man first appeared, or since the days of the Hebrew patriarchs. The country was first upheaved from the ocean in the Eocene age; and, in the subsequent Miocene age, the great crack in the earth's surface occurred, which formed a narrow gulf stretching from that of the 'Aqabah on the South almost to the foot of Hermon. Further upheaval, accompanied by volcanic outbreaks which covered the plateaus of Golan, Bashan, and Lower Galilee with lava, cut off the Jordan valley from the Red Sea, and formed a long lake, the bottom of which continued to sink on the South to its present level during the Pleiocene and Pluvial periods, after which--its peculiar fauna having developed meanwhile--the lake gradually dried up, till it was represented only, as it now is, by the swampy Chuleh, the pear-shaped Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea. These changes all occurred long ages before the appearance of man. The beds upheaved include:

(1) the Nubian Sandstone (of the Greensand period), which was sheared along the line of the Jordan fault East of the river, and which only appears on the western slopes of Hermon, Gilead, and Moab;

(2) the limestones of the Cretaceous age, including the hard dolomite, and softer beds full of characteristic fossils;

(3) the soft Eocene limestone, which appears chiefly on the western spurs and in the foothills, the angle of upheaval being less steep than that of the older main formation. On the shores of the Mediterranean a yet later sandy limestone forms the low cliffs of Sharon.


4. Fauna and Flora

As regards fauna, flora and cultivation, it is sufficient here to say that they are still practically the same as described throughout the Bible. The lion and the wild bull (Bos primigenius) were exterminated within historic times, but have left their bones in the Jordan gravels, and in caves. The bear has gradually retreated to Hermon and Lebanon. The buffalo has been introduced since the Moslem conquest. Among trees the apple has fallen out of cultivation since the Middle Ages, and the cactus has been introduced; but Palestine is still a land of grain, wine and oil, and famous for its fruits. Its trees, shrubs and plants are those noticed in the Bible. Its woods have been thinned in Lower Galilee and Northern Sharon, but on the other hand the copse has often grown over the site of former vineyards and villages, and there is no reason to think that any general desiccation has occurred within the last 40 centuries, such as would affect the rainfall.

5. Climate

The climate of Palestine is similar to that of other Mediterranean lands, such as Cyprus, Sicily or Southern Italy; and, in spite of the fevers of mosquito districts in the plains, it is much better than that of the Delta in Egypt, or of Mesopotamia. The summer heat is oppressive only for a few days at a time, when (espescially in May) the dry wind--deficient in ozone--blows from the eastern desert. For most of the season a moisture-laden sea breeze, rising about 10 AM, blows till the evening, and fertilizes all the western slopes of the mountains. In the bare deserts the difference between 90 F. by day and 40 F. by night gives a refreshing cold. With the east wind the temperature rises to 105 F., and the nights are oppressive. In the Jordan valley, in autumn, the shade temperature reaches 120 F. In this season mists cover the mountains and swell the grapes. In winter the snow sometimes lies for several days on the watershed ridge and on the Edomite mountains, but in summer even Hermon is sometimes quite snowless at 9,000 ft. above the sea. There is perhaps no country in which such a range of climate can be found, from the Alpine to the tropical, and none in which the range of fauna and flora is consequently so large, from the European to the African.

6. Rainfall

The rainfall of Palestine is between 20 and 30 inches annually, and the rainy season is the same as in other Mediterranean countries. The "former rains" begin with the thunderstorms of November, and the "latter rains" cease with April showers. From December to February--except in years of drought--the rains are heavy. In most years the supply is quite sufficient for purposes of cultivation. The plowing begins in autumn, and the corn is rarely spoiled by storms in summer. The fruits ripen in autumn and suffer only from the occasional appearance of locust swarms. There appears to be no reason to suppose that climate or rainfall have undergone any change since the times of the Bible; and a consideration of Bible allusions confirms this view.

7. Drought and Famine

Thus, the occurrence of drought, and of consequent famine, is mentioned in the Old Testament as occasional in all times (Genesis 12:10 ; 26:2 ; 41:50 ; Leviticus 26:20 ; 2 Samuel 21:1 ; 1 Kings 8:35 ; Isaiah 5:6 ; Jeremiah 14:1 ; Joel 1:10-12 ; Haggai 1:11 ; Zechariah 14:17), and droughts are also noticed in the Mishna (Ta'anith, i. 4-7) as occurring in autumn, and even lasting throughout the rainy season till spring. Good rains were a blessing from God, and drought was a sign of His displeasure, in Hebrew belief (Deuteronomy 11:14 ; Jeremiah 5:24 ; Joel 2:23). A thunderstorm in harvest time (May) was most unusual (1 Samuel 12:17 , 18), yet such a storm does still occur as a very exceptional phenomenon. By "snow in harvest" (Proverbs 25:13) we are not to understand a snowstorm, for it is likened to a "faithful messenger," and the reference is to the use of snow for cooling wine, which is still usual at Damascus. The notice of fever on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:14) shows that this region was as unhealthy as it still is in summer. The decay of irrigation in Sharon may have rendered the plain more malarious than of old, but the identity of the Palestinian flora with that of the Bible indicates that the climate, generally speaking, is unchanged.


1. Places Visited by Abraham

The Book of Genesis is full of allusions to sites sacred to the memory of the Hebrew patriarchs. In the time of Abraham the population consisted of tribes, mainly Semitic, who came originally from Babylonia, including Canaanites ("lowlanders") between Sidon and Gaza, and in the Jordan valley, and Amorites ("highlanders") in the mountains (Genesis 10:15-19 ; Numbers 13:29). Their language was akin to Hebrew, and it is only in Egypt that we read of an interpreter being needed (Genesis 42:23), while excavated remains of seal-cylinders, and other objects, show that the civilization of Palestine was similar to that of Babylonia.

(1) Shechem.
The first place noticed is the shrine or "station" (maqom) of Shechem, with the Elon Moreh, the Septuagint "high oak"), where Jacob afterward buried the idols of his wives, and where Joshua set up a stone by the "holy place" (Genesis 12:6 ; 35:4 ; Joshua 24:26). Samaritan tradition showed the site near BalaTa ("the oak") at the foot of Mt. Gerizim. The "Canaanite was then in the land" (in Abraham's time), but was exterminated (Genesis 34:25) by Jacob's sons. From Shechem Abraham journeyed southward and raised an altar between Bethel (Beitin) and Hal (Chayan), East of the town of Luz, the name of which still survives hard-by at the spring of Lozeh (Genesis 12:8 ; 13:3 ; 28:11 , 19 ; 35:2).

(2) The Negeb.
But, on his return from Egypt with large flocks (Genesis 12:16), he settled in the pastoral region, between Beersheba and the western Kadesh (Genesis 13:1 ; 20:1), called in Hebrew the neghebh, "dry" country, on the edge of the cultivated lands. From East of Bethel there is a fine view of the lower Jordan valley, and here Lot "lifted up his eyes" (Genesis 13:10), and chose the rich grass lands of that valley for his flocks. The "cities of the Plain" (kikkar) were clearly in this valley, and Sodom must have been near the river, since Lot's journey to Zoar (Genesis 19:22) occupied only an hour or two (Genesis 19:15 , 23) through the plain to the foot of the Moab mountains. These cities are not said to have been visible from near Hebron; but, from the hilltop East of the city, Abraham could have seen "the smoke of the land" (Genesis 19:28) rising up. The first land owned by him was the garden of Mamre (Genesis 13:18 ; 18:1 ; 23:19), with the cave-tomb which tradition still points out under the floor of the Hebron mosque. His tent was spread under the "oaks of Mamre" (Genesis 18:1), where his mysterious guests rested "under the tree" (Genesis 18:8). One aged oak still survives in the flat ground West of the city, but this tree is very uncommon in the mountains of Judah. In all these incidental touches we have evidence of the exact knowledge of Palestine which distinguishes the story of the patriarchs.

(3) Campaign of Amraphel.
Palestine appears to have been an outlying province of the empire of. Hammurabi, king of Babylon in Abraham's time; and the campaign of Amraphel resembled those of later Assyrian overlords exacting tribute of petty kings. The route (Genesis 14:5 - 8) lay through Bashan, Gilead and Moab to Kadesh (probably at Petra), and the return through the desert of Judah to the plains of Jericho. Thus Hebron was not attacked (see Genesis 14:13), and the pursuit by Abraham and his Amorite allies led up the Jordan valley to Dan, and thence North of Damascus (Genesis 14:15). The Salem whose king blessed Abraham on his return was thought by the Samaritans, and by Jerome, to be the city near the Jordan valley afterward visited by Jacob (Genesis 14:18 ; 33:18).


(4) Gerar.
Abraham returned to the southern plains, and "sojourned in Gerar" (Genesis 20:1), now Umm Jerrar, 7 miles South of Gaza. The wells which he dug in this valley (Genesis 26:15) were no doubt shallow excavations like those from which the Arabs still obtain the water flowing under the surface in the same vicinity (SWP, III, 390), though that at Beersheba (Genesis 21:25 - 32), to which Isaac added another (Genesis 26:23 - 25), may have been more permanent. Three masonry wells now exist at Bir es Seba', but the masonry is modern. The planting of a "tamarisk" at this place (Genesis 21:33) is an interesting touch, since the tree is distinctive of the dry lowlands. From Beersheba Abraham journeyed to "the land of Moriah" Septuagint "the high land") to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:2); and the mountain, according to Hebrew tradition (2 Chronicles 3:1), was at Jerusalem, but according to the Samaritans was Gerizim near the Elon Moreh--a summit which could certainly have been seen "afar off" (2 Chronicles 3:4) on "the third day."

2. Places Visited by Isaac

Isaac, living in the same pastoral wilderness, at the western Kadesh (Genesis 25:11) and at Gerar (Genesis 26:2), suffered like his father in a year of drought, and had similar difficulties with the Philistines. At Gerar he sowed grain (Genesis 26:12), and the vicinity is still capable of such cultivation. Thence he retreated Southeast to Rehoboth (Rucheibeh), North of Kadesh, where ancient wells like those at Beersheba still exist (Genesis 26:22). To Beersheba he finally returned (Genesis 26:23).

3. Places Visited by Jacob

When Jacob fled to Haran from Beersheba (Genesis 28:10) he slept at the "place" (or shrine) consecrated by Abraham's altar near Bethel, and like any modern Arab visitor to a shrine--erected a memorial stone (Genesis 28:18), which he renewed twenty years later (Genesis 35:14) when God appeared to him "again" (Genesis 35:9).

(1) Haran to Succoth.
His return journey from Haran to Gilead raises an interesting question. The distance is about 350 miles from Haran to the Galeed or "witness heap" (Genesis 31:48) at Mizpah--probably Suf in North Gilead. This distance Laban is said to have covered in 7 days (Genesis 31:23), which would be possible for a force mounted on riding camels. But the news of Jacob's flight reached Laban on the 3rd day (Genesis 31:22), and some time would elapse before he could gather his "brethren." Jacob with his flocks and herds must have needed 3 weeks for the journey. It is remarkable that the vicinity of Mizpah still presents ancient monuments like the "pillar" (Genesis 31:45) round which the "memorial cairn" (yeghar-sahadhutha) was formed. From this place Jacob journeyed to Mahanaim (probably Machmah), South of the Jabbok river--a place which afterward became the capital of South Gilead (Genesis 32:1 ; 1 Kings 4:14); but, on hearing of the advance of Esau from Edom, he retreated across the river (Genesis 32:22) and then reached Succoth (Genesis 33:17), believed to be Tell Der'ala, North of the stream.

(2) From the Jordan to Hebron.
Crossing the Jordan by one of several fords in this vicinity, Jacob approached Shechem by the perennial stream of Wady Far'ah, and camped at Shalem (Salim) on the east side of the fertile plain which stretches thence to Shechem, and here he bought land of the Hivites (Genesis 33:18 - 20). We are not told that he dug a well, but the necessity for digging one in a region full of springs can only be explained by Hivite jealousy of water rights, and the well still exists East of Shechem (compare John 4:5 f), not far from the Elon Moreh where were buried the teraphim (Genesis 35:4) or "spirits" (Assyrian, tarpu) from Haran (Genesis 31:30) under the oak of Abraham. These no doubt were small images, such as are so often unearthed in Palestine. The further progress of Jacob led by Bethel and Bethlehem to Hebron (Genesis 35:6 , 19 , 27), but some of his elder sons seem to have remained at Shechem. Thus, Joseph was sent later from Hebron (Genesis 37:14) to visit his brethren there, but found them at Dothan.

(3) Dothan.
Dothan (Genesis 37:17) lay in a plain on the main trade route from Egypt to Damascus, which crossed the low watershed at this point and led down the valley to Jezreel and over Jordan to Bashan. The "well of the pit" (SWP, II, 169) is still shown at Tell Dothan, and the Ishmaelites, from Midian and Gilead, chose this easy caravan route (Genesis 37:25 , 28) for camels laden with the Gilead balm and spices. The plain was fitted for feeding Jacob's flocks. The products of Palestine then included also honey, pistachio nuts, and almonds (Genesis 43:11); and a few centuries later we find notice in a text of Thothmes III of honey and balsam, with oil, wine, wheat, spelt, barley and fruits, as rations of the Egyptian troops in Canaan (Brugsch, Hist Egypt, I, 332).

4. Mentioned in Connection with Judah

The episode of Judah and Tamar is connected with a region in the Shephelah, or low hills of Judea. Adullam ('Aid-el-ma), Chezib ('Ain Kezbeh), and Timnath (Tibneh) are not far apart (Genesis 38:1 , 5 , 12), the latter being in a pastoral valley where Judah met his "sheep shearers." Tamar sat at "the entrance of Enaim" (compare Genesis 38:14 , 22 the English Revised Version) or Enam (Joshua 15:34), perhaps at Kefr 'Ana, 6 miles Northwest of Timnath. She was mistaken for a qedheshah, or votary (sacred prostitute) of Ashtoreth (Genesis 38:15 , 21), and we know from Hammurabi's laws that such votaries were already recognized. The mention of Judah's signet and staff (Genesis 38:18) also reminds us of Babylonian customs as described by Herodotus (i.195), and signet-cylinders of Babylonian style, and of early date, have been unearthed in Palestine at Gezer and elsewhere (compare the "Babylonian garment," Joshua 7:21).

5. Review of Geography of Genesis

Generally speaking, the geography of Ge presents no difficulties, and shows an intimate knowledge of the country, while the allusions to natural products and to customs are in accord with the results of scientific discovery. Only one difficulty needs notice, where Atad (Genesis 50:10) on the way from Egypt to Hebron is described as "beyond the Jordan." In this case the Assyrian language perhaps helps us, for in that tongue Yaur-danu means "the great river," and the reference may be to the Nile itself, which is called Yaur in Hebrew (ye'or) and Assyrian alike.

6. Exodus and Leviticus

Exodus is concerned with Egypt and the Sinaitic desert, though it may be observed that its simple agricultural laws (Exodus 21 - 23), which so often recall those of Hammurabi, would have been needed at once on the conquest of Gilead and Bashan, before crossing the Jordan. In Leviticus 11 we have a list of animals most of which belong to the desert--as for instance the "coney" or hyrax (Leviticus 11:5 ; Psalms 104:18 ; Proverbs 30:26), but others--such as the swine (Leviticus 11:7), the stork and the heron (Leviticus 11:19)--to the 'Arabah and the Jordan valley, while the hoopoe (the King James Version "lapwing," Leviticus 11:19) lives in Gilead and in Western Palestine. In Deuteronomy 14 the fallow deer and the roe (Deuteronomy 14:5) are now inhabitants of Tabor and Gilead, but the "wild goat" (ibex), "wild ox" (buball), "pygarg" (addax) and "chamois" (wild sheep), are found in the 'Arabah and in the deserts.

7. Numbers

In Numbers, the conquest of Eastern Palestine is described, and most of the towns mentioned are known (Numbers 21:18 - 33); the notice of vineyards in Moab (Numbers 21:22) agrees with the discovery of ancient rock-cut wine presses near Heshbon (SEP, I, 221). The view of Israel, in camp at Shittim by Balaam (Numbers 22:41), standing on the top of Pisgah or Mt. Nebo, has been shown to be possible by the discovery of Jebel Neba, where also rude dolmens recalling Balak's altars have been found (SEP, I, 202). The plateau of Moab (Numbers 32:3) is described as a "land for cattle," and still supports Arab flocks. The camps in which Israel left their cattle, women and children during the wars, for 6 months, stretched (Numbers 33:49) from Beth-jeshimoth (Suweimeh), near the northeastern corner of the Dead Sea over Abel-shittim ("the acacia meadow"--a name it still bears) in a plain watered by several brooks, and having good herbage in spring.

8. Deuteronomy

(1) Physical Allusions.
The description of the "good land" in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 8:7) applies in some details with special force to Mt. Gilead, which possesses more perennial streams than Western Palestine throughout--"a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills"; a land also "of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates, a land of olive-trees and honey" is found in Gilead and Bashan. Palestine itself is not a mining country, but the words (Deuteronomy 8:9), "a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig copper," may be explained by the facts that iron mines existed near Beirut in the 10th century AD, and copper mines at Punon North of Petra in the 4th century AD, as described by Jerome (Onomasticon, under the word "Phinon"). In Deuteronomy also (Deuteronomy 11:29; compare 27:4; Joshua 8:30) Ebal and Gerizim are first noticed, as beside the "oaks of Moreh." Ebal the mountain of curses (3,077 ft. above sea-level) and Gerizim the mountain of blessings (2,850 ft.) are the two highest tops in Samaria, and Shechem lies in a rich valley between them. The first sacred center of Israel was thus established at the place where Abraham built his first altar and Jacob dug his well, where Joseph was buried and where Joshua recognized a holy place at the foot of Gerizim (Joshua 24:26). The last chapters of Deuteronomy record the famous Pisgah view from Mt. Nebo (Deuteronomy 34:1-3), which answers in all respects to that from Jebel Neba, except as to Dan, and the utmost (or "western") sea, neither of which is visible. Here we should probably read "toward" rather than "to," and there is no other hill above the plains of Shittim whence a better view can be obtained of the Jordan valley, from Zoar to Jericho, of the watershed mountains as far North as Gilboa and Tabor, and of the slopes of Gilead.

(2) Archaeology.
But besides these physical allusions, the progress of exploration serves to illustrate the archaeology of Deuteronomy. Israel was commanded (Deuteronomy 12:3) to overthrow the Canaanite altars, to break the standing stones which were emblems of superstition, to burn the 'asherah poles (or artificial trees), and to hew down the graven images. That these commands were obeyed is clear. The rude altars and standing stones are now found only in Moab, and in remote parts of Gilead, Bashan, and Galilee, not reached by the power of reforming kings of Judah. The 'asherah poles have disappeared, the images are found, only deep under the surface. The carved tablets which remain at Damascus, and in Phoenicia and Syria, representing the gods of Canaan or of the Hittites, have no counterpart in the Holy Land. Again when we read of ancient "landmarks" (Deuteronomy 19:14 ; Proverbs 22:28 ; 23:10), we are not to understand a mere boundary stone, but rather one of those monuments common in Babylonia--as early at least as the 12th century BC--on which the boundaries of a field are minutely described, the history of its grant by the king detailed, and a curse (compare Deuteronomy 27:17) pronounced against the man who should dare to remove the stone.


1. Book of Joshua

Joshua is the great geographical book of the Old Testament; and the large majority of the 600 names of places, rivers and mountains in Palestine mentioned in the Bible are to be found in this book.

(1) Topographical Accuracy.
About half of this total of names were known, or were fixed by Dr. Robinson, between 1838 and 1852, and about 150 new sites were discovered (1872-1878, 1881-1882) in consequence of the 1-in. trigonometrical survey of the country, and were identified by the present writer during this period; a few interesting sites have been added by M. Clermont-Ganneau (Adullam and Gezer), by A. Henderson (Kiriathjearim), by W.F. Birch (Zoar at Tell esh Shaghur), and by others. Thus more than three-quarters of the sites have been fixed with more or less certainty, most of them preserving their ancient names. It is impossible to study this topography without seeing that the Bible writers had personal knowledge of the country; and it is incredible that a Hebrew priest, writing in Babylonia, could have possessed that intimate acquaintance with all parts of the land which is manifest in the geographical chapters of Joshua. The towns are enumerated in due order by districts; the tribal boundaries follow natural lines--valleys and mountain ridges--and the character of various regions is correctly indicated. Nor can we suppose that this topography refers to conditions subsequent to the return from captivity, for these were quite different. Simeon had ceased to inhabit the south by the time of David (1 Chronicles 4:24), and the lot of Da was colonized by men of Benjamin after the captivity (1 Chronicles 8:12 , 13 ; Nehemiah 11:34 , 35). Tirzah is mentioned (Joshua 12:24) in Samaria, whereas the future capital of Omri is not. Ai is said to have been made "a heap forever" (Joshua 8:28), but was inhabited apparently in Isaiah's time (Isaiah 10:28 = Aiath) and certainly after the captivity (Ezra 2:28 ; Nehemiah 7:32 ; 11:31 = Aija). At latest, the topography seems to be that of Solomon's age, though it is remarkable that very few places in Samaria are noticed in the Book of Joshua.

(2) The Passage of the Jordan.
Israel crossed Jordan at the lowest ford East of Jericho. The river was in flood, swollen by the melting snows of Hermon (Joshua 3:15); the stoppage occurred 20 miles farther up at Adam (ed-Damieh), the chalky cliffs at a narrow place being probably undermined and falling in, thus damming the stream. A Moslem writer asserts that a similar stoppage occurred in the 13th century AD, near the same point. (See JORDAN.) The first camp was established at Gilgal (Jilgulieh), 3 miles East of Jericho, and a "circle" of 12 stones was erected. Jericho was not at the medieval site (er Richa) South of Gilgal, or at the Herodian site farther West, but at the great spring 'Ain es SulTan, close to the mountains to which the spies escaped (Joshua 2:16). The great mounds were found by Sir C. Warren to consist of sun-dried bricks, and further excavations (see Mitteil. der deutschen Orient-Gesell., December, 1909, No. 41) have revealed little but the remains of houses of various dates.

(3) Joshua's First Campaign.
The first city in the mountains attacked by Israel was Ai, near Chayan, 2 miles Southeast of Bethel. It has a deep valley to the North, as described (Joshua 8:22). The fall of Ai and Bethel (Joshua 8:17) seems to have resulted in the peaceful occupation of the region between Gibeon and Shechem (Joshua 8:30 - 9:27); but while the Hivites submitted the Amorites of Jerusalem and of the South attacked Gibeon (el Jib) and were driven down the steep pass of Beth-horon (Beit 'Aur) to the plains (Joshua 10:1 - 11). Joshua's great raid, after this victory, proceeded through the plain to Makkedah, now called el Mughar, from the "cave" (compare Joshua 10:17), and by Libnah to Lachish (Tell el Chesy), whence he went up to Hebron, and "turned" South to Debir (edh Dhaheriyeh), thus subduing the shephelah of Judah and the southern mountains, though the capital at Jerusalem was not taken. It is now very generally admitted that the six letters of the Amorite king of Jerusalem included in Tell el-Amarna Letters may refer to this war. The 'Abiri or Chabiri are therein noticed as a fierce people from Seir, who "destroyed all the rulers," and who attacked Ajalon, Lachish, Ashkelon, Keilah (on the main road to Hebron) and other places.


(4) The Second Campaign.
The second campaign (Joshua 11:1 - 14) was against the nations of Galilee; and the Hebrew victory was gained at "the waters of Merom" (Joshua 11:5). There is no sound reason for placing these at the Chuleh lake; and the swampy Jordan valley was a very unlikely field of battle for the Canaanite chariots (Joshua 11:6). The kings noticed are those of Madon (Madin), Shimron (Semmunieh), Dor (possibly Tell Thorah), "on the west," and of Hazor (Chazzur), all in Lower Galilee. The pursuit was along the coast toward Sidon (Joshua 11:8); and Merom may be identical with Shimron-meron (Joshua 12:20), now Semmunieh, in which case the "waters" were those of the perennial stream in Wady el Melek, 3 miles to the North, which flow West to join the lower part of the Kishon. Shimron-meron was one of the 31 royal cities of Palestine West of the Jordan (Joshua 12:9 - 24).

The regions left unconquered by Joshua (Joshua 13:2 - 6) were those afterward conquered by David and Solomon, including the Philistine plains, and the Sidonian coast from Mearah (el Mogheiriyeh) northward to Aphek (Afqa) in Lebanon, on the border of the Amorite country which lay South of the "land of the Hittites" (Joshua 1:4). Southern Lebanon, from Gebal (Jubeil) and the "entering into Hamath" (the Eleutherus Valley) on the West, to Baal-gad (probably at 'Ain Judeideh on the northwestern slope of Hermon) was also included in the "land" by David (2 Samuel 8:6 - 10). But the whole of Eastern Palestine (Joshua 13:7 - 32), and of Western Palestine, except the shore plains, was allotted to the 12 tribes. Judah and Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh), being the strongest, appear to have occupied the mountains and the shephelah, as far North as Lower Galilee, before the final allotment.

Thus, the lot of Simeon was within that inherited by Judah (Joshua 19:1), and that of Da seems to have been partly taken from Ephraim, since Joseph's lot originally reached to Gezer (Joshua 16:3); but Benjamin appears to have received its portion early (compare Joshua 15:5 - 11 ; 16:1 , 2 ; 18:11 - 28). This lot was larger than that of Ephraim, and Benjamin was not then the "smallest of the tribes of Israel" (1 Samuel 9:21), since the destruction of the tribe did not occur till after the death of Joshua and Eleazar (Judges 20:28).

The twelve tribes were distributed in various regions which may here briefly be described. Reuben held the Moab plateau to the Arnon (Wady Mojub) on the South, and to the "river of Gad" (Wady Na'aur) on the North, thus including part of the Jordan valley close to the Dead Sea. Gad held all the West of Gilead, being separated from the Ammonites by the upper course of the Jabbok. All the rest of the Jordan valley East of the river was included in this lot. Manasseh held Bashan, but the conquest was not completed till later. Simeon had the neghebh plateau South of Beersheba. Judah occupied the mountains South of Jerusalem, with the shephelah to their West, and claimed Philistia South of Ekron. Benjamin had the Jericho plains and the mountains between Jerusalem and Bethel. The border ran South of Jerusalem to Rachel's tomb (1 Samuel 10:2), and thence West to Kiriath-jearim ('Erma) and Ekron. Da occupied the lower hills West of Benjamin and Ephraim, and claimed the plain from Ekron to Rakkon (Tell er Raqqeit) North of Joppa. Manasseh had a large region, corresponding to Samaria, and including Carmel, Sharon and half the Jordan valley, with the mountains North of Shechem; but this tribe occupied only the hills, and was unable to drive the Cannanites out of the plains (Joshua 17:11 , 16) Ephraim also complained of the smallness of its lot (Joshua 17:15), which lay in rugged mountains between Bethel and Shechem, including however, the grain plateau East of the latter city. Issachar held the plains of Esdraelon and Dothan, with the Jordan valley to the East, but soon became subject to the Canaanites. Zebulun had the hills of Lower Galilee, and the coast from Carmel to Accho. Naphtali owned the mountains of Upper Galilee, and the rich plateau between Tabor and the Sea of Galilee. Asher had the low hills West of Naphtali, and the narrow shore plains from Accho to Tyre. Thus each tribe possessed a proportion of mountain land fit for cultivation of figs, olives and vines, and of arable land fit for corn. The areas allotted appear to correspond to the density of population that the various regions were fitted to support.

The Levitical cities were fixed in the various tribes as centers for the teaching of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:10), but a Levite was not obliged to live in such a city, and was expected to go with his course annually to the sacred center, before they retreated to Jerusalem on the disruption of the kingdom (2 Chronicles 11:14). The 48 cities (Joshua 21:13 - 42) include 13 in Judah and Benjamin for the priests, among which Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 6:13 , 15) and Anathoth (1 Kings 2:26) are early noticed as Levitical. The other tribes had 3 or 4 such cities each, divided among Kohathites (10), Gershonites (13), and Merarites (12). The six Cities of Refuge were included in the total, and were placed 3 each side of the Jordan in the South, in the center, and in the North, namely Hebron, Shechem and Kedesh on the West, and Bezer (unknown), Ramoth (Reimun) and Golan (probably Sachem el Jaulan) East of the river. Another less perfect list of these cities, with 4 omissions and 11 minor differences, mostly clerical, is given in 1 Chronicles 6:57 - 81. Each of these cities had "suburbs," or open spaces, extending (Numbers 35:4) about a quarter-mile beyond the wall, while the fields, to about half a mile distant, also belonged to the Levites (Leviticus 25:34).

2. Book of Judges

(1) Early Wars.
In Judges, the stories of the heroes who successively arose to save Israel from the heathen carry us to every part of the country. "After the death of Joshua" (Judges 1:1) the Canaanites appear to have recovered power, and to have rebuilt some of the cities which he had ruined. Judah fought the Perizzites ("villagers") at Berek (Berqah) in the lower hills West of Jerusalem, and even set fire to that city. Caleb attacked Debir (Judges 1:12 - 15), which is described (compare Joshua 15:15 - 19) as lying in a "dry" (the King James Version "south") region, yet with springs not far away. The actual site (edh Dhaheriyeh) is a village with ancient tombs 12 miles Southwest of Hebron; it has no springs, but about 7 miles to the Northeast there is a perennial stream with "upper and lower springs." As regards the Philistine cities (Judges 1:18), the Septuagint reading seems preferable; for the Greek says that Judah "did not take Gaza" nor Ashkelon nor Ekron, which agrees with the failure in conquering the "valley" (Judges 1:19) due to the Canaanites having "chariots of iron." The Canaanite chariots are often mentioned about this time in the Tell el-Amarna Letters and Egyptian accounts speak of their being plated with metals. Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher and Naphtali, were equally powerless against cities in the plains (Judges 1:27 - 33); and Israel began to mingle with the Canaanites, while the tribe of Da seems never to have really occupied its allotted region, and remained encamped in the borders of Judah till some, at least, of its warriors found a new home under Hermon (Judges 1:34 ; 18:1 - 30) in the time of Jonathan, the grandson of Moses.

(2) Defeat of Sisera.
The oppression of Israel by Jabin II of Hazor, in Lower Galilee, appears to have occurred in the time of Rameses II, who, in his 8th year, conquered Shalem (Salim, North of Taanach), Anem ('Anin), Dapur (Deburieh, at the foot of Tabor), with Bethanath ('Ainitha) in Upper Galilee (Brugsch, History of Egypt, II, 64). Sisera may have been an Egyptian resident at the court of Jabin (Judges 4:2); his defeat occurred near the foot of Tabor (Judges 4:14) to which he advanced East from Harosheth (el Charathiyeh) on the edge of the sea plain. His host "perished at Endor" (Psalms 83:9) and in the swampy Kishon (Judges 5:21). The site of the Kedesh in "the plain of swamps" (Judges 4:11) to which he fled is doubtful. Perhaps Kedesh of Issachar (1 Chronicles 6:72) is intended at Tell Qadeis, 3 miles North of Taanach, for the plain is here swampy in parts. The Canaanite league of petty kings fought from Taanach to Megiddo (Judges 5:19), but the old identification of the latter city with the Roman town of Legio (Lejjun) was a mere guess which does not fit with Egyptian accounts placing Megiddo near the Jordan. The large site at Mugedd'a, in the Valley of Jezreel seems to be more suitable for all the Old Testament as well as for the Egyptian accounts (SWP, II, 90-99).

(3) Gideon's Victory.
The subsequent oppression by Midianites and others would seem to have coincided with the troubles which occurred in the 5th, year of Minepthah (see EXODUS, THE). Gideon's home (Judges 6:11) at Ophrah, in Manasseh, is placed by Samaritan tradition at Fer'ata, 6 miles West of Shechem, but his victory was won in the Valley of Jezreel (Judges 7:1 - 22); the sites of Beth-shittah (ShaTTa) and Abel-meholah ('Ain Chelweh) show how Midian fled down this valley and South along the Jordan plain, crossing the river near Succoth (Tell Der'ala) and ascending the slopes of Gilead to Jogbehah (Jubeichah) and Nobah (Judges 8:4 - 11). But Oreb ("the raven") and Zeeb ("the wolf") perished at "the raven's rock" and "the wolf's hollow" (compare Judges 7:25), West of the Jordan. It is remarkable (as pointed out by the present author in 1874) that, 3 miles North of Jericho, a sharp peak is now called "the raven's nest," and a ravine 4 miles farther North is named "the wolf's hollows." These sites are rather farther South than might be expected, unless the two chiefs were separated from the fugitives, who followed Zebah and Zalmunna to Gilead. In this episode "Mt. Gilead" (Judges 7:3) seems to be a clerical error for "Mt. Gilboa," unless the name survives in corrupt form at 'Ain Jalud ("Goliath's spring"), which is a large pool, usually supposed to be the spring of Harod (Judges 7:1), where Gideon camped, East of Jezreel.

The story of Abimelech takes us back to Shechem. He was made king by the "oak of the pillar" (Judges 9:6), which was no doubt Abraham's oak already noticed; it seems also to be called 'the enchanter's oak' (Judges 9:37), probably from some superstition connected with the burial of the Teraphim under it by Jacob. The place called Beer, to which Jotham fled from Abimelech (Judges 9:21), may have been Beeroth (Bireh) in the lot of Benjamin. Thebez, the town taken by the latter (Judges 9:50), and where he met his death, is now the village Tubas, 10 miles Northeast of Shechem.

The Ammonite oppression of Israel in Gilead occurred about 300 years after the Hebrew conquest (Judges 11:26), and Jephthah the deliverer returned to Mizpah (Judges 11:29), which was probably the present village Cuf (already noticed), from his exile in the "land of Tob" (Judges 11:3 , 6). This may have been near Taiyibeh, 9 miles South of Gadara, in the extreme North of Gilead--a place notable for its ancient dolmens and rude stone monuments, such as occur also at Mizpah. Jephthah's dispute with the men of Ephraim (Judges 12:1) indicates the northern position of Mizpah. Aroer (Judges 11:33) is unknown, but lay near Rabbath-ammon (Joshua 13:25 ; 2 Samuel 24:5); it is to be distinguished from Aroer ('Ar'air) in the Arnon ravine, mentioned in Judges 11:26.

The scene of Samson's exploits lies in the shephelah of Judah on the borders of Philistia. His home at Zorah (Sur'ah) was on the hills North of the Valley of Sorek, and looked down on "the camp of Dan" (Judges 13:25 margin), which had been pitched in that valley near Beth-shemesh. Eshtaol (Eshu'a) was less than 2 miles East of Zorah on the same ridge. Timnath (Judges 14:1) was only 2 miles West of Beth-shemesh, at the present ruin Tibneh. The region was one of vineyards (Judges 14:5), and the name Sorek (Surik) still survives at a ruin 2 miles West of Zorah. Sorek signified a "choice vine," and a rock-cut wine press exists at the site (SWP, III, 126). These 5 places, all close together, were also close to the Philistine grain lands (Judges 15:5) in a region of vines and olives. Samson's place of refuge in the "cleft of the rock of Etam" (see Judges 15:8) was probably at Beit 'ATab, only 5 miles East of Zorah, but rising with a high knoll above the southern precipices of the gorge which opens into the Valley of Sorek. In this knoll, under the village, is a rock passage now called "the well of refuge" (Bur el Chasutah), which may have been the "cleft" into which Samson "went down." Lehi (Judges 15:9) was apparently in the valley beneath, and the name ("the jaw") may refer to the narrow mouth of the gorge whence, after conference with the Philistines, the men of Judah "went down" (Judges 15:11) to the "cleft of the rock of Etam" (SWP, III, 83, 137), which was a passage 250 ft. long leading down, under the town, to the spring. All of Samson's story is connected with this one valley (for Delilah also lived in the "Valley of Sorek," Judges 16:4) except his visit to Gaza, where he carried the gates to the 'hill facing Hebron' (Judges 16:3), traditionally shown (SWP, III, 255) at the great mound on the East side of this town where he died, and where his tomb is (wrongly) shown. Another tomb, close to Zorah, represents a more correct tradition (Judges 16:31), but the legends of Samson at this village are of modern Christian origin.

The appendix to Judges includes two stories concerning Levites who both lived in the time of the 2nd generation after the Hob conquest (Judges 18:30 ; 20:28), and who both "sojourned" in Bethlehem of Judah (Judges 17:8; 19:2), though their proper city was one in Mt. Ephraim, In the first case Jonathan, the grandson of Moses, founded a family of idolatrous priests, setting up Micah's image at Da (Tell el Qadi) beside the sources of the Jordan, where ancient dolmen altars still exist. This image may have been the cause why Jeroboam afterward established a calf-temple at the same place. It is said to have stood there till the "captivity of the ark" (St. Petersburg MS, Judges 18:30), "all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh" (Judges 18:31). From this narrative we learn that the tribe of Da did not settle in its appointed lot (Judges 18:1), but pitched in the "camp of Dan," west of Kiriath-jearim (Judges 18:12). This agrees with the former mention of the site (Judges 13:25) as being near Zorah; and the open valley near Beth-shemesh is visible, through the gorges of Lehi, from the site of Kiriath-jearim at 'Erma.

(4) Appendix: The Defeat of Benjamin.
In the 2nd episode we trace the journey of the Levite from Bethlehem past Jerusalem to Gibeah (Jeba'), East of Ramah (er-Ram), a distance which could easily be traversed in an afternoon (compare Judges 19:8 - 14). Gibeah was no doubt selected as a halting-place by the Levite, because it was a Levitical city. The story of the great crime of the men of Gibeah was well known to Hosea (Judges 9:9). Israel gathered against them at Mizpah (Tell en Nacbeh) on the watershed, 3 miles to the Northwest, and the ark was brought by Phinehas to Bethel (compare Judges 20:1 , 31 ; 18:26 , 27), 3 miles Northeast of Mizpah. The defeat of Benjamin occurred where the road to Gibeah leaves the main north road to Bethel (Judges 18:31), West of Ramah. The survivors fled to the rock Rimmon (Rummon), 3 1/2 miles East of Bethel, on the edge of the "wilderness" which stretches from this rugged hill toward the Jordan valley. The position of Shiloh, 9 miles North of this rock, is very accurately described (Judges 21:19) as being North of Bethel (Beitin), and East of the main road, thence to Shechem which passes Lebonah (Lubban), a village 3 miles Northwest of Seilun or Shiloh. The "vineyards," in which the maidens of Shiloh used to dance (Judges 21:20) at the Feast of Tabernacles, lay no doubt where vineyards still exist in the little plain South of this site. It is clear that the writer of these two narratives had an acquaintance with Palestinian topography as exact as that shown throughout Judges. Nor (if the reading "captivity of the ark" be correct) is there any reason to suppose that they were written after 722 BC.

3. Book of Ruth

The Book of Ruth gives us a vivid picture of Hebrew life "when the judges ruled" (1:1 the King James Version), about a century before the birth of David. Laws as old as Hammurabi's age allowed the widow the choice of remaining with the husband's family, or of quitting his house (compare Ruth 1:8). The beating out of gleanings (Ruth 2:17) by women is still a custom which accounts for the rock mortars found so often scooped out on the hillside. The villager still sleeps, as a guard, beside the heap of winnowed grain in the threshing-floor (Ruth 3:7); the head-veil, still worn, could well have been used to carry six measures of barley (Ruth 3:15). The courteous salutation of his reapers by Boaz (Ruth 2:4) recalls the common Arabic greeting (Allah ma'kum), "God be with you." But the thin wine (Ruth 2:14) is no longer drunk by Moslem peasants, who only "dip" their bread in oil.

4. Books of Samuel

(1) Samuel.
The two Books of Samuel present an equally valuable picture of life, and an equally real topography throughout. Samuel's father--a pious Levite (1 Chronicles 6:27)--descended from Zuph who had lived at Ephratah (Bethlehem; compare 1 Samuel 9:4,5), had his house at Ramah (1 Samuel 1:19) close to Gibeah, and this town (er-Ram) was Samuel's home also (1 Samuel 7:17 ; 25:1). The family is described as 'Ramathites, Zuphites of Mt. Ephraim' (1 Samuel 1:1), but the term "Mt. Ephraim" was not confined to the lot of Ephraim, since it included Bethel and Ramah, in the land of Benjamin (Judges 4:5). As a Levite, Elkanah obeyed the law of making annual visits to the central shrine, though this does not seem to have been generally observed in an age when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). The central shrine had been removed by Joshua from Shechem to the remote site of Shiloh (Joshua 22:9), perhaps for greater security, and here the tabernacle (Joshua 22:19) was pitched (compare 1 Samuel 2:22) and remained for 4 centuries till the death of Eli. The great defeat of Israel, when the ark was captured by the Philistines, took place not far from Mizpah (1 Samuel 4:1), within an easy day's journey from Shiloh (compare 1 Samuel 4:12). Ekron, whence it was sent back (1 Samuel 6:16), was only 12 miles from Beth-shemesh ('Ainshems), where the ark rested on a "great stone" (Septuagint, 1 Samuel 6:18); and Beth-shemesh was only 4 miles West of Kiriath-jearim (1 Samuel 6:21), which was in the mountains, so that its inhabitants "came down" from "the hill" (1 Samuel 6:21 ; 7:1) to fetch the ark, which abode there for 20 years, till the beginning of Saul's reign (1 Samuel 14:18), when, after the war, it may have been restored to the tabernacle at Nob, to which place the latter was probably removed after Eli's death, when Shiloh was deserted. The exact site of Nob is not known, but probably (compare Isaiah 10:32) it was close to Mizpah, whence the first glimpse of Jerusalem is caught, and thus near Gibeon, where it was laid up after the massacre of the priests (1 Samuel 21:1 ; 22:9 , 18 ; 2 Chronicles 1:3), when the ark was again taken to Kiriath-jearim (2 Samuel 6:2). Mizpah (Tell en-Nacbeh) was the gathering-place of Israel under Samuel; and the "stone of help" (Eben-ezer) was erected, after his victory over the Philistines, "between Mizpah and Shen" (1 Samuel 7:12)--the latter place (see Septuagint) being probably the same as Jeshanah ('Ain Sinai), 6 miles North of Mizpah which Samuel visited yearly as a judge (1 Samuel 7:16).

(2) Saul's Search.
The journey of Saul, who, "seeking asses found a kingdom," presents a topography which has often been misunderstood. He started (1 Samuel 9:4) from Gibeah (Jeba') and went first to the land of Shalisha through Mt. Ephraim. Baal-shalisha (2 Kings 4:42) appears to have been the present Kefr Thilth, 18 miles North of Lydda and 24 miles Northwest from Gibeah. Saul then searched the land of Shalim--probably that of Shual (1 Samuel 13:17), Northeast of Gibeah. Finally he went south beyond the border of Benjamin (1 Samuel 10:2) to a city in the "land of Zuph," which seems probably to have been Bethlehem, whence (as above remarked) Samuel's family--descendants of Zuph--came originally. If so, it is remarkable that Saul and David were anointed in the same city, one which Samuel visited later (1 Samuel 16:1 , 2) to sacrifice, just as he did when meeting Saul (1 Samuel 9:12), who was probably known to him, since Gibeah and Ramah were only 2 miles apart. Saul's journey home thus naturally lay on the road past Rachel's tomb near Bethlehem, and along the Bethel road (1 Samuel 10:2 , 3) to his home at Gibeah (1 Samuel 10:5 , 10). It is impossible to suppose that Samuel met him at Ramah--a common mistake which creates great confusion in the topography.

(3) Saul's Coronation and First Campaign.
Saul concealed the fact of his anointing (1 Samuel 10:16) till the lot fell upon him at Mizpah. This public choice by lot has been thought (Wellhausen, History of Israel, 1885, 252) to indicate a double narrative, but to a Hebrew there would not appear to be any discrepancy, since "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of Yahweh" (Proverbs 16:33). Even at Mizpah he was not fully accepted till his triumph over the Ammonites, when the kingdom was "renewed" at Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14). This campaign raises an interesting question of geography. Only 7 days' respite was allowed to the men of Jabesh in Gilead (1 Samuel 11:3), during which news was sent to Saul at Gibeah, and messengers dispatched "throughout the borders of Israel" (1 Samuel 11:7), while the hosts gathered at Bezek, and reached Jabesh on the 7th or 8th day (1 Samuel 11:8 - 10) at dawn. Bezek appears to be a different place from that West of Jerusalem (Judges 1:4) and to have been in the middle of Palestine at Ibzik, 14 miles North of Shechem, and 25 miles West of Jabesh, which probably lay in Wady Yabis in Gilead. The farthest distances for the messengers would not have exceeded 80 miles; and, allowing a day for the news to reach Saul and another for the march from Bezek to Jabesh, there would have been just time for the gathering of Israel at this fairly central meeting-place.

The scene of the victory over the Philistines at Michmash is equally real. They had a 'post' in Geba (or Gibeah, 1 Samuel 13:3), or a governor (compare the Septuagint), whom Jonathan slew. They came up to Michmash (Mukhmas) to attack Jonathan's force which held Gibeah, on the southern side of the Michmash valley, hard by. The northern cliff of the great gorge was called Bozez ("shining") in contrast to the southern one (in shadow) which was named Seneh or "thorn" (1 Samuel 14:4). Josephus (BJ, V, ii, 2) says that Gibeah of Saul was by "the valley of thorns," and the ravine, flanked by the two precipitous cliffs East of Michmash, is still called Wady es SuweiniT, or "the valley of little thorn trees." Jonathan climbed the steep slope that leads to a small flat top (1 Samuel 14:14 the King James Version), and surprised the Philistine 'post.' The pursuit was by Bethel to the Valley of Aijalon, down the steep Beth-boron pass (1 Samuel 14:23 , 31); but it should be noted that there was no "wood" (1 Samuel 14:25 , 26) on this bare hilly ridge, and the word (compare Song of Solomon 5:1) evidently means "honeycomb." It is also possible that the altar raised by Saul, for fulfillment of the Law (Genesis 9:4 ; Exodus 20:25), was at Nob where the central shrine was then established.

(4) David's Early Life.
David fed his flocks in the wilderness below Bethlehem, where many a silent and dreadful "Valley of Shadows" (compare Psalms 23:4) might make the stoutest heart fail. The lion crept up from the Jordan valley, and (on another occasion) the bear came down from the rugged mountains above (1 Samuel 17:34). No bears are now known South of Hermon, but the numerous references (2 Kings 2:24 ; Isaiah 59:11 ; Hosea 13:8 ; Proverbs 17:12 ; 28:15) show that they must have been exterminated, like the lion, in comparatively late times. The victory over Goliath, described in the chapter containing this allusion, occurred in the Valley of Elah near Shochoth (Shuweikeh); and this broad valley (Wady es SunT) ran into the Philistine plain at the probable site of Gath (Tell es Cafi) to which the pursuit led (1 Samuel 17:1 , 2 , 52). The watercourse still presents "smooth stones" (1 Samuel 17:40) fit for the sling, which is still used by Arab shepherds; and the valley still has in it fine "terebinths" such as those from which it took its name Elah. The bronze armor of the giant (1 Samuel 17:5 , 6) indicates an early stage of culture, which is not contradicted by the mention of an iron spearhead (1 Samuel 17:7), since iron is found to have been in use in Palestine long before David's time. The curious note (1 Samuel 17:54) as to the head of Goliath being taken "to Jerusalem" is also capable of explanation. Jerusalem was not conquered till at least 10 years later, but it was a general practice (as late as the 7th century BC in Assyria) to preserve the heads of dead foes by salting them, as was probably done in another case (2 Kings 10:7) when the heads of Ahab's sons were sent from Samaria to Jezreel to be exposed at the gate.

David's outlaw life began when he took refuge with Samuel at the "settlements" (Naioth) near Ramah, where the company of prophets lived. He easily met Jonathan near Gibeah, which was only 2 miles East; and the "stone of departure" ("Ezel," 1 Samuel 20:19) may have marked the Levitical boundary of that town. Nob also (1 Samuel 20:1) was, as we have seen, not far off, but Gath (1 Samuel 20:10) was beyond the Hebrew boundary. Thence David retreated up the Valley of Elah to Adullam ('Aid-el-ma), which stood on a hill West of this valley near the great turn (southward) of its upper course. An inhabited cave still exists here (compare 1 Samuel 22:1), and the site meets every requirement (SWP, III, 311, 347, 361-67). Keilah (1 Samuel 23:1) is represented by the village Kila, on the east side of the same valley, 3 miles farther up; and Hereth (1 Samuel 22:5) was also near, but "in Judah" (1 Samuel 23:3), at the village Kharas on a wooded spur 7 miles Northwest of Hebron. Thence David went "down" (1 Samuel 23:4) to Keilah 2 miles away to the West. As there was no safety for the outlaws, either in Philistia or in Judah, they had to retreat to the wilderness of Ziph (Tell ez Zif), 4 miles Southeast of Hebron. The word "wood" (choresh) may more probably be a proper name, represented by the ruin of Khoreisa, rather more than a mile South of Ziph, while the hill Hachilah (1 Samuel 23:19) might be the long spur, over the Jeshimon or desert of Judah, 6 miles East of Ziph, now called el Kola. Maon (M'ain) lay on the edge of the same desert still farther South, about 8 miles from Hebron. En-gedi (1 Samuel 23:29 ; 24:1 , 2) was on the precipices by the Dead Sea. The "wild goats" (ibex) still exist here in large droves, and the caves of this desert are still used as folds for sheep in spring (1 Samuel 24:3). The villagers South of Hebron are indeed remarkable for their large flocks which--by agreement with the nomads--are sent to pasture in the Jeshimon, like those of Nabal, the rich man of Carmel (Kurmul), a mile North of Maon (1 Samuel 25:2), who refused the customary present to David's band which had protected his shepherds "in the fields" (1 Samuel 25:15) or pastures of the wilderness. In summer David would naturally return to the higher ridge of Hachilah (1 Samuel 26:1) on the south side of which there is a precipitous gorge (impassable save by a long detour), across which he talked to Saul (1 Samuel 26:13), likening himself (1 Samuel 26:20) to the desert "partridge" still found in this region.

(5) The Defeat and Death of Saul.
The site of Ziklag is doubtful, but it evidently lay in the desert South of Beersheba (Joshua 15:31 ; 19:5 ; 1 Chronicles 4:30 ; 1 Samuel 27:6 - 12), far from Gath, so that King Achish did not know whether David had raided the South of Judah, or the tribes toward Shur. Saul's power in the mountains was irresistible; and it was for this reason perhaps that his fatal battle with the Philistines occurred far North in the plain near Jezreel. They camped (1 Samuel 28:4) by the fine spring of Shunem (Sulem), and Saul on Gilboa to the South. The visit to Endor (Andur) was thus a perilous adventure, as Saul must have stolen by night round the Philistine host to visit this place North of Shunem. He returned to the spur of Gilboa on which Jezreel stands (1 Samuel 29:1), and the spring noticed is a copious supply North of the village Zer'in. Beth-shan (1 Samuel 31:12) was at the mouth of the valley of Jezreel at Besian, and here the bodies of Saul and his sons were burned by the men of Jabesh-gilead; but, as the bones were preserved (1 Samuel 31:13 ; 2 Samuel 21:13), it is possible that the corpses were cremated in pottery jars afterward buried under the tree. Excavations in Palestine and in Babylonia show that this was an early practice, not only in the case of infants (as at Gezcr, and Taanach), but also of grown men. See PALESTINE EXPLORATION. The list of cities to which David sent presents at the time of Saul's death (1 Samuel 30:26 - 31) includes those near Ziklag and as far North as Hebron, thus referring to "all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt."

(6) Wellhausen's Theory of a Double Narrative.
The study of David's wanderings, it may be noted, and of the climatic conditions in the Jeshimon desert, does not serve to confirm Wellhausen's theory of a double narrative, based on the secret unction and public choice of Saul, on the double visit to Hachilah, and on the fact that the gloomy king had forgotten the name of David's father. The history is not a "pious make-up" without "a word of truth" (Wellhausen, Hist Israel, 248-49); and David, as a "youth" of twenty years, may yet have been called a "man of war"; while "transparent artifice" (p. 251) will hardly be recognized by the reader of this genuine chronicle. Nor was there any "Aphek in Sharon" (p. 260), and David did not "amuse himself by going first toward the north" from Gibeah (p. 267); his visit to Ramah does not appear to be a "worthless anachronistic anecdote" (p. 271); and no one who has lived in the terrible Jeshimon could regard the meeting at Hachilah as a "jest" (p. 265). Nor did the hill ("the dusky top") "take its name from the circumstance," but Wellhausen probably means the Sela'-ha-machleqoth ("cliff of slippings" or of "slippings away"), now Wady Malaqeh near Maon (compare 1 Samuel 23:19 , 24 , 28), which lay farther South than Ziph.

(7) Early Years of David's Reign.
David, till the 8th year of his reign, was king of Judah only. The first battle with Saul's son occurred at Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:13), where the "pool" was no doubt the cave of the great spring at el Jib; the pursuit was by the 'desert Gibeon road' (2 Samuel 2:24) toward the Jordan valley. Gibeon itself was not in a desert, but in a fertile region. Abner then deserted to David, but was murdered at the "well of Sirah" ('Ain Sarah) on the road a mile North of David's capital at Hebron. Nothing more is said about the Philistines till David had captured Jerusalem, when they advanced on the new capital by the valley of Rephaim (2 Samuel 5:22), which apparently ran from South of Jerusalem to join the valley of Elah. If David was then at Adullam ("the hold," 2 Samuel 5:17 the King James Version; compare 1 Samuel 22:5), it is easy to understand how he cut off the Philistine retreat (2 Samuel 5:23), and thus conquered all the hill country to Gezer (2 Samuel 5:25). After this the ark was finally brought from Baale-judah (Kiriath-jearim) to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:2), and further wars were beyond the limits of Western Palestine, in Moab (2 Samuel 8:2) and in Syria (2 Samuel 8:3 - 12); but for "Syrians" (2 Samuel 8:13) the more correct reading appears to be Edomites (1 Chronicles 18:12), and the "Valley of Salt" was probably South of the Dead Sea. Another war with the Syrians, aided by Arameans from East of the Euphrates, occurred East of the Jordan (2 Samuel 10:16 - 18), and was followed by the siege of Rabbath-ammon ('Amman), East of Gilead, where we have notice of the "city of waters" (2 Samuel 12:27), or lower town by the stream, contrasted, it seems, with the citadel which was on the northern hill.

(8) Hebrew Letter-writing.
In this connection we find the first notice of a "letter" (2 Samuel 11:14) as written by David to Joab. Writing is of course noticed as early as the time of Moses when--as we now know--the Canaanites wrote letters on clay tablets in cuneiform script. These, however, were penned by special scribes; and such a scribe is mentioned early (Judges 8:14). David himself may have employed a professional writer (compare 2 Samuel 8:17), while Uriah, who carried his own fate in the letter, was probably unable to read. Even in Isaiah's time the art was not general (Isaiah 29:12), though Hebrew kings could apparently write and read (Deuteronomy 17:18 ; 2 Kings 19:14); to the present day the accomplishment is not general in the East, even in the upper class. It should be noted that the first evidence of the use of an alphabet is found in the early alphabetic Psalms, and the oldest dated alphabetic text yet known is later than 900 BC. The script used in the time of Moses may have been cuneiform, which was still employed at Gezer for traders' tablets in 649 BC. The alphabet may have come into use first among Hebrews, through Phoenician influence in the time of David; and so far no script except this and the cuneiform has been unearthed in Palestine, unless it is to be recognized in signs of the Hittite syllabary at Lachish and Gezer. Another interesting point, as regards Hebrew civilization in David's time, is the first mention of "mules" (2 Samuel 13:29 ; 18:9 ; 1 Kings 1:33 , 38), which are unnoticed in the Pentateuch. They are represented as pack animals on an Assyrian bas-relief; but, had they been known to Moses, they would probably have been condemned as unclean. The sons of David fled on mules from Baal-hazor (Tell 'Acur) "beside Ephraim" (now probably Taiyibeh), North of Bethel, where Absalom murdered Amnon.

(9) The Later Years of David's Reign.
On the rebellion of Absalom David retreated to Mahanaim, apparently by the road North of the Mount of Olives, if the Targum of Jonathan (2 Samuel 16:5) is correct in placing Bahurim at Almon ('Almit), Northeast of Jerusalem. It is not clear where the "wood of Ephraim," in which Absalom perished, may have been, but it was beyond Jordan in Gilead (2 Samuel 17:22 ; 18:6); and oak woods are more common there than in Western Palestine. The latest revolt, after Absalom's death, was in the extreme north at Abel (Abil), in Upper Galilee (2 Samuel 20:14), after which Joab's journey is the last incident to be studied in the Books of Samuel. For census purposes he went East of the Jordan to Aroer (perhaps the city on the Arnon), to the "river of Gad" (Wady Na'aur) near Jazer, and through Gilead. Tahtim-hodshi (2 Samuel 24:6) is believed (on the authority of three Greek manuscripts) to be a corruption of "the Hittites at Kadesh" (Qades), the great city on the Orontes (see HITTITES), which lay on the northern boundary of David's dominions, South of the kingdom of Hamath. Thence Joab returned to Zidon and Tyre, and after visiting all Judah to Beersheba reached Jerusalem again within 10 months. The acquisition of the temple-site then closes the book.

5. Books of Kings

(1) Solomon's Provinces.
The Books of Kings contain also some interesting questions of geography. Solomon's twelve provinces appear to answer very closely to the lots of the twelve tribes described in Josh. They included (1 Kings 4:7 - 19) the following:

(a) Ephraim,

(b) Dan,

(c) Southern Judah (see Joshua 12:17),

(d) Manasseh,

(e) Issachar,

(f) Northern Gilead and Bashan,

(g) Southern Gilead,

(h) Naphtali,

(i) Asher,

(j) part of Isaachar and probably Zebulun (the text is doubtful, for the order of 1 Kings 4:17 differs in the Septuagint),

(k) Benjamin,

(l) Reuben

The Septuagint renders the last clause (1 Kings 4:19), "and one Naseph (i.e. "officer"') in the land of Judah"--probably superior to the other twelve. Solomon's dominions included Philistia and Southern Syria, and stretched along the trade route by Tadmor (Palmyra) to Tiphsah on the Euphrates (4:21,24; compare 9:18 = Tamar; 2 Chronicles 8:4 = Tadmot). Another Tiphsah (now Tafsach) lay 6 miles Southwest of Shechem (2 Kings 15:16). Gezer was presented to Solomon's wife by the Pharaoh (1 Kings 9:16).

(2) Geography of the Northern Kingdom.
Jeroboam was an Ephraimite (1 Kings 11:26) from Zereda, probably Curdah, 2 miles Northwest of Bethel, but the Septuagint reads "Sarira," which might be Carra, 1 1/2 miles East of Shiloh. After the revolt of the ten tribes, "Shishak king of Egypt" (1 Kings 11:40 ; 14:25) sacked Jerusalem. His own record, though much damaged, shows that he not only invaded the mountains near Jerusalem, but that he even conquered part of Galilee. The border between Israel and Judah lay South of Bethel, where Jeroboam's calf-temple was erected (1 Kings 12:29), Ramah (er-Ram) being a frontier town with Geba and Mizpah (1 Kings 15:17 , 22); but after the Syrian raid into Galilee (1 Kings 15:20), the capital of Israel was fixed at Tirzah (1 Kings 15:21), a place celebrated for its beauty (Song of Solomon 6:4), and perhaps to be placed at Teiacir, about 11 miles Northeast of Shechem, in romantic scenery above the Jordan valley. Omri reigned here also for six years (1 Kings 16:23) before he built Samaria, which remained the capital till 722 BC. Samaria appears to have been a city at least as large as Jerusalem, a strong site 5 miles Northwest of Shechem, commanding the trade route to its west. It resisted the Assyrians for 3 years, and when it fell Sargon took away 27,290 captives. Excavations at the site will, it may be hoped, yield results of value not as yet published: The wanderings of Elijah extended from Zarephath (Curafend), South of Sidon, to Sinai. The position of the Brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:3) where--according to one reading--"the Arabs brought him bread and flesh" (1 Kings 17:6) is not known. The site of this great contest with the prophets of the Tyrian Baal is supposed to be at el Machraqah ("the place of burning") at the southeastern end of the Carmel ridge. Some early king of Israel perhaps, or one of the judges (compare Deuteronomy 33:19), had built an altar to Yahweh above the Kishon (1 Kings 18:20,40) at Carmel; but, as the water (1 Kings 18:33) probably came from the river, it is doubtful whether this altar was on the "top of Carmel," 1,500 ft. above, from which Elijah's servant had full view of the sea (1 Kings 18:42,43). Elijah must have run before Ahab no less than 15 miles, from the nearest point on Carmel (1 Kings 18:46) to Jezreel, and the journey of the Shunammite woman to find Elisha (2 Kings 4:25) was equally long. The vineyard of Naboth in Jezreel (1 Kings 21:1) was perhaps on the east of the city (now Zer'in), where rock-cut wine presses exist. In the account of the ascension of Elijah, the expression "went down to Bethel" (2 Kings 2:2) is difficult, if he went "from Gilgal" (2 Kings 2:1). The town intended might be Jiljilia, on a high hill 7 miles North of Bethel. The Septuagint, however, reads "they came."

(3) Places Connected with Elisha.
The home of Elisha was at Abel-meholah (1 Kings 19:16) in the Jordan valley (Judges 7:22), probably at 'Ain Chelweh, 10 miles South of Beth-shan. If we suppose that Ophel (2 Kings 5:24 the Revised Version margin), where he lived, was the present 'Afuleh, it is not only easy to understand that he would often "pass by" Shunem (which lay between Ophel and Abel-meholah), but also how Naaman might have gone from the palace of Jezreel to Ophel, and thence to the Jordan and back again to Ophel (2 Kings 5:6 , 14 , 24), in the course of a single day in his chariot. The road down the valley of Jezreel was easy, and up it Jehu afterward drove furiously, coming from Ramoth in Gilead, and visible afar off from the wall of Jezreel (2 Kings 9:20). The 'top of the ascents' (2 Kings 9:13), at Ramoth, refers no doubt to the high hill on which this city (now Reimun) stood as a strong fortress on the border between Israel and the Syrians. The flight of Ahaziah of Judah, from Jezreel was apparently North by Gur (Qara), 4 miles West of Ibleam (Yebla), on the road to "the garden house" (Beit Jenn), and thence by Megiddo (Mujedda') down the Jordan valley to Jerusalem (2 Kings 9:27 , 28). Of the rebellion of Moab (2 Kings 1:1 ; 3:4) it is enough to point out here that King Mesha's account on the Moabite Stone agrees with the Old Testament, even in the minute detail that "men of Gad dwelt in Ataroth from of old" (compare Numbers 32:34), though it lay in the lot of Reuben.

6. Post-exilic Historical Books

The topographical notices in the books written after the captivity require but short notice. The Benjamites built up Lod (Ludd), Ono (Kerr 'Ana) and Aijalon (Yalo), which were in the lot of Da (1 Chronicles 8:12 ; Nehemiah 11:35), and it is worthy of note that Lod (Lydda) is not to be regarded as a new town simply because not mentioned in the earlier books; for Lod is mentioned (number 64) with Ono in the lists of Thothmes III, a century before the Hebrew conquest of Palestine The author of Chronicles had access to information not to be found elsewhere in the Old Testament. His list of Rehoboam's fortresses (2 Chronicles 11:6 - 10) includes 14 towns, most of which were on the frontiers of the diminished kingdom of Judah, some being noticed (such as Shoco and Adoraim) in the list of Shishak's conquests. He speaks of the "valley of Zephathah" (2 Chronicles 14:10), now Wady Cafieh, which is otherwise unnoticed, and places it correctly at Mareshah (Mer'ash) on the edge of the Philistine plain. He is equally clear about the topography in describing the attack on Jehoshaphat by the Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites. They camped at En-gedi ('Ain Jidi), and marched West toward Tekoa (Tequ'a); and the thanksgiving assembly, after the Hebrew victory, was in the valley of Beracah (2 Chronicles 20:1 , 20 , 26), which retains its name as Breikut, 4 miles West of Tekoa.


1. Book of Job

In Job the scene is distinctively Edomite. Uz (Job 1:1 ; compare Genesis 22:21 the English Revised Version; Jeremiah 25:20; Lamentations 4:21) and Buz (Job 32:2 ; compare Genesis 22:21) are the Assyrian Chazu and Bazu reached by Esarhaddon in 673 BC South of Edom. Tema and Sheba (Job 6:19) are noticed yet earlier, by Tiglath-pileser III, and Sargon, who conquered the Thamudites and Nabateans. We have also the conjunction of snowy mountains and ice (Job 6:16) with notice of the desert and the 'Arabah valley (Job 24:5), which could hardly apply to any region except Edom. Again, we have a nomad population dwelling close to a city (Job 29:4 - 7)--perhaps Petra, or Ma'an in Edom. There were mines, not only in the Sinaitic desert, but at Punon in Northern Edom (compare Job 28:2-11). The white broom (Job 30:4) is distinctive of the deserts of Moab and Edom. The wild donkey and the ostrich (Job 39:5 , 13) are now known only in the desert East of Edom; while the stork (Job 39:13 the Revised Version margin) could have been found only in the 'Arabah, or in the Jordan valley. The wild ox (Job 39:9 the Revised Version (British and American)), or Boa primi-genius, is now extinct Septuagint "unicorn," Numbers 23:22 ; Deuteronomy 33:17), though its bones occur in Lebanon caves. It was hunted about 1130 BC in Syria by Tiglath-pileser I (compare Psalms 29:6), and is mentioned as late as the time of Isaiah (Job 34:7) in connection with Edom; its Hebrew name (re'em) is the Assyrian rimu, attached to a representation of the beast. As regards the crocodile ("leviathan," Job 41:1), it was evidently well known to the writer, who refers to its strong, musky smell (Job 41:31), and it existed not only in Egypt but in Palestine, and is still found in the Crocodile River, North of Caesarea in Sharon. Behemoth (Job 40:15), though commonly supposed to be the hippopotamus, is more probably the elephant (on account of its long tail, its trunk, and its habit of feeding in mountains, Job 40:17 , 20 , 24); and the elephant was known to the Assyrians in the 9th century BC, and was found wild in herds on the Euphrates in the 16th century BC. The physical allusions in Job seem clearly, as a rule, to point to Edom, as do the geographical names; and though Christian tradition in the 4th century AD (St. Silvia, 47) placed Uz in Bashan, the Septuagint defines it as lying "on the boundary of Edom and Arabia." None of these allusions serves to fix dates, nor do the peculiarities of the language, though they suggest Aramaic and Arabic influences. The mention of Babylonians (Job 1:17) (Kasdim) as raiders may, however, point to about 600 BC, since they could not have reached Edom except from the North, and did not appear in Palestine between the time of Amraphel (who only reached Kadesh-barnea), and of Nebuchadnezzar. It is at least clear (Job 24:1 - 12) that this great poem was written in a time of general anarchy, and of Arab lawlessness.

2. Book of Psalms

In the Psalms there are many allusions to the natural phenomena of Palestine, but there is very little detailed topography. "The mountain of Bashan" (Psalms 68:15) rises East of the plateau to 5,700 ft. above sea-level; but Zalmon (Psalms 68:14) is an unknown mountain (compare Zalmon, Judges 9:48). This psalm might well refer to David's conquest of Damascus (2 Samuel 8:6), as Psalms 72 refers to the time of Solomon, being the last in the original collection of "prayers of David". In Psalms 83 (verses 6-8) we find a confederacy of Edom, Ishmael, Moab and the Hagarenes (or "wanderers" East of Palestine; compare 1 Chronicles 5:18-22) with Gebal (in Lebanon), Ammon, Amalek, and Tyre, all in alliance with Assyria--a condition which first existed in 732 BC, when Tiglath-pileser III conquered Damascus. The reference to the "northern" ("hidden") tribes points to this date (Psalms 83:3), since this conqueror made captives also in Galilee (2 Kings 15:29 ; 1 Chronicles 5:26 ; Isaiah 9:1).

3. Book of Proverbs

In Proverbs the allusions are more peaceful, but not geographical. They refer to agriculture (Proverbs 3:10 ; 11:26 ; 12:11 ; 25:13), to trade (Proverbs 7:16 ; 31:14 , 24) and to flocks (Proverbs 27:23 - 27). The most remarkable passage (Proverbs 26:8) reads literally, "As he that packs a stone into the stone-heap, so is he that giveth honor to a fool." Jerome said that this referred to a superstitious custom; and the erection of stone heaps at graves, or round a pillar (Genesis 31:45 , 46), is a widely spread and very ancient custom (still preserved by Arabs), each stone being the memorial of a visitor to the spot, who thus honors either a local ghost or demon, or a dead man--a rite which was foolish in the eyes of a Hebrew of the age in which this verse was written (see Expository Times, VIII, 399, 524).

4. Song of Solomon

The geography of Canticles is specially important to a right understanding of this bridal ode of the Syrian princess who was Solomon's first bride. It is not confined, as some critics say it is, to the north, but includes the whole of Palestine and Syria. The writer names Kedar in North Arabia (Song of Solomon 1:5) and Egypt, whence horses came in Solomon's time (Song of Solomon 1:9 ; 1 Kings 10:28,29). He knows the henna (the King James Version "camphire") and the vineyards of En-gedi (Song of Solomon 1:14), where vineyards still existed in the 12th century AD. He speaks of the "rose" of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1), as well as of Lebanon, with Shenir (Assyrian Saniru) and Hermon (Song of Solomon 4:8) above Damascus (Song of Solomon 7:4). He notices the pastoral slopes of Gilead. (Song of Solomon 6:5), and the brown pool, full of small fish, in the brook below Heshbon (Song of Solomon 7:4), in Moab. The locks of the "peaceful one" (Song of Solomon 6:13, Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) pacifica) are like the thick copses of Carmel; 'the king is caught in the tangles' (Song of Solomon 7:5). See GALLERY. She is "beautiful as Tirzah (in Samaria), comely as Jerusalem, terrible to look at" (Song of Solomon 6:4 the King James Version). She is a garden and a "paradise" ("orchard") of spices in Lebanon, some of which spices (calamus, cinnamon, frankincense and myrrh) have come from far lands (Song of Solomon 4:12 - 15). Solomon's vineyard--another emblem of the bride--(Song of Solomon 1:6 ; 8:11) was in Baal-hamon, which some suppose to be Baal-hermon, still famous for its vineyards. He comes to fetch her from the wilderness (Song of Solomon 3:6); and the dust raised by his followers is like that of the whirlwind pillars which stalk over the dry plains of Bashan in summer. The single word "paradise" (Song of Solomon 4:13 margin) is hardly evidence enough to establish late date, since--though used in Persian--its etymology and origin are unknown. The word for "nuts" (Hebrew 'eghoz) is also not Persian (Song of Solomon 6:11), for the Arabic word jauz, is Semitic, and means a "pair," applying to the walnut which abounds in Shechem. The "rose of Sharon" (Song of Solomon 2:1), according to the Targum, was the white "narcisus; and the Hebrew word occurs also in Assyrian (chabacillatu), as noted by Delitzsch (quoting WAI, V, 32, number 4), referring to a white bulbous plant. Sharon in spring is covered still with wild narcissi, Arabic buceil (compare Isaiah 35:1,2). There is perhaps no period when such a poem is more likely to have been written than in the time of Solomon, when Israel "dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree" (1 Kings 4:25); when the roe and the fallow deer (Song of Solomon 2:17 ; 1 Kings 4:23) abounded; and when merchants (Song of Solomon 3:6) brought "powders" from afar; when also the dominion included Damascus and Southern Lebanon, as well as Western Palestine with Gilead and Moab.



1. Isaiah

Isaiah (Isaiah 1:8) likens Zion, when the Assyrian armies were holding Samaria, Moab and Philistia, to "a booth in a vineyard, a lodge in a garden of cucumbers." He refers no doubt to a "tower" (Matthew 21:33), or platform, such as is to be found beside the rock-cut wine press in the deserted vineyards of Palestine; and such as is still built, for the watchman to stand on, in vineyards and vegetable gardens.

The chief topographical question (Isaiah 10:28 - 32) refers to the Assyrian advance from the north, when the outposts covered the march through Samaria (whether in 732, 722, or 702 BC) to Philistia. They extended on the left wing to Ai (Chayan), Michmash (Mukhmas), and Geba, South of the Michmash valley (Jeba'), leading to the flight of the villagers, from Ramah (er-Ram) and the region of Gibeah--which included Ramah, with Geba (1 Samuel 22:6) and Migron (1 Samuel 14:2) or the precipice. They were alarmed also at Gallim (Beit Jala), and Anathoth ('Anata), near Jerusalem; yet the advance ceased at Nob (compare Nehemiah 11:32) where, as before noted, the first glimpse of Zion would be caught if Nob was at or near Mizpah (Tell en Nacbeh), on the main north road leading West of Ramah.

Another passage refers to the towns of Moab (Isaiah 15:1 - 6), and to Nimrim (Tell Nimrin) and Zoar (Tell esh Shaghur) in the valley of Shittim. The ascent of Luhith (Isaiah 15:5) is the present Tal'at el Cheith, on the southern slope of Nebo (Jebel Neba). The curious term "a heifer of three years old" (compare Jeremiah 48:34 margin) is taken from Septuagint, but might better be rendered "a round place with a group of three" (see EGLATH-SHELISHIYAH). It is noticed with the "high places" of Moab (Isaiah 15:2 ; Jeremiah 48:35), and probably refers to one of those large and ancient stone circles, surrounding a central group of three rude pillars, which still remain in Moab (SEP, I, 187, 203,233) near Nobo and Zoar. Sibmah--probably Sumieh, 2 miles Southwest of Heshbon (Chesban)--is said to have had vines reaching to Jazer (Sa'aur, 6 miles to the North); and rock-cut wine presses still remain at Sibmah (Isaiah 16:8; Jeremiah 48:32). The Bozrah mentioned with Edom (Isaiah 34:6 ; 63:1 ; Jeremiah 49:13 , 22 ; Micah 2:12) is probably Buceirah, near the southern border of Moab. In the last-cited passage there is a play on the words batsrah ("fortress") and botscah for "sheepfold."

2. Jeremiah

In Jeremiah 1:1, Anathoth ('Anata) is mentioned as a priests' city (compare 1 Kings 2:26). The "place" or shrine of Shiloh was deserted (Jeremiah 7:12), but the town seems still to have been inhabited (Jeremiah 41:5). The "pit" at Mizpah (Jeremiah 41:6 - 9) may have been the great rock reservoir South of Tell en-Nacbeh. The Moabite towns noticed (Jeremiah 48:1 - 5 , 20 - 24 , 31 - 45 ; 49:3) with Rabbah ('Amman) have been mentioned as occurring in the parallel passages of Isaiah. The numerous petty kings in Edom, Moab, Philistia, Phoenicia, and Arabia (Jeremiah 25:20 - 24) recall those named in Assyrian lists of the same age. Lamentations 4:3 recalls Job 39:14 in attributing to the ostrich want of care for her young, because she endeavors (like other birds) to escape, and thus draws away the hunter from the nest. This verse should not be regarded as showing that the author knew that whales were mammals, since the word "sea-monsters" (the King James Version) is more correctly rendered "jackals" (Revised Version) or "wild beasts."

3. Ezekiel

In Ezekiel (chapter 27), Tyre appears as a city with a very widespread trade extending from Asia Minor to Arabia and Egypt, and from Assyria to the isles (or "coasts") of the Mediterranean. The "oaks of Bashan" (Ezekiel 27:6 ; Isaiah 2:13 ; Zechariah 11:2) are still found in the Southwest of that region near Gilead. Judah and Israel then provided wheat, honey, oil and balm for export as in the time of Jacob. Damascus sent white wool and the wine of Helbon (Chelbon), 13 miles North, where fine vineyards still exist. The northern border described (Ezekiel 47:15 - 18) is the same that marked that of the dominions of David, running along the Eleutherus River toward Zedad (Cudud). It is described also in Numbers 34:8-11 as passing Riblah (Riblah) and including Ain (el 'Ain), a village on the western slopes of the Anti-Lebanon, East of Riblah. In this passage (as in Ezekiel 47:18) the Hauran (or Bashan plain) is excluded from the land of Israel, the border following the Jordan valley, which seems to point to a date earlier than the time when the Havvoth-jair (Numbers 32:41 ; Deuteronomy 3:14 ; Joshua 13:30 ; Judges 10:4 ; 1 Kings 4:13 ; 1 Chronicles 2:23), in Gilead and Bashan were conquered or built--possibly after the death of Joshua. The southern border of the land is described by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:19) as reaching from Kadesh (-barnea)--probably Petra--to Tamar, which seems to be Tamrah, 6 miles Northeast of Gaza.

4. Minor Prophets

In the Minor Prophets there are fewer topographical notices. Hosea (Hosea 12:11) speaks of the altars of Gilead and Gilgal as being "as heaps in the furrows of the fields." He perhaps alludes to the large dolmen fields of this region, which still characterize the country East of the Jordan. He also perhaps speaks of human sacrifice at Bethel (Hosea 13:2). In Joel (Joel 1:12) the apple tree (Hebrew tappuach, Arabic tuffach) is noticed (compare Song of Solomon 2:3 , 5 ; 8:5), and there seems to be no reason to doubt that the apple was cultivated, since el Muqaddasi mentions "excellent apples" at Jerusalem in the 10th century AD, though it is not now common in Palestine. The sycamore fig (Amos 7:14), which was common in the plains and in the shephelah (1 Kings 10:27), grew also near Jericho (Luke 19:4), where it is still to be found. In Mic (1:10-15), a passage which appears to refer to Hezekiah's reconquest of the shephelah towns and attack on Gaza before 702 BC (2 Kings 18:8 ; 2 Chronicles 28:18) gives a list of places and a play on the name of each. They include Gath (Tell es Cafi), Saphir (es Safir), Lachish (Tell el-Chesy), Achzib ('Ain Kezbeh), and Mareshah (Mer'ash): "the glory of Israel shall come even unto Adullam" ('Aid-el-ma) perhaps refers to Hezekiah himself (Micah 1:15). After the captivity Philistia (Zechariah 9:5) was still independent. See PHILISTINES. The meaning of the "mourning of Hadadrimmon in the Valley of Megiddon" (Zechariah 12:11) is disputed. Jerome (see Reland, Palestine Illustr., II, 891) says that the former of these names referred to a town near Jezreel (Maximianopolis, now Rummaneh, on the western side of the plain of Esdraelon), but the mourning "for an only son" was probably a rite of the Syrian god called Hadad, or otherwise Rimmon, like the mourning for Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14).


1. Book of Judith

The Book of Judith is regarded by Renan (Evangiles, 1877, 29) as a Haggadha' (legend), written in Hebrew in 74 AD. It is remarkable, however, that its geographical allusions are very correct. Judith was apparently of the tribe of Manasseh (Judith 8:2 , 3); and her husband, who bore this name, was buried between Dothaim (Tell Dothan) and Balamon (in Wady Belameh), East of Dothan. Her home at Bethulia was thus probably at Mithilieh, on a high hill (Judith 6:11 , 12), 5 miles Southeast of Dothan (SWP, II, 156), in the territory of Manasseh. The requirements of the narrative are well met; for this village is supplied only by wells (Judith 7:13 , 10), though there are springs at the foot of the hill to the South (Judith 7:7 , 12), while there is a good view over the valley to the North (Judith 10:10), and over the plain of Esdraelon to Nazareth and Tabor. Other mountains surround the village (Judith 15:3). The camp of the invaders reached from Dothart to Belmaim (Balamon) from West to East, and their rear was at Cyamon (Tell Qeimun), at the foot of Carmel. The Babylonians were allied with tribes from Carmel, Gilead and Galilee on the North with the Samaritans, and with others from Betane (probably Beth-anoth, now Belt 'Ainun, North of Hebron), Chellus (Klalach--the later Elusa--8 miles Southwest of Beersheba), and Kades ('Ain Qadis) on the way to Egypt. Among Samaritan towns South of Shechem, Ekrebel ('Aqrabeh) and Chusi (Kuzah) are mentioned, with "the brook Mochmur" (Wady el Chumr) rising North of Ekrebel and running East into the Jordan.

2. Book of Wisdom

The philosophical Book of Wisdom has no references to Palestine; and in Ecclesiasticus the only allusions are to the palm of En-gaddi (Wisdom 24:14), where palms still exist, and to the "rose plant in Jericho" (Wisdom 24:14 ; compare 39:13 ; 50:8); the description of the rose as "growing by the brook in the field" suggests the rhododendron (Tristram, NHB, 477), which flourishes near the Jordan and grows to great size beside the brooks of Gilead.

3. 1 Maccabees

Judas Maccabeus.--The first Book of Maccabees is a valuable history going down to 135 BC, and its geographical allusions are sometimes important. Modin, the home of Judas-Maccabaeus (1 Macc 2:15), where his brother Simon erected seven monuments visible from the sea (1 Macc 9:19; 13:25-30), was above the plain in which Cedron (Qatrah, 5 miles East of Jamnia) stood (1 Macc 15:40,41; 16:4,9), and is clearly the present village el Midieh on the low hills with a sea view, 17 miles from Jerusalem and 6 miles East of Lydda, near which latter Eusebius (Onom under the word "Modeim") places Modin. The first victory of Judas (1 Macc 3:24) was won at Beth-horon, and the second at Emmaus ('Amwas) by the Valley of Aijalon--the scenes of Joshua's victories also.

The Greeks next attempted to reach Jerusalem from the South and were again defeated at Beth-zur (1 Macc 4:29), now Beit-cur, on the watershed, 15 miles South of Jerusalem, where the road runs through a pass. Judas next (after cleansing the temple in 165 BC) marched South of the Dead Sea, attacking the Edomites at Arabattine (perhaps Akrabbim) and penetrating to the Moab plateau as far North as Jazar (1 Macc 5:3-8). On his return to Judea the heathen of Gilead and Bashan rose against the Israelites of Tubias (1 Macc 5:13) or Tobit (Taiyibeh), and the Phoenicians against the Galilean Hebrews who were, for a time, withdrawn to Jerusalem until the Hasmoneans won complete independence (1 Macc 11:7,59). In the regions of Northern Gilead and Southern Bashan (1 Macc 5:26,36,37) Judas conquered Bosor (Bucr), Alema (Kerr el-ma), Caphon (Khisfin), Maged (perhaps el Mejd, North of 'Amman), and Carnaim (Ashteroth-karnaim), now Tell Ashterah. The notice of a "brook" at the last-named place (1 Macc 5:42) is an interesting touch, as a fine stream runs South from the west side of the town. In 162 BC Judas was defeated at Bathzacharias (1 Macc 6:32), now Beit Skaria 9 miles South of Jerusalem, but the cause was saved by a revolt in Antioch; and in the next year he defeated Nicanor near Caphar-salama (perhaps Selmeh, near Joppa), and slew him at Adasah ('Adaseh), 8 miles Southeast of Beth-horon (1 Macc 7:31,40,45). The fatal battle in which Judas was killed (1 Macc 9:5,15) was fought also near Beth-horon. He camped at Eleasa (Il'asa), close by, and defeated the Greeks on his right, driving them to Mt. Azotus (or Beth-zetho, according to Josephus (Ant., XII, xi, 2)), apparently near Bir-ez-Zeit, 4 miles Northwest of Bethel; but the Greeks on his left surrounded him during this rash pursuit.

On the death of Judas, Bacchides occupied Judea and fortified the frontier towns (1 Macc 9:50,51) on all sides. Simon and Jonathan were driven to the marshes near the Jordan, but in 159 BC the Greeks made peace with Jonathan who returned to Michmash (1 Macc 9:73) and 7 years later to Jerns (1 Macc 10:1,7). Three districts on the southern border of Samaria were then added to Judea (1 Macc 10:30; 11:34), namely Lydda, Apherema (or Ephraim) now Taiyibeh, and Ramathem (er-Ram); and Jonathan defeated the Greeks in Philistia (1 Macc 10:69; 11:6). Simon was "captain" from the "Ladder of Tyre" (Ras en Naqurah), or the pass North of Accho, to the borders of Egypt (1 Macc 11:59); and the Greeks in Upper Galilee were again defeated by Jonathan, who advanced from Gennesaret to the plateau of Hazor (Chazzur), and pursued them even to Kedesh Naphtali (Qedes), northward (1 Macc 11:63,73). He was victorious even to the borders of Hamath, and the Eleutherus River (Nahr el Kebir), North of Tripoils, and defeated the Arabs, called Zabadeans (probably at Zebdany in Anti-Lebanon), on his way to Damascus (1 Macc 12:25,30,32). He fortified Adida (Chadditheh) in the shephelah (1 Macc 12:38), West of Jerusalem, where Simon awaited the Greek usurper Tryphon (1 Macc 13:13,20), who attempted to reach Jerusalem by a long detour to the South near Adoraim (Dura), but failed on account of the snow in the mountains. After the treacherous capture of Jonathan at Accho, and his death in Gilead (1 Macc 12:48; 13:23), Simon became the ruler of all Palestine to Gaza (1 Macc 13:43), fortifying Joppa, Gezer and Ashdod (1 Macc 14:34) in 140 BC. Five years later he won a final victory at Cedron (Qatrah), near Jamnia (Yebnah), but was murdered at Dok (1 Macc 16:15), near Jericho, which site was a small fort at 'Ain Duk, a spring North of the city.

4. 2 Maccabees

The second Book of Maccabees presents a contrast to the first in which, as we have seen, the geography is easily understood. Thus the site of Caspis with its lake (2 Macc 12:13,16) is doubtful. It seems to be placed in Idumaea, and Charax may be the fortress of Kerak in Moab (2 Macc 12:17). Ephron, West of Ashteroth-karnaim (2 Macc 12:26,27), is unknown; and Beth-shean is called by its later name Scythopolis (2 Macc 12:29), as in the Septuagint (Judges 1:27) and in Josephus (Ant., XII, viii, 5; vi, 1). A curious passage (1 Macc 13:4-6) seems to refer to the Persian burial towers (still used by Parsees), one of which appears to have existed at Berea (Aleppo), though this was not a Greek custom.



1. Synoptic Gospels

We are told that our Lord was born in "Bethlehem of Judea"; and theory of Neubauer, adopted by Gratz, that Bethlehem of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15)--which was the present Beit-Lachm, 7 miles Northwest of Nazareth--is to be understood, is based on a mistake. The Jews expected the Messiah to appear in the home of David (Micah 5:2); and the Northern Bethlehem was not called "of Nazareth," as asserted by Rix (Tent and Testament, 258); this was a conjectural reading by Neubauer (Geog. du Talmud, 189), but the Talmud (Talm Jerusalem, Meghillah 1 1) calls the place Bethlechem-ceridh (or "of balm"), no doubt from the storax bush (Styrax officinalis) or stacte (Exodus 30:34), the Arabic 'abhar, which still abounds in the oak wood close by.

(1) Galilean Scenery.
The greater part of the life of Jesus was spent at Nazareth in Zebulun, and the ministry at Capernaum in Naphtali (compare Matthew 4:13 - 15 ; Isaiah 9:1), with yearly visits to Jerusalem. The Gospel narratives and the symbolism of the parables constantly recall the characteristic features of Galilean scenery and nature, as they remain unchanged today. The "city set on a hill" (Matthew 5:14) may be seen in any part of Palestine; the lilies of the field grow in all its plains; the "foxes have holes" and the sparrows are still eaten; the vineyard with its tower; the good plowland, amid stony and thorny places, are all still found throughout the Holy Land. But the deep lake surrounded by precipitous cliffs and subject to sudden storms, with its shoals of fish and its naked fishers; the cast nets and drag nets and small heavy boats of the Sea of Galilee, are more distinctive of the Gospels, since the lake is but briefly noticed in the Old Testament.

(2) Nazareth.
Nazareth was a little village in a hill plateau North of the plain of Esdraelon, and l,000 ft. above it. The name (Hebrew natsarah) may mean "verdant," and it had a fine spring, but it is connected (Matthew 2:23) in the Gospels with the prophecy of the "branch" (netser, Isaiah 11:1) of the house of David. Its population was Hebrew, for it possessed a synagogue (Luke 4:16). The "brow of the hill whereon their city was built" (Luke 4:29) is traditionally the "hill of the leap" (Jebel Qafsi), 2 miles to the South--a cliff overlooking the plain. Nazareth was not on any great highway; and so obscure was this village that it is unnoticed in the Old Testament, or by Josephus, while even a Galilean (John 1:46) could hardly believe that a prophet could come thence. Jerome (Onomasticon, under the word) calls it a "village"; but today it is a town with 4,000 Christians and 2,000 Moslems, the former taking their Arabic name (Nacarah) from the home of their Master.

(3) Capernaum.
Capernaum (Matthew 4:13 ; 9:1) lay on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, apparently (Mark 14:34 ; John 6:17) in the little plain of Gennesaret, which stretches for 3 miles on the northwest side of the lake, and which has a breadth of 2 miles. It may have stood on a low cliff (though this is rendered doubtful by the Sinaiticus manuscript rendering of Matthew 11:23--"Shalt thou be exalted unto heaven?"), and it was a military station where taxes were levied (Matthew 9:9), and possessed a synagogue (Mark 1:21 ; Luke 4:33 ; John 6:59). Christian tradition, since the 4th century AD, has placed the site at Tell Chum, where ruins of a synagogue (probably, however, not older than the 2nd century AD) exist; but this site is not in the plain of Gennesaret, and is more probably Kephar 'Achim (Babylonian Talmud, Menachoth 85a). Jewish tradition (Midrash, Qoheleth, vii.20) connects Capernaum with minim or "heretics"--that is to say Christians--whose name may yet linger at 'Ain Minyeh at the north end of the plain of Gennesaret. Josephus states (BJ, III, x, 8) that the spring of Capernaum watered this plain, and contained the catfish (coracinus) which is still found in 'Ain el Mudawwerah ("the round spring"), which is the principal source of water in the Gennesaret oasis.

(4) Chorazin.
The site of Chorazin (Kerazeh) has never been lost. The ruined village lies about 2 1/4 miles North of Tell Chum and possesses a synagogue of similar character. Bethsaida ("the house of fishing") is once said to have been in Galilee (John 12:21), and Reland (Palestine Illustr., II, 553-55) thought that there were two towns of the name. It is certain that the other notices refer to Bethsaida, called Julias by Herod Philip, which Josephus (Ant., XVIII, ii, 1; iv, 6; BJ, III, x, 7) and Pliny (NH, v.15) place East of the Jordan, near the place where it enters the Sea of Galilee. The site may be at the ruin edition Dikkeh ("the platform"), now 2 miles North of the lake, but probably nearer of old, as the river deposit has increased southward. There are remains of a synagogue here also. The two miracles of feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000 are both described as occurring' East of the Jordan, the former (Luke 9:10) in the desert (of Golan) "belonging to the city called Bethsaida" (the King James Version). The words (Mark 6:45 the King James Version), "to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida," may be rendered without any straining of grammar, "to go to the side opposite to Bethsaida." For the disciples are not said to have reached that city; but, after a voyage of at least 3 or 4 miles (John 6:17 , 19), they arrived near Capernaum, and landed in Gennesaret (Mark 6:53), about 5 miles Southwest of the Jordan.

(5) Country of the Gerasenes.
The place where the swine rushed down a steep place into the lake (Matthew 8:32 ; Mark 5:1 ; Luke 8:26) was in the country of the Gerasenes (see Codex Vaticanus MS), probably at Qersa on the eastern shore opposite Tiberias, where there is a steep slope to the water. It should be noted that this was in Decapolis (Mark 5:20), a region of "ten cities" which lay (except Scythopolis) in Southwest Bashan, where a large number of early Greek inscriptions have been found, some of which (e.g. Vogue-Waddington, numbers 2412, 2413) are as old as the 1st century AD. There was evidently a Greek population in this region in the time of our Lord; and this accounts for the feeding of swine, otherwise distinctive of "a far country" (Luke 15:13 , 15); for, while no Hebrew would have tended the unclean beast in Palestine, the Greeks were swine-herds from the time at least of Homer.

(6) Magadan-Magdala.
The site of Magadan-Magdala (Mejdel) was on the west shore at the Southwest end of the Gennesaret plain (Matthew 15:39). In Mark 8:10 we find Dalmanutha instead. Magdala was the Hebrew mighdol ("tower"), and Dalmanutha may be regarded as the Aramaic equivalent (De'almanutha) meaning "the place of high buildings"; so that there is no necessary discrepancy between the two accounts. From this place Jesus again departed by ship to "the other side," and reached Bethsaida (Matthew 16:5 ; Mark 8:13,22), traveling thence up the Jordan valley to Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13 ; Mark 8:27), or Banias, at the Jordan springs. There can be little doubt that the "high mountain apart" (Matthew 17:1) was Hermon. The very name signifies "separate," applying to its solitary dome; and the sudden formation of cloud on the summit seems to explain the allusion in Luke 9:34.

(7) Other Allusions in the Synoptic Gospels.
Other allusions in the Synoptic Gospels, referring to natural history and customs, include the notice of domestic fowls (Matthew 23:37 ; 26:34), which are never mentioned in the Old Testament. They came from Persia, and were introduced probably after 400 BC. The use of manure (Luke 13:8) is also unnoticed in the Old Testament, but is mentioned in the Mishna (Shebi'ith, ii.2), as is the custom of annually whitening sepulchers (Matthew 23:27 ; Sheqalim, i.1). The removal of a roof (Mark 2:4; compare Luke 5:19) at Capernaum was not difficult, if it resembled those of modern Galilean mud houses, though the Third Gospel speaks of "tiles" which are not now used. Finally, the presence of shepherds with their flocks (Luke 2:8) is not an indication of the season of the nativity, since they remain with them "in the field" at all times of the year; and the "manger" (Luke 2:7) may have been (as tradition affirmed even in the 2nd century AD) in a cave like those which have been found in ruins North and South of Hebron (SWP, III, 349, 369) and elsewhere in Palestine.

2. Fourth Gospel

(1) The topography of the Fourth Gospel is important as indicating the writer's personal knowledge of Palestine; for he mentions several places not otherwise noticed in the New Testament. Beth-abarah (John 1:28, the Revised Version (British and American) "Bethany"; 10:40), or "the house of the crossing," was "beyond the Jordan." Origen rejected the reading "Bethania," instead of Beth-abarah, common in his time, and still found in the three oldest uncial manuscripts in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. The place was a day's journey from Cana (compare John 1:29 , 35 , 43 ; 2:1), which may have been at 'Ain Qana, a mile North of Nazareth. It was two or three days' distance from Bethany near Jerusalem (John 10:40 ; 11:3 , 6 , 17), and would thus lie in the upper part of the Jordan valley where, in 1874, the surveyors found a ford well known by the name 'Abarah, North of Beisan, in the required situation. John, we are told, baptized in "all the region round about the Jordan" (Matthew 3:5), including the waters of "AEnon near to Salim" (John 3:23). There is only one stream which answers to this description, namely that of Wady Far'ah, Northeast of Shechem, on the boundary of Judea and Samaria, where there is "much water." AEnon would be 'Ainun, 4 miles North, and Salim is Salim, 4 miles South of this perennial affluent of the Jordan.

(2) The site of Sychar (Samaritan: Iskar, Arabic: 'Askar) near Jacob's well (John 4:5 , 6) lay West of Salim, and just within the Samaritan border. The present village is only half a mile North of the well. Like the preceding sites, it is noticed only in the Fourth Gospel, as is Bethesda, while this Gospel also gives additional indications as to the position of Calvary. The town of Ephraim, "near to the wilderness" (John 11:54), is noticed earlier (2 Samuel 13:23; compare Ephraim, 2 Chronicles 13:19 margin), and appears to be the same as Apherema (1 Macc 11:34), and as Ophrah of Benjamin (Joshua 18:23 ; 1 Samuel 13:17). Eusebius (Onom under the word) places it 20 Roman miles North of Jerusalem, where the village Taiyibeh looks down on the desert of Judah.

3. Book of Acts

In the Book of Acts the only new site, unnoticed before, is that of Antipatris (Acts 23:31). This stood at the head of the stream (Me-jarkon) which runs thence to the sea North of Joppa, and it was thus the half-way station between Jerusalem and the seaside capital at Caesarea. The site is now called Ras el 'Ain ("head of the spring"), and a castle, built in the 12th century, stands above the waters. The old Romans road runs close by (SWP, II, 258). Caesarea was a new town, founded by Herod the Great about 20 BC (SWP, II, 13-29). It was even larger than Jerusalem, and had an artificial harbor. Thence we may leave Palestine with Paul in 60 AD. The reader must judge whether this study of the country does not serve to vindicate the sincerity and authenticity of Bible narratives in the Old Testament and the New Testament alike.


Though the literature connected with Palestine is enormous, and constantly increasing, the number of really original and scientific sources of knowledge is (as in other cases) not large. Besides the Bible, and Josephus, the Mishna contains a great deal of valuable information as to the cultivation and civilization of Palestine about the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The following 20 works are of primary importance. The Onomasticon of Eusebius and Jerome shows intimate acquaintance with Palestine in the 4th century AD, though the identification of Bible sites is as often wrong as right. The rabbinical geography is discussed by A. Neubauer (La geographie du Talmud, 1868), and the scattered notices by Greek and Roman writers were collected by H. Reland (Palaestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata, 2 volumes, 1714). The first really scientific account of the country is that of Dr. E. Robinson (Biblical Researches, 1838, and Later Biblical Researches, 1852; in 3 volumes, 1856). The Survey of Western Palestine (7 volumes, 1883) includes the present writer's account of the natural features, topography and surface remains of all ages, written while in command (1872-1878) of the 1-inch trigonometric survey. The Survey of Eastern Palestine (1 vol, 1889) gives his account of Moab and Southern Gilead, as surveyed in 1881-1882. The natural history is to be studied in the same series, and in Canon Tristram's Natural History of the Bible, 1868. The geology is best given by L. Lartet (Essai sur la geologie de la Palestine) and in Professor Hull's Memoir on the Geol. and Geog. of Arabia Petrea, etc., 1886. The Archaeological Researches of M. Clermont-Ganneau (2 volumes, 1896) include his discoveries of Gezer and Adullam. Much information is scattered through the PEFQ,(1864-1910) and in ZDPV. G. Schumacher's Across the Jordan, 1885, Pella, 1888, and Northern 'Ajlun, 1890, give detailed information for Northeast Palestine; and Lachish, by Professor Flinders Petrie, is the memoir of the excavations which he began at Tell el-Chesy (identified in 1874 by the present writer), the full account being in A Mound of Many Cities by F.J. Bliss, 1894. Other excavations, at Gath, etc., are described in Excavations in Palestine (1898-1900), by F.J. Bliss, R.A.S. Macalister, and Professor Wunsch; while the memoir of his excavations at Gezer (2 volumes) has recently been published by Professor Macalister. For those who have not access to these original sources, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land by Professor G.A. Smith, 1894, and the essay (300 pp.) by Professor D.F. Buhl (Geographie des alten Palastina, 1896) will be found useful. The best guide book to Palestine is still that of Baedeker, written by Dr. A. Socin and published in 18765, 1912. This author had personal acquaintance with the principal routes of the country. Only standard works of reference have been herein mentioned, to which French, German, American, and British explorers and scholars have alike contributed.




bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, holy land, land of Jehovah, land of promise, land of the hebrews, palestine, pelesheth, philistia, promised to abraham, territory



top page
spacer spacer
stitch border
stitch border


  Easter Egg





BIBLEing.com - reDISCOVER the Holy Bible!

The American Standard Version Bible, Chinese Union Version Bible, King James Version Bible, Easton's Bible Dictionary, Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia and Smith's Bible Dictionary are Public Domain and may be freely used and distributed. The New American Standard Bible Copyright (c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved http://www.lockman.org. The "NASB," "NAS," "New American Standard Bible," and "New American Standard" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by The Lockman Foundation. Use of these trademarks requires the permission of The Lockman Foundation. For Permission To Quote information visit www.lockman.org.  All trademarks and tradenames are the sole property of their respective owners. Not responsible for typographical errors. (c) Copyright 2012 - 2014 BIBLEing.com. All rights reserved.