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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

a town in Palestine, just under the northern brow of Carmel, on the shore near the mouth of the Kishon, seems to be alluded to as (near) the western terminus of Zebulon ( Genesis 49:13, חוֹת , Choph, "haven;" see  Deuteronomy 1:7, "aide;"  Joshua 9:1, "coasts;" in both which passages the associated geographical terms are likewise technically used as proper names). In fact the present Arabic name (properly Chaypha) is but the Aramaean form ( חֵיפָא , The Cove) of the Heb. word (used in the above passages only). In the Talmud the old name reappears ( חיפה , Cheyphah, the modern form; Graecized ῾Ηφά : see Reland, Palaest. page 718). By the Greek and Roman writers, a place called Sycaminum ( Συκαμίνον , Hebraized שקמונה , Sekamunah, doubtless as a mart for Figs) is mentioned as situated in Phoenicia, near the foot of Carmel (see Reland, page 1024). In the Middle Ages the place was called Pouphyreon by a strange mistake, the real town of that name being north of Sidon. It was also known as Cayphas, and the derivations given are very curious, either from Cephas or Caiaphas. Haifa is now a small but growing town of about two thousand inhabitants, built close upon the sandy beach, and surrounded by a shattered wall. The interior has a dreary look, which is not improved by the broken wall, and two or three rusty cannon lying about, half covered by rubbish. The only tolerable houses appear to be those of the consular agents, who abound here, as it is a frequent stopping-place, especially in foul weather, for the Levant steamers.

There is a flourishing German colony in the neighborhood. The bay spreads out in front, its sandy beach sweeping gracefully along the plain to the low point on which the battlements of Acre are seen in the distance. In Haifa the Christians outnumber the Mohammedans;, and there is a small community of Jews. Few remains of antiquity are visible except some tombs in the rocks; but the magnificence of former buildings is attested by the fragments of marble, granite, porphyry, and greenstone lying in the shingle on the beach. Two miles farther south-west are the remains of another large town, at the place called Tell es-Semak. There can scarcely be a doubt that this is the ancient Sycamilon, often confused with Haifa, but a place distinct and named from its sycamine fig-trees-a stunted specimen of which still stands near, with its little figs growing out of the stem. See Murray, Handbook for Syria, page 362; Badeker, Palestine, page 348; Conder, Tent Work, 1:180; 2:306. (See Carmel); (See Kishon).