Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
Palestine is the name commonly used for the land that in ancient times was known as Canaan. When the Israelites first occupied Canaan, they met some of their strongest opposition from the Philistines, the people from whom Palestine takes its name (see Canaan ; Philistia ). The natural boundaries of the land were the Mediterranean Sea in the west, the Jordan River in the east, the Lebanon Range in the north and the Sinai Desert in the south.
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
PALESTINE. —The tendency, represented by historians like Buckle and his school, to write history in terms of environment, is one of those remarkable exaggerations of a valuable truth in which the 19th cent. was prolific. Every age which produces elemental theories and sweeping changes in the most widely accepted and venerable views, is liable to this kind of exaggeration. New ideas first stagger and then captivate men’s minds, and the new names which these theories introduce assume magic powers for a time. The next generation smiles at the omnipotence of the catchwords of the first years of evolutionary doctrine, and remembers that other words—‘sympathy’ and ‘perpetual motion’ among the rest—had a similar vogue in their day. Most of all has the power of environment received undue emphasis and been credited with an influence far in excess of the facts, in the case of Jesus Christ. There is nothing which has doomed the work of His purely naturalistic biographers to premature obsoleteness so much as this. Nowhere was Carlyle’s protest in favour of the effect of great personalities so applicable as here. If anything in history is certain, it is that here we have a case in which a unique personality is seen mastering circumstances, rather than one in which circumstances are seen creating a conspicuous personality.
Yet the influence of Palestine on Jesus is equally unquestionable.
‘We must not isolate the story,’ says Dr. Dale, ‘from the preceding history of the Jewish race … Many people seem to suppose that they may approach the subject as if the Lord Jesus Christ had appeared in Spain or in China, instead of in Judaea and Galilee’ ( Living Christ and the Four Gospels , 89). ‘If, negatively,’ says Hausrath, ‘it be self-evident that Jesus’ mission would have assumed another character had He grown up under the oaks of Germany instead of under the palms of Nazareth, that the subject of Arminius or Maroboduus would have been different from that of Antipas, that the opponent of the Druids would have differed from the opponent of the Rabbis, so, positively, it is indisputable that for Jesus Himself the facts of His consciousness were given Him under those forms of viewing things in which Jewish thought in general was cast. Only by a freak of the imagination can it he supposed that an historical personality becomes conscious of the facts of its own inner life by conceptions other than those in which the thought of the age in general finds expression’ ( Hist. of NT Times , ii. 225).
Thus we may take it that there is no sentence in the Gospels which can be fairly understood if it be regarded merely as the remark or question of a member of the human race who might have belonged to any nationality. Every word derives something of its significance from the place and time at which it was spoken. Jesus is the Son of Man, but He is also a Syrian teacher. It is Syrian landscape, Syrian history, and Syrian human nature with which the Incarnation works; and we of the West are confronted at every turn by the need to Orientalize our conceptions as we study these records.
In this article we shall consider the influence on Jesus (1) of Syria as a whole; (2) of the Gentile elements in the land; (3) of the open field and of Nature as seen in Syria; (4) of the town and village life with which He was familiar; (5) of the city of Jerusalem.
1. Syria as a whole. —Syria is an Eastern land, and the relations and differences between East and West are the first aspects of this subject which demand attention. No phenomenon of the kind is so remarkable as the combination of Eastern and Western characteristics in the thought and work of Jesus. Such books as Townsend’s Asia and Europe and Fielding Hall’s The Soul of a People (to mention two out of many popular accounts of East and West), though their generalizations are not always convincing, are full of suggestive illustrations of this. ‘Though Asiatic in origin,’ says the former writer, ‘Christianity is the least Oriental of the creeds.’ To find lives most typically Christian, we have to look chiefly to Western nations, France and Germany, Britain and America. Indeed, the astonishing fact is evident that in certain respects we have in Jesus an Oriental too Western for Asiatics, so that to a certain extent they have to Occidentalize their conceptions in order to become Christian. This strange fact has commonly been brought as a charge against the methods of Christian missionaries in the East. But there can be no doubt that in some measure it is due to the mind of Jesus Himself. His doctrine of personal immortality, e.g. , and still more the triumphant and glad spirit in which He proclaimed it, have a far more congenial appeal to the West than to the East. ‘Eternal consciousness!’ exclaims Townsend: ‘that to the majority of Asiatics is not a promise but a threat.’ Similarly, the prominence given in Christianity to the command to love our neighbour as ourself, in the West will always find at least a theoretical assent, for it will be backed by the sentiment or at least the conscience of sympathy between man and man as such. The East, whose religion is fundamentally a matter of saving one’s own soul, or at widest a matter of tribal loyalties, will find that a hard saying, and indeed has always so found it. Again, everyone must have noticed that in the battles of Jesus against the unintelligent and conventional doctrines of the Pharisees, His constant appeal was to commonsense and the facts of the case obvious to every unprejudiced observer. But that in itself was an instance of the Western type of intellect pitted against the Oriental.
Yet, at the depths, Christianity rests upon distinctively Oriental foundations. The very publicity of Eastern life has had its effect upon the Gospels. The whole ministry of Jesus was performed among crowds, in public places of assembly and on thronged highways. His thoughts were flung at once into the arena of public discussion, and even His protests and His disregard of ritual in such matters as hand-washing, fasts, etc., were made under the scrutiny of innumerable eyes. The whole Gospel shows traces of this lack of privacy, and the emphasis of its teachings is often fixed by the angle at which its detail was seen by the onlookers. Again, the great Christian doctrine of renunciation is essentially an Oriental doctrine, typical of Hebraism as contrasted with Hellenism; so much so, that it is to the surprise with which that doctrine broke upon the West that its conquest was in part due. The Oriental has been kept from perceiving how Divine self-sacrifice is, by his familiarity with it as a commonplace of human life. ‘The qualities which seemed to the warriors of Clovis so magnificently Divine, the self-sacrifice, the self-denial, the resignation, the sweet humility, are precisely the qualities the germs of which exist in the Hindu’ ( Asia and Europe , 69). Consequently, ‘the character of Christ is not … as acceptable to Indians as to Northern races,’ the former seeking in the Divine a contrast rather than a complement to their human thoughts. Again, that free play of imagination touching even the most everyday subjects, that direct statement of truth, unguarded by qualifications and unbuttressed by proofs, are Eastern rather than Western characteristics. These are but random instances, a few out of very many, and varying in importance from the most casual to the most fundamental, yet they are enough to prove that the thought of Jesus was cast in an essentially Oriental mould.
The geographical features of Palestine are strongly marked; and they include, in a very small field, mountains, rivers, plains, lakes and sea-coast. The story of Jesus brings Him in contact with each of these; but the only ones which can be said to have left very distinct traces are the mountains. The Bible is full of mountain scenery, and it owes much to that. The religious thought of the great plains of the world is one thing, that of sea-girt islands is another, and that of mountain-land is a third. The long ranges of Lebanon throw off their southern spurs in Galilee, and the range ends suddenly in the line of steep mountain-side which runs along the northern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon. Not far from this edge, nestling in hollows or crowning heights, lay the towns and villages among which Jesus spent His early years. Hermon is the one great mountain which Anti-Lebanon rises to, standing off to the south, and detached from the continuous range by the deep-cut gorge of the Abana, but sending on the ridge again unbroken, though rugged in outline, past the Sea of Merom on the eastern side, to the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Samaria lies to the south of Esdraelon, a region of finely sweeping valleys and hills of soft and rounded outline. But these hills grow less distinct as the road strikes southward through Judaea. The general level rises to a bare and lofty table-land, from which, near Bethel, rounded heights rise like huge breasts of grey stone from the upheaved bosom of the land. South of that, sheer gorges (geological faults, or the work of flooded winter-torrents) slash across the land from east to west, and open grim and sombre through precipices upon the sunken valley of the Jordan, where Jericho lies steaming in the heat, 6 miles west of the Jordan’s channel-groove, chiselled deep below the level of the valley. Soon Jerusalem is seen, like a round nest among low mountains—a city thrust up from the summit of the land, and moated by deep valleys on two sides. South of that, through the pasture-lands about Bethlehem and the wilderness of Judaea to the east of them, the land slopes down the rolling ‘South Country’ to the Arabian desert.
The traveller to-day is often disappointed in the emotions he had expected at sacred sites. The belief in miracle is nowhere so difficult as on the spot, where every detail of the scene seems so uncompromisingly earthly. If, however, he will follow the example of the Psalmist, and ‘lift up his eyes unto the hills,’ he will find the realization of Christ an easier matter. The great sky-lines are for the most part unchanged, and the same edges and vistas are to be seen which filled the eyes of Jesus. This is not merely the result of the fact that local tradition and foolish ways of honouring sacred places have disfigured and stultified so many spots of Palestine. It recalls the fact that Jesus came from the highlands of Galilee, and that He chose to associate many of the most outstanding events of His life with mountains. From the hill above Nazareth He looked abroad on an endless field of mountain tops. Hermon dominated the landscape on the north-east, and Tabor thrust its irrelevant cone, conspicuous and unique, over the undulating sky-line of the mountains between Nazareth and the Lake—a gigantic intruder which had reared its huge head to look down into Nazareth from over the wall of mountains. It was there, with countless mountain summits of familiar name about Him, that the Youth first encountered those tremendous thoughts which finally led Him to the Jordan. Driven thence by the Spirit into the wilderness, He fought His long fight with rival schemes of greatness, in the tract which Judaea thrusts high into the air from the depth of the Jordan Valley, and holds balanced upon the edge of cliffs. Jericho looks up at that mountain of Quarantania, and sees its angular and tilted platform of a summit as a black space cut out of the brilliance of a living, starry sky. From the edge He looked down on Jericho ( Matthew 4:1 etc.), and knew the power of worldliness as He saw the palacelife of Herod there, and the glimmer of festive lamps among the palm-groves that had been Cleopatra’s. Mountains were the congenial places for His great utterances in which the Old Law changed to the New, and the freshness as well as the exaltation of these words remind us from beginning to end of them that they are a Sermon on the Mount ( Matthew 5:1). Similarly, by a sure instinct, it was to the heights that He went to find by night the fullest sense of converse with His Father ( Matthew 14:23 etc.). Probably it was on some of the slopes of Hermon that such a season of communion brightened to the wonder of Transfiguration ( Matthew 17:1 etc.). Hermon’s summit is always white, and many a ‘bright cloud overshadows’ it, until it shines upon the plain for miles around, in a white glory of frosted silver. It is not without significance that Matthew gives as the trysting-place between Jesus and His disciples ‘a mountain of Galilee’ ( Matthew 28:16). There is a perceptible air of relief in the words, as if after all those stifling days in Judaea—days of judgment-halls and shut doors in upper rooms, of clouded cross and sealed sepulchre—an irresistible longing had seized Him for the sunlight and the wind-swept heights of His happier early days. Nothing fostered the patriotism of Israel so much as her mountains. From time immemorial they had been her defences in war, and the platforms of her worship. In the story of Jesus they are seen in both these uses, and the feel of the heights is upon much that He has said.
Palestine is a little and compressed country, where not only geographical features, but the facts and associations of national history are gathered, so close as to force themselves upon the attention at every step. While travelling there, it is a constant source of wonder that so much could have happened in so small a place. These continual reminders of the past history of the nation, which thrust themselves upon Israelites everywhere, and kept patriotism vehemently alive, had their effect also upon Jesus. The heroes of the past were much in His thought, and His journeys from place to place reminded Him of them continually, Elijah and Elisha, Solomon, David, and Isaiah, were figures not merely remembered from reading in the sacred books. They were the unseen inhabitants of the places where once they dwelt in the flesh, peopling for Him tracts over which He led His disciples. His patriotism is evident continually ( Luke 19:9; Luke 13:16). It was a great thing in His eyes to be a son or a daughter of Abraham. Jerusalem, for Him as for the Psalmist, is the ‘city of the great King’ ( Matthew 5:35). The waysides are hallowed by the footsteps of the dead. The tombs of the prophets are conspicuous monuments to His imagination ( Matthew 23:29). He lived among the dead, and they lived unto God and unto Him in the land where their bones had long crumbled to decay. He receives and is taunted with the title ‘King of Israel’ ( John 1:49, Matthew 27:42 etc.). The accusation on the Cross is ‘Jesus, the King of the Jews’ ( Matthew 27:37 etc.).
Two aspects of the land, taken as a whole, must be remembered, especially if we would understand what it meant to Jesus— Palestine as an oasis, and Palestine as a focus .
Palestine as an oasis .—It is shut off from the rest of the world by a complete ring of natural barriers. Mountains on the north; a vast desert on the east, with the deep and long trench of the Jordan Valley set as a second and inner barrier like a moat; desert again on the south; and the west wholly bounded by the alien sea which so few understood—these are the boundaries of Israel. And there was also a double ring of national barricades. At a distance had stood the great empires of the East, the Parthians having taken in His time the place of ancient Nineveh and Babylon. To the south-west lay Egypt. An inner ring of wild Arabian tribes wandered over the eastern desert, and now and then raided the land. Formerly an unbroken belt of neighbouring heathen enemies encircled Israel, and even cut her off from the sea by the Philistine wedge driven along her western coast, stretching from the Pillar of Egypt to the Phœnician seaports. All this was modified, and much of it broken up, in the time of Jesus; but the religious meaning of it all was thus being only the better understood.
The whole meaning of the land in OT times had been the isolation of Israel for religious ends. For her, ‘to act like men’ ( i.e. to imitate the nations round about her) was denounced by her prophets as a betrayal ( Hosea 6:7). As a matter of fact, every experiment which she made in such imitation of ‘men’ was a failure. Under Solomon she had adopted the ‘Policy of Orientalism’ of the great world-empires. Under Jeroboam she had sought to conform to the secular ideas of ritual then fashionable, and had even attempted something in the way of a democratic system of government. Under many kings she had sought greatness in aggressive wars. Under Omri she had, by her alliance with Phœnicia, tried for the position of a great commercial power. In every one of these attempts she had found herself defeated, and driven back on the one thing she could do as no other nation could. That one thing was religion, and the meaning of Israel’s isolation was that worship of Jehovah which grew up with her institutions, and of whose revelations she was the destined recipient and repository.
For Jesus also Palestine was an oasis. It is indeed true that the Palestine of His time was no longer the ‘garden enclosed’ which the prophets had striven to keep it. All its hedges were by this time broken down and driven through by the resistless march of Rome. In the heart of the invaded country Jerusalem remained bitterly exclusive and hostile to all the world, so far as the Pharisees could keep it so. Galilee was much more open to the wider thought of the time than Judaea, and Jesus was in sympathy rather with the Galilaean than with the Judaean spirit. Yet, so far as His own work went, He retained and utilized the oasis view of His land. His three temptations were an epitome of the nation’s temptations—‘to act like men’ for bread, or for fame, or for power. In resisting them He was thrusting from His Kingdom the ideals of commercial prosperity, military conquest, and political empire, just as the prophets of Israel had fought against these as national ideals. He remained, and set His speech and His works, among those relationships where God had placed Him. He confined His own ministry and the earlier ministry of His disciples to the land of Israel ( Matthew 10:5); and that land was still sufficiently isolated from the thought and life of the world to provide a true cradle and fostering-place for those thoughts which formed the nucleus of the Kingdom of heaven. Thus, in the earliest years, they were sufficiently aloof to gain intensity.
Palestine as a focus .—If Palestine was no longer an oasis in the full sense in which it had been so in OT times, it was more a focus than it had ever been before. In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a little hollow place with a flattened ball in it is still exhibited to the incredulous visitor as the centre of the world. The cosmography of the Middle Ages took this as serious science, Jerusalem being the antipodes of the island of Purgatory at the other pole. No doubt some such conception was in the minds of many who looked in early Christian times for new heaven and a new earth and a new Jerusalem . Such thoughts were true in a wider sense than the thinkers knew. At the time of Jesus, Palestine was the meeting-point of East and West.
For many centuries Israel had been a buffer State between the conflicting powers of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Now instead of Egypt there was Rome, at the height of its military power, and armed also with the spiritual weapons of Greece, whose national power it had destroyed and by the deed had set free its spirit. The eastern empires of Nineveh and Babylon were gone, and instead of them were those changing hosts of Persian and Parthian warriors who were soon to dispute the world with Rome. And behind them, more clearly visible since the campaigns of Alexander the Great, though still dim in the mists of vast distances, lay India and the Far East.
The Roman conquest of Syria had brought into immediate and hostile contact two nationalities whose whole history and thought placed them irreconcilably apart. Rome’s ideal of secular empire confronted the Jewish hope of the universal reign of Messiah. Down to the minutest detail of life the two ideals were opposed. To Rome tribute was the obvious consequence of conquest; the theatre was at once a politic and a generous enrichment of the life of the conquered State. To Israel tribute was a sacrilege, and the theatre which rose in Jerusalem a blasphemy. So hateful was the Roman to the Jew, that Jews were a worthless commodity in the Roman slave-market. So unintelligible was the Jew to the Roman, that Tacitus speaks of the nation as ‘given over to superstition, disinclined to religion’ (Hausrath, i. 173–86). These facts are but illustrations of the wider principle, that when a nation with intense national sentiments encounters a nation with strong imperial sentiment, trouble of the most violent kind always ensues. For confirmation of this, one has only to remember the history of Switzerland, of Ireland, or of the Transvaal. In Israel the struggle was only the more acute and inevitable, because the Romanizing policy of the Herods had lent to it the additional aspect of a civil war. Nothing could be imagined more explosive than this state of affairs—a fact which was very clear to the enemies of Jesus ( John 11:48).
That Jesus also saw this clearly there can be no question; and this, among other things, must have been in His mind when He spoke of Himself as sending a sword ( Matthew 10:34), and scattering fire on the earth ( Luke 12:49). Towards the Roman power He, in contrast with such revolutionaries as Judas of Galilee, maintained a strictly neutral attitude. It is probable that no words ever uttered showed such consummate diplomatic skill as those in which He answered the question about the tribute money ( Matthew 22:17 etc.). His prophecies ( Matthew 24:2 etc.) show how patent to Him was the coming explosion of the forces then at play. His policy was to set the word of the Kingdom so fully at the explosive centre, that when the crash came it would send Christianity across the whole world.
For that diffusion everything was ready. Great roads had long been open by land and sea for trade and commerce. Even then the Romans were laying down those indestructible causeways by which they united land with land. The Sadducees, who in some respects read skilfully the signs of their times, did all they could to encourage trade in Syria, and to break down the Pharisaic restrictions which hampered it; and in this Jesus was their powerful ally. From the heights of Nazareth He had seen the march of the legions on the Roman road across Esdraelon from Acre to the Jordan, and watched the long lines of laden camels moving slowly from the coast to Damascus and back, along the road that lies like a flung ribbon along the hillsides to the north. When in after years St. Paul utilized the Roman roads for the spread of the gospel, he was but carrying out the work which Jesus initiated when He placed that gospel within the charged mine of Palestine.
In the light of one further consideration we see the extraordinary Providence which watched over the situation then. It is a commonplace of history, that civilization and all higher developments of human life spring forward at a bound at the meeting-point of national currents. ‘The great civilizations have always arisen in the meeting-places of ideas’ (Martin Conway, The Dawn of Art , 76). The Norman Conquest offers one of the most conspicuous illustrations, but it is only one of many. The supremely influential meeting of national forces has always been that between the East and the West. ‘The contact between East and West has always been the prolific source of the advancement of humanity’ ( op. cit. 59, 60). It was from this contact, induced by the Pilgrimages and the Crusades, that the Renaissance arose. But Christianity itself had arisen at that earlier point of contact, when the Eastern factor was the Hebrew religion, and the Western was Greece and Rome. At the focus of the world Jesus set the light of the world.
2. The relations of Jesus with Gentiles. —Not only was Palestine in close proximity with Gentile neighbours in the time of Jesus; the land itself was overrun with Gentiles, and no account of the meaning of Palestine for Jesus can ignore that fact.
His home in Galilee must have given from the first a very different outlook on the Gentile world from any that would have been possible in Jndaea. Far from the centre of Jewish exclusiveness, crossed by great high roads from the sea to the east, and actually inhabited by multitudes of Gentiles from various lands, Galilee was the most open-minded and tolerant part of the land. Commercial and other interests made the Galilaeans acquainted with foreigners, and established much friendly human intercourse. Thus at the outset it must be borne in mind that Jesus was from His childhood accustomed to a more or less cosmopolitan world, and to the ideas current in such a society. The temptation of ‘the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them’ ( Matthew 4:8), indicates no new discovery of worldly grandeur, but a knowledge which had been gathering during the experience of thirty years.
One fact of great significance in the life of Palestine was that it had to be lived in constant view of the desert tribes to the east of it. Kinglake has described the Jordan as the boundary-line between roofs and tents; and besides the tents of nomad tribes there were also those cities of Edom and the Hauran, where, in a rude kind of civilization, Arab kings ruled their kingdoms. The terror of the desert Bedawîn and the barbaric splendours of these kingdoms both contributed a romantic element, which was enforced by the eternal mystery of the desert, in which all things are seen in a strong light which magnifies their significance and fascinates the imagination. Most of Jesus’ parables of kings and their wars ( Matthew 18:23 etc.), and certainly His picture of a strong man armed guarding his house against a stronger ( Luke 14:31; Luke 11:21-22 etc.), tell of just such a condition of unsettled government and expectation of surprise as existed on the borderline between Arabian and Israelite territory.
In this border region stood the cities of the Decapolis, in which a wealthy and strongly defended Greek life held its own, by force of Roman garrisons, against the desert and the south. The marvellous ruins of J, the two theatres and ornate tombs of Gadara, and the débris of carved stones above the dam which retained water for the naumachiai at Abila, tell an almost incredible tale of luxurious and ostentatious grandeur. The blend of civilization and savagery which such places produce is a phenomenon of the most startling kind. The fact that Jesus visited the Decapolis ( Mark 7:31; cf. Matthew 4:25 and Mark 5:20), bearing His high and pure spirituality into that region of the Syrian world, suggests some of the strongest and most dramatic situations which it would be possible to conceive. In this light we see the extraordinary realism of the story of the Gadarenes and their swine and their devils ( Matthew 8:28 etc.). It was inevitable that they should have besought Him to depart out of their coasts. And the reaction on His own thought was equally inevitable. He saw the ideals for which He lived and was to die, not as spiritual visions remote from the actual world, or as an advance on its honest endeavours after holiness, but against the background of a life whose gilded swinishness threw it up in all the high relief of the holiness of heaven against earth at its most sordid. And yet it was to this region that He often retired for refuge from the Galilaeans of the western shore, and through this region that He chose to travel on His last journey to the Cross. The relief He sought in it was not wholly that of solitude. Even these degenerate races called for His sympathy; and being unprejudiced by religion, they at least let Him be alone.
The sea-coast comes little into the story of the Gospels, Afterwards, in the lives of Peter and Paul, Joppa and Caesarea were to assume an important place. But, so far as we know, Jesus visited it only once, when He retreated to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon from the Pharisees who had followed Him from Jerusalem. The few references which He made to the sea appear to be all subsequent to that visit. They are in every case characteristic of the inland Israelite’s thought of the sea as a place of horror rather than of beauty ( Matthew 18:6; cf. art. Poet below, p. 375b). It was natural that the part of the sea-coast to which He went for concealment should have been that of Tyre and Sidon. We are not, indeed, told that He visited those towns, and the word ‘coasts’ may even refer to the landward district near them. Yet, obviously, no place could offer Him better hiding than a manufacturing: seaport town, where He would be easily lost in the crowds of workmen which came and went about the dye-works and the glass-works and the shipbuilding yards, or in the many-coloured throngs of native and foreign sailors on the quays, It is characteristic of Jesus that the record of that visit ignores the whole splendour of the wealthy life of Phœnicia; its temples with their sun-pillars, its markets, and its ships might have been non-existent for all the notice given to them. The one fact that has been found worthy of commemoration is that story where, in inimitable sprightliness and vivacity, we see for a moment the foreign mother, and hear her tale of human sorrow assuaged.
Samaria (wh. see) divided Galilee from Judaea by the alien race that is supposed to have originated in a cross between Mesopotamians and Israelites after the first captivity. During the centuries that had intervened there had been time for this nation to settle into a fixed and distinct type of its own, but the race still bore all the marks of its bastard origin. Luxurious and soft morally, with the fertility of the land encouraging the effeminacy, they seem to have relaxed their standards of purity in all directions, and the life of the woman of Sychar ( John 4:18) was probably typical of current views of sexual relations. The palace life of Herod at the central city of Samaria, and his intercourse with Rome at Caesarea, upon which he had spent fabulous sums, must have intensified the Bohemian and foreign elements in the national character. The tragedies of the palace, the wild story of the murder of Mariamne and what happened after it, and the subsequent strangling of her two sons in that same palace, were matters within the memory of living men. These, and the whole effect of Herod upon the place, must have been all on the side of those primitive and half-savage elements which entered largely into the Samaritan character. In religion the Samaritans had adopted a kind of blend of heathen and Israelitish worship, in which the centre of enthusiasm was a rival group of holy places set over against those of Jerusalem, and a passion for relic-hunting which, in Christ’s time, took the form of a search for hidden treasure in Gerizim. This, too, reveals the primitive, in its frank blending of the greed of gold with worship, and it took so deep a hold as to draw the vengeance of Pilate upon a Samaritan religious assembly (Keim, ii. 334). The claims of Samaritan religion, and its compromise with relaxed morality, are reflected in the conversation of the woman at the well ( John 4:16 ff.).
The Jews of the time were always ready for vigorous hatreds, and in their relations with the Samaritans they showed that extreme rancour which religious bigots keep, not for opposition, but for compromise. The attitude of Jesus to Samaritans is one of the most illuminative of all the sidelights thrown upon His mind and character by the Gospels. On more than one occasion He took the unpopular direct route through Samaria while journeying between Jerusalem and Galilee ( John 4:4). In religion, when it comes to be a question of localities, He holds by Jerusalem, and refuses to admit that any other shrine can rival its claims ( John 4:22). Yet the error calls for no anger in Him, inasmuch as His thought of worship transcends all place-limitations, and is as wide as the human spirit and truth ( John 4:23). He allows for the unthinking brutality of inhospitable villages, and sharply rebukes disciples who would meet it in a like spirit ( Luke 9:54). There is a most pleasant sense of tolerant and kindly interest in the alien Samaritans and their ways of thinking, which, while it asserts the higher morality ( John 4:17) and the higher worship, is yet ever friendly and gentle. He even goes out of His way to show how much nobler as a man a Samaritan may be than those Jews who professed superior nobility of faith. The parable of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 10:33), and Jesus words about the grateful leper ( Luke 17:17 f.), are direct protests in the name of fairness against the common judgment and attitude of His countrymen.
A few words on the attitude which Jesus assumed to Rome and the Romans are necessary to complete the view of Palestine as He knew it. Rome thrust itself then upon the inhabitants of Palestine in two forms. In such governors as Pilate it was seen directly, as the hostile imperial power governing the province of Syria. From Antioch its roads and armies had subdued the land, yet had never broken the spirit of its people, or quenched their fierce hopes of reprisals and of deliverance. At every centre its tax-gatherers had their stations. Its Praetorium in Jerusalem was occupied by the palace of the hated Pilate, whose cruelties were held in check only by his fear of the still more cruel emperor, and whose desire to quell revolutions was hindered by the fear of complaints on the score of his financial crimes. On the other hand, there were the Herods, Idumaean princes whose policy was that of Romanizing. With them, to a great extent, were the Sadducees, and under them the outward face of the country had rapidly assumed the appearance of a Western land. Architecture, commerce, amusements, and worship all showed the work of Rome through the Herodian house. There was a Roman theatre in Jerusalem, with lavishly appointed games; and a Roman eagle was set up on the Temple gates. Fortresses had risen along all the frontiers and in every part of the land, and it was Herod the Great who had cleared out the robbers from the Valley of Doves in Galilee, and so had opened Gennesaret and created Capernaum, thus unconsciously building the platform for a great part of the ministry of Jesus. At Jericho the palace-life was unrestrained in its luxury and licentiousness; in Jerusalem, Herod’s palace overlooked the city from the Jaffa gate. Tiberias rose by the shore of the Galilaean sea; but as it was built on an old graveyard it was avoided by religious Israelites, and Jesus never visited it, so far as our records tell. But all round the lake, villas had been built, and the shores of Galilee seem to have been a fashionable watering-place for Romans, a development which every Herod must have found to his own heart. The disciples, who were Galilaean fishermen, must have found a market for their fish in many a Roman household.
The attitude of Jesus towards Rome is very clearly depicted in the Gospels. From first to last every point at which His life touches any of the Herods shows hostility of relations ( Mark 8:15, Luke 13:31-32; Luke 23:9, etc.). He appears studiously to have avoided Tiberias, Caesarea, and the city of Samaria. Herodism and its effects He accepted without further protest as the actual state of the world in which He had to live; but for that Herod with whom He had most to do He showed open contempt. To the popular mind, Herod was the murderer of John, who would also kill Jesus unless He sought escape ( Luke 13:31). To Jesus he was but ‘that fox,’ by no means of sufficient importance to make Him change His plans ( Luke 13:32). He manifested no admiration for the great stones and buildings of Herod the Great in the Temple which he had erected ( Mark 13:1-2). This scorn of Jesus reached its climax in His silence under Herod’s examination at Jerusalem, and the contemptible revenge of the purple robe and crown of thorns ( Luke 23:9).
Towards the actual Roman Empire Jesus assumed another attitude. Galilee in Jesus’ time was full of revolution. Along with its tolerant cosmopolitanism there always were elements of the most violent fanaticism there,—a combination by no means unusual in the history of nations. Judas of Galilee was the popular patriot and hero, and the sons of Judas, who grew up as boys near Jesus, were to perish on crosses after Him, for vain attempts against the Roman sway. Thoughts of such revolution may have been involved in the third temptation; but if so, they were immediately rejected. Pilate’s eager question, ‘Art thou a king?’ ( John 18:37), met with no response which could be used against Jesus as a serious charge. His payment of tribute, and the words He spoke about it on various occasions, show no sense of resented injury ( Matthew 22:21). His absence of bitterness towards the tax-gatherers, and His calling of one of them to be a disciple, were among the bitterest sources of the hatred borne to Him by the Pharisees ( Matthew 9:9-11). He saw the publicans as human beings, and not as renegades and traitors. The absence of prejudice which enabled Him to adopt this attitude has been explained on the ground that He took ‘no interest whatever in the burning questions of the times’ (Hausrath, ii. 210). It would be more accurate to say that, so far as the political conditions were concerned, He accepted the facts and their inevitable consequences. He saw the coming destruction of Jerusalem with deep emotion ( Matthew 23:37), and He spoke of it as about to be trodden down by the Gentiles ( Luke 21:24), but He put forth no effort politically to change the course of events. The words in which He spoke of Pilate’s slaughter of the Galilaeans, who were no doubt a band of revolutionary patriots, are certainly very remarkable. Not only did He refrain from any comment on the tragedy, or any tribute to their daring or their sacrifice; all He had to say of them was that they were not sinners above other Galilaeans ( Luke 13:4).
By gathering these and other considerations together, we may gain a fairly accurate idea of the feeling of Jesus towards the Gentiles, who played so important a part in the Syrian world of His time. Around Him there was the Herodian attitude of Romanizing, and the Pharisaic and patriotic attitude which delighted in branding Gentiles with such names as ‘dogs’ and ‘swine’; while between these two a considerable mass of the general opinion of the time regarded them neither with emulation nor with hatred, but simply accepted them as facts—‘uncomfortable, unaccountable works of God,’ as the Hindus are said to regard the English ( Asia and Europe ). To none of them all had it ever occurred to say, ‘Suppose I were a Gentile?’ and to try to look upon the world earnestly from the Gentile point of view—a quite different matter from imitating Gentile ways in the Herodian manner.
Was this the attitude adopted by Jesus? Whatever answer we give to that question, it is quite clear that His attitude was a different one from any of the three above indicated. Unlike the Herodians, He showed no interest in Gentile architecture or commerce, literature or art. He accepted their institutions in so far as these formed part of the ordinary life of the land, but He passed no judgment either of approval or of disapproval on them. He almost exclusively, and evidently with deliberation, confined His ministry, and that of His disciples during His lifetime, to Israel. While not going out of His way to avoid Gentiles, He did not cultivate them. On almost every occasion they came to Him, not He to them. On the other hand, He expressly forbade His disciples to go into ‘the way of the Gentiles,’ i.e. to utilize for the spread of the gospel, as St. Paul afterwards did, those great roads in which the ends of the earth met. He even forbade them to enter any village of the Samaritans ( Matthew 10:5). In His initial words to the Syrophœnician woman He contrasts the children of the Promise with the Gentile dogs ( Matthew 15:26), though probably there was that in His manner which encouraged her to her clever repartee. To the woman of Samaria He pointedly asserted that ‘salvation is of the Jews’ ( John 4:22). He saw the failings of the Gentiles, and spoke of them as a warning to Christians. His disciples were to avoid their vain repetitions in prayer ( Matthew 6:7), their greedy search and labour for food and clothes ( Matthew 6:32), their servility with princes, and their desire of honour ( Matthew 20:25). There is little doubt that His words (regarding John) about those who are clothed in soft raiment and who live in kings’ houses, were meant to be understood in scorn of Herod ( Matthew 11:8).
On the other hand, it is equally clear that He refused to countenance the virulent spirit of antagonism, either religious or patriotic. Nothing met with more frequent or more unsparing condemnation than the sanctimonious exclusiveness of the Pharisees, who made a religion of avoiding their fellow-men. Nor did He intermeddle with the revolutionary politics or methods of His day. On the contrary, He paid tribute; and when the servants of the high priest came to seize Him, He strongly condemned the use of weapons even in defence, and with a quiet request permitted Himself to be bound. The general impression which the narratives give is certainly one of kindly feeling for Gentiles. His interest and appreciation were always frank and open. He shielded His Roman judge from ‘the greater sin’ in His condemnation ( John 19:11), and pleaded the ignorance of His actual murderers in His dying prayer ( Luke 23:34). He evidently liked to point out cases of Gentile superiority to Jews. At the outset of His ministry He offended the Nazarenes by His words about Naaman and the widow of Sarepta ( Luke 4:26-27); and on a later occasion He made the men of Nineveh and the queen of Sheba a foil to the unbelief of His generation ( Matthew 12:41-42). The phrase which He used on several occasions of Gentile believers has become proverbial, ‘I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel’ ( Matthew 8:10 etc.). The impression which such conduct must have produced was certainly one of strong Gentile sympathies, and Matthew aptly quotes regarding Him the words of Isaiah, ‘in his name shall the Gentiles trust’ ( Matthew 12:21).
From this it is already evident that Jesus cannot be placed in the third class, with those who merely accepted the Gentiles as facts in the situation. Politically, that was His attitude towards them, but as individuals He often delighted in them. He appreciated their broader outlook and want of Pharisaic narrowness. He was frankly relieved by their unconventionality and naturalness, which gave Him air to breathe after the stifling atmosphere of Rabbinism. To Him, in general, they stood for human nature, plain and unsophisticated.
When we inquire into the reasons for that Jewish exclusiveness against which Jesus thus protested, we come upon a fact of far-reaching significance. The Pharisees had much to justify their narrow views and practices in the fear of heathenism. The dearly won victory of the prophets over idolatry seemed to be in danger of being undone by the Graeco-Roman invasion of a new heathenism. The old struggle renewed itself, and in Jesus’ time the religious men of Israel were keeping back the encroaching worship of idols with both hands. In Samson’s country the new Philistines (for so the followers of Epiphanes seemed to the faithful) had built an altar to Zeus (Hausrath, i. 29). Herod was known to have taken part in the completion of Jupiter’s temple at Athens ( ib. ii. 4). Much of the modern style, with its pictured art, must have savoured of idolatry to men who still took the Second Commandment literally, and the religious men of Israel were filled with the gravest apprehensions as they watched the advancing tide. In the whole speech of Jesus there is no attack upon heathenism to be found, nor any sense of serious danger from it. At Caesarea Philippi He had seen the temple raised by Herod to Augustus, and the rock-cut niches dedicated to Pan and the nymphs where Jordan issued from its cave, yet no word of His is recorded in protest. True, He might upon occasion use such a current expression as ‘Let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican’ ( Matthew 18:17), but His own attitude to publicans would be sufficient commentary upon that for His enemies. Evidently He was not in the slightest degree afraid of heathenism as a real danger, and He set Himself systematically against those maxims and practices as to clean and unclean things in which the Pharisaic spirit saw one of its best safeguards.
The explanation must be found in His further doctrine of the Kingdom of God, and the methods of its coming. There are two ways of opposing heathenism. The Pharisaic way was the negative one of denouncing it and withstanding its encroachment. Jesus chose the positive method of supplanting it by the Kingdom of heaven. That strong leaven He cast into the lump of humanity, well knowing that it must work eventually far beyond the Jewish regions. This is the ultimate point in His relations with the Gentile world. When He spoke to Pilate of His Kingdom, the Roman was relieved to hear that it was ‘not of this world,’ and at once set Him down as a dreamer. But Jesus was no dreamer. He was deliberately setting an actual Kingdom over against the existing empire, and history was soon to show that this was in the region of the practical and effective forces of the world. The consequences of this Leaven of the Kingdom could not possibly be confined to the sphere of religion. They must eventually take political shape, and indeed affect every department of human life and interest, and spread throughout every nation of the world.
All this was in the mind of Jesus. The Book of Jonah was a favourite with Him, and it is the OT manifesto of the imperial and world-wide power of faith. His parable of the judgment of the nations ( Matthew 25:32), and His prophecies of the coming of the East and West and North and South to the Kingdom of God ( Matthew 8:11), showed plainly His ultimate designs upon the Gentile world. He spoke of other sheep beyond those of the Israelite fold ( John 10:16), and finally commanded His messengers to go out into all the world and teach all nations ( Matthew 28:19). When He spoke of Himself as the Light of the world ( John 8:12), and of His life as given for the world ( John 6:51), it was the world that He was speaking of, and His hearers understood that it was so (cf. also Matthew 16:21; Matthew 13:38; Matthew 5:5; Matthew 5:13-14).
At times there may have crossed His mind a thought of making the wider appeal in person before His death. The most striking instance is that of the coming of the Greeks shortly before the end ( John 12:20). It may be, as has been held by high authorities, that He saw in that event the invitation to address to the Greek world the message which the Hebrew world was rejecting. He refused it, proclaiming, in the wonderful saying about the corn of wheat ( John 12:24), His knowledge that it was through death that life must come. Yet He rejoiced in it with a sudden glory ( John 12:23), and recognized in it the fulfilment of His life’s far-reaching purpose. He rejected it only that He might attain it. His own light, like that of His disciples, must be set upon a candlestick if it was to give light to all that were in the house; and He reached the Gentiles most effectually by concentrating His ministry upon Israel.
3. The open field. —In order to estimate the influence of Nature upon the mind of Jesus, it is necessary, first, to distinguish between the various ways in which Nature has been conceived in relation to humanity. At the two extremes stand materialistic realism and the purely spiritual and idealistic views. The former sees in nature mere masses of living or dead matter, arranged in various shapes, quantities, and combinations, and moved by forces variously conceived. The latter sees in it the visual and sensuous revelation of the Divine life. It is ‘the garment of God,’ whose line drapery at once hides and reveals the Spirit of the universe.
Between these extremes there are three main points of view. Art, searching for beauty, has discovered landscape, in which the detailed objects are grouped into larger unities invested with a larger and more composite character of their own. The experience of individuals and the history of nations have added to the facts of landscape or of single objects certain associations which give them their human interest. Thought, emotion, and imagination have discovered (some would say invented) a mysterious spirituality in Nature, variously described or confessed to be indescribable, but perceived or felt as in some way a haunting presence, a ‘something more’ than meets the eye or ear.
Often we find more than one of these ways of regarding Nature combined in the mind of a single thinker. St. Paul, e.g. , seems to have had singularly little feeling for Nature in the modern sense. There is no landscape and hardly any reference to detail in his writings, though his travels had showed him much of the finest scenery of the Mediterranean and of Asia Minor. For him the open field apparently represented nothing but a set of distances to be traversed before reaching cities. Yet at times the mystery comes upon him, and he invests Nature with a.dim life of her own, groaning and travailing in pain towards some grand event ( Romans 8:22). Dante, amid much of the grandest scenery of Europe, sees only obstacles to the foot of the traveller. But for him every place has historical associations, in whose light it lives in his mind. Gray is the poet who discovered English landscape. Wordsworth reaches the highest point in spiritualizing nature:
‘Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan, suckled in a creed outworn,
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathéd horn.’
Wordsworth, Miscellaneous Sonnets .
The age of Jesus was divided between the Greek and the Hebrew view of Nature, and both of these must have been familiar in Syria. The Greek view was devoid of landscape properly so called. It saw brilliant and well-defined masses of detail—the temple white on its hill, reeds in the river-bed, the numberless laughter of waves. Greece not only saw but felt these, as charged with a spiritual significance which could be apprehended only in fragmentary hints and glimpses, with more wistfulness than understanding. She sought to capture and retain that spiritual significance in the exquisite imagery of her mythological creations of nymph and faun, the dryad of the forest and the goddess of the fountain. Yet these delicate incarnations did not suffice for her expression of Nature. Behind them lay those unaccountable moods of delight and misgiving which Nature awoke in her soul. The unsolved mystery of ‘the beauty and the terror of the world’ emphasized in the main the misgiving, and produced ‘the melancholy of the Greeks.’ Death and change oppressed her spirit, and seemed to be ever the last word that Nature strove to say. The voice heard by the steersman had been heard by Greece before—‘Great Pan is dead.’
How much of this may have directly presented itself to Jesus, we cannot tell. His answer, however, to the Greeks who came to Him in Passion Week, seems to be an answer to the spirit of their nation ( John 12:4). It is to Nature that He leads them in His reference to the corn of wheat, and to the element of death in Nature. But He reveals in Nature what they had not strength to find, the promise of resurrection, and the assurance of life enriched and fructified by death.
The Hebrew view of Nature differs from the Greek somewhat as Browning’s differs from Wordsworth’s. To the Greek, Nature has a spirituality which is no doubt reflected, in part, from the soul of her observer, yet is conceived as residing in herself in one or other of many fashions of personification. To the Hebrew, Nature in herself is dead, and has no soul of her own. She is the tool of Jehovah or His weapon, according as He is working or warring against His enemies; or she is visible as a background over against human life, or at least as accessory to man and his needs or works in some way. In either case the point is that Nature for the Hebrew has no independent life or spirituality of her own. She shines ever in the borrowed light of human or Divine interest.
The Hebrew view of Nature, in its three main aspects, has been admirably described in the three expressions—(1) A stage for God, the ‘place of His feet’; (2) a home for man; (3) the assessor at the controversy between God and man ( Isaiah 1:2, Micah 6:2), a view in which the solemnity and austerity of Nature found a fitting metaphor to express them. Of each of these three aspects many instances might be quoted; but at present it concerns us only to remark that in none of them is Nature seen in herself, but always dependent on an inhabitant, Divine or human, who gives her soul. The third view, indeed, seems to conceive of Nature as independent, her mountains judging between God and man. But the personification does not go deep, nor is the consciousness of its figurativeness lost. The mountains, the heavens and the earth, are witnesses in much the same sense as a pillar set up by one who has made a vow. They are called upon to listen, to rejoice, to break forth into singing, not because they are conceived as living an independent life, but because the human or Divine event is conceived as of such vast import that even dumb Nature must feel its thrill, and for once awake from her inertness to do homage to the higher forms of being.
There is, properly speaking, no landscape in the Bible. Objects are seen in detail, or groups of objects, in connexion with the events or circumstances narrated. Through a cleft fissure in a mountain range a glimpse is caught of a ‘land that is very far off’; but it is as a destination rather than as a picture that it is seen. The language spends its strength on those sharp and clear-cut names for natural phenomena which express so much— Jordan , the down-rusher; Ghór , the scooped-out; Gilgal , the circular, and so on. The Song of Solomon is full of exquisite detail, with the aromatic scents of the East lingering about its voluptuous gardens and glades. But that is pre-Raphaelite art, of the same sort as those descriptions which are so common in the OT of a single tree or plant, a vine, an olive, or a gourd. It is characteristic of the Hebrew view of Nature that the Feast of Tabernacles, with its booths and illuminations, seemed to the Hebrew mind satisfactory as a piece of genuine rural life.
The life of Jesus was much spent in the open air, and His thought was full of the breezy freshness of the hills and fields; but they were Syrian and not European hills and fields, and their effect is that of Eastern nature, not Western. Samaria and Lebanon strike the traveller from England as most familiar. But there is no word of Lebanon in the Gospels, and Samaria was seen but casually in passing through. It was in one of Samaria’s richest and broadest valleys that He told His disciples to lift up their eyes and look upon the fields white already to the harvest ( John 4:35). The regions with which He was most familiar were the hills and Sea of Galilee, and the rocky heights of Judaea. These are the very regions where the scenery is most typically Oriental. The main difference between a Syrian and an English landscape is that in Syria there is none of that ‘atmosphere’ which softens outlines and tones down a wide stretch of country into a unity of vision. The colouring is faint, in delicate shades of grey and brown and lilac, broken by the most violently brilliant splashes of high colour, where a water-spring flings a patch of lush green vegetation upon the pale mountain side, or where in springtime a long thin flame of oleander blazes along the winding depth of a washed-out river-bed. The general impression of wide views either in Judaea or Galilee is that of a land sculptured out of tinted stones. In Judaea the hills are bare grey limestone, whose stoniness is intensified rather than softened by sparse and dingy olives. Along the sides of many valleys the strata run in many-coloured parallel bands, giving the effect of a gigantic but faded mural decoration; while the plateau on the heights round Jerusalem and on to the north lies bare in whitish grey. Galilee has more woodland, and some thin remains of what may once have been forests, but it also owes its general effect to rock rather than to vegetation. Allowing for the denudation caused by so many centuries of war and neglect, it is likely that even at its best the prevalent note of the land was that of sharp outline in faint colour, and its general impression that of huge-scale sculpture-work. Arriving from the West upon the edge of the hillside above Tiberias, the traveller catches his first sight of the Sea of Galilee. The writer may be permitted to quote a former description of his impression:
‘This is not scenery; it is tinted sculpture, it is jewel-work on a gigantic scale. The rosy flush of sunset was on it when we caught the first glimpse. At our feet lay a great flesh-coloured cup full of blue liquor; or rather the whole seemed some lapidary’s quaint fancy in pink marble and blue-stone. There was no translucency, but an aggressive opaqueness, in sea and shore alike. The dry atmosphere showed everything in sharpest outline, clear-cut and broken-edged. There was no shading or variety of colour, but a strong and unsoftened contrast. To be quite accurate, there was one break—a splash of white, with the green suggestion of trees and grass, lying on the water’s e
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
Ρeleshet . Four times in KJV, found always in poetry ( Exodus 15:34; Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 14:31; Joel 3:4); same as Philistia ( Psalms 60:8; Psalms 87:4; Psalms 83:7 "the Philistines".) The long strip of seacoast plain held by the Philistines. The Assyrian king Ivalush's inscription distinguishes "Palaztu on the western sea" from Tyre, Samaria, etc. (Rawlinson, Herodotus 1:467.) So in the Egyptian Karnak inscriptions Pulusata is deciphered. The Scriptures never use it as we do, of the whole Holy Land. (See Canaan for the physical divisions, etc.) "The land of the Hebrew" Joseph calls it, because of Abraham's, Isaac's, and Jacob's settlements at Mamre, Hebron, and Shechem ( Genesis 40:15). "the land of the Hittites" ( Joshua 1:4); so Chita or Cheta means the whole of lower and middle Syria in the Egyptian records of Rameses II. In his inscriptions, and those of Thothmes III, Τu-Netz , "Holy Land," occurs, whether meaning "Phoenicia" or "Palestine". In Hosea 9:3 "land of Jehovah," compare Leviticus 25:23; Isaiah 62:4.
"The holy land," Zechariah 2:12; Zechariah 7:14, "land of desire"; Daniel 8:9. "the pleasant land"; Daniel 11:16; Daniel 11:41, "the glorious (Or Goodly) land"; Ezekiel 20:6; Ezekiel 20:15, "a land that I had espied for them flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands." God's choice of it as peculiarly His own was its special glory ( Psalms 132:13; Psalms 48:2; Jeremiah 3:19 margin "a good land, a land of brooks of water (Wadies Often Now Dry, But A Few Perennial) , of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills (The Deep Blue Pools, The Sources Of Streams) , a land of wheat, barley, vines, figtrees, pomegranates, oil olive, honey ( Dibs , The Syrup Prepared From The Grape Lees, A Common Food Now) ... wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass" ( Deuteronomy 8:7-9). "The land of the Amorite" ( Amos 2:10).
"The land of Israel" in the larger sense ( 1 Samuel 13:19); in the narrower sense of the northern kingdom it occurs 2 Chronicles 30:25. After the return from Babylon "Judaea" was applied to the whole country S. and N., and E. beyond Jordan ( Matthew 19:1). "The land of promise" ( Hebrews 11:9). "Judaea" in the Roman sense was part of the province "Syria," which comprised the seaboard from the bay of Issus to Egypt, and meant the country from Idumea on the S. to the territories of the free cities on the N. and W., Scythopolis, Sebaste, Joppa, Azotus, etc. The land E. of Jordan between it and the desert, except the territory of the free cities Poilu, Gadara, Philadelphia, was "Perea." From Dan (Banias) in the far N. to Beersheba on the S. is 139 English miles, two degrees or 120 geographical miles. The breadth at Gaza from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea is 48 geographical miles; at the Litany, from the coast to Jordan is 20 miles; the average is 34 geographical or 40 English miles. About the size of Wales. The length of country under dominion in Solomon's days was probably 170 miles, the breadth 90, the area 12,000 or 13,000 square miles.
The population, anciently from three to six millions, is now under one million. The Jordan valley with its deep depression separates it from the Moab and Gilead highlands. Lebanon, Antilebanon, and the Litany ravine at their feet form the northern bound. On the S. the dry desert of Paran and "the river of Egypt" bound it. On the western verge of Asia, and severed from the main body of Asia by the desert between Palestine and the regions of Mesopotamia and Arabia, it looks on the other side to the Mediterranean and western world, which it was destined by Providence so powerfully to affect; oriental and reflective, yet free from the stagnant and retrogressive tendencies of Asia, it bore the precious spiritual treasure of which it was the repository to the energetic and progressive W. It consists mainly of undulating highlands, bordered E. and W. by a broad belt of deep sunk lowland.
The three main features, plains, hills, and torrent beds, are specified ( Numbers 13:29; Joshua 11:16; Joshua 12:8). Mount Carmel, rising to the height of above 1,700 ft., crosses the maritime plain half way up the coast with a long ridge from the central chain, and juts out into the Mediterranean as a bold headland. The plain of Jezreel or Esdraelon on its northern side, separating the Ephraim mountains from those of Galilee, and stretching across from the Mediterranean to the Jordan valley, was the great battlefield of Palestine. Galilee is the northern portion, Samaria the middle, Judaea the southern. The long purple wall of Gilead and Moab's hills on the eastern side is everywhere to be seen. The bright light and transparent air enable one from the top of Tabor, Gerizim or Bethel at once to see Moab on the E. and the Mediterranean on the W. On a line E. of the axis of the country and running N. and S. lie certain elevations: Hebron 3,029 ft. above the sea; Jerusalem, 2,610; Olivet, 2,724; Neby Samwil on the N., 2,650; Bethel, 2,400; Ebal and Gerizim, 2,700; Little Hermon and Tabor, N. of the Esdraelon plain, 1,900.
The watershed sends off the drainage of the country in streams running W. to the Mediterranean and E. to the Jordan, except at the Esdraelon plain and the far N. where the drainage is to the Litany. Had the Jews been military in character, they would easily have prevented their conquerors from advancing up the precipitous defiles from the E., the only entrances to the central highlands of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim, from the Jordan valley; as Engedi ( 2 Chronicles 20:1-2; 2 Chronicles 20:16) and Adummim, the route between Jericho and Jerusalem by which Pompey advanced when he took the capital. The slope from the western valleys is more gradual, as the level of the plain is higher, and the distance up the hills longer, than from the eastern Jordan depression; still the passes would be formidable for any army with baggage to pass. From Jaffa up to Jerusalem there are two roads: the one to the right by Ramleh and the wady Aly; the other the historic one by Lydda and the Bethorons, or the wady Suleiman, and Gibeon.
By this Joshua drove the Canaanites to the plains; the Philistines went up to Michmash, and fled back past Ajalon. The rival empires, Egypt and Babylon-Assyria, could march against one another only along the maritime western plain of Palestine and the Lebanon plain leading toward and from the Euphrates. Thus Rameses II marched against the Chitti or Hittites in northern Syria, and Pharaoh Necho fought at Mefiddo in the Esdraelon plain, the battlefield of Palestine; they did not meddle with the central highlands, "The S. country" being near the desert, destitute of trees, and away from the mountain streams, is drier than the N., where springs abound. (See Pharaoh Necho; Megiddo ) The region below Hebron between the hills and the desert is called the Negeb (the later Daroma) from its dryness. Hence Caleb's daughter, having her portion in it, begged from him springs, i.e. land having springs ( Judges 1:15). The "upper and lower springs" spring from the hard formation in the N.W. corner of the Negeb ( Joshua 15:19); here too Nabal lived, so reluctant to give "his water" ( 1 Samuel 25:11).
The verdure and blaze of scarlet flowers which cover the highlands of Judah and Benjamin in spring, while streams pour down the ravines, give place to dreary barrenness in the summit. Rounded low hills, with coarse gray stone, clumps of oak bushes, and the remains of ancient terraces running round them, meet one on each side, or else the terraces are reconstructed and bear olives and figs, and vineyards are surrounded by rough walls with watchtowers. Large oak roots are all that attest the former existence of trees along the road between Bethlehem and Hebron. Corn or Dourra fills many of the valleys, and the stalks left until the ensuing seedtime give a dry neglected look to the scene. More vegetation appears in the W. and N.W. The wady es Sumt is named from its acacias. Olives, terebinths, pines, and laurels here and ten miles to the N. at Κirjath Jearim ("city of forests") give a wooded aspect to the scenery.
The tract, nine miles wide and 35 long, between the center and the sudden descent to the Dead Sea, is desolate at all seasons, a series of hills without vegetation, water, and almost life, with no ruins save Masada and one or two watchtowers. (On The Caves, See Caves.) No provision is made in the S. for preserving the water of the heavy winter and spring rains, as in Malta and Bermuda. The valley of Urtas, S. of Bethlehem, abounding in springs, and the pools of Solomon, are exceptions to the general dryness of the S. The ruins on every hill, the remains of ancient terraces which kept the soil up from being washed into the valleys, and the forests that once were in many parts of Judea until invasions and bad government cleared them away, and which preserved the moistness in the wadies, confirm the truth of the Bible account of the large population once maintained in Judah and Benjamin. The springs and vegetation as one advances N. toward Mount Ephraim especially strike the eye. (See Fountains ; EN Hakkore; Gihon; Engedi; Harod; Engannim; Endor; Jezreel )
Such springs as Ain Jalud or Rasel Mukatta, welling forth as a considerable stream from the limestone, or Tel el Kady forming a deep clear pool issuing from a woody mound, or Banias where a river issues roaring from its cave, or Jenin bubbling from the level ground, are sights striking by their rarity. Mount Ephraim (jebel Nablus) contains some of the most productive land in Palestine. Fine streams, with oleanders and other flowering trees on their banks, run through the valleys which are often well cultivated. N.W. of Nablus is the large, rich, grain abounding, and partly wooded district toward Carmel, which reaches to where the mountains slope down to Sharon plain under Mount Carmel. Extensive woods there are none, and the olives which are found everywhere but little improve the landscape. This absence of woods elsewhere makes their presence on Carmel's sides, and parklike slopes, the more striking. N. of Esdraelon the Galilee hills abound in timber, the land round Tabor is clad in dark oak, forming a contrast to jebel ed Duhy (Little Hermon) and Nazareth's white hills.
Oaks, terebinths, maples, arbutus, sumach, etc., cover the ravines and slopes of the numerous swelling hills, and supply the timber carried to Tyre for export as fuel to the seacoast towns. The hills throughout Palestine are crowned with remains of fenced cities, scarcely a town existed in the valleys. Inaccessibility was their object, for security; also the treacherous nature of the alluvial sand made the lower position unsafe in times of torrent floods from the hills, whereas the rock afforded a firm foundation ( Matthew 7:24-27). Unlike ordinary conquests, the Israelite conquerors took the hills, but the conquered Canaanites kept the plains where their chariots could maneuver ( Judges 1:19-35). Appropriately a highland coloring tinges their literature ( Psalms 72:3; Psalms 72:16; Isaiah 2:2; Ezekiel 36:1,; 1 Kings 20:28). The hills were the sites also of the forbidden "high places." The panoramic views from many hills, trodden by patriarchs, prophets, and heroes, as Olivet, Bethel, Gerizim, Carmel, Tabor, etc., are remarkable for their wide extent, comprising so many places of historic interest at once, owing to the clearness of the air.
The seacoast lowland between the hills and sea stretches from Εl Αrish ("river of Egypt") to Carmel. The lower half, Philistia, is wider; the upper, or Sharon, narrower. This region from the sea looks a low undulating strip of white sand. Attached to the plain is the Shephelah or "region of lower hills" intermediate between the plain and the mountains of Judah. Low calcareous hills, covered with villages and ruins, and largely planted with olives, rise above broad arable valleys. Olive, sycamore, and palm encircle Gaza and Ashdod in the plain along the shore. The soil is fertile brown loam, almost without a stone. Brick made of the loam and stubble being the material of the houses, these have been washed away by rains, so that the ancient villages have left few traces. The plain is one vast grainfield, produced without manure, save that supplied by the deposits washed down by the streams from the hills, without irrigation, and with only the simplest agriculture. Sharon is ten miles wide from the sea to the mountain base; there are no intermediate hills, as the Shephelah in Philistia.
Its undulations are crossed by perennial streams from the central hills, which instead of spreading into marshes, as now, might be utilized for irrigation. The ancient irrigatory system, with passes cut through the solid wall of cliff near the sea for drainage, is choked up. The rich soil varies from red to black, and on the borders of the marshes and streams are rank meadows where herds still feed, as in David's days ( 1 Chronicles 27:29). The white sand is encroaching on the coast. In the N. between Jaffa and Caesarea sand dunes are reported to exist, three miles wide, 300 ft. high. The Jews, though this region with its towns was assigned to them ( Joshua 15:45-47; Joshua 13:3-6; Joshua 16:3 Gezer, Joshua 17:11 Dor), never permanently occupied it. The Philistines kept their five cities independent of, and sometimes supreme over, Israel (1 Samuel 5; 1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Samuel 27:2; 1 Kings 2:39; 2 Kings 8:2-3).
The Canaanites held Dor ( Judges 1:27) and Gezer until Pharaoh took it and gave it to his daughter, Solomon's wife ( 1 Kings 9:16). Lod (Lydda) and Ono were in Benjamin's possession toward the end of the monarchy and after the return from Babylon ( Nehemiah 11:34; 2 Chronicles 28:18). Gaza and Askelon had regular ports (majumas, Kenrick, Phoen. 27-29). Ashdod was strong enough to withstand the whole Egyptian force for 29 years. Under Rome Caesarea, (now a ruin washed by the sea) and Antipatris in this region were leading cities of the province. Joppa between Philistia and Sharon. is still the seaport for travelers from the W. to Jerusalem, and was Israel's only harbor. They had no word for harbor, so unversed in commerce were they; yet their sacred poets show their appreciation of the phenomena of the sea ( Psalms 104:25-26; Psalms 107:23-30). Bedouin marauders and Turkish misrule have closed the old coast route between N. and S., and left the fertile and to be comparatively uncultivated. The Jordan valley is the special feature of Palestine.
Syria is divided, from Antioch in the N. to Akaba on the eastern extremity of the Red Sea, by a deep valley parallel to the Mediterranean and separating the central highlands from the eastern ones. The range of Lebanon and Hermon crosses this valley between its northern portion, the valley of the Orontes. and its main portion the valley of Jordan (The Αrabah Of The Hebrew, The Αulon Of The Greeks, And The Ghor Of The Arabs.) Again, the high ground S. of the Dead Sea crosses between the valley of the Jordan and the wady el Arabah running to the Red Sea. The Jordan valley divides Galilee, Ephraim, and Judah from Bashan, Gilead, and Moab respectively. The bottom of Jordan valley is actually more than 2,600 ft. below the level of the Mediterranean, and must have once been far deeper, being now covered with sediment accumulated by the Jordan. The steepness of the descent front Olivet is great, but not unparalleled; the peculiarity which is unique is that the descent is into the bowels of the earth; one standing at the Dead Sea shore is almost as far below the ocean surface as the miner in the lowest depths of any mine.
The climate of the Jordan valley is tropical and enervating, and the men of Jericho a feeble race. "The region round about Jordan" was used of the vicinity of Jericho ( Matthew 3:5). The Jordan is perennial, but most of the so-called "rivers" are mere "winter torrents" ( Nachal ), dry during fully half the year ( Job 6:15-17). The land of promise must have been a delightful exchange for the dreary desert, especially as the Israelites entered it at Passover ( Joshua 5:10-11), i.e. springtime, when the country is lovely with verdure and flowers. There is a remarkable variety of climate and natural aspect, due to the differences of level between the different parts, and also to the vicinity of snowy Hermon and Lebanon on the N. and of the parched desert of the S., and lastly to the proximity of the ever fresh and changing sea. The Jordan valley, in its light fertile soil and torrid atmosphere where breezes never penetrate, somewhat resembles the valley of the Nile ( Genesis 13:10). The contrast between highland and lowland is marked by the phraseology "going up" to Judah, Jerusalem.
Hebron; "going down" to Jericho, Gaza, Egypt. "The mountain of Judah," "of Ephraim," "of Naphtali," designate the three great groups of highlands. In these the characteristic names occur, Gibeah, Geba, Gibeon (hill), Ramah, Ramathaim ("brow"), Mizpeh, Zonhim (watchtower, watchers). The lower hills and southern part of the seacoast plain is the " Shephelah "; the northern part Sharon; the Jordan valley Ηa-Αrabah ; the "ravines", "torrent beds", and "small valleys" ( 'Eemeq , Nachal , Gay ) of the highlands are never confounded. The variations in temperature, from the heat of midday and the dryness of summer to the rain, snow, and frosts of winter, are often alluded to ( Psalms 19:6; Psalms 32:4; Psalms 147:16-18; Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 25:5; Genesis 18:1; 1 Samuel 11:9; Nehemiah 7:3; Jeremiah 36:30). The Bible by its endless variety of such illusions, familiar to the people of the W. and suggested by Palestine which stands between E. and W., partaking of the characteristics of both, suits itself to the men of every land.
Antiquities . In contrast to Egypt, Assyria, and Greece, Palestine does not contain an edifice older than the Roman occupation. There are but few remains left illustrating Israelite art. The coins, rude and insignificant, the oldest, being possibly of the Maccabean era, are the solitary exception. The enclosure round Abraham's tomb at Hebron we know not the date of Solomon's work still remains in some places. Wilson's arch is probably Solomonic, and the part of the sanctuary wall on E. side. (See Jerusalem .) The "beveling," thought to be Jewish, is really common throughout Asia Minor; it is found at Persepolis, Cnidus, and Athens. The prohibition (1) of making graven images or likenesses of living creatures, and (2) of building any other temple than that at Jerusalem, restricted art. Solomon's temple was built under Hiram's guidance. The synagogues of the Maccabean times were built in the Greek style of architecture. Tent life left its permanent impression on Israel ( 2 Samuel 20:1; 1 Kings 12:16; 2 Chronicles 10:16; 2 Kings 14:12; Jeremiah 30:18; Zechariah 12:7; Psalms 78:55; Psalms 84:1; Isaiah 16:5).
Geology . Palestine is a much disturbed mountainous tract of limestone, of the secondary or jurassic and cretaceous period. It is an offshoot from Lebanon, much raised above the sea, with partial interruptions from tertiary and basaltic deposits. The crevasse of the Jordan is possibly volcanic in origin, an upheaval tilting the limestone so as to leave a vast split in the strata, but stopping without intruding volcanic rocks into the fissure. The basins of the sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea resemble craters. Others attribute the chasm to the ocean's gradual action in immense periods. The hills range mainly N. and S. The limestone consists of two groups of strata. The upper is a solid stone varying from white to reddish brown, with few fossils, and abounding in caverns; the strata sometimes level for terraces, oftener violently disarranged, and twisted into various forms, as on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
This limestone is often topped with flint-abounding chalk, as on the western side of the Dead Sea, where it has many salt and sulfurous springs. Dolomite or magnesian limestone, a send-crystalline rock, white or brown with glistening surface, blends with the mass of limestone, near Jerusalem. The lower limestone group has two series of beds: the upper darkish, cavernous, and ferruginous; the lower dark gray, solid, abounding in the fossil cidaris, an extinct echinus, the spines of which are the "olives" of the convents. This is the substratum of the whole country E. and W. of Jordan. The ravine from Olivet to Jericho affords an opportunity of examining the strata through which it cuts. After the limestone had assumed its present outline, lava burst, from beneath and overflowed the stratified beds, as basalt or trap, long before historic times. These volcanic rocks are found in the cis-Jordanic country, only N. of the Samaria mountains, e.g. S.W. of Esdraelon plain and N. of Tabor. The two centers of eruption were:
(1) The older about Kuru Hattin, the traditional mount of beatitudes, from whence the lava flowed forming the cliffs at the back of Tiberius; the disintegration of the basalt formed the fertile black soil of the plain of Gennesaret.
(2) The more recent, near Safed, where three craters have become the lakes el Jish, Taiteba, and Delata.
The earthquake in Uzziah's time ( Zechariah 14:5), which injured the temple and brought down a mass of rock from Olivet (Josephus, Ant. 9:10, section 4), shows that volcanic action has continued in historic times. From the 13th to the 17th centuries A.D. earthquakes were unknown in Syria and Judaea, but the Archipelago and southern Italy suffered greatly. Since than their activity has been resumed, destroying Aleppo in 1616 and 1822. Antioch in 1737, and Tiberius and Safed in 1837. See Amos 4:11; compare Matthew 27:51; Psalms 46:1-2. The hot salt and fetid springs at Tiberias, Callirrhoe ( Wady Ζerka Μain , E. of the Dead Sea), and other places along the Jordan valley, and round the lakes, as Ain Tabighah N.E. of lake Tiberias, the rock salt, niter, and sulphur of the Dead Sea, evidence volcanic agency. The Tiberias hot springs flowed more abundantly and increased in temperature during the earthquake of 1837. W. of the lower Jordan and Dead Sea no volcanic formations appear. The igneous rocks first appear in situ near the water level at wady Hemarah, a little N. of wady Zerka Main N.E. of the Dead Sea.
Here and E. of the upper Jordan the most remarkable igneous rocks are found; the limestone lies underneath. The Lejah, anciently Argob or Trachonitis, has scarcely anything exactly like it on the earth. (See Argob .) Traces of two terraces appear in the Jordan valley. The upper is the broader and older; the second, 50 to 150 ft. lower, reaching to the channel of the Jordan, was excavated by the river before it fell to its present level, when it filled the space between the eastern and western faces of the upper terrace. The inner side of both terraces is furrowed by the descending rains into conical hillocks. The lower terrace has much vegetation, oleanders, etc. The tertiary beds, marls, and conglomerates prevail round the margin of the Dead Sea; at its S.E. corner sandstone begins and stretches N. to wady Zerka Main. The alluvial soil of Philistia is formed of washings from the highlands by winter rains. It is loamy sand, red or black, formed of sandstone disintegrated by the waves and cast on the shore, or, as Josephus (Ant. 15:9, section 6) states, brought from Egypt by the S.S.W. wind.
It chokes the streams in places, and forms marshes which might be utilized for promoting fertility. The plain of Gennesaret is richer land, owing to the streams flowing all the year round, and to the decay of volcanic rocks on the surrounding heights. Esdraelon plain is watered by the finest springs of Palestine, and has a volcanic soil. Asphalt or bitumen is only met with in the valley of the Jordan, and in fragments floating on the water or at the shore of the Dead Sea. Bituminous limestone probably exists in thick strata near neby Musa; thence bitumen escapes from its lower beds into the Dead Sea, and there accumulates till, becoming accidentally detached, it rises to the surface. Sulphur is found on the W., S., and S.E. shore of the Dead Sea, a sulfurous crust spreading over the beach. Niter is rare. Rock salt abounds. The Khasm Usdum, a mound at the S. of the Dead Sea, is five miles and a half long by two and a half broad, and several hundred feet high; the lower part rock salt, the upper Sulphate of lime and salt with alumina.
Botany . Palestine is the southern and eastern limit of the Asia Minor flora, one of the richest in the earth, and contains many trees and herbs as the pine, oak, elder, bramble, dogrose, hawthorn, which do not grow further S. and E. owing to the dryness and heat of the regions beyond hilly Judaea. Persian forms appear on the eastern frontier, Arabian and Egyptian on the southern. Arabian and Indian tropical plants of about 100 different kinds are the remarkable anomaly in the torrid depression of the Jordan and Dead Sea. The general characteristics, owing to the geographical position and mountains of Asia Minor and Syria, are Mediterranean European, not Asiatic. Palestine was once covered with forests which still remain on the mountains, but in the lower grounds have disappeared or given place to brush wood.
Herbaceous plants deck the hills and lowlands from Christmas to June, afterward the heat withers all. The mountains, unlike our own, have no alpine or arctic plants, mosses, lichens, or ferns. Volney objected to the sacred history on the ground of Judaea's present barrenness, whereas Scripture represents it as flowing with milk and honey; but this is strong testimony for its truth, for the barrenness is the fulfillment of Scripture prophecies. Besides our English fruits, the apple, vine, pear, apricot, plum, mulberry, and fig, there are dates, pomegranates, oranges, limes, banana, almond, prickly pear, and pistachio nut, etc.; out no gooseberry, strawberry, raspberry, currant, cherry, Besides our cereals and vegetables there are cotton, millet, rice, sugar cane, maize, melons, cummin, sweet potato, tobacco, yam, etc. Three principal regions are distinguishable:
(1) the western half of Syria and Palestine, resembling the flora of Spain;
(2) the desert and eastern half, resembling the flora of western India and Persia;
(3) the middle and upper mountain regions, the flora of which resembles that of northern Europe. The trans-jordanic region stretching to Mesopotamia is botanically unexplored.
(1) In western, Syria and the commonest tree is the Quercus Pseudococcifera Oak, then the pistacia, the carob tree ( Ceratona Siliqua ), the oriental plane, the sycamore fig, Αrbutus Αndrachne , Ζizyphus Spina Christi ("Christ's thorn"), tamarisk, the blossoming oleander along the banks of streams and lakes, gum cistus, the caper plant. (See Oak ; Husks The vine is cultivated in all directions; the enormous bunches of grapes at Eshcol are still fatuous; those near Hebron are so long as to reach the ground when hung on a stick resting between two men's shoulders. (See Olive and FIG thereon.) Of more than 2,000 plants in this botanical division, 500 are British wild flowers.
Legum Nosae abound in all situations. Of the Compositae , centauries and thistles. The hills of Galilee and Samaria are perfumed with the Labiatae , marjoram, thyme, lavender, sage, etc. Of Cruciferae , the giant mustard and rose of Jericho. Of Umbelliferae , the fennels. Of the Caryophylleae , pinks and sabonaria. Of Βoragineae , the beautiful echiums, anchusas, and onosmas. Of Scrophularineae , veronica and vebascum. The grasses seldom form a sward as in humid and colder countries; the pasture in the East is afforded by herbs and herbaceous shrubs. The Αrundo Donax , Saccharum , Αegyptiacum , and Εrianthus Rarennoe are gigantic in size, and bear silky flower plumes of great beauty. Of Liliaceae , there is a beautiful variety, tulips, fritillaries, and squills.
The Violaceae and Resaceae (except the Ρoterium Spinosum ) and Lobeliaeceae are scarce, the Geraniaceae beautiful and abundant, also the Campauulaceae , Εuphorbiaceae , and Convolvuli . Ferns are scarce, owing to the dryness of the climate. The papyrus is the most remarkable of all. Once it grew along the Nile, but now it grows nowhere in Africa N. of the tropics. Syria is its only habitat besides, except one spot in Sicily. It forms tufts of triangled smooth stems, six to ten feet high, crowned by atop of pendulous threads; it abounds by the lake of Tiberius. The Cucurbitaceae abound, including gourds, pumpkins, the colocynth apple which yields the drug, and the squirting cucumber. The landscape in spring is one mass of beauty with adonis, the Ranunculus Αsiaticus , phloxes, mallows, scabicea, orchis; narcissus, iris, gladiolus, crocuses, colchicum, star of Bethlehem, etc.
(2) The difference of the flora of eastern Syria and Palestine from the western appears strikingly in going down from Olivet to the Dead Sea. In the valleys W. and S. of Jerusalem there are dwarf oaks, pistacia, smilax, arbutus rose, bramble, and Cratoegus Αronia ; the last alone is on Olivet. Not one of these appears eastward. Toward the Dead Sea salsolas, Capparideae , rues, tamarisks, etc., appear. In the sunken valley of the Jordan the Ζizyphus Spina Christi , the Βalanites Αegyptiaca yielding the Zuk oil, the Οchradenus Baccatus , the Αcacia Furnesiana with fragrant yellow flowers, the mistletoe Loranthus Acacioe with flaming scarlet flowers, the Αlhagi Μaurorum , the prickly Solanum Sodomoeum with yellow fruit called the Dead Sea apple.
On the Jordan banks the Ρopulus Εuphratica , found all over central Asia but not W. of Jordan. In the saline grounds Αtriplex Halimus , statices (sea pinks), salicornias. Other tropical plants are Ζygophyllum Coccineum , Astragali, Cassias, and Nitraria. In Engedi valley alone Sida Nautica and Αsiatica , Calotropis Procera , Αmberboa , Βatatas Littoralis , Αerva Javanica , Ρluchea Dioscoridis , and Salvadora Ρersica "mustard", found as far S. as Abyssinia and E. as India, but not W. or N. of the Dead Sea. (See Mustard .) In reascending from the N.W. shore on reaching the level of the Mediterranean the Ρoterium Spinosum , anchusa, pink, of the Mediterranean coast, are seen, but no trees until the longitude of Jerusalem is reached.
(3) Middle and upper mountains region. Above the height of 5,000 feet the Quercus Cerris of S. Europe, the Quercus Εhrenbergii or Castanaefolia , Quercus Τoza , Quercus Libani , Quercus Manifera are found, junipers, and cedars. The dry climate and sterile limestone, and the warm age that succeeded the glacial (The Moraines Of The Cedar Valley Attesting The Former Existence: Of Glaciers) , account for the flora of Lebanon being unlike to that of the Alps of Europe, India, and N. America. The most boreal forms are restricted to clefts of rocks or the neighborhood of snow, above 9,000 feet, namely, Drabas, Arenaria, one Potentilla, a Festuca, an Arabis, and the Οxyria Reniformis , the only arctic type surviving the glacial period. The prevalent forms up to the summit are astragali, Αcantholimon Statices , and the small white Nocea.
Zoology . Palestine epitomizes the natural features of all regions, mountain and desert, temperate and tropical, seacoast and interior, pastoral, arable and volcanic; nowhere are the typical fauna of so many regions and zones brought together. This was divinely ordered that the Bible might be the book of mankind, not of Israel alone. The bear of Lebanon ( Ursus Syriacus ) and the gazelle of the desert, the wolf of the N. and the leopard ( Leopardus Varius in the central mountains) of the tropics; the falcons, linnets, and buntings of England, and the Palestine sun bird ( Cinnyris Osea ), the grackle of the glen ( Αmydrus Τristramii ), "the glossy starling" in the Kedron gorge (Whose Music Rolls Like That Of The Organ Bird Of Australia, A Purely African Type) , the jay of Palestine, and the Palestine nightingale ( Ιcos Xanthopygos ), the sweetest songster of the country.
Of 322 species of birds noted by Tristram, 79 are common to the British isles, 260 are in European lists, 31 of eastern Africa, 7 of eastern Asia, 4 of northern Asia, 4 of Russia, 27 peculiar to Palestine. He obtained a specimen of ostrich ( Struthio Camelus ) from the Belka E. of the Dead Sea. Jackals and foxes abound, the hyena and wolf are not numerous. (See Lion thereon.) Of the pachyderms, the wild boar ( Sus Scrofa ) on Tabor and Little Hermon, also the Syrian hyrax. (See Coney .) A kind of squirrel ( Sciurus Syriacus ) on Lebanon, the Syrian and the Egyptian hare, the jerboa ( Dipus Αegyptius ), the porcupine, the short-tailed field mouse, and rats, etc., represent the Rodentia . The gazelle is the antelope of Palestine. The fallow deer is not uncommon. The Persian ibex Canon Τristram found S. of Hebron. (See Unicorn as to the wild ox, urus, or bison.)
The buffalo is used for draught and plowing. The ox is small. The sheep is the broad tailed. Of reptiles: the stellio lizard, which the Turks kill as they think that it mimics them saying prayers; the chameleon; the gecko ( Τarentola ); the Greek tortoise. Of serpents and snakes, the Νaia , Coluber , and Cerastes Ηasselquistii , etc. Large frogs. Of fish in the sea of Galilee the binny, a bird of barbel, is the most common. The fish there resemble those of the Nile. The land mollusks are very numerous, in the N. the genus Clausilia and Opaque Bulimi . In the S. and hills of Judah the genus Helix like that of Egypt and the African Sahara. In the valley of Jordan the bulimus. No mollusk can exist in the Dead Sea owing to its bitter saltiness. The butterflies of southern Europe are represented in Sharon; the Apollo of the Alps is represented on Olivet by the Parnassius Apollinis. The Τhais and Glorious Vanessa abound.
Climate . January (Temperature Average 49 Degrees F., Greatest Cold 28 Degrees F.) is the coldest month; July and August the hottest (Average 78 Degrees F.; Greatest Heat In Shade, 92 Degrees F.; In Sun, 148 Degrees F.) . The mean annual temperature is 65 degrees F. The temperature and seasons resemble California. A sea breeze from the N.W. from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. mitigates the four months' midsummer heat. The khamsin or sirocco blows in February, March, and April. When it comes from the E. it darkens the air and fills everything with fine dust. Snow often falls in January and February ( Psalms 68:14; Isaiah 55:10; 2 Samuel 23:20); but plants do not need shelter from the frost. The average fall of rain at Jerusalem is 61.6 inches; whereas the London mean is only 25. Rain comes most from S. or S.W. ( Luke 12:54) It begins in October or early in November, and continues to the end of February or middle of March, rarely to the end of April.
Not a continuous rain, but a succession of showers or storms with intervals of fine weather for a few weeks in December and January. A drought of three months before harvest is fatal to the crops ( Amos 4:7). None falls from April to October or November. Thus but two seasons are specified, "winter and summer," "cold and heat," "seedtime and harvest." But heavy saturating dews fall in summer, and thick fogs often prevail at night. In Jericho and the Ghor, sunk so deep below the sea level, the heat is much greater, owing to the absence of breeze, the enclosure by heights, the sandy soil, and the earth's internal heat; the harvest is a month in advance of that of the highland. The seacoast lowland has the heat mitigated by sea breeze, but it is hotter than the uplands. The Bible nomenclature of places still exists almost unchanged. Israel accepted it front the Canaanites; as is proved by the correspondence between it as recorded in Joshua and the nomenclature in the lists and conquests of Thothmes III. Thus the modern fellaheen seem to be the mixed descendants of the old Canaanites.
Smith's Bible Dictionary 
Pal'estine. (Land Of Strangers). These two forms, [ Palesti'na and Pal'estine ], occur in the Authorized Version, but four times in all, always in poetical passages; the first in Exodus 15:14 and Isaiah 14:29, the second in Joel 3:4. In each case, the Hebrew is Pelesheth , a word found, besides the above, only in Psalms 60:8; Psalms 83:7; Psalms 87:4 and Psalms 108:9. In all of which, our translators have rendered as "Philistia" or "Philistines." Palestine, in the Authorized Version, really means nothing, but Philistia. The original Hebrew word, Pelesheth , to the Hebrews signified merely the long and broad strip of maritime plain inhabited by their encroaching neighbors; nor does it appear that, at first, it signified more to the Greeks.
As lying next the sea, and as being also the high road from Egypt to Phoenicia and the richer regions, take note of it, but the Philistine plain became sooner known to the western world than the country farther inland, and was called by them, Syria Palestina (Philistine Syria). From thence, it was gradually extended to the country farther inland, till in the Roman and later Greek authors, both heathen sad Christian, it became the usual appellation for the whole country of the Jews, both west and east of Jordan. The word is now so commonly employed, in our more familiar language, to destinate the whole country of Israel that, although biblically a misnomer, it has been chosen here as the most convenient heading under which to give a general description of The Holy Land , embracing those points which have not been treated under the separate headings of cities or tribes.
This description will most conveniently divide itself Into three sections: - I. The Names applied to the country of Israel in the Bible and elsewhere. Ii. The Land ; its situation, aspect, climb, physical characteristics in connection with its history, its structure, botany and natural history. Iii. The History of the country is so fully given, under its various headings throughout the work, that it is unnecessary to recapitulate it here.
I. The Names . - Palestine , then, is designated in the Bible by more than one name. During the patriarchal period, the conquest and the age of the Judges, and also where those early periods are referred to in the later literature (as in) Psalms 105:11, it is spoken of as "Canaan", or more frequently, "The Land Of Canaan", meaning thereby, The Country West Of The Jordan , as opposed to "The Land Of Gilead", on the east.
During the monarchy, the name usually, though not frequently, employed is "The Land Of Israel". 1 Samuel 13:19.
Between the captivity and the time of our Lord, the name "Judea" had extended itself, from the southern portion, to the whole of the country, and even that beyond the Jordan. Matthew 19:1; Mark 10:1.
The Roman division of the country hardly coincided with the biblical one, and it does not appear that the Romans had any distinct name for that which we understand by Palestine.
Soon after the Christian era, we find the name "Palestina" in possession of the country.
The name most frequently used throughout the middle ages, and down to our own time, is Terra Sancta - The Holy Land.
Ii. The Land . - The Holy Land is not, in size or physical characteristics, proportioned to its moral and historical position as the theatre of the most momentous events in the world's history. It is but a strip of country about the size of Wales, less than 140 miles in length and barely 40 miles in average breadth, on the very frontier of the East, hemmed in between the Mediterranean Sea, on the one hand, and the enormous trench of the Jordan valley, on the other, by which it is effectually cut off from the mainland of Asia behind it. On the north, it is shut in by the high ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, and by the chasm of the Litany. On the south, it is no less enclosed by the arid and inhospitable deserts of the upper pert of the peninsula of Sinai.
Its position. - Its position on the map of the world - as the world was when the Holy Land first made its appearance in history - is a remarkable one.
(a) It was on the very outpost - and the extremist western edge of the East. On the shore of the Mediterranean it stands, as if it had advanced as far as possible toward the west, separated therefrom by that which, when the time arrived, proved to be no barrier, but the readiest medium of communication: the wide waters of the "great sea." Thus, it was open to all the gradual influences of the rising communities of the West, while it was saved from the retrogression and decrepitude, which have ultimately been the doom of all purely eastern states whose connections were limited to the East only.
(b) There was, however, one channel, and but one, by which it could reach and be reached by the great Oriental empires. The rivals road by which the two great rivals of the ancient world could approach one another - by which alone, Egypt could get to Assyria and Assyria to lay along the broad flat strip of coast which formed the maritime portion of the Holy Land, and thence, by the plain of the Lebanon to the Euphrates.
(c) After this, the Holy Land became, (like the Netherlands in Europe), the convenient arena on which, in successive ages, the hostile powers who contended for the empire of the East fought their battles.
Physical features. - Palestine is essentially a mountainous country. Not that if contains independent mountain chains, as in Greece, for example, but that every part of the highland is in greater or less undulation. But it is not only a mountainous country. The mass of hills which occupies the centre of the country is bordered or framed on both sides, east and west, by a broad belt of Shefelah , or lowland, sunk deep below its own level. The slopes or cliffs, which form, as if it were, the retaining walls of this depression, are furrowed and cleft by the torrent beds, which discharge the waters of the hills, and form the means of communication between the upper and lower level.
On the west, this Shefelah , or lowland, interposes between the mountains and the sea, and is the plain of Philistia and of Sharon. On the east, it is the broad bottom of the Jordan valley, deep down in which rushed the one river of Palestine to its grave in, the Dead Sea. Such is the first general impression of the physiognomy of the land. It is a physiognomy compounded of the three main features already named - the plains, the highland hills, and the torrent beds features, which are marked in the words of its earliest describers, Numbers 13:29; Joshua 11:16; Joshua 12:8, and which must be comprehended by every one who wishes to understand the countrym and the intimate connection existing between its structure and its history.
About halfway up the coast, the maritime plain is suddenly interrupted by a long ridge thrown out from the central mass, rising considerably to shove up the general level, and terminating in a bold promontory on the very edge of the Mediterranean. This ridge is Mount Carmel . On its upper side, the plain, as if to compensate for its temporary displacement, invades the centre of the country, and forms an undulating hollow right across it from the Mediterranean to the Jordan valley.
This central Shefelah , or lowland, which divides, with its broad depression, the mountains of Ephraim from the mountains of Galilee, is the plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel: the great battle-field of Palestine. North of Carmel, the Shefelah , or lowland resumes its position by the seaside till it is again interrupted, and finally put an end to, by the northern mountains, which push their way out of the sea, ending in the white promontory of the Ras Nakhura .
Above this is the ancient Phoenicia. The country, thus roughly portrayed, is, to all intents and purposes, the whole land of israel. The northern portion is Galilee; the centre is Samaria; and the south is Judea. This is the land of Canaan, which was bestowed on Abraham, - the covenanted home of his descendants.
The highland district, surrounded and intersected by its broad Shefelah , or lowland plains, preserves, from north to south, a remarkably even and horizontal profile. Its average height may betaken as 1600 to 1800 feet above the Mediterranean. It can hardly be denominated a plateau; yet, so evenly is the general level preserved and so thickly do the hills stand behind and between one another, that, when seen from the coast, or the western part of the maritime plain, it has quite the appearance of a wall. This general monotony of profile is however, relieved at intervals, by certain centers of elevation.
Between these elevated points runs the watershed of the country, sending off on either hand - to the Jordan valley on the east, and the Mediterranean on the west - the long, tortuous arms of ifs many torrent beds. The valleys, on the two sides of the watershed, differ considerably in character. Those on the east are extremely steep and rugged, while the western valleys are more gradual in their slope.
Fertility. - When the highlands of the country are more closely examined, a considerable difference will be found to exist in the natural condition and appearance of their different portions. The south, as being nearer the arid desert and farther removed from the drainage of the mountains, is drier and less productive than the north. The tract below Hebron, which forms the link between the hills of Judah and the desert, was known to the ancient Hebrews by a term originally derived from its dryness - Negeb . This was the south country.
As the traveller advances north of this tract, there is an improvement; but perhaps no country equally cultivated is more monotonous, bare or uninviting in its aspect than a great part of the highlands of Judah and Benjamin, during the larger portion of the year. The spring covers even those bald gray rocks with verdure and color, and fills the ravines with torrents of rushing water; but in summer and autumn, the look of the country from Hebron up to Bethel is very dreary and desolate. At Jerusalem, this reaches its climax.
To the west and northwest of the highlands, where the sea-breezes are felt, there is considerably more vegetation. Hitherto, we have spoken of the central and northern portions of Judea. Its eastern portion - a tract some nine or ten miles in width by about thirty-five miles in length, which intervenes between the centre and the abrupt descent to the Dead Sea - is far more wild and desolate, and that, not for a portion of the year only, but throughout it. This must have been always what it is now - an uninhabited desert, because uninhabitable.
No descriptive sketch of this part of the country can be complete which does not allude to the caverns, characteristic of all limestone districts, but here, existing in astonishing numbers. Every hill and ravine is pierced with them, some very large and of curious formation - perhaps partly natural, partly artificial - others mere grottos. Many of them are connected with most important, and interesting events of the ancient history of the country. Especially is this true of the district now under consideration. Machpelah, Makkedah, Adullam En-gedi, names inseparably connected with the lives, adventures and deaths of Abraham, Joshua, David and other Old Testament worthies, are all within the small circle of the territory of Judea.
The bareness and dryness which prevail more or less in Judea are owing partly to the absence of wood, partly to its proximity to the desert, and partly to a scarcity of water, arising from its distance from the Lebanon. But to this discouraging aspect, there are some important exceptions. The valley of Urtas , south of Bethlehem, contains springs which, in abundance and excellence, rival even those of Nablus . The huge "Pools of Solomon" are enough to supply a district for many miles round them; and the cultivation, now going on in that neighborhood, shows what might be done with a soil which required only irrigation, and a moderate amount of labor, to evoke a boundless produce.
It is obvious that, in the ancient days of the nation, when Judah and Benjamin possessed the teeming population indicated in the Bible, the condition and aspect of the country must have been very different. Of this, there are, not wanting, sure evidences. There is no country in which the ruined towns bear so large a proportion to those still existing. Hardly a hill-top of the many within sight that is not covered with vestiges of some fortress or city. But, besides this, forests appear to have stood in many parts of Judea until the repeated invasions and sieges caused their fall; and all this vegetation must have reacted on the moisture of the climate, and, by preserving the water in many a ravine and natural reservoir where now it is rapidly dried by the fierce sun of the early summer, must have influenced, materially , the look and the resources of the country.
Advancing northward from Judea, the country, (Samaria ), becomes gradually more open and pleasant. Plains of good soil occur between the hills, at first, small, but afterward, comparatively large. The hills assume here a more varied aspect than in the southern districts, springs are more abundant and more permanent until at last, when the district of Jebel Nablus is reached - the ancient Mount Ephraim - the traveller encounters an atmosphere and an amount of vegetation and water which are greatly superior to anything he has met with in Judea, and even sufficient to recall much of the scenery of the West.
Perhaps the springs are the only objects which in themselves, and apart from their associations, really strike an English traveller with astonishment and admiration. Such glorious fountains as those of Ain-Jalud or the Ras El-Mukatta - where a great body of the dearest water wells silently but swiftly out from deep blue recesses worn in the foot of a low cliff of limestone rock, and at once, forms a considerable stream - are rarely to be met with out of irregular, rocky, mountainous countries, and being such unusual sights can hardly be looked on by the traveler, without surprise and emotion.
The valleys which lead down from the upper level in this district to the valley of the Jordan are less precipitous than in Judea. The eastern district of the Jebel Nablus contains some of the most fertile end valuable spots in the Holy Land. Hardly less rich is the extensive region which lies northwest of the city of Shechem ( Nablus ), between it and Carmel, in which the mountains gradually break down into the plain of Sharon.
But with all its richness and all its advance on the southern part of the country, there is a strange dearth of natural wood about this central district. It is this which makes the wooded sides of Carmel and the park-like scenery of the adjacent slopes and plains so remarkable. No sooner, however, is the plain of Eadraelon passed than a considerable improvement is perceptible. The low hills which spread down from the mountains of Galilee, and form the barrier between the plains of Akka and Esdraelon, are covered with timber, of moderate size, it is true, but of thick, vigorous growth, and pleasant to the eye. Eastward of these hills, rises the round mass of Tabor dark with its copses of oak, and set on, by contrast, with the bare slopes of Jebel Ed-Duhy , (the so called "Little Hermon") and the white hills of Nazareth.
A few words must be said in general description of the Shefelah , or maritime lowland, which intervenes between the sea and the highlands. This region, only slightly elevated above the level of the Mediterranean, extends without interruption from El-Arish , south of Gaza, to Mount Carmel. It naturally divides itself into two portions, each of about half its length; the lower one, the wider, and the upper one, the narrower. The lower half is the plain of the Philistines-Philistia, or, as the Hebrews called it, the Shefelah , or Lowland. The upper half is the Sharon , or Saron, of the Old and New Testaments.
The Philistine plain is on an average 15 or 16 miles in width, from the coast to the beginning of the belt of hills, which forms the gradual approach to the high land of the mountains of Judah. The larger towns, as Gaza and Ashdod, which stand near the shore, are surrounded with huge groves of olive, and sycamore, as in the days King David. 1 Chronicles 27:28.
The whole plain appears to consist of brown, loamy soil, light, but rich, and almost without a stone. It is now, as it was when the Philistines possessed it, one enormous cornfield; an ocean of wheat covers the wide expense between the hills and the sand dunes of the seashore, without interruption of any kind - no break or hedge, hardly even a single olive tree. Its fertility is marvellous; for the prodigious crops which if raises are produced, and probably have been produced. Almost year by year. For the last forty centuries, without any of the appliances which we find necessary for success.
The plain of Sharon is much narrower than the plain of the Philistines-Philistia. It is about 10 miles wide from the sea to the foot of the mountains, which are, here, of a more abrupt character than those of Philistia, and without the intermediate hilly region there occurring.
The one ancient port of the Jews, the "beautiful", city of Joppa, occupied a position central between the Shefelah and Sharon. Roads led from these various cities to each other to Jerusalem, Neapolis and Sebaste in the interior, and to Ptolemais and Gaza on the north and south. The commerce of Damascus, and beyond Damascus, of Persia and India, passed this way to Egypt, Rome and the infant colonies of the West; and that traffic and the constant movement of troops backward and forward must have made this plain, at the time of Christ , one of the busiest and most populous regions of Syria.
The Jordan valley. - The chacteristics already described are hardly peculiar to Palestine, but there is one feature, as yet only alluded to, in which she stands alone. This feature is the Jordan - the one river of the country. The river is elsewhere described; See Jordan , but it and the valley through which it rushes down its extraordinary descent must be here briefly characterized. This valley begins with the river at its remotest springs of Hasbeiya , on the northwest side of Hermon, and accompanies it to the lower end of the Dead Sea, a length of about 150 miles. During the whole of this distance, its course is straight and its direction nearly due north and south.
The springs of Hasbeiya are 1700 feet above the level of the Mediterranean and the northern end of the Dead Sea is 1317 feet below it, so that, between these two points, the valley falls with more or less regularity, through a height of more than 3000 feet. But though the river disappears at this point, the valley still continues its descent below the waters of the Dead Sea till it reaches a further depth of 1308 feet. So that the bottom of this extraordinary crevasse is actually more than 2600 feet below the surface of the ocean.
In width, the valley varies. In its upper and shallower portion, as between Banias and the lake of Merom (Huleh ), it is about five miles across. Between the lake of Merom and the Sea or Galilee, it contracts, and becomes more of an ordinary ravine or glen. It is in its third and lower portion that the valley assumes its more definite and regular character. During the greater part of this portion, it is about seven miles wide from the one wall to the other.
The eastern mountains preserve their straight line of direction, and their massive horizontal wall-like aspect, during almost the whole distance. The western mountains are more irregular in height, their slopes less vertical. North of Jericho, they recede in a kind of wide amphitheatre, and the valley becomes twelve miles broad - a breadth which it, thenceforward, retains to the southern extremity of the Dead Sea.
Buried, as it is, between such lofty ranges, and shielded from every breeze, the climate of the Jordan valley is extremely hot and relaxing. Its enervating influence is shown by the inhabitants of Jericho. All the irrigation necessary for the cultivation, which formerly existed, is obtained front the torrents of the western mountains. For all purposes to which a river ordinarily applied the Jordan is useless. The Dead Sea, which is the final receptacle of the Jordan, is described elsewhere. See Sea, The Salt .
Climate. - "Probably there is no country in the world of the same extent which has a greater variety of climate than Palestine. On Mount Hermon, at its northern border, there is perpetual snow. From this, we descend successively by the peaks of Bashan and upper Galilee, where the oak and pine flourish, to the hills of Judah and Samaria, where the vine and fig tree are at home, to the plains of the seaboard, where the palm and banana produce their fruit, down to the sultry shores of the Sea, on which we find tropical heat and tropical vegetation." - McClintock and Strong.
As, in the time of our Saviour, Luke 12:64, the rains come chiefly from the south or southwest. They commence at the end of October or beginning of November, and continue, with greater or less constancy, till the end of February or March. It is not a heavy, continuous rain, so much as a succession of severe showers or storms, with intervening periods of fine, bright weather. Between April and November, there is, with the rarest exceptions, an uninterrupted succession of fine weather and skies without a cloud. Thus, the year divides itself into two, and only two, seasons - as indeed we see it constantly divided in the Bible - "winter and summer;" "cold and heat;" "seed-time and harvest."
Botany. - The botany of Syria and Palestine differs but little from that of Asia Minor, which is one of the most rich and varied on the globe. Among trees, the oak is by far the most prevalent. The trees of the genus Pistacia rank next to the oak in abundance, and of these there are three species in Syria. There is also the carob or locust tree ( Ceratonia siliqua ), the pine, sycamore, poplar and walnut.
Of planted trees and large shrubs, the first in importance is the vine, which is most abundantly cultivated all over the country, and produces, as in the time of the Canaanites, enormous bunches of grapes. This is especially the case in the southern districts, those of Eshcol being still particularly famous. Next to the vine, or even in some respects, its superior in importance, ranks the olive, which nowhere grows in greater luxuriance and abundance than in Palestine, where the olive orchards form a prominent feature throughout the landscape, and have done so from time immemorial. The fig forms another most important crop in Syria and Palestine.
(Besides these are the almond, pomegranate, orange, pear, banana, quince and mulberry among fruit trees. Of vegetables, there are many varieties, such as the egg plant, pumpkin, asparagus, lettuce, melon and cucumber. Palestine is especially distinguished for its wild flowers, of which there are more than five hundred varieties. The geranium, pink, poppy, narcissus, honeysuckle, oleander, jessamine, tulip and iris are abundant. The various grains are also very largely cultivated. - Editor).
Zoology. - It will be sufficient, in this article, to give a general survey of the fauna of Palestine, as the reader will find more particular information in the several articles, which treat of the various animals, under their respective names. Jackals and foxes are common; the hyena and wolf are also occasionally observed; the lion is no longer a resident in Palestine or Syria. A species of squirrel of which the term orkidaun , "The Leaper", has been noticed on the lower and middle parts of Lebanon. Two kinds of hare, rats and mice, which are said to abound, the jerboa, the porcupine, the short-tailed field-mouse, may be considered as the representatives of the Rodentia .
Of the Pachydermata , the wild boar, which is frequently met with on Taber and Little Hermon, appears to be the only living wild example. There does not appear to be at present any wild ox in Palestine. Of domestic animals, we need only mention the Arabian or one-humped camel, the ass, the mule and the horse, all of which are in general use. The buffalo ( Bubalus buffalo ) is common. The ox of the country is small and unsightly in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, but in the richer pastures, the cattle, though small, are not unsightly. The common sheep of Palestine is the broadtail, with its varieties. Goats are extremely common everywhere.
Palestine abounds in numerous kinds of birds. Vultures, eagles, falcons, kites, owls of different kinds represent the Raptorial order. In the south of Palestine especially, reptiles of various kinds abound. It has been remarked that, in its physical character, Palestine presents on a small scale, an epitome of the natural features of all regions, mountainous and desert, northern and tropical, maritime and inland, pastoral, arable and volcanic.
Antiquities. - In the preceding descriptions, allusion has been made to many of the characteristic features of the Holy Land; but it is impossible to close this account, without mentioning a defect which is even more characteristic - its lack of monuments and personal relics of the nation, which possessed it for so many centuries, and gave it its claim to our veneration and affection. When compared with other nations of equal antiquity - Egypt, Greece, Assyria - the contrast is truly remarkable.
In Egypt and Greece, and also in Assyria, as far as our knowledge at present extends, we find a series of buildings reaching down from the most remote and mysterious antiquity, a chain of which hardly a link is wanting, and which records the progress of the people in civilization, art and religion, as certainly as the buildings of the medieval architects do that of the various nations of modern Europe.
But in Palestine, it is not too much to say that, there does not exist a single edifice, or part of an edifice, of which we can be sure that it is of a date, anterior to the Christian era. And as with the buildings, so with other memorials.
With one exception, the museums of Europe do not possess a single piece of pottery or metal work, a single weapon or household utensil, an ornament or a piece of armor of Israelite make, which can give us the least conception of the manners or outward appliances of the nation before the date of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.
The coins form the single exception. M. Renan has named two circumstances, which must have had a great effect in suppressing art or architecture amongst the ancient Israelites, while their very existence proves that the people had no genius in that direction. These are
(1) the prohibition of sculptured representations of living creatures, and
(2) the command not to build a Temple anywhere, but at Jerusalem.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
1. Situation and name. The land of Palestine is the territory which lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Desert as E. and W. boundaries, and whose N. and S. boundaries may be approximately stated at 31Â° and 33Â° 20’ N. Lat. respectively. These boundaries have not always been clearly fixed; but the convention is generally agreed upon that Palestine is separated from Egypt by the Wady el-’ArÃ®sh or ‘River of Egypt,’ and from Syria by the Kasmiyeh or LÃ®tani River, the classical Leontes. Biblical writers fixed the limits of the territory by the towns Dan and Beersheba, which are constantly coupled when the author desires to express in a picturesque manner that a certain event affected the whole of the Israelite country ( e.g . Judges 20:1 ). The name ‘Palestine’ [AV [Note: Authorized Version.] in Joel 3:4; in Exodus 15:14 , Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 14:31 Peter alestina; RV [Note: Revised Version.] Philistia ], being derived from that of the Philistines , properly belongs only to the strip of coast-land south of Carmel, which was the ancient territory of that people. There is no ancient geographical term covering the whole region now known as Palestine: the different provinces Canaan, Judah, Israel, Moab, Edom, etc. are enumerated separately when necessary. The extension of the word to include the entire Holy Land, both west and east of the Jordan, is subsequent to the introduction of Christianity.
2. Geology and geography . The greater part of the country is of a chalky limestone formation, which overlies a layer of red sandstone that appears on the E. shore of the Dead Sea and elsewhere. Under the red sandstone are the archÃ¦an granitic rocks which form a large part of the Sinai Peninsula. Above the chalk is a layer of nummulitic limestone, which appears on some mountains. Volcanic rock, the result of ancient eruptions, appears in the Hauran, Galilee (especially in the neighbourhood of Safed), and elsewhere. For fuller information on the geology of the country, see art. Geology. With respect to the surface, Palestine divides naturally into a series of narrow strips of country running from north to south, and differing materially from one another in character. ( a ) The first of these is the Maritime Plain running along the coast of the Mediterranean from the neighbourhood of Sidon and Tyre southward, and disappearing only at the promontory of Carmel. This plain widens southward from Carmel to a maximum breadth of about 20 miles, while to the north of that promontory it develops into the great plain of Esdraelon, which intersects the mountain region and affords the most easy passage into the heart of the country. This plain is covered with a most fertile alluvial soil. ( b ) The second strip is the mountainous ridge of JudÃ¦a and Samaria, on the summit of which are Hebron, Jerusalem, and other important towns and villages; and which, with the single interruption of the piain of Esdraelon, runs continuously from the south border of the country to join the system of the Lebanon. ( c ) The third strip is the deep depression known as the GhÃ´r , down which runs the Jordan with its lakes. ( d ) The fourth strip is the great plateau of Bashan, Moab, and Edom, with a lofty and precipitous face towards the west, and running eastward till it is lost in the desert.
3. Water supply, climats, natural products. There is no conspicuous river in Palestine except the Jordan and its eastern tributaries, and these, being for the greater part of their course in a deep hollow, are of little or no service for irrigation. In consequence, Palestine is dependent as a whole for its water supply on springs, or on artificial means of storage of its winter rains. Countless examples of both exist, the former especially in Galilee, parts of which are abundantly fertile by nature, and would probably repay beyond all expectation a judicious expenditure of capital. The case of JudÃ¦a is a little different, for here there are extensive tracts which are nearly or quite waterless, and are more or less desert in consequence.
The climate of Palestine is, on the whole, that of the sub-tropical zone, though, owing to the extraordinary variation of altitudes, there is probably a greater range of average local temperature than in any other region of its size on the world’s surface. On the one hand, the summits of Hermon and of certain peaks of the Lebanon are covered with snow for the greater part of the year; on the other hand, the tremendous depression, in the bottom of which lies the Dead Sea, is practically tropical, both in climate and in vegetation. The mean local temperature is said to range from about 62Â° F in the upland district to almost 100Â° F in the region of Jericho.
Rainfall is confined to the winter months of the year. Usually in the end of October or November the rainy season is ushered in with a heavy thunderstorm, which softens the hard-baked surface of the land. This part of the rainy season is the ‘ former rain ’ of the Bible (as in Joel 2:23 ). Ploughing commences immediately after the rains have thus begun. The following months have heavy showers, alternating with days of beautiful sunshine, till March or April, when the ‘ latter rain ’ falls and gives the crops their final fertilization before the commencement of the dry season. During this part of the year, except by the rarest exception, no rain falls: its place is supplied by night dews, which in some years are extraordinarily heavy. Scantiness of the rainfall, however, is invariably succeeded by poverty or even destruction of the crops, and the rain is watched for as anxiously now as it was in the time of Ahab.
Soon after the cessation of the rains, the wild flowers, which in early spring decorate Palestine like a carpet, become rapidly burnt up, and the country assumes an appearance of barrenness that gives no true idea of its actual fertility. The dry summer is rendered further unpleasant by hot east winds, blowing from over the Arabian Desert, which have a depressing and enervating effect. The south wind is also dry, and the west wind damp (cf. 1 Kings 18:45 , Luke 12:54 ). The north wind, which blows from over the Lebanon snows, is always cold, often piercingly so.
As already hinted, the flora displays an extraordinary range and richness, owing to the great varieties of the climate at different points. The plants of the S. and of the Jordan Valley resemble those found in Abyssinia or in Nubia: those of the upper levels of Lebanon are of the kinds peculiar to snow-clad regions. Wheat, barley, millet, maize, peas, beans, lentils, olives, figs, mulberries, vines, and other fruit; cotton, nuts of various species; the ordinary vegetables, and some (such as solanum or ‘egg-plant’) that do not, as a rule, find their way to western markets; sesame, and tobacco which is grown in some districts are the most characteristic crops produced by the country. The prickly pear and the orange, though of comparatively recent introduction, are now among its staple products. The fauna includes (among wild animals) the bat, hyÃ¦na, wolf, jackal, wild cat, ibex, gazelle, wild boar, hare, and other smaller animals. The bear is now confined to Hermon, and possibly one or two places in Lebanon; the cheetah is rare, and the lion ( 1 Samuel 17:34 , 1 Kings 13:24 etc.) is extinct. So also is the hippopotamus, bones of which have been found in excavations. Among wild birds we may mention the eagle, vulture, stork, and partridge: there is a great variety of smaller birds. Snakes and lizards abouod, and crocodiles are occasionally to be seen in the Nahr ez-Zerka near CÃ¦sarea. The domesticated animals are the camel, cow, buffalo (only in the Jordan Valley), sheep, horse, donkey, swine (only among Christians), and domestic fowl. The dog can scarcely be called domesticated: it is kept by shepherds for their flocks, but otherwise prowls about the streets of towns and villages seeking a living among the rubbish thrown from the houses.
4. History, races, antiquities . The earliest dawn of history in Palestine has left no trace in the country itself, so far as we can tell from the limited range of excavations hitherto carried out. There was, however, a Babylonian supremacy over the country in the fourth millennium b.c., of which the records left by the kings of Agade speak. These records are as yet only imperfectly known, and their discussion in a short article like the present would be out of place. A very full account of all that is as yet known of these remote waifs of history will be found in L. B. Paton’s excellent History of Syria and Palestine .
About b.c. 3000 we first reach a period where excavation in Palestine has some information to give. It appears that the inhabitants were then still in the neolithic stage of culture, dwelling in caves, natural or artificial. The excavation of Gezer has shown that the site of that city was occupied by an extensive community of this race. They were non-Semitic; but as they practised cremation, the bones were too much destroyed to make it possible to assign them to their proper place among the Mediterranean races. Further discoveries may ultimately lead to this question being settled. It is possible that the Horites of Genesis 14:6 and elsewhere may have been the survivors of this race.
About b.c. 2500 the first Semitic settlers seem to have established themselves in the country. These were the people known to Bible students as Canaanites or Amorites . The success of attempts that have been made to distinguish these names, as indicating two separate stocks must be considered doubtful, and it is perhaps safer to treat the two names as synonymous. About b.c. 2000, as appears by the reference to ‘Amraphel, king of Shinar’ (= Hammurabi), occurred the battle of the four kings and five recorded in Genesis 14:1-24 the first event on Palestinian soil of which a Palestinian record is preserved.
The dominion of Egypt over S. Palestine, or at least the influence of Egyptian civilization, must early have been felt, though no definite records of Egyptian conquest older than Tabutmes iii. (about b.c 1500) have come to light. But scarabs and other objects referable to the Usertesens (about b.c. 2800 2500, according to the opinions of various chronologists) are not infrequently found in excavations, which speak of close intercourse between the Canaanites and the civilization of the Nile valley. Of the Canaanites very extensive remains yet await the spade of the excavator in the mounds that cover the remains of the ancient cities of Palestine. The modern peasantry of the country closely resemble the ancient Canaanites in physical character, to judge from the remains of the latter that excavation has revealed; indeed, in all probability the substratum of the population has remained unchanged in racial affinities throughout the vicissitudes that the country has suffered. By the conquests of Tahutmes iii. ( c . 1500), and Amenhotep iii. ( c . 1450), Palestine became virtually an Egyptian province, its urban communities governed by kings ( i.e . local sheiks) answerable to the Pharaoh, but always quarrelling among themselves. The ‘heretic king’ Amenhotep iv. was too busy with his religious innovations to pay attention to his foreign possessions, and, city by city, his rule in Palestine crumbled away before the AramÃ¦an tribes, named in the Tell el-Amarna tablets the Khabiri . This name is identical with that of the Biblical Hebrews ; but it has not yet been possible to put the Khabiri and the Hebrews into their proper mutual relations. The Hebrews represent themselves as escaped slaves from Egypt who (about the 13th cent. b.c.) were led as a solid whole under a single leader (Joshua) to the complete conquest of Canaan this is the account of the Book of Joshua. According to the older tradition preserved in Judges 1:1-36 , they entered the country without an individual leader, as a number of more or less independent tribes or clans, and effected only a partial conquest, being baffled by the superior strength of certain specified cities. This account is more in accordance with the events as related by the Tell el-Amarna tablets, but further discoveries must be made before the very obscure history of the Israelite immigration can be clearly made out.
The Israelite occupation was only partial. The important Maritime Plain was in the hands of a totally distinct people, the Philistines . The favourite, and most probable, modern theory regarding the Philistines is that they were of Cretan origin; but everything respecting that mysterious race is veiled in obscurity. As above mentioned, it is not likely that the change of ownership affected the peasants the Gibeonites were probably not the only ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ ( Joshua 9:21 ) that survived of the older stock. And lastly, we cannot doubt that an extensive Canaanite occupation remained in the towns expressly mentioned in Judges 1:1-36 , as those from which the various tribes ‘drave not out’ their original inhabitants. So far as we can infer from excavation an inference thoroughly confirmed by a consideration of the barbarous history of the Judges the effect of the Israelite entrance into Canaan was a retrogression in civilization, from which the country took centuries to recover.
The history of the development of these incoherent units into a kingdom is one of ever-fresh interest. It is recorded for us in the Books of Judges and 1Samuel, and the course of events being known to every reader, it is unnecessary to recapitulate them here. It is not unimportant to notice that the split of the short-lived single kingdom into two, after the death of Solomon, was a rupture that had been foreshadowed from time to time as in the brief reign of Abimelech over the northern province ( Judges 9:1-57 ), and the attempt of the northerners to set up Ish-bosheth as king against David ( 2 Samuel 2:3 ), frustrated by Ish-bosheth’s ill-timed insult to Abner ( 2 Samuel 3:7 ): Abner’s answer (v. 10) recognizes the dichotomy of Judah and Israel as already existing. This division must have had its roots in the original peopling of the country by the Hebrews, when the children of Judah went southward, and the children of Joseph northward ( Judges 1:3-28 ).
Space will not permit us to trace at length the fortunes of the rival kingdoms, to their highest glory under the contemporary kings Uzziah and Jeroboarn ii., and their rapid decline and final extinction by the great Mesopotamian empires. We may, however, pause to notice that, as in the case of the Canaanites, many remains of the Israelite dominion await the excavator in such towns as lay within Israelite territory; and the Siloam Tunnel epigraph, and one or two of minor importance, promise the welcome addition of a few inscriptions. On the other hand, the remains of the population are scantier for it need hardly be said that the modern Jewish inhabitants of Palestine are all more or less recent importations.
The Northern Kingdom fell before Assyria, and was never heard of again. Tangible remains of the Assyrian domination were found at Gezer, in the shape of a couple of contract-tablets written there in the Assyrian language and formulÃ¦ about b.c. 650; and the modern sect of Samaritans is a living testimony to the story of the re-settling of the Northern Kingdom under Assyrian auspices ( 2 Kings 17:24-41 ).
The Southern Kingdom had a different fate. It was extinguished by Babylon about 135 years later, in b.c. 586. In 538 the captives were permitted to return to their land by Cyrus, after his conquest of Babylon. They re-built Jerusalem and the Temple: the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah are the record of this work of restoration.
In b.c. 333 Syria fell to Alexander the Great after the battle of Issus. After his death followed a distracting and complicated period of conflict between his successors, which, so far as Palestine was concerned, had the effect of opening the country for the first time to the influence of Greek culture, art, and religion. From this time onward we find evidence of the foundation of such buildings as theatres, previously quite unknown, and other novelties of Western origin. Although many of the Jews adopted the Greek tongue, there was a staunch puritan party who rigidly set their faces against all such Gentile contaminations. In this they found themselves opposed to the Seleucid princes of Syria, among whom Antiochus Epiphanes especially set himself deliberately to destroy the religion of Judaism. This led to the great revolt headed by Mattathias the priest and his sons, which secured for the Jews a brief period of independence that lasted during the second half of the 2nd cent. b.c., under John Hyrcanus (grandson of Mattathias) and his successors. The kingdom was weakened by family disputes; in the end Rome stepped in, Pompey captured Jerusalem in b.c. 63, and henceforth Palestine lay under Roman suzerainty. Several important tombs near Jerusalem, and elsewhere, and a large number of remains of cities and fortresses, survive from the age of the family of Mattathias. The conquest of Joppa, under the auspices of Simon MaccabÃ¦us, son of Mattathias ( 1Ma 13:11 ), was the first capture of a seaport in S. Palestine throughout the whole of Israelite history.
The HasmonÃ¦an dynasty gave place to the IdumÃ¦an dynasty of the Herods in the middle of the 1st cent. b.c., Herod the Great becoming sole governor of JudÃ¦a (under Roman suzerainty) in b.c. 40. It was into this political situation that Christ was born b.c. 4. Remains of the building activities of Herod are still to be seen in the sub-structures of the Temple, the Herodian towers of Jerusalem, and (possibly) a magnificent tomb near Jerusalem traditionally called the Tomb of Mariamme. Herod died shortly after Christ’s birth, and his dominions were subdivided into provinces, each under a separate ruler: but the native rulers rapidly declined in power, and the Roman governors as rapidly advanced. The Jews became more and more embittered against the Roman yoke, and at last a violent rebellion broke out, which was quelled by Titus in a.d. 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed and a large part of the Jews slain or dispersed. A remnant remained, which about 60 years later again essayed to revolt under their leader Bar Cochba: the suppression of this rebellion was the final deathblow to Jewish nationality. After the destruction of Jerusalem many settled in Tiberias, and formed the nucleus of the important GalilÃ¦an Rabbinic schools, remains of which are still to be seen in the shape of the synagogues of Galilee. These interesting buildings appear to date from the second century a.d.
After the partition of the Roman Empire, Palestine formed part of the Empire of the East, and with it was Christianized. Many ancient settlements, with tombs and small churches some of them with beautiful mosaic pavements survive in various parts of the country: these are relics of the Byzantine Christians of the 5th and 6th centuries. The native Christians of Syria, whose families were never absorbed into Islam, are their representatives. These, though AramÃ¦an by race, now habitually speak Arabic, except in Ma‘lula and one or two other places in N. Lebanon, where a Syriac dialect survives.
This early Christianity received a severe blow in 611, when the country was ravaged by ChosroÃ«s ii., king of Persia. Monastic settlements were massacred and plundered, and the whole country reduced to such a state of weakness that without much resistance it fell to Omar, the second Caliph of Islam. He became master of Syria and Palestine in the second quarter of the seventh century. Palestine thus became a Moslem country, and its population received the Arab element which is still dominant within it. It may be mentioned in passing that coins of ChosroÃ«s are occasionally found in Palestine; and that of the early Arab domination many noteworthy buildings survive, chief of which is the glorious dome that occupies the site of the Hebrew Temple at Jerusalem.
The Moslem rule was at first by no means tyrannical; but, as the spirit of intolerance developed, the Christian inhabitants were compelled to undergo many sufferings and indignities. This, and the desire to wrest the holy places of Christendom from the hands of the infidel, were the ostensible reasons for the in vasions of the brigands who called themselves Crusaders, and who established in Jerusalem a kingdom on a feudal basis that lasted throughout the 12th century. An institution so exotic, supported by men morally and physically unfit for life in a sub-tropical climate, could not outlast the first enthusiasm which called it into being. Worn out by immorality, by leprosy and other diseases, and by mutual dissensions, the unworthy champions of the Cross disappeared before the heroic Saladin, leaving as their legacy to the country a score or so of place names; a quantity of worthless ecclesiastical traditions; a number of castles and churches, few of which possess any special architectural interest, and many of which, by a strange irony, have been converted into mosques; and, among the Arab natives, an unquenchable hatred of Christianity.
We must pass over the barbarous Mongolian invasions, the last of which was under Timur or Tamerlane at the end of the 14th century. But we must not omit to mention the Turkish conquest in 1516, when Syria obtained the place which it still holds in the Ottoman Empire.
R. A. S. Macalister.
Holman Bible Dictionary 
Joshua 13-19 Genesis 12:5 Deuteronomy 9:28
Palestine is derived from the name Pelishtim or “Philistines.” See Philistines. The Greeks, familiar primarily with the coastal area, applied the name Palestine to the entire southeastern Mediterranean region. Although the word Palestine (or Palestina) is found four times in the KJV ( Exodus 15:14; Isaiah 14:29 ,Isaiah 14:29, 14:31; Joel 3:4 ), these are references to the territory of the Philistines and so properly designate only the strip of coastland occupied by that people.
For the purposes of this article, Palestine extends to the north ten to fifteen miles beyond the ancient site of Dan and New Testament Caesarea Philippi into the gorges and mountains just south of Mount Hermon. To the east, it extends to the Arabian steppe. To the south, Palestine extends en to fifteen miles beyond Beer-sheba. On the west is the Mediterranean Sea. It therefore includes western Palestine—between the Jordan River and the Sea, and eastern Palestine—between the Jordan and the Arabian steppe.
Palestine west of the Jordan covers approximately 6,000 square miles. East of the Jordan an area of about 4,000 square miles was included in the land of Israel.
Geographical Features Palestine is naturally divided into four narrow strips of land running north and south.
1. Coastal plain This very fertile plain begins ten to twelve miles south of Gaza, just north of the Egyptian border, and stretches northward to the Sidon-Tyre area. Usually it is divided into three sections: (1) the Plain of Philistia, roughly from south of Gaza to Joppa (Tel Aviv); (2) the Plain of Sharon, from Joppa north to the promontory of the Carmel chain; and (3) the detached Plain of Acco, which merges with the Plain of Esdraelon, the historic gateway inland and to the regions to the north and east. The Plain of Sharon varies from a width of a few hundred yards just south of Carmel to more than twelve miles wide near Joppa. Covered with fertile alluvial soil and well watered by springs, the area was once covered with extensive forests.
Further south is the Plain of Philistia. Here were located the Philistine strongholds of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. Salt marshes—the Serbonian bog—located at the southern end of the Philistine plain have been known as breeding grounds of disease.
Forming the southwestern end of the Fertile Crescent, the coastal plain has been the highway of commerce and conquest for centuries. This was the route followed by the Hittites and the Egyptians, by Cambyses, Alexander, Pompey, and Napoleon.
The coastal plain lacked an outstanding natural harbor. Joppa had roughly semicircular reefs that formed a breakwater 300 to 400 feet offshore and, consequently, was used as a port. Entrance from the south was impossible, however, and the north entrance was shallow and treacherous. Herod the Great developed Caesarea Maritima into an artificial port of considerable efficiency. See Caesare.
2. Central Hill Country The second strip of land is the mountainous ridge beginning just north of Beer-sheba and extending through all of Judea and Samaria into upper Galilee. Actually, the rugged terrain running the length of the land is a continuation of the more clearly defined Lebanon Mountains to the north. The only major break in the mountain range is the Plain of Esdraelon also called the Valley of Jezreel. Three divisions are evident: Judea, Samaria, Galilee.
(1) Judea Rising from the parched Negeb (Negeb means “parched” or “dry land”), the Judean hills reach their highest point, 3,370 feet, near Hebron. See Negeb . Jerusalem is located in the Judean hills at an elevation of 2,600 feet. The eastern slopes form the barren and rugged “wilderness of Judea,” then fall abruptly to the floor of the Jordan Valley. The wilderness is treeless and waterless. Deep gorges and canyons cut into the soft sedimentary formations.
The western foothills of Judea are called the “Shephelah,” meaning “valley” or “lowland.” The name has been inaccurately applied to the Plain of Philistia, but the towns assigned by the Old Testament to the Shephelah are all situated in the low hills rather than the plain. The Shephelah is a belt of gently rolling hills between 500,1,000 feet in height. Five valleys divide the region, from the Wadi el Hesy in the south to the Valley of Ajalon in northern Judea. These passes have witnessed the conflicts between Saul and the Philistines, the Maccabees and the Syrians, the Jews and the Romans, Richard I and Saladin. Here Samson grew to manhood. Here David encountered Goliath.
The Shephelah had great military importance. It formed a buffer between Judea and the enemies of the Hebrew people—Philistines, Egyptians, Syrians. Formerly heavily wooded with sycamores, the region served to impede an attack from the west.
(2) Samaria The hills of Samaria descend gently from the Judean mountains, averaging just over 1,000 feet in height. Several notable mountains such as Gerizim (2,890 feet), Ebal (3,083), and Gilboa (1,640 feet) dominate the area. This land of mountains is marked by wide and fertile valleys. Here the majority of the people lived during the Old Testament era, and here significant events of Hebrew history took place. The openness of Samaria is a prominent feature of the land, making movement much easier than in Judea and thus inviting armies and chariots from the north.
The valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim was a central location, apparently providing the perfect point from which a united nation could have been governed. Roads went in all directions—to Galilee, the Jordan Valley, south to Jerusalem. Here Shechem was located, important to the patriarchs and in the day of the judges. Shechem, however, had no natural defenses and was consequently rejected by the kings of Israel as their capital.
From this region the main range of mountains sends out an arm to the northwest that reaches the coast at Mount Carmel. Carmel reaches a height of only 1,791 feet, but it seems more lofty because it rises directly from the coastline. It receives abundant rainfall, an average of 28 to 32 inches per year, and consequently is rather densely covered with vegetation, including some woodland.
The Carmel range divides the Plain of Sharon from the narrow coastal plain of Phoenicia. It forms the southern side of the Plain of Esdraelon, with the ancient fortress of Megiddo standing as one of its key cities. This natural barrier caused the passes in the Carmel chain to achieve unusual importance, lying as it does on the historic route between Egypt and Mesopotamia.
(3) Galilee North of the Plain of Esdraelon and south of the Leontes River lies the region called Galilee. The name comes from the Hebrew galil, meaning, literally “circle” or “ring.” In Isaiah 9:1 , the prophet refers to it as “Galilee of the Gentiles” (NIV). The tribes of Asher, Naphtali, and Zebulun were assigned to this area. There is evidence of mixed population and racial variety from early times. In the day of Jesus, many Gentiles were in Galilee.
The region is divided into Upper Galilee and Lower Galilee. Lower Galilee is a land of limestone hills and fertile valleys. Most of the region is approximately 500 feet above sea level—but with mountains like Tabor reaching a height of 1,929 feet. Grain, grass, olives, and grapes were abundant. Fish, oil, and wine were common exports. Several major international roads crossed the area, and caravan traffic from Damascus through Capernaum to the south was heavy. Josephus spoke of Galilee as “universally rich and fruitful.”
Some of the most important cities of Galilee were on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Those on the northwestern shore, such as Capernaum, were more Jewish than those to the south. Tiberias, built in A.D. 25 by Herod Antipas and named after the reigning caesar, became the capital and the most important city during the New Testament era.
The terrain of Upper Galilee is much more rugged than Lower Galilee, an area of deeply fissured and roughly eroded tableland with high peaks and many wadis. The highest peak is Mount Meron, at 3,963 feet the highest point in Palestine. The basic rock is limestone, in the eastern sections often covered with volcanic rock. In the east, Galilee drops off abruptly to the Jordan, while farther south, near the Sea of Galilee, the slopes become much more gradual and gentle
3. Jordan Rift Valley As a result of crustal faulting, the hills of Palestine drop into the deepest split on the surface of the earth. The fault is part of a system that extends north to form the valley between the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon chains, also extending south to form the Dead Sea, the dry Arabah Valley, the Gulf of Aqabah, and, eventually, the chain of lakes on the African continent.
The Jordan River has its source in several springs, primarily on the western and southern slopes of Mount Hermon. Several small streams come together near Dan, then flow into shallow, reedy Lake Hula (Huleh). From its sources to Hula the Jordan drops somewhat less than 1,000 feet over a distance of twelve miles, entering Lake Hula at 230 feet above sea level (not 7 feet, as reported by some older publications). In recent years the Jordan bed has been straightened after it leaves Hula, the swamps of the valley have been drained, and the size of the lake has been greatly reduced. Most of the area is now excellent farmland. Over the eleven miles from Hula to the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan drops 926 feet, flowing in part through a narrow canyon. From Galilee to the Dead Sea there is an additional drop of 600 feet.
The Sea of Galilee is a significant part of the upper Rift Valley and is formed by a widening of it. It has several names—the Lake of Gennesaret, the Sea of Tiberias, Lake Chinnereth—but it is best known as the Sea of Galilee. Around it most of the ministry of Jesus took place. Here He could rest, escape crowds, find cool relief from the heat. Shaped much like a harp, it is thirteen miles long and seven miles wide. The hard basalt environment has given the lake an almost constant level and size. In the New Testament day, the lake was the center of a thriving fishing industry. The towns around the lake testify to this fact: Bethsaida means “fishing place,” and Tarichea is from a Greek term meaning “preserved fish.”
As the Jordan flows south out of the Sea of Galilee, it enters a gorge called the Ghor, or “depression.” The meandering Jordan and its periodic overflows have created the Zor, or “jungle,” a thick growth of entangled semitropical plants and trees. Although the distance from the lower end of the Sea of Galilee to the upper end of the Dead Sea is only 65 miles, the winding Jordan twists 200 miles to cover that distance. The Ghor is about twelve miles wide at Jericho.
Seven miles south of Jericho, the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, one of the world's most unique bodies of water. The surface of the water Isaiah 1,296 feet below sea level, the lowest point on the surface of the earth. Forty-seven miles long and eight miles wide, the Dead Sea has no outlet.
It has been calculated that an average of 6.5 million tons of water enter the sea each day. The result of centuries of evaporation is that now 25 percent of the weight of the water is mineral salts. Magnesium chloride gives the water a bitter taste, and calcium chloride gives it an oily touch. Fish cannot live in Dead Sea water. Indeed, it destroys almost all organic life in it and around it.
Thirty miles down the eastern side, a peninsula, the Lisan, or the “Tongue,” juts into the sea. North of it the sea is deep, reaching a maximum depth of 1,319 feet—2,650 feet below sea level. South of the peninsula the sea is very shallow, with a maximum depth of thirteen feet. It is thought that this area is the location of “the cities of the Plain” ( Genesis 13:12 ), Sodom and Gomorrah.
4. Transjordan Plateau East of the Jordan is an area where the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh settled. In New Testament times, Decapolis and Perea were located there. The ministry of Jesus took Him to limited parts of these provinces. Transjordan is divided into sections by several rivers—the Yarmuk, the Jabbok, the Arnon, and the Zered.
(1) Across from Galilee and north of the Yarmuk River is Bashan (Hauron), an area of rich volcanic soil with rainfall in excess of sixteen inches per year. The plateau averages 1,500 feet above sea level. To the east of Bashan lies only desert that begins to slope toward the Euphrates. In the New Testament era, it was a part of the territory of Philip, the Tetrarch, son of Herod the Great. (2) South of the Yarmuk, reaching to the Jabbok River, was Gilead. During the Persian rule the boundaries were rather rigid. Both before and after Persian domination, Gilead reached as far south as Rabbah (Philadelphia, modern Amman). Formerly heavily wooded, with many springs and with gently rounded hills, Gilead is one of the most picturesque regions of Palestine. Olive groves and vineyards are found on the hillsides. Jerash and Amman, the capital of the Heshemite Kingdom of Jordan, are located here.
(3) South of Gilead lies Moab. Originally, its northern border was the Arnon River, but the Moabites pushed north, giving their name to the plains east of the spot where the Jordan enters the Dead Sea (Ammon attempted to establish herself between Gilead and Moab using Rabbath-Ammon as her stronghold. This succeeded only under the infamous Tobiah during the years of the Exile.) Moab's southern border was the Zered River, Wadi al Hasa.
(4) Still farther south is Edom, with the highest mountains of the region. The area is arid and barren. Fifty miles south of the Dead Sea lies the ancient fortress of Petra, “rose-red half as old as time.”
Climate Palestine lies in the semitropical belt between 30 15' and 33 15' north latitude. Temperatures are normally high in the summer and mild in the winter, but these generalizations are modified by both elevation and distance from the coast. Variety is the necessary word in describing Palestinian weather, for in spite of its relatively small size, the geographical configuration of the area produces a diversity of conditions. Because of the Mediterranean influence, the coastal plain has an average annual temperature of 57 at Joppa. Jerusalem, only 35 miles away, has an annual average of 63. Its elevation of 2,500 feet above sea level causes the difference. Jericho is only seventeen miles further east, but it Isaiah 3,400 feet lower (900 feet below sea level), consequently having a tropical climate and very low humidity. Here bitterly cold desert nights offset rather warm desert days. Similarly, much of the area around the Sea of Galilee experiences temperate conditions, while the Dead Sea region is known for its strings of 100 plus summer days.
Palestine is a land of two seasons, a dry season and a rainy season, with intervening transitional periods. The dry season lasts from mid-May to mid-October. From June through August no rain falls except in the extreme north. Moderate, regular winds blow usually from the west or southwest. The breezes reach Jerusalem by noon, Jericho in early afternoon, and the Transjordan plateau by midafternoon. The air carries much moisture, but atmospheric conditions are such that precipitation does not occur. However, the humidity is evident from the extremely heavy dew that forms five nights out of six in July.
With late October, the “early rain” so often mentioned in Scripture begins to fall. November is punctuated with heavy thunderstorms. The months of December through February are marked by heavy showers, but it is not a time of unrelenting rain. Rainy days alternate with fair days and beautiful sunshine. The cold is not severe, with occasional frost in the higher elevations from December to February. In Jerusalem snow may fall twice during the course of the winter months.
All of Palestine experiences extremely disagreeable warm conditions occasionally. The sirocco wind (the “east wind” of Genesis 41:6 and Ezekiel 19:12 ) blowing from the southeast during the transition months (May—June, September—October) brings dust-laden clouds across the land. It dries vegetation and has a withering effect on people and animals. On occasion the temperature may rise 30F and the humidity fall to less than 10 percent.
Along the coastal plain, the daily temperature fluctuation is rather limited because of the Mediterranean breezes. In the mountains and in Rift Valley, daily fluctuation is much greater.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Exodus 15:14 Isaiah 14:29,31 Joel 3:4 Psalm 60:8 83:7 87:4 108:9
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; Psalm 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 4:1,21 ). 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.
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
Palestine ( Păl'Es-T Îne ), Land Of Sojourners. Joel 3:4; comp. Exodus 15:14; Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 14:31. A small country east of the Mediterranean Sea, sacred alike to Jew, Mohammedan, and Christian. In length it is about 140 miles, in average breadth not more than 40 between the Mediterranean westward, and the deep Jordan valley to the east, while to the north it is closed in by Lebanon and Anti-libanus, and bordered on the south by the desert. It lay on the direct route between the great ancient empires of Asia and northern Africa, and exposed to peril from both. The physical structure of Palestine is peculiar. It is mountainous, but among these mountains are plains and valleys and torrent-beds. The mountain mass which occupies the central part is bordered on each side east and west by a lowland belt. On the west the plains of Philistia and Sharon lie between the Mediterranean and the hills, interrupted by a ridge which, shooting out from the main highlands, terminates in the bold promontory of Carmel. To the north of this ridge the low plain widens and extends in one part its undulating surface quite across the country to the Jordan. And still farther to the north is Phœnicia with headlands down to the sea. The eastern depression is most remarkable. It is a deep cleft in which lie a chain of lakes connected by the Jordan. And the bottom of this cleft is, in its lower part, far below (1300 feet) the level of the Mediterranean Sea. Owing to this extraordinary depression, the slopes on the eastern side of the central elevated land are much more abrupt and rugged than on the west. The southern hill country is dry and bare. There is little wood; it is near upon the desert, and possesses few springs of water. The hill tops are rounded and monotonous—the eastern part of the tract being but an arid wilderness. And a noteworthy feature in these hills is the abundance of caverns, partly natural, partly, perhaps, artificial. Northward the country improves. There are more fertile plains winding among the lulls, more vegetation and more wood, till in the north the swelling hills are clothed with beautiful trees, and the scenery is pleasing, oftentimes romantic. In central and north Palestine, too, there are gushing fountains of water, imparting fertility to the valleys through which they pour their streams. The Philistine plain is one vast grainfield, yielding the most abundant increase. And dry and barren as are many of the hills at present, there is evidence enough that in earlier happier days they were terraced, wooded, and productive: "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 whose stones Are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass." Deuteronomy 8:7-9. Palestine was early inhabited by seven tribes—as, Hittites, Gergashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, Deuteronomy 7:1; and other tribes are also noted as occupying adjacent regions. Genesis 10:15-19; Genesis 15:18-21; Numbers 13:28-29. It became afterwards the land of Israel; but, when judgment fell upon the Hebrews for their sins, they were removed, and there was at different times a large influx of foreign population, eastern nations, 2 Kings 17:24; Ezra 4:9-10, Greeks, etc.; so that even in our Lord's time the inhabitants of Palestine were of a mixed character; and in later ages additional foreign elements were introduced. See Judæa, Galilee.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
taken in a limited sense, denotes the country of the Philistines or Palestines, including that part of the land of promise which extended along the Mediterranean Sea, from Gaza south to Lydda north. The LXX were of opinion that the word Philistiim, which they generally translate Allophyli, signified "strangers," or men of another tribe. Palestine, taken in a more general sense, signifies the whole country of Canaan, the whole land of promise, as well beyond as on this side Jordan, though pretty frequently it is restrained to the country on this side that river; so that in later times the words Judea and Palestine were synonymous. We find, also, the name of Syria Palestine given to the land of promise, and even sometimes this province is comprehended in Coelo-Syria, or the Lower Syria. Herodotus is the most ancient writer we know that speaks of Syria Palestine. He places it between Phenicia and Egypt. See Canaan .
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
Denotes, in the Old Testament, the country of the Philistines, which was that part of the land of promise extending along the Mediterranean Sea on the varying western border of Simeon, Judah, and Dan, Exodus 15:14 Isaiah 14:29,31 Joel 3:4 . Palestine, taken in later usage in a more general sense, signifies the whole country of Canaan, as well beyond as on this side of the Jordan; though frequently it is restricted to the country on this side that river; so that in later times the words Judea and Palestine were synonymous. We find also the name of Syria-Palestina given to the land of promise, and even sometimes this province is comprehended in Coele-Syria, or the Lower Syria. Herodotus is the most ancient writer known who speaks of SyriaPalestina. He places it between Phoenicia and Egypt. See CANAAN.
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary 
See Canaan 2
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Pal´estine. This name, usually applied to the country formerly inhabited by the Israelites, does not occur in the Hebrew Bible. It is, however, derived from Philistia, or the country of the Philistines, which comprised the southern part of the coast plain of Canaan along the Mediterranean. The word Philistia occurs in;;;;;; . From this arose the name Palestine, which was applied by most ancient writers, and even by Josephus, to the whole land of the Israelites.
Names of Palestine
The other names of the country may be given in the order of their occurrence in Scripture.
Canaan, from Canaan, the fourth son of Ham, from whom the first inhabitants were descended. It is the most ancient name of the country, and is first found as such in . This denomination was confined to the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan; but in later times it was understood to include Phoenicia , and also the land of the Philistines.
Land of Israel. This name was given to the whole country as distributed among and occupied by the tribes of Israel.
Land of Promise. So called as the land which God promised to the patriarchal fathers to bestow on their descendants.
Land of Jehovah. So called as being in a special and peculiar sense the property of Jehovah, who, as the sovereign proprietor of the soil, granted it to the Hebrews (;; ).
The Holy Land. This name only occurs in . The land is here called 'Holy,' as being the Lord's property, and sanctified by his temple and worship.
Judah, Judea. This name belonged at first to the territory of the tribe of Judah alone. After the separation of the two kingdoms, one of them took the name of Judah, which contained the territories both of that tribe and of Benjamin. After the Captivity, down to and after the time of Christ, Judea was used in a loose way as a general name for the whole country of Palestine; but in more precise language, and with reference to internal distribution, it denoted nearly the territories of the ancient kingdom, as distinguished from Samaria and Galilee on the west of the Jordan, and Peræa on the east.
Divisions of Palestine
The divisions of Palestine were different in different ages.
In the time of the Patriarchs, the country was divided among the tribes or nations descended from the sons of Canaan. The precise locality of each nation is not, in every case, distinctly known; but our map exhibits the most probable arrangement.
After the Conquest the land was distributed by lot among the tribes. The particulars of this distribution will be best seen by reference to the map.
After the Captivity we hear very little of the territories of the tribes, for ten of them never returned to occupy their ancient domains.
In the time of Christ the country on the west of the Jordan was divided into the provinces of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. Galilee is a name which was applied to that part of Palestine north of the Plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel. This province was divided into Lower or Southern, and Upper or Northern Galilee. Samaria occupied nearly the middle of Palestine; but, although it extended across the country, it did not come down to the sea-shore. Judea, as a province, corresponded to the northern and western parts of the ancient kingdom of that name; but the south-eastern portion formed the territory of Idumæa. On the other side of the Jordan the divisions were, at this time, more numerous and less distinct. The whole country generally was called Peræa, and was divided into eight districts or cantons, namely:—
Peræa, in the more limited sense, which was the southernmost canton, extending from the river Arnon to the river Jabbok.
Gilead, north of the Jabbok, and highly populous.
Decapolis, or the district of ten cities, which were Scythopolis or Bethshan (on the west side of the Jordan), Hippos, Gadara, Pella, Philadelphia (formerly Rabbath), Dium, Canatha, Gerasa, Raphana, and perhaps Damascus.
Gaulonitis, extending to the north-east of the Upper Jordan and of the lake of Gennesareth.
Batanæa, the ancient Bashan, but less extensive, east of the lake of Gennesareth.
Auranitis, also called Ituræa, and known to this day by the old name of Hauran , to the north of Batanæa and the east of Gaulonitis.
Trachonitis, extending to the north of Gaulonitis, and east from Paneas (Cæsarea Philippi) and the sources of the Jordan, where it was separated from Galilee .
Abilene, in the extreme north, among the mountains of Anti-Libanus, between Baalbec and Damascus. The more important of these names have been noticed under their several heads.
Situation and Boundaries of Palestine
Palestine is the south-western part of Syria, extending from the mountains of Lebanon to the borders of Egypt. It lies about midway between the equator and the polar circle, to which happy position it owes the fine medium climate which it possesses. Its length is embraced between 30° 40′ and 33° 32′ of N. latitude, and between 33° 45′ of E. longitude in the south-west, and 35° 48′ in the north-east. The breadth may be taken at an average of sixty-five miles, the extreme breadth being about 100 miles. The length, from Mount Hermon in the north, to which the territory of Manasseh beyond the Jordan extended , to Kadesh-barnea in the south, to which the territory of Judah reached, was 180 miles.
Palestine may be regarded as embracing an area of almost 11,000 square miles. But the real surface is much greater than this estimate would imply; for Palestine being essentially a hilly country, the sides of the mountains and the slopes of the hills enlarge the available surface to an extent which does not admit of calculation.
With regard to the lines of boundary, the clearest description of them is that contained in Numbers 34. From the statements there made it appears that the writer, after prolonging the eastern boundary-line from the end of the Dead Sea down the edge of the Arabah, to a point somewhere south of Kadesh-barnea, then turns off westward to form the southern line, which he extends to the Mediterranean, at a point where 'the River of Egypt' falls into the Sea. This River of Egypt is usually, and on very adequate grounds, supposed to be the stream which falls into the Sea near El-Arish.
The western border is stated as defined by the Mediterranean coast. But the Hebrews never possessed the whole of this territory. The northern part of the coast, from Sidon to Akko (Acre), was in the hands of the Phoenicians, and the southern part, from Azotus to Gaza, was retained by the Philistines, except at intervals; and a central portion, about one-third of the whole, from Mount Carmel to Jabneh (Jamnia) was alone permanently open to the Israelites.
The northern boundary-line commenced at the sea somewhere not far to the south of Sidon, whence it was extended to Lebanon, and crossing the narrow valley which leads into the great plain enclosed between Libanus and Anti-Libanus, terminated at Mount Hermon, in the latter range.
The eastern boundary, as respects Canaan Proper, was defined by the Jordan and its lakes; but as respects the whole country, including the portion beyond the Jordan, it extended to Salchah, a town on the eastern limits of Bashan. From this point it must have inclined somewhat sharply to the south-west, to the point where the Wady ed-Deir enters the Zerka, and thence it probably extended almost due south to the Arnon, which was the southern limit of the eastern territory.
Mineralogy of Palestine
The mountains on the west of the Jordan consist chiefly of chalk, on which basalt begins to occur beyond Cana (northward). The so-called white limestone, which is met with around Jerusalem and thence to Jericho, which covers the summit and forms the declivities of the Mount of Olives, and which is also found at Mount Tabor and around Nazareth, is a kind of chalk considerably indurated, and approaching to whitish compact limestone. 'Layers and detached masses of flint are very commonly seen in it. Besides this indurated chalk, a stone is found in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, chiefly towards the north, as well as towards Safet, and in other parts of the country, which, together with the dolomite formation occasionally met with, appears to be of what in Germany is called the Jura formation. Palestine may be most emphatically called the country of salt, which is produced in vast abundance, chiefly in the neighborhood of the Dead Sea, which deserves to be regarded as one of the great natural salt-works of the world.'
Under this head it may be noted that the fine impalpable desert-sand, which proves so menacing to travelers, and even to inhabitants, is scarcely found in Palestine Proper; but it occurs beyond Lebanon, near Beirut, and in the neighborhood of Damascus.
Palestine is eminently a country of caverns, to which there is frequent allusion in Scripture [CAVES], and which are hardly so numerous in any country of the same extent. Many of them were enlarged by the inhabitants, and even artificial grottoes were formed by manual labor. In these the inhabitants still like to reside; as in summer they afford protection from the heat, and in winter from cold and rain. Even now, in many places, houses are observed built so near to rocks, that their cavities may be used for rooms or sheds suited to the condition of the seasons. Though the country is not infrequently visited by earthquakes, they leave behind no such frightful traces as those of Asia Minor; as the vaults of limestone offer more effectual resistance than the sandstone of the latter country.
We are glad to see so competent a witness as Schubert bear his testimony to the natural resources of the soil, which superficial observers, judging only from present appearance, have so often questioned. He says, 'no soil could be naturally more fruitful and fit for cultivation than that of Palestine, if man had not destroyed the source of fertility by annihilating the former green covering of the hills and slopes, and thereby destroying the regular circulation of sweet water, which ascends as vapor from the sea to be cooled in the higher regions, and then descends to form the springs and rivers, for it is well known that the vegetable kingdom performs in this circulation the function of capillary tubes. But although the natives, from exasperation against their foreign conquerors and rulers, and the invaders who have so often overruled this scene of ancient blessings, have greatly reduced its prosperity, still I cannot comprehend how not only scoffers like Voltaire, but early travelers, who doubtless intended to declare the truth, represent Palestine as a natural desert, whose soil never could have been fit for profitable cultivation. Whoever saw the exhaustless abundance of plants on Carmel and the border of the desert, the grassy carpet of Esdraelon, the lawns adjoining the Jordan, and the rich foliage of the forests of Mount Tabor; whoever saw the borders of the lakes of Merom and Gennesareth, wanting only the cultivator to entrust to the soil his seed and plants, may state what other country on earth, devastated by two thousand years of warfare and spoliation, could be more fit for being again taken into cultivation. The bountiful hand of the Most High, which formerly showered abundance upon this renowned land, continues to be still open to those desirous of his blessings.'
The following table of levels in Palestine is copied from a recently published supplement to Raumer's Palästina. The measurements are in Paris feet, above and below the level of the Mediterranean Sea.
Mount St. Catherine (in Sinai)
Jebel Mousa (in Sinai)
Jebel et Tyh (in Sinai)
Mount of Olives
Desert of et-Tyh
Plain of Esdraelon
Lake of Tiberias
Some of these results are most extraordinary. First, here is the remarkable fact, that the Mount of Olives and the Kidron, and consequently Jerusalem, stand 700 feet higher than the top of Mount Tabor, and about 2500 feet above the level of the Mediterranean. More to the south, Hebron stands on still higher ground; and while it is 2700 feet above the sea on the one hand, the Asphaltic Lake lies 4000 feet below it on the other. This fact has no known parallel in any other region, and within so short a distance of the sea; and the extraordinary depression of the lake (1337feet below the sea level) adequately accounts for the very peculiar climate which its remarkable basin exhibits. The points at Tiberias to the north, and Kadesh to the south of the Dead Sea, are both, and nearly equally, below the Mediterranean level, and taken, together, they show the great slope both from the north and from the south towards the Dead Sea. confirming the discovery of Dr. Robinson, that the water-shed to the south of the Asphaltic Lake is towards its basin, and that, therefore, the Jordan could not at any time, as the country is at present constituted, have flowed on southward to the Elanitic Gulf, as was formerly supposed.
Mountains of Palestine
As all the principal mountains of Palestine are noticed in this work under their respective names, it is unnecessary to offer any observations under this head.
The most important or the most distinguished of the plains and valleys of Palestine are those of Lebanon, of the Jordan, of Jericho, of Esdraelon, and of the Coast.
The Plain of Lebanon may be described as the valley which is enclosed between the parallel mountain ranges of Libanus and Anti-Libanus. This enclosed plain is the Cœle-Syria of the ancients, and now bears the name of el-Bekka (the Valley). It is about ninety miles in length, from north to south, by eleven miles in breadth, nearly equal throughout, except that it widens at the northern end and narrows at the southern. This plain is, perhaps, the most rich and beautiful part of Syria.
The Plain of the Jordan. By this name we understand the margin of the lakes, as well as the valley watered by the river. Here the heat is still greater than in the valley of Lebanon, and as water is usually wanting, the whole plain is barren and desolate.
The Plain of Jericho is but an opening or expansion in the plain of the Jordan, towards the Dead Sea. It is partly desert, but, from the abundance of water and the heat of the climate, it might be rendered highly productive; indeed, the fertility of this plain has been celebrated in every age. But of all the productions which once distinguished it, and the greater part of which it enjoyed in common with Egypt, very few now remain.
The Plain of Esdraelon is often mentioned in sacred history (;;;;; ), as the great battle-field of the Jewish and other nations, under the names of the Valley of Megiddo and the Valley of Jezreel; and by Josephus as the Great Plain. This extensive plain, exclusive of three great arms which stretch eastward towards the valley of the Jordan, may be said to be in the form of an acute triangle, having the measure of thirteen or fourteen miles on the north, about eighteen on the east, and above twenty on the south-west. In the western portion it seems perfectly level, with a general declivity towards the Mediterranean; but in the east it is somewhat undulated by slight spurs and swells from the roots of the mountains: from the eastern side three great valleys go off to the valley of the Jordan. These valleys are separated by the ridges of Gilboa and Little Hermon, and the space which lies between these two ridges is the proper valley of Jezreel, which name seems to be sometimes given to the whole Plain of Esdraelon. The valley of Jezreel is a deep plain, and about three miles across. Before the verdure of spring and early summer has been parched up by the heat and drought of the late summer and autumn, the view of the Great Plain is, from its fertility and beauty, very delightful. The plain itself is almost without villages, but there are several on the slopes of the enclosing hills, especially on the side of Mount Carmel.
The Plain of the Coast is that tract of land which extends along the coast, between the sea and the mountains. In some places, where the mountains approach the sea, this tract is interrupted by promontories and rising grounds; but, taken generally, the whole coast of Palestine may be described as an extensive plain of various breadth. Sometimes it expands into broad plains, at others it is contracted into narrow valleys. With the exception of some sandy tracts the soil is throughout rich, and exceedingly productive. The climate is everywhere very warm, and is considered rather insalubrious as compared with the upland country. It is not mentioned by any one collective name in Scripture. The part fronting Samaria, and between Mount Carmel and Jaffa, near a rich pasture-ground, was called the Valley of Sharon; and the continuation southward, between Jaffa and Gaza, was called The Plain, as distinguished from the hill-country of Judah.
Rivers of Palestine
The Jordan is the only river of any note in Palestine, and besides it there are only two or three perennial streams. The greater number of the streams which figure in the history, and find a place in the maps, are merely torrents or watercourses.
The Jordan. We should like to consider this river simply as the stream issuing from the reservoir of the Lake Huleh, but custom requires its source to be traced to some one or more of the streams which form that reservoir. The two largest streams, which enter the lake on the north, are each formed by the junction of two others. It is usual to refer the origin of a river to its remotest sources; but in this case the largest and longest, being the most easterly of the two streams, does not appear to have been at any time identified with the Jordan—that honor having for ages been ascribed to the western stream; this river has distinct sources, at Banias and at Tel-el-Kâdi. It is the former of these where a stream issues from a spacious cavern under a wall of rock which Josephus describes as the main source of the Jordan.
The true Jordan—the stream that quits the lake Huleh—passes rapidly along the narrow valley, and between well-shaded banks, to the lake of Gennesareth: the distance is about nine miles. Nearly two miles below the lake is a bridge, called Jacob's bridge; and here the river is about eighty feet wide, and four feet deep.
On leaving the Lake of Gennesareth the river enters a very broad valley, or Ghor, which varies in width from five to ten miles between the mountains on each side. Within this valley there is a lower one, and within that, in some parts, another still lower, through which the river flows; the inner valley is about half a mile wide, and is generally green and beautiful, covered with trees and bushes, whereas the upper or large valley is for the most part, sandy or barren. The distance between the Lake of Gennesareth and the Dead Sea, in a direct line, is about sixty miles. In the first part of its course the stream is clear, but it becomes turbid as it advances to the Dead Sea, probably from passing over beds of sandy clay. The water is very wholesome, always cool and nearly tasteless. The breadth and depth of the river vary much in different places and at different times of the year. Dr. Shaw calculates the average breadth at thirty yards, and the depth at nine feet. In the season of flood, in April and early in May, the river is full, and sometimes overflows its lower banks, to which fact there are several allusions in Scripture.
The Kishon, that 'ancient river,' by whose wide and rapid stream the hosts of Sisera were swept away , has been noticed under the proper head [KISHON].
The Belus, now called Nahr Kardanus, enters the bay of Acre higher up than the Kishon. It is a small stream, fordable even at its mouth in summer. It is not mentioned in the Bible, and is chiefly celebrated for the tradition, that the accidental vitrefaction of its sands taught man the art of making glass.
The other streams of note enter the Jordan from the east; these are the Jarmuth (or Yarmuk), the Jabbok, and the Arnon, of which the last two have been noticed under their proper heads. The Jarmuth, called also Sheriatel-Mandhour, anciently Hieromax, joins the Jordan five miles below the lake of Gennesareth. Its source is ascribed to a small lake, almost a mile in circumference, at Mezareib, which is thirty miles east of the Jordan. It is a beautiful stream, and yields a considerable body of water to the Jordan [[[Arnon; Jabbok]]]
Lakes of Palestine
The river Jordan in its course forms three remarkable lakes, in the last of which, called the Dead Sea, it is lost—
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
pal´es - tı̄n ( פּלשׁת , pelesheth ; Φυλιστιείμ , Phulistieı́m , Ἀλλόφυλοι , Allóphuloi ; 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 , Isaiah 14:31; compare Psalm 60:8; Psalm 83:7; Psalm 87:4; Psalm 108:9 ):
1. General Geographical Features
3. Geological Conditions
4. Fauna and Flora
II. Palestine In The Pentateuch
1. Places Visited by Abraham
2. Places Visited by Isaac
3. Places Visited by Jacob
4. Mentioned in Connection with Judah
5. Review of Geography of Genesis
6. Exodus and Leviticus
III. Palestine In The Historic Books Of The [[O Ld]] Testament
1. Book of Joshua
2. Book of Judges
3. Book of Ruth
4. Books of Samuel
5. Books of Kings
6. Post-exilic Historical Books
IV. Palestine In The Poetic Books Of The Old TESTAMENT
1. Book of Job
2. Book of Psalms
3. Book of Proverbs
4. Song of Songs
V. Palestine In The Prophets
4. Minor Prophets
VI. Palestine In The Apocrypha
1. Book of Judith
2. Book of Wisdom
3. 1 Maccabees
4. 2 Maccabees
VII. Palestine In The New Testament
1. Synoptic Gospels
2. Fourth Gospel
3. Book of Acts
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).
I. Physical Conditions.
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) Isaiah 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 shephēlāh 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 shephēlāh 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.
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 ‛A qabah 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 Ḥûleh , 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. See Geology Of Palestine .
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.
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 90ø F. by day and 40ø F. by night gives a refreshing cold. With the east wind the temperature rises to 105ø F., and the nights are oppressive. In the Jordan valley, in autumn, the shade temperature reaches 120ø 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.
The rainfall of Palestine is between 20,30 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; Genesis 26:2; Genesis 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‛ănı̄th , 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 , 1 Samuel 12:18 ), 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.
II. Palestine in the Pentateuch.
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.
The first place noticed is the shrine or "station" ( māḳōm ) 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; Genesis 35:4; Joshua 24:26 ). Samaritan tradition showed the site near Balâṭa ("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 ( Beitı̂n ) and Hal ( Ḥayân ), East of the town of Luz, the name of which still survives hard-by at the spring of Lôzeh ( Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3; Genesis 28:11 , Genesis 28:19; Genesis 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; Genesis 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" ( kikkār ) 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 , Genesis 19:23 ) 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; Genesis 18:1; Genesis 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; Genesis 33:18 ). See Jerusalem .
Abraham returned to the southern plains, and "sojourned in Gerar" ( Genesis 20:1 ), now Umm Jerrâr , 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 Bı̂r 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 ( Ruḥeibeh ), 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 Sûf 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 - sāhădhūthā ) was formed. From this place Jacob journeyed to Mahanaim (probably Maḥmah ), South of the Jabbok river - a place which afterward became the capital of South Gilead ( Genesis 32:1 f; 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 Wâdy Fâr‛ah , and camped at Shalem ( Sâlim ) 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 terāphı̄m ( 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 , Genesis 35:19 , Genesis 35:27 ), 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.
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 Dothân , and the Ishmaelites, from Midian and Gilead, chose this easy caravan route ( Genesis 37:25 , Genesis 37:28 ) 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 Shephēlāh , or low hills of Judea. Adullam ( ‛Aı̂d - el - ma ), Chezib ( ‛Ain Kezbeh ), and Timnath ( Tibneh ) are not far apart ( Genesis 38:1 , Genesis 38:5 , Genesis 38:12 ), the latter being in a pastoral valley where Judah met his "sheep shearers." Tamar sat at "the entrance of Enaim" (compare Genesis 38:14 , Genesis 38:22 the English Revised Version) or Enam ( Joshua 15:34 ), perhaps at Kefr ‛Ana , 6 miles Northwest of Timnath. She was mistaken for a ḳedhēshāh , or votary (sacred prostitute) of Ashtoreth ( Genesis 38:15 , Genesis 38:21 ), 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 the Geography of Genesis:
Generally speaking, the geography of Gen 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'ōr ) 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 through 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; Psalm 104:18; Proverbs 30:26 ), but others - such as the swine ( Leviticus 11:7 ), the stork and the heron ( Leviticus 11:19 ) - to the ‛A rabah 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.
In Numbers, the conquest of Eastern Palestine is described, and most of the towns mentioned are known (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.
(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 ( Matthew 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 Deuteronomy 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 (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.
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 'ăshērāh 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 'ăshērāh 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; Proverbs 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. See illustration under Nebuchadnezzar .
III. Palestine in the Historic Books of the Old Testament.
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 1838,1852, 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 Shâghûr ), 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 Dan was colonized by men of Benjamin after the captivity ( 1 Chronicles 8:12 , 1 Chronicles 8:13; Nehemiah 11:34 , Nehemiah 11:35 ). 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; Nehemiah 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 - Dâmieh ), the chalky cliffs at a narrow place being probably undermined and falling in, thus damming the stream. A M oslem writer asserts that a similar stoppage occurred in the 13th century AD, near the same point. (See Jordan River .) The first camp was established at Gilgal ( Jilgûlieh ), 3 miles East of Jericho, and a "circle" of 12 stones was erected. Jericho was not at the medieval site ( er Rı̂ḥa ) South of Gilgal, or at the Herodian site farther West, but at the great spring ‛Ain es Sulṭân , 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 (Josh 8:30 through 9:27); but while the Hivites submitted the Amorites of Jerusalem and of the South attacked Gibeon ( el Jı̂b ) and were driven down the steep pass of Beth-horon ( Beit ‛Aûr ) to the plains ( Joshua 10:1-11 ). Joshua's great raid, after this victory, proceeded through the plain to Makkedah, now called el Mughâr , from the "cave" (compare Joshua 10:17 ), and by Libnah to Lachish ( Tell el Ḥesy ), whence he went up to Hebron, and "turned" South to Debir ( edh Dhâherı̂yeh ), thus subduing the shephēlāh 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 ‛Abı̂ri or Ḥabiri 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. See Exodus , The .
(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 Ḥûleh 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 ( Madı̂n ), Shimron ( Semmunieh ), Dor (possibly Tell Thorah ), "on the west," and of Hazor ( Ḥazzûr ), 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 Wâdy 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 (Josh 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 Mogheirı̂yeh ) northward to Aphek ( Afḳa ) 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 (Josh 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 shephēlāh , 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 Dan 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; Joshua 16:1 , Joshua 16:2; 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 ( Wâdy Môjub ) on the South, and to the "river of Gad" ( Wâdy Nā'aûr ) 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 shephēlāh 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. Dan occupied the lower hills West of Benjamin and Ephraim, and claimed the plain from Ekron to Rakkon ( Tell er Raḳḳeit ) 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 , Joshua 17:16 ) 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 (Josh 21:13-42) include 13 in Judah and Benjamin for the priests, among which Beth-shemesh ( 1 Samuel 6:13 , 1 Samuel 6:15 ) 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 ( Reimûn ) and Golan (probably Saḥem el Jaulân ) East of the river. Another less perfect list of these cities, with 4 omissions and 11 minor differences, mostly clerical, is given in 1 Ch 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 ( Berḳah ) in the lower hills West of Jerusalem, and even set fire to that city. Caleb attacked Debir (Jsg Joshua 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 Dhâherı̂yeh ) 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 Dan 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 2 of Hazor, in Lower Galilee, appears to have occurred in the time of Rameses II, who, in his 8th year, conquered Shalem ( Sâlim , North of Taanach), Anem ( ‛Anı̂n ), Dapur ( Debûrieh , 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 Ḥarathı̂yeh ) on the edge of the sea plain. His host "perished at Endor" ( Psalm 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 Ḳadeis , 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 ( Lejjûn ) 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 (Jdg 7:1-22); the sites of Beth-shittah ( Shaṭṭa ) and Abel-meholah ( ‛Ain Ḥelweh ) 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 ( Jubeiḥah ) 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 ‛Aı̂n Jâlûd ("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 enchant
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
small territory on the SE. corner of the Mediterranean, about the size of Wales, being 140 m. from N. to S., and an average of 70 m. from E. to W., is bounded on the N. by Lebanon, on the E. by the Jordan Valley, on the S. by the Sinaitic Desert, and on the W. by the sea; there is great diversity of climate throughout its extent owing to the great diversity of level, and its flora and fauna are of corresponding range; it suffered much during the wars between the Eastern monarchies and Egypt, and in the wars between the Crescent and the Cross, and is now by a strange fate in the hands of the Turk; it has in recent times been the theatre of extensive exploring operations in the interest of its early history.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Palestine'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/palestine.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
- Palestine from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- Palestine from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Palestine from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- Palestine from Smith's Bible Dictionary
- Palestine from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- Palestine from Holman Bible Dictionary
- Palestine from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Palestine from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- Palestine from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- Palestine from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- Palestine from Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
- Palestine from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
- Palestine from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- Palestine from The Nuttall Encyclopedia
- Palestine from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature