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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Palestine

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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.


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Palestine'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/p/palestine.html. 1949.

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