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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Chavran', חִוְרָן; Sept. Ἀύρανῖτις and Ωραν῝ ιτις , the Auranitis of Josephus and others, the Hauran of the Arabs, so called prob. from the multitude of caves, חוֹר, found there, which even at the present day serve as dwellings for the inhabitants), a tract or region of Syria, south of Damascus, east of Gaulonitis (Golan) and Bashan, and west of Trachonitis, extending from the Jabbok to the territory of Damascene-Syria; mentioned only in Ezekiel 47:16; Ezekiel 47:18, in defining the north-eastern border of the Promised Land. It was probably of small extent originally, but received extensive additions from the Romans under the name of Auranitis. Josephus frequently mentions Auranitis in connection with Trachonitis, Batanaea, and Gaulonitis, which with it constituted the ancient kingdom of Bashan (War, 1, 20, 4; 2, 17, 4). It formed part of that Τραχενίτιδος χώρα referred to by Luke (Luke 3:1) as subject to Philip the tetrarch (comp. Joseph. Ant. 17, 11, 4). It is bounded on the west by Gaulonitis, on the north by the wild and rocky district of Trachonitis, on the east by the mountainous region of Batanaea, and on the south by the great plain of Moab (Jeremiah 48:21). Some Arab geographers have described the Hauran as much more extensive than here stated (Bohaed. Vit. Sal. ed. Schult. p. 70; Abulfed. Tab. Syr. s.v.); and at the present day the name is applied by those at a distance to the whole country east of Jaulan; but the inhabitants themselves define it as above. It is represented by Burckhardt (Travels in Syria, p. 51, 211, 285, 291) as a volcanic region, composed of porous tufa, pumice, and basalt, with the remains of a crater or the tell Shoba, which is on its eastern border. It produces, however, crops of corn, and has many patches of luxuriant herbage, which are frequented in summer by the Arab tribes for pasturage.

The surface is perfectly flat, and not a stone is to be seen save on the few low volcanic tells that rise up here and there like islands in a sea. It contains upwards of a hundred towns and villages, most of them now deserted, though not ruined. The buildings in many of these are remarkable the walls are of great thickness, and the roofs and doors are of stone, evidently of remote antiquity (see Porter's Five Years in Damascus, vol. 2). According to E. Smith (in Robinson's Researches, in, Apend. 1). 150-157), the modern province of Hauran is regarded by the natives as consisting of three parts, called en'ukrah, el- Lejah, and el-Jebel. The first of these terms designates the plain of Hauran as above defined, extending through its whole length, from wady el-Ajam on the north to the desert on the south. On the west of it is Jeidur, Jaulan, and Jebel Ajlun; and on the east the Lejah and Jebel Hauran. It has a gentle undulating surface, is arable throughout, and, in general, very fertile. With the rest of Hauran, it is the granary of Damascus. The soil belongs to the government, and nothing but grain is cultivated. Hardly a tree appears anywhere. The region still abounds in caves, which the old inhabitants excavated partly to serve as cisterns for the collection of water, and partly for granaries in which to secure their grain from plunderers. Eshmiskin is considered the capital of the whole Hauran, being the residence of the chief of all its sheiks. The inhabitants of this district are chiefly Muslims, who in manners and dress resemble the Bedawin, but there is a sprinkling also of professed Christians, and latterly of the Druses (Murray's Handbook, p. 499). The second division, or el-Lejah, lying east of the Nukrah and north of the mountains, has an elevation about the same as that of the Nukrah; but it is said to be almost a complete labyrinth of passages among rocks. The Lejah is the resort of several small tribes of Bedawin, who make it their home, and who continually issue forth from their rocky fastnesses on predatory excursions, and attack, plunder, or destroy, as suits their purpose. They have had the same character from a very remote period. The third division is the mountain of Hauran, and appears from the northwest, as an isolated range, with the conical peak called Kelb and Kuleib Hauran (the dog), which is probably an extinct volcano, near its southern extremity. But from the neighborhood of Busrah it is discovered that a lower continuation extends southward as far as the eye can see. On this lower range stands the castle of Sulkhad, distinctly seen from Busrah. This mountain is perhaps the Alsadamus of Ptolemy. (See Lightfoot, Op. 1, 316; 2, 474; Reland, Palcest. p. 190; Journ. of Sac. Lit. July 1854; Graham, in Journ. Roy. Geol. Soc. 1858, p. 254; Porter, Handbook, 2, 507; Stanley, Jewish Church, 1, 213.)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Hauran'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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