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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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The tract of country north of Gilead, the Yarmuk being the dividing-line. It stretches eastward along this southern limit as far as Salchah or Salecah (Deuteronomy 3:10), the modern Salkhat; thence northward to Hermon (Deuteronomy 3:8, 4:47), which may be inferred from the passage in Deuteronomy 33:22, which speaks of Dan leaping from Bashan, and referring to the time when Dan had emigrated to the extreme north. In the west, Bashan did not extend quite to the Jordan; the territory of the Maachathites and the Geshurites intervening between it and the river (Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 12:5, 13:11,13). The land was probably rather well settled in early times, since Deuteronomy 3:4 speaks of sixty cities; there are many ruins remaining to this day. The names of very few cities have, however, been preserved. Edrei (Deuteronomy 1:4; 3:1,10; Joshua 12:4; Numbers 21:33), apparently a royal city, was the scene of the battle which ended in the defeat of Og, and gave the Hebrews possession of the land. It is now known as "Ed-deraah." Generally mentioned in connection with Edrei is another royal city, Ashtaroth, perhaps the modern Tell-Ashtera. Golan was set aside by Joshua as a city of refuge (Joshua 20:8), and was held by the Gershon branch of the Levites (Joshua 21:27; 1 Chronicles 6:56). Of Salecah nothing is known but the fact that it was a boundary city (Joshua 12:5; Deuteronomy 3:10; Joshua 13:11).

The land of Bashan is characterized by its volcanic formation: the hills have craters and are picturesquely called "har gabnunnim" (mountain of summits; A. V. "high hills," Psalms 68:16). The soil is very fertile and provides excellent pasture for flocks, which in ancient times were noted for their size and breed (Deuteronomy 32:14). The powerful cattle of Bashan are referred to in the orations of the Prophets as designations for the strong, overbearing inhabitants of Samaria (Amos 4:1), and for wicked people in general (Psalms 22:13). In the eastern portion oaks grew quite plentifully (Isaiah 2:13), and were used in making oars for the Tyrian trade (Ezekiel 27:6). In figurative language, Bashan is often linked with the Lebanon and Carmel as designative of mourning (Zechariah 11:2), languishing (Nahum 1:4), or casting away its fruit (Isaiah 33:9).

According to Biblical tradition, Bashan was conquered from the mythical Og by the Hebrews in the days of Moses, and was handed over to the half-tribe of Manasseh (Deuteronomy 3:13; Joshua 13:29; 1 Chronicles 5:23). According to 1 Chronicles 5:11, Gad also had some land in Bashan, but this late passage is hardly sufficient evidence. In Solomon's reign a commissariat officer was stationed in Bashan (1 Kings 4:13,19). In the days of Jehu, Hazael began to devastate the land (2 Kings 10:33), but in the invasion of Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29) it is not mentioned. See G. A. Smith, "Historical Geography of the Holy Land," ch. The name gave rise to the Greek "Batanæa" and to the modern Arabic "Buthaniyatun."

J. Jr.
G. B. L.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Batanaea'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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