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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Sharon

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(Heb, Sharon', שָׁרוֹן , a plain; Sept. usually Σαρών [comp. Acts 9:35], Σαρωνάς ), the name, apparently, of three places in Palestine. (See SHARONITE).

In the treatment of these we adduce the elucidations of modern critical and archaeological research.

I. The district along the Mediterranean is that commonly referred to tunder this distinctive title. (See SARON).

1. The Name. This has invariably, when referring to this locality (1 Chronicles 27:29; Song of Solomon 2:1; Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 65:10), the definite article, הִשָּׁרוֹן, hash-Sharon; and this is represented, likewise, in the Sept. renderings Σαρών, δρυμός, τὸ πεδίον .. Two singular variations of this are found in the Vat. MS. (Mai), viz. 1 Chronicles 5:16, Γεριάμ ; and 27:29, ‘Ἀσειδῶν, where the A is a remnant of the Hebrew definite article. It is worthy of remark that a more decided trace of the Hebrew article appears in Acts 9:35, where some MSS. have Ἀσσαρωνᾶ. The Lasharon (q.v.) of Joshua 12:18, which some scholars consider to be Sharon with a preposition prefixed, appears to be more probably correctly given in the A.V. The term thus appears to be denominative of a peculiar place, like "the Arabah," "the Shephelah, "the Ciccar," "the Pisgah," etc. (See TOPOGRAPHICAL TERMS).

Sharon is derived by Gesenius (Thesaur. p. 642) from יָשֹׁ ר , to be straight or even the root, also, of Mishor, the name of a district east of Jordan. The application to it, however, by the Sept., by Josephus (Ant. 15, 13, 3; War, 1, 13, 2), and by Strabo (16, p. 758) of the name Δρυμός or Δρυμοί, "woodland," is singular. It does not seem certain that that term implies the existence of wood on the plain of Sharon. Reland has pointed out (Palmest. p. 190) that the Saronicus Sinus, or Bay of Saron, in Greece, was so called (Pliny, H.N. 4, 5) because of its woods, σάρωνις meaning an oak. Thus it is not impossible that Δρυμός was used as an equivalent of the name Sharon, and was not intended to denote the presence of oaks or woods on the spot. May it not be a token that the original meaning of Saron, or Sharon, is not that which its received Hebrew root would imply, and that it has perished except in this one instance? The Alexandrine Jews who translated the Sept. are not likely to have known much either of the Saronic Gulf or of its connection with a rare Greek word. The thickets and groves of the region are proverbial (see below).

2. Description. According to Acts 9:15, this district was the level region adjacent to Lydda. Eusebius and Jerome (Onomast. s.v. "Saron"), under the name of Saronas, specify it as the region extending from Caesarea to Joppa. This is corroborated by Jerome in his comments on the three passages in Isaiah, in one of which (on 55, 10) he appears to extend it as far south as Jamnia. He elsewhere (Comm. on Isaiah 35:2) characterizes it in words which admirably portray its aspects even at the present: "Omnis igitur candor [the white sand hills of the coast], cultus Dei [the wide crops of the finest corn], et circumcisionis scientia [the well- trimmed plantations], et loca uberrima et campestria [the long gentle swells of rich red and black earth], quae appellantur Saron." It is that broad, rich tract of land which lies between the mountains of the central part of the Holy Land and the Mediterranean the northern continuation of the Shephelah. From the passages above cited we gather that it was a place of pasture for cattle, where the royal herds of David grazed (1 Chronicles 27:29): the beauty of which was as generally recognized as that of Carmel itself (Isaiah 35:2), and the desolation of which would be indeed a calamity (Isaiah 33:9), and. its reestablishment a symbol of the highest prosperity (Isaiah 65:10). The rose of Sharon (q.v.) was a simile for all that a lover would express (Song of Solomon 2:1).

Add to these slight traits the indications contained in the renderings of the Sept., τὸ πεδίον , "the plain," and δρυμός, "the wood," and we have exhausted all that we can gather from the Bible of the characteristics of Sharon. There are occasional allusions to wood in the description of the events which occurred in this district in later times. Thus, in the chronicles of the Crusades, the "Forest of Saron" was the scene of one of the most romantic adventures of Richard (Michaud, Histoire, 8); the "Forest of Assur" (i.e. Arsuf) is mentioned by Vinisauf (4, 16). To the southeast of Kaisariyeh there is still "a dreary wood of natural dwarf pines and entangled bushes" (Thomson, Land and Book, ch. 33). The orchards and palm groves round Jimzu, Lydd, and Ramleh, and the dense thickets of dom in the neighborhood of the two last, as well as the mulberry plantations in the valley of the Aujeh, a few miles from Jaffa an industry happily increasing every day show how easily wood might be maintained by care and cultivation (see Stanley, Sinai and Pal. p. 1260, note). It was famous for Saronite wine (Mishna, Nidda, 2, 7, comp. Chilaim, 2, 6), for roses, anciently (Mariti. Voyage, p. 350; Chateaubriand, Trav. 2, 55, comp. Russegger, 3, 201, 287) as well as now (Thomson, Land and Book, 2, 269). In Its midst, between Lydda and Arsuf, according to some, lay the village of Sharon (see Mariti, loc. cit.), once a city. (This is meant, perhaps, in Joshua 12:18, Acts 40:35.) But later travelers do not mention it, and it is not certain that the passages adduced refer to a city. There are many villages still on the plain (Berggren, Reis. 3, 162). The district has lost much of its ancient fertility, but it is yet good pasture land; there are, still flocks to be found grazing on it, though few in comparison with former days. Like the plain of Esddraelon, Sharon is very much, we might say entirely, deserted. Around Jaffa, indeed, it is well cultivated, and as you move northward from that town you are encompassed with groves of orange, olive, fig, lemon, pomegranate, and palm; the fragrance is delicious, almost oppressive. But farther north, save in a few rich spots, you find but little cultivation. Yet over all the undulating waste your eye is refreshed by the profusion of wild flowers scattered everywhere. Like many of the spots famed anciently for beauty and fertility, it only gives indications of what it might become (see Porter, Hand-book for Pal. p. 380).

II. The Sharon of 1 Chronicles 5:16 is distinguished from the western plain by not having the article attached to its name. It is also apparent from the passage itself that it was some district on the east of Jordan in the neighborhood of Gilead and Bashan (see Bachiene, 2, 3, 233). Reland objects to this (Palest. p. 371), but on insufficient grounds. The expression "suburbs" (מַגְרְשֵׁי ) is in itself remarkable. The name has not been met with in that direction, and the only approach to an explanation of it is that of Prof. Stanley (Sinai and Pal. App. § 7), that Sharon may here be a synonym for the Mishor word, probably, derived from the same root, describing a region with some of the same characteristics and attached to the pastoral plains east of the Jordan.

III. Another Sharon is pointed out by Eusebius (ut sup.) in North Palestine, between Tabor and the Sea of Tiberias; and Dopke would understand this to be meant in Song of Solomon 2:1, because this book so often refers to the northern region of the Jordan. But this is very doubtful.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Sharon'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/s/sharon.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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