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Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

The Territory of Asher.

Of the cities mentioned as belonging to Asher, in Joshua 19:24-31, I have been able to ascertain what follows:

Chelkath חלקת is probably the modern village Jerkat or Jerka, about 2 English miles cast from Kefr Jasif (See Achshaf). It strikes me that the r in Jerkat is substituted for j, as this is often done in other names, as has been remarked above, art. Azel, in Benjamin. In 1 Chron. 6:60 (English version 75), this Levitical city is called Chukkok.

Chali חלי. We read in the book of Judith 7:3: "They encamped--as far as Chalon,* opposite to Esdrelon." Perhaps that Chali and Chalon designate the same place, and its situation must therefore be sought for near Mount Carmel.

* This is the Latin reading, and is no doubt correct.

Beten בטן. Eusebius says: "This is a mill east from Akko;" but this should evidently read northeast, or else if it be as the text of Eusebius reads it, it would place Beten in the midst of Naphtali.

Achshaph אכשף. This is given in the Septuagint with Keaph, which is as much as Cheifa. But Hieronymus says that Achshaph is the town of Chasala, in the neighbourhood of Tyre, on the river Leontes. Astori believes it to be Arsuf (at present destroyed), on the sea-coast, in a direction west of Samaria (Sebaste). But all these opinions have much that is objectionable in them. I rather am inclined to believe that it is identical with the modern village Kefr Jasif = Chasif = Achsif = Achshaph, 5 English miles northeast from Akko. At present no Jews are residing there; but they left it but a short time ago, and an ancient Synagogue is still in the place, and is in good repair. The burial-ground of the Jews of Akko is in this village, because Akko is not considered as belonging to the Holy Land, since it was not repossessed by the exiles returning under Ezra, as has been already noticed in our first chapter.

Alammelech אלמלך The little stream Nahr al Melchi flows south of Shafamer, in a westerly direction, and falls, near Cheifa, into the Mukata (Kishon). Its name would almost seem to indicate that it is called after the ancient Alammelech, which stood on its banks.

Amad עמעד is probably the village Al-Mead, 2 English miles north from Kefr Jasif.

Mishal משאל is at present unknown. Eusebius merely remarks that it is on the sea-coast, not far from Carmel.

Beth-Dagon בית דגון. About 9 English miles northwest from Zafed is a village called, in the language of the country, Beth-Shan. But, upon strict inquiry, I found that the proper pronunciation should be Beth-Djan, that is undoubtedly Beth-Dgan, as the Arabs often put their Dj for the Hebrew G; Wherefore I would identify this village with the Beth-Dagon of Scripture.

Beth-Haëmek בית העמק appears to me to be the modern Amuka, i.e. the deep, synonymous with the Hebrew Emek, it being situated in a valley. This village is 12 miles north-northwest from Zafed, on the road to Kedes. It is also probable that it is referred to under Kefar Amiku of Taanith, 21a.

Cabul כבול is the large village Kabul, 5 English miles north-northeast from Akko. They point out here the graves of R. Abraham Aben Ezra, and of R. Shelomoh Ibn Gebirol. It is mentioned in Pesachim, fol. 51a, and Vayikra Rabbah, chap. 20.

Ebron עברון is no doubt the present village Ebra, situated south of Kallat Shakif, which lies in the valley of Kasmeia. Among the Levitical cities it is called Abdon.

Rechob רחוב. I have read in some books that its position was about 7½ miles east of Tyre, on the river Leontes, in the present Wady Kasmeia; but it is now unknown.

Chammon חמון is called Ammon in Yerushalmi Demai, chap. 2, and is probably identical with the village Hamani, situated 1 mile west of Kanah.

Kanah קנה, is the village of this name, 3 English miles southeast from Tyre (Sur).

Zidon Rabbah, the Great Zidon צידון רבה is at present called Saida. and is a small, pretty town with a small harbour. Here live about fifty Jewish families, who have a handsome Synagogue. Without the town is shown the grave of Zebulun, son of Jacob, over which is a cupola with an outer court. The Arabs call him Sheich Saida, i.e. chief of Sidon; this would argue that this town belonged to Zebulun and not to Asher, and that the boundary of the former reached this town; since he would not have been buried here, if it were not in the territory assigned to him. South of Latrun (see Atroth-Beth-Joab) is a village also called Zidon, whence then the name of Great Zidon, to distinguish it from the smaller synonymous town situated farther south, near Latrun.

Zor, Tyre צור is the present small unimportant town of Sur, 20 English miles south of Saida. It was in ancient times situated on an island, which, since the time of Alexander of Macedon, is a peninsula. Without the town there is a large monument, which the Arabs call Sidna Chur, i.e. "The Prince Chiram," and maintain that Hiram, King of Tyre, lies buried here. It would appear that it is a long time since Jews lived here. When Zafed, that is the part inhabited by Jews, was plundered and nearly destroyed, in 5594 (1834), by the Arabs and Bedouins, there arrived at Sur a ship from Barbary, North Africa, filled with Jewish pilgrims, who purposed settling in Zafed; but when they learned that it had been destroyed, they nearly all remained in Sur; but in the course of five or six years, the greater portion having died away, the remainder settled in other places, so that at present not a single Jew is found in Sur. As its former name was Tyrus, the vicinity was named Tyrusia; and hence I believe that the Tursia so often occurring in Talmud and Midrashim, is no other than this district of Tyre; hence the Tursiim means Tyrians. In Megillah, 26a, it is said, "A Synagogue of the Tursiim was in Jerusalem." There was another one of the kind in Lod, as mentioned in Vayikra Rabbah, chap. 35. In Pesiktah Rabbethi, chap. 15, it is stated, "Rabbi Nachum taught in Trissia," &c., which probably also means in the vicinity of Tyre, or Tyrusia. On the coast of the Mediterranean, 14 English miles south from Tyre and 2 English miles north from Zib (Achzib), there is an extremely steep, high, and narrow promontory, which stretches into the sea; it can be seen at a great distance, and it is ascended as it were on a ladder, that is to say, the path leading to its summit is cut out in steps, similar to a staircase, hence its name, "the Ladder of Tyre," סולמא דצור Sulma Dezur. In Arabic it is termed Ras al Nakura. (See also Erubin, 80a, and Beza, 25b.)

Chosah חסה, which Eusebius states to be a city between Zor and Achzib. At present there is a village, called Al Busa, perhaps a corruption from Chusa, 2 English miles northeast from Zib, and is possibly the Chosa of Scripture. 1 English mile south of Saida (Zidon) there is indeed the village Al Chasia, which is more similar to Chosah than Busa is; but it cannot be identical with it, as it is too far to the north.

Ramah רמה is probably the village Ramis, 5 English miles southwest from Kedes.

Achzib אכזיב in Talmud and elsewhere, it is briefly called Chezib כזיב, and is the modern village Zib, situated on the sea-shore, about 5 English miles north from Akko. Here also is to be noticed a singular statement of Astori in saying, fol. 65a, "This Achzib is the place mentioned in the history of Judah, son of Jacob, in Genesis 38:5;" but this opinion is erroneous, since that Chezib was in the land of Judah, not far from Adullam (which see).

Aphek אפק may probably be identical with the village En-Fit, also called En-Fik, situated about 3 English miles southwest from Banias.

Rechob רחוב. Some have believed that Euseblus, in saying that Raub is 4 mill from Beth Shean, referred to Rechob of Asher. But this cannot be correct, since Beth-Shean was not near this tribe; but it is to be sought for in the Lower Bakaa, not far from the river Wady Kasmeia, in the direction of Banais or Laish (Judges 18:28). It strikes me, however, that Eusebius meant "Araba" or the town of Harabbith, belonging to Issachar (which see).

There also belonged to Asher the following places:

Akko [Acre] עכו (Judges 1:31). In Arabic Aka signifies, "hot sand;" and the place may have derived its name from the fact that the whole line of shore to Cheifa, 8 English miles in length, is in a measure a sandy desert, which becomes very hot in the summer. It seems that this town was already in ancient times destroyed, and dwindled down to a village, since we often find it called Kefar Akko, that is, the village of Akko; for instance, in Tosephtah Sotah, chap. 1, and Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 30, also in Sotah 34b. It is also possible that reference is made to a village of the same name with the town, which may have been situated near Akko. At present there are here about forty Jewish families, who have a small but very ancient Synagogue. In the time of the Romans it was known as Ptolemais. Its fortifications are extremely strong. It was during the great part of the period of the Franks, that is, whilst the Europeans possessed the country, the residence of their kings. It suffered much in 5592 and 5600 (1832 and 1840), through the bombardment and capture of the Egyptians and Europeans; but it has been speedily restored and rebuilt, and is again very strongly fortified. It has been often captured. In 4398 (638) it was taken by the Calif Omar from the Greeks, when the whole country came under the power of the Saracens. In 4864 (1104) it was taken by Baldwin I. from the Saracens; in 4947 (1187) it was recaptured from the Christians by Saladin, King of Egypt; in 4951 (1191) it was taken by Richard Coeur de Lion, and Philip of France; and in 5051 (1291) it was finally captured by Serapa, King of Egypt, on which occasion 60,000 Christians lost their lives. In 5559 (1799) a contest was waged here between Sir Sydney Smith, who was in the city, aiding the Turkish Pacha, and Napoleon Bonaparte, the commander of the French army, who besieged and had at length to retire without taking it. In 5592 (1832) it was captured by Abraim (Ibrahim) Pacha, of Egypt, who conquered at that time all Palestine and Syria, and carried Abd Alla Pacha a prisoner to Alexandria. In 5600 (1840) it was again taken by the military expedition of the English and Turks, from Abraim Pacha, since when the whole of Syria and Palestine has remained under the power of the Ottoman Porte. [It is called, in the European dialects, St. Jean d'Acre.--TRANSLATOR]

Zarephath צרפת  (I Kings 17:91). The ruins of this place are found close upon the sea, 6 miles south of Saida. One mile east from this, on a high mountain, is the village Surafend, probably of a later date than the town itself. It is possible that the passage משרפת מים כל צידונים  (Joshua 13:6), untranslated in the English version, is synonymous with Zarephath, that is, "purifying," from Zaroph צרוף "to purify,"—no doubt so called from the fact that salt was made here from sea-water; wherefore we may assume that משרפת is put* for מצפרת.

* May it not also be merely synonymous, and not exchanged?--and that Missrephoth Mayim merely means places where the (sea) water was boiled, subjected to fire, or, so to say, burnt out, and thus be a legitimate derivation from שרוף Sahrofe, "to burn?" This derivation dues not, however, gainsay the identity of the name with Zarephath.--TRANSLATOR.

About 1 mile north of Dor (Dandura) is a village, likewise called Surafend; whence it is possible that the definition of 1 Kings 17:9, "to Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon," refers to the fact that there was another city of the name, which may have been the modern Surafend, near Dor.

In Talmud and Midrashim the following names occur:

Cheifa [Haifa] חיפה of Sabbath, 26a, Tosephtah Yebamoth, chap. 6, and Shemoth Rabbah, chap. 14, was called Purpureon during the dominion of the Greeks and Romans, because the purple shell* was often found and taken in the vicinity. (See the passage cited of Talmud Sabbath.) Josephus, in his Bell. Jud., book 3, page 2, calls this town "Caba, a city of the horsemen," because King Herod's cavalry was stationed here. It is at present an insignificant little town, at the foot of Carmel. Not far from it the Kishon (Mukata) falls into the sea. About forty Jewish families, who have an old Synagogue, reside here at the present time. In their burying-ground are the graves of Rabbi Adimi of Cheifa, and Rabbi Isaac Napcha (Smith?).

* I must call attention to the fact that the blood, or the dyeing material of this shell, produces a red dye; and that still, both in Scripture and Talmud, this colour is always given as blue תכלת. But it appears from Talmud and other documents, that through certain preparations and mixing, the original red colour was changed into a blue. This remark is extremely interesting, as this explains the incongruity which otherwise would make erroneously the blood of the chalazon of a blue colour.

Shikmonah שקמונה, of Demai i., Baba Bathra, 119a, was, according to Josephus, between Caesarea and Akko; but it is at present unknown. Some believe it to be identical with Cheifa.

Turi טורי, of Midrash Shir Hashirim to chap. 8:7, Midrash Samuel, chap. 3, Yerushalmi Baba Mezia, chap. 2, is either the village Tireh), between Akko and Shafamer, or the village Turia, south of Carmel, not far from Merdj aben Amer.

Gush-Chalab גוש חלב of Menachoth, 85b), Shemoth Rabbah, chap. v., Siphri to Haazinu, and Zohar Acharay Moth, fol. 63b), was destroyed at the time of Rabbi Chiskiah and Rabbi Jesa (see Zohar, 71a). Josephus, in his Bell. Jud., book 4, chap. 4, calls it Gischala, a fortified town in Upper Galilee. It was the birth-place of the chief John (Paritz Yochanan), who is so famous in the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans. It is the Achlab אחלב of Judges 1:31, mentioned as belonging to Asher. Oil was produced here in great abundance (see also article Tekoa, page 114). It is now the village Gish, also called Gish-Chalab, and is 5 English miles northwest from Zafed. There are shown here many graves of our departed learned men, among others, those of Adrammelech and Sharezer, the sons of Sancherib (2 Kings 19:37); and near these the graves of Shemaiah and Abtalion (Aboth i. § 10), who were descended from the first-named princes, who, after slaying their father, are said to have embraced Judaism, having witnessed the slaughter of the Assyrian army before Jerusalem, and seeing that the Holy City was under the protection of God. (2 Kings 19:35; Gittin, 57b).

Upper Tarnegola, above Caesarea, תרנגולה עילא דלמעלה מן קסרין (Targum Jonathan to Num. 34:9,10; Yerushalmi Shebiith, chap. 6; Yerushalmi Demai, 2.) Pliny, v. 19, mentions Zarephta and Ornithon, meaning, undoubtedly, Zarephath and Tarnegola, Ornis in Greek being synonymous with the Hebrew Geber, and Chaldean Tarnegol = cock. The Gabara often mentioned by Josephus, Gabara and Gischala (Life of Josephus, page 525), is no doubt the same place. It is certain that this place had an idol image of a cock, which was worshipped here, דווקניס דתרנגולה "the image of the cock" (Jonathan to Num. 34: 9,10); farther, that the Nergal נרגל mentioned in 2 Kings 17:30, which was represented under the image of a cock (see Sanhedrin, 63b), was the idol of the Cutheans [Samaritans], who were properly of Zidonian descent, as they themselves asserted, in their letter to Antiochus (Jos., Antiq., book 13 chap. 17); that this worship was peculiar to the Zidonians, wherefore they had a city dedicated to it in their territory, to wit, the town of Tarnegola, and that their descendants, the Cutheans, worshipped the same idol in Judaea, after their emigration thither. The exact position of this ancient town is not known; I however heard from the Bedouins and Arabs, that they knew the name of Gabara by tradition, and that it is said to have been situated northwest from Banias, not far from the valley Wady Kasmeia (Leontes). This assertion has a great deal of probability to recommend it, since this position will place Tarnegola north of Banias, the former Caesarea Philippi, which would therefore explain the definition, Tarnegola above Kisrin (Caesarea). The same definition is given by Jonathan to the word דן Dan, in Gen. 14:14, דן דקיסריון "Dan of Kisarion," which proves clearly that already in the time of Jonathan, Dan or Banias was defined by styling it Kisarion, i.e. Caesarea.* In Pesiktah Rabbethi, chap. iii., there is spoken of, R. Eleazar, of סרונגלה Serongala, which must be incorrect, and should read Tarnegola, or R. Eleazar, a native of this place; and this mention in this late book proves that this name must have been known at a later period than the Talmud.

* It is also probably identical with the Kisrin in Upper Galilee, mentioned in Sukkah, 27b.

In Yerushalmi Demai, ii., the following names are mentioned, Yedut, &c., to Chamas.

Yedut יעדוט is probably the village Djudeide = Yudeide, 1½ English miles northwest from Kefr Jasif. I deem it to be the town Gedud=Djedud (by changing G into Dj), mentioned in Negaim, chap. 6:94. Also, 3 English miles west of Chaspeia, there is a village Judeta. In the vicinity of Zidon there is a mount called Djebl Djudud, similar to Gedud or Gedut. This mount is much visited by Christian pilgrims. There is pointed out the grave of Aholiab son of Achisamach, of the tribe of Dan. (Exodus 31:6.)

Susita סוסיתא of Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 31 and 37, "from Susita to Tiberias," of Echa Rabbathi to chap. 1:17, "Susita, for the most part a heathenish town (as said in Yerushalmi Rosh Hashanah, 2.), was always at emnity with the Jewish inhabitants of Tiberias." It appears from Pesiktah Rabbethi that Susita was near Geder. In Yerushalmi Shebiith, 6, it is said that "the land of Tob," of Judges 11:3, is Susita. Literally the meaning of the word is, "the horseman's town," from Sus סוס horse. Josephus calls the place Chephus or Chephon, perhaps derived in some manner front the Greek Hippos, also denoting horse. There can be no doubt but that this name is also used in the Talmudical writings; for instance, in Megillah, 24b, בני חיפני ובישני "the men of Chephon and Beth Shean." Bereshith Rabbah to Vayechi has Rabbi Isaac of Chefinos. The place is at present unknown, but it must have been on the southeastern shore of Lake Chilinereth.

Nob נוב is the village Naba, 1 mile south from Usa; and probably identical with Niphapha, mentioned in the Life of Josephus.

Chaspeya חספיא has already been spoken of in the description of the Lebanon.

Kefar Zemach כפר צמח, is the present village Semach, on the southeast point of the Lake Chinnereth. The earth hereabout contains some gypsum (sulphate of lime), and they make here remarkably fine water-jugs.

Bazath בצת is the village Baza north of Akko.

Rosh Me ראש מי. This I suppose to he the village Ras el Ain, "the Spring head," equal to Rosh Me, "the Water Head," 2 miles south from Sur. But it nevertheless seems more correct to seek for its site at the village Mes, on the road from Banias to Chaspeya.

Mazi מזי is perhaps the village Ramis, 5 miles southwest from Kedes.

Berin ברין is the village Beroï, between Medjdl al Krum and Akko.

Ammon אמון see above, under Chammon.

Karaka debar Hazareg, or debar Sanageraכרכה דבר הזרג also in several passages  כרכה רבה דבר סנגרא, which, as has been already stated in Chapter 1, is undoubtedly the present destroyed city Kallat al Sani, 4 English miles south from Zafed, the vicinity of which is still called Shaghur, which has an evident resemblance to Sanagera.

Chamas חמת is without doubt the village Chamsin, 2 miles east from Chezib. Near this place flows a little stream, which falls into the sea south of Chezib; I suppose this to be the Nahar Deroma Shel Chezibנהר דרומה של כזיב of Tosephtah Shebiith, 4.: "The south river of Chezib."

Kefar Zumaria כפר צומריא of Toseph. Shebiith, 4, is the village Simurieh, 3 English miles north from Akko. In some copies of this Tosephtah, the reading is Kefar Zemach.

Kefar Signah in the valley כפר סיגנה בבקעה of Menachoth, 86b, probably the village Sagan, in a valley northwest from Gish-Chalab, and is in all likelihood identical with the Sagani of Jos., Bell. Jud., b. 4, chap. 1, and the Como-Sagana of the Life of Josephus.

Arab ערב is the village Arabi, 10 English miles east from Cabul, and is probably the place referred to in 2 Sam. 23:31. There is also a village of the same name, 3 miles northwest of Nablus, the sheich of which had for several years lately a war with the sheich of Nablus; for the former was the so-called Mudier, i.e. head chief, over Nablus and its vicinity at the time of Abraim Pacha, but was deposed when the country came again under the government of the Sultan of Constantinople, and had thus to quit Nablus, and became therefore a deadly enemy of the sheich who was put in his place; the consequence was a war between these chiefs, so that it was a long time impossible to travel in that neighbourhood. It appears from Yerushalmi Sabbath, chap. 16, that our Arab was in Galilee, wherefore I hold it to be the firstnamed Arabi, and not the one near Nablus (Shechem in Ephraim).

In these parts of Palestine are likewise situated Dan, Laish, Banias or Panias (Talmudice Pamais).דן ליש בניאס פמאיס I have already treated of these names. 4 English miles west from Banias, they point out some ruins, which are said to be those of Dan or Laish. Josephus also states that this was the distance between Dan and Banias. In Banias, they point out the grave of the prophet Ido, and over it stands a large Butum (Sycamore?) tree; also the grave of Shebuel, son of Gershom, son of Moses, and a cavern in which is the sepulchre of Abaye and Raba. About 3 mill north of Banias, there is a mount, on which is an old building having several cupolas. There is a tradition that the "covenant between the pieces" with Abraham (Gen. 15:9) was made on this spot; the Arabs call it Meslihad al Tir, i. e. the covenant or testimony of the bird (turtle-dove?), in reference to the "bird" referred to, ibid. 5:10.

Zeredah צרדה. North of the just-named mount, on the road to Chaspeya, is the village Chamam, 3 miles west from which is the village Zarada. They point out here the brave of Jose ben Joezer, of Zeradah. (Aboth i. § 4.)

Barthotha ברתותא The ruins of this place are found not far from Chamam. Here is shown the grave of Rabbi Eliezer, of Barthotha. (Orla i. § 4.)

Abel, or Abel Beth-Maachah אבל אבל בית מעכה of 2 Samuel 20:15, and 1 Kings 15:20; but in 2 Chronicles 16:4, it is called Abel Mayim* אבל מים. The district of Maachah, which lay beyond Jordan, extended to this place. (See above, page 33). About 14 miles north from Lake Semechonitis, on the road to Chaspeya, is the village Abil; not far from it is another village Abel al Kamach, and still another Abel al Krum, which is supposed, though erroneously, to be Abel Keramin (of the vineyards) of Judges 11:33. I therefore believe that the above Abil is identical with Abel Beth-Maachah; and since it is near the Wady Chaspeya it is termed Abel of the Water. As this district has three towns, all called Abel, it appears to me to be that called in Vayikra Rabbah 17. "Abelim"  האבלים "The Abels." It also appears that there must have been an Abel not far from Zippori, since it is said in Erubin, 87a, "An aqueduct led from Abel to Zippori;" but it is difficult to believe that the modern village Abilin, 6 English miles northwest from Sifuri should be meant here.†

* It is extremely surprising that the Targum of Rabbi Joseph to the passage cited from 2 Chronicles, translates Abel Mayim with "Abel Mimaarab," Abel at the west; whence it must be inferred that he read מִיָם Miyam, of the west, instead of מַיִם Mayim, water.

† In Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 33, it is said: "Three springs of Palestine and vicinity, remained not closed up after the flood (Gen. 8:2). The springs at Tiberias, Abeleni, and the one of the Jordan, issuing from the cave at Pamais." The spring of Abeleni is unknown to me; but in Sanhedrin, 108a, the reading is Geder, Tiberias, and the large spring of Biryam, not far from Euphrates. (See farther, article Biryam.) All these three are hot springs; and, therefore, the reading of Talmud Sanhedrin is no doubt correct, but not that stating Abeleni and Pamais.

Haberim הברים of 2 Samuel 20:14, not far from Abel Beth-Maachah. We find that in that vicinity, many places were known as Biri, Beeroth, Birya. Josephus says: "Between Kedes and the Sea Semechonitis, is the town of Biri." Again, he says, that Joshua conquered the princes of Canaan, near the town Berote, near the Sea Semechonitis. In Yerushalmi Shebiith 5 is named a town of Birya near Tafne, i. e. Daphne. Wherefore I am inclined to think that this neighbourhood was termed the Berim, i.e. the plural form of Ber, or the district of the various cities of Bir, or Ber, as above with Abelim.

Kefar Likitia כפר לקיטיא of Echa Rabbethi to chap. 1:16. We may discover a trace of this name in that of the ruins known as Tell Kati, which are held to be those of Dan, or Laish.

Kefar Kurenis כפר קוריניס, of Vayikra Rabbah, 17, (named Kefar Karnaim  כפר קרנים in Ruth Rabbethi and Pesiktah Rabbethi, 17, which is an incorrect reading) "they went out front Kefar Kurenis and passed through the whole of Abelim," &c., which is in the neighbourhood, as said, of Abel Beth-Machah. Northwest from this district, on the other side of the Wady Chasmeia, is a stream named Nahr Zaherani, which falls south of Saida into the sea. There is also a village called Dar Zaherani; and as Z is often exchanged for K, I take this name to be put for Kaherani, or our Kefar  Kurenis.

Yarchi ירחי of Baba Mezia, 85b, "Samuel Yarchinai" (of Yarchi) is the modern village Yarchi, west of Medjdl al Kruin.

The Position of the Territories of Naphtali and Asher.

I have stated already that the Lake Chinnereth belonged both to Naphtali and Zebulun. Tanchum was on the frontier between both tribes; thence the boundary line of Naphtali ran northward along Jordan, the Lake Semechonitis, and Dan, or Laish; thence westward to the land of Asher, (which, therefore, was west of Naphtali); then the line ran east of Gish, between Dama, i.e. Adama, which belonged to Naphtali, and Gish; thence south to Shafamer, which was in Zebulun; thence the eastern boundary line ran north of Ramin to Tanchum and Lake Chinnereth.

Asher's territory was west of Naphtali, and had, therefore, nearly the whole coast of the Mediterranean from Carmel to Zidon, only that Zebulun had a narrow strip on the sea-coast, as already stated above. To the south, Asher extended, in part, to the Merdj Aben Amer (the Valley of Jezreel), to the southeast of Cheipha, where it touched on Menasseh (Joshua 17:10), and even on Issachar, as has been stated in the definition of the boundary of that tribe.

Josephus states that Naphtali possessed Upper Galilee, up to Mount Lebanon and the sources of the Jordan; Asher, the valley of Mount Carmel, as far as Zidon.

But it is impossible at present to designate with absolute correctness the precise boundary lines of every tribe; since the same were not very strictly defined, and since many places and towns were held in common, and are to be considered frequently as belonging to one and then to the other tribe, as I have already clearly proved.

In concluding this chapter, I must explain a Mishna of Maaser Sheni, chap. 5, § 2.

The fourth year's produce of the vineyard (as also of trees), as stated in Leviticus 19:24, could not be redeemed for money, like the second tithe (Deut. 14:25); but had to be carried to Jerusalem, if it had been grown within a day's journey from the Holy City. Now the question arises, "Which are the points defining this distance?" The answer is "Ailath to the south; Akraba to the north; Lod to the west, and the Jordan to the east." In Beza, 5a, it is given incorrectly, "Ailath north, and Akraba south," and ought to be corrected as above. I was myself a long time unable to decipher what is meant by Ailath, notwithstanding my indefatigable inquiries, as I could not find either in our or other literature or tradition any place of this name situated a day's journey north of Jerusalem; till at length it struck me, and this quite correctly, that it could mean no other than Eleutheropolis, and should stand for Ailath-polis, with an interpolated ר R, or Ailather-polis. Thus, for example, a little river, north of Trablus (Tripoli), is called in Arabic Aluut, but in the western languages Eleuther, with r superadded. I doubt not that אילת Ailath, (or Elath?) is an abbreviation for אילתרפוליס Ailetheropolis or "city of freedom." Wherefore it is called in Bereshith Rabbah החורי "the free" (Gen. 14:6), which is synonymous with its Greek appellation, and is also identical with the modern Beth-Djibrin (which see).

Akraba is the Akrabathena often mentioned by Josephus; even at this day there are ruins, about 6 miles east from Chavara (Beth-Horon), called Akrabeh.

I would merely remark that we cannot take the direction of these places as absolutely due south and west, since Ailath is southwest, and Lod northwest from Jerusalem, whereas Akraba is almost due north, say north by east. The distance also is not quite alike to all four points from Jerusalem: to the Jordan it is about 25, to Akraba 32, to Lod 22, and likewise to Beth-Djibrin 22 English miles.