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Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

The Lowlands, or the Jordan Valley

Commences to the southwest of Kirjath-Jearim, and west of the Mount Modiim, and extends to the Mediterranean, and southwardly to the south of Gaza. If one stands on one of the mountains west of Jerusalem, and east of the village En-Karem, he has the whole of the Lowland, with the sea, before his view. The towns of this division are:

Zorah and Eshtaol זרעה ואשתאל. Two and a half English miles west of the Mount Modiim is, even at the present day, the village Zareah; and 2½ west of this is the village Stual, no doubt Eshtaol.

Zanoach זנוח One English mile southeast from Zarea is the village Zamea, no doubt the former Zanoach.

En-Gannim עין גנים, is certainly identical with the village Dshinin, 3 English miles southeast of Ashkelon. A town of the same name was in the territory of Issachar.

Tappuach תפוח is probably the village Beth-Tapa, 5 English miles northwest of Beth-Djibrin. A town of the same name was also on the boundary line between Ephraim and Manasseh.

Enam עינם, is probably the village Beth-Ani, distant 2½ English miles from Saafir (which see). Some think that this is the place spoken of as Enajim, in the history of Tamar (Gen. 38:14).

Jarmuth ירמות. See explanation of the 31 Kings.

Adullam עדלם. Ibidem.

Socho סוכו is without doubt the village Suweiche, situated 5 English miles north-northeast from Beth-Djibrin.

Azekah עזקה.  Three English miles east of the valley Saphia is the village Tell Ezakaria, which is probably the ancient Azekah, which was not far from Socho. (Com. 1 Sam. 17:1.)

Shaaraim שערים, is not clearly known; but to judge from 1 Sam. 17: 52, it must have been in the neighbourhood of Ekron and Gath.* It is probably identical with the Ir-Tarain of the Tosephtah, end of Ahaloth, as the Chald. Tarain is the same with the Hebrew Shaaraim, gates.

* In the 1 Macc. 5:66, there is mentioned a place Shomrin, which should be Shaaraim, as it clearly refers to a city in the land of the Philistines, near Ashdod.

Adithaim עדיתים, is probably the village Eddis, 5 English miles east of Gaza. Hieronymus also says that it was situated near Gaza.

Gederah and Gederothaim גדרה גדרתים, formed but one town, and was, as Strabo and Josephus tell us, between Ashdod and Ashkelon, and is probably the same with Beth­Gader mentioned in 1 Chron. 2:51. Some suppose it tohave been the seat of the 31 Kings (Joshua 12:13).

Zenan צנן is the same with Zaanan of Micah 1:11, and is probably the village Zan-Abra, situated 2½ English miles southeast of Mareshah.

Chadashah חדשה (compare with Erubin, fol. 46), is, according to the opinion of some, the town called in I Macc. 7:40, and Josephus, Adasa, which, however, appears erroneous to me, since the latter lay near Beth-Choron, consequently not in the territory of Judah, but of Benjamin. I am rather led to think that it is the village Dshora di al Chadas, between Migdal and Ashkelon (see above, Jagur), which, though but a village, I fancy bears traces of the two towns Jagur and Chadashah; as in general the inhabitants of Palestine allow themselves transpositions, abbreviations, and additions in the names of the towns. At the distance of one mile from this place, in the vicinity of the sea, lies

Migdal-Gad מגדל גד at present called Midjdal (Migdal).

Dilean and Mizpeh דלען מצפה There is, 7 English miles northwest of Beth-Djibrin, on a small mount, the village Tell Zaphi, which is probable a compound of the two names in question. According to Hieronymus, Mizpeh was north of Beth-Djibrin, which also coincides with Tell Zaphi.

Lachish לכיש. See the description of the 31 Kings.

Eglon עגלון. See ibidem.

Gederoth גדרות is probably the same with the ruins of Gadara, situated northwest of Jerusalem at the edge of the valley Zarr, which also appears to be the correct view from Chron. 28:18, where this place is mentioned in connexion with Beth-Shemesh, Ajalon, Socho, and Timnah, which all were situated in Wady Zarr. (Compare Joshua 12:13.) Geder is probably the same place.

Beth-Dagon בית דגון must not be mistaken for a town of the same name between Ramlah and Jaffa. Eusebius reports that between Jamnia (Jabne) and Diospolis (Lod), there were in his time the ruins of the village Dagon; but at present not a vestige of them can be found.

Makedah מקדה, See the description of the 31 Kings.

Libnah לבנה. Ibidem.

Ashan עשן. also called Kor-Ashan in I Sam. 30:30. Eusebius states Asan to be 15 mill west of Jerusalem; but it is now unknown.

Nezib נציב Two and a half English miles east of Beth-Djibim is found as yet the village Beth-Nuzib.

Keilah קעילה was, according to Eusebius, 8 mill from B. Djibrin, on the road to Hebron; but it is not to be found at present.

Achzib אכזיב was at the time of Eusebius yet a village, north of Adullam, and is the same place called Chezib in Gen. 38:5. It is now unknown.

Mareshah מראשה; the ruins of this town, called Marasa by the Arabs, are yet discoverable 1 English mile south of B. Djibrin.*

* R. Benjamin of Tudela says, that Maresha is B. Gubrin (Djibrin); but this is not so, as it is merely in its vicinity. Astori, the author of Caphtor Vapherach, fol. 69a, asserts that Mareshah is near to Kefar Dichrin, north of Lud (Diospolis) ; but this too is erroneous, for this would place Mareshah in the mountains of Ephraim, in Benjamin’s portion.

When speaking of the land of the Philistines, I will treat of Ekron, Ashdod, and Gaza.