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Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850


Of the cities of the sons of Joseph, Menasseh and Ephraim, we will enumerate the following (see Joshua 17:11):

Beth-Shean בית שאן, called in Talmud Be-shan, and in the times of the Greek rule, Scythopolis, i.e. town of the Scythians, is situated 10 English miles south of Tiberias, and at a distance of 2 English miles from the Jordan, and is at present but a small village of 200 inhabitants, who live in about 80 small and low houses. Still there are seen the ruins of ancient Roman buildings. At the time of Astori it was yet a large city, where many Israelites lived.*

* In 1 Kings 22:39, there is spoken of 7) ובית השן אשר בנה commonly rendered "And the ivory house which he built;" it may perhaps stand for ובית שאן "And Beth-Shean which he built." Shên in Hebrew means tooth, and par excellence that of the elephant, or ivory; hence the reading as it is would give us an ivory palace; but if it be a contraction for Shean, it would say that Ahab rebuilt Beth-Shean.

Jibleam יבלעם (called Bileam in 1 Chron. 6:55, and Belama in Judith 8:3), is probably the modern village Jabla, which is southwest of Beth-Shean, and about 2 English miles south of the village Kafra.

Dor דאר is the present small village Dardura, or Dandura, 10 English miles north of Caesarea on the seashore. It has now but 50 inhabitants, and the ruins of an ancient fortification.

En-dor עין דור is the village An-dar, 3 English miles northeast of Jezreël.

Thaanach תענך (mentioned as the Levitical town Aner in 1 Chron. 6:55), is the modern village Thanak, and is situated in the valley of Jezreel, 2½ English miles South of Ladjon (Legion or Megiddo), on the river Mekadé or Kishon.

Megiddo מגדו at present called Ladjon (from Legion, an army corps), wherefore the Romans so called it, is also situated on the Kishon, for which reason this stream is called the "Waters of Megiddo" (Judges 5:19), as has been said above in the description of the rivers of Palestine.

The Three Nepheth (English version, three countries), שלשת הנפת probably three places of the same name, which were all situated in the neighbourhood of Dor (Joshua 12:23), which would appear also to have been the case from the fact that even now there is a village called Naphatha 2½ miles southeast of Dardura.

Kamon קמון (Judges 10:5), is at present unknown; but was situated, according to Eusebius, in the valley of Jezreel, 6 mill north of Megiddo.

A Brief Review of the Possessions of Menasseh, 
and of the Sons of Joseph in General.

The most northeasterly point of Menasseh extended to Beth-Shean, situated on the borders of Issachar; but the northwest boundary touched Mount Carmel, which itself belonged to Asher. This will explain the meaning of Joshua 17:10, &c., "And they met with Asher on the north, and with Issachar on the east. And Menasseh had in Issachar and Asher Beth-Shean and its villages, and Jibleam and its villages," &c. To the southeast the line ran up to Tappuach (to the east of Shechem--see the 31 Kings), and to the southwest to the river Kanah, south of Zaesarea; so that Menasseh was situated north of Ephraim. If we now contemplate carefully the possessions of the sons of Joseph, se shall see that it had two prominently protruding points, to wit, to the northeast and northwest--so to say, in the form of two horns, between the points of which Issachar stood. Perhaps Moses alluded to this conformation of their territory when he blessed Joseph, and said (Deut. 33:17), "And his horns are as the horns of the re'em," i.e. the wild ox. Josephus relates that the possessions of Menasseh extended from the Jordan to the Great Sea near Dor.