Home page History of Palestine Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West The Occident Virtual Library


Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

The Towns in the Mountains

Lie in the so-called Mountains of Judah, of which we have treated above. The height of this chain is indeed not very perceptible to the south of Hebron on the road from Jerusalem by which it is ascended; but the more precipitous are its gorges and deep valleys towards the south, east, and west. The highest points of this mountain are met with in the peaks which surround the valley of Hebron, and which have an elevation of 2664 feet above the level of the sea. The towns in the mountain district are:

Jattir יתיר is probably to be discovered in the village Yather, 15 English miles south of Hebron, and 5 north of Moladah.

Socho סוכו is at present called Suweiché, and is 3 English miles north of Yather, and 5 west of Maon.

Kirjath-Sannah קרית סנה or Debir. See the 31 Kings.

Enab ענב is the village Anab, I English mile northeast of Suweicheh. It is in all likelihood the same place mentioned in Joshua 11:21.

Eshtemoh אשתמה, formerly a Levitical city, now probably the village Samua, 2½ English miles east of Suweicheh, and is also perhaps identical with the town of Esthomonia in Peraea, built by Herod. (Compare with Josep. Antiq., book 15:11. )

Anim ענים is the village Ben-Enim, 2 English miles east-northeast of Hebron.

Giloh, or Gilo גלה is doubtlessly the large village Beth-Djalah, 1 English mile west of Bethlehem; the G, as usual with the Arabs, being changed into Dj, thus Galah, Djalah.

Arab ארב is the village Al Arab, situated on a mountain, 4 English miles southeast of Hebron.

Dumah דומה was, according to Hieronymus, in the neighbourhood of Eleutheropolis. It is possibly identical with the village Beth-Dimi, which is situated on the seashore, near Migdal. This, however, would place it in the Lowland instead of the Mountain.

Beth-Tappuach בית תפוח is the small village Tappuach, 2 English miles west of Hebron, but is not to be confounded with the town of the same name on the boundary between Ephraim and Menasseh.

Aphekah אפרה the village Abik, 4 English miles eastnortheast of Yurmuk (Jarmuth).

Zior ציער is the village Sior or Zier, 2½ English miles northeast of Hebron; near it is pointed out the grave of Esau, who is called by the Arabs Sid Yusseph, i.e. Prince Joseph. According to Targum Jonathan to Genesis 69, Esau was buried not far from Hebron.

Maon מעון the village Maun, 5 English miles south of Hebron.

Carmel כרמל is the village Al Kirmil, situated 2 English miles north-northwest of Maun on a small mount; it has an excellent water­course, called Birkat al Kirmil, in the vicinity of which is a small fort, whence the Dead Sea can be seen. (I take the Cannel mentioned in 1 Sam. 15:12 to be this place, and not the Mount Carmel.)

Ziph זיף, the village Ziff, 2 English miles northeast of Al Kirmil, and 2 English miles southeast of Hebron. According to Josephus, it belonged to the land of the Kenites.

Jutah יוטה probably the village Yata, 2½ English miles south of Hebron, and 3 English miles northwest of Al Kirmil.

Zanoach זנוח probably the large village Samua, 3 English miles southwest of Maun. It is situated on a hill; it has a small fort, also the ruins of a Catholic convent. There are also at this place wells, regularly walled in, and fruitful gardens, which are well irrigated. Some, however, suppose Samua to be identical with Eshtemoh, which see.

Timnah תמנה was, according to Eusebius, 10 mill east of Eleutheropolis, and situated on a mount. There was a town of the same name in the low land near Ekron. See also Sota, fol. 10 b, where it says that there are two towns called Timnah.

Chalchul חלחול is the village of this name, situated on a mount, and 5 English miles north-northeast of Hebron. The grave of the prophet Gad is pointed out here.

Beth-Zur בית צור. This town and fort, celebrated at the time of the Maccabees, was the residence of several Israelites, even after the destruction of the second temple (see historical part, year 4543); but at present there is so little known of it, that it cost me some trouble to ascertain its situation. The assertion of 2 Macc. 11:5, that Beth-Zur lies between mountains, 5 mill from Jerusalem, appears to me to be an error of the translator, and should be 15 mill. I heard the Bedouins call certain ruins, apparently those of an ancient fortress, which are situated on a mount west of Chalchul, on the road to Hebron, where an excellent spring bubbles forth from the rocky mountain walls, Chirbath Beth-Zur (Ruins of Beth-Zur); and, in fact, this point is exactly 15 miles from Jerusalem; wherefore the tradition which places the ancient Beth-Zur here seems to be well supported.

Gedor גדור According to Eusebius, it was the Gadarah in the valley of Elah, in the vicinity of Beth-Zur, northwest of Hebron. It is at present unknown.

Maarath מערת is the village Magr,* west of Ekron. It is perhaps also identical with the Maroth (abbreviated) in Micah 1:12.

* Both Maarah and Magr signify cave.

Kirjath-Baal קרית בעל i. e. Kirjath Jearim, which see.

The Septuagint adds yet the following names of places, which are not found in the Bible text; and although they have properly no biblical value, we will enumerate them, because some of them have been retained even to this day.

Tekoa. See article Tekoa.

Ephratha, or Beth-Lehem, which see.

Phagor is no doubt the modern village Beth-Phagar, southeast of Bethlehem.

Etam, which see. Tatam and Thobes I do not know. Saris I have mentioned already, and is situated west of Kirjath-Jearim.

Karem is the village Ein Karem, already described.

Galem is unknown to me. It cannot be Beth-Gallim, for this is not in the territory of Judah, but near Jaffa; nor can it be the modern Beth Djallah (see Gilah), because that is already mentioned in the text.

Koulon, perhaps Kolonia (see Moza); but this belonged to Benjamin, not Judah.

Bether* is a village yet existing, 7 English miles southwest of Jerusalem. It must not be confounded with the celebrated city of this name, famous in history after the destruction of Jerusalem. (See Gittin, fol. 55b, and Tosephoth Yom Tob, end of Challah.)

* My copy has Thetair.--TRANSLATOR.

Manochoh is perhaps the town of Mechonah mentioned in Nehemiah 11:28, which was at the time of Hieronymus a village between Jerusalem and Eleutheropolis (Beth-Gubrin or Djibrin), or it may be intended for Malcha (which see).