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Eden Approximate Region



EDENe’-d’-n (`edhen, delight; Edem):

(1) The land in which ‘Yahweh God’ [YHWH ‘ELOHIYM] planted a garden, where upon his creation he put the man whom he had formed (Genesis 2:8).

In the Assyrian inscriptions idinu (Accadian, edin) means plain and it is from this that the Biblical word is probably derived. Following are the references to Eden in the Bible, aside from those in Genesis 2 and 3: Genesis 4:16 Isaiah 51:3 Ezekiel 28:13; Ezekiel 31:9, 16, 18; 36:35 Joel 2:3. The Garden of Eden is said to be eastward, in Eden Genesis (2:8); where the vegetation was luxurious (2:9) and the fig tree indigenous (3:7), and where it was watered by irrigation.

All kinds of animals, including cattle, beasts of the field and birds, were found there (2:19, 20). Moreover, the climate was such that clothing was not needed for warmth. It is not surprising, therefore, that the plural of the word has the meaning delights, and that Eden has been supposed to mean the land of delights, and that the word became a synonym for Paradise.

Brook of Egypt


Brook of Egypt and surrounding area

Numbers 34:5 and the border shall turn about from Azmon to the brook of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea.Joshua 15:4 and it passed along to Azmon, went out at the brook of Egypt; and the border ended at the sea. This shall be your south border.

Joshua 15:47 Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; to the brook of Egypt, and the great sea with its coastline.

1 Kings 8:65 So Solomon held the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before ‘Yahweh’ [YHWH] our ‘G-d’ [‘Elohiym: Magistrates, etc…], seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.

2 Kings 24:7 The king of Egypt didn’t come again out of his land any more; for the king of Babylon had taken, from the brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates, all that pertained to the king of Egypt.

2 Chronicles 7:8 So Solomon held the feast at that time seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly, from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt.

Isaiah 27:12 It will happen in that day, that ‘Yahweh’ [YHWH] will thresh from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered one by one, children of Israel.

Ezekiel 47:19 The south side southward shall be from Tamar as far as the waters of Meriboth Kadesh, to the brook of Egypt, to the great sea. This is the south side southward.

Ezekiel 48:28 By the border of Gad, at the south side southward, the border shall be even from Tamar to the waters of Meribath Kadesh, to the brook of Egypt, to the great sea.


BROOK OF EGYPT, THE (nachal = “a flowing stream,” “a valley”; best translated by the oriental word wady, which means, as the Hebrew word does, both a stream and its valley).

1. Name:

The Brook of Egypt is mentioned six times in the Old Testament (Numbers 34:5 Joshua 15:4, 47 1 Kings 8:65 Isaiah 27:12); once, Genesis 15:18, by another word, nahar. The Brook of Egypt was not an Egyptian stream at all, but a little desert stream near the borderland of Egypt a wady of the desert, and, perhaps, the dividing line between Canaan and Egypt. It is usually identified with the Wady el ‘Arish of modern geography.

2. Description:

The Brook of Egypt comes down from the plateau et Tih in the Sinai peninsula and falls into the Mediterranean Sea at latitude 31 5 North, longitude 33 42 East. Its source is at the foot of the central mountain group of the peninsula. The upper portion of the wady is some 400 ft. above the sea. Its course, with one sharp bend to the West in the upper part, runs nearly due North along the western slope of the plateau. Its whole course of 140 miles lies through the desert. These streams in the Sinai peninsula are usually dry water-courses, which at times become raging rivers, but are very seldom babbling “brooks.” The floods are apt to come with little or no warning when cloudbursts occur in the mountain region drained.

3. Archaeology:

The use of the Hebrew word nachal for this wady points to a curious and most interesting and important piece of archaeological evidence on the critical question of the origin of the Pentateuch. In the Pentateuch, the streams of Egypt are designated by an Egyptian word (ye’or) which belongs to Egypt, as the word bayou does to the lower Mississippi valley, while every other stream mentioned, not except this desert stream, “the Brook of Egypt,” is designated by one or other of two Hebrew words, na chal and nahar. Each of these words occurs 13 times in the Pentateuch, but never of the streams of Egypt. The use of nahar in Exodus 7:19 in the account of the plagues is not really an exception for the word is then used generically in contrast with ye’or to distinguish between the “flowing streams,” neharoth, and the sluggish irrigation branches of the Nile, ye’orim, “canals” (compare CANALS) (Isaiah 19:6; Isaiah 33:21), while ye’or occurs 30 times but never of any other than the streams of Egypt. There is thus a most exa ct discrimination in the use of these various words, a discrimination which is found alike in the Priestly Code (P), Jahwist (Jahwist), and Elohim (E) of the documentary theory, and also where the editor is supposed to have altered the documents. Such discrimination is scarcely credible on the hypothesis that the Pentateuch is by more than one author, in later than Mosaic times, or that it is by any author without Egyptian training. The documentary theory which requires these instances of the use of these various words for “river” to have been recorded by several different authors or redactors, in different ages and all several centuries after the Exodus, far away from Egypt and opportunities for accurate knowledge of its language, seems utterly incompatible with such discriminating use of these words. And even if the elimination of all mistakes be attributed to one person, a final editor, the difficulty is scarcely lessened. For as no purpose is served by this discriminating use of words, it is evidently a natural phenomenon. In every instance of the use of ye’or, one or other of the usual Hebrew words, nachal or nahar would have served the purpose of the author, just as any foreign religious writer might with propriety speak of the “streams of Louisiana,” though a Louisianian would certainly call them “bayous.” How does the author come to use ye’or even where his native Hebrew words might have been used appropriately? Why never, where its appropriateness is even doubtful, not even saying ye’or for nachal of the “Brook of Egypt”? It is not art, but experience, in the use of a language which gives such skill as to attend to so small a thing in so extensive use without a single mistake. The only time and place at which such experience in the use of Egyptian words is to be expected in Israel is among the people of the Exodus not long subsequent to that event.

M. G. Kyle

Ephah (Midian) [BOTTOM RIGHT]


Ephah (Midian) and surrounding area



Isaiah 60:6 The multitude of camels shall cover you, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praises of ‘Yahweh’ [YHWH].


MIDIAN; MIDIANITESmid’-i-an, mid’-i-an-its (midhyan, midhyanim; Madiam, Madienaioi):

1. The See d of Abraham to the Time of the Judges:

Midian was a son of Abraham by his concubine Keturah. To him were born 5 sons, Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah (Genesis 25:2, 4 1 Chronicles 1:32 f). Bearing gifts from Abraham, he and his brothers, each with his own household, moved off from Isaac into “the east country” (Genesis 25:6). The first recorded incident in the history of the tribe is a defeat suffered “in the field of Moab” at the hands of Hadad, king of Edom. Of this nothing beyond the fact is known (Genesis 36:35 1 Chronicles 1:46). The Midianites next appear as merchantmen traveling from Gilead to Egypt, with “spicery and balm and myrrh,” with no prejudice against a turn of slave-dealing (Genesis 37:25). Moses, on fleeing from Egypt, found refuge in the land of Midian, and became son-in-law of Jethro, the priest of Midian (Exodus 2:15, 21). In Midian Moses received his commission to Israel in Egypt (Exodus 4:19). A Midianite, familiar with the desert, acted as guide (“instead of eyes”) to the children of Israel in their wilderness wanderings (Numbers 10:29). The friendly relations between Israel and Midian, which seem to have prevailed at first, had been ruptured, and we find the elders of Midian acting with those of Moab in calling Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22:4-7). Because of the grievous sin into which they had seduced Israel on the shrewd advice of Balaam, a war of vengeance was made against the Midianites in which five of their chiefs perished; the males were ruthlessly slain, and Balaam also was put to death (Numbers 25:15, 17; Numbers 31:2). We next hear of Midian as oppressing Israel for 7 years. Along with the Amalekites and the children of the East they swarmed across the Jordan, and their multitudinous beasts swept up the produce of the earth. Overwhelming disaster befell this horde at the onset of Gideon’s chosen men. In the battle and pursuit “there fell a hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword”; their kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, and their princes, Oreb and Zeeb, sharing the common fate (Judges 6; Judges 7; Judges 7 8). Echoes of this glorious victory-“the day of Midian”-are heard in later literature (Psalm 83:9 Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 10:26 Habakkuk 3:7).

2. The Kenite Branch:

The Kenites appear to have been a branch of the Midianites. Jethro could hardly have attained the dignity of the priesthood in Midian had he been of alien blood (Judges 1:16). See KENITES. Again, the tribesmen are named indifferently Ishmaelites and Midianites (Genesis 37:25, 28, 36 Judges 8:22, 24). They must therefore have stood in close relations with the descendants of Hagar’s son.

3. Modern Arabs:

The representations of Midian in Scripture are consistent with what we know of the immemorial ways of Arabian tribes, now engaged in pastoral pursuits, again as carriers of merchandise, and yet again as freebooters. Such tribes often roam through wide circles. They appear not to have practiced circumcision (Exodus 4:25), which is now practically universal among the Arabs. The men wore golden ornaments, as do the modern nomads (Judges 8:24).

4. Historical References:

The name of “Midian” is not found in Egyptian or Assyrian documents. Delitzsch (Wo lag das Paradies? 304) suggests that Ephah (Genesis 25:4) may be identical with Chayapa of the cuneiform inscriptions. If this is correct the references point to the existence of this Midianite tribe in the North of el-Chijaz in the times of Tiglath-pileser and Sargon (745-705 B.C.). Isaiah speaks of Midian and Ephah apparently as separate tribes, whose dromedaries bear gold and frankincense to Zion (60:6); but he gives no hint of the districts they occupied. The tribe of Ghifar, found in the neighborhood of Medina in Mohammed’s day, Knobel would identify with Epher, another of Midian’s sons.

5. Territory:

No boundaries can now be assigned to “the land of Midian.” It included territory on the West as well as on the East of the Gulf of `Aqaba (Exodus 4:19). It lay between Edom and Paran (1 Kings 11:18). In the time of the Judges their district seems to have extended northward to the East of Gilead (8:10).

A trace of the ancient name is found in that of Madyah, a place mentioned by the Arabic geographers, with a plentiful supply of water, now called Maghair Sho`aib. It lies East of the Gulf of `Aqaba, some miles from the coast, almost opposite the point of the Sinaitic peninsula. The name Sho`aib, given by Mohammed to Jethro, may here be due to ancient Midianite tradition.

W. Ewing



judean map


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Additional data from


Ezra 9:9 For we are bondservants; yet our ‘G-d’ [‘Elohiym: Magistrates, etc…] has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended loving kindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our ‘G-d’ [‘Elohiym: Magistrates, etc…], and to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.

Matthew 2:1 Now when ‘Jesus’ [YH’shua: YH is salvation] was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying,

Matthew 2:5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written through the prophet,

Matthew 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there. Being warned in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee,

Matthew 3:1 In those days, John the Baptizer came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,

Matthew 3:5 Then people from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him.

Matthew 4:25 Great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

Matthew 19:1 It happened when ‘Jesus’ [YH’shua: YH is salvation] had finished these words, he departed from Galilee, and came into the borders of Judea beyond the Jordan.

Matthew 24:16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

Mark 1:5 All the country of Judea and all those of Jerusalem went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.

Mark 3:7 ’Jesus’ [YH’shua: YH is salvation] withdrew to the sea with his disciples, and a great multitude followed him from Galilee, from Judea,

Mark 10:1 He arose from there and came into the borders of Judea and beyond the Jordan. Multitudes came together to him again. As he usually did, he was again teaching them.

Mark 13:14 But when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,

Luke 1:65 Fear came on all who lived around them, and all these sayings were talked about throughout all the hill country of Judea.

Luke 2:4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David;

Luke 3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

Luke 4:44 He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

Luke 5:17 It happened on one of those days, that he was teaching; and there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every village of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. The power of the Lord was with him to heal them.

Luke 6:17 He came down with them, and stood on a level place, with a crowd of his disciples, and a great number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases;

Luke 7:17 This report went out concerning him in the whole of Judea, and in all the surrounding region.

Luke 21:21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those who are in the midst of her depart. Let those who are in the country not enter therein.

Luke 23:5 But they insisted, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee even to this place.”

John 3:22 After these things, ‘Jesus’ [YH’shua: YH is salvation] came with his disciples into the land of Judea. He stayed there with them, and baptized.

John 4:3 he left Judea, and departed into Galilee.

John 4:47 When he heard that ‘Jesus’ [YH’shua: YH is salvation] had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to him, and begged him that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.

John 4:54 This is again the second sign that ‘Jesus’ [YH’shua: YH is salvation] did, having come out of Judea into Galilee.

John 7:1 After these things, ‘Jesus’ [YH’shua: YH is salvation] was walking in Galilee, for he wouldn’t walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him.

John 11:7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.”

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when ‘the Holy Spirit’ [the Consecrated Expression, etc..] has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

Acts 2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia,

Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke out to them, “You men of Judea, and all you who dwell at Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words.

Acts 8:1 Saul was consenting to his death. A great persecution arose against the assembly which was in Jerusalem in that day. They were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles.

Acts 8:4 Therefore those who were scattered abroad went around preaching the word.

Acts 9:31 So the assemblies throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, and were built up. They were multiplied, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the ‘the Holy Spirit’ [the Consecrated Expression, etc..].

Acts 10:37 that spoken word you yourselves know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

Acts 11:1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of ‘G-d’ [‘Elohiym: the-Magistrates, etc..].

Acts 11:29 As any of the disciples had plenty, each determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea;

Acts 12:19 When Herod had sought for him, and didn’t find him, he examined the guards, and commanded that they should be put to death. He went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

Acts 15:1 Some men came down from Judea and taught the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you can’t be saved.”

Acts 21:10 As we stayed there some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

Acts 26:20 but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to ‘G-d’ [‘ELOHIYM: Magistrates, Angels, etc..], doing works worthy of repentance. a perverse and crooked generation.

Acts 28:21 They said to him, “We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor did any of the brothers come here and report or speak any evil of you.

Romans 15:31 that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints;

2 Corinthians 1:16 and by you to pass into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and to be sent forward by you on my journey to Judea.

Galatians 1:22 I was still unknown by face to the assemblies of Judea which were in Christ,

1 Thessalonians 2:14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the assemblies of  ‘G-d’ [‘ELOHIYM: Magistrates, Angels, etc..] which are in Judea in Christ ‘Jesus’ [YH’shua: YH is salvation]; for you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews;


or the Kingdom of the Ten Tribes, have been detailed under :25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Bible Atlas Israel Israel Atlas Israel and surrounding region Maps Created
:1 The lot for the tribe of the children of Judah 3 Jacob sent messengers in front of him to Esau, his king reigned over the children of Israel. Genesis 36:32
the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the children of Israel 18:1 The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the Tent of Meeting there
21:32 Out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Joshua 12:23 the king of Dor in the height of the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath Pileser king of
1. Classification 2. Extinct Tribes 3. South Arabian Tribes count it, all the glory of Kedar will fail, Isaiah for Yahwew [YHWH], the ‘G-d’ [HA-‘ELOHIYM: The-Magistrates, the-Angels, etc..] of Israel, has spoken it.
and all the heads of the tribes, the princes of the 7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion; the same is Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads
Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who didn’t come :1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba
children of Israel. Of every tribe of their fathers, you Genesis 10:19 The border of the Canaanites was from Sidon 42:5 The sons of Israel came to buy among those
This was the lot for the tribe of Manasseh, for he set his face toward the mountain of Gilead. Genesis 31: the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not
back and forth through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan Joshua 19:47 The border of the children of Dan went father, who was born to Israel: however the name of
of one hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and one villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according is not of the children of Israel; but we will pass
This was the lot for the tribe of Manasseh, for he and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the 50:19 I will bring Israel again to his pasture,
21 Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin Numbers 22:1 The children of Israel traveled, and encamped the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho. Numbers 26
these are the names of the tribes: From the north end 8:9 When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had had belonged to Judah, for Israel, aren’t they written in
to the raids of the Bedouin tribes of the neighboring desert, , and Hadad, the son of Bedad, who struck Midian 22:1 The children of Israel traveled, and encamped in
back and forth through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it Haran. Genesis 46:1 Israel traveled with all that he
incident in the history of the tribe is a defeat suffered ” , and Hadad, the son of Bedad, who struck Midian done for Moses, and for Israel his people, how that
these are the names of the tribes: From the north end which is on the left hand of Damascus. Genesis 15: better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in
all the territory of all the tribes n. of Benjamin and which he cried by the word of Yahweh [YHWH] against the altar in son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son
:1 Then came all the tribes of Israel to David to came and lived by the oaks of Mamre, which are in up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, to Hebron
000 inhabitants; for the stronger tribes (` Azazimeh and Terabin Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai,
000 inhabitants; for the stronger tribes (` Azazimeh and Terabin wrath on Sin, the stronghold of Egypt; and I will the daytime. Encyclopedia WANDERINGS OF ISRAEL won’ der-ingz: I.
Country of Judah II. THE TRIBE OF JUDAH AND ITS TERRITORY the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to he handed over to Jeroboam of Israel certain strongholds of Judah.
ranges and the hostility of the tribes of the interior led the and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles. They caused Astarte cult introduced by them into Israel through Ahab’s marriage with Jezebel
nine cities out of those two tribes. 1 Samuel 6: and passed along to the side of Mount Jearim on the north listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he


2 Chronicles 16:7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him, Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on Yahweh [YHWH] your ‘G-d’ [‘ELOHIYM: Magistrates, Angels, etc..], therefore is the army of the king of Syria escaped out of your hand.



1. The Natural Boundaries

2. The Natural Divisions of Judah

(1) The Maritime Plain

(2) The Shephelah

(3) The Hill Country of Judah




I. Geographical Data.

Although the physical conformation of Western Palestine divides this land into very definite areas running longitudinally North and South, yet all through history there has been a recognition of a further-and politically more important-division into 3 areas running transversely, known in New Testament times as Galilee, Samaria and Judea. These districts are differentiated to some extent by distinctive physical features which have in no small degree influenced the history of their inhabitants.

1. The Natural Boundaries:

The southernmost of these regions possesses on 3 sides very definite natural boundaries: to the West the Mediterranean, to the East the Dead Sea, and the Jordan, and to the South 60 miles, North to South, of practically trackless desert, a frontier as secure as sea or mountain range. On the North no such marked “scientific frontier” exists, and on this the one really accessible side, history bears witness that the frontier has been pushed backward and forward. The most ideal natural northern frontier, which only became the actual one comparatively late in Hebrew times (see JUDAEA), is that which passes from the river `Aujeh in the West, up the Wady Deir Baldt, by the wide and deep Wady Ishar to `Akrabbeh and thence East to the Jordan. A second natural frontier commences at the same line on the West, but after following the Wady Deir Baldt, branches off southward along the Wady Nimr (now traversed by the modern carriage road from Jerusalem to Nablus), crosses the water-parting close to the lofty Tell Ashur and runs successively down the Wady Sanieh and the Wady `Aujeh and by the eastern river `Aujeh to the Jordan. This division-line is one conformable to the physical features, because north of it the table-lands of “Judea” give place to the more broken mountain groups of “Samaria.” Another less natural, though much more historic, frontier is that which traverses the Vale of Ajalon, follows the Beth-horon pass, and, after crossing the central plateau near el Jib (Gibeon) and er Ram (Ramah of Benjamin), runs down the deep and rugged Wady SuweiniT, between Jeba` (Geba) and Mukhmas (Michmash), to Jericho and the Jordan. It was along this line that the great frontier fortresses, Bethel, Gibeon, Ramah, Adasa, Geba and Michmash, were erected. Such, on the North, South, East, and West, were the natural boundaries of the southern third of Palestine; yet in all history the land thus enclosed scarcely ever formed a homogeneous whole.

2. The Natural Divisions of Judah:

Within these boundaries lay four very different types of land-the maritime plain, the “lowland” or Shephelah, the “hill country” and, included usually with the last, the desert or Jeshimon.

(1) The Maritime Plain:

The maritime plain, the “land Judah of the Philis” (1 Samuel 6:1; 1 Samuel 27:1 2 Kings 8:2 Zephaniah 2:5), was ideally though never actually, the territory of Judah (compare Joshua 15:45-47); it may have been included, as it is by some modern writers, as part of the Shephelah, but this is not the usual use of the word. It is a great stretch of level plain or rolling downs of very fertile soil, capable of supporting a thriving population and cities of considerable size, especially near the seacoast.

(2) The Shephelah:

The Shephelah (shephelah), or “lowland” of Judah (Deuteronomy 1:7 Joshua 9:1; Joshua 11:2, 16; 15:33-44 1 Kings 10:27 1 Chronicles 27:28 Jeremiah 17:26).-In these references the word is variously rendered in the King James Version, usually as “vale” or “valley,” sometimes, as in the last two, as “plain.” In the Revised Version (British and American) the usual rendering is “lowland.” In 1 Maccabees 12:38, the King James Version has “Shephela” and the Revised Version (British and American) “plain country.” The word “Shephelah” appears to survive in the Arabic Sifla about Beit Jebrin.

This is a very important region in the history of Judah. It is a district consisting mainly of rounded hills, 500-800 ft. high, with fertile open valleys full of corn fields; caves abound, and there are abundant evidences of a once crowded population. Situated as it is between the “hill country” and the maritime plain, it was the scene of frequent skirmishes between the Hebrews and the Philistines; Judah failed to hold it against the Philistines who kept it during most of their history. The Shephelah is somewhat sharply divided off from the central mountain mass by a remarkable series of valleys running North and South. Commencing at the Vale of Ajalon and passing South, we have in succession the Wady el Ghurab and, after crossing the Wady es Siwan, the Wady en Najil, the Wady es Sunt (Elah) and the Wady es Cur. It is noticeable that the western extremity of the most historic northern frontier of ancient Judah-that limited by the Vale of Ajalon in the West-appears to have been determined by the presence of this natural feature. North of this the hills of Samaria flatten out to the plain without any such intervening valleys.

(3) The Hill Country of Judah:

The hill country of Judah is by far the most characteristic part of that tribe’s possessions; it was on account of the shelter of these mountain fastnesses that this people managed to hold their own against their neighbors and hide away from the conquering armies of Assyria and Egypt. No other section of the country was so secluded and protected by her natural borders. It was the environment of these bare hills and rugged valleys which did much to form the character and influence the literature of the Jews. The hill country is an area well defined, about 35 miles long and some 15 broad, and is protected on three sides by natural frontiers of great strength; on the North alone it has no “scientific frontier.” On the South lay the Negeb, and beyond that the almost waterless wilderness, a barrier consisting of a series of stony hills running East and West, difficult for a caravan and almost impracticable for an army. On the West the hills rise sharply from those valleys which delimit them from the Shephelah, but they are pierced by a series of steep and rugged defiles which wind upward to the central table-land. At the northwestern corner the Bethhoron pass-part of the northern frontier line-runs upward from the wide Vale of Ajalon; this route, the most historic of all, has been associated with a succession of defeats inflicted by those holding the higher ground (see BETH-HORON). South of this is the Wady `Ali, up which runs the modern carriage road to Jerusalem, and still farther South lies the winding rocky defile, up part of which the railway from Jaffa is laid, the Wady es Surar. A more important valley, because of its width and easier gradient, is the great Vale of Elah (Wady es Cunt), to guard the highest parts of which (now the Wady es Cur) was built the powerful fortress of Beth-zur (2 Chronicles 11:7, etc.), which Josephus (Ant., XIII, v, 6) describes as “the strongest place in all Judea (see BETH-ZUR). Up this pass the Syrians successfully with the aid of elephants (Ant., XII, ix, 4) invaded Judea. The eastern frontier of the hill country is one of extraordinary natural strength. Firstly, there were the Jordan and the Dead Sea; then along all but the northernmost part of the eastern frontier lay a long line of semi-precipitous cliffs, in places over 1,000 ft. high, absolutely unscalable and pierced at long intervals by passes all steep and dangerous. Within this again came a wide area of waterless and barren desert, the Wilderness of Judah (or Judea) known in English Versions of the Bible as JESHIMON (which see). To the northeasterly part of the frontier, where the ascent from the Jericho plain to the mountains presents no special difficulty in gradation, the waterless condition of the Jeshimon greatly restricted the possible routes for an enemy. The natural position for the first line of defense was the fortified city of Jericho, but as a frontier fortress she failed from the days of Joshua onward (see JERICHO). From Jericho four roads pass upward to the plateau of Judah; unlike the corresponding passes on the western frontier, they do not traverse any definite line of valley, but in many places run actually along the ridges.

These roads are:

(a) The earliest historically, though now the least frequented, is the most northerly, which passes westward at the back of ancient Jericho (near `Ain es Sultan) and ascends by Michmash and Ai to Bethel;

(b) the route traversed by the modern Jerus-Jericho road;

(c) the more natural route which enters the hills by Wady Joreif Ghusal and runs by Nebi Musa joining the line of the modern carriage road a mile or so after passing the deserted ruin of the Saracenic Khan el Ahmar. Here runs the road for the thousands of pilgrims who visit the shrine of Nebi Musa in the spring.

(d) The most natural pass of all is by way of Wady el Kuneiterah, across the open plateau of el Bukeia’ and over the shoulder of Jebel el Muntar to Bethlehem.

From `Ain Feshkhah a very steep road, probably ancient, ascends to join this last route in el Bukeia`, From Engedi (`Ain Jidy) a steep ascent-almost a stairway-winds abruptly to the plateau above, whence a road passes northwesterly by the Wady Hucaceh past Tekoa to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and another branch goes west to Hebron and Juttah.

Somewhere along these routes must have lain the “Ascent of Ziz” and the “Wilderness of Jeruel,” the scene of the events of 2 Chronicles 20. The hill country of Judah is distinguished from other parts of Palestine by certain physical characteristics. Its central part is a long plateau-or really series of plateaus-running North and South, very stony and barren and supplied with but scanty springs: “dew” is less plentiful than in the north; several of the elevated plains, e.g. about Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Hebron, are well suited to the growth of corn and olive trees; in the sheltered valleys and on the terraced hillsides to the West of the water-parting, vines, olives, figs and other fruit trees flourish exceedingly. There is evidence everywhere that cultivation was far more highly developed in ancient times; on most of the hill slopes to the West traces of ancient terraces can still be seen (see BOTANY). This district in many parts, especially on its eastern slopes, is preeminently a pastoral land, and flocks of sheep and goats abound, invading in the spring even the desert itself. This last is ever in evidence, visible from the environs of all Judah’s greater cities and doubtless profoundly influencing the lives and thoughts of their inhabitants.

The altitude attained in this “hill country” is usually below 3,000 ft. in the north (e.g. Ramallah, 2,850 ft., Nebi Samwil, 2,935 ft.), but is higher near Hebron, where we get 3,545 ft. at Ramet el Khulil. Many would limit the term “hill country of Judea” to the higher hills centering around Hebron, but this is unnecessary. Jerusalem is situated near a lower and more expanded part of the plateau, while the higher hills to its north, are, like that city itself, in the territory of Benjamin.

II. The Tribe of Judah and Its Territory.

In Numbers 26:19-22, when the tribes of the Hebrews are enumerated “in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho” (Numbers 26:3), Judah is described as made up of the families of the Shelanites, the Perezites, the Zerahites, the Hezronites and the Hamulites. “These are the families of Judah according to those that were numbered of them,” a total of 76,500 (Numbers 26:22). In Judges 1:16 we read that the Kenites united with the tribe of Judah, and from other references (Joshua 14:6-15; Joshua 15:13-19 Judges 1:12-15, 20) we learn that the two Kenizzite clans of Caleb and Othniel also were absorbed; and it is clear from 1 Samuel 27:10; 1 Samuel 30:29 that the Jerahmeelites-closely connected with the Calebites (compare 1 Chronicles 2:42)-also formed a part of the tribe of Judah. The Kenizzites and Jerahmeelites were probably of Edomite origin (Genesis 36:11; compare 1 Chronicles 2:42), and this large admixture of foreign blood may partly account for the comparative isolation of Judah from the other tribes (e.g. she is not mentioned in Judges 5).

The territory of the tribe of Judas is described ideally in Joshua 15, but it never really extended over the maritime plain to the West. The natural frontiers to the West and East have already been described as the frontiers of the “hill country”; to the South the boundary is described as going “even to the wilderness of Zin southward, at the uttermost part of the south,” i.e. of the Negeb (15:1), and (15:3) as far south as Kadesh-barnea, i.e. the oasis of `Ain Kadis, 50 miles South of Beersheba, far in the desert; the position of the “Ascent of Akrabbim,” i.e. of scorpions, is not known. The “Brook of Egypt” is generally accepted to be the Wady el `Arish. The fact is, the actual frontier shaded off imperceptibly into the desert-varying perhaps with the possibilities of agriculture and depending therefore upon the rainfall. The cities mentioned on the boundaries, whose sites are now lost, probably roughly marked the edge of the habitable area (see NEGEB).

The northern boundary which separated the land of Judah from that of Benjamin requires brief mention. The various localities mentioned in Joshua 15:5-12 are dealt with in separate articles, but, omitting the very doubtful, the following, which are generally accepted, will show the general direction of the boundary line: The border went from the mouth of the Jordan to Beth-hoglah (`Ain Hajlah), and from the Valley of Achor (Wady Kelt) by the ascent of Adummin (Tala `at edition Dumm) to the waters of Enoch Shemesh (probably `Ain Haud), Enoch Rogel (Bir Eyyub), and the Valley of Hinnom (Wady er Rababi). The line then crossed the Vale of Rephaim (el Bukeia’) to the waters of Nephtoah (Lifta), Kiriath-jearim (Kuryet el `Enab), Chesalon (Kesla), Beth-shemesh (`Ain Shems), Ekron (`Akir), and Jabneel (Yebnah), “and the goings out of the border were at the sea.” According to the above line, Jerusalem lay entirely within the bounds of Benjamin, though, according to a tradition recorded in the Talmud, the site of the altar was in a piece of land belonging to Judah. The above frontier line can be followed on any modern map of Palestine, and if it does not in many parts describe a natural frontier, it must be remembered that the frontiers of village and town possessions in modern Palestine are extremely arbitrary, and though undetermined by any natural limits such as streams or mountain summits, they persist from generation to generation, and this too during periods-not long past-when there was constant warfare between different clans.

The territory of Judah was small; even had it included all within its ideal boundaries, it would have been no more than 2,000 square miles; actually it was nearer 1,300 square miles, of which nearly half was desert.

III. The Boundaries of the Kingdom of Judah.

These were very circumscribed. In 2 Chronicles 11:5-12 there is a list of the cities-chiefly those on the frontier-which Rehoboam fortified. On the East were Bethlehem, Etam and Tekoa; and on the West and Southwest were Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon and Hebron. The sites of the great majority of these are known, and they are all upon the borders of the Shephelah or the hill country. It will be seen too that the military preparation then made was against an attack from the West. In the 5th year of the reign of Rehoboam the expected attack came, and Shishak (Sheshenq I) of Egypt swept over the land and not only conquered all Judah and Jerusalem, but, according to the reading of some authorities in the account of this campaign given in the great temple of Karnak, he handed over to Jeroboam of Israel certain strongholds of Judah.

The usual northern frontier between the two Hebrew kingdoms appears to have been the southernmost of the three natural lines described in I above, namely by the Valley of Ajalon on the West and the Gorge of Michmash (Wady SuweiniT) on the East. Along the central plateau the frontier varied. Bethel (1 Kings 12:29 2 Kings 10:29 Amos 3:14; Amos 4:4; Amos 7:10, 13 Hosea 10:15) belonged to Israel, though once it fell to Judah when Abijah took it and with it Jeshanah (`Ain Sinia) and Ephron (probably et Taiyibeh) (2 Chronicles 13:19). Geba (Jeba`), just to the South of the Wady Suweinit, was on the northern frontier of Judah, hence, instead of the old term “from Dan to Beer-sheba” we read now of “from Geba to Beersheba” (2 Kings 23:8). Baasha, king of Israel, went South and fortified Ramah (er Ram, but 4 miles from Jerusalem) against Judah (1 Kings 15:17), but Asa stopped his work, removed the fortifications and with the materials strengthened his own frontier at Geba and Mizpah (1 Kings 15:21, 22). In the Jordan valley Jericho was held by Israel (1 Kings 16:34 2 Kings 2:4).

After the Northern Kingdom fell, the frontier of Judah appears to have extended a little farther North, and Bethel (2 Kings 23:15-19) and Jericho (to judge from Ezra 2:34 Nehemiah 3:2; Nehemiah 7:36) also became part of the kingdom of Judah. For the further history of this district see JUDAEA.

Seeespecially H G H L, chapters viii-xv; P E F, III, and Saunders, Introduction to the Survey of Western Palestine.

E. W. G. Masterman

JUDAH, a tribe-district bounded, as on the Tribe map No. 3, and as described in Josh. 15.
Strong’s Greek
G2448: Iouda


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