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KISHON (Heb. קִישׁוֹן), river which drains the Jezreel Valley. The upper reaches are dry in summer and torrential in winter. Numerous small streams branching out from the hill of Moreh, the Jenin Valley, and elsewhere in the Jezreel Valley converge on the river. In the middle of its course, the Kishon has for the most part been drained. From Sha'ar ha-Amakim, between the Jezreel Valley and the plain of Acre–Haifa, it becomes a perennial river, flowing the last 6 mi. (10 km.) of its total length of 25 mi. (40 km.) along the Carmel and issuing into the Mediterranean approximately 2 mi. (3 km.) northeast of Haifa. Just before it runs into the sea, it reaches a width of 65 ft. (20 m.) Due to its swampy character, the Kishon was a serious obstacle to transport in early times. The irregular flow of the river gave rise to the Arabic name "The Cut River" (Nahr al-Muqattʿa).

The Kishon appears in connection with the defeat of Sisera by Barak and Deborah in the battle of Mt. Tabor (Judg. 4, 5), in which the Canaanite chariots mired in the swamps of the Kishon basin fell prey to the Israelite attack. As a result, the river is praised in the Song of Deborah (Judg. 5:21). The victory is also commemorated in Psalms 83:10. The prophets of Baal, defeated by Elijah on Mt. Carmel, were slaughtered on the banks of the river (i Kings 18:40). Some scholars ascribe various paraphrases in the Bible to the Kishon: "the brook that is before Jokneam" (Josh. 19:11) and "the waters of Megiddo" (Judg. 5:19). The assumption by some scholars that the biblical Kishon is Wadi al-Bīra, which flows eastward from Mt. Tabor, on the basis of the nearby city of Kishion in the territory of Issachar, is usually rejected. The Kishon is called Pacida by Pliny (Historia Naturalis 5:19) and Cyson or Flum de Cayphas ("River of Haifa") by the Crusaders. Arab authors also refer to it as Nahr Hayfā. In the last decade, the issue of the river was deepened and a channel 984 ft. (300 m.) long, 164 ft. (50 m.) wide and 13 ft. (4 m.) deep was excavated to form an auxiliary harbor to Haifa, serving as a fishing harbor and depot.


Abel, Geog, 1 (1933), 467ff.; I. Garstang, Joshua-Judges (1931), 299ff.; Zimbalist (Zori), in: bies, 13 (1947), 28ff.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]