This article treats the topic of Palestine under the following headings: (1) The Name, (2) Physical Geography,(3) Political Geography, (4) Natural History, (5) Archeology, (6) Pre-Israelite Ethnology, and (7) Holy Places.
1. The Name
The term Palestine is derived from the philistines who invaded and settled the central and southern coastal area of the Holy Land about the same time that the Israelites
were invading the central highlands from the eastern and southern deserts (c. 1200 b.c.). In early Christian terminology Palestine included the territory that extended from the foothills of the Lebanon Mountains in the north to the edge of the desert, the Negeb, in the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea eastward to the Transjordan Plateau, a usage derived from the Roman designation Syria Palaestina for this area, the southern section of the Roman province of Syria. This usage prevails today.
Biblical Names for Palestine. The writers of the pentateuch called this territory canaan and its inhabitants Canaanites (Gn 12.5; Ex 15.15). The Hebrews, after their gradual conquest of it during the 12th and 11th centuries b.c., called it the land of Israel, the name that they used to refer to their confederation of 12 tribes descended from the patriarch Israel (Jacob). They considered it to be the land promised them by God as part of His covenant blessing (Heb 11.9; Gn 12.6–7; Ex 12.25). After the Exile, Zechariah termed it the Holy Land, the land of Yahweh's holy people, ruled by Him as their King (Zec2.16; 2 Mc 1.7; Ex 19.5–8). In Hellenistic and Roman times it was known as Judea from judah, the tribe that dwelt in the hill country from jerusalem south to Beersheba. To this greatly reduced territory the Jewish exiles
returned from Babylon and there established an ethnarchy that became the Hasmonaean Kingdom.
More generally, localities that were frequently mentioned or that played an important part in the Bible have been given the name Lands of the Bible. These extended much beyond the confines of Israel at the time of its greatest expansion in the reigns of David and Solomon (10th century b.c.). The OT Bible Lands included what is known today as the Fertile Crescent going from ur, an ancient city of Sumer, near the Persian Gulf, through the fertile lands of Mesopotamia, North Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, to the lands made fruitful by the Nile River. They also included, in late books of the OT, Persia, Asia Minor, Greece and its islands, and Rome. In the NT the geographical outlook spread with the carrying of the gospel "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1.8) and became centered more to the west, on Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy, mainly because of the Pauline literature and the Acts. This general area is of interest to all serious Biblical students, but this article restricts itself to the much smaller territory known as Palestine.
The Area of Modern Palestine. Palestine lies between the Arabian Desert and the Great Sea, the Mediterranean, as east and west boundaries; its north and south limits are the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon massif and the southern desert, approximately from the 33rd to the 29th degree north latitude (roughly the latitude of Alabama). This north to south expanse corresponds generally to that of the Biblical description, from Dan to Beer-sheba (Jgs 20.1; 1 Sm 3.20), a distance of about 145 air miles. The greatest extent from east to west is close to 100 miles in the southern area when one includes the Transjordan region. The territory's total area therefore is only about 10,000 square miles, 4,000 of them east of the Jordan. Palestine is smaller than Belgium, hardly larger than Sicily, and approximately the same size as Vermont.
2. Physical Geography
Palestine's position on a land bridge between the ancient civilizations of the Tigris-Euphrates and Nile Valleys gave it a special importance as a highway for caravans and rival armies. It also was the only easy land passage from Egypt to the Phoenician coast and on to Asia Minor; the Transjordan route to the Red Sea and southern Arabia ran along its eastern boundary. By its physical surroundings, therefore, it was one of the main crossroads of the Near East. Israel's economic, political, and cultural life was always greatly influenced by this fact.
Topography of Palestine. Three of the four main regions of Palestine are mentioned in Nm 13.29: the highlands, the seacoast, and the Jordan Valley. Add to these the Transjordan Plateau, and one obtains four zones, running north and south, parallel to the sea, which may be considered separately in their physical and topographical characteristics. Here only three will be described, the coastal plain, the hill country, and Transjordan.
The Coastal Plain. Most of Palestine's littoral is flat and without natural shelter except for the smallest boats. The eastbound currents that run along the north coast of Africa have banked the shores with sand as far north as Mt. Carmel, leaving a straight coastline without natural harbors. In fact, the two seaports that had any importance, Joppa and caesarea, were mainly artificial. North of Palestine the irregular coast of Phoenicia provided many harbors suitable for ancient ships, the most important being Tyre and Sidon whence ships sailed southwest to Egypt and Carthage and northwest to the Aegean and Italy. The best harbor along Palestine's coast was Acco, the Greek Ptolemais (Acts 21.7), and St. Jean d'Acre of the crusaders, a port that remained throughout the biblical period in other than Israelite possession. Acco's function as a port has now passed to Haifa at the foot of Mt. Carmel, southward across the Bay of Acco.
The limestone hills of Upper Galilee reach all the way to the coast a short distance south of Tyre and form a headland separating the Phoenician plain from that of Acco or Asher, thus protecting the southern approach to Tyre. Southward, beyond the Plain of Asher (very fertile, except for the sand dunes along the shore) and the interruption of Mt. Carmel projecting its head into the sea, the narrow plain of Dor (Jos 12.23;1 Mc 15.11–14) widens into the marshy, luxuriant plain of Sharon, in biblical times thickly covered with an oak forest (Is 33.9; 35.2) and now famous for its citrus groves. The plain of Sharon extends to the valley of Aijalon, which joins the Brook of Cana to enter the sea a little north of Joppa. The rich plain of Philistia, the ancient land of the Philistines, lies to the south of this main entrance into the hill country of Judea and Ephraim, occupying a section of the coast that is likewise very fertile except for the sand dunes along the shore. The area's fertility was exploited by Palestinian Arabs who cultivated extensive citrus groves there, now the possession of the Israelis. Farther south the annual rainfall diminishes rapidly and the plain gradually becomes desert in the western reaches of the Negeb. The width of the coastal plain varies from five miles at Acco, and two miles around Dor, to the maximum of 20 miles inland from Gaza.
This coastland provided the main route northward from Egypt, "the way of the Philistines' land" (Ex 13.17). It terminated its desert journey across the base of the Sinai triangle at Gaza, where it met the road leading east to Beer-sheba. The next main junction was just outside Askelon, where it crossed the road going inland to Lachish, thence to Jerusalem and jericho. It then passed before the walls of Ashdod at the confluence of three valleys coming down from the east, then on to Jabneel, crossing the road to Jerusalem through the Valley of Sorek. Farther north it met at Beth-Dagon, the main road between Joppa and Lydda that continued eastward to Aijalon, the Beth-Horons, and Ramah. A caravan having business in the western Plain of Sharon, Caesarea, Dor, Acco, and the Phoenician coast would have veered west to Joppa here and then north along the coast, but one whose destination was Damascus or the Plain of Esdraelon with its many important cities would have continued directly north until it came to the western end of the pass of megiddo, whence it would veer northeastward toward the Sea of Galilee, passing many junctions with east-west roads. The coastal plain was therefore a funnel for almost all traffic toward Egypt. The only other route was the more difficult Road to Shur from Beer-sheba southwestward through the Negeb and the Desert of Shur to Lake Timsah, a way that the Israelites would have had to follow whenever enemies occupied the Philistine Plain.
The Hill Country. East of the coastal plain the highland ridge of Judea and Ephraim does not begin immediately, but some foothills of more recent formation interpose a barrier to direct entrance to the hill country. Along this minor ridge important frontier cities were placed, such as Aijalon, Gezer, Lachish, and Debir, guarding the various valleys leading farther inland. This region was called the Shephelah, the foothills of Dt 1.7. To its east and forming another natural barrier lay a narrow
chalkstone valley or moat sometimes referred to as the Moat of Judah. One easily sees why the Israelites and the Philistines were continually vying to control this territory.
The central highlands of Palestine are the backbone of the country, formed by the ridge of Judah and Ephraim that, with only the interruption of the Plain of Esdraelon, runs from the Negeb to join, through Lower and Upper Galilee, the Lebanon ranges. The Lebanons rise 6,000 feet above the sea level, while in the Anti-Lebanon range Mt. Hermon towers at 9,232 feet. Palestine's highest peak is Mt. Jarmak in Upper Galilee at almost 4,000 feet. Compared to these heights Mt. Tabor, five miles east of nazareth in Lower Galilee, is not much more than a prominent hill rising out of the Esdraelon Plain to less than 2,000 feet.
Upper Galilee is a lofty plateau, rugged and wild, forming the foothills of the Lebanons, with Safad as its principal modern town. The waters of Merom (Jos 11.5,7) were probably those of the Wadi Meiron east of Safad. The ancient Hyksos and Canaanite city of Hazor (Jos 11.10; 1 Kgs 9.15) and its plain lie on the eastern slope of the central ridge, a short distance southwest of Lake Huleh.
Lower Galilee is a series of transverse, east-to-west ridges alternating with enclosed valleys and picturesque wooded defiles. This was the more populated and cultivated part of northern Palestine, the "District of the Gentiles" and "the seaward road," i.e., the main trunk route past the Sea of Galilee and Hazor to Damascus (Is 8.23;
see also Mt 4.15). Bethsaida, the home town of the Apostles Peter, Andrew, and Philip, at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, capernaum, the headquarters of Jesus during the first part of His public ministry (Mt 4.13), and Tiberias, built in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius by herod antipas during the life of Jesus, were really in the Jordan Valley but can be considered as Galilean cities. Sepphoris was the capital of Herod's tetrarchy of Galilee (Lk 3.1) before he built Tiberias. Some other important cities of Galilee were Arbela (1 Mc 9.2), cana (Jn 2.1), Endor (1 Sm 28.7–8), Nain (Lk 7.11–17), and Shunem (2 Kgs 4.8). Gabaath-Hammore (Jgs 7.1), an ancient volcano a few miles south of Tabor, is responsible for the fertility of the surrounding valleys and was called at one time "Little Hermon." nazareth is a pleasant spot nestling on the side of a steep hill a few miles south of Sepphoris. The Horns of Hattin, a pass along the main trunk route as it descended to the Sea of Galilee, was a strategic spot and the site of many battles, including sal adin's victory over the crusaders in 1187.
The plains of Megiddo and Jezreel form an important break in the central highlands and an easy passage from the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley. The water parting near Jezreel marks the division between the two valleys. The Plain of Megiddo, "the great plain" (1 Mc 12.49), and the coastal Plain of Acco are drained to the west by the Kishon River, which in the rainy season becomes a torrent (Jgs 5.21). In the Hellenistic period the Plain of Megiddo was called the Plain of Esdraelon, from the Greek name for Jezreel, a town guarding its eastern boundary. From Jezreel a more narrow plain drops off quickly eastward to below sea level and merges into the plain of Beth-shan, part of the Jordan Valley. These plains formed a zone of great agricultural wealth and strategic importance, as is clear from the many fortified cities guarding their gates, from west to east, Jokneam, Megiddo, Taanach, Ibleam, Jezreel, and Beth-Shan. Megiddo, already occupied in the 4th millennium b.c., was where King Josiah was killed in battle while trying to stop the northward march of the Egyptian army under Neco (2 Kgs 23.29). Since so many battles were fought at this pass, it became in Revelation (16.14–16), under the form Armageddon, the scene of the last great battle between the forces of good and evil. Beth-Shan (1 Sm 31.10) was known in the Hellenistic period as Scythopolis (2 Mc 12.29–30), a city of the decapolis. Mt. Gilboa, just west of Beth-Shan and the site of Saul's death (2 Sm 1.21), forms the northeast end of the mountain ridge of Ephraim.
The highlands of Ephraim or Samaria, rising to the maximum height of 3,332 feet at Baal-Hazor just northeast of Bethel (2 Sm 13.23), have several fertile valleys and small plains, those of Dothan, shechem, and Lebona. The Judean section of the range is more uniformly hill country and less fertile, although adequate for olive groves and vineyards. No well-defined geographical feature, however, marks the boundary between the regions of Ephraim and Judah.
Ascending from the plain of Esdraelon, the highland road passed the cities of Dothan, Samaria, and Shechem, which controlled the important defile between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, the mounts of cursing and blessing (Dt 27.11–13). Farther south the road followed the water parting most of the time, passing near Lebona, Shiloh, bethel, Mizpeh, Machmas, Gibeah, Jerusalem, bethlehem, and reaching its highest point just north of Hebron, whence it descended to Beer-sheba. At Hebron another road branched off to the southeast, passing Carmel of Judah, Maon, Arad, and joining the road from Beer-sheba that led to the Araba and the mining and smelting area of Eziongeber.
East of the divide the land falls rapidly to the Jordan Valley, forming an eroded wilderness that is much more desolate in the southern Judean section. From Shechem a road along the Wadi Fara leads gradually down to the Jordan Valley and was possibly the way used by Abraham and his family to ascend to Shechem (Gn 12.6). More arduous canyon roads link Bethel and Jerusalem with Jericho. South of Jerusalem the paths leading down to the Dead Sea along canyon walls were used only by shepherds or fugitives, for they terminated in the wilderness of Judah, useful only for winter grazing and seclusion from the inhabited lands.
The central and southern hill country of Palestine has the aspect of a pocket cut off from the surrounding regions by the narrowness of its transverse valleys and canyons. Although it was close to the main trunk route of the Middle East, it was not astride it, as was the Plain of the Philistines and the Esdraelon Valley. It looked down upon the crossroads of the world and the caravans laden with treasures from Egypt and Mesopotamia, but it was by its physical nature aloof in its heights. Passing armies could ignore it on their way to Egypt or to Syria and Iraq and would slash back at it only when it provoked or hindered them in their main purpose. This physical aloofness has always been an important factor in the hill country's history.
Transjordan. The great plateau east of the Jordan Valley, with its lofty and precipitous bluffs facing toward the west and its gradual merging with the Arabian Desert to the east, is commonly known as the Transjordan. The lowest level on the plateau is 1,500 feet, but to the south in Edom it rises to 5,000 feet. Its principal peaks in the central region range in height from 3,500 to 4,000 feet.
Four important river valleys, the Yarmuk, the Jabbok, the Arnon, and the Zered cut this tableland in a westerly direction and form boundaries of well-known regions. North and east of the Yarmuk lay Bashan and the plain of Hauran. Gilead with its fertile highland valley lay between the Yarmuk and the Arnon, and at the eastern headwaters of the Jabbok the kingdom of Ammon flourished. Sihon's Amorrite kingdom once possessed all of the region from the Arnon to the Jabbok but was conquered by the Israelites and surrendered its territory to the tribes of Gad and Reuben. Moab (see moabites) was originally situated between the Arnon and the Zered (Nm 21.13) but later extended its territory northward to include the eastern bank of the Jordan River just north of the Dead Sea, thus giving its name to this region, the Plains of Moab. South of the Zered lay Edom in the highest part of the Transjordan. Farther south the Midianites, a seminomadic people, dwelt along the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba.
The King's Highway (Nm 20.17) was the main route running north and south along this plateau from Damascus to Aqaba. In Roman times it was Trajan's Road, and under Turkish rule, the Sultan's Highway. By it the Damascus market had access to the exotic products of South Arabia. Some of the most important towns along the route were Theman, Sela, and Bozrah in Edom; Kirhareseth (the capital), Aroer, and Dibon in Moab; Madeba and Heshebon in land constantly contested between Moabites and Israelites; Rabbah, the capital of Ammon, conquered by Joab and David (Philadelphia, now Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan); Gerasa, a city of Gilead, captured by Alexander Jannaeus, one of the hasmonaeans, in 83 b.c.; Ramoth in Gilead, Arbela; and finally, in Bashan, Ashtaroth and Karnaim (Gn 14.5; Am 6.13).
The fertile region of Transjordan was much wider in the north (in Bashan and Hauran) than in the south. Gilead was also very fertile, producing oil, wine, and grain, the staples of the Near East, and was famous for its timber.
Hydrography of Palestine. In Dt 8.7 Palestine is described as a land highly favored by water courses and springs, and other texts mention numerous wells. A land's water resources depend on its climate, especially its rainfall, and on its geological nature.
Climate. In no such small area of the world are there such differences in rainfall and climate as are found in Palestine. This is due to a complex of causes: its situation between the southeastern angle of the Mediterranean and the vast Arabian Desert, its hill country immediately falling off to the world's lowest and hottest valley, and its high plateau in the Transjordan. Whatever the causes, the effects are startling.
The climate's main feature is its two seasons: the long, completely dry summer, and the comparatively short rainy season when cyclonic storms come blowing off the sea. The rainy season has a quite variable beginning and ending, the early and late rains of the Bible (Dt 11.14) both of great importance. The early rains are necessary for plowing and planting, the late rains for bringing the grain to full ear. The early rains should begin in late October, and when they are delayed until late November or even early January the crops suffer from a tardy germination. The heaviest rains arrive in January, February, and early March, not the steady, soaking rain of more northern regions, but heavy showers, continuous on the first day of the storm, followed by intermittent showers for two or three days. Once the storm has passed, the atmosphere becomes extremely clear, and one may look from Jerusalem and see to the east every crag of the mountains of Moab more than 30 miles away. This is the time for collecting as much water as possible in pools and cisterns for the long dry season ahead. The late rains, ripening the harvest, occur in late March and early April, but when they come much later and are violent hail storms, the crops and the frail blossoms on the fruit trees may suffer irreparable damage.
May and early June on the one hand and late September and October on the other are transitional periods during which the dry, scorching desert wind, the sirocco, may descend on Palestine without warning and with dire results for all living things. The heat and dryness are oppressive; verdure quickly withers; the air becomes opaque with fine sand that magnifies the sun's heat; and man and beast grow irritable. Fortunately, the sirocco usually last for no more than two or three days—in autumn, blown away by the rain-burdened westerly winds, and in June, by the summer westerlies that become a constant feature of every day when the land heat of late morning grows intense enough to draw them from the sea.
From mid-June to mid-September the weather pattern remains the same, the heat of the late morning gives way to the cooling sea breeze of the afternoon, which gradually moves inland, reaching the edge of Transjordan by about 4 p.m. Along the coast the humidity is higher; the breeze, less refreshing; and the discomfort of the day, prolonged into the night. In the hill country the nights are cool and the shade during the day is always refreshing compared to the coast's humid shade. In the Jordan Rift even the sea air rushing down its steep slopes is so heated that it becomes only an afternoon annoyance. The wind's effect on the eastern plateau is refreshing, but it arrives too late to lower the day's heat very much.
The amount of rainfall diminishes greatly from north to south, from west to east, and from higher to lower altitudes. The annual rainfall of Jerusalem is almost 24 inches, while only five miles to the east it decreases rapidly; and in Jericho, 17 miles away, it measures only about five inches. At Beer-sheba, 50 miles south of Jerusalem, the annual rainfall measures only eight to nine inches, but at the same altitude and distance to the north it measures more than 20. In the highlands of Upper Galilee it reaches more than 35 inches; on the summit of Mt. Hermon, the source of the Jordan River's water, the annual precipitation is more than 60 inches. The coastal region, because of its low altitude, receives less rain than the hills; thus Transjordan, higher than the central ridge, sometimes receives more rainfall than Jerusalem, although it is much farther from the sea. One must remember that Palestine's annual rainfall is crowded into a five-month period, a fact that is important in understanding its reliance on springs, wells, and cisterns, and the formation of its wadis or torrent canyons.
Springs and Wells. The absorbent limestone structure of Palestine's rock bed provides storage for the heavy winter rains. The sources of the subterranean water occur sporadically throughout most of the land and afford places for human habitation. The main towns usually were built near an important spring or well, and intricate subterranean passages were devised to bring the well's water within the city walls so that in times of siege a supply would always be available. Such a tunnel to the fountain of Gihon in Jerusalem was repaired and extended by Hezekiah in preparation for the onslaught of the Assyrians (2 Kgs 20.20). Similar constructions have been found at Megiddo, Lachish, Gibeon, etc. The spring at Jericho is one of the main reasons why this is the site of the oldest-known town in the world.
Where well water was insufficient, or simply to supply a greater abundance of water, cisterns were built to store the winter rains. Samaria, built by Israel's King Omri, had no natural spring and depended solely on its vast cisterns.
Rivers and Wadis. The only copious perennial watercourse in Palestine that merits comparison with even a minor American river is the Jordan. The few perennial rivers are rushing torrents during the rainy season, quickly draining the highlands and causing marshes in the lowlying plains, but, as summer advances, they become quiet rivulets whose courses may be discovered only by the vegetation along their narrow banks. Most of the watercourses, however, flow only during the rainy season, becoming dry beds or washes soon after its end.
The wadis of Palestine have scarred the domelike hill country with deep canyons, especially on the eastern and western slopes of the Jordan rift. One of the most impressive wadis is the canyon of the River Arnon, which rivals the rugged beauty of the canyons of the southwestern U.S. Though they are beautiful, these torrents have been the main source of erosion of the hill country. They also are impediments to travelers and the cause of many a tortuous road.
Bibliography: f. m. abel, Géographie de la Palestine, 2 v. (Paris 1933–38). l. h. grollenberg, Atlas of the Bible, tr. j. m. reid and h. h. rowley (New York 1956). m. du buit, Géographie de la Terre Sainte (Paris 1958). Oxford Bible Atlas, ed. h. g. may et al. (New York 1962). d. baly, The Geography of the Bible (New York 1957); Geographical Companion to the Bible (New York 1963).
3. Political Geography
"This is a list of the kings whom Joshua and the Israelites conquered west of the Jordan … thirty-one kings in all" (Jos 12.7–24). A statement such as this gives a good indication of conditions in Palestine prior to the Israelite invasion. It was a land divided, a country of mixed population and independent city-states. (For the pre-Israelite ethnology of the country, see section 6 below.) However, this feature is characteristic of Palestine throughout its long history. Rarely was there ever one single united country, and when, on occasion, such a union was achieved, it was of relatively short duration.
Period of Joshua and the Judges. A picture of the division of the land among the twelve tribes of Israel is given in Joshua ch. 13–21. (see joshua, book of). Despite the apparent details that are presented, it is, nevertheless, difficult to determine the precise boundaries of each of the tribal allotments. East of the Jordan, half of the tribe of Manasseh (specifically, the clan of Machir) occupied the districts of Bashan and part of Gilead (Jos 13.8–14); Gad, the rest of Gilead between the Jabbok and Heshbon (13.24–28); and Reuben, the land between Heshbon and the Arnon (13.15–23). West of the Jordan, judah received the greatest portion—from the Valley of Hinnom (see gehenna) at Jerusalem to Kadesh-Barnea) and the Wadi of Egypt in the Negeb (15.1–63). Part of this territory was alloted to Simeon—cities in the general vicinity of Beer-sheba (19.1–9). North of Judah were the smaller possessions of benjamin (18.11–28) and Dan (19.40–48). Central Palestine was occupied by ephraim (16.4–10) and the other half of Manasseh (17.1–13). In the district of Galilee, Naphtali (19.32–39) was in the north, Zebulun (19.10–16) and Issachar (19.17–23) in the south, and Asher (19.24–31) along the coast.
The division of the land is presented as the outcome of the Israelite conquest under the leadership of joshua, son of Nun. But the Book of judges gives a different story (Jgs 1.1–36). The two accounts seem to be but two aspects of a much more complicated history. Probably some of the tribes had been there since the time of Jacob and were already in possession of land. In the course of time these tribes made attempts to increase their territorial possessions. With the coming of Joshua and the tribes under his command, the conquest reached its full proportions. The complete picture, therefore, would be one of occupation and settlement in different stages over a long period of time culminating in the invasion led by Joshua. The land thus became the possession of tribes who were related by common ancestry and eventually united by the bond of a religious covenant with yahweh, the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who had brought deliverance to those Israelites who had been enslaved in Egypt. But this bond was a very loose one, and there was little lasting unity. It was only when a common danger, the extension of philistine power, threatened all the tribes that unity was achieved by the establishment of the monarchy (1 Sm 4.2–10.27). But even this would turn out to be of relatively short duration.
Period of the Monarchy. With the establishment of the monarchy the tribes in fact gained control of the land to which they had laid claim. Israel's first king, Saul, began the offensive and began well, but in the end was far from successful (1 Sm 11.1–15.9; 31.1–6).
It was up to david to lead a united Israel to victory. This warrior king began by reducing the Philistines to subjection, so that they were never again troublesome to Israel (2 Sm 5.17–25; 8.1). He continued the conquest by subduing the Canaanite city-states of the land and taking Jerusalem, making it the political and religious capital of the kingdom (5.6–10). His dominion eventually included the aramaeans in the north and the Ammonites, moabites, and edomites in the east and southeast (8.2–14;10.6–19; 12.26–31). Thus the kingdom reached its greatest limits, the extent of which was never again to be seen by any subsequent king of Israel. From the frontier of Hamath in the north to the Gulf of Aqabah in the south, from the Mediterranean Sea to the desert—all the land was subject to Jerusalem.
This was the inheritance of solomon, a kingdom of peace and prosperity. His task was to keep it intact. It was, indeed, the golden age. However, while the royal court grew in size and splendor, the condition of the people grew worse. To maintain his court Solomon divided the country into 12 administrative districts (1 Kgs4.7–19), the boundaries of which ignored the old tribal divisions. Moreover, in all of this, Judah seemed to have enjoyed a privileged position. The result was a widespread dissatisfaction that eventually, after the death of the king, brought about the dissolution of the empire and the division of the kingdom.
Two independent kingdoms emerged: Israel in the north and Judah in the south, with the border between the two of them in the tribal territory of Benjamin. During their joint existence they were sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly, and at times even allied in a common cause. But whatever the internal problems, the greatest dangers were from without.
Israel remained in existence a little more than 200 years before the power of Assyria brought about its destruction. An initial Assyrian conquest (734–732 b.c.) resulted only in a reduction of territory to central Palestine; the districts of Dor, Megiddo and Gilead became provinces of Assyria (2 Kgs 15.29). However, ten years later (722 b.c.) Samaria was invested and annexed to the Assyrian kingdom as a province, and Israel ceased to exist.
Judah alone remained, by choice, a vassal of Assyria. With the rise of Babylonian power, the might of Assyria was crushed, and the end of the southern kingdom was near. The first Babylonian capture of Jerusalem (597 b.c.) was accompanied by deportations (2 Kgs 24.10–16), but the kingdom was permitted to survive. A second onslaught (587 b.c.), however, ended it; and a governor was put in charge of the territory (2 Kgs 25.1–22).
From the Exilic to the Roman Period. Little is known about events during the exilic period. In the 6th century the Nabataeans occupied the land of Edom, forcing the Edomites to move into the Negeb, subsequently known as Idumea. From there they caused trouble for the people remaining in the land of Judah and left bitter memories of these years. In Babylon the exiles cherished the hope of returning, a hope that was fulfilled with the rise of Persian power.
The Persian conquest freed the exiles and permitted them to return to their own land (538 b.c.; Ezr 1.1–4). It also saw the organization of the empire into satrapies. Palestine was in the fifth satrapy, called Abar Nahara (Beyond the River, i.e., west of the Euphrates). It was composed of various provinces, each under the jurisdiction of a local governor. The province of Judah was called Yehud, and its people Yehudim (Jews). The other provinces of Palestine were: Idumea, to the south of Judah; Samaria, Galilee, Dor, and Ashdod, to the north and along the coast; Gilead, Ammon, and Moab in Transjordan.
The conquest by Alexander the Great (333 b.c.) brought Palestine under his dominion. But after his death, it changed hands five times during the struggle of the Diadochi (323–301 b.c.). Eventually the kingdom of the Ptolemies in Egypt and that of the Seleucid dynasty comprising Asia Minor, Syria, and Babylonia were established. Palestine at first fell to the Ptolemies, but in fact it remained a bone of contention and the cause of conflicts for a century (301–198 b.c.). In the end it fell to the Seleucids.
Seleucid policy of Hellenization caused the Maccabean uprising (166–135 b.c.), resulting in independence for Palestine [see maccabees, history of the]. A kingdom came into existence, ruled by the descendants of the Maccabees, the hasmonaeans. The extent of this kingdom reached proportions almost as great as that of the time of David; it included Idumea, Judah, Samaria, Galilee, and Transjordan. But internal affairs brought its downfall, and in 63 b.c., Pompey, who had already annexed Syria as a Roman province, intervened and annexed most of Palestine in the same way, Judah, Galilee, Perea, and Idumea alone remaining semi-independent vassal states.
For a brief period Palestine was reunited under herod the great (40–4 b.c.). At his death it was divided among his sons. Archelaus received Judea, Samaria, and Idumea; herod antipas, Galilee and Perea; and Philip the Tetrarch, the northern districts of Transjordan. In a.d. 6 the territory of Archelaus was added to the imperial province of Syria and a procurator was put in charge; in a.d. 34 the same fate befell the territory of Philip. In a.d. 37 Herod agrippa i was given the territory of Philip. To this was added the territory of Herod Antipas in a.d. 40, and shortly thereafter, Judea, Samaria, and Idumea— initiating another short period of unity until a.d. 44, when Palestine once more became a Roman province under a procurator. Northern Transjordan and parts of Galilee and Perea formed the kingdom of Herod agrippa ii. But after the turbulent uprising of a.d. 70, which saw the destruction of Jerusalem, all of Palestine passed under Roman rule, to remain so for more than half a millennium. During this time Palestine enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity, undisturbed by outside aggression. Internally the revolt of bar kokhba (132–135) caused some disturbance, but it was quickly suppressed by the Romans with widespread destruction. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a Roman provincial city by the emperor Hadrian, who called it Aelia Capitolina. Then in 313 constantine i, the Great, having embraced Christianity, proclaimed its liberty, and his mother, helena, converted it into a Christian city and restored its name.
From the Byzantine Period to Modern Times. With the division of the Roman Empire into West (Rome) and East (Constantinople) toward the end of the 4th century, the welfare of Palestine was bound to Byzantine rule. It was a time for pilgrimages, and the years that followed were tranquil.
This period of internal development was shattered in 611 when the Persians under Chosroes swept through Palestine, wrought havoc, and established themselves there for about 15 years. Byzantine rule came to a definitive end with the coming of the followers of Muḥammad in 636. By 640 the Arab conquest was complete. Palestine was divided into two provinces: Al-Urdunn in the north and Filistin in the south. It was ruled successively by the umayyad, ’abbĀsid, and Fatimid Caliphs.
The devastation caused in the Holy Land by the seljuk Turks in 1071 was followed by the turbulent era of the crusades beginning in 1099. Under crusader rule, Palestine became the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the country was divided into various baronies. The crusaders were followed by the Mamelukes of Egypt in 1250. Then, in 1517, the conquest of Palestine by the ottomanturks brought it under Turkish rule until the 20th century.
The beginning of the 20th century saw the growth of Arab nationalism, the rise of Zionism, and World War I. When the allied troops led by General Allenby entered Palestine in 1917, Turkish rule came to an end, and Palestine was under British mandate until 1948. It was indeed the modern period, but the events were only a repetition of past history. It was a time of warfare and territorial division, hardly a new occurrence for the land of Palestine.
Bibliography: h. haag, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 7:1362–63. g. e. wright and f. v. filson, eds., The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible (rev. ed., Philadelphia 1956). j. bright, A History of Israel (Philadelphia 1959), good bibliog. j. w. parkes, A History of Palestine from 135 A.D. to Modern Times (New York 1949), excellent bibliog. s. runciman, A History of the Crusades, 3 v. (Cambridge, England 1951–54), excellent bibliog.
4. Natural History
The study of the natural history of Palestine is limited here to botany and zoology of the Holy Land, therefore, to a description and classification of its flora (or plant life) and its fauna (or animal life).
After a description of the plant life of the Holy Land in the biblical period, an account is given of the flora of modern Palestine according to its phytogeographic areas.
Plant Life in the Biblical Period. It is accepted by most modern scholars that no radical change has occurred in the climate of the Holy Land since the beginnings of recorded history. This conclusion is based upon evidence from many sources. In the literary realm, the descriptions of the land found in the Bible, the mishnah, and the talmud show that the seasons and agricultural variations were identical then with those of the present day.
Forests. Contrary to the commonly accepted theory, studies have shown that the forest was not an important factor in the biblical landscape. Even before the conquest by joshua, son of Nun, the land was settled in noticeable density, and the major portion of the regions suitable for agriculture was seeded or planted and cultivated intensively. These conditions precluded the existence of forests. In the rocky mountainous regions there were, indeed, woods, but these were not protected from man or beast. In the Biblical and Talmudic descriptions of the land there is very little mention of forests. Individual trees that served cultic purposes or had been associated with important events are noted. Yet, since the Bible mentions the existence of wild animals, it can be deduced that the land of Israel was forested to some extent. These animals inhabited the deserts, the Jordan Valley, and the forests of Bashan and Mt. Hermon, and from these regions they came out to the settlements. Widespread forests existed principally in Bashan and in Lebanon, and these regions supplied lumber for palaces, temples, and other large buildings. Extensive woods called the Forest of Ephraim existed in Gilead, where the war between David and Absalom took place (2 Sm 18.8). Perhaps this was the forest referred to by Joshua when he advised the landless sons of Joseph to clear the forest and settle there (Jos 17.15). The accepted interpretation, however, is that the reference is to the forest on the mountains of Ephraim in Samaria.
The development of a forest in a region of sufficient rainfall usually follows the destruction of agriculture there. This idea is expressed several times in the Scriptures (e.g., Hos 2.14; Mi 3.12; Jer 26.18), and actually, during all the periods of settlement on the land, there was continual struggle between the sown and cultivated tracts on the one hand and the forest and wasteland on the other. During periods of war and postwar destruction the cultivated areas were deserted, and wild grasses, bushes, and trees thrived; but in peacetime these areas were reclaimed by agricultural settlement.
Grazing Lands. Following Joshua's conquest of Canaan and during the period of the early Judges, the cultivation of the terraced hills was destroyed, and in its place the wild flora flourished, as the Bible had warned (Dt7.22; see also Is 17.9), and as a result of the destruction of agriculture, the grazing lands were extended (see also Is 7.28). This process recurred repeatedly during the various periods of peace and war in biblical times. The major wealth of the Holy Lands consisted of fruits and grains. Although it was described as a "land of milk and honey," one cannot assume from this that the pasture land ("milk") exceeded in extent the land used for cultivation. From the Scriptures it is evident that, while extensive pasture lands existed on the east side of the Jordan and in Bashan, on the west side of the Jordan livestockraising existed only on a small scale, and the herds were fed mostly from the stubble of the grain fields.
Dependence on Rainfall. The agriculture of the Holy Land depended on natural rainfall; this fact is emphasized in the Bible by comparing the land of Israel (at the south of Mt. Hermon), of the Yarkon (at Aphek, which "drinks in rain from the heavens,") with Egypt, which is completely dependent on irrigation (Dt 11.10–12). In this connection came the warning regarding the withholding of rain as a consequence of sin (Dt 11.17). Years of famine caused by lack of rain are often noted in the Bible. One verse describes Israel as a "land of streams of water, with springs and fountains welling up in the hills and valleys" (Dt 8.7). From this some might conclude that there have been changes in the land since those days, but there is no basis for such a conclusion. There are still many springs there (about 800 of them having been counted), but most of them have a very limited flow. Only the sources of the Dan Rās el-’Ain, and of the Na‘aman (at ‘Ayūn el-Baṣs: seven miles southeast of Acco) supply in normal years more than a cubic meter of water a second. Some 40 others supply between 100 to 1,000 liters per second (the majority of them being in the Huleh and in the Beisan Valley); all the others are minor. The author of the Letter of aristeas exaggerates in evaluating the Jordan as the most important factor in the agriculture of the Land of Israel. Flavius Josephus heaps praise on the irrigation of Jericho (Bell.Jud. 4.8.3) and the Plain of Genasar (ibid. 3.10.6), but he is correct in his conclusion that the most fertile part of the land of Israel is the "land of thirst [for rain] according to its nature" (ibid. 3.3.4). Indeed, farming that depends on rainfall has to a large extent determined the landscape of Israel.
The cultivated areas in ancient times were not different from those of today. The deserts described in the Bible include in their boundaries the areas of desert and wasteland of the present day. The Negeb was a grazing land, though in rainy years its northern parts could be seeded (Gn 26.12). Here and there in the Bible is mentioned the growth of certain wild trees in specific localities: sycamore trees in the foothills (1 Kgs 10.27); willows along the brooks (Is 44.4); tamarisks in the desert (Jer 17.6); wild jujubes in swampy jungles (Jb 40.21); etc. Of forest trees, mention is made especially of the oak, the terebinth, and the storax. The conifers grew especially in Bashan and Lebanon; cedar, juniper, pine, and cypress are mentioned in Isaiah as species that will bloom in the desert and wasteland in the time to come (Is 41.19;60.13).
The praise of Israel in Dt 8.8 refers to its seven basic farm products: it is a "land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, of olive oil and of honey." Three groups are included: of the grains are wheat and barley, of the fruits are grapes, figs, and pomegranates, and of important produce from trees are oil from olives and honey (i.e., syrup) from dates.
Plants of the Bible. The Bible mentions about 100 names of plants, most of which grew in Israel, and it is relatively easy to identify almost all of them by studying the descriptions of them as given in the Scriptures, the Mishnah, and the Talmud, as well as by philology, etymology, and a comparison with the flora of modern Palestine. There are names of flora in the Bible that identify whole groups, šāmîr w ešayit (thorn bushes of all kinds: Is 5.6; 9.17) and qôṣw edardar (thistles of all kinds: Gn3.18; Hos 10.8). The Bible mentions mainly plants that either have economic importance or that suitably illustrate a parable. Doubtless there were other important plants and trees that the Bible had no occasion to mention, such as the carob, which is referred to only in Lk 15.16.
Flora of Modern Israel according to Phytogeographic Areas. Israel is very rich in plant species, their number reaching to more than 2,000. The abundance of species is due to several causes: the variegated history of the flora, dating back to early geologic periods, the variation in topography, and, above all, the fact that the country provides a meeting ground for three vegetation belts—the Mediterranean, the Irano-Turanic, and the Saharo-Sindic.
Mediterranean Vegetation. Included are areas on both sides of the Jordan, where the amount of rainfall is more than 350 millimeters (13.8 inches), which makes cultivation of the land possible either summer or winter. In this zone the flora of the mountain areas differs from that of the seashore.
The mountain area was the most important for ancient agriculture. Cultivation of the land pushed back the forests that had abounded there in prehistoric times. At present there still remain forests and groves containing such trees as the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis ) and its oft-associated species, the common oak (Quercus calliprinos ), and the Palestine terebinth (Pistacia palaestina ), several other species of trees, as well as many bushes and shrubs. This type of forest is still widespread in Gilead, and its traces remain in Upper Galilee, the Carmel Range, Samaria, and Judah. Such forests develop well on soil developed from Cenomanian and Eocene limestone.
Another type of Mediterranean forest is that of the Thabor oak (Quercus ithaburensis ), with which is associated the Atlantic terebinth (Pistacia atlantica ). This type is found in the western part of Lower Galilee, in Golan, and in the Huleh Valley. Such a forest was formerly in Sharon, but it was destroyed to make way for agriculture and pasture land.
Most of the groves in the land consist of the common oak (Quercus calliprinos ) and the Palestine terebinth (Pistacia palaestina ). As a result of the cutting of timber and the gnawing of goats, the trees are in the form of bushes. Such woods are spread on the mountains at an altitude of 1,000 to 4,000 feet.
On the foothills at the west range of the mountains of Galilee and on Mt. Carmel are spread the carob (Ceratonia siliqua ) and the mastic (Pistacia lentiscus ). Occasionally this type of flora is found on the sandy limestone hills near Caesarea and on the sands near Netanya. All these types of flora are accompanied by many types of bushes, perennial and annual. Another type of flora is that of the so-called garigue, scrubland with bushes not above the height of a man. Here the Calycotome thorn bush and various species of rockroses (Cistus ) and salvia predominate.
On the unforested Mediterranean shore is found a distinctive group of low plants, wooded or grassy. Very prevalent is the Poterium thorn bush (Poterium spinosum ), which is important in the prevention of soil erosion on the slopes of the hills. In the places where this flora has been destroyed, the land has been swept away by the winds and the rain.
Along the Mediterranean shore are sandy soil, mixtures of sandy clay and sandy chalk. Such soils are not favorable to plant development because of their poor organic composition and meager ability to hold rain water. Here grow deep-rooted plants, those of the steppe and the desert that can thrive on a small amount of water, as well as annuals that have a short period of growth. These plants are in constant danger of being covered by shifting dunes or undercut by winds. But there are species here that have developed means of defense against the force of the wind, particularly the Retama broom plant (Retama roetam ) and the Gallic tamarisk (Tamarix gallica ). Here grow species that are not sensitive to the salty spray of the sea or to the saline sand. There are also tropical trees such as the sycamore fig (Ficus sycomorus ) and the wild jujube (Zizyphus spina-Christi ).
Irano-Turanic Vegetation. This is centered in the northern Negeb, the Judean Desert, and the highlands of Transjordan. The climate is dry and the amount of rainfall 200 to 300 millimeters (8–12 inches), within the limits for stable growth. In this area there are almost no natural woodlands. Its soils are semiarid or loess. One finds sparse groups of trees or bushes; the common type is wormwood (Artemisia herba-alba ).
Saharo-Sindic Vegetation. This type covers the largest territory, but it is poorest in species. It includes the southern Negeb, the Araba, and the desert regions of Edom and Moab. The amount of rainfall is less than 200 millimeters (eight inches) and is usually far below this level. The rains are concentrated in a very short winter. The soil is not fertile. It is comprised mainly of gravel and rocks; trees are found only in the bottom of the wadies, and the plant cover is very sparse, the typical type being the Zygophyllum dumosum bush. In the sandy regions plants are more plentiful, with species of Haloxylon and Retama predominating. In this area there are large salt deposits, especially in the lower Jordan Valley and in the Araba. There are dense growths of saline flora, including species of Atriplex and Salicornia. Near freshwater springs are oases where a tropical flora thrives, of which acacia and wild jujube are typical.
Hydrophilic Vegetation. Throughout the country plants are found that grow alongside bodies of water, swamps, river banks, and springs. Among the trees in this category are the poplar (Populus euphratica ), tamarisk (Tamarix jordanis ), Oriental plane (Platanus orientalis ), and willow. At the side of every body of water are reeds and cattails, and in the Huleh swamps (which have now been drained) the papyrus was formerly common.
Cultivated Plants and Associated Species. In modern times essentially the same crops are being raised as in the ancient era; but in fruits the emphasis has moved away from the sweet fruits that are rich in calories, such as figs and dates, which were highly valued in ancient times, to the juicy fruits, especially the fruit trees of the Rosaceae family, such as the apple, pear, plum, and peach. Hundreds of new species, such as the orange, have been brought in; many of them originated in the New World. Especially numerous are the kinds of ornamental flora that have been brought to the land from countries all over the world.
Hundreds of species of weeds are associated with the cultivated plants. These are more closely connected with the plants that they accompany than to any specific locale. Among them are species established in the country from antiquity, whose seeds are found in archeological excavations along with the seeds of cultivated plants, and others that have been introduced in recent times along with the new plants.
After a brief description of the Palestinian fauna in the prehistoric period, lists of the biblical fauna are given; the changes in the Holy Land from biblical to modern times are then discussed, with an account of the zoogeography of modern Palestine, and finally a few words are said on the domestic animals of ancient Israel.
Palestinian Fauna in the Prehistoric Period. The natural history of Israel reaches far back in time. The most important and dynamic period was the Pleistocene era, when changes appeared in the fauna of the area, especially as a result of invasions from other areas. This fauna was similar to that which is now found on the savannas of East Africa. Bones of the wart hog, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, striped hyena, and many different species of gazelles other than those currently found in Palestine have been discovered. Bones also of elephants and mastodons have been found in the Lower Pleistocene. Later there occurred a migration of animals from India and Central Asia, among which were wild cattle, wild horses, wild asses, gazelles, wolves, and badgers. There was only limited migration of northern animals following the Ice Age in Europe. During the Upper Pleistocene a tropical climate prevailed in Palestine. After this there occurred a period of drought, which brought about the disappearance of the tropical fauna. By the end of the Stone Age, the Holy Land was already the habitat of the fauna that is described in the Bible and has persisted to recent times. This is supporting evidence for the theory that since the Stone Age there have not been radical climatic changes in the country.
Biblical Fauna. About 120 animal names appear in the Bible (not including synonyms). They may be grouped systematically as follows. Mammals (39 names) may be subdivided according to cloven-hoofed and ruminating (13), cloven-hoofed nonruminating (3), singlehoofed (4), carnivora (8), rodents (4), and other orders (7). Birds (38 names) may be divided according to ritually clean fowl (9), birds of prey (diurnal) (5), vulturine birds (4), birds of prey (nocturnal) (11), and birds of other orders (9). Other fauna includes reptiles and similar creatures (13) and insects and other small creatures (20).
From this list it can be seen that mammals, birds, and reptiles are the most adequately represented in the Bible. Of the 75 species of mammals in modern Palestine (including domestic cattle), about half are mentioned. Of the 350 species of birds, 38 are mentioned, and of the 80 species of reptiles, 12 are mentioned in the Bible. It must be stressed that the references to these animals (as also to the flora) are incidental, and they are cited to illustrate laws of ritual cleanliness or are used symbolically or allegorically. The occurrence of so many names demonstrates the highly developed perception of the scriptural writers in their understanding of the phenomena of nature. It is thought possible to identify in a majority of cases the names of the biblical fauna with established species.
Changes in Fauna from Biblical to Modern Times. Although no great changes have transpired in the fauna of the Holy Land since biblical times, the last few generations have witnessed the disappearance from the country and the surrounding regions of some of the animals that are mentioned in the Bible. The depredations have been especially severe in the case of the ruminants and cloven-hoofed, for of the ten mentioned in the Bible, only the gazelle and the Nubian ibex are left today. The wild ox (Bos primigenius ) had already disappeared from the region at a rather early period. The others continued to inhabit the country or region up to the beginning of the 20th century. As previously noted, this does not imply a change in climate or plant cover. The main reason for the disappearance of these animals, whose flesh is eaten, is the improvement of hunting weapons. To the gun must be ascribed, as well, the destruction of the large predators, such as the lion, the bear, the leopard, and the cheetah in the confines of the country. Some think that the existence of these predatory animals in the Holy Land in the time of the Bible is proof that the land was sparsely settled at that time. But these animals inhabited the country in the Roman and Byzantine periods, when the land was, undoubtedly, densely populated. We may infer from the Scriptures that even in biblical times these beasts of prey did not inhabit the cis-Jordanian area; their habitat was the thickets of the Jordan (Jer 49.19), the forests of Bashan (Dt 33.22), and the mountains of Lebanon and Hermon (Sg 4.5). From these places they invaded settled areas, and in times of destruction and famine they would remain there for awhile.
The lion was still found in the Negeb during the Crusades. The Syrian bear ranged down to the northern borders of Palestine until the beginning of the 20th century, and scattered traces of it have recently come to light in the mountains of Lebanon. The leopard still reaches Upper Galilee from Lebanon occasionally. Until only a few decades ago the cheetah (Acinonyx jubata ) still survived in the Negeb, and some of its traces have recently been found at Yotvata in the Araba. Of the big animals that are now completely extinct in the country, the hippopotamus (hippopotamus amphibius )—the behemoth of Jb 40.15–24—may be mentioned. The crocodile—called the tannîn [the "dragon" of Ps 90 (91).13; Is 27.1; etc.] and the Leviathan (Jb 40.25–41.26)—inhabited the western streams of Palestine until the end of the 19th century. The ostrich (Struthio camelus )—mentioned in Lam 4.3; Jb 39.13—disappeared from the area in the 19th century, although some effort has been made in recent years to bring it back. At the end of the 19th century the last survivors of the Syrian wild ass (Equus hemionus hemihippus ) and the Arabian wild ass (Equus hemionus onager ) were exterminated in the Syrian desert.
The expansion of Jewish settlement in the country, especially modern agricultural settlement, has altered the populations of various animals. There has been an increase in those species that have been able to adapt themselves to the new conditions. The increased number of fishponds has brought an increase in waterfowl. Also the swamp cat (Catolynx chaus chrysomelo notis ) is spreading. All the means employed against the jackals have not deterred them from multiplying. The poisonous bait laid out to exterminate the jackals and rodents have caused the destruction of the vulturine birds that have eaten the poisoned carrion. Thus, for example, of the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus ), which ranged over the country until the early 20th century and is often mentioned in the Bible as the nešer (commonly mistranslated as "eagle"), only a few pairs still survive. Laws for the protection of wildlife that were enacted in the state of Israel have prevented the annihilation of certain creatures that had been in danger of complete extinction. The gazelle has noticeably increased throughout the country, and the Nubian ibex, too, has spread into the hills of Ein Gedi and Eilat.
The Zoogeography of Modern Palestine. The animal ranges coincide with the vegetation zones in Palestine (see above). To the Mediterranean group belong the hare, the chuckar partridge, the swallow, the agama, and others. To the Saharo-Sindic group belong various species of desert mice, the desert lark, the sandgrouse, the gecko, the cobra, and many other species. To the Irano-Turanic group belong the creatures that inhabit the northern Negeb and the desert of Judah, for instance, the tiger weasel (Vormela ), the bustard, the isolepis agama, and others. To the Sudano-Decanic group belong the creatures that inhabit the lower Jordan Valley, especially the oasis areas of the desert and the vicinity of the Dead Sea. To the tropical groups belong the cheetah, the honey badger, the tropical cuckoo, the carpet viper, and others. To the holarctic group belong the northern creatures, for instance, the shrew, and the meadow pipit.
Palestine, at the juncture of three continents, is a meeting place of creatures of many different regions, and it has a rich variety of species. Currently known are 68 species of mammals, about 350 species of birds, about 80 species of reptiles, about 40 species of fresh-water fishes, and 8 species of amphibia. According to F. S. Bodenheimer, the number of recognized insect species is about 8,000 and, in his opinion the total reaches about 22,000. According to this scholar, the Arthropoda number about 900 known species and possibly total about 2,000. As for the invertebrates, there are about 300 recognized species, with the possible total of about 2,750.
Domestic Animals. Domestication of animals began at a very early period in Palestine. On the rocks of Kilwa in Transjordan prehistoric carvings of camels and cattle have been found. Jericho has yielded clay statues of a herd of goats, lambs, and pigs from c. 5000 b.c. Inside an Egyptian temple at Beth-shan figurines of cats have been found. (Cats are not mentioned in the Bible.) There have been found in the Holy Land paintings of dogs of at least four different breeds. The cattle are of uncertain breed. In paintings of the Roman and Byzantine period, hunchback cattle, such as the zebu, are depicted. The black, long-eared goat was a very early inhabitant, and it is pictured as early as 1500 b.c. This is also the case in regard to the broad-tailed sheep. The horse was not an important domestic animal; more important were the ass and the mule. In addition to the dove, chickens were raised as early as the period of the Israelite monarchy; a cock is depicted on a seal found at Tell en-Nasbeh, probable site of ancient Mizpeh. To the royal courts were brought decorative tropical birds, such as the peacock; and the courts received monkeys also (1 Kgs 10.22).
Bibliography: Flora. h. balfour, The Plants of the Bible (new ed. London 1885). o. celsius, Hierobotanicon, 2 v. (Amsterdam 1748). p. cultrera, Flora Biblica (Palermo 1861). g. h. dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, 7 v. in 8 (Gütersloh 1928–42). i. lÖw, Die Flora der Juden, 4 v. in 5 (Vienna-Leipzig 1924–34).H. N. and a. l. moldenke, Plants of the Bible (Waltham, Mass.1952). In Hebrew. b. chizik, Otsar ha-Tsemahim (Herzlia 1952). m. zohary, Olam ha-Tsemahim (Tel Aviv 1954); Geobotanikah (Merhavya 1955). j. feliks, Olam ha-Tsomeah ha-Mikrai (Tel Aviv 1957); Ha-Haklaut be-Eretz Yisrael bi-tekufat ha-Mishnah veha-Talmud (Jerusalem 1963). Fauna. f. hasselquist, Iter palaestinum, ed. C. VON LINNÉ (Stockholm 1757). h. b. tristam, The Fauna and Flora of Palestine (London 1884); Natural History of the Bible (10th ed. New York 1911). l. lewysohn, Die Zoologie des Talmuds (Frankfurt 1858). f. s. bodenheimer, Tierwelt Palästinas, 2 v. (Leipzig 1920); Prodromus faunae palaestinae (Cairo 1937); Animal and Man in Bible Lands (Leiden 1960). j. feliks, The Animal World of the Bible, tr. p. irsai (Tel Aviv 1962). In Hebrew. i. aharoni, Torat ha-Hai, 3 v. (Tel Aviv 1927–49); Zikhronot Zoolog Ivri (Tel Aviv 1942–43). y. margolin, Zoologia (Tel Aviv 1959). f. s. bodenheimer, Ha-Hai be-Artsot ha-Mikra, 2 v. (Jerusalem 1949–56); Ha-Hai be-Eretz Yisrael (Tel Aviv 1953). j. feliks, Ha-Hai shel ha-Tanakh (Tel Aviv 1954).
Palestine, as used here, embraces the lands not only to the west but also to the east of the River Jordan. After World War I both territories were under British mandate. Under the mandatory power a Department of Antiquities was organized to protect and promote the study of the antiquities of the country. According to the norms of this department an antiquity is "an object which has been constructed, shaped, inscribed, erected, excavated or otherwise produced or modified by human agency earlier than the year 1700 a.d." To preserve the movable antiquities, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., provided funds for the construction of an appropriate museum in Jerusalem; it was opened to the public in 1938. The Department of Antiquities established its headquarters here also. At that time the files of the department contained records of about 4,000 archeological sites [see R. W. Hamilton, "Schedule of Historical Monuments and Sites," Palestine Gazette Extraordinary 1375, suppl. 2 (Nov. 24, 1944)] and about 40,000 objects, all of which were made accessible to scholars. Typical objects of all periods have been arranged in chronological order in the visitors' galleries. The Palestine Archaeological Museum Gallery Book (hereafter PAMGB ) aids the visitor in studying those objects and gives him a good survey of all the periods. The Department published its own periodical Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine (hereafter QDAP ) and a number of books and pamphlets on special places and themes. Since the termination of the mandate in 1948 the museum has been administered by an international board of trustees, under whose direction it has become the center for the study of the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls. The museum continues to be a valuable aid for study, although now both Jordan and Israel have their own Departments of Antiquities with their own museums and publications.
Both before and after 1948 the departments of antiquities have been assisted in their work by numerous foreign individuals, schools, and organizations. Thus, for example, N. Glueck alone, in his surface surveys, has added more than 1,400 names of archeological sites to the registers, and numerous excavations by others have greatly augmented the number of objects in the museums.
Summaries of the results achieved have been published by such scholars as C. Watzinger, W. F. Albright, K. Kenyon, and G. E. Wright. These have followed an ascending chronological order which will be followed also in the present article.
The earliest periods are named for the most effective materials available for tools: thus Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages. Later periods are named for the political rulers of the area—the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, and Turks. Each such period is subdivided by archeologists using chronological (early, middle, late) or stratigraphical terms (lower, middle, upper); these are then often reduced to numbers or subdivided (e.g., Late Bronze III). Great strides have been made in refining the methods used, but much still remains vague and uncertain.
Palestine is remarkable for the profusion of informative evidences that it has provided bearing on human existence in all phases of this long, essentially prehistoric period from c. 500,000 to c. 3100 b.c. After a long Early Stone Age (Paleolithic) period, rapid development in the Mesolithic and following (Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Proto-Urban) periods leads up to the historical times.
Paleolithic or Early Stone Age. This period extends from c. 500,000 b.c. to c. 10,000 b.c. The names of its subdivisions have been derived from similar cultures discovered in European countries: Chellean, Tayacian, Acheulean, Levalloiso-Mousterian, and Aurignacian. Animal remains suggest that the people of this entire period were primarily hunters and fishers. Such remains have turned up both in open-air sites and in caves.
Open-air Sites. The principal stations of this sort known until now are in the neighborhood of Jerusalem and near the lakes in the north. The oldest of these sites is near the southern end of the Sea of Tiberias at a place called Afiqim. It was discovered in 1960. Regarding it, M. Stekelis [Israel Exploration Journal (hereafter IEJ ) 10 (1960) 118] reports: "The finds prove that the site was inhabited by men in the Lower Pleistocene Age, half a million years ago. These finds include few human remains: two fragments of a human skull, four times as thick as that of modern man, and one incisor tooth, the most ancient human remains ever discovered in the Near East…. Fossil bones of some forty different speciesof animals, most of them now extinct, were found….Other finds consisted of flint tools and chopping instruments belonging to what is known as the 'pebble culture."' The relation of this find to other Lower Paleolithic levels in Galilee and Lebanon is discussed by E. de Vaumas ["Chronologie des dépôts paléolithiques stratifiés," IEJ 13 (1963) 195–207, with bibliography].
Caves. Near the northwestern shore of the Sea of Tiberias, near Nazareth, south of Mount Carmel, and in the Judean Desert, caves containing Early Stone Age deposits were excavated by F. Turville-Petre, R. Neuville, M. Stekelis, D. A. E. Garrod, and others. As a result of the work carried out in these caves, D. A. E. Garrod writes: "In the caves of Wady el-Mughara, for the first time, the Stone Age industries hitherto known only from isolated deposits, or as part of a very incomplete series, were found in place in a long and apparently continuous sequence extending from the Tayacian to the end of the Mesolithic" [D. A. E. Garrod and D. M. A. Bate, The Stone Age of Mount Carmel: Excavations at the Wady el-Mughara (hereafter SAMC ) v.1 (Oxford 1937) 114]. The oldest industry found in the caves, the Tayacian, is characterized by small irregular flakes (see SAMC 114). The Acheulean level comes next; its flint industry is highly developed and consists chiefly of flakes. In this period human beings seem first to have been buried in or near caves. The minimum date suggested for such burials is about 50,000 years ago. The Galilee Skull, the first of these human remains in caves to be found, was excavated in 1925 by F. Turville-Petre in Mugharet ez-Zuttiyeh, northwest of the Sea of Galilee [see F. Turville-Petre et al., Researches in Prehistoric Galilee 1925–1926 (London 1927) 15–106]. It is now on exhibit in the Palestine Archeological Museum. According to PAMGB No. 33, "the skull belongs to a type of man closely related to the Neanderthal race," which is "distinguished by strongly protruding eye-brow ridges, and by a low, receding forehead which indicates incomplete development of the brain" [see also The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 73–91].
The Lower Aurignacian industry marks an advanced flint culture; the hand axes disappear completely. It is followed by the Middle Aurignacian, the Athlitian and the Kebaran, the latest Palaeolithic industry. This industry belongs to a society of food-gatherers, leaving no buildings [see SAMC 116–117; IEJ 10 (1960) 259].
Mesolithic Period. During this time people lived in caves, near caves, or in structures out in the open. The first cave in which this culture was found was the Shukba cave in Wadi Natūf, northwest of Jerusalem. The excavations were made in 1928 by Garrod, who named the industry Natufian (see SAMC 114). Later, in her work in the Wadi el-Mughara, she found two layers of this industry in the Mugharet el-Wad: the lower (B 2) she called Lower Natufian; the upper (B 1) Upper Natufian. The former was also found by F. Turville-Petre in layer B of el Kebara; it was particularly rich in worked and carved bone (SAMC 113, 117). R. Neuville found the same culture in various caves of the Judean Desert [R. Neuville et al., Le Paléolithique et le Mésolithique du Désert de Judée (hereafter PMDJ ) (Paris 1951)]. The upper Natufian was found at Khiam on a terrace out in the open [see SAMC 113; PMDJ 135, 155; Revue biblique 70 (1963) 106–110].
Typical of the Mesolithic Period are blades and tools of minute size, called pygmy flints or microliths. Harpoons and fishhooks suggest that the people were fishers; sickles may indicate the beginning of agriculture; heads of animals carved on bone handles mark the beginnings of art; a carving of a human head is the oldest representation of a human being hitherto discovered in Palestine; and figures of deer or gazelles carved on or out of stone or bone illustrate high artistic skill. Pendants worn as charms or amulets suggest religious views [see PAMGB No. 150–249; Eretz Israel 6 (1956) 21–24, 27]. The shrine found beneath the tell near the spring of Jericho also suggests that the people were religious [see K. Kenyon, Archaeology of the Holy Land (hereafter AHL ) 41–42]. This shrine preserved wood that made a carbon 14 test possible, and for the first time yielded an absolute date near the 9th millennium b.c. for this period. Other objects associated with this shrine made it possible to link it with the Lower Natufian of Mugharet el-Wad and thus fix the absolute chronology of that well-stratified site.
Mesolithic remains outside of caves have been found both at Eynan and Oren. They consist at present of stone foundations of both dwellings and tombs, close together. The dwellings are supposed to represent the first colony living outside of caves known in Palestine. The burial of the dead near their habitations continues an older custom [see IEJ 10 (1960) 14–22; Antiquity and Survival 2:2–3, 91–110; IEJ 7 (1957) 125, 8 (1958) 131, 10 (1960) 118–119; The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 76–77; PAMGB No. 249].
Neolithic Period. Between the Mesolithic and the Neolithic periods at jericho there were transitional settlements, which K. Kenyon called Proto-Neolithic; they produced 13 vertical feet of deposit without any substantial structure. The deposit was made up of innumerable floors bounded by slight humps, which were all that remained of slight hutlike structures. The same flint and bone industry, allied to the Lower Natufian of Mount Carmel, extended through the transitional Proto-Neolithic state to the large-scale settlement that followed. Jericho has, therefore, provided evidence of the transition from man as a hunter to man as a member of a settled community (see AHL 42–43).
Prepottery-Neolithic Period. This period is represented in the next two stages in the development of Jericho. In the earlier of these stages (Prepottery Neolithic A) Jericho had a solid, free-standing, stone town wall. A great stone tower was built against the inside of the western sector of the wall. Against the wall and its tower, curvilinear houses were built. The third series, successively constructed, of these houses produced charcoal timbers that gave a carbon-14 dating of 6850 b.c. plus or minus 210. The walls and tower were older (see AHL 43–47). According to D. Kirkbride [Palestine Exploration Quarterly (1960) 117–119] the flint instruments of this period resembled the Natufian flints of the two preceding periods.
The Prepottery-Neolithic B stage at Jericho had a flint industry that is called Tahunian and is considered the classic Neolithic industry of Palestine. It is not certain whether it developed from the Natufian or was superimposed on it; the latter seems to have been the case at Jericho, where there are new city walls and rectangular buildings, several of which were places of worship. The floors were covered with plaster, beneath which were found human burials. The heads were separated from the bodies and covered with plaster; the lifesize clay figures found by J. Garstang and later by K. Kenyon most probably came from this stage. Carbon-14 tests gave the following dates: 6250 b.c. plus or minus 200; 5850 b.c. plus or minus 160 (see AHL 47–57).
Evidence of this same period was discovered by Kirkbride in excavations carried out by her in 1956, 1958, 1959, and 1961 at Seyl Aqlat, in Beida, north of ancient Petra. Carbon-14 tests yielded dates in the 7th millennium b.c. [see Palestine Exploration Quarterly (1960) 136–145].
Pottery-Neolithic A and B Periods. These two periods are distinguished from all the preceding periods by the presence of fired-clay vessels. In the A stage some of the ware is coarse, other ware is fine and decorated. The chief difference is the finish. The finer ware has a comparatively smooth surface and is covered as a rule by a cream-colored slip. This slip in turn is partially covered by a red slip, so that the reserve portions of the cream slip form a pattern, usually in some combinations of chevrons or triangles. To heighten the contrast, the red slip is finely burnished with a beautifully lustrous finish. Altogether, it is a most attractive ware and contrasts strongly with the coarse pottery (see AHL 61, 62, and Fig. 4 in that source).
The Pottery-Neolithic-A material was discovered by Garstang in a level at Jericho that is known as Jericho IX and by Kenyon in numerous pits that served as habitations all over the site; in the next level there is a slight improvement in the habitations, as in the objects used in them.
In the B stage many of the vessels are covered with a deep-red slip, sometimes burnished, sometimes matte. The most characteristic decoration, found on both jars and bowls, is bands of herringbone incisions. The bands are usually delineated by grooves, and very often they are covered by a band of cream slip, with the rest of the vessel covered by a red slip (see AHL 65).
J. Kaplan ["The Neolithic Pottery of Palestine," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 156 (December 1959) 15–22] asserts that Miss Kenyon's B stage is mixed, consisting of both Neolithic and Chalcolithic wares; the former he calls Yarmukian, the latter Jericho VIII or Ghassulian. In both phases the herringbone bands occur, but they differ from one another: "in the Yarmukian phase the pattern is part of the filling between the lines which create the zigzag band, whereas at Jericho VIII or Ghassul it is independent ornamentation surrounding the vessel in a band or bands and not in a zigzag pattern." Kaplan's conclusions are that only two main Neolithic phases have become known in the pottery of Palestine up to now: the "Yarmukian" and the older Jericho IX; the latter can be subdivided into two secondary phases based on a related site, Batashi IVa (upper) and Batashi IVb (lower). He asserts that Jericho VIII should not be combined with the Yarmukian Neolithic, nor is the Wadi Rabah material to be so combined, as seems to have occurred at Byblos in Lebanon (Byblos A). "Jericho VIII" and "Wadi Rabah" constitute distinct Chalcolithic phases.
Jericho was the first site in which the earliest pottery of Palestine was found in a stratified context. In 1959 Kaplan knew of seven such sites: besides Jericho, also Abu Usba', Sha’ar ha-Golan, Tell-Aviv, Teluliyot Batashi in the Vale of Sorek, Khirbet Sheikh 'Ali in the Jordan Valley south of Tiberias, and Kfar Gil’adi in the extreme north of Palestine. More recent explorations are rapidly increasing the number of sites in which this period is represented. The Pottery Neolithic Periods fall in the 5th millennium b.c.
Chalcolithic Period. In Palestine, this period, roughly the 4th millennium b.c., is characterized by the manufacture and use of copper objects, while stone implements continued to be used. It first became known through the work that the Pontifical Biblical Institute carried out from 1929 to 1938 at Tulaylat el-Ghassūl, a site east of the Jordan and a little north of the Dead Sea. Since that time this culture has been noted in many other places throughout Palestine. Details are given by R. North in Ghassul 1960, Excavation Report [Analecta biblica 14 (1961)]. As a result of his own work at Ghassul (1959–60), North confirmed the existence of four levels or strata there, but he was not able to detect any change in culture in those strata. The same is said regarding the Chalcolithic sites explored in the neighborhood of Beersheba (see S. Yeivin, 13–19). The houses at Ghassul were rectangular and their interiors were often painted; in the Beer-sheba region the inhabitants lived partly underground, partly in pits sunk beneath the surface, and partly in rectangular buildings above ground. Ossuaries in the form of buildings, animals, or jars, found especially at Hedera, Azor, and Bne Beraq in the plain adjacent to the Mediterranean, suggest the form of the houses in that region.
At Ein Gedi, near the Dead Sea, a sacred enclosure of this period was found high up a mountain above the spring there. It consists of a wide open court, with a high place and three houses in the center; one, of the "broad house" type, was certainly used for ritual purposes; it is very well preserved, with a fireplace and benches inside [see Christian News from Israel (hereafter CNI ) 14 (1963) 2:16; Revue biblique 70 (1963) 575–576, Pl. 23a]. In a cave in the Judean Desert a hoard of bronze and ivory cult objects of this period was discovered [see IEJ 11 (1961) 78–79, 12 (1962) 156].
According to J. A. Callaway [The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 78–82], the first intimations of sheol (the abode of the dead) go back to this period, when the dead began to be buried away from the habitations of the living. The chronological relations of the different phases of this culture are not yet clear. This holds true especially with reference to the gray burnished ware first found in Esdraelon sites. Carbon-14 tests yield dates toward the end of the 4th millennium for this culture (see AHL 82).
Proto-Urban Period. This is a new term invented by K. Kenyon (explained in AHL 84–100). It deals with three groups of pottery in use at about the same time and interlocking. These point to three different groups of people who are known principally from their tombs, not from their towns; they do not seem to have had any fortified towns, but seem to have been mere villagers living in poor dwellings. Some of the sites on which they lived were subsequently abandoned and remained so for a long time; such are Tell en-Nasbeh, a little north of Jerusalem, and Samaria; others were later to develop into towns, such as megiddo, Jericho, Beth-shan, and Tell Far’ah (northeast of Nablus). The tombs are peculiar; they are the earliest to be cut into rock and to contain multiple burials. Their date has been fixed in the latter part of the 4th millennium. A central point has been fixed by a carbon-14 test made on material from Jericho; it is around 3200 b.c. and is confirmed by sealings on jars. Originally, some of these finds were assigned to the latter part of the Chalcolithic Period (the gray burnished ware, generally known as Esdraelon ware) and others (red painted ware) to the Early Bronze Age.
In Palestine, as in other areas of ancient occupation, the term Bronze Age was intended originally as a designation of the period between the earliest use of nonprecious metals and the spread of iron tools. Today, the name is largely conventional, and includes three wellknown periods (Early, Middle, and Late Bronze) extending from c. 3100 to c. 1200 b.c.
Early Bronze Age. This age (EB) is characterized by the development of villages into towns or cities that were protected by walls, of which good examples have been found at various places. At Jericho the walls were built of unbaked bricks made in molds. On the western side of the city 17 phases of building and rebuilding of the walls were traced. The walls were protected by round and rectangular towers and by an external ditch. The defenses of Tell el-Far’ah (northeast of Nablus) date from the fourth phase of its existence at the beginning of EB II; at the north they are of stone protected by a glacis of beaten earth; on the west they are of brick; this brick section collapsed at the end of the fifth period of occupation, before the beginning of EB III. The massive wall found at Megiddo was considered a city wall by the excavators, but Kenyon considers it a terrace wall because of the houses built against its exterior. The fortifications of Khirbet Kerak were built of brick either in EB I or in EBII. Those of Ai were constructed of stone, and consist of either three or two lines at various points; their date, however, remains uncertain. The so-called citadel was still in use in EB III. The town wall of Ras el-’Ain may go back to EB I.
Buildings inside the fortifications show a marked change in the course of this period. The earliest houses are the best; some have rounded ends; others are completely round. Timber was common. Associated with the houses are brick-built silos. From Tell el-Far’ah there is evidence that a new type of pottery kiln was introduced during the period; it continued in use down to the Roman Period. A conical stone altar with steps originated in EB III at Megiddo. V. M. Seton-Williams [Iraq 11 (1949) 79–83] distinguishes two types of temples in the EB Age, each with its distinctive ground plan. One is a single-chambered type, as at Jericho VII; the other is a more complex structure that contains at least three rooms, as at Hai. The sanctuary at Tell el-Far’ah has two rooms [see Revue biblique 68 (1961) Pl. 33, No. 671]. A remarkable building at Khirbet Kerak may have been either a shrine or a granary. The tombs were large rock-cut chambers with multiple burials. The pottery is characterized by a burnished slip, usually red, but occasionally black; it forms the basis for distinguishing three phases known as EB I, II, and III, beginning c. 3100 and ending c. 2300 b.c. The period is conventionally known as the EB Age, but in fact there is no certain evidence that bronze was used, and even copper was not very common (see AHL 101–134).
The Middle Bronze Age. This period (MB) begins with a subperiod characterized as intermediate (EB/MB) by K. Kenyon [AHL 135–161; K. Kenyon, Excavation at Jericho I: The Tombs Excavated in 1952–54 (Jerusalem 1960) 180–262, hereafter EJ I ]. Others insist on calling it MB I, which term is retained in this article.
Middle Bronze Age I. In this period (2250–1850/1800 b.c.) the inhabited places were without walls and the houses were few in number. The three temples of stratum 15 at Megiddo probably belong to it. Tombs are numerous and characterized by individual burials. Much of the pottery is peculiar; R. Amiran endeavored to arrange it in three groups which she called A, B, and C [see IEJ 10 (1960) 204–225]. Albright, however, prefers a different sequence; he thinks that Amiran's A should come after C [Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 168 (1962) 36–42]. Both Albright and Glueck think that this is the period during which Abraham came to Palestine [see Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 163 (1961) 38–40; Glueck, Rivers in the Desert, 60–105].
Middle Bronze Age II. In this period (c. 1850/1800–1550/1500 b.c.) the cities were defended by walls. All those that have been excavated reveal a number of phases and can be illustrated by the walls of Jericho. In the earlier stages the single-wall type was used; this was replaced in the later phases by massive ramparts that consisted of three or four sections: an enormous fill, revetted below by a stone wall and crowned on top by the actual defensive wall. It is doubtful whether there was a ditch. All or some of these elements (the ditch, the revetment, the bank, and the wall) have been found at Tell ed-Duweir (Lachish), Tell Jeriseh, Tell el-’Ajjūl, Tell Far’ah (Beth-pelet), Tell Beit Mirsim, Megiddo, Hazor, and shechem. At several places the gateways also were preserved; they consisted of a passage with three pairs of buttresses between which the actual gates were probably placed; this was the case at Megiddo X, Shechem, Tell Beit Mirsim, and Tell Far’ah (in the south).
The eastern side of the mound of Jericho reveals several streets and the houses flanking them. On the lower floor there were shops and storage places; on the upper floor habitations. In one group of chambers J. Garstang [The Story of Jericho (London 1940) 97–98] found vases of such fine quality that they seemed to represent temple offerings and furniture. One vase was decorated with a molded snake, "a terrestrial emblem of the Mother-goddess, symbolizing Life within the earth." Modeled serpents on cult objects of this period are very numerous (see PAMGB No. 773 and passim ). Temples and cult objects of this period are known from Nahariya [see QDAP 14 (1950) 1–41; IEJ 6 (1956) 14–25]; from Shechem [see Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 169 (Feb. 1963) 5–32; The Biblical Archaeologist 16 (1963) 129–130], both a temenos (1800–1650) and a fortress-temple (1650–1550); probably from Megiddo VIII; and from Tell el-Far’ah in the north [see Revue biblique 64 (1957) 559–567].
The tombs of Jericho in this period are noteworthy because they preserved till modern excavation not only the usual objects of clay and metal, but also objects of wood. The clay vessels found at Jericho provided Kenyon with a basis for distinguishing five phases of MB II. Regarding the MB II Period, see AHL 170–194; EJ I 263–518.
Late Bronze Age. Archeology reveals that in the Late Bronze (LB) period (16th–13th centuries b.c.) numerous cities were destroyed; good examples are Jericho, which fell twice, and Tell Beit Mirsim, both of which were restored only after long intervals. From those that survived or were rebuilt there is evidence that the art of fortification changed but little; both vertical and battered city walls remained in use. The city gates at Megiddo and Beth-shemesh were a continuation or a development of the type in use in the MB Period. The better houses consisted of rooms built around a courtyard. The palace near the gate at Mageddo contained a large number of ivories; an inscription dated one ivory object to the time of Ramses III (1175–1144 b.c.).
The discoveries of temples and objects used in them have been reported from Megiddo, Shechem, Tell Abu Hawam near Haifa, Beth-shan, Hazor, and Tell ed-Duweir. A stele of the god Mekal was found in the 14th-century temple at Beth-shan; it contained also a panel representing a struggle between a lion and a dog. In one of several temples at Hazor was found a stele with two hands raised in prayer, along with many other stelae without representations. For the burial of prominent persons shaft tombs continued to be used. For the first time in history plastered cisterns began to be used; this made it possible to build homes and towns at places where there was no natural water supply.
Written sources from Palestine are now quite numerous. From Beth-shan come royal and private stelae dating from the 14th and 13th centuries; their inscriptions are in Egyptian hieroglyphs and reveal something about the political and religious conditions in Palestine at that time. A fragment of another stele of Thutmose III or Amenophis II was discovered at Tell el-’Oreimeh near the northwestern part of the Sea of Tiberias. Inscribed statues of Ramses III (1175–1144 b.c.) were found at Beth-shan and Megiddo. At Tell el-Amarna in Egypt were found more than 350 cuneiform tablets, mostly official letters sent from Palestine between 1364 and 1347 b.c. Other cuneiform tablets turned up in Palestine itself at Taanach (12 tablets), Tell el-Hesi, Shechem, Lachish, and Bethshemesh. The art of the period is illustrated by stelae, statues, figurines, ivories, etc. Peculiar to this period are bichrome ware, base ring ware, and stirrup vessels. The first group is characteristic of the beginning of the period, the second of the whole period, and the third of the end of the period. The first is a local product; the other two come from Cyprus and Mycenae, respectively. They indicate the country's extensive trade contacts with the Mediterranean. See AHL 195–220; Albright, Archaeology of Palestine (hereafter AP ) 96–109.
BIBLICAL PERIOD AND LATER
The Israelite settlement in Palestine coincides roughly with the beginning of the Iron Age (c. 1200 b.c.); later periods are identified by archeologists with the name of the occupying power of the moment, beginning with the Persians.
Iron Age. Towns and fortresses of the Iron Age (12th to 6th centuries b.c.) were protected by casemate walls, though solid walls with projections and recesses also are found, for example, at Megiddo. Their gates continued older traditions with slight modifications. The use of Proto-Aeolic capitals is now known from Jerusalem, Ramet Rachel, Samaria, Megiddo, and Hazor. Tunnels supplied water to Jerusalem, Gibeon, Megiddo, and Saidiyeh. Temples are reported from Beth-shan, Megiddo, Hazor, Arad, Ashdod, etc. Palaces, storerooms, and vast stables are reported from Megiddo and elsewhere. For the burial of the dead divan-shaped tombs were used; coffins made of clay have been recovered at Tell el-Far’ah in the Negeb, at Beth-shan, and at Sahab; they have anthropoidal lids (see Galling BR 448–449). At Tell el-Kheleifeh, ancient Eziongeber, a copper refinery has been excavated (see N. Glueck, The Other Side of the Jordan, 89–113).
Inscriptions are numerous. D. Diringer in Le iscrizioni antico-ebraiche palestinesi (Florence 1934) and S. Moscati in L'epigraphia ebraica antica (Rome 1951) have collected most of the Hebrew inscriptions known up to 1951. To these we may now add a Canaanite tablet of the 12th century b.c. from Taanach [The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 125]; new material from the 7th century b.c. [Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 165 (February 1962) 34–46]; numerous inscriptions from Arad since 1961; stamped jar handles from Jib; the lachis (lachish) Letters, etc. Ivories, especially from Samaria [see J. W. and G. M. Crowfoot, Samaria-Sebaste, II: Early Ivories from Samaria (London 1938)] illustrate the art of the period. Religious practices are illustrated by numerous Astarte figurines and stands for burning incense or making offerings; they are often decorated with human figures or with animals such as doves and snakes (see AHL 221–297; AP 112–142).
Persian Period. In this period (6th to 4th centuries b.c.) administrative buildings existed principally at Lachish, Tell Jemmeh, and Ramet Rachel. Tombs of the shaft type are reported from Tell el-Far’ah in the Negeb, from Gezer, and from 'Athlit. Coins put in their appearance for the first time in the Persian period. Astarte figurines, numerous in earlier periods, still continued to be in use, though their style was already influenced by Greek art (see PAMGB No. 710). From Lachish alone over 150 crude incense altars are reported [see O. Tufnell et al., Lachish III: The Iron Age (London, New York, and Toronto 1953) 226; PAMGB, No. 720, 721]. Glass began to be used for seals (see PAMGB No. 766). Amulets had representations of Egyptian gods. Inscriptions occur on many small objects. Most interesting, however, are the papyri found in 1962 and 1963; they come from Samaria, and deal with legal and administrative matters; they are written in Aramaic and date from the time between Artaxerxes III (358–338) and 335 b.c. [see The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 110–121; Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 171 (1963) 2].
Greek Period. This period (4th to 1st centuries b.c.) is also commonly referred to as the Hellenistic period. Greek culture had been introduced into Palestine long before Alexander the Great had conquered it (332 b.c.) and subjected it to his rule and that of his successors, the Ptolemies of Egypt (down to 198 b.c.) and the Seleucids of Syria. For a description of the round towers and the fort of the Greek period at Samaria, see J. W. Crowfoot et al., Samaria-Sebaste, I: The Buildings of Samaria (London 1942) 24–31 (hereafter SS I ); the fortifications and buildings of Tell Sandahannah are treated by F. J. Bliss and R. A. S. Macalister, Excavations in Palestine 1898–1900 (London 1902) 52–57. In Tell Sandahannah are the earliest tombs of the kôkîm (oven-shaped) type found in Palestine; the walls are painted and have numerous inscriptions [see J. P. Peters and H. Thiersch, Painted Tombs in the Necropolis of Marissa (London 1905)]. Rhodian jar handles with stamped inscriptions characterize this period. Moreover, coins are now a very important means for dating the monuments. The discovery of the Samaria papyri has convinced F. M. Cross that his dates of "the old Exodus manuscript from Cave 4, Qumran (c. 250 b.c.) and the archaic Samuel manuscript (c. 225 b.c.) now appear to be minimal, and it is clear in turn that the so-called Hasmonean hands of Qumran cannot be reduced in date" [The Biblical Archaeologist 26 (1963) 120]. New light has been shed on this period by work at ‘Araq el-Emir [see Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 171 (October 1963) 8–55; see also C. Watzinger, Denkmäler Palästina II (hereafter DP II ) 10–30; AP 146–154].
Roman Period. Jerash in Transjordan and Samaria west of the Jordan (see SS I, 31–37) were typical Roman cities of this period (1st century b.c. to 4th Christian century). Walls, gates, columned streets, forums, stadia, theaters, nymphaea, baths, and temples were some of their chief features; the palaces were noteworthy for their architecture, paintings, mosaics, and baths. As places of worship the pagans had their temples, dedicated to many deities, and also Semitic-style high places; the Jews had not only their famous temple in Jerusalem but also numerous synagogues, especially in Galilee. For burial purposes there were mausoleums built of stone containing sarcophagi; rock-cut chambers with graves in the form of kôkîm or arcosolia also contained sarcophagi or ossuaries, often with decorations and inscriptions carved on them; in a few cases the chambers were painted [see Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan (hereafter ADAJ ) 4–5 (1960) 116]. Most of the Qumran manuscripts and those which have been and are being found more to the south belong to this period (see dead sea scrolls). For more details regarding this period one can consult AP 154–176; DP II 31–116. The excavations at Herodium, Liber Annuus Studii Biblici Franciscani (hereafter LA ) 13 (1963) 219–277; Masada, IEJ 7 (1957) 1–65; Caesarea, CNI 14:3–4 (1963) 20–24; Jerash, ADAJ 4–5 (1960) 123–127; Petra, ADAJ 5–6 (1960) 119–122; 6–7 (1962) 13–54, and other sites, are constantly shedding new light on this period.
Byzantine Period. This period (4th to 7th century a.d.) was characterized by the public use of the cross on churches, monasteries, private homes, and burial places. All these monuments were generally quite plain on their exteriors, but inside they were beautified by the extensive use of marble, mosaics, and paintings. The decorative elements now took on a Christian character; their inspiration was generally derived from the Scriptures and the liturgy. The same holds true regarding the numerous inscriptions, which, however, contain much historical information as well. The dead continued to be buried in rock-cut tombs like those of earlier periods, especially the arcosolia type; a new practice was that of interment in shaft tombs inside churches and monasteries or in nearby cemeteries [see DP II, 117–164; B. Bagatti, L'Archeologia Cristiana in Palestina (Florence 1962)]. synagogues of this period closely resembled churches in their form and decorations, though their distinctive character was generally indicated by candelabra and inscriptions. See LA 4 (1954) 219–246.
First Arab Period. At the beginning of this period (7th–11th centuries), i.e., up to about the middle of the 8th century, synagogues, churches and mosques, as well as new palaces, flourished; after that almost all began to be neglected and to fall into ruins. The palaces at Khirbet el-Minyeh, at the northwestern part of the Sea of Tiberias (see IEJ 10 (1960) 226–243), and at Khirbat al Mafjar, north of Jericho [see QDAP 5–14; D. C. Baramki, Guide to the Umayyad Palace at Khirbat Mafjar (Jerusalem 1947); R. W. Hamilton and O. Grabar, Khirbat al Mafjar: An Arabian Mansion in the Jordan Valley (Oxford 1959)] have been excavated. The latter consisted not only of a royal palace, but also of baths, mosques, colonnaded courtyards, pools, gardens, groves, etc. For some of the floors, beautiful mosaics were used; for the walls and ceilings, geometrical motifs, human beings, and animals were executed in stucco.
Period of the Crusades and After. Palestine is still dotted with the castles, churches, and monasteries built by the Crusaders (11th and 12th centuries); some are well preserved. The location of these monuments is indicated on a map published by the Palestine Government in 1937 (Palestine of the Crusaders: A Map of the Country ); an accompanying text was prepared by C. N. Johns, who himself carried on work at the castle at 'Athlit (see QDAP 1–4). On pages 20–21 of the brochure he indicates other sources dealing with these monuments. In the period after the Crusades (late 12th to 16th centuries) Saladin and his successors generally adapted older buildings to their purposes and repaired them. See R. W. Hamilton, The Structural History of the Aqsa Mosque (Jerusalem 1949); H. Luke and E. Keith-Roach, The Handbook of Palestine and Transjordan (London 1934) 85–89.
Bibliography: w. f. albright, The Archaeology of Palestine (Baltimore 1960). k. m. kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land (New York 1960). g. e. wright, Biblical Archaeology (rev. ed. Philadelphia 1963). s. yeivin, A Decade of Archaeology in Israel 1948–1958 (Istanbul 1960). c. watzinger, Denkmäler Palästinas, 2 v. (Leipzig 1933–35). h. c. j. luke and e. keith-roach, eds., The Handbook of Palestine and Transjordan (3rd ed. London 1934). n. glueck, Rivers in the Desert (New York 1959); The River Jordan (Philadelphia 1946); The Other Side of the Jordan (New Haven 1940). The Holy Land: New Light on the Prehistory and Early History of Israel (Antiquity and Survival 2.2–3; The Hague 1957).
[s. j. saller]
6. Pre-Israelite Ethnology
References to the pre-Israelite population of Palestine are far from lacking in the Bible. They are to be found in the lists of peoples dispossessed by the invading tribes of Israel and in incidental statements about the earlier inhabitants of the land or of particular localities. About some of these people very little is known. They have left little more than their names on the pages of the Bible. Such, for example, are the so-called giants of the land: the Emim who are said to have dwelt in Moab (Dt2.10–11); the Anakim, found in the vicinity of Hebron (Nm 13.22, 32–33; Dt 2.10,21); and the Rephaim, inhabitants of Bashan and the environs of Jerusalem (Gn 14.5; Dt 3.13; 2 Sm 21.16, 18). Other enigmatic names are those of the Avvim who lived in villages near Gaza (Dt2.22); the Zuzim (Gn 14.5) in Gilead; and the Zamzummim, found in Ammon (Dt 2.20). Girgashites are named without any locality (Gn 10.16; 15.21; Dt 7.1). The Amalekites were a primitive people of the Negeb (Ex 17.8–16; Nm 13.29).
Other groups, however, have left their mark on the pages of history. They are known not only from biblical references, but can be found in extra-biblical literature as well—in such texts as those coming from Mari, Amarna, etc. First and foremost are the two Semitic groups, the Canaanites and the Amorrites. In addition, the non-Semitic elements are represented by the Hurrians, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Perizzites.
Canaanites and Amorrites. Canaanites (Channanites) occupied the whole area west of the Jordan (see canaan and canaanites). The land of Canaan, later known in part as Phoenicia (see phoenicians), is the oldest designation for the land of Palestine. Historically the Canaanites were apparently in Palestine as early as the 4th millennium b.c. Biblically this term has both a geographical and an ethnic meaning. Geographically it can refer to any and all the inhabitants of the territory west of the Jordan, whatever their ethnic origin may be. More precisely, however, it is used to refer to that ethnic group of peoples who were dispossessed by the Israelites (Ex3.8, 17; 13.5; 33.2) and who are said to have inhabited the coastal regions and the plains (Nm 13.29).
amorrites appear in northern Syria, the land of Amurru, toward the beginning of the 2nd millennium b.c. Thence they spread out through the fertile crescent, founding such dynasties as those of Mari and Babylon. Biblically they are found on both sides of the Jordan and are said to have preferred the mountainous regions (Nm 13.29). They dwelt particularly in Judah (Jos 10.5) and in the areas of Bashan (Nm 21.33–34) and Heshbon (Nm 21.26). As a geographic term Amorrite is used to refer to the pre-Israelite population of Palestine in general, regardless of ethnic affiliation (Am 2.9–10).
Hurrians and Hittites. Of the non-Semitic population, Hurrians, Hittites, and Hevites deserve special considerations. The Hurrians were a non-Indo-European Armenoid people who settled especially in northern Mesopotamia, particularly in the land subsequently known as Mitanni, and in eastern Mesopotamia, e.g., at Nuzi. They were among the Hyksos who invaded Egypt. According to the Bible, where they are called Horites, the Hurrians were among the ancient inhabitants of central Palestine [Gn 34.2 (Septuagint)] and Seir (Edom: Gn 14.6; Dt 2.12,22). Ethnically, it would seem that the Jebusites, the early inhabitants of Jerusalem, belonged to Hurrian stock (Ez 16.45). Despite the prominence of Hurrians in extrabiblical literature they receive only scant attention in the Bible.
On the other hand Hivites are found at Shechem (Gn 34.2), Gibeon (Jos 9.7), Mt. Lebanon (Jgs 3.3), Mt. Hermon (Jos 11.3), and in the vicinity of Sidon (2 Sm 24.7), but they receive no mention whatever in any of the extrabiblical literature. It has been suggested that Hivite is a local name for Hurrian. Another attractive theory is that the Hurrians of Seir (Edom) were really Hivites and that the Hivites mentioned in the biblical narratives were in fact Hurrians.
More enigmatic still are the references to the Hittites of the Bible, where they are called Hethites. Historically, three groups called hittites are known: the Proto-Hittites or Hattians, the Hittites of the 2nd millennium b.c. or Nesians who used mostly cuneiform for their writings, and the Hittites of the 1st millennium b.c. whose inscriptions are in hieroglyphics. Who the Hittites of Palestine might have been remains a historical problem. They are said to have dwelt in the vicinity of Hebron (Gn 23.2–4; 25.10) and Beer-sheba and in the hill country of southern Palestine (Gn 26.34). It is possible, though not probable, that Hurrian should be substituted for Hittite in the biblical narratives. All three of these terms—Hurrian, Hevite, Hittite—differ only in the middle letter in the Hebrew consonantal text: ḥry, h : wy, and ḥty. Confusion, therefore, could easily have resulted in the transmission of the text.
Receiving frequent mention, usually in conjunction with other dispossessed peoples, are the Perizzites. They are found at Bethel, at Shechem, and in the hill country of Judah (Gn 15.20; Ex 3.8, 17; Dt 7.1; Jos 17.15; etc.). However, not much can be said about them. Judging from the above name alone, the Perizzites could have been of Hurrian origin. Names ending in "-izzi" are known from extra-biblical Hurrian references. Whatever the case may be, they were a distinct ethnic group in the pre-Israelite population of Palestine.
Bibliography: j. bright, A History of Israel (Philadelphia 1959) 106–107. j. c. l. gibson, "Observations on Some Important Ethnic Terms in the Pentateuch," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 20 (1961) 217–238.
7. Holy Places
For Christians the term "holy places of Palestine" designates the sites in the Holy Land that have been made sacred by the presence of Jesus or His blessed Mother or the Apostles. From the viewpoint of relative importance, the holy places are either primary or secondary. In the former class are the cave where Jesus was born, the tomb in which He was buried, etc.; in the latter class are the Pool of Shiloh, the place where St. Stephen was stoned, etc. The holy places may be connected either with private houses, as the home of Mary at Nazareth, the Cenacle, etc., or with sites in the open, such as the Mount of the Beatitudes, the place at the Jordan where Jesus was baptized, the Garden of Gethsemani, etc. On the basis of scholarly certitude the holy places may be regarded either as authentic or as based on pious legend. To the former class belong the site of the Annunciation, the cave of Christ's Nativity, the tomb of Lazarus at Bethany, etc.; to the latter belong the stations of the cross, the site where Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple, etc.
Nature. Shrines or sanctuaries were erected at the holy places at different times. The reasons for building them were various: to honor the place as a king is honored by giving him a crown, to preserve them from profanation, and especially to have a proper edifice for the celebration of the sacred liturgy. Bad weather or, in certain periods of history, the interference of unbelievers would have prevented Christians from celebrating the Eucharist there in peace, and since the Eucharist was considered the best means of being united with Christ at these venerated sites, sacred edifices were erected there.
In regard to the architectural form, at the holy places the churches are or have been of five naves (the basilica at Bethlehem and the former basilica at Calvary), of three naves (at Gethsemani, Tabor, Bethany, etc.), and of one nave (the ancient chapel of the Multiplication of the Loaves and of the beatitudes at et-Tabga), or churches with the ground plan of a Greek cross (formerly at Jacob's Well), or of a circle (the rotunda of the Ascension), or octagonal (over the house of Peter at Capernaum). The present owners are either Muslims (the church of the Ascension), or Israeli (the Cenacle), or Latin-rite Catholics (Tabor, Nazareth, Capernaum, Ain Karem, etc.), or Greek Orthodox (Jacob's Well, Jebel Quaranṭāl, i.e., the site of our Lord's 40-day fast), or the three communities jointly of Latin Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Armenians (the Holy Sepulcher and the Basilica of Bethlehem, in both places the status quo going back to 1852, when a Turkish decree ordained that these three Christian communities should henceforth retain what rights they had there as of that year).
History. The sanctuaries at the holy places date almost exclusively from the 4th century, when Christians of Gentile origin first came in numbers to the Holy Land. At first the Judeo-Christians of Palestine regarded the holy places as memorials, and they left most of them in their pristine state. Such were the tombs of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin, of St. Joseph, and of lazarus. But a few of the holy places they adapted, in simple fashion, for Christian worship, such as the house of the Holy Family at Nazareth and the upper room on "Christian Zion." The first important period for the building of Christian sanctuaries at the holy places in Palestine was that of the 4th and 5th centuries, when construction proceeded chiefly under the patronage of the Byzantine emperors. The second such period was in the 12th century, when the crusaders had control of the Holy Land, and the third was from the middle of the 19th century to the present. Between these periods of construction there were periods of destruction: in 614, when Palestine was devastated by the Persians; from 638 to 1099, during which time the Muslims on several occasions destroyed certain Christian sanctuaries, and from 1187 to the present, when the Muslims, though not actively destructive, have often interfered with Christian worship at the holy places.
Authenticity. To evaluate the authenticity of any of the holy places of Palestine, two main conditions must be fulfilled if the site is to be considered authentic: its localization must not contradict the data of the Bible, and the tradition connected with it must go back to Apostolic times. If either of these requirements is missing, the place must be regarded as having merely devotional value. Thus, the localization of Emmaus at modern Amwas has, in its favor, a tradition going back at least to Byzantine times; but the site does not seem to agree with the Gospel data, since its distance from Jerusalem is much greater than the 60 stadia given in the best manuscripts of Lk 24.13. The location of Emmaus at modern el-Qubeibeh agrees with the Gospel data of 60 stadia, but the tradition connected with this site does not seem to be older than crusader times.
Since almost all the sanctuaries in the Holy Land date from the 4th and later centuries, and consequently the earliest descriptions left by pilgrims date from these centuries, one may wonder how it is possible to show that there is any tradition in regard to them going back to the time of the Apostles. However, for a certain group of the holy places it is possible to suppose that throughout the early centuries of Christianity there were Judeo-Christians in these places who would have been as interested in these sacred sites as modern Christians are. Until not long ago such continuous presence of Judeo-Christians in the Holy Land was not suspected. But recent discoveries at nazareth and at Dominus Flevit, as well as a more careful study of the Talmudic sources, of certain statements of the Fathers, and of the sparse data collected by Eusebius, have shown that during the first few Christian centuries a certain number of Judeo-Christians continued to live in Palestine, especially in its mountain regions.
Judeo-Christian Traditions. To mention a few cases in particular, it is known, for instance, that "the brethren [relatives] of the Lord" lived at Nazareth at least until 250 as leaders of the local Christian community, and precisely at the present traditional site of the Annunciation, archeological excavations have brought to light a religious edifice resembling a synagogue that was built not later than the 3rd century, together with certain caves that were venerated at even an earlier date. Many graffiti here with the words "holy place" or with such an invocation as X[AIP]E MAPIA ("Hail, Mary!") show, not only the continuous veneration of the place, but also the Judeo-Christian character of its possessors and visitors, which had already been surmised from the literary sources.
The presence of Mînîm (Judeo-Christians) at Capernaum during the early Christian centuries is well known from the Talmud. The tradition locating the cenacle on Christian Zion is witnessed to by a retrospective passage in Epiphanius and especially by the so-called "Tomb of David" there, which is to be related with the Christian synagogues at Nazareth. The tomb of the blessed Virgin at jerusalem, which is mentioned in Judeo-Christian sources, was held to be connected with "very ancient" tradition when the sanctuary there was erected by Gentile Christians. At the cave of Gethsemani there was preserved, even after the Constantinian peace, the remembrance of a sacred supper that had been held there formerly by the Judeo-Christians. The cave of the Eleona (ἐλαιών, olive grove) on the mount of olives, regarded as the site where Jesus taught His disciples the lord'sprayer, is mentioned in the apocryphal sources and is spoken of as a venerated site by Eusebius five years before Constantine began his program of building sanctuaries in the Holy Land. The same is true of the tomb of Lazarus and the cave of the Nativity at bethlehem. The latter site was known also to Origen and even St. Justin. When the site of the Holy sepulcher was recovered in 326, the Gentile Christians took pains to verify its authenticity by establishing its agreement with the Gospel data, such as the earthquake fissure in the rock of calvary and the single burial niche in the tomb chamber there, so that the tradition that had been maintained by the Judeo-Christians for this site was relegated to a subordinate position.
The Evangelists did not think it opportune to refer to everything that concerned the holy places. But other points of information were transmitted by the apocryphal Gospels; thus, the Gospel of the Hebrews places the fasting of Jesus on Mount Tabor, and the Proto-Evangelium of James has the beginning of the Annunciation take place at the fountain in Nazareth. This does not mean that such extra-evangelical traditions are always historical. Rather, they give evidence of a difference, going back to a very early period, between Galilean traditions and Judean ones, e.g., regarding the place of the 40-day fast of Jesus after His Baptism (see temptations of jesus).
Despite the many vicissitudes that Palestine has suffered in the course of its long history, most of the place names throughout the country have been preserved from remote antiquity to the present with remarkable fidelity. Therefore, there is no reason to doubt the local traditions that preserved the biblical names, not only of such villages as Nazareth and Nain, but also also of such localities as Gethsemani and Shiloh.
From the examples just cited, as well as from others that could be given, it can be seen that, in order to establish the authenticity of the holy places, it is necessary to study each case by itself against its historical background. To reject all of them as spurious or to accept all of them as authentic without further ado is an easy way out, but it does not lead to the truth.
Exegetical Value. The scientific study of the holy places can contribute much to general biblical studies, whether this confirms the authenticity of the places or whether it establishes their value more precisely. Thus, for instance, the excavation and study of the Pool of bethesda both confirm and explain the statement in Jn 5.2 that this pool had "five porticoes"; the location of the Garden of Gethsemani shows how far from Jerusalem Jesus was when arrested (Mt 26.36, 47); Jacob's Well at Shechem shows what the Samaritan woman meant when she told Jesus that "the well is deep" (Jn 4.6.11); the sanctuary of the Nativity at Bethlehem shows that the manger in which the infant Jesus was bedded was in a cave that was used for a stable, as many caves still are so used in Palestine (Lk 2.7); the rustic character of Nazareth at the time of Christ, as shown by the archeological excavations there, throws light on Nathanael's question, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (Jn 1.46).
Bibliography: c. kopp, The Holy Places of the Gospels, tr. r. walls (New York 1963). e. hoade, Guide to the Holy Land (Jerusalem 1942 and later eds.); Marian Shrines in Mary's Land (Ottawa 1958). b. bagatti, L'archeologia cristiana in Palestina (Florence 1962). d. baldi, Enchiridion locorum sanctorum (2nd ed. Jerusalem 1955). g. perella, I Luoghi Santi (Piacenza 1936). a. olivan, Maria nella sua terra (Milan 1958). Authenticity of the Holy Places. b. bagatti, "Sguardo storico (ai giudeo-cristiani)," Il simbolismo dei giudeo-cristiani, ed. e. testa (Jerusalem 1962) 19–33; "Sainte Sion," Saint Jacques le Mineur (Jerusalem 1962) 13–22; "Le origini della 'tomba della Vergine' in Getsemani," Revista Biblica Italiana 11 (1963) 38–52; "Autenticità del S. Sepolcro," La Terra Santa 38 (1962) 299–302; "Origine dei Luoghi santi di Palestina," Liber Annuus 14 (1963–64) 32–64. e. testa, "Le Grotte dei misteri giudeo-cristiane," ibid. 65–144. b. bagatti, L'Église de la circoncision (Jerusalem 1965) 93–113.
"Palestine." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/palestine-0
"Palestine." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/palestine-0