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Reference: Palestina And Palestine


Palesti'na and Pal'estine

(land of strangers). These two forms occur in the Authorized Version but four times in all, always in poetical passages; the first in

Ex 15:14

and Isai 14:29 the second

Joe 3:4

In each case the Hebrew is Pelesheth, a word found, besides the above, only in

Ps 60:8,7; 87:4

and Psal 108:9 in all which our translators have rendered it by "Philistia" or "Philistines." Palestine in the Authorized Version really means nothing but Philistia. The original Hebrew word Pelesheth to the Hebrews signified merely the long and broad strip of maritime plain inhabited by their encroaching neighbors; nor does it appear that at first it signified more to the Greeks. As lying next the sea, and as being also the high road from Egypt to Phoenicia and the richer regions no of it, the Philistine plain became sooner known to the western world than the country farther inland, and was called by them Syria Palestina-Philistine Syria. From thence it was gradually extended to the country farther inland, till in the Roman and later Greek authors, both heathen sad Christian, it became the usual appellation for the whole country of the Jews, both west and east of Jordan. The word is now so commonly employed in our more familiar language to destinate the whole country of Israel that although biblically a misnomer, it has been chosen here as the most convenient heading under which to give a general description of THE HOLY LAND, embracing those points which have not been treated under the separate headings of cities or tribes. This description will most conveniently divide itself Into three sections:-- I. The Names applied to the country of Israel in the Bible and elsewhere. II. The Land; its situation, aspect, climb, physical characteristics in connection with its history, its structure, botany and natural history. III. The History of the country is so fully given under its various headings throughout the work that it is unnecessary to recapitulate it here. I. THE NAMES. --Palestine, then, is designated in the Bible by more than one name.

See Names

1. During the patriarchal period, the conquest and the age of the Judges and also where those early periods are referred to in the later literature (as)

Ps 105:11

it is spoken of as "Canaan," or more frequently "the land of Canaan," meaning thereby the country west of the Jordan, as opposed to "the land of Gilead." on the east.

2. During the monarchy the name usually, though not frequently, employed is "land of Israel."

1Sa 13:19

3. Between the captivity and the time of our Lord the name "Judea" had extended itself from the southern portion to the whole of the country, and even that beyond the Jordan.

Mt 19:1; Mr 10:1

4. The Roman division of the country hardly coincided with the biblical one, and it does not appear that the Romans had any distinct name for that which we understand by Palestine.

5. Soon after the Christian era we find the name Palestina in possession of the country.

6. The name most frequently used throughout the middle ages, and down to our own time, is Terra Sancta --the Holy Land. II. THE LAND.-The holy land is not in size or physical characteristics proportioned to its moral and historical position as the theatre of the most momentous events in the world's history. It is but a strip of country about the size of Wales, less than 140 miles in length and barely 40 in average breadth, on the very frontier of the East, hemmed in between the Mediterranean Sea on the one hand and the enormous trench of the Jordan valley on the other, by which it is effectually cut off from the mainland of Asia behind it. On the north it is shut in by the high ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, and by the chasm of the Litany. On the south it is no less enclosed by the arid and inhospitable deserts of the upper pert of the peninsula of Sinai.

1. Its position. --Its position on the map of the world--as the world was when the holy land first made its appearance in history--is a remarkable one. (a) It was on the very outpost-- an the extremist western edge of the East. On the shore of the Mediterranean it stands, as if it had advanced as far as possible toward the west, separated therefrom by that which, when the time arrived proved to be no barrier, but the readiest medium of communication-the wide waters of the "great sea." Thus it was open to all the gradual influences of the rising communities of the West, while it was saved from the retrogression and decrepitude which have ultimately been the doom of all purely eastern states whose connections were limited to the East only. (b) There was, however, one channel, and but one, by which it could reach and be reached by the great Oriental empires. The rivals road by which the two great rivals of the ancient world could approach one another --by which alone Egypt could get to Assyria and Assyria to lay along the broad hat strip of coast which formed the maritime portion of the holy land, and thence by the plain of the Lebanon to the Euphrates. (c) After this the holy land became (like the Netherlands in Europe) the convenient arena on which in successive ages the hostile powers who contended for the empire of the East fought their battles.

2. Physical features. --Palestine is essentially a mountainous country. Not that if contains independent mountain chains, as in Greece for example but that every part of the highland is in greater or less undulation. But it is not only a mountainous country. The mass of hills which occupies the centre of the country is bordered or framed on both sides, east and west, by a broad belt of lowland, sunk deep below its own level. The slopes or cliffs which form, as if it were, the retaining walls of this depression are furrowed and cleft by the torrent beds which discharge the waters of the hills and form the means of communication between the upper and lower level. On the west this lowland interposes between the mountains and the sea, and is the plain of Philistia and of Sharon. On the east it is the broad bottom of the Jordan valley, deep down in which rushed the one river of Palestine to its grave in, the Dead Sea. Such is the first general impression of the physiognomy of the land. It is a physiognomy compounded of the three main features already named --the plains the highland hills, and the torrent beds features which are marked in the words of its earliest describers,

Nu 13:29; Jos 11:16; 12:8

and which must be comprehended by every one who wishes to understand the country and the intimate connection existing between its structure and its history. About halfway up the coast the maritime plain is suddenly interrupted by a long ridge thrown out from the central mass, rising considerably shove the general level and terminating in a bold promontory on the very edge of the Mediterranean. This ridge is Mount Carmel. On its upper side the plain, as if to compensate for its temporary displacement, invades the centre of the country, and forms an undulating hollow right across it from the Mediterranean to the Jordan valley. This central lowland, which divides with its broad depression the mountains of Ephraim from the mountains of Galilee is the plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel the great battle-field of Palestine. North of Carmel the lowland resumes its position by the seaside till it is again interrupted and finally put an end to by the northern mountains, which push their way out of the sea, ending in the white promontory of the Ras Nakhura. Above this is the ancient Phoenicia. The country thus roughly portrayed is to all intents and purposes the whole land of israel. The northern portion is Galilee; the centre, Samaria; the south, Judea. This is the land of Canaan which was bestowed on Abraham, --the covenanted home of his descendants. The highland district, surrounded and intersected by its broad lowland plains, preserves from north to south a remarkably even and horizontal profile. Its average height may betaken as 1600 to 1800 feet above the Mediterranean. It can hardly be denominated a plateau; yet so evenly is the general level preserved and so thickly do the hills stand behind and between one another, that, when seen from the coast

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