Does the Jezreel Valley (i.e. Bible Geography) Matter to Me? (pt. 2)

II. Boundaries

The Valley of Jezreel is nestled in between mountain ridges, the Jordan Rift, and the Coastal plain.  It extends “about 20 miles in a northwest to southeast direction, and fourteen miles northeast to southwest.”[1]

a. Northern Boundary

Lower Galilee, specifically the Nazareth Ridge, makes up the northern boundary of The Valley of Jezreel.  This ridge overlooks the valley which drops sharply in elevation

b. Southern Boundary

The southern border of the Valley of Jezreel is marked out on the western side of the valley by the Mt. Carmel range.  The southern border of the Valley of Jezreel on the eastern side of the valley, which is much narrower, is marked out by Mt. Gilboa.

c. Eastern Boundary

On the eastern border of the Valley of Jezreel Mt. Tabor, Mt. Moreh, and Mt. Gilboa all intrude upon the valley as it empties into the Jordan rift.

d. Western Boundary

“The western Jezreel is a broad triangle of land tucked between Mt. Carmel on the south and lower Galilee to the north.”[2] As it runs toward the west the Valley of Jezreel empties into the Plain of Acco on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

 

III. Topography

a. Elevation

Technically the Valley of Jezreel is not a valley.  It is a down faulted basin that ranges from any where from 60 to 106 feet above sea level.  This level region formed a natural division between the Mt. Carmel Range to the south and the Hills of Galilee in the North.

b. Geological Make-up

The Valley of Jezreel, which is covered with alluvial soil, is a productive agricultural region.  Edward Robinson described his first hand impression of the land in his journal of travels in the land in 1838:

Only portions of the plain were under tillage; and these were covered with the richest crops of wheat and barley.  The rest of was mainly left to run to waste producing for the most part only rank weeds; which die and decay, and thus keep up the fertility of the soil.  In some places there was white clover nearly or quite two feet high.[3]

 

As was mentioned above, some of the most noticeable features of the Valley of Jezreel were the mountains that formed it borders.

c. Water Supplies

One of the most significant reasons for the Valley of Jezreel’s agricultural productivity is its abundant supply of water.  The valley receives quite a bit of water partly because it is nestled between the Mt. Carmel range and the Hills of Galilee.  This causes precipitation from these higher elevations to drain into the valley.  Additionally, a number of springs helped to supply water to the valley.  In times of heavy rain the valley would become so saturated that its streams would overflow and flood portions of the valley.  In fact, for most of its history the valley was made up primarily of marshes and bogs.  In the west this water from the valley was drained in the Mediterranean Sea by the Kishon River.  In the East the water was drained into the Jordan River by the Harod River.

 

IV. Tribal Distinctions

When the people of Israel came into the land and divided it among the tribes, portions of the Valley of Jezreel were given to three of the tribes.  The tribe of Issachar received a portion of the eastern part of the valley (Joshua 19:17-23).  However, “Israelite occupation of Issachar was largely limited to the mountain district until the time of David.”[4] The tribe of Zebulun received an allotment of land in southwest Lower Galilee that extended into northern portions of the Valley of Jezreel (Joshua 19:10-16).  Finally, the half tribe of Manasseh received an allotment of land that included the southern and western portions of the Valley of Jezreel (Joshua 17:1-3).  However, as was the case with Issachar, Manasseh was unable to dislodge the Canaanites from many of the key cities of the valley.  J.A. Thompson explains what the archaeological evidence indicates, “Important towns like Beth-shean, Taanach, Meggido, Gezer, Bethshemesh, and several others are listed as not having been occupied by the Israelites.  These were, in fact, the old Canaanite towns, and some of these like Meggido and Bethshean showed continuous occupation well into Iron I period without any sign of severe destruction.”[5]


[1] Charles F. Pfeiffer, Baker’s Bible Atlas (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1961), 26.

[2] Thomas V. Brisco, Holman Bible Atlas (Holman reference. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1998), 16.

 

[3] Edward Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine, 1838-5 (Gardners Books, 2007), 115-116.

[4] Pfeiffer, Baker’s Bible Atlas, 26.

[5] J.A. Thompson, The Bible and Archaeology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982.), 81.

Advertisements