Biblical Geography and History

By Charles Foster Kent | Go to book overview

IV
THE PLATEAU OF GALILEE AND THE PLAIN OF ESDRAELON

Physical and Political Significance of the Central Plateau . The backbone of Palestine is the great central plateau. It was in this important zone that the drama of Israel's history was chiefly enacted. Here was the true home of the Hebrews. By virtue of its position this central zone naturally commanded those to the east and west. For one brief period the Philistines from the western coast plain nearly succeeded in conquering and ruling all Palestine; but otherwise, until the world powers outside began to invade the land, the centre of power lay among the hills. This significant feature of Palestinian history is due to two facts: (1) that in war the great advantage lies with the people who hold the higher eminences and so can fight from above; and (2) that the rugged uplands usually produce more virile, energetic, liberty-loving people. At the same time it may be noted that, while the centre of power lay among the hills, the hill-dwellers never succeeded in conquering completely or in holding permanently the zones to the east and west. So firmly were the invisible bounds of each zone established that the dwellers in one were never able wholly to overleap these real though intangible lines and to weld together the diverse types of civilization that sprang up in these different regions, so near in point of distance, yet really so far removed from each other.

Natural and Political Bounds . A part of the northern plateau bore even in early Hebrew days the name of Galilee, the Circle or the Region (I Kings, 911, II Kings, 1529, Josh. 207). At first this region appears to have been confined to a

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