Biblical Geography and History

By Charles Foster Kent | Go to book overview

XIV
THE SETTLEMENT IN CANAAN

The Approach to the Jordan . About the middle of the twelfth century B.C. the Hebrew tribes from Egypt crossed the Jordan into Canaan. They probably approached the river by the main highway which to-day skirts the northern side of Mount Nebo,(72) crossing the Wady Heshban, and entering the Jordan Valley where the Wady Kefrein broadens into the meadow on which still stands a group of acacias, the Valley of Shittim. (Acacias), of the Hebrew narratives. After the late spring and summer freshets the lower Jordan may be forded at two points. One is at the shallow place where the Wady Kelt pours its waters and mud into the Jordan. The other is six or seven miles farther north, just below the point where the Wady Nimrin comes down from the highlands of Gilead. Probably the Hebrews crossed by this northern ford.

Crossing the Jordan . The older biblical account of the crossing states that it took place in the time of harvest, when the Jordan was overflowing its banks. The statement which follows is unintelligible except as it is explained by the unique characteristics of this strange river: "Its waters rose up in a heap, a great way off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those that went down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off " (Josh. 316b). Like the Missouri River in America, the Jordan frequently changes its course. At certain points higher up the river, especially where the Samaritan hills come down close to its shores and the Jabbok pours in its waters from the east, the river sometimes undermines the clay

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