THE HILLS OF SAMARIA AND JUDAH
Character of the Hills of Samaria . The hills of Samaria and Judah are the southern extension of the central plateau of Palestine, and yet, like Galilee and Esdraelon they constitute an independent natural unit. No sharply defined boundary separates them; rather the one gradually merges into the other. The heights of Samaria and Judah are commonly called mountains and the term is not entirely inappropriate when applied to the range as a whole; but the individual peaks are in reality little more than rounded hills. None of them rise over three thousand four hundred feet above the sea-level. The highest rest upon elevated plateaus, so that only two or three of them convey the impression of towering height and majesty that is ordinarily associated with the word mountain. Rather they are a chain of hills which, viewed from the shore of the Mediterranean or from the heights east of the Jordan, give the impression of a bold mountain range. This is especially true as one looks up toward them from the deep depression of the Jordan and Dead Sea valley, for they completely fill the western horizon. The watershed lies on the eastern side of the range. The result is that the western hills have been worn down into gradually descending terraces; while on the east the deep Jordan valley is exceedingly abrupt, becoming more so in the south. At certain points the descent is over twenty-eight hundred feet in nine miles, and down by the western side of the Dead Sea there is often an almost sheer fall of between fifteen hundred and three thousand feet.
Northeastern Samaria . The hills of Samaria fall naturally into two great divisions. The first extends from the plains