Che'rith (Hebrews Kerith´, כּרַית, a cutting; Sept. Χοῤῥάθ), a "brook" (נִחִל, nach'al, Sept. χειμάῤῥους) i.e. torrent-bed (the Arabic wady) or winter- stream of Palestine, in (כּ, not "by") which, i.e. upon whose sloping bank the prophet Elijah (q.v.) hid himself during the early part of the three years' drought (1Ki 17:3,5). The words of the passage give no precise clew to its position: " Get thee hence [i.e. apparently from the spot where the interview with Ahab had taken place], and turn thy face eastward (קֵרמָה), and hide thee in the torrent of Cherith, which is facing (עִל פּטֵי) the Jordan." This last expression, which occurs also in verse 5, seems simply to indicate that the stream in question ran into that river, and not into either the Mediterranean or Dead Sea; for although the words sometimes require the translation "beyond" (as in Ge 25:18; Jos 15:18), they may also be rendered " towards," or "before the Jordan" (comp. Ge 16:16), that is, in coming from Samaria. Josephus (Ant. 8:13, 2) does not name the torrent (χειμάῤῥους τις), and he says that Elijah went, not "eastward," but towards the. south (εἰς τὰ πρὸς νότον μέρη). Eusebius and Jerome, on the other hand (Onomasticon, s.v. Χοῤῥά, Chorath), place the Cherith beyond Jordan, where also Schwarz (Palest. p. 51) would identify it in a Wady Alias, opposite Bethshean. This is the Wady el-Yaabis (Jabesh); the other name, Benj. Tudela says, is a corruption of Uad Elias (ואר אליאס, Itin. 2:408, ed. Asher). The argument from probability is but little in favor of the Cherith being on the east of Jordan, of which region Elijah was indeed a native, but where he would scarcely be more out of Ahab's reach than in the recesses of the mountains of the rival kingdom of Judah. The only explicit tradition on the subject is one mentioned by Marinus Sanutus in 1321 (Gesta per Franc. p. 247), that it ran by Phasaelis (q.v.), Herod's city in the Jordan valley (comp. Reland, Palest. p. 953). This would make it the Ain Fusail, which falls from the mountains of Ephraim into the Ghor, south of Kurn Surtabeh, and about fifteen miles above Jericho. This view is supported by Bachiene (Heilige Geogr. I, 1:126-130, and Van de Velde, Narrative, 2:310, 311). The spring of the brook is concealed under high cliffs and under the shade of a dense jungle (Van de Velde, Memoir, p. 339). Dr. Robinson, on the other hand, would find the stream in the Wady el-Kelt, behind Jericho (Researches, 2:288). This last name is, however, not greatly like Cherith, yet the identification is perhaps the best hitherto suggested. This wady is formed by the union of many streams in the mountains west of Jericho, issuing from a deep gorge, in which it passes by that village, and then across the plain to the Jordan. It is dry in summer. No spot in Palestine is better fitted to afford a secure asylum to the persecuted than Wady el-Kelt. On each side of it extend the bare, desolate hills of the wilderness of Judaea, in whose fastnesses David was able to bid defiance to Saul. The Kelt is one of the wildest ravines in this wild region. In some places it is not less than five hundred feet deep, and just wide enough at the bottom to give a passage to a streamlet (1Ki 17:6), like a silver thread, and to afford space for its narrow fringe of oleanders. The banks are almost sheer precipices of naked limestone, and are here and there pierced with the dark openings of caves and grottoes, in some one of which probably Elijah lay hid. The wady opens into the great valley, and from its depths issues a narrow line of verdure into the white plain; it gradually spreads as it advances until it mingles, at the distance of a mile or more, with the thickets that encompass Riha, the modern representative of Jericho. To any one passing down from Jerusalem or Samaria towards Jericho, the appropriateness of the words in 1Ki 17:3, would be at once apparent (see Tristram, Land of Israel, p. 202). The Kelt being near Mount Quarantania, the traditional scene of the Temptation, was a favorite resort for anchorites when the example of St. Saba made that order fashionable in Palestine. SEE ELIJAH.

Wady el-Kelt is held by Porter (Hand-book for Syria, p. 191) to be the "Valley of Achor," in which the Israelites stoned Achan (Jos 7:26), and which served to mark the northern border of Judah (Jos 15:7). Along the southern bank of the wady, by a long and toilsome pass, ascends the ancient and only road from Jericho to Jerusalem. This he deems "the going up to Adummim, which is on the south side of the river (Jos 15:7). But this identification would confound the name Cherith with the very dissimilar one Achor, which latter we know was retained to a late period in Jewish history. SEE ACHOR.

Bible concordance for CHERITH.

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