Jezreel, Valley of
Jezreel, Valley Of (עֵמֶק, Jos 17:16; Judges 6, 33; Ho 1:5). On the northern side of the city, between the parallel ridges of Gilboa and Moreh (now called Jebel ed-Duhy; SEE MOREH ), lies a rich valley (hence its name, God's seeding-place), an offshoot of Esdraelon, running down eastward to the Jordan. This was called the "Valley of Jezreel;" and Bethshean with the other towns in and around the valley, was originally inhabited by a fierce and warlike race who had "chariots of iron" (Jos 17:16). The region fell chiefly to the lot of Issachar, but neither this tribe nor its more powerful neighbor Ephraim was able to drive out the ancient people (Jos 19:18). The "valley of Jezreel" became the scene of one of the most signal victories ever achieved by the Israelites, and of one of the most melancholy defeats they ever sustained. In the time of the Judges, the Midianites, Amalekites, and "children of the East" crossed the Jordan, and "pitched in the valley of Jezreel," almost covering its green pastures with their tents, flocks, and herds (Jg 6:33 sq.). Gideon hastily summoned the warriors of Israel round his standard, and took up a position on the lower slopes of Gilboa, close to the "well of Harod" (7, 1; also called "the fountain of Jezreel"), about a mile east of the city. (See above.) SEE GIDEON. Two centuries later the Philistines took up the identical position formerly occupied by the Midianites, and the Israelites under Saul pitched on Gideon's old camping ground by the "fountain of Jezreel" (1 Samuel 29:1-11). The Israelites were defeated, and Saul and Jonathan, with the flower of their troops, fell on the heights of Gilboa (1Sa 31:1-6). SEE SAUL.
In later ages the valley of Jezreel seems to have extended its name to the whole of the wider plain of Esdraelon, which continued to be the scene of the greatest military evolutions of Palestine. This latter is, indeed, the most extensive level in the Holy Land (τὸ πεδίον μέγα simply, 1 Macc. 12:49; Josephus, Ant. 15, 1, 22; 8, 2, 3; 12, 8, 5; 15, 8, 5; War, 3, 3, 1; Life, 41; fully τὸ μέγα πεοον Ε᾿σδρηλώμ, Judith 1:8). It is the modern Merj Ibn- 'Amir, by which the whole of the plain is known to the Arabs. It is also known in Scripture as the plain of Megiddo (2Ch 35:22; Zec 12:11), and the Armageddon of the Apocalypse (Re 16:16). It extends about thirty miles in length from east to west, and eighteen in breadth from north to south. It is bounded on the north by the mountains of Galilee, and on the south by those of Samaria; on the eastern part by Mount Tabor, the Little Hermon, and Gilboa; and on the west by Carmel, between which range and the mountains of Galilee is an outlet, whereby the river Kishon winds its way to the bay of Acre (see Robinson's Researches, 3, 160-162, 181, 227). Here, in the most fertile part of the land of Canaan (see Hasselquist, Trav. p. 176; Troilo, p. 545; Maundrell, p. 76; Schubert, 3, 163, 166), the tribe of Issachar rejoiced in their tents (De 33:18). In the first ages of Jewish history, as well as during the Roman empire and the Crusades, and even in later times, this plain has been the scene of many a memorable contest (see Robinson, Researches, 2, 233). The same plain was the scene of the conflict of the Israelites and the Syrians (1Ki 20:26-30). Here also Josiah, king of Judah, fought in disguise against Necho, king of Egypt, and fell by the arrows of his antagonist (2Ki 23:29). Josephus often mentions this remarkable part of the Holy Land, and always (as above) under the appellation of the Great Plain; under the same name it is also spoken of by Eusebius and Jerome, (in the Onomast.). "It has been a chosen place for encampment," says Dr. E. Clarke, "in every contest from the days of Nabuchadonosor, king of the Assyrians, in the history of whose war with Arphaxad (Judith 1:8) it is mentioned as the great plain of Esdraelon, until the disastrous march of the late Napoleon Bonaparte from Egypt into Syria. Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Christian crusaders, Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks, Arabs, and French, warriors out of every nation which is under heaven, have pitched their tents in the plain of Esdraelon, and have beheld the various banners of their nation wet with the dews of Tabor and of Hermon." (For other notices of this place, see De Saulcy's Narrative, 2, 306-311.) This noble plain, like the greater portion of all the rich plains of Palestine and Syria, is in the hands of the government, and is only partially cultivated; the soil is deep, of a dark red color, inclined to be clayey, and cannot be surpassed in natural fertility (see Reland, Paloest. p. 366 sq.; Hamesveld, 1, 418 sq.). SEE ESDRAELON.
2. A town in the mountains of Judah, mentioned between Juttah and Jokdeam (Jos 15:56), situated (according to the associated names) in the district southeast of Hebron, on the edge of the desert of Judah. It is possibly identical with the modern ruined site Zurtut, which lies in a fertile region (Robinson, Researches, 2, 201), as the name Jezreel implies. See No. 3. It was probably this place (1Sa 25:43) from which came Ahinoam, one of David's wives (comp. the neighboring Carmel, where Abigail, his other wife, taken about the same time, resided), the JEZREELITESS (יַזרעֵאלַית, 1Sa 27:3; 1Sa 30:5; 2Sa 2:2; 2Sa 3:2; 1Ch 3:1). SEE ABEZ.
3. A descendant of Judah (1Ch 4:3, where two brothers and a sister are also mentioned), apparently of the same family with Penuel and Ezer, "sons" of Hur, the grandson of Hezron (ver. 4). From the frequent association of names of places in the vicinity of Bethlehem in the same connection, it is probable that this Jezreel was the founder of the town in the tribe of Judah (No. 2, above) which bore his name. In the text it is stated of him and his relatives, "these are the father of Etam" (יאֵלֶּה אֲבַי עֵיטָם, Sept. καὶ ουτοι ὑιοὶ Αἰτάμ, Vulg. ista qeuoque stirps. Etam, Auth. Vers. "and these are of the fathers of Etam"), meaning apparently that they founded or resided in the place by that name; and, as several other towns in the same general neighborhood are expressly assigned to separate individuals in the enumeration, this must be ascribed specially to Ishma and Idbash, who, with their sister, are the only two not thus particularly identified with any other locality. B.C. cir. 1612.
4. A symbolical name given by the prophet Hosea to his oldest son (Ho 1:4), then just born (B.C. cir. 782), in token of a great slaughter predicted by him, like that which had before so often drenched the soil of the plain of Esdraelon with blood (2:2). He is afterwards made, together with his brother Lo-ammi and his sister Lo-ruhama (1:6, 9), emblems of the Jewish people to be restored after punishment and dispersion in the approaching exile, and to be augmented by-new favors (2:24, 25). In this way is to be understood the vexed passage of the same prophet (Ho 2:22), "And the earth shall hear [rather, answer, and yield] the corn, and the wine, and the oil [due from the soil]; ands they [i.e. these gifts of the earth] shall hear [answer] Jezreel," i.e. the earth, rendered fertile from heaven (see ver. 21), shall yield anew her produce to (the tillers of) Jezreel. The prophet then (ver. 23) carries out the reference to his son, with evident allusion to the signification of the name Jezreel, which implies the productiveness of that plain, "And I will sow her [i.e. him and it, Jezreel being construed as a fem., like other collectives, e.g. Ephraim in Isa 17:10-11, etc.] unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy [i.e. again cherish Lo-ruhama], and I will say to them which were not my people [i.e. to Lo-ammi], Thou art my people, and they shall say. Thou art my God;" i.e. the whole people of Israel, whom the prophet thus emblematically represents by his three children, will again be planted, cherished, and claimed by Jehovah as his own. — Gesenius. SEE HOSEA. "From this time the image seems to have been continued as a prophetical expression for the sowing the people of Israel, as it were broadcast; as if the whole of Palestine and the world were to become, in a spiritual sense, one rich plain of Jezreel. 'I will sow them among the people, and they shall remember me in far countries' (Zec 10:9). 'Ye shall be tilled and sown, and I will multiply men upon you' (Eze 36:9-10). 'I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of men and with the seed of beast' (Jer 31:27). Hence the consecration of the image of 'sowing,' as it appears in the N.T. (Mt 12:2)"