(Heb. Kishon', קַישׁוֹן, winding; Septuag. Κισῶν; but in Ps 83:9, Κισσών v.r. Κεισών, Auth. Vers. "Kison"), a torrent or winter stream (נִחִל, A. V. "river") of central Palestine, the scene of two of the grandest achievements of Israelitish history-the defeat of Sisera (Jg 4:7,13; Jg 5:21), and the destruction of the prophets of Baal by Elijah (1Ki 18:40). It formed the boundary between Manasseh and Zebulon (Jos 19:11). SEE JOKNEAM. Some portion of it is also thought to be designated as the "waters of Megiddo" (Jg 5:19). SEE MEGIDDO. The term coupled with the Kishon in Jg 5:21, as a stream of the ancients (הִקּדוּמַים, A. V. "that ancient river"), has been very variously rendered by the old interpreters.
1. It is taken as a proper name, and thus apparently that of a distinct stream-in some MSS. of the Sept. Καδημείμ (see Barhdt's Hexapla); by Jerome, in the Vulgate, torrens Catdumim; in the Peshito and Arabic versions, Carmmin. This view is also taken by Benjamin of Tudela, who speaks of the river close to Acre (doubtless meaning thereby the Belus) as the נחל קדומים. It is possible that the term may refer to an ancient tribe of Kedumirm-wanderers from the Eastern deserts-who had in remote antiquity settled on the Kishon or one of its tributary wadys. SEE KADMIONITES.
2. As an epithet of the Kishon itself: Sept. χειμάῤῥους ἀρχαίων; Aquila, καυσώνων, perhaps intending to imply a scorching wind or simoom as accompanying the rising of the waters; Symmachus, αἰγίων or αἰγῶν,
perhaps alluding to the swift springing of the torrent (αϊvγες is used for high waves by Artemidoru..). The Targum, adhering to the signification " ancient," expands the sentence-'" the torrent in which were shown signs and wonders to Israel of old;" and this miraculous torrent a later Jewish tradition (preserved in the Commentarius in Canticlum Debborce, ascribed to Jerome) would identify with the Red Sea, the scene of the greatest marvels in Israel's history. The rendering of the A.V. is supported by Mendelssohn, Gesenius, Ewall, and other modern scholars. The reference is probably to exploits among the aboriginal Canaanites, as the plain adjoining the stream has always been the great battle-ground of Palestine. SEE ESDRAELON. For the Kishon of Jos 21:28, SEE KISHION.
By Josephus the Kishon is never named, neither does the name occur in the early Itineraries of Antoninus Augustus, or the Bordeaux Pilgrim. Eusebius and Jerome dismiss it in a few words, and note only its origin in Tabor (Onomasf. Cison), or such part of it as can be seen thence (Ep. ad Eustochium, § 13), passing by entirely its connection with Carmel. Benjamin of Tudela visited Akka and Carmel. He mentions the river by name as -" Nachal Kishon," but only in the most cursory manner. Brocardus (cir. 1500) describes the western portion of the stream with a little more fulness, but enlarges most on its upper or eastern part, which, with the victory of Barak, he places on the east of Tabor and Hermon, as discharging the water of those mountains into the Sea of Galilee (Descr. Terrce S. cap. 6, 7). This has been shown by Dr. Robinson (Eib. Res. ii, 364) to allude to the wady el-Bireh, which runs down to the Jordan a few miles above Scythopolis.
The Kishon is beyond all doubt the river now called Nahr el-Mokattah (or ilukatta), which, after traversing the plain of Acre, enters the bay of the latter name at its south-east corner. It has been usual to trace the source of this river to Mount Tabor (as above by Jerome), but Dr. Shaw affirms that in travelling along the south-eastern brow of Mount Carmel he had an opportunity of seeing the sources of the river Kishon, three or four of which lie within less than a furlong of each other, and are called Ras el- Kishon, or the head of the Kishon. These alone, without the lesser contributions near the sea, discharge water enough to form a river half as large as the Isis. During the rainy season all the waters which fall upon the eastern side of Carmel, or upon the rising grounds to the southward, empty themselves into it in a number of torrents, at which time it overflows its banks, acquires a wonderful rapidity, and carries all before it. It was doubtless in such a season that the host of Sisera was swept away in attempting to ford it. But such inundations are only occasional, and of short duration, as is indeed implied in the destruction in its waters of the fugitives, who doubtless expected to pass it safely. The course of the stream, as estimated from the sources thus indicated, is not more than seven miles. It runs very briskly till within half a league of the sea; but when not augmented by rains, it never falls into the sea in a full stream, but insensibly percolates through a bank of sand, which the north winds have thrown up at its mouth. It was in this state that Shaw himself found it in the month of April, 1722, when it was crossed by him.
Notwithstanding Shaw's contradiction, the assertion that the Kishon derives its source from Mount Tabor has been repeated by modern travellers as confidently as by their ancient predecessors (Summer Ramble, i, 281). Buckingham's statement, being made with reference to the view from Mount Tabor itself, deserves attention. He says that near the foot of the mountain on the south-west are " the springs of the Ain es-Sherrar, which send a perceptible stream through the centre of the plain of Esdraelon, and form the brook Kishon of antiquity." Further on. the same traveller, on reaching the hills which divide the plain of Esdraelon from that of Acre, saw the pass through which the river makes its way from the one plain to the other (Travels in Palestine, i, 168, 177). Schwarz also states that the sources of the Kishon are at a village called Sheik Abrik, south- west of Tabor (Palest. p. 166). On further inquiry, and more extensive comparison of observations made at different times of the year, it will probably be found that the remoter source of the river is really in Mount Tabor, but that the supply from this source is cut off in early summer, when it ceases to be maintained by rains or contributory torrents; whereas the copious supply from the nearer springs at Ras el-Kishon, with other springs lower down, keep it up from that point as a perennial stream, even during the drought of summer. (See Kitto's Pict. Hist. of Palestine, p. cxci.) Mariti (ii, 112) mentions the case of the English dragoman who was drowned, and his horse with him, in the attempt to cross this temporary stream from Mt. Tabor, in Feb. 1761. During the battle of Mount Tabor, between the French and Arabs, April 16,1799, many of the latter were drowned in their attempt to cross a stream coming from Deburieh, which then inundated the plain (Burckhardt, Syria, p. 339). Monro, who crossed the river early in April (in its lower or perennial part), in order to ascend Mount Carmel, describes it as traversing the plain of Esdraelon. The river, where he crossed it, in a boat, was then thirty yards wide. In the plain from Seolam to Nazareth he crossed "a considerable brook, and afterwards some others, which flow into a small lake on the northern side of the plain, and eventually contribute to swell the Kishon" (Ramble, i, 55,281). Dr. Robinson says that this account corresponds with channels that he observed (Biblical Researches, 3:230). Prokesch also, in April, 1829, when travelling directly from Ramleh to Nazareth, entered the plain of Esdraelon at or near Lejjun, where he came upon the Kishon, flowing in a deep bed through marshy ground; and after wandering about for some time to find his way through the morass, he was at last set right by an Arab, who pointed out the proper ford (Reise ins t. Land, p. 129). The scriptural account of the overthrow of Sisera's host manifestly shows that the stream crossed the plain, and must have been of considerable size. The above arguments, to show that it did so, and still does so, are confirmed by Dr. Robinson, who adds that " not improbably, in ancient times, when the country was perhaps more wooded, there may have been permanent streams throughout the whole plain." The transaction of the prophet Elijah, who, after his sacrifice on Carmel, commanded the priests of Baal to be slain at the river Kishon, requires no explanation, seeing that it took place at the perennial lower stream. This also explains, what has sometimes been asked, whence, in that time of drought, the water was obtained with which the prophet inundated his altar and sacrifice.
The Kishon is, in fact, the drain by which the waters of the plain of Esdraelon, and of the mountains which inclose that plain, namely, Carmel and the Samaria range on the south, the mountain of Galilee on the north, and Gilboa, "Little Hermon" (so called), and Tabor on the east, find their way to the Mediterranean. Its course is in a direction nearly due north-west along the lower part of the plain nearest the foot of the Samaritan hills, and close beneath the very cliffs of Carmel, breaking through the hills which separate the plain of Esdraeloln from the maritime plain of Acre, by a very narrow pass, beneath the eminence of Harothieh or Harti, which is believed by some still to retain a trace of the name of Harosheth of the Gentiles. It has two principal feeders: the first from Deburieh (Daberath), on Mount. Tabor, the north-east angle of the plain; and, secondly, from Jelbuin (Gilboa) on the south-east. It is also fed by the copious spring of Lejjun, the stream from which is probably the "waters of Megiddo" (Porter, Handbook, p. 385). The highest source of the Kishon on the south-east is the large fountain of Jenin, the ancient En-gannim, the water from which, increased by a number of the streamlets from the surrounding hills, flows westward across the plain through a deep channel during the winter months; but in summer this channel, like the northern one, is perfectly dry (Van de Velde, Travels, i, 362). The two channels unite at a point a few miles north of the site of Megiddo. The channel of the united stream is here deep and miry, the ground for some distance on each side is low and marshy, and the fords during winter are always difficult, and often, after heavy rain, impassable; yet in summer, even here, the whole plain and the river bed are dry and hard (Robinson, ii, 364). These facts strikingly illustrate the narrative of the defeat of Sisera. The battle was fought on the south bank of the Kishon, at Megiddo (Jg 4:13; Jg 5:19). While the battle raged a violent storm of wind and rain came on (Jg 5:4,20; comp. Josephus, At. 5:5, 4). In a short time the hard plain was turned into a marsh, and the dry river-bed into a foaming torrent. The Canaanites were driven back on the river by the fiery attack of Barak and the fury of the storm; for "the earth trembled, the heavens dropped... the stars in their courses fought against Sisera." The warhorses and chariots dashing madly through the marshy ground made it much worse; and the soldiers, in trying to cross the swollen torrent, were swept away.
But, like most of the so-called "rivers" of Palestine, the perennial stream forms but a small part of the Kishon. During the greater part of the year (as above noted) its upper portion is dry, and the stream confined to a few miles next the sea. The sources of this perennial portion proceed from the roots of Carmel-the " vast fountains called Sa'adiyeh, about three miles east of Chaifa" (Thomson, Land and Book, ii, 140), and those, apparently still more copious, described by Shaw (Robinsone, ii, 365), as bursting forth from beneath the eastern brow of Carmel, and discharging of themselves "a river half as big as the Isis." It enters the sea at the lower part of the bay of Akka, about two miles east of Chaifa, "in a deep, tortuous bed, between banks of loamy soil some fifteen feet high, and fifteen to twenty yards apart" (Porter, Handbook, p. 383). Between the mouth and the town the shore is lined by an extensive grove of date-palms, one of the finest in Palestine (Van de Velde, i, 289). The part of the Kishon at which the prophets of Baal were slaughtered by Elijah was doubtless close below the spotm on Carmel where the sacrifice had taken place. This spot is now fixed with all but certainty as at the extreme east end of the mountain, to which the name is still attached of El-sahraka, ' the burning." SEE CARMEL. Nowhere does the Kishon run so close to the mountain as just beneath this spot (Van de Velde, i, 324). It is about 1000 feet above the river, and a precipitous ravine leads directly down, by which the victims were perhaps hurried from the sacred precincts of the altar of Jehovah to their doom in the torrent bed below, at the foot of the mound, which from this circumstance may be called tell Kilss, the hill of the priests. Whether the Kishon contained any water at this time we are not told; that required for Elijah's sacrifice was in all probability obtained from the spring on the mountain side below the plateau of El-Mahraka. At the mouth of the river are banks of fine sand, which any unusual swell in the river converts into dangerous quicksands (Van de Velde, i, 289).
The modern name Nahr el- Mukatta some have thought means "the river of slaughter," in allusion to the slaughter of the prophets of Baal on its banks; but the name may also signify " river of the ford," from another meaning of the same root (compare Robinson, ii, 365); the latter is the interpretation given of the name by the people of the country.-Kitto; Smith. See further in Hamesveld, i, 522 sq.; Schwarz, Palestine, p. 49; Hackett, Illustra. p. 321-323; Ritter, Erdk. 16:704; Maunadrell, Early Travels, p. 430; Pococke, East, II, i, 55; G. Robinson, Palest. i, 203 (Par. 1835); Thomson, Land and Book, i, 492; Stanley, Sinai and Pal. p. 347; Wilson, Lands of Bible, ii, 86; Tristram, Land of Israel, p. 95, 494, Kishshu. SEE CUCUMBER.