Jezreel Valley

Jezreel Valley

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For the ancient, Biblical city, see Jezreel (city)
Jezreel (city)
Jezreel was an ancient Israelite city and fortress originally within the boundaries of the Tribe of Issachar, and later within the northern Kingdom of Israel. According to the Book of Kings, the royal palace of King Ahab in Jezreel was adjacent to the vineyard of Naboth...

For the kibbutz, see Yizre'el
Yizre'el
The kibbutz was established on 20 August 1948 by demobilised Palmach soldiers just to the west of the remains of the depopulated Palestinian village of Zir'in It was named after the ancient city of Jezreel, which was located in the area allotted to the tribe of Issachar...

.

The Jezreel Valley is a large fertile plain and inland valley south of the Lower Galilee region in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. The Samarian highlands and Mount Gilboa, border the valley from the south and the northern outskirts of the West Bank cities of Jenin
Jenin
Jenin is the largest town in the Northern West Bank, and the third largest city overall. It serves as the administrative center of the Jenin Governorate and is a major agricultural center for the surrounding towns. In 2007, the city had a population of 120,004 not including the adjacent refugee...

 and Tulkarm
Tulkarm
Tulkarem or Tulkarm is a Palestinian city in the northern Samarian mountain range in the Tulkarm Governorate in the extreme northwestern West Bank adjacent to the Netanya and Haifa districts to the west, the Nablus and Jenin Districts to the east...

 have spread into the southern part of the valley. To the west is the Mount Carmel
Mount Carmel
Mount Carmel ; , Kármēlos; , Kurmul or جبل مار إلياس Jabal Mar Elyas 'Mount Saint Elias') is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast. Archaeologists have discovered ancient wine and oil presses at various locations on Mt. Carmel...

 range, and to the east is the Jordan Valley
Jordan Valley (Middle East)
The Jordan Valley forms part of the larger Jordan Rift Valley. It is 120 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide, where it runs from Lake Tiberias in the north to northern Dead Sea in the south. It runs for an additional 155 kilometer south of the Dead Sea to Aqaba, an area also known as Wadi...

.

Etymology


The Jezreel Valley takes its name from the ancient city of Jezreel
Jezreel (city)
Jezreel was an ancient Israelite city and fortress originally within the boundaries of the Tribe of Issachar, and later within the northern Kingdom of Israel. According to the Book of Kings, the royal palace of King Ahab in Jezreel was adjacent to the vineyard of Naboth...

 (known in Arabic as Zir'in
Zir'in
Zir'in was a Palestinian Arab village of over 1,400 in the Jezreel Valley, located north of Jenin. Identified as the Canaanite town of Yizre'el, it was known as Zir'in during Islamic rule, and was near the site of the Battle of Ain Jalut, in which the Mamluks halted Mongol expansion southward...

; ) which was located on a low hill overlooking the southern edge of the valley, though some scholars think that the name of the city originates from the name of the clan which founded it, and whose existence is mentioned in the Merneptah stele
Merneptah Stele
The Merneptah Stele — also known as the Israel Stele or Victory Stele of Merneptah — is an inscription by the Ancient Egyptian king Merneptah , which appears on the reverse side of a granite stele erected by the king Amenhotep III...

. The word Jezreel means "God sows" or "El
El (god)
is a Northwest Semitic word meaning "deity", cognate to Akkadian and then to Hebrew : Eli and Arabic )....

 sows". The phrase "valley of Jezreel" was sometimes used to refer to the central part of the valley, around the city of Jezreel, while the southwestern portion was known as the "valley of Megiddo", after the ancient city of Megiddo
Megiddo (place)
Megiddo is a tell in modern Israel near Megiddo Kibbutz, known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance especially under its Greek name Armageddon. In ancient times Megiddo was an important city-state. Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicated a long period of...

, which was located there.

Over time, different civilisations have named the valley differently. As such this area has also been known as the Plain of Esdraelon (Esdraelon is the Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 rendering of Jezreel), the Zirin Valley , and the Meadow of Amr's son .

Formation


The valley perhaps once acted as the channel by which the Dead Sea
Dead Sea
The Dead Sea , also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface. The Dead Sea is deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world...

, located southeast of the valley, connected to the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. About two million years ago, as the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Great Rift Valley
Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa...

 rose, this connection was lost, and periodic floods from the Mediterranean Sea ceased. This resulted in the Dead Sea no longer having a connection to the ocean, and over time, due to greater evaporation
Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

 than precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 plus surface water
Surface water
Surface water is water collecting on the ground or in a stream, river, lake, wetland, or ocean; it is related to water collecting as groundwater or atmospheric water....

 inflow, it has become heavily saline
Salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

.

Biblical history



In addition to the settlements of Jezreel and Megiddo, the valley has played host to a number of other historic places, such as Beit She'an and Shimron
Shimron
Shimron was a major city in the north of the Land of Israel, in antiquity. Shimron is mentioned in the bible by this name, and in other period sources as Shim'on. The city is identified with the tell called Tel Samunia in Arabic. The tel rises 60 meters above its surroundings, north-east of moshav...

. The largest modern settlement in the Jezreel Valley is the city of Afula
Afula
Afula is a city in the North District of Israel, often known as the "Capital of the Valley", referring to the Jezreel Valley. The city had a population of 40,500 at the end of 2009.-History:...

 , also known as the "Capital of the Valley" where archaeological excavations have indicated near continuous settlement of the place through the Ghassulian
Ghassulian
Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant...

 culture of the Chalcolithic Age (c. 4500–3300 BCE) to the Ayyubid periods of the 11–13th centuries. It is regarded to have been the Biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 city of Ophrah
Ophrah
Ophrah is a name in the Hebrew Bible meaning "a fawn", given to:* A city of Benjamin ; probably identical with Ephron and Ephraim , the modern Palestinian city of Taybeh. The Israeli settlement of Ofra is close to the site as well....

, which the Book of Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

 identifies as the home of Gideon
Gideon (Judges)
Gideon or Gedeon , which means "Destroyer," "Mighty warrior," or "Feller " was judge of the Hebrews. His story is recorded in chapters 6 to 8 of the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible....

. The valley formed an easier route through the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 than crossing the mountains on either side, and so saw a large amount of traffic, and was the site of many historic battles; the earliest battle for which, the Battle of Megiddo
Battle of Megiddo (15th century BC)
The Battle of Megiddo was fought between Egyptian forces under the command of Pharaoh Thutmose III and a large Canaanite coalition under the king of Kadesh. It is the first battle to have been recorded in what is accepted as relatively reliable detail. Megiddo is also the first recorded use of the...

, has a surviving detailed account to prove that it was fought in the valley. Due to the surrounding terrain, Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 chariots were only able to travel from Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 as far as the Jezreel valley and the valley north of Lake Huleh.

According to the Bible, the valley was the scene of a victory by the Israelites, led by Gideon, against the Midian
Midian
Midian , Madyan , or Madiam is a geographical place and a people mentioned in the Bible and in the Qur'an. It is believed to be in northwest Saudi Arabia on the east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba and the northern Red Sea...

ites, the Amalek
Amalek
The Amalekites are a people mentioned a number of times in the Hebrew Bible. They are considered to be descended from an ancestor Amalek....

iltes, and the Children of the East, but was later the location at which the Israelites, led by King Saul
Saul the King
According to the Bible, Saul was the first king of the united Kingdom of Israel. He was anointed by the prophet Samuel and reigned from Gibeah. He commited suicide to avoid arrest in the battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa, during which three of his sons were also killed...

, were defeated by the Philistines
Philistines
Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

. According to textual scholars
Textual criticism
Textual criticism is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts...

, the account of a Philistine victory at Jezreel derives from the monarchial source, in contrast to the republican source, which places the Philistine victory against the Israelites at Mount Gilboa. In Christian Eschatology
Christian eschatology
Christian eschatology is a major branch of study within Christian theology. Eschatology, from two Greek words meaning last and study , is the study of the end of things, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world...

, the part of the valley on which the Battle of Megiddo was fought is believed to be destined to be the site of the penultimate battle between good and evil (the final battle taking place 1,000 years later in Jerusalem), known as Armageddon
Armageddon
Armageddon is, according to the Bible, the site of a battle during the end times, variously interpreted as either a literal or symbolic location...

 (a word derived from Megiddo).

As recounted in , after Jehu
Jehu
Jehu was a king of Israel. He was the son of Jehoshaphat, and grandson of Nimshi.William F. Albright has dated his reign to 842-815 BC, while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 841-814 BC...

 kills King Jehoram
Jehoram of Israel
Jehoram was a king of the northern Kingdom of Israel. He was the son of Ahab and Jezebel.According to , in the fifth year of Joram of Israel, Jehoram became king of Judah, when his father Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, indicating a co-regency...

, he confronts Jezebel
Jezebel
Jezebel may refer to:* Jezebel, wife of King Ahab*Jezebel, in the Book of Revelation 2:20 a prophetess in the church of Thyatira* Jezebel , starring Bette Davis and Henry Fonda* Jezebel , a blog aimed at women...

 in Jezreel and urges her eunuch
Eunuch
A eunuch is a person born male most commonly castrated, typically early enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences...

s to kill Jezebel by throwing her out of a window
Defenestration
Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window.The term "defenestration" was coined around the time of an incident in Prague Castle in the year 1618. The word comes from the Latin de- and fenestra...

. They comply, tossing her out the window and leaving her in the street to be eaten by dogs. Only Jezebel's skull, feet, and hands remained.

Ottoman rule (19th century)


In 1852 the American writer
Writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

 Bayard Taylor
Bayard Taylor
Bayard Taylor was an American poet, literary critic, translator, and travel author.-Life and work:...

 traveled across the Jezreel Valley, which he described in his 1854 book 'The Lands of the Saracen; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain' as: "one of the richest districts in the world." Laurence Oliphant, who visited the 'Akko Sanjak
Sanjak
Sanjaks were administrative divisions of the Ottoman Empire. Sanjak, and the variant spellings sandjak, sanjaq, and sinjaq, are English transliterations of the Turkish word sancak, meaning district, banner, or flag...

' valley area in 1887, then a subprovince of the 'Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 Wilayah
Wilayah
A wilāyah or vilâyet , or vilayat in Urdu and Turkish, is an administrative division, usually translated as "province", rarely as "governorate". The word comes from the Arabic "w-l-y", "to govern": a wāli — "governor" — governs a wilayah, "that which is governed"...

', wrote that the Valley of Esdraelon (Jezreel) was "a huge green lake of waving wheat, with its village-crowned mounds rising from it like islands; and it presents one of the most striking pictures of luxuriant fertility which it is possible to conceive."

In the 1870s, the Sursock family of Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 (present-day Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

) purchased the land from the Ottoman government for approximately £20,000. Between 1912 and 1925 the Sursock family (then under the French Mandate of Syria
French Mandate of Syria
Officially the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire...

) sold their 80,000 acres (320 km²) of land in the Vale of Jezreel to the American Zion Commonwealth
American Zion Commonwealth
The American Zion Commonwealth was aZionist settlement corporation that played an important part in the Jewish settlement of Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel....

 for about nearly three quarters of a million pounds, who purchased the land for Jewish resettlement and the Jewish National Fund
Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The JNF is a quasi-governmental, non-profit organisation...

.

British Mandate, 1918–1948


Following these sales, the 8 000 Arab farmers who lived in 22 villages working for the absentee landowners were evicted. Some farmers refused to leave their land, as in Afula (El-Ful), however the new owners decided that it would be inappropriate for these farmers to remain as tenants on land intended for Jewish labor, and they also followed the socialist ideology of the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

, believing that it would be wrong for a (Jewish) landlord to exploit a landless (Arab) peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

. British police had to be used to expel some and the dispossessed made their way to the coast to search for new work with most ending up in shanty town
Shanty town
A shanty town is a slum settlement of impoverished people who live in improvised dwellings made from scrap materials: often plywood, corrugated metal and sheets of plastic...

s on the edges of Jaffa
Jaffa
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

 and Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

.

Following purchase of the land, the first modern-day settlements were created after the American Zion Commonwealth founded the modern day city of Afula
Afula
Afula is a city in the North District of Israel, often known as the "Capital of the Valley", referring to the Jezreel Valley. The city had a population of 40,500 at the end of 2009.-History:...

 and the swamp was drained. The first moshav
Moshav
Moshav is a type of Israeli town or settlement, in particular a type of cooperative agricultural community of individual farms pioneered by the Labour Zionists during the second aliyah...

, Nahalal
Nahalal
-External links:** UNESCO* Jewish Agency for Israel*, "Jews made a garden" - aerial photo of Nahalal , and a girl from Girls' Agricultural Training Farm , at Google Books....

, was settled in this valley on 11 September 1921.

After the widespread Arab riots of 1929
1929 Palestine riots
The 1929 Palestine riots, also known as the Western Wall Uprising, the 1929 Massacres, , or the Buraq Uprising , refers to a series of demonstrations and riots in late August 1929 when a long-running dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem escalated into violence...

 in the then British Mandate of Palestine, the Hope Simpson Royal Commission
Hope Simpson Royal Commission
The Report on Immigration, Land Settlement and Development or Hope Simpson Report of October 1930 was an investigation into governance of the British Mandate of Palestine, which had been recommended by the Shaw Report, following the widespread 1929 Palestine riots.Headed by Sir John Hope Simpson,...

 was appointed to seek causes and remedies for the instability. The Commission's findings in regard to "Government responsibility towards Arab cultivators", was that the Jewish authorities "have nothing with which to reproach themselves" in the purchase of the valley, noting the high prices paid and land occupants receiving compensation not legally bound. The responsibility of the Mandate Government for "soreness felt (among both effendi
Effendi
Effendi, Effendy or Efendi is a title of nobility meaning a lord or master.It is a title of respect or courtesy, equivalent to the English Sir, which was used in Ottoman Empire...

 and fellahin) owing to the sale of large areas by the absentee Sursock family" and the displacement of Arab tenants; noted that, "the duty of the Administration of Palestine to ensure that the rights and position of the Arabs are not prejudiced by Jewish immigration. It is doubtful whether, in the matter of the Sursock lands, this Article of the Mandate received sufficient consideration."

Israel, 1948


Today the Jezreel Valley is a green fertile plain, covered with fields of wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, sunflowers and corn
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, as well as great grazing tracts for multitudes of sheep and cattle. The area is governed by the Jezreel Valley Regional Council
Jezreel Valley Regional Council
Jezreel Valley Regional Council is a regional council in northern Israel that encompasses most of the settlements in the Jezreel Valley. It includes 15 kibbutzim, 15 moshavim, 6 communal settlements and two Bedouin villages...

. It is also home to the Max Stern College of Emek Yizreel and to the Emek Medical Center.

Airport Controversy


In 2006, the Israeli Transportation Ministry along with the Jezreel Valley Regional Council announced plans to build an international airport in the Jezreel Valley area, near Megiddo. Environmentalists and preservationists reject the plan. As of June 2009, strong opposition has mounted forcing the government to further examine construction plans.

See also

  • Battle of Ain Jalut
    Battle of Ain Jalut
    The Battle of Ain Jalut took place on 3 September 1260 between Mamluks and the Mongols in eastern Galilee, in the Jezreel Valley, not far from Ein Harod....

    , major battle in 1260 between the Mongols and the Mamluks.
  • Dead Sea
    Dead Sea
    The Dead Sea , also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface. The Dead Sea is deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world...

  • Jezreel Valley Regional Council
    Jezreel Valley Regional Council
    Jezreel Valley Regional Council is a regional council in northern Israel that encompasses most of the settlements in the Jezreel Valley. It includes 15 kibbutzim, 15 moshavim, 6 communal settlements and two Bedouin villages...

  • Jezreel Valley Regional Project, a long-term historical and archaeological research project.

External links



32°35′47"N 35°14′31"E