Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine
By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850
The territory of Issachar, which was enclosed on three sides by Menasseh (to which probably Jacob's prophecy, "Issachar is a strong boned ass, couching between the stables," Gen. 49:14), extended on the east to the Jordan, near the southern shore of Lake Chinnereth, and on the north to Mount Tabor; from here the boundary ran over Kesulloth and Abez, to the vicinity of Mount Carmel, and the southern extreme appears to me to have been Remeth, i.e. Ramathaim-Zofim, in Mount Ephraim. To this tribe belonged the whole of the plain of Jezreel. Josephus states that the possessions of Issachar extended from Jordan to Mount Carmel.
The towns of Issachar were the following:
Jezreel יזרעאל no doubt the village Serain, which is 3 English miles north of En-Gannin (Djinin). The name of Serain has undoubtedly been put for Serail, abbreviated for Jezreel; and the change of n for l is nothing uncommon; as Beth-El becomes Beth-en or Beit-un, and Beth-Djibrin is also called Beth-Djibril. About 1 mile east from here is a mount called Djebl Djulud,* from which descends an unnamed rivulet, which runs southerly, in the direction of the mountains of Gilboa. Near Serain commences the valley of Jezreel, named now Merdj Abn Amer. The Greeks called Jezreel "Esdrela," whence the plain was named Esdrelon.
Kesulloth כסלות, is the village Aksal, 21 English miles west from Mount Tabor.
Shunem שנם is no doubt the village Sulim (again exchanging the 1 for n), 2½ English miles in a direct northern line distant from Sarain. At the time of Astori they yet professed to know the site of the house of the respectable woman who entertained Elisha so hospitably. (2 Kings 4:8.)
Chapharaim חפרים Eusebius and Hieronymus speak of the village Aframa, i.e. Chapharaim, about 5 mill north from Legion (Megiddo); but at present it is unknown.
Shion שיאון is probably identical with the modern village Sain, situated between Deburi=Daberath, and Jafa, i.e. Japhia (Joshua 19:12).
Harabbith הרבית There is, 3 English miles west from Beth-Shean, a village called Arubuni, in which I find a trace of the ancient Harabbith. Hieronymus says: "3 mill west from Beth-Shean, is the village Eraba," which I suppose to be the present Arubuni. Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 33, probably alludes to the same place when speaking of the town of Arabi in the vicinity of BethShean.
Kishion קשיון Astori writes, fol. 67 b, "2½ miles south from Aksal is Kishion, near which the river (Kishon) has its source." At the present day the Arabs call the village near which the sources of Kishon are, and which is to the southwest of Tabor, "Sheich Abrik," i.e. chief Barak, in allusion to Barak, son of Abinoam (Judges 4:6), because he overcame on the banks of this stream the army of Sisera. Not far from this village is the village Muzr; it appears, therefore from the statement of Astori, that Sheich Abrik is the ancient Kishion. In 1 Chronicles 4:37, among the Levitical cities, it is called Kedesh.
Abez אבץ is probably the village Kunebiz, also called Karin En Abiz, which lies 3 English miles westsouthwest from Aksal.
Remeth רמת See Ramathaim-Zofim.
En-Gannin עין גנים. This is the present large village Djinin, about 20 English miles north from Nablus, on the road from the latter place to Tiberias. In its vicinity is a small stream, called En-Djinin. (See also second chapter, article Ginai.) In I Chronicles 4:58, this town, one of the Levitical cities, is called Anem ענם equal to Annim ענים This shows the transmutation of ע Ayin into a ג Gimel, as in Arabic the Gayin is put for Ayin.
Tabor תבור Josephus relates that in his time there was a town with a fort on Mount Tabor, which probably had the same name as the mount itself. The present ruins on it are the remains of a church built by the Empress Helena.
Beth-Shemesh בית שמש i.e. house of the sun; I presume this to be identical with the small village Kaukab al Chama "the star* of the sun," which is 3 English miles north from Beth-Shean, and near the Jordan. Astori relates, "Beth-Shemesh, of Issachar, is south of Zippori (Sefuri), and is called Shumshi;" but I believe that, more correctly speaking, this Beth-Shemesh, near Sefuri, belonged to Naphtali (Joshua 19:38), and not to Issachar.
There Belonged Farther to the Portion of Issachar
Daberath דברת (Joshua 21:28); this is the village Diburi, 1½ English miles west from Tabor. This town was also reckoned as belonging to Zebulun (ibid. 19:12), which proves that the boundary lines of both tribes passed near it, wherefore it is often viewed as belonging to both. In the Life of Josephus it is called Dabarith.
Meron מראון (See description of the 31 Kings.)
Beth-Eked בית עקד (II Kings 10:12) . Eusebius says: "15 mill from Legion (Megiddo), in the plain of Esdrelon, may still be seen the ruins of this town," but at present it is quite unknown.
Aphek אפק (I Kings 20:26) is probably the modern village of Fukua, 2 English miles east from Djinin. (See also description of the 31 Kings.)
Dothan דותן (Gen. 38:17) is the village Dutha, 6 English miles south from Djinin; near it is shown the pit in which Joseph was cast before being sold by his brothers.
Meroz מרוז (Judges 5:23), probably the village Merasas, 2½ English miles northwest from Beth-Shean. (See also Maresheth in first chapter, page 36.)
Beth-Hashitta בית השטה (Judges 7:22), is probably the little village Shitta, l mill west from Djebl Duhu, i.e. the little Hermon.
Names of Places in the Portion of Issachar Occurring in the Talmudic Writings.
En-Tob עין טוב (Pesiktah Rabbethi, chap. 41; Talmud Rosh Hashanah, fol.25a), is the village Un al Taibe, which is between Tabor and Beth-Shean. Near this is the rivulet Wady Tubeni, i.e. En Tob, the spring Tob, which descends from the mountain of Gilboa. I believe that the oft-mentioned Tibaon טבעון (Machshirin, chap. 1; Talmud Megillah, 24b) was identical with En-Tob, and that the change of appellation arose from a mere transposition of the syllables. In Pesachim, fol. 53a, are spoken of אהיני דטובני a species of dates, from the vicinity of Tubeon.*
Serunia סרוניא (see Yerushalmi, end of Kilaim; Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 1; Zohar Tazria; also called in Yerushalmi Sanhedrin, chap. 7, Beth-Shirian בית שיריין) is no doubt the small village Sirin, situated on a mount between Tiberias and Beth-Shean, 2 English miles northwest from the Jordan bridge Midshama. At the foot of the mount, is the valley Sarané. (See second chapter, article Valley of Jezreel.)
Neurin נעורין (Chulin, fol. 5a), is the village Nuris, about 2 English miles southeast from Serain. The Naaran of 1 Chron. 7:28, is not to be mistaken for this, for it is the same as Naarah of Joshua 16:7, and is the present Naami.
Kapra כפרה (Yerushalmi Megillah, chap. i.; Yerushalmi Shekalim, chap. 5.), is the village Kaparah, situated 5 English miles southeast from Mount Tabor. Astori took this place for Chafaraim (which see); but this view appears to me incorrect.
Naim נעים (Bereshith Rabbah to Gen. 49:15), is the village Nain, 1 English mile southwest from En-Dor.
Thineam תנעם of the same passage, is the village Thenna, 1½ English miles northeast from Um al Taibe.
Pislon פסלון the valley of Pislon of the same passage. Between the Little Hermon and the mountains of Gilboa is a small valley, at the end of which, in the vicinity of the Jordan, is the village Phasal, in which I believe to discover a trace of the ancient Pislon, after which this valley is named.
Kefar Barkai כפר ברקאי (Pesachim, 57a, also end Kerithoth), is the village Barkin, 2 miles west from Djinin, and is also probably the Barkeas mentioned by Josephus (Bell. Jud., book 3, chap. 4.)
Kefar Thamartha כפר תמרתא (Megillah, 16a), is the village Thamra, 1½ English miles east from En-Dor.
Ulam אולם (Siphri to Balak; Yerushalmi Sanhedrin, chap. 10; Yerushalmi Shebiith, chap. 7.), is the village Ulama, 1 mile north from Sirin. (See 2d chapter, under this name.)
Gebul גבול (Kethuboth, 112a; Yerushalmi Challah, chap. 3), is the village Jebul, 3 English miles northeast from Beth-Shean, and is probably identical with the town of Gabala, in Lower Galilee, which was built by Herod, as reported by Josephus, Antiq., book 15, chap. 2.