|Argob (2) |
("the stony".) A tract E. of Jordan, in Bashan, in Og's kingdom, containing 60 great and fortified cities "with walls and brazen bars"; allotted to Manasseh, and taken by Jair a chief of that tribe (Numbers 32:41). Afterward one of Solomon's commissariat divisions under an officer at Ramoth Gilead (1 Kings 4:13). Trachonitis, "the rugged region," was its later Greek name. Now the Lejah, S. of Damascus, E. of the sea of Galilee; described by Burckhardt, Porter, etc., 22 miles from N. to S., 14 from E. to W.; of oval shape, a vast accumulation of basaltic rocks, in wild disorder, intersected with fissures; the black basalt seemingly having issued from the ground liquid, then become agitated, them split by internal convulsion. The cuplike cavities whence it exuded, and the wavy surface, are still to be seen. The rock is hard as flint, and emits a metallic sound when struck.
A singular propriety appears in the Hebrew for "the region of Argob" (Deuteronomy 3:4; Deuteronomy 3:13); it is the same term as for a rope (chebel), i.e. a sharply defined frontier, as if measured off by a rope, the rocky rampart that encircles the Lejah "in a circle clearly defined as a rocky shore line." This region stands 30 feet above the plain below. No other term is used of the region of Argob; it is possible therefore that (chebel) was a provincialism of Manasseh, the tribe that possessed Argob, for we find Manasseh using the term to Joshua (Joshua 17:5; Joshua 17:14), "portion," Hebrew (chebel). (See TRACHONITIS.) Improbable as the statement of Scripture appears, yet it is strictly true.
Sixty walled cities are still traceable in a space of 308 square miles. The architecture is ponderous and massive. Solid walls, four feet thick, and stones on one another without cement; the roofs enormous slabs of basaltic rock, like iron; the doors and gates are of stone, 18 inches thick, secured by ponderous bars. The land bears still the appearance of having been "called the land of giants," under the giant Og. A striking contrast to Argob is the surrounding plain of the Hauran (Bashan) described as "the plain" (mishor), a high plateau of rich pasture and tillage, stretching from the sea of Galilee to the Lejah and beyond to the desert, aligned without a stone. The Hebrew terms could not have been more happily chosen, Argob, Chebel, Mishor.