|SHARON - |
shar'-un (ha-sharon, with the definite article possibly meaning "the plain"; to pedion, ho drumos, ho Saron):
(1) This name is attached to the strip of fairly level land which runs between the mountains and the shore of the Mediterranean, stretching from Nahr Ruben in the South to Mt. Carmel in the North. There are considerable rolling hills; but, compared with the mountains to the East, it is quite properly described as a plain. The soil is a deep rich loam, which is favorable to the growth of cereals. The orange, the vine and the olive grow to great perfection. When the many-colored flowers are in bloom it is a scene of rare beauty.
Of the streams in the plain four carry the bulk of the water from the western slopes of the mountains to the sea. They are also perennial, being fed by fountains. Nahr el-`Aujeh enters the sea to the North of Jaffa; Nahr Iskanderuneh 7 miles, and Nahr el-Mefjir fully 2 miles South of Caesarea; and Nahr ez-Zerqa, the "Crocodile River," 2 1/2 miles North of Caesarea. Nahr el-Falik runs its short course about 12 miles North of Nahr el-`Aujeh. Water is plentiful, and at almost any point it may be obtained by digging. Deep, finely built wells near some of the villages are among the most precious legacies left by the Crusaders. The breadth of the plain varies from 8 to 12 miles, being broadest in the Sharon. There are traces of a great forest in the northern part, which accounts for the use of the term drumos. Josephus (Ant., XIV, xiii, 3) speaks of "the woods" (hoi drumoi) and Strabo (xvi) of "a great wood." There is still a considerable oak wood in this district. The "excellency" of Carmel and Sharon (Isaiah 35:2) is probably an allusion to the luxuriant oak forests. As in ancient times, great breadths are given up to the pasturing of cattle. Over David's herds that fed in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite (1 Chronicles 27:29). In the day of Israel's restoration "Sharon shall be a fold of flocks" (Isaiah 65:10). Jerome speaks of the fine cattle fed in the pastures of Sharon, and also sings the praises of its wine (Comm. on Isaiah 33 and 65). Toward the Sharon no doubt there was more cultivation then than there is at the present day. The German colony to the North of Jaffa, preserving in its name, Sarona, the old Greek name of the plain, and several Jewish colonies are proving the wonderful productiveness of the soil. The orange groves of Jaffa are far-famed.
"The rose of Sharon" (Song of Solomon 2:1) is a mistranslation:
chabhatstseleth is not a "rose," but the white narcissus, which in season abounds in the plain.
Sharon is mentioned in the New Testament only in Acts 9:35.
(2) A district East of the Jordan, occupied by the tribe of Gad (1 Chronicles 5:16; here the name is without the article). Kittel ("Ch," SBOT) suggests that this is a corruption from "Sirion," which again is synonymous with Hermon. He would therefore identify Sharon with the pasture lands of Hermon. Others think that the mishor or table-land of Gilead is intended.
(3) In Joshua 12:18 we should perhaps read "the king of Aphek in Sharon." See LASSHARON. The order seems to point to some place Northeast of Tabor. Perhaps this is to be identified with the Sarona of Eusebius, Onomasticon, in the district between Tabor and Tiberias. If so, the name may be preserved in that of Sarona on the plateau to the Southwest of Tiberias.