|Carmel - |
Generally with the article, "the park," derived from kerem 'Eel, "the vineyard of God." Sometimes not a proper name: Isaiah 32:15, "a fruitful field," Hebrew Karmel; a characteristic feature of the Holy-Land.
1. A mountain promontory in Asher, 12 miles long, jutting out into the Mediterranean. a few miles S. of Ptolemais or Acre; toward its eastern extremity 1,600 feet above the level of the sea, at the W. end 600. Now Mar Elyas (Elijah), rarely Kurmul. The only bold headland of Palestine. It separates the plain of Sharon on the S. from the more inland plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel on the N., by which the river Kishon flows into the sea in a direction parallel to the mountain range. The stone is mostly soft white limestone, with nodules of flint; at the W. chalk; on the N.E. plutonic rocks. "Elijah's melons," or lapides Judaici, is the name applied to stones of light brown flint outside, hollow inside, and lined with quartz crystals or chalcedony, the geological "geodes."
Fossil spines of echinus are called "olives." The "apples" are the shells of the Cidaris glandifera. Carmel's characteristic shrubbery's are still to be seen, with rocky dells amidst jungles of copse oaks, evergreens, and numerous caves. The forests have disappeared. Flowering and fragrant herbs abound, hollyhocks, jasmine, and various vegetable creepers, "the excellency (i.e. the beauty) of Carmel" (Isaiah 35:2.) Hence it is the image of the bride's head with luxuriant tresses (Song of Solomon 7:5). "thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple (Hebrew the pendulous hair is of glossy black, like purple), the king is held captivated with the flowing ringlets" (not galleries). The scene of Elijah's conflict with, and execution of, Baal's prophets was at the N.E. of the range, beside a spring said to be perennial.
But Blunt (Undesigned Coincidences) thinks that sea water was used, as water would not have been otherwise so wasted in a drought. The distance of the sea forbids this view; the sea is far W. of the scene. The spring is 250 feet below the steep rocky altar plateau. It is in the former a vaulted tank, with steps leading down to it. Carmel was so covered with thicket and forest as to be difficult of access, so that the fountain was not so available in the drought as otherwise it would have been. The shade of the trees and the vaulting (if it then existed) would check evaporation. The site of Elijah's sacrifice is still marked by the Arab name El-Maharrakah," the burning." The spring still flowing amidst the drought is close by. Josephus says the water was obtained from the neighboring spring (Ant. 8:13, section 5). The distance from Jezreel agrees with the narrative.
A knoll between the ridge and the plain is called Tell Kasis, "the hill of the priests;" the Kishon below is named Nahr el Mukatta, "the river of slaughter." From it Ahab "went up" to the sides of Carmel to take part in the sacrificial feast; Elijah went up to "the top" of the mountain to pray for rain: while Gehazi seven times climbed the highest point from whence the Mediterranean is to be fully seen over the W. shoulder of the ridge, and at last saw the little cloud rising out of the sea "like a man's hand," the sure forerunner of rain. An altar of Jehovah had existed on Carmel before that Baal worship was introduced; Jezebel had east it down (1 Kings 28:30); this Elijah repaired and used as the altar for his sacrifice. Hence, as being a sacred spot, he had convened Israel and Ahab there. They and the 850 prophets of Baal stood close beneath the high place of the altar, near the spring, in full view of Jezreel and Ahab's palace and Jezebel's temple in the distance.
Subsequently it was the place of resort for worship on new moons and sabbaths (2 Kings 4:23). Here too the successive fifties of king Ahaziah, at Elijah's call, were consumed by fire from heaven. (2 Kings 1:9, where it ought to be "he sat on the top of THE hill," i.e. Carmel.) Elisha repaired there, after Elijah's ascension (2 Kings 2:25). Here too Elisha was visited by the bereaved mother, with a view to his restoring to life her deceased son (2 Kings 4:25). Tacitus mentions that ages afterward Vespasian went there to consult the oracle which was without image or temple, and with "only an altar and reverential sanctity" attached to the place.
On Carmel is the convent, the seat of the barefooted Carmelite monks, whose establishments spread over Europe from the 13th century. Bertholdt, a Calabrian, and a crusader in the 12th century, had founded the order, and Louis of France the convent, in the 13th century, at the traditional site of Elijah's abode. The Latin traditions as to Elijah being connected with the origin of that order of monks are purely mythical. Edward I of England was a brother of the order; Simon Stokes of Kent was one of its famous generals.
2. A city in the hilly country of Judah (Joshua 15:55). The abode of the churl Nabal and Abigail "the Carmelitess" (1 Samuel 25; 1 Samuel 27:3). Saul set. up a "place," i.e. a memorial, there after his victory over Amalek (1 Samuel 15:12). Here Uzziah had his vineyards (2 Chronicles 26:10). Ten miles S.E. of Hebron. In A.D. 1172 King Amalric held it against Saladin. The ruins of the castle (Kasr el Birkeh) are still visible, of great strength, with the large beveled masonry characteristic of Jewish architecture. To the E. is a glaring white desert, without shrub or water. inhabited by the partridge and ibex alone, the very two noticed in the narrative (1 Samuel 26:20): "the king of Israel doth hunt a partridge"; "David upon the rocks of the wild goats" (1 Samuel 24:2).