Thursday, October 4, 2012

Biblical Geography: Coastal Plain – Plain of Asher, Part 2

As we continue our virtual tour through the coastal plain, we will explore the northwest corner of the Holy Land a little more.  In our last post of this series, we introduced the Plain of Asher ... a quiet and fruitful corner of the Promised Land.  However, it's one thing to look at a place on the map and quite another to see a picture of it.

There are two pictures below.  You can click on the photos for a higher resolution.  The first picture is of the northernmost section of the Plain of Asher.  The second picture is of the southern half.  The following map provides an orientation of what you are seeing.
 
 
The northern section of the plain is only 3 miles wide, stretching from the hills of Galilee to the Mediterranean Sea.  In this photo you can see the western edge of the plain and its termination on the northern end as one of the hills of Upper Galilee (known as the Ladder of Tyre) juts out into the sea.  As was mentioned in the previous post, this hill blocks traffic and for all practical purposes creates a dead end, essentially turning the plain into a cul-de-sac. You can see from the photo how a merchant or traveller would have an easy road while he was on the plain, but then would face a steep climb once he or she reached the northern end.  Consequently, the major trade routes took a different direction through the land of Israel.
 

In the follow photo, you can see almost the entire Bay of Acco, as it curves north.  This is modern Israel's major port on the Mediterranean, and you can see why.  If you look at a satellite photo of Israel, you can quickly see that this is the only natural bay in the country (with the exception of the port onto the Red Sea).  However, in ancient times, this area was marshy, so ancient Israel was not able to utilize this harbor as much as they do today.  Although the city of Acco stood on the northern edge of the harbor and utilized the port, the ancients preferred to use the small port of Joppa (modern Jaffa) in OT times and the man-made harbor at Caesearea in NT times.  In this photo, you can also make out a thin blue line in the foreground which is last stretch of the Kishon River before it empties into the sea.


Photo courtesy of BiblePlaces.com.  Map courtesy of Historic Views of the Holy Land (www.LifeInTheHolyLand.com).