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SHARON:

Large plain of Palestine, with an average elevation of between 280 and 300 feet above sea-level; bounded by Mount Carmel on the north, Jaffa on the south, the mountains of Gilboa on the east, and the Mediterranean Sea on the west. Its principal rivers are the Nahr al-Zarḳa (Crocodile River) and the Nahr Mafjir (the "Dead River" of the Crusaders). The soil is fertile; and the plain is still called "the garden of Palestine," chiefly on account of its red and white lilies and its anemones.

The plain of Sharon was famous in Biblical times as a pastoral region (Isa. lxv. 10); and some of David's herds fed there (I Chron. xxvii. 29). Utter desolation of the country was implied by saying that Sharon was turned into a wilderness (Isa. xxxiii. 9), although in the Messianic time it is to be a fold for flocks (ib. lxv. 10). The poet dwells on the beauty of the flowers which blossom there abundantly (ib. xxxv. 2); and the Shulamite in Cant. ii. 1 compares herself to the rose of Sharon (comp. Rose). The comparison with Carmel (Isa. xxxv. 2)seems to show that at one time there were groves in the plain. Josephus, indeed, speaks of a grove near Antipatris, while, like the Septuagint, he translates the word "Sharon" by "oak-coppice" ("Ant." xiv. 13, § 3; "B. J." i. 13, § 2).

Another Sharon is mentioned by Eusebius ("Onomasticon") as lying between Mount Tabor and Tiberias. To this Sharon the passage Cant. ii. 1 is sometimes referred; but the phrase "rose of Sharon" was a proverbial one, and from Isa. xxxv. 1 et seq. it is evident that the rose there mentioned blossomed in the larger plain. The Talmud speaks of the wine produced in this latter Sharon (Men. viii. 2; Shab. 70a), while the prayer of the high priest on the Day of Atonement, "May God watch over the inhabitants of Sharon, lest they be buried in the ruins of their homes" (Yer. Yoma v. 3), can refer only to those who resided in the eastern Sharon, since no earthquakes occurred in the western plain. The statement of Eusebius regarding a Sharon situated in Galilee is confirmed by the existence of the modern Sarona.

In Josh. xii. 18 the King of Sharon is enumerated among the thirty-one kings vanquished by the Israelites. The "Sharon" mentioned in I Chron. v. 16 appears to be the name of a city in the territory of Gad.

Bibliography:
  • Schwarz, Das Heilige Land, pp. 46-47, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1852;
  • Neubauer, G. T. pp. 48 et seq.;
  • Ritter, Palestine, iv. 265;
  • Sepp, Jerusalem und das Heilige Land, i. 23, 44; ii. 585 et seq.
J. I. Be. S. O.
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