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Place Descriptions

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> The Hebronite Spirit of Enterprise
> Nablus Revitalised
> Sebastia
> Dayr Tarif
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> Stroll along Ramallah’s Main Street
> Nightlife in Ramallah
> The Bethlehemian Smile
> Nablus: The Uncrowned Queen
> From the Ottomans to Modem Times
> Ancient Bethlehem
> Beit Sahour
> The Site of the Town of Bethlehem at Its Earliest...
> The History of Nablus
> Nablous
> The Samaritan Creed
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> The Minerals and Climate in Samaria
> The Nature of Samaria
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The Nature of Samaria
submitted by Turathuna Bethlehem University

Samaria is crossed from North to South by an uninterrupted chain of hills, almost unvarying in altitude: that is, the range that runs from the Jilboa Mountains (Jebel Fuqu'a) to the plain of Beer-Sheba, cutting across the Palestinian region from North to South. These mountains were formed during the last orogenic phase of the earth, the alpino-hymalaian revolution, and represent so to speak the back bone of Palestine.

The group of mountains of Samaria is called the Mountain of Ephraim in the Old Testament (Jos 17,15).

The most prominent heights are generally rounded or flat, and often look quite different from what one might be led to suppose by their altitude; this is because as in the case of Gerizim and Ebal . They rise out of valleys over 400-500 meters above sea level.

The valleys are barely perceptible in the centre of the plateau, which is the highest part; on the east side, which slopes steeply down to the Jordan, they are so deep as to form ravines; on the West side they are gentler.

The valleys to the west, north and east give easy access to the centre of Samaria. This explains why this region has been more open to foreign influences, whether political, cultural or religious, than the harsh and isolated Judaea.

Besides the valleys and the plains, there may be found among the mountains some hollows which are wholly or partially enclosed, sometimes formed by erosion.
The fertile valley of Esdraelon, where Jenin is situated, runs obliquely from south-east to northwest, and separates Samaria from Galilee. Proceeding from North to South we come across:

- Sahel Arrabeh, between Jenin and Sebaste, which takes its name from a large village perched on Jebel el-Fahm. The fertile, well-cultivated plain stretches for 10 km. from East to West. At the Eastern is situated the Dothan of the Bible. The valley of Zababdeh is virtually part of Sahel Arrabeh.

- The plain of Samaria, which witnessed the defeat of the Aramaic army in the time of Ahab.

- The plain of Tubas, where Abimelech died.

- Wadi el-Far'ah, one of the most beautiful valleys, not only of Samaria but of the whole of Palestine. Pointing towards the Jordan, in some places it is over 1000 m. wide. The climate consents semi-tropical crops, such as bananas and ground-nuts. During the summer, herds of camels are brought here to graze. At the Western end is Tell el-Far'ah, where Tirzah once stood.

- Wadi Tuffah, which begins at the pass between Ebal and Gerizim and, after changing its name to Wadi es-Sahir, spreads eastward as far as Tul-Karm.

- Sahel el-Askar, or valley of Shechem, or plain of Balata, which beginning from the Nablus pass, goes from North-West to South-Fast and is 8 km. long and from 1 to 2 km. wide. At the western end of Sahel el-Askar are situated Shechem, Jacob's Well and Joseph's Tomb.

- Sahel ei-Mahneh, which is a continuation of Sahel el-Askar and is more or less the same size. It is the only valley of the interior which follows the same direction as the mountains, and through it runs a stretch of the mains road from Nablus to Ramallah.

- Wadi Qana, which originates South of Nablus, used to be the southern frontier between the territories of the tribes of Ephraim and Western Manasseh.

- The valley of Lubban, fertile and lovely, to the South of which is the district of Ramallah.

Springs and rivers
In Samaria there is abundance of underground water, and springs. Their distribution and frequency is very irregular: they are numerous and copious in the North, sparse in the South. This explains the natural variety of the region, green and fertile to the North, arid to the South.

The rich water-bearing strata of Northern Samaria are often very deep, and the water, which is colder than normal and extremely calcareous, rises to the surface through cracks in the soil. In central Samaria, thanks to a clay bed which lies not far below the surface, the springs and wells are almost at ground level, even at altitudes of 200-350 meters.

In the Nablus pass alone, which was dug out by a river prior to the formation of the Jordan valley, there rise to the surface Ain el-Qarab, Ain es-Subian and Ain Beit Lima. Ras el-Am and Ain Qarium rise in Gerizim; near Shechem we find Ain Balata and Jacob's Well.

To the North, rivers of some importance are Qudran, Zerqa and Ara. The valley through which the latter runs connects the plain of Esdraelon with the plain of Sharon. Sahel Arrabeh is crossed by the Nahr Selhab, tributary of the Nahr el-Mefgir, which flows into the Mediterranean south of Caesarea.

In the centre, Wadi Nablus, which starts out as a torrent, becomes a river thanks to the various tribu-taries of the area. After crossing the plain of Sharon, it flows into the Mediterranean, having changed its name to Nahr Iskanderuneh.

In Southern Samaria, three water courses (Azzun, Qanah and Deir Ballut) flow into the Nahr el-Aujah.

To the East, the mountain slopes are poor in water. Wadi el-Far'ah, the largest torrent, is about 25 km. long and brings the hill waters down into the Jordan. Qarn es-Sartabeh, the Hasmoneo-Herodian fortress of the Alexandrion, dominates the wadi at the point in which it flows into the Jordan valley. Further South, Wadi Fasail reaches the road to Jericho after leaving the Nablus area and crossing the village of Aqraba.

Source: "Samaria" by Maria Petrozzi

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