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Bashan was a broad, fertile plateau ranging from 1,600 to 2,300 ft. in height. It was well adapted for raising cattle (Ps 22:12; Ezek 39:18) and was celebrated for its sheep and goats (Deut 32:14), and great groves of oak trees (Isa 2:13; Ezek 27:6; Zech 11:2). Amos compared the sleek, pleasure-loving women of Samaria to the cows of Bashan (Amos 4:1). Jeremiah predicted that Israel would be restored after the Babylonian captivity and would feed again in Bashan (Jer 50:19).

Archeology has not yet unearthed any evidence of the Rephaim, although there is archeological confirmation that the area was continually occupied from the Early Bronze period (c. 3200-2300 b.c.). The Brussels texts (dating from the second part of the 19th cent.) mention Ashtaroth in Bashan. During the period of the divided monarchy, it was seized by Damascus. It became identified with Hauran at a later period.

The ancient name has survived in Batanea of Gr. and Rom. times and in the Arab. el-Bathaniyeh. The present area of Jolan, as well as Gaulanitis, the Gr. term for this area, can be traced to the city of Golan, though the exact site has not been found. It is most likely that the famous oaks of Bashan were situated in the Jolan area which is still wooded in places.


A. Heber-Percy, A Visit to Bashan (1895); G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archaeology (1957), 29, 48, 72, 73, 146, 184; M. Noth, The Old Testament World (1966), 63, 73; Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (1967), 133.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

This name is probably the same in meaning as the cognate Arabic bathneh, "soft, fertile land," or bathaniyeh (batanaea), "this land sown with wheat" ("wheatland").

1. Boundaries:

2. Characteristics:

Bashan thus included the fertile, wooded slopes of Jebel ed-Druze, the extraordinarily rich plain of el-Chauran (en-Nuqrah-- see Hauran), the rocky tract of el-Leja’, the region now known as el-Jedur, resembling the Chauran in character, but less cultivated; and, perhaps, the breezy uplands of el-Jaulan, with its splendid reaches of pasture land. It was a land rich in great cities, as existing ruins sufficiently testify. It can hardly be doubted that many of these occupy sites of great antiquity. We may specially note Ashtaroth and Edrei, the cities of Og; Golan, the city of refuge, the site of which is still in doubt; and Salecah (Calkhad), the fortress on the ridge of the mountain, marking the extreme eastern limit of Israel’s possessions.

The famous oaks of Bashan (Isa 2:13; Eze 27:6) have their modern representatives on the mountain slopes. It seems strange that in Scripture there is no notice of the wheat crops for which the country is in such repute today. Along with Carmel it stood for the fruitfulness of the land (Isa 33:9 etc.); and their languishing was an evident mark of God’s displeasure (Na 1:4). The "bulls of Bashan" represent blatant and brutal strength (Ps 22:12, etc.). It is long since the lion deserted the plateau (De 33:22); but the leopard is still not unknown among the mountains (So 4:8).

3. History: