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GOLAN (gō'lăn, Heb. gôlān). A city in the territory of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, east of the Jordan. It was one of the three cities of refuge and was assigned to the Gershonite Levites (Deut.4.43). Probably an important city in its day, it was destroyed by Alexander Janneus after his army had been ambushed there. The site cannot definitely be identified, but the archaeologist Schumacher believes it was seventeen miles (twenty-eight km.) east of the Sea of Galilee, in present Syria, located in Gaulanitis, one of the four provinces into which Bashan was divided after the Babylonian captivity. It is a fertile plateau, 1,000-3,000 feet (312-937 m.) in elevation.

GOLAN gō’ lən (גּוֹלָ֤ן, perhaps meaning round). A city assigned to Manasseh in Bashan. It was a Levitical city given to the Gershonites (Josh 21:27; 1 Chron 6:71) and had been chosen by Moses as one of three places of refuge E of the Jordan (Deut 4:43; Josh 20:8). It was located in the N, although the exact site is still undetermined. Josephus describes the district of Gaulanitis in Bashan as a fertile area containing a large population. Golan was the scene of both defeat and later, victory for Alexander (Jos. Antiq. XIII, xiii. 5). It belonged to the tetrarchy of Philip.

Eusebius notes that Gaulan or Golan was a large village whose name became attached to the adjoining country. Most prob. it corresponds to modern Jaulan, an area bounded by Mt. Hermon on the NE, the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee on the W, and the Jarmuk on the S. The excellent site of Sahem el-Jolan, four miles E of the river el-’Allan may well mark the ancient city of Golan.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(golan), (Gaulanitis): Golan was a city in the territory allotted to Manasseh in Bashan, the most northerly of the three cities of refuge East of the Jordan (De 4:43; Jos 20:8); assigned with its "suburbs" to the Gershonite Levites (Jos 21:27; 1Ch 6:71). It must have been a great and important city in its day; but the site cannot now be determined with any certainty. It was known to Josephus (Ant., XIII, xv, 3). Near Golan Alexander was ambushed by Obodas, king of the Arabians; and his army, crowded together in a narrow and deep valley, was broken in pieces by the multitude of camels (BJ, I, iv, 4). This incident is located at Gadara in Ant, XIII, xiii, 5. Later, Golan was destroyed by Alexander. It had already given its name to a large district, Gaulonitis (BJ, III, iii, 1, 5; IV, i, 1). It formed the eastern boundary of Galilee. It was part of the tetrarchy of Philip (Ant., XVII, viii, 1; XVIII, iv, 6). The city was known to Eusebius as "a large village," giving its name to the surrounding country (Onomasticon, under the word Gaulon). This country must have corresponded roughly with the modern Jaulan, in which the ancient name is preserved. The boundaries of the province today are Mt. Hermon on the North, Jordan and the Sea of Galilee on the West, Wady Yarmuk on the South, and Nahr `Allan on the East. This plateau, which in the North is about 3,000 ft. high, slopes gradually southward to a height of about 1,000 ft. It is entirely volcanic, and there are many cone-like peaks of extinct volcanoes, especially toward the North It affords good pasturage, and has long been a favorite summer grazing-ground of the nomads. Traces of ancient forests remain, but for the most part today it is treeless. To the East of the Sea of Galilee the soil is deep and rich. Splendid crops of wheat are grown here, and olives flourish in the hollows. The country is furrowed by deep valleys that carry the water southwestward into the Sea of Galilee. This region has not yet been subjected to thorough examination, but many important ruins have been found, which tell of a plentiful and prosperous population in times long past. The best description of these, and of the region generally, will be found in Schumacher’s The Jaulan, and Across the Jordan. To him also we owe the excellent maps which carry us eastward to the province of el-Chauran.

Schumacher inclines to the belief that the ancient Golan may be represented by Sahm el-Jaulan, a large village fully 4 miles East of Nahr `Allan, and 4 miles Southeast of Tsil. The extensive ruins probably date from early in the Christian era. The buildings are of stone, many of them of Spacious dimensions, while the streets are wide and straight. The inhabitants number not more than 280. The surrounding soil is rich and well watered, bearing excellent crops. The present writer, after personal examination, corroborates Dr. Schumacher’s description. Standing in the open country, it would be seen from afar; and it was easily accessible from all directions.