Hauran

HAURAN (ha'ū-ran, Heb. hawrān, probably black or black land). The modern name of a great plain situated on a plateau 2,000 feet (625 m.) high east of the Jordan River and north of the land of Gilead. In ancient times it was called Bashan. Its soil is of volcanic origin and is very rich, making the region famous for its wheat crops. The name Hauran is mentioned only by Ezekiel in his description of the boundaries of the land of Israel in the millennial age (Ezek.47.16, Ezek.47.18).

The Israelites never had a very great hold on this area. Its openness to the east made it a frequent prey to robbers from the desert. Under the Romans Herod ruled over it as part of his realm, and he greatly encouraged settlement by stopping the robber raids. It was then known as Auranitis. Christianity flourished there from the second century a.d. until the seventh century, when it was overthrown by the Muslims. Today Hauran is an integral part of Syria.


HAURAN hôr’ ən (חַוְרָֽן; LXX Αὐρανίτις). A district SE of Mt. Hermon, E of the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee, and N of the Yarmuk River. It is about fifty m. square and about 2,000 ft. above sea level. It was called Bashan in OT times, Hauran in later centuries, Auranitis in the Greco-Roman period, and is Hauran again in modern times.

There are numerous signs of volcanic action in the area, and the many extinct volcanoes on the E and W sides of the plateau give evidence of extensive volcanic activity in prehistoric times. The fertility of the rich lava soil has made it a great grain-growing area, providing wheat for Damascus and Palestine. The district abounds in ruined cities dating back to the early Christian centuries, and everywhere there may be seen abandoned houses built entirely of black basalt. Hauran is almost treeless.

The name appears only in Ezekiel 47:16, 18, where it is mentioned as the ideal border of Canaan on the E. The name occurs also in Egyp. texts of the 19th dynasty and in ancient inscrs. of Assyria, but not much is known about the history of Hauran beyond the 1st cent. b.c. The tribe of Manasseh settled both N and S of the Yarmuk; but in later times there were comparatively few Israelites in the land. Solomon taxed the region, but it was seldom mastered by Israelite rulers. Alexander Jannaeus gained control of the W part, but the Nabateans repeatedly brought it under their sway. Herod the Great included the whole of the land in his kingdom; and when he died his son Philip ruled it as a separate tetrarchy (Luke 3:1), although it was not really Jewish. After Philip’s death Caligula bestowed it upon Herod Agrippa I, who ruled it until his death in a.d. 44, after which for nine years it was administered by the Romans. Claudius then gave it to Herod Agrippa II, and after his death in a.d. 106 Trajan added it to the Rom. province of Syria. Under the Romans Christianity made rapid progress, but in a.d. 632 the Moslem hordes from Arabia swept through the land and utterly destroyed the church.

Bibliography

G. A. Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (13th ed. 1907), 609-638.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(chawran; Septuagint Auranitis, also with aspirate):

1. Extent of Province in Ancient Times:

A province of Eastern Palestine which, in Eze 47:16,18, stretched from Da in the North to Gilead in the South, including all that lay between the Jordan and the desert. It thus covered the districts now known as el-Jedur, el-Jaulan, and el-Chauran. It corresponded roughly with the jurisdiction of the modern Turkish governor of Hauran. The Auranites of later times answered more closely to the Hauran of today.

2. Modern Hauran:

The name Chauran probably means "hollow land." Between Jebel ed-Druze (see Bashan (MOUNT OF) on the East, and Jedua and Jaulan (see Golan) on the West, runs a broad vale, from Jebel el `Aswad in the North, to the Yarmuk in the Southwest, and the open desert in the Southeast. It is from 1,500 to 2,000 ft. above sea-level, and almost 50 miles in length, by 45 in breadth. Chauran aptly describes it. To the modern Chauran are reckoned 3 districts, clearly distinguished in local speech:

3. En-Nuqrah:

(1) En-Nuqrah, "the cavity." This district touches the desert in the Southeast, the low range of ez Zumleh on the Southwest, Jaulan on the West, el-Leja’ on the North and, Jebel ed-Druze on the East. The soil, composed of volcanic detritus, is extraordinarily rich. Here and there may be found a bank of vines; but the country is practically treeless: the characteristic product is wheat, and in its cultivation the village population is almost wholly occupied.

4. El-Leja’:

(2) El-Leja’, "the asylum." This is a rocky tract lying to the North of en-Nuqrah. It is entirely volcanic, and takes, roughly, the form of a triangle, with apex in the North at el Burak, and a base of almost 20 miles in the South. For the general characteristics of this district see Trachonitis. Its sharply marked border, where the rocky edges fall into the surrounding plain, have suggested to some the thought that here we have chebhel ’argobh, "the measured lot of Argob." See, however, ARGOB. There is little land capable of cultivation, and the Arabs who occupy the greater part have an evil reputation. As a refuge for the hunted and for fugitives from justice it well deserves its name.

5. El-Jebel:

(3) El-Jebel, "the mountain." This is the great volcanic range which stands on the edge of the desert, protecting the fertile reaches of el-Chauran from encroachment by the sand, known at different times as Mons Asaldamus, Jebel Chauran, and Jebel ed-Druze. This last is the name it bears today in consequence of the settlement of Druzes here, after the massacre in Mt. Lebanon in 1860. Those free-spirited people have been a thorn in the side of the Turks ever since: and whether or not the recent operations against them (January, 1911) will result in their entire, subjugation, remains to be seen. The western slopes of the mountain are well cultivated, and very fruitful; vineyards abound; and there are large reaches of shady woodlands. Calkhad, marking the eastern boundary of the land of Israel, stands on the ridge of the mountain to the South Jebel el-Kuleib in which the range culminates, reaches a height of 5,730 ft. Jebel Chauran is named in the Mishna (Rosh ha-shanah, ii.4) as one of the heights from which fire-signals were flashed, announcing the advent of the new year. For its history see nodetitle. The ruins which are so plentiful in the country date for the most part from the early Christian centuries; and probably nothing above ground is older than the Roman period. The substructions, however, and the subterranean dwellings found in different parts, e.g. at Der`ah, may be very ancient. The latest mention of a Christian building is in an inscription found by the present writer at el-Kufr, which tells of the foundation of a church in 720 AD (PEFS, July, 1895, p. 275, Inscr number 150). A good account of Hauran and its cities is given in HGHL, XXIX, 611.