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HILL, HILL COUNTRY. The word “hill” in the Bible may refer to any natural raised part of the earth’s surface, but usually smaller than a mountain. Only familiarity with the geography of Pal. will enable the reader to know what sort of eminence is meant. The Heb. and Gr. words rendered “mount” or “mountain” in the KJV are usually tr. “hill” in the RSV. Natural land elevations in Pal. are seldom more than 3,000 ft. high, and therefore what the Bible writers call mountains may in some other parts of the world be regarded as nothing more than high hills. Moving eastward from the Mediterranean, Pal. is divided into four main geographical divisions: the maritime plain along the Mediterranean; the shephelah, or hill country; the Jordan valley; and the Trans-Jordan plateau. Most of the country is hilly and mountainous.

The following words are used for “hill” in the Bible.

עֹ֫פֶל, H6755. The exact meaning is uncertain, but it prob. refers to a natural hill (2 Kings 5:24; Isa 32:14; Micah 4:8).

βουνός, G1090. Used as a general word for hill (Luke 3:5; 23:30).

ὄρος, G4001. Matthew 5:14 (any hill), Luke 4:29 (the hill of Nazareth), Luke 9:37 (RSV has “mountain”) (referring to the mount of Transfiguration).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

1. Names:

(2) The Greek oros, is perhaps etymologically akin to har. It occurs often in the New Testament, and is usually translated "mount" or "mountain." In three places (Mt 5:14; Lu 4:29; 9:37) the King James Version has hill, which the Revised Version (British and American) retains, except in Lu 9:37, "when they were come down from the mountain" (of the transfiguration). The derivative oreinos, "hill country," occurs in Lu 1:39,65.

(3) The common Hebrew word for "hill" is gibh`ah = Gibeah (Jud 19:12); compare Geba, gebha` (1Sa 13:3); Gibeon, gib`on (Jos 9:3), from root gabha`, "to be high"; compare Arabic qubbeh, "dome"; Latin caput; kephale.

(4) In 1Sa 9:11, the King James Version has "hill" for ma`aleh, root ’alah, "to ascend"; compare Arabic `ala’, "to be high," and `ali, "high." Here and elsewhere the Revised Version (British and American) has "ascent."

(5) English Versions of the Bible has "hill" in Isa 5 for qeren, "horn"; compare Arabic qarn, "horn," which is also used for a mountain peak.

(6) Tur, is translated "mountain" in Da 2:35,45, but the Revised Version margin "rock" in Da 2:35. The Arabic tur, "mountain," is especially used with Sinai, jebel tur sina’.

(7) mutstsabh (Isa 29:3), is translated in the King James Version "mount" in the English Revised Version "fort," in the American Standard Revised Version "posted troops"; compare matstsabh, "garrison" (1Sa 14:1, etc.), from root natsabh, "to set"; compare Arabic nacab, "to set."

(8) colelah, from calal, "to raise," is in the King James Version and the English Revised Version "mount," the King James Version margin "engine of shot," the American Standard Revised Version "mound" (Jer 32:24; 33:4; Eze 4:2; 17; 21:22; 26:8; Da 11:15).

2. Figurative and Descriptive:

3. Particular Mountains: