Hill, Hill Country

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.

גִּבְעָה֒, H1496. This is a very common word for “hill,” referring to elevated terrain in general, although never to a range of mountains, and often to the hills on which the Canaanites conducted their pagan rites (Deut 12:2; 1 Kings 14:23). Frequently it is used with the name of a person with whom it is particularly identified, as Gibeah of Saul (1 Sam 11:4; 15:34), Gibeah of Phinehas (Josh 24:33mg.), Gibeah of Benjamin (1 Sam 13:16).


עֹ֫פֶל֮, 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).