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SHARON (shăr'ŭn, Heb. shārôn, plain)

The coastal plain between Joppa and Mount Carmel, a place proverbial in ancient times for its fertility, pasturage, and beauty (1Chr.27.29; Song.2.1; Isa.35.2); the location of such towns as Dor, Lydda (Acts.9.35), Joppa, Caesarea, and Antipatris.The suburban pasturelands of Sharon possessed by the tribe of Gad (1Chr.5.16).Figuratively, it may mean (1) a person’s state of regeneracy—of fruitfulness and glory (Isa.35.2) or (2) a person’s eternal state—of peace forevermore (Isa.65.10, Isa.65.17).

SHARON shăr’ un (שָׁרֹ֑ון; Gr. Σαρών, Σαρω̂να). KJV SARON. 1. Hash-shārôn, “the plain” or level place. It is the largest of the coastal plains of northern Pal. from the Crocodile River in the N to the Valley of Aijalon and Joppa in the S, a distance of about fifty m. It has a variable width of nine to ten m. The relief is of Quaternary and Pleistocene origin, largely determined by ancient shorelines, sand dune deposits and the weathering of red sands that give a brilliant hue to much of its soil cover. The sand dunes, some of fossil character, tend to choke or divert the lower courses of the rivers, so that swampy conditions have tended to prevail in the past along the coast and valleys. The false bedded character of much of the surface geology and the encircling karstic nature of the hills to the interior explain the rich variety of aquifers and sources of subsurface water supply.

The red Quaternary sands that form a continuous belt for some twenty m. in the N in undulating relief that rises to 180 ft. above sea level, were thickly covered with oaks, prob. Quercus infectoria (Isa 35:2). With deforestation in Biblical times, there was extensive pasturage (1 Chron 5:16; Isa 65:10). It was here where Shitrai supervised the flocks of King David (1 Chron 27:29). The “excellency” of Sharon, like the “pride” of Jordan (Jer 12:5) suggests the dense vegetation originally associated with the whole plain. Its rich soil now utilized extensively under irrigation for citrus groves and other commercial farming, formerly yielded beautiful covers of wild flowers. The “rose of Sharon” Song of Solomon has been variously identified with Anemone fulgens, Cistus, Colchicum autumnale and Narcissus tazetta, or some other bulbous plant such as Tulipa sharonensis, which is the most likely candidate. The modern “rose of Sharon” (Hibiscus syriacus L.) is in fact native of China, not Syria.

In Canaanite times, the chief town of Sharon was Dor (Josh 11:2; 12:23; 1 Kings 4:11). It was at first one of the unconquered Canaanite cities within the border of Manasseh, impregnable because of its strong fortifications and use of chariots of iron (Josh 17:18; Judg 1:19 et al.). Later in Solomon’s time, Dor was a fiscal district on the Carmel coast. Later in Assyrian times, Dor was capital of an extended coastal province between Carmel and Aphek, that reflected the strategic importance of the “way of the sea,” the coast road between Egypt and Syria (Isa 9:1). Later the district appears to have become subservient to an extended province of Samaria.

Joppa was also a walled town in Canaanite Sharon, fortified at least as early as the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1490-1435 b.c.), who mentions it. At the division of the land it was allotted theoretically to the tribe of Dan (Josh 19:46), but it did not come under Israelite control until David gained effective occupancy of the coast. Then Hiram of Tyre floated his timber from the forests of Lebanon to the seaport of Joppa for the building of the Temple at Jerusalem (2 Chron 2:16); likewise at the rebuilding of the Temple in the time of Cyrus, Joppa was the import center (Ezra 3:7).

In NT times the capital of the whole Rom. province of Judea was built by Augustus at Caesarea midway on the Sharon coast. Its port became a major Mediterranean harbor. The city was the Rom. showpiece of its culture in the Near E. It figures prominently in the early contacts between the apostles and the Gentiles (Acts 10:1, 24; 11:11; 18:22; 21:8; 23:23-35; 25:13).

2. Another Sharon (Saronas) is mentioned in Joshua 12:18, which may be the Sharon referred to by Jerome and Eusebius as lying between Mount Tabor and Tiberias.

3. Sharon is referred to as a pasture district E of the Jordan (1 Chron 5:16). These are referred to as among the possessions of God, along with Gilead and Bashan. Some think Sharon here may be a corruption of Sirion, the pasture lands of Hermon. Others believe it may be the mīshōr or plateau of Gilead between Heshbon and the Arnon Valley (Deut 3:10). See Joppa.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(ha-sharon, with the definite article possibly meaning "the plain"; to pedion, ho drumos, ho Saron):

(1) This name is attached to the strip of fairly level land which runs between the mountains and the shore of the Mediterranean, stretching from Nahr Ruben in the South to Mt. Carmel in the North. There are considerable rolling hills; but, compared with the mountains to the East, it is quite properly described as a plain. The soil is a deep rich loam, which is favorable to the growth of cereals. The orange, the vine and the olive grow to great perfection. When the many-colored flowers are in bloom it is a scene of rare beauty.

Of the streams in the plain four carry the bulk of the water from the western slopes of the mountains to the sea. They are also perennial, being fed by fountains. Nahr el-`Aujeh enters the sea to the North of Jaffa; Nahr Iskanderuneh 7 miles, and Nahr el-Mefjir fully 2 miles South of Caesarea; and Nahr ez-Zerqa, the "Crocodile River," 2 1/2 miles North of Caesarea. Nahr el-Falik runs its short course about 12 miles North of Nahr el-`Aujeh. Water is plentiful, and at almost any point it may be obtained by digging. Deep, finely built wells near some of the villages are among the most precious legacies left by the Crusaders. The breadth of the plain varies from 8 to 12 miles, being broadest in the Sharon. There are traces of a great forest in the northern part, which accounts for the use of the term drumos. Josephus (Ant., XIV, xiii, 3) speaks of "the woods" (hoi drumoi) and Strabo (xvi) of "a great wood." There is still a considerable oak wood in this district. The "excellency" of Carmel and Sharon (Isa 35:2) is probably an allusion to the luxuriant oak forests. As in ancient times, great breadths are given up to the pasturing of cattle. Over David’s herds that fed in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite (1Ch 27:29). In the day of Israel’s restoration "Sharon shall be a fold of flocks" (Isa 65:10). Jerome speaks of the fine cattle fed in the pastures of Sharon, and also sings the praises of its wine (Comm. on Isa 33 and 65). Toward the Sharon no doubt there was more cultivation then than there is at the present day. The German colony to the North of Jaffa, preserving in its name, Sarona, the old Greek name of the plain, and several Jewish colonies are proving the wonderful productiveness of the soil. The orange groves of Jaffa are far-famed.

"The rose of Sharon" (So 2:1) is a mistranslation: chabhatstseleth is not a "rose," but the white narcissus, which in season abounds in the plain.

Sharon is mentioned in the New Testament only in Ac 9:35.

(2) A district East of the Jordan, occupied by the tribe of Gad (1Ch 5:16; here the name is without the article). Kittel ("Ch," SBOT) suggests that this is a corruption from "Sirion," which again is synonymous with Hermon. He would therefore identify Sharon with the pasture lands of Hermon. Others think that the mishor or table-land of Gilead is intended.

(3) In Jos 12:18 we should perhaps read "the king of Aphek in Sharon." See Lassharon. The order seems to point to some place Northeast of Tabor. Perhaps this is to be identified with the Sarona of Eusebius, Onomasticon, in the district between Tabor and Tiberias. If so, the name may be preserved in that of Sarona on the plateau to the Southwest of Tiberias.