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SAMACHONI´TIS LACUS (Σαμαχωνῖτις λίμνη al. Σεμεχωνῖτις), the name given by Josephus to the small lake of the Upper Jordan, called in Scripture the “waters of Merom,” where Joshua routed the army of Jabin, king of Hazor, which city, according to Josephus, was situated above the lake. (Comp. Josh. 11.5, 7, and Judg. iv. with Josephus, J. AJ 5.5.1.) He elsewhere describes the lake as 60 stadia long by 30 broad, extending its marshes to a place called Daphne, which Reland is probably right in altering to Dane, i. e. Dan, as Josephus immediately identifies it with the temple of the Golden Calf. (Joseph. B. J. 4.1.1; Reland, Palaest. p. 263.) The name, which is not elsewhere found; has been variously derived, but the most probable etymology would connect it in sense with the Hebrew name Merom == aquae superiores, deriving the word from the Arabic “samaca,” altus fuit. (Reland, l.c. p. 262.) It is singular that no other notices occur of this lake in sacred or in other writings. Its modern name is Bahr-el-Huleh. Pococke writes: “Josephus says the lake was 7 miles long, but it is not above 2 miles broad, except at the north end, where it may be about 4. The waters are muddy and esteemed unwholesome, having something of the nature of the water of a morass.” (Observations on Palaestine, vol. ii. p. 73.) Dr. Robinson “estimated its length at about 2 hours, or from 4 to 5 geographical miles; its breadth at the northern end is probably not less than 4 miles.” It had the appearance almost of a triangle, the northern part being far the broadest; “or rather the map gives to it in some degree the shape of a pear.” (Bibl. Res. vol. iii. pp. 339, 340, Biblioth. Sacr. vol. i. p. 12; Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 383, n. 1.)


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    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 5.5.1
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