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SHARON (Σαρών: Eth. Σαρωνίτης).


Part of the great western plain of Palestine, distinguished for its fertility, mentioned by the prophet Isaiah with “the glory of Lebanon, and the excellency of Carmel and Sharon.” (Isaiah, 35.2.) “The rose of Sharon” is used proverbially in the Canticles (2.1.) It is remarkable that the name does not occur in either of these passages in the LXX., but in the latter is translated by ἄνθος τοῦ πεδίου, by which appellative Symmachus translates it in the former passage, while Theodotion and Aquila retain the proper name. Its richness as a pasture land is intimated in 1 Chronicles (27.29), where we read that “Shitrai the Sharonite” was overseer of David's “herds that fed in Sharon.” It doubtless derived its name from a village mentioned only in the New Testament (Acts, 9.35) in connection with Lydda, in a manner that intimates its vicinity to that town. Its site has not been recovered in modern times, but it occurred to the writer, on the spot, that it may possibly be represented by the village of Butus (== Peter), on the north of the road between Lydda and Bethoron, and may have changed its name in honour of the Apostle, and in commemoration of the miracle wrought by him. S. Jerome in his commentaries limits the name to the district about Joppa, Lydda, and Iamnia (ad Ies. xxxiii. lxv.) Eusebius calls the district Saronas (Σαρωνάς), and extends it from Joppa to Caesareia (of Palestine); while other writers reckon to it the whole of the coast north of Caesareia, as far as Carmel. (Onomast. sub voce.) The width of the plain about Jaffa is little less than 18 miles, and the luxuriance of its soil is still attested by the numerous wild flowers with which it is carpeted in the spring,--roses, lilies, tulips, narcissus, anemones, carnations, and a thousand others, no less than by the abundant vegetation and increase where the land is cul tivated as garden or corn land. (Ritter, Palästina, &c. vol. iii. part i. pp. 25, 586--588.) Reland has shown that the classical name for this fruitful district was δρυμός, which Strabo joins with Carmel, as then in the power of the pirates who had Joppa for their port (16.2.28, p. 759). Reland suggests an ingenious account of this synonym, which appears also in Josephus (who does not use the Scripture name) in connection with Carmel, in a manner that clearly points to the district described by Strabo under the same name. In one passage the name is used in the plural (Δρυμοὶ δὲ τὸ χωρίον καλεῖται, Ant. 14.13.3); in the parallel passage it is singular (ἐπὶ τὸ καλούμενον Δρυμόν, Bell. Jud. 1.13.2). Now δρυμός, according to ancient etymologists, signified any kind of wood, and, as Ritter remarks, the traces of the forests of Sharon are still to be discovered in the vicinity of Carmel; but according to Pliny the Sinus Saronicus derived its name from an oak grove, “ita Graecia antiqua appellante quercum.” (H. N. 4.5. s. 9.) The very probable conjecture of Reland therefore is that Δρυμός is simply a translation of Saron or Sarona, for according to the Etymologicum Magnum Σαρωνίδες αἱ κοῖλαι δρύες (ad voc. Σαρούμενος).


Eusebius and St. Jerome recognise another Sharon, to which they apply the prophecy of Isaiah (33.9), “Sharon is like a wilderness” (ἕλη ἐγένετο Σάρων, LXX.), which they refer to the [p. 2.973]country between Tabor and the sea of Tiberias (Onomast. s. v.) But as the name is here introduced in connection with Lebanon and Carmel,--Bashan being also introduced,--and as no other notice of a Galilaean Sharon is to be met with, it seems more reasonable to refer the notice in Isaiah to the plain of Sharon on the west coast.


There was certainly another Sharon beyond Jordan, apparently near the region of Gilead, for the children of Abihail, of the tribe of Gad, are said to have “dwelt in Gilead in Bashan, and in her towns, and in all the suburbs of Sharon” (1 Chron. v. 16); and it is possible that “the herds that fed in Sharon,” under charge of David's chief herdsman, Shitrai the Sharonite, may have pastured in this trans-Jordanic district, not in the plain of the Mediterranean. Reland indeed maintains that the mention of the suburbs of Sharon in connection with the Gadites, is no proof of the existence of a trans-Jordanic Sharon, for that, as the tribe of Gad was specially addicted to pastoral pursuits, they may have pastured their flocks in the suburbs of the towns of other and distant tribes. But this hypothesis seems much more forced than the very natural theory of a second Sharon in the tribe of Gad properly so called. (Palaestina, pp. 370, 371, 988.) [G.W]

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