, 3.1; J. AJ 16.9
, B. J. 3.3; Plin. Nat. 5.18. s. 16
, J. AJ 13.16
), according to Josephus, a portion of Palestine which extended in a NE. direction from the neighbourhood of the sea of Galilee in the direction of Damascus, having the Syrian desert and Auranitis on its eastern frontier, Ituraea on the S., and Gaulanitis on the W.
It was considered as the northern portion of Peraea (Περαία,
i. e. Πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, Judith,
According to Strabo, it lay between Damascus and. the Arabian mountains (xvi. p. 755); and from other authorities we may gather that it adjoined the province of Batanaea (Joseph. B. J.
1.20.4), and extended between the Regio Decapolitana (Plin. Nat. 5.15
) as far S. as Bostra (Euseb. Onomast. s. v. Ituraea.
) It derived its name from the rough nature of the country (τραχών,
i. e. τραχὺς καὶ πετρώδης τόπος
); and Strabo mentions two τραχῶνες
(xvi. p. 755, 756), which Burckhardt considers to be the summits of two mountain ranges on the road from Mekka
near the village of Al-Kessue.
The inhabitants of Trachonitis are called by Ptolemy, οἱ Τραχῶνιται Ἄραβες
(5.15.26), and they seemed to have maintained their character for remarkable skill in shooting with the bow and plundering (Joseph. B. J.
2.4.2), for which the rocky nature of the country they inhabited, full as it was of clefts, and holes and secret fastnesses, was peculiarly well suited (J. AJ 15.10.1
.) Trachonitis belonged originally to the tetrarchy of Philippus, the son of Herod the [p. 2.1219]
Great (J. AJ 17.8.1
, B. J.
2.6.3); but it subsequently formed part of the dominion of Herodes Agrippa. (J. AJ 18.6.10
, B. J.
3.3.5; Philo, Opp.
ii. p. 593.)
The whole district has been recently explored and examined with much care and judgment by the Rev. J. L. Porter of Damascus, who has shown that the ancient accounts of this province, properly weighed, coincide with remarkable accuracy with what we know of it now.
According to him, it must have been to the NW. of Batanaea, and have extended along the stony tract at the base of the Jebel Haurán,
as Kenath (now Kunawát
) was a city of Trachon (Euseb. Onomast. s. v. Canath
), while the Targums extend it, though improbably, as far S. as Bostra. Mr. Porter observes that the name is sometimes applied in a more general sense by ancient writers, so as to include the neighbouring provinces (as in Luke,
3.1, where the “Region of Trachonitis” must be understood as embracing Batanaea and Auranitis; J. AJ 17.14.4
He thinks, too, that the plain on the western side as far as the Háj
road was embraced in Trachonitis, and likewise that on the north to the Jebel Khiyárah,
with a considerable section of the plain on the east, N. of Ard-al-Bathanyeh.
The Argob of Numb.
34.15, 1 Kings,
4.13, &c., Mr. Porter considers to be the same district as Trachonitis, the latter being the Greek rendering of the Hebrew form. (Porter, Five Years in Damascus,
ii. pp. 259--262, 268--272; Robinson, iii. p. 907; Russegger, iii. p. 279; Winer, Bibl. Realwörterbuch.