1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jezreel

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JEZREEL (Heb. “God sows”), the capital of the Israelite monarchy under Ahab, and the scene of stirring Biblical events (1 Sam. xxix. 1; 1 Kings xxi.; 2 Kings ix. 21-37). The name was also applied to the great plain (Esdraelon) dominated by the city (“valley of Jezreel,” Josh. xvii. 16, &c.). The site has never been lost, and the present village Zercīn retains the name radically unchanged. In Greek (e.g. Judith) the name appears under the form Ἐσδραηλά; it is Stradela in the Bordeaux Pilgrim, and to the Crusaders the place was known as Parvum Gerinum. The modern stone village stands on a bare rocky knoll, 500 ft. above the broad northern valley, at the north extremity of a long ledge, terminating in steep cliffs, forming part of the chain of Mt Gilboa. The buildings are modern, but some scanty remains of rock-hewn wine presses and a few scattered sarcophagi mark the antiquity of the site. The view over the plains is fine and extensive. It is vain now to look for Ahab's palace or Naboth's vinyard. The fountain mentioned in 1 Sam. xxix. 1 is perhaps the fine spring ‘Ain el Meiyyita, north of the village, a shallow pool of good water full of small fish, rising between black basalt boulders: or more probably the copious ‘Ain Jalūd.

A second city named Jezreel lay in the hill country of Judah, somewhere near Hebron (Josh. xv. 56). This was the native place of David's wife Abinoam (1 Sam. xxv. 43).

See, for an excellent description of the scenery and history of the Israelite Jezreel, G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog. xix.