[b-hebrew] Seir

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri May 14 14:21:38 EDT 2010

You wrote:  “There were records as late as the iron age that there were 
still forests in the Negev south of the Dead Sea, so we cannot take the modern 
lack of forests as indicating a different place when other clues point to 
the south.”
Can you cite any solid support for that oft-repeated view of yours?  For my 
part, I am relying here on the map at p. 33 of the “Oxford Bible Atlas” 
(2007), titled “Vegetation in Biblical Times”.  The “well-wooded” parts of 
greater Palestine are shown in dark green on that map.  To the west of the 
Jordan River, the well-wooded area starts just southwest of Jerusalem, and 
covers much of Canaan and southern Lebanon.  To the east of the Jordan River, 
there is a fairly narrow north-south band of well-wooded area, being the hill 
country of Gilead north of the Dead Sea, that includes Seir/Jazer.  There 
is a little “dry forest” to the east of that, and also to the east of the 
Dead Sea.  (A “dry forest” means an area where trees grow but there is a 
long, dry summer, which limits the types of trees that will thrive in that 
environment.  Larger, wider trees usually occur in a true “forest”, not in a “
dry forest”.)  Moving farther east, or moving south of the north end of the 
Dead Sea, we see mostly “scrub and grassland” or “desert”.
Interestingly, the Negev has significant variations (per the map), 
including “scrub and grassland”, “desert”, “sand dunes”, a small area of “dry 
forest”, and some prominent “oases” on the southeast edge of the Dead Sea.
According to that map, the only “well-wooded” places in greater Palestine 
in Biblical times are the dark green areas, which (somewhat to my surprise) 
seem to cover about half of the map.  But once one gets south of the north 
end of the Dead Sea, on the east side of the Dead Sea and points south, there 
is no dark green area at all, meaning no “forest” in Biblical times.
The map is very clear that much of the Negev was not a true desert.  I 
agree with that.  But the map is equally clear that there was no “well-wooded” 
area of “forest” south of the Dead Sea in Biblical times.
I know that there were trees south of the Dead Sea in Biblical times.  But 
based on what I have seen, there never was a “well-wooded” area of “forest”
 south of the Dead Sea.  For that, one must go up north to Gilead, which is 
where the city and district of Seir/Jazer were located, in the western 
Transjordan north of the Dead Sea.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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