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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Ki´shon, a river which, after traversing the plain of Acre, enters the bay of the same name at its south-east corner. It is celebrated in Scripture for the overthrow of the host of Sisera in its overflowing stream (; ). It has been usual to trace the source of this river to Mount Tabor; but Dr Shaw affirms that in traveling along the south-eastern brow of Mount Carmel, he had an opportunity of seeing the sources of the river Kishon, three or four of which lie within less than a furlong of each other, and are called Ras el-Kishon, or the head of the Kishon. These alone, without the lesser contributions near the sea, discharge water enough to form a river half as large as the Isis. During the rainy season all the waters which fall upon the eastern side of Carmel, or upon the rising grounds to the southward, empty themselves into it in a number of torrents, at which time it overflows its banks, acquires a wonderful rapidity, and carries all before it. It was doubtless in such a season that the host of Sisera was swept away, in attempting to ford it. But such inundations are only occasional, and of short duration, as is indeed implied in the destruction in its waters of the fugitives, who doubtless expected to pass it safely.

The course of the stream, as estimated from the sources thus indicated, is not more than seven miles. It runs very briskly till within half a league of the sea; but when not augmented by rains, it never falls into the sea in a full stream, but insensibly percolates through a bank of sand, which, the north winds have thrown up at its mouth. It was in this state that Shaw himself found it in the month of April, 1722, when it was crossed by him.

Notwithstanding Shaw's contradiction, the assertion that the Kishon derives its source from Mount Tabor has been repeated by modern travelers as confidently as by their ancient predecessors. We have had opportunities of seeing much of streams similarly constituted; and it does not seem to us difficult to reconcile the seemingly conflicting statements with reference to the Kishon. On further inquiry, and more extensive comparison of observations made at different time of the year, it will probably be found that the remoter source of the river is really in Mount Tabor; but that the supply from this source is cut off in early summer, when it ceases to be maintained by rains or contributory torrents; whereas the copious supply from the nearer springs at Ras el-Kishon, with other springs lower down, keep it up from that point, as a perennial stream, even during the drought of summer. Thus during one part of the year the source of the river may appear to be in Mount Tabor, while during another part the source of the diminished stream is at Ras el-Kishon.

The Scriptural account of the overthrow of Sisera's host manifestly shows that the stream crossed the plain, and must have been of considerable size.

The transaction of the prophet Elijah, who, after his sacrifice on Carmel, commanded the priests of Baal to be slain at the river Kishon (), requires no explanation, seeing that it took place at the perennial lower stream. This also explains, what has sometimes been asked, whence, in that time of drought, the water was obtained with which the prophet inundated his altar and sacrifice.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Kishon'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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