Auranitis

That Auranitis took its denomination from Hauran, hardly any one will question, especially that observes Ezekiel 47:16, to be rendered by the Greek interpreters, "which are upon the borders of Auranitis."

Hauran is reckoned up amongst those hills, at the top of which, by lifting up some flaming torches, they were wont to give notice of the new year.

"Where did they hold up those lights? From mount Olivet to Sartaba. And from Sartaba to Gryphena. And from Gryphena to Hauran. And from Hauran to Beth Baltin. And from Beth Baltin, he that held up the light there, did not depart, but waved it hither and thither, up and down, till he saw the lights kindled throughout the whole captivity."

The Gemarist queries, "What is Beth-Baltin? Rabh saith, It is Biram. What is the captivity? Rabh Joseph saith, It is Pombeditha." Gloss: "The sense of it is this: That Biram is in the land of Israel." How! is Biram the same with Beth Baltin, and yet is Biram within the land of Israel? when, in the Jerusalem Gemara, "Rabh Honna saith, When we came hither, we went up to the top of Beth Baltin, and discerned the palm trees in Babylon." If this be true, the geographers are to consider whether there can be any prospect of Babylon from the land of Israel. In their sense it may be true enough, who commonly by the name of Babylon understand all those countries into which the Babylonish captivity were carried; not only Chaldea, but Mesopotamia also, and Assyria. So that bounding the land of Israel with the river Euphrates (which, indeed, the Holy Scriptures themselves do), they make it contiguous with Mesopotamia, the river only between; and they place Beth Baltin not far from the bank on this side the river.

The Gemarists acknowledge that lights were lifted up upon some hills between those which they had mentioned; but these were the most known and celebrated, and therefore they named them only. Now it is probable enough that mount Hauran gave the denomination to the whole country Auranitis, which we are now upon. Perhaps there might be some part of Antilibanus called Hauran, either from the Syriac word Havar, which signifies white; or from the Hebrew word Hor, a cave. It may well enough agree either way, the hill being white with snow, and hollow with the subterranean passages that were there.

However, it is plain enough, from the place in Ezekiel before quoted, that Hauran was situated in the very extreme parts of the land towards the north, and from thence the country, as it had its situation there, so had its name Auranitis. Gul. Tyrius (by what authority I cannot tell) placeth it near the sea of Gennesaret: "The country of Auranitis being suddenly run through, which is by the sea of Tiberias," &c.

And that the river Orontes [springing between Libanus and Antilibanus near Heliopolis, as Pliny hath it] took its name from Hauran, the word itself seems to assure us. Although some, quoted by Eustathius, do apprehend it to be a Latin name. As if 'Orontes' were the same with 'Orientalis,' 'the Eastern.' Orontes was of old called Typhon, as Strabo tells us.