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Hill; Mount; Mountain


1. Names:

(1) The commonest word is har (also harar, and herer), which is rendered "hill," "mount" or "mountain." It occurs several hundreds of times. In a number of places the Revised Version (British and American) changes "hill" to "mountain," e.g. Genesis 7:19, mountains covered by flood; Exodus 24:4, Horeb; Joshua 18:14, mountain before Beth-horon:

Judges 16:3, mountain before Hebron; Psalms 95:4, "The heights of the mountains are his also"; 121:1, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains." "Hill" remains in Deuteronomy 11:11, "land of hills and valleys"; 1 Kings 20:23, "god of the hills"; Psalms 2:6, "my holy hill of Zion": 98:8, "hills sing for joy." "Mount" is changed "hill-country" in Deuteronomy 1:7, "hill-country of the Amorites"; Judges 12:15, "hill-country of the Amalekites"; Deuteronomy 3:12, "hill-country of Gilead"; but Genesis 3:21, "mountain of Gilead"; and Judges 7:3, "Mount Gilead." "Hill" or "hills" is changed to "hill-country" in Deuteronomy 1:7; Joshua 9:1; 10:40; 11:16; 17:16; 21:11. In Deuteronomy 1:41,43, the American Standard Revised Version changes "hill" to "hill-country," while the English Revised Version has "mountain." The reasons for these differences of treatment are not in all cases apparent.

(2) The Greek oros, is perhaps etymologically akin to har. It occurs often in the New Testament, and is usually translated "mount" or "mountain." In three places (Matthew 5:14; Luke 4:29; 9:37) the King James Version has hill, which the Revised Version (British and American) retains, except in Luke 9:37, "when they were come down from the mountain" (of the transfiguration). The derivative oreinos, "hill country," occurs in Luke 1:39,65.

(3) The common Hebrew word for "hill" is gibh`ah = Gibeah (Judges 19:12); compare Geba, gebha` (1 Samuel 13:3); Gibeon, gib`on (Joshua 9:3), from root gabha`, "to be high"; compare Arabic qubbeh, "dome"; Latin caput; kephale.

(4) In 1 Samuel 9:11, the King James Version has "hill" for ma`aleh, root 'alah, "to ascend"; compare Arabic `ala', "to be high," and `ali, "high." Here and elsewhere the Revised Version (British and American) has "ascent."

(5) English Versions of the Bible has "hill" in Isaiah 5 for qeren, "horn"; compare Arabic qarn, "horn," which is also used for a mountain peak.

(6) Tur, is translated "mountain" in Daniel 2:35,45, but the Revised Version margin "rock" in Daniel 2:35. The Arabic tur, "mountain," is especially used with Sinai, jebel tur sina'.

(7) mutstsabh (Isaiah 29:3), is translated in the King James Version "mount" in the English Revised Version "fort," in the American Standard Revised Version "posted troops"; compare matstsabh, "garrison" (1 Samuel 14:1, etc.), from root natsabh, "to set"; compare Arabic nacab, "to set."

(8) colelah, from calal, "to raise," is in the King James Version and the English Revised Version "mount," the King James Version margin "engine of shot," the American Standard Revised Version "mound" (Jeremiah 32:24; 33:4; Ezekiel 4:2; 17; 21:22; 26:8; Daniel 11:15).

2. Figurative and Descriptive:

The mountains and hills of Palestine are the features of the country, and were much in the thoughts of the Biblical writers. Their general aspect is that of vast expanses of rock. As compared with better-watered regions Descriptive of the earth, the verdure is sparse and incidental. Snow remains throughout the year on Hermon and the two highest peaks of Lebanon, although in the summer it is in great isolated drifts which are not usually visible from below. In Palestine proper, there are no snow mountains. Most of the valleys are dry wadies, and the roads often follow these wadies, which are to the traveler veritable ovens. It is when he reaches a commanding height and sees the peaks and ridges stretching away one after the other, with perhaps, through some opening to the West, a gleam of the sea like molten metal, that he thinks of the vastness and enduring strength of the mountains. At sunset the rosy lights are succeeded by the cool purple shadows that gradually fade into cold gray, and the traveler is glad of the shelter of his tent. The stars come out, and there is no sound outside the camp except perhaps the cries of jackals or the barking of some goat-herd's dog. These mountains are apt to repel the casual traveler by their bareness. They have no great forests on their slopes. Steep and rugged peaks like those of the Alps are entirely absent. There are no snow peaks or glaciers. There are, it is true, cliffs and crags, but the general outlines are not striking. Nevertheless, these mountains and hills have a great charm for those who have come to know them. To the Biblical writers they are symbols of eternity (Genesis 49:26; Deuteronomy 33:15; Job 15:7; Habakkuk 3:6). They are strong and steadfast, but they too are the creation of God, and they manifest His power (Psalms 18:7; 97:5; Isaiah 40:12; 41:15; 54:10; Jeremiah 4:24; Nahum 1:5; Habakkuk 3:6). The hills were places of heathen sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:2; 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 16:4; 17:10; Ezekiel 6:13; Hosea 4:13), and also of sacrifice to Yahweh (Genesis 22:2; 31:54; Joshua 8:30). Zion is the hill of the Lord (Psalms 2:6; 135:21; Isaiah 8:18; Joel 3:21; Micah 4:2).

3. Particular Mountains:

Many proper names are associated with the mountains and hills:

as Abarim, Amalekites, Ammah, Amorites, Ararat, Baalah, Baal-hermon, Bashan, Beth-el, Bether, Carmel, Chesalon, Ebal, Ephraim, Ephron, Esau, Gaash, Gareb, Geba, Gerizim, Gibeah, Gibeon, Gilboa, Gilead, Hachilah, Halak, Hebron, Heres, Hermon, Hor, Horeb, Jearim, Judah, Lebanon, Mizar, Moreh, Moriah, Naphtali, Nebo, Olives, Olivet, Paran, Perazim, Pisgah, Samaria, Seir, Senir, Sephar, Shepher, Sinai, Sion, Sirion, Tabor, Zalmon, Zemaraim, Zion. See also "mountain of the east" (Genesis 10:30); "mountains of the leopards" (Song of Solomon 4:8); "rocks of the wild goats" (1 Samuel 24:2); "hill of the foreskins" (Gibeah-haaraloth) (Joshua 5:3); "mountains of brass" (Zechariah 6:1); "hill of God" (Gibeah of God) (1 Samuel 10:5); "hill of Yahweh" (Psalms 24:3); "mount of congregation" (Isaiah 14:13); see also Matthew 4:8; 5:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 28:16; Luke 8:32; Galatians 4:25.

Alfred Ely Day

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'HILL; MOUNT; MOUNTAIN'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.  

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