And it shall come to pass at that day
When the Lord shall take vengeance on the family of Jehu, and deprive them of the kingdom of Israel, and shall punish the idolatrous kings that succeed:
that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel;
of which valley see ( Joshua 17:16 ) ( Judges 6:33 ) . It is now called the plain of Esdraelon; as it is in the Apocrypha:
``And to those among the nations that were of Carmel, and Galaad, and the higher Galilee, and the great plain of Esdrelom,'' (Judith 1:8)
the great plain of Esdraelon; according to Adrichomius, F15 it is two miles broad, and ten miles long; its soil exceeding rich and fruitful, and abounding with grain, wine, and oil; all travellers agree they never saw the like: one says F16 of this plain or valley, formerly the lot of the tribe of Issachar, this is the most fertile portion of the land of Canaan, where that tribe might well be supposed to have "rejoiced in their tents", ( Deuteronomy 33:18 ) , at present, indeed, it is not manured, as another traveller F17 observes, and yet very fruitful; who says, it is of a vast extent, and very fertile, but uncultivated, only serving the Arabs for pasturage; and, according to the same writer, the ancient river Kishon runs through the middle of it: from the largeness of it, it is frequently called by writers the great plain or valley; and sometimes, from the places near it, or on it, the great plain of Legio, the great plain of Samaria, the great plain or valley of Megiddo, ( 2 Chronicles 35:22 ) , and the great plain of Esdraelon, and here the valley of Jezreel; Jezreel or Esdraela being situated in this great plain or valley between Scythopolis and Legio, a very large village, as Jerom says F18 it was in his days; and also on this passage observes, that Jezreel, from whence this valley had its name, is now near Maximianopolis, and was the metropolis of the kingdom of Samaria, near which were very large plains, and a valley of a very great length, extending more than ten miles: here Ahab had a palace in his days, near to which was Naboth's vineyard, and where God revenged his blood: this city is called by Josephus F19 Azare and Azarus, or Izarus; and in the times of Gulielmus Tyrius F20 it went by the name of Little Gerinum. The "bow" is put for all instruments of war, and everything in which confidence was put, which was weakened or removed from them: this refers either to Menhchem's slaughter of Shallum, and wasting some parts of the land of Israel, ( 2 Kings 15:14 2 Kings 15:16 ) , or rather it may be to a battle fought between Hoshea king of Israel and Shalmaneser king of Assyria in this valley, which was not far from Samaria; in which the former was defeated, and the latter, having the victory, proceeded to Samaria, besieged and took it, ( 2 Kings 17:6 ) though of the action the Scripture is silent; but it is not improbable. The Targum is,
``I will break the strength of the warriors of Israel in the valley of Jezreel;''which seems to confirm the same conjecture. Some render it, "because of the valley of Jezreel" F21; that is, because of the idolatry, bloodshed, and other sins, committed there.