Lajat

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Al-Lajat (Arabic: اللجاة‎) is a region located in southern Syria east of the Jordan River, on an island of rock which was approximately 20 miles (32 km) by 30 miles (48 km), and rose 20 or 30 feet (9.1 m) above the table-land of Bashan. The region is known by several names. Historically it was known as Argob (Hebrew: ארגוב Argov‎ / Arabic: أرجوب‎), and in the Bible it is called Trachonitis. In addition, its modern-day title has multiple spellings in English, including Lajat, Lejat and Lajah and El-Leja.

History[edit]

Iturea, Trachonitis, Batanea, Gaulanitis, and Auranitis in the first century C.E.

An extremely rugged region, sixty walled cities were on the island, which was ruled over by Og. In the New Testament, it is called Trachonitis ("the rugged region") (Luke 3:1). These cities were conquered by the Israelites (Deuteronomy 3:4; 1 Kings 4:13). Lajat, in Bashan, was one of Solomon's commissariat districts (1 Kings 4:13).

It was a region that once formed part of Herod Philip's tetrarchy.

It appears in the New Testament only in the phrase tes Itouraias kai Trachbnitidos choras, literally, "of the Iturean and Trachonian region" (Luke 3:1).

El-Leja was designated a World Biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2009.

Here "sixty walled cities are still traceable in a space of 308 square miles. The architecture is ponderous and massive. Solid walls 4 feet thick, and stones on one another without cement; the roofs enormous slabs of basaltic rock, like iron; the doors and gates are of stone 18 inches thick, secured by ponderous bars. The land bears still the appearance of having been called the 'land of giants' under the giant Og."
"I have more than once entered a deserted city in the evening, taken possession of a comfortable house, and spent the night in peace. Many of the houses in the ancient cities of Bashan are perfect, as if only finished yesterday. The walls are sound, the roofs unbroken, and even the window-shutters in their places. These ancient cities of Bashan probably contain the very oldest specimens of domestic architecture in the world" (Porter, 1867).

Geography[edit]

Trachonitis signifies the land associated with the trachon, "a rugged stony tract." There are two volcanic districts south and east of Damascus, to which the Greeks applied this name: that to the Northwest of the mountain of Bashan (Jebel ed-Druze) is now called el-Leja', "the refuge" or "asylum."

One lies in the midst of an arable and pastoral country; and although it could never have supported a large population, it has probably always been inhabited.

The other is away to the Northeast of the mountain, and is called in Arabic es-Safa. This covers much the larger area. It is a wild and inhospitable desert tract, remote from the dwellings of men. It was well known to the ancients; but there was nothing to attract even a sparse population to its dark and forbidding rocks, burning under the suns of the wilderness. It therefore plays no part in the history.

These are the two Trachons of Strabo (xvi.2, 20). They are entirely volcanic in origin, consisting of lava belched forth by volcanoes that have been extinct for ages. In cooling, the lava has split up and crumbled into the most weird and fantastic forms. The average elevation of these districts above the surrounding country is about 30 ft. Es-Safa is quite waterless. There are springs around the border of el-Leja', but in the interior, water-supply depends entirely upon cisterns. Certain great hollows in the rocks also form natural reservoirs, in which the rain water is preserved through the summer months.

El-Leja is roughly triangular in shape, with its apex to the North. The sides are about 25 miles in length, and the base about 20.

References[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainEaston, Matthew George (1897). "article name needed". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons. 

  • Porter, J. L. The Giant Cities of Bashan and Syria's Holy Places, New York: T. Nelson, 1867. [1]

Coordinates: 32°58′10″N 36°27′19″E / 32.9695°N 36.455383°E / 32.9695; 36.455383