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The Sinaitic range is formed of granite and plutonic rocks, without any signs of volcanic action, such as lava, basalt, &c. The granite is bright red from base to summit, often intersected with veins of greenstone and porphyry. Mount Sinai consists of coarse granite at the base, graduating in fineness to the peak. Advancing northward, dykes of porphyry intersect the granite, and this in turn is intersected by greenstone, while at the north-eastern extremity syenite supplants them. Tending towards Suez, sandstone overlays the syenite, and the sandstone belt of the Tur fringes the granite group.

Through the Judasan wilderness a limestone plateau extends almost to Hebron. The whole central Syrian range is limestone, equivalent to the green sand underlying the chalk formation still prevailing about Beersheba; the few exceptions being near the Jordan Valley.

Occasionally, on hill tops (such as Olivet), is found a layer of white chalk mixed with flint. These are the remains of a vast chalk deposit, which once covered the whole country with an even surface, and was the groundwork of its fertility, but which has long ago been washed away by the heavy rains and torrents, leaving the now sterile limestone rock covered with the loose flints.

There are two distinct groups of limestone: 1. Necomian, with fossils like those in our greensand, and intermingled with dolomite. It predominates in Galilee (from the Lebanons and Hermon to Safed and Samaria), running on to the east of Jerusalem beyond Olivet. 2. A lower substratum of chalk, underlying the whole country from Lebanon to the south of the Mountains of Moab, seldom coming to the surface.

In Galilee, near the Lake, are large dykes of basalt, and fields of lava, which has overflowed the limestone, from some extinct volcanoes (near Safed, Horns of Hattin, and Ard el Hamma); and the scoria has enriched the cultivation of those hill-sides and valleys, down to little Hermon, and the edge of Esdraelon. This is the only volcanic tract at present discovered.

East of Jordan the formation is similar to that of the west side, but without the upper chalk that once encrusted the hills. The Jordan gorge which cleaves these formations is a geological phenomenon.


Name and Reference.

Bitumen. . . . (Gen. xi. 3.)


(Is. xxix. 16.)

(Is. xli. 25.)

Earth. .... (Gen. i. 22.)

(Gen. ix. 20.)

(Gen. iii. 14; Is. xlvii. 1.)

Nitre. . . . (Jer. ii. 22.)




(Prov. xxvii. 3; Jer. v. 22.)

Sulphur. . . . (Gen. xix. 24; Ps. xi. 6.

Hebrew and Greek.

Chemar.. . 1. Chomer. .

2. Tit. % . .

1. Eretz.. .


2. Adarnah.. yrj.

3. 'Aphar. . yq.

Nether. . . vCrpov.

Melach. . . a

Choi. . . .

Gqphrith . Oeiov.


A kind of asphalt, or earth-resin, found in the vale of Siddim, whence the Dead Sea was called Lacus Asphaltites. It is translated "slime," and was used as mortar or cement.

1.  A tenacious earth, like that so called by us, used for making bricks and earthenware. It was less cohesive than ours, accordingly for the former purpose was held together by admixture of straw before being baked, and for building purposes was mixed with sand.

2.  Tit (lit. "dirt") was, and still is, the common building material of the mud-houses of the peasantry of Palestine.

Three Hebrew words are translated " earth:"

1.  Eretz, the earth, of globe generally.

2.  Adamah, red earth, or cultivated soil.

3.  'Aphar, dry earth, or dust.

A mineral alkali (familiar to us as soda).

Salt is very abundant in the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea, which is highly impregnated with it. A ridge of salt-rock runs into that sea, and there are salt-pits (Zeph. ii. 9), and a plain of salt, or valley of salt (2 Sam. viii. 13). Hence it frequently enters into the symbolical acts and language of the Bible.

Sand abounds in Palestine, and is used to express abundance, insecurity, extensiveness, and weight.

Sulphur, or brimstone, is largely found in the vale of Siddim, in the mineral form; but is also found in combination with pyrites and other rock formations.

Note.—The northern shore of the Dead Sea abounds in pebbles, succeeded by sand covered with incrustations of salt and a growth of lichens, resembling seaweed at the first glance. This extends for about two miles. The shores of the Sea of Galilee are composed of minute shells, of very many varieties. There are many fossils to be found, as above mentioned; but for a more detailed account of these, the student is referred to special treatises.

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