View category The Coast
The coast, an unbroken line, provides few natural harbors. Its plain, the Sharon ("straight"), has ridges running north-to-south. These trapped water flowing toward the sea, causing swamps. As a result, few Israelites lived on the Sharon Plain in First Testament times, while the Philistines occupied the southern coast. By contrast, in Phoenicia to the north (roughly, today's Lebanon), the mountains pushed people toward the sea, and the roots of those mountains formed good harbors. The Phoenicians, therefore, became the great sailors of the time, opening the markets of the Mediterranean; it was economically crucial for David and Solomon to ally with them, as later for Omri and Ahab. Centuries afterward, Herod the Great changed the geographical equation by building the first-ever artificial harbor at Caesarea. This feat opened the coast to Rome, and dozens of settlements soon sprang up on the Sharon Plain.

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