(Arʹa·bah) [Desert Plain].
That part of the extraordinary depression, or rift valley, that extends toward the S from the slopes of Mount Hermon, cradles the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, drops far below sea level to form the basin of the Dead Sea, and then continues on southward to the Gulf of ʽAqaba at the Red Sea.—De 3:17; Jos 3:16; 11:16; Jer 52:7.
This long, narrow, N-S valley, often dry, and containing few cities, is limited on each side by a long row of mountains. It varies in width from less than 1 km to 16 km (0.5 to 10 mi) and is 435 km (270 mi) long, owing its existence to a fault line, or long fracture in the earth’s crust. The Jordan winds through the northern part of this straight valley, and its steady flow waters a green belt down the center of the valley’s floor. South of the Dead Sea, however, the Arabah is fed only by seasonal torrent streams that are insufficient to bring life to the dry soil.
Some commentators limit the word “Arabah” to the part of this great rift valley that is S of the Dead Sea, but it also refers to the region at least as far N as the Sea of Galilee, or Chinnereth. (Jos 12:3; 2Sa 2:29) The part of this valley N of the Dead Sea is now called the Ghor, meaning “Depression,” while the word “Arabah” is more particularly applied to the far drier region to the S.
The Dead Sea is called “the sea of the Arabah.” (De 3:17; 4:49; 2Ki 14:25) Without the definite article the word ʽara·vahʹ is also used in a general sense and may be properly translated as “desert plain.” The plural (ʽara·vohthʹ) is frequently applied to the desert plains of Jericho and Moab, the part of the Jordan Valley just N of the Dead Sea.—Nu 22:1; 26:3, 63; 31:12; Jos 4:13; 5:10; Jer 39:5.