KISHON, TORRENT VALLEY OF
A stream identified as the Nahr el-Muqattaʽ (Nahal Qishon). The Kishon winds its way in a northwesterly direction from the hills near Taanach through the Plain of Jezreel, or Esdraelon (ʽEmeq Yizreʽel), and, after flowing through a narrow gorge between Mount Carmel and a spur of the Galilean hills, enters the Plain of Acco (Acre) before finally emptying into the Mediterranean. The airline distance from the Kishon’s sources to its mouth at the Bay of Acco is about 37 km (23 mi). Approximately 6 m (20 ft) wide in the spring, the portion of the Kishon flowing through the Plain of Jezreel increases in width by some 3 m (10 ft) in the western section of the plain. The Kishon’s greatest width of about 20 m (66 ft) is reached in the Plain of Acco. With the exception of about the last 10 km (6 mi) of its course, the Kishon is usually dry during the summer. But in the rainy season it becomes a rushing torrent, flooding its banks and sweeping everything in its path. The plain through which the Kishon flows then becomes a marshy region.
In the time of Barak and Deborah the torrent valley of Kishon figured in the deliverance of the Israelites from Canaanite oppression. Barak and his troops took a position on Mount Tabor, this action drawing army chief Sisera, with his well-equipped forces and 900 chariots, to the Kishon. (Jg 4:6, 7, 12, 13) The Israelites appeared to be at a military disadvantage. Yet, when directed to do so, Barak and his 10,000 men descended from Mount Tabor to engage the enemy in battle. Jehovah God then intervened. “From heaven did the stars fight, from their orbits they fought against Sisera.”—Jg 4:14, 15; 5:20.
According to the traditional Jewish view expressed in the writings of Josephus, “there came up a great tempest with torrents of rain and hail; and the wind drove the rain in the faces of the Canaanites, obscuring their vision, so that their bows and their slings were of no service to them.” (Jewish Antiquities, V, 205 [v, 4]) Such a downpour would have turned the ground to mud, immobilizing chariots and causing horses to sink into the mire and the enemy to flee in terror before Barak’s men. By whatever means, with Jehovah’s help, “all the camp of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword. Not as much as one remained.” (Jg 4:15, 16; see also Ps 83:9, 10.) Apparently the treacherous torrent of Kishon swept the corpses of the enemy away. (Jg 5:21) Sisera himself escaped on foot, to suffer inglorious death by the hand of a woman, Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite.—Jg 4:17-21.