ḤULEH (Heb. חוּלָה), a valley and a former lake in N.E. Israel (see Physiography of the Land of *Israel, Rift Valley). Early Stone Age remains have been discovered in the Ḥuleh Valley, near the Benot Ya'akov Bridge. They include flint tools, iron hand-axes, flint flakes, etc., found together with bones of a Pleistocene elephant. In the Canaanite period, three cities near the Ḥuleh are mentioned in the Egyptian Execration Texts (late third millennium): Ijon, Abel, and Laish. Egyptian armies on expeditions to the Lebanon Valley passed through the Ḥuleh, and the cities of Abel, Laish, Ijon, and Kedesh, northwest of the Ḥuleh, also appear in the lists of cities conquered by Egyptian kings of the 18th Dynasty. During the period of the Israelite conquest, the Israelites achieved control of the Ḥuleh Valley after their capture of Hazor. The northern part of the valley, however, remained in the possession of the rulers of Beth-Rehob and Maacah until the tribe of Dan, retreating from Philistine pressure, conquered and settled Laish (Tell al-Qādī) renaming it Dan (Judg. 18). With the division of the monarchy, the Ḥuleh Valley was included in the kingdom of Israel. It was the scene of numerous clashes between the kings of Israel and Aram (I Kings 15:20) and was taken from Israel by the Assyrian Tiglath-Pileser III in his campaign in 733/2 B.C.E. Under Persian rule the valley was held by Tyre until the Hellenistic city Paneas was founded nearby in the time of the Ptolemies. The valley then received the Greek name Oulatha (Ḥulata) but the lake retained its early name of Yam Samcho (Gr. Semachonitis) which apparently already appears in Ugaritic documents. A decisive battle between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids took place near Paneas (200 B.C.E.) and after the victory of Antiochus III, the city of Antiochus was founded at Dan and the whole region renamed "Valley of Antiochus." This district was conquered by Alexander Yannai and incorporated into the Jewish kingdom (Jos., Ant., 13:394; 17:24; Wars, 1:105). Although it was restored to the Itureans by Pompey, Augustus granted it to Herod in 20 B.C.E. (Ant., 15:359–60; Wars, 1:400) and it remained a possession of his heirs until the death of Agrippa II (end of the first century C.E.). At that time Jewish settlement was renewed there; its
For the history of the reclamation of the marshlands, see *Ḥuleh Valley.
Y. Karmon, The Northern Huleh Valley: Its Natural and Cultural Landscape (1956); idem, in: IEJ, 3 (1953), 4ff. (includes bibliography); Avi-Yonah, Geog, index; E. Orni and E. Efrat, Geography of Israel, 1 (1964), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Avi-Yonah et al., The Huleh and the Upper Jordan Region (1954); M. Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, vol. 1 (1974), 289; Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea – Palaestina. Maps and Gazetteer. (1994), 226, s.v. Semachonitis Lacus.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.