Mountain Range - Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words

Usage Number: 1
Strong's Number: H2022
Original Word: har
Usage Notes: "mountain range; mountainous region; mount." This word also appears in Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Punic. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 558 times and in all periods.

In its first biblical appearance har refers to the "mountain range" upon which Noah's ark came to rest (Gen. 8:4). In the singular form the word can mean a "mountain range" or the "mountains" of a given area: "… And [he] set his face toward the mount [nasb, "hill country"] Gilead" (Gen. 31:21). Jacob was fleeing from Laban toward the "mountains" where he thought to find protection. A further extension of this meaning applies this word to an area which is primarily mountainous; the word focuses on the territory in general rather than on the mountains in particular: "And they gave them the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, with the suburbs thereof round about it" (Josh. 21:11).

The word can be used of particular "mountains": "…And he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb" (Exod. 3:1). In this particular instance "the mountain of God" refers to Horeb. Elsewhere it is Jerusalem: "Why leap ye, ye high hills This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever" (Psa. 68:16).

Har signifies inhabitable sites situated on hills and/or mountainsides: "And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakim from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities" (Josh. 11:21). In this regard, compare Deut. 2:37: "Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the Lord our God forbade us." A comparison of Judg. 1:35 and Josh. 19:41 shows that Mount Heres is the same as the city of Heres.

In the poetical literature of the Old Testament, the view of the world held by men of the foundations of the mountains as rooted in the underworld (Deut. 32:22), serving to support the earth as the "bars" of the earth (Jonah 2:6). Mountain peaks may be said to reach into the heavens where God dwells (Isa. 24:21; in Gen. 11:4, the men who built the tower at Babel erroneously thought they were going to reach God's dwelling place). Although it would be wrong to conclude that God is setting forth this understanding of creation, yet He used it in explaining His word to men just as He used other contemporaneous ideas. Since "mountains" were associated with deity (Isa. 14:13), God chose to make great revelations on "mountains," concretely impressing the recipients with the solemnity and authority of the message (Deut. 27; Josh. 8:30-35). At the same time such locations provided for better audibility and visibility (Judg. 9:7; 2 Chron. 13:4). "Mountains" often serve as a symbol of strength (Zech. 4:7) inasmuch as they carried mythological significance since many people thought of them as sacred areas (Jer. 3:22-23), and they were the locations of strong fortresses (Josh. 10:6). Even the "mountains" tremble before the Lord; He is mightier than they are (Job 14:18).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words