Arabah, from the Hebrew word pronounced ar-aw-bah, meaning plain, or wilderness, was the term usually used for the lowland area through which the Jordan River flows south from The Sea Of Galilee to the Dead Sea (also known as The Salt Sea). It was however also used to describe all or part of the entire rift that extends from Mount Hermon in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba at Ezion-geber in the south. Much of Bible History occurred along, or through, the Arabah (see also Bible Places).
The Israelites crossed into the Promised Land through the Arabah, without Moses (see Heartbreak Mountain):
"These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah over against Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab ... Behold, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land which The Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them.'" (Deuteronomy 1:1,8 RSV)
"the Arabah also, with the Jordan as the boundary, from Chinnereth [i.e. the Sea of Galilee] as far as the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, under the slopes of Pisgah on the east. And I commanded you at that time, saying, 'The Lord your God has given you this land to possess; all your men of valor shall pass over armed before your brethren the people of Israel" (Deuteronomy 3:17-18 RSV)
Under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites crossed the Arabah just north of the Dead Sea, which in that instance was referred to as the "Sea of the Arabah":
"So, when the people set out from their tents, to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water, the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest, the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap far off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho." (Joshua 3:14-16 RSV)
When the Kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians (see Why Babylon?), the last king of Judah, Zedekiah (see also Kings of Israel and Judah), attempted to flee from Jerusalem to the Arabah:
"Then a breach was made in the city; and all the men of war fled and went out from the city by night by the way of a gate between the two walls, by the king's garden, while the Chaldeans were round about the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him." (Jeremiah 52:7-8 RSV)
In the future (see Prophecy), waters will flow from Jerusalem to the Arabah:
"Then he brought me back to the door of the Temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the Temple toward the east, for the Temple faced east; and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the Temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate, that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side."
"Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?"
"Then he led me back along the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw upon the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea; from Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea [i.e. The Mediterranean Sea]. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing." (Ezekiel 47:1-12 RSV)
Fact Finder: Is the Arabah, or Jordan Valley, part of a great earthquake zone which is going to be very active at the time of The Return Of Jesus Christ?