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Scorpion Pass

Scorpions are insects of the spider family that, despite their somewhat lobster-like appearance, are far more dangerous - along with their "lobster claws," scorpions also have a poisonous stinger in their tail. Scorpions were well-known to the people of Israel; a major landmark of the border of the Promised Land was Scorpion Pass, or Scorpion Hill, located at the south end of the Dead Sea, also known as The Salt Sea (see also Bible Places), which was, by the choice of name given to it, apparently heavily-infested with scorpions. Depending on the Bible version, it's known as Maaleh-acrabbim (in Hebrew, mah-al-eh is a word for a hill or ridge, and ak-rawb is a word for a scorpion) or Akrabbim (i.e. from ak-rawb, a scorpion)

Scorpion Pass

Holy Bible Before they crossed the Jordan, The Lord specified Scorpion Pass to Moses as one of the boundaries of the Promised Land:

"The Lord said to Moses, "Command the people of Israel, and say to them, When you enter The Land Of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, the land of Canaan in its full extent, your south side shall be from the wilderness of Zin along the side of Edom, and your southern boundary shall be from the end of the Salt Sea on the east; and your boundary shall turn south of the ascent of Akrabbim [i.e. Scorpion Pass], and cross to Zin, and its end shall be south of Kadesh-Barnea; then it shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass along to Azmon; and the boundary shall turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and its termination shall be at the sea." (Numbers 34:1-5 RSV)

The southern boundary involving Scorpion Pass was later repeated to Joshua after he took command of Israel (Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, see Heartbreak Mountain), this time more specifically as the tribal portion for Judah (see also Tribal Lands):

"The lot for the tribe of the people of Judah according to their families reached southward to the boundary of Edom, to the wilderness of Zin at the farthest south. And their south boundary ran from the end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that faces southward; it goes out southward of the ascent of Akrabbim [i.e. Scorpion Pass], passes along to Zin, and goes up south of Kadesh-barnea, along by Hezron, up to Addar, turns about to Karka, passes along to Azmon, goes out by the Brook of Egypt, and comes to its end at the sea. This shall be your south boundary." (Joshua 15:1-4 RSV)

Despite the Lord's direct command to take all of the territory promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see also "Land On Which You Had Not Labored"), and His warning that failing to do so would result in the Canaanites being an endless source of trouble and grief for them (i.e. "But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as pricks in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell" - Numbers 33:55 RSV), the people of Israel did not drive them all out, which resulted in the troubles that they experienced then (Scorpion Pass is referred-to below as "the border of the Amorites" rather than what it should have been as spoken by The Lord in the verses quoted above), and the troubles that they are experiencing now:

"When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out. And Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them. Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, or the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became subject to forced labor. Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, or of Achzib, or of Helbah, or of Aphik, or of Rehob; but the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out. Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, or the inhabitants of Beth-anath, but dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became subject to forced labor for them. The Amorites pressed the Danites back into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the plain; the Amorites persisted in dwelling in Har-heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, but the hand of the house of Joseph rested heavily upon them, and they became subject to forced labor. And the border of the Amorites ran from the ascent of Akrabbim [i.e. Scorpion Pass], from Sela and upward." (Judges 1:28-36 RSV)

Fact Finder: How was an analogy of "My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions" involved in the division of Israel into two separate kingdoms?
1 Kings 12:11, see Rehoboam


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