View Full Version : "Mountain" versus "hill"
In one of his columns, Cecil wonders on why Mt. Carmel in Israel is called a mountain, considering it's under 2000 feet. The answer is simple. The Jewish definition of a mountain ("har") is that it's 500 Jewish cubits or higher. Otherwise it's a hill ("giv'ah"). A cubit is between 18 and 20 inches. Mt. Carmel is mentioned in the Book of Kings and other places in the Jewish Bible. Its modern name simply comes from the Bible. To call it Carmel Hill in light of modern definition would confuse too many people.
Please include a link to the column you are referring to, if it's online. Thanks.
There are enough non-Biblical reasons for a hill to be called "Mount Somethingorother."
Mount doesn't just refer to a mountain; it's also perfectly useful in this context to mean "mound," meaning hill, rise, pile of earth, etc. Not to be vulgar, but mons, the Latin root from which we get mountain, is also found in biology as mons pubis -- the pubic mound as found on women. Ladies, wouldn't you be insulted if doctors were writing about that gentle, hair-covered swelling on your abdomen as a "pubic mountain?"
It could also be a case of picturesque speech, such as when a pond has a name like "Lake Veronica," or an alley is called an avenue. If it sounds good, we use it. Mount Carmel makes me think of religious stuff, such as really bad Kosher wine. Carmel Hill suggests a relationship to Rock-Candy Mountain, Sugar Hill, and others.
Third, the typical chump from those times probably didn't have a cartographer's knowledge of what constituted a mountain, hill, moor, knoll, or anything else. If it rose significantly above the local terrain, it was a mountain. People didn't get around so much, and might never see a real mountain unless they lived near one.
That's my say, and you're welcome to it.
OK, got it. So, if it's at sea level, like Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, US, it's not a mountain. All this doesn't a-mount to a hill of beans, I say, and it's the height of inanity (which is probably less than the Golan Heights). BTW, how many cubits in a Jewish height and how many heights Golan stick up?
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