||Jezreel Valley (also known as the "Plain of Esdraelon"; Emek Yizre'el, named after the city of Jezreel), the largest of the inland valleys of Israel, after the Jordan Valley. It consists of the alluvial plain of the Kishon River, forming a rough equilateral triangle with its base at the Carmel range and its continuation and its apex at Mount Tabor. Each side is about 20 mi. (33 km.) long and the total area about 96.5 sq. mi. (250 sq. km.). Whether the valley of the Nahal Harod (the Harod Valley), its southeastern extension in the direction of the Beth-Shean Valley, should be included in the Jezreel Valley is disputed.
The first mention of the "Valley of Jezreel" occurs in Joshua 17:16 where it appears together with the region of Beth-Shean as an area dominated by the iron chariots of the Canaanites and therefore outside the control of the tribe of Manasseh of the House of Joseph (cf. also Josh. 17:11–12; Judg. 1:27). When Manasseh became stronger, however, it put the cities in the Valley of Jezreel to tribute and Issachar was able to establish a foothold at the city of Jezreel itself. As a result of the battle Deborah and Sisera fought in the Kishon Valley, the northern slopes of the valley became Israelite. In their thrust westward the Midianites passed into the valley and camped in its eastern part near Gibeath-Moreh (Jebel al-Dahi), while Gideon camped opposite them at En-Harod (Judg. 7:1). Gideon's victory secured the valley from the east. The Philistines advanced against Saul through the valley where they had bases at Shunem and Beth-Shean and tried to split his kingdom in two; however, even after Saul's defeat the district of Jezreel remained in Israelite hands (II Sam. 2:9). David eliminated the foreign enclaves in the valley and secured it for Israel. The establishment at Jezreel of the winter capital of the kingdom of Israel strengthened its hold on the region, especially as the kings were interested in creating a royal estate in its fertile lands—an activity of which the dispossession of Naboth was but one instance. Subsequently the main part of the valley remained a royal estate of whatever power dominated the country. When Tiglath-Pileser III reduced Israel to the mountains of Ephraim, he made Megiddo the capital of an Assyrian province. After the fall of Assyria, Josiah, king of Judah, who expanded his kingdom northward, tried to bar the passage of the valley to Pharaoh Necoh at Megiddo, but lost the battle as well as his life (609 B.C.E.).