Plains. This one term does duty in the Authorized Version for no less than seven distinct Hebrew words.
1. Abêl. This word perhaps answers more nearly to our word “meadow” than any other. It occurs in the names of Abel-maim, Abel-meholah, Abel-shittim, and is rendered “plain” in Judges 11:33—“plain of vineyards.” 2. Bı̂k˒âh. Fortunately we are able to identify the most remarkable of the bı̂k˒âhs of the Bible, and thus to ascertain the force of the term. The great plain or valley of Cœle-Syria, the “hollow land” of the Greeks, which separates the two ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, is the most remarkable of them all. Out of Palestine we find denoted by the word bı̂k˒âh the “plain of the land of Shinar,” Gen. 11:2, the “plain of Mesopotamia,” Ezek. 3:22, 23; 8:4; 37:1, 2, and the “plain in the province of Dura.” Dan. 3:1. 3. Hashefêlâh, the invariable designation of the depressed, flat or gently-undulating region which intervened between the highlands of Judah and the Mediterranean, and was commonly in possession of the Philistines. 4. Elôn. Our translators have uniformly rendered this word “plain”; but this is not the verdict of the majority or the most trustworthy of the ancient versions. They regard the word as meaning an “oak” or “grove of oaks,” a rendering supported by nearly all the commentators and lexicographers of the present day. The passages in which the word occurs erroneously translated “plain” are as follows: Plain of Morch, Gen. 12:6; Deut. 11:30; plain of Mamre, Gen. 13:18; 14:13; 18:1; plain of Zaanaim, Judges 4:11; plain of the pillar, Judges 9:6; plain of Meonenim, Judges 9:37; plain of Tabor, 1 Sam. 10:3.