The plain of the Beqaa stretches from north to south
along the Syrian frontier between the two mountain
chains of the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon. The southeastern
part of the Beqaa projects into the Ghor at the foot
of Mount Hermon. This plain is most fertile and there
is an adage that says: “Abundance invades the market
only when comes the produce of the Beqaa.”
To reach the region of Rashaya, the western slopes
of Mount Hermon and the Ghor Depression, one takes
a turning at Anjar and then one finally comes to the
Druze village of Yanta, fifty miles from Beirut at
an altitude of nearly five thousand feet.
The name Yanta is said to be derived from ancient
Semitic languages, with the meaning of God the Planter.
Alternative explanations are that in the Syriac language
Yalta means the White Dove and in Arabic it is the
future tense of a verb meaning to jump or to rise
Yanta – He plants, He tends...
There are many ancient remains to be seen at Yalta,
a Roman temple, cellars, pieces of mosaic, the citadels
of Idriss and Al-Diab, and the traces of a monastery.
There are several springs gushing up, such as Ain
el-Hari, Ain er-Rouess, and Ain et-Tyer, to mention
only three – for springs are to be found everywhere
and Yanta has an abundant water supply. There is also
a Kiloosh, that is to say a Druze house of prayer,
of great beauty.
Most of the former inhabitants have emigrated to Canada,
but they come back to pass their summer in Lebanon,
so there are fine residences and luxurious houses
and villas. The village has an adequate modern infrastructure,
with a government school, medical facilities, a sports
club and telephone services.
Being comfortably well off, the inhabitants are generous
in their contribution to the development of this large
Druze settlement wide open to the world. It was here
on the western slopes of Mount Herman that in the
eleventh century the Druze community was formed around
the major towns of Rashaya, Hasbaya and Shebaa. This
dissident movement broke away from the Fatimite Isma’ilian
form of Islam at the time of Caliph Hakim in 1017,
under the impulsion of one of his court officials,
Mohammad Ibn Isma’il an-Nushtakim, called Darazi,
whose tomb is still venerated at Nabi Shitte near
The important Druze village of Yanta stands more to
the north of the mountain massive, close to the main
Beirut-Damascus road running along the valley of an
affluent of the Jordan, and backing onto the eastern
spurs which rise up to well over 5,500 feet.
The township was once part of a line of military defenses
going back to early antiquity. There are remains of
rock dwellings, and of Roman, Frankish and Arab fortifications
among the orchards, almond and olive groves, fig trees,
vineyards, tobacco plantations and scattered corn
All this area, inhabited by Druze smallholders, hardworking
and peace-loving, well deserves the name of the town
of Yanta, He plants, He tends, whether referring to
God or to the peasant farmers.
The Druze population of Lebanon and nearby is centered
mostly around Mount Hermon in proportions as follows:
In the Houran region in southwest Syria called Jebel
Druze – 450,000
In Wadi et-Taim, Barook, and the Shouf in southeast
Lebanon – 400,000
In northeast Israel – 75.000
In northwest Jordan – 15,000
Emigrants in Europe and the Americas – 80,000
Total – approximately 1,000,000
The emirs governing these mountain peasants have led
them to play a considerable political role over the
centuries, the Buhturs under the Mamelukes, 12th to
14th centuries, the Ma’an, Arslans, and Junblatts
under the Ottomans, 16th to 19th centuries, and the
Atrash in the Syrian Jebel Druze in the 20th.
Emir Fakhreddine II († 1536) set on foot the beginnings
of an independent Lebanese state within the Ottoman
Empire that lasted into the 19th century. The Druze
still play a considerable role in Lebanon.
Matar - Translation from the French: K.J. Mortimer
The village of Yanta: >> View
Movie << (2011-09-01)