Moab and Edom
30. Zared ? - (al-Hasa ?)
The Zared River on the Madaba map is located north of both the Sanctuary of Lot [see no. 23] and Zoara [see no. 24], and runs east, close to Charachmoba (the modern city of Karak) [see no. 29]. If we accept the relative topographical accuracy of the map, the Wadi Hasa is not the best candidate for the Zared because its eastern end is distant from Charachmoba and it flows south of the Sanctuary of Lot and Zoara. A closer examination of the surviving portions of the southeastern end of the Dead Sea on the map hints that a river was depicted in the place of Wadi Hasa, but its ancient name has not survived.
A ground survey of the other wadis in the area shows that either the Wadi Karak or Wadi 'Isal would more accurately fit the location of the Zared on the map. Both have courses near Charachmoba and are geographically connected with Judaea (and consequently Jerusalem) to the west via the Lisan peninsula. The Wadi 'Isal may be the more likely possibility, considering its proximity to the Lisan, the existence of an ancient road that can be traced along it leading eastwards up to Karak and its easier, more gradual ascent. In this light it seems reasonable that the topographer of the Madaba map chose to highlight the most important western route to Charachmoba by over-emphasising its proportions in relation to the other wadis in the area. Furthermore, the Zared is actually depicted narrower than the great Arnon (identified as the Wadi Mujib) which would match the relative width of the Wadi 'Isal.
Konstantinos D. Politis, The Sanctuary of Agios Lot, the City of Zoara and the Zared River", in The Madaba Map Centenary 1897-1997, Jerusalem 1999, 225-227 (extract)
P. O'Callaghan (Supplément au Dictionnaire de la Bible, ad v. "Madaba", col. 677)
In light yellow letters. Although the last letter is not a D, but a A, there is no doubt that the inscription indicates the biblical river of Zared... We are, indeed, inclined to assume that the mosaicist only repeated the precedent A. Eusebius (Onomasticon 92,10) localizes Tharais Zared in the desert. That is why Musil identified Zared with Wadi es-Sultani, more eastward, near by Ledjun; Clermont-Ganneau preferred Wadi Kerak; and also Neubauer speaks about the river Zared (Wadi Kerek) of the Talmud. But the indication of the Madaba map corrisponds better to Wadi el-Hesa, already known to Yaqut (1225) under the same name Zered... (Eds' translation from the French)
For more sources and bibliography see:
F.-M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine.I (Paris 1935), s.v. "Zared", 489.
Map Section 4 Place Sources