Today, we are going to continue our series on the Benjamin Plateau. We have discussed three of the main cities that guard entrances to the plateau (Gibeon on the west, Gibeah to the south and Geba to the east). Today, we will take a look at Mizpah, which guards the plateau to the north. There are two different locations that are identified as Mizpah: Nebi Samwil and Tell en-Nasbeh. However, associating the site of Mizpah with Nebi Samwil is probably not correct. For a good analysis of this, I encourage you to read an article on Todd Bolen's blog from 2008.
Tell en-Nasbeh is located about 8 miles north of Jerusalem along the "Road of the Patriarchs". It is in the central mountain ridge. Considerable Iron Age artifacts and construction have been found at the site. The city of Mizpah is typically identified with the prophet Samuel.
It is at Mizpah that Samuel prayed for the children of Israel after they had been worshiping Baal.
And Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord. And they fasted that day, and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah. Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. So the children of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Then Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” - 1 Samuel 7:5-12
Samuel gathered the people at Mizpah again to identify Saul as their king:
Then Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah, and said to the children of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.’ But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.” And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. - 1 Samuel 10:17-21
In some upcoming posts, we will discuss some more aspects of the Benjamin Plateau.
The map at the top of this post comes from the Satellite Bible Atlas, a fantastic resource for Bible geography. I have written about this book before and I encourage you to purchase it. (NOTE: If you are reading this post from an email, you might need to click on the title to view the post from a web page in order to see the map.)