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Benjamin Plateau

Benjamin Plateau Video

Benjamin Plateau Video


Tonight, I am going to conclude my series on the Benjamin Plateau. However, since there are so many other things that I could write about this area, I am sure that I will pick it up again in the near future. In earlier posts on this series, I have written about the plateau itself and the four cities that guard its passages, Gibeon, Gibeah, Geba and Mizpah. I encourage you to go back and read those.

To bring it all together, I invite you to go and watch a video that was produced by Bill Schlegel and the folks associated with the Satellite Bible Atlas. The video covers the Benjamin Plateau and does a great job of graphically showing the many different aspects of this region in light of Scripture. This video is the fourth in a series of (currently) seven videos that accompany the Satellite Bible Atlas.

Ironically, Todd Bolen posted some information about the Satellite Bible Atlas today. Do you know someone who is interested in Biblical geography? If so, I would recommend that you purchase this book for them. Along with it, you get digital copies of all of the maps and you have the option of also purchasing a wall map the land of Israel. It is well worth the money.




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.)




As I stated in the first post of this series, the Central Benjamin Plateau is guarded by four cities: Mizpah on the north, Gibeon on the west, Gibeah on the south and Geba on the east. Of the four cities, Geba is probably the least known. During the time of King Saul, the city was a garrison for the Philistines.

And Jonathan attacked the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” - 1 Samuel 13:3

During the time of the Divided Kingdom, Baasha (King of Israel) and Asa (King of Judah) were in war against each other. After Asa created an agreement with the king of Syria, Asa built up the city of Geba.

Now there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days. And Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the house of the Lord and the treasuries of the king’s house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-Hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, who dwelt in Damascus, saying, “Let there be a treaty between you and me, as there was between my father and your father. See, I have sent you a present of silver and gold. Come and break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel, so that he will withdraw from me.” So Ben-Hadad heeded King Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel. He attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maachah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali. Now it happened, when Baasha heard it, that he stopped building Ramah, and remained in Tirzah. Then King Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted. And they took away the stones and timber of Ramah, which Baasha had used for building; and with them King Asa built Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah. - 1 Kings 15:16-22

When the Assyrians were on their way to attack the city of Jerusalem, they traveled through Geba on their entrance to the Benjamin Plateau.

It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. He has come to Aiath, he has passed Migron; at Michmash he has attended to his equipment. They have gone along the ridge, they have taken up lodging at Geba. Ramah is afraid, Gibeah of Saul has fled. - Isaiah 10:27-29

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.)




(NOTE: This is the third in a series of posts about the Benjamin Plateau. There have been other posts about the plateau and the town of Gibeon.) Located just a few miles north of Jerusalem, the town of Gibeah guarded the southern end of the Benjamin Plateau. It is located about 2800 feet in elevation on the watershed ridge along the central mountain range. As a traveler going north along the "Way of the Patriarchs" out of Jerusalem, Gibeah would have been the first city that they would have come to. No doubt, many of the central figures of the Bible went through Gibeah.

During the reign of King Saul (~1050BC-1010BC), he set up his capital in Gibeah. And, as we read the account of his reign in 1 Samuel, we can even read that it is referred to as "Gibeah of Saul".

Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. - 1 Samuel 15:34

King Hussein of Jordan's partially built palace on Tell el-Ful.  Photo from Wikipedia.The location of Gibeah is known as Tell el-Ful. William F. Albright led a couple of excavations of this site in the 1920s. During his work, he found evidence of a rather large fortress, which dates back to the time of Saul. In modern times, Tell el-Ful is easy to recognize due to the large, partially built building on top. In the 1960s, King Hussein of Jordan began construction a palace in Tel el-Ful, but construction was halted when the Six-Day War broke out. Since Israel won the war, the palace was never finished and now all that remains is the skeleton of the building.

The picture at the top of this post is of Tell el-Ful from the east. It was taken by Ferrell Jenkins in 2011. NOTE: If you are reading this post from an email, you might have to click on the title to view the post from a webpage to see the image.




In my last post, I began a series on the Benjamin Plateau. As I mentioned, the plateau is guarded by four cities. The city on the western edge is Gibeon. Anyone who came from the coastal plain and through the Aijalon Valley would approach the area through Gibeon. The city of Gibeon is mentioned a number of times in Scripture. Among them are:

Joshua 9 - After the Israelites conquered Jericho and Ai, the citizens of Gibeon tricked Joshua into signing a treaty. Once Joshua found out what had happened, he honored his agreement, but made them woodcarvers and water carriers.

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”...And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, in the place which He would choose, even to this day. - Joshua 9:3-6, 27

Joshua 10 - After the Amorites heard about the treaty the Gibeonites made with the Israelites, five neighboring kings decided to attack the city. The Gibeonites then called on Joshua to assist them. As Joshua drove the Amorites back toward the coast along the Beth Horon ridge, God cast down large hailstones upon them. Then, as Joshua was continuing to fight, God caused the sun to stand still so the battle could be won.

Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. So the Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword...So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. - Joshua 10:9-11, 13-14

2 Samuel 2 - Abner and Joab met at the Pool of Gibeon where there was a fight between the two armies.

Now Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out and met them by the pool of Gibeon. So they sat down, one on one side of the pool and the other on the other side of the pool. Then Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men now arise and compete before us.” And Joab said, “Let them arise.” So they arose and went over by number, twelve from Benjamin, followers of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve from the servants of David. And each one grasped his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side; so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called the Field of Sharp Swords, which is in Gibeon. So there was a very fierce battle that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David. - 2 Samuel 2:12-17

The picture at the top of this post is of Gibeon, as seen from Nebi Samwil. In the distance, you can see modern-day Ramallah in the West Bank. (NOTE: If you are reading this post in an email, you will need to click on the link in the title to see the picture.)

Next June, I'm heading to Israel on a Bible Study Tour. Why don't you join me?