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The Cliffs

1_The_Cliffs_1 In I Samuel 14, Jonathan and his armor bearer perform a daring raid on the Philistine garrison in Michmash, just north of Jerusalem.  Separating the enemies from the Israelite camp at Gibeah is a deep ravine punctuated by sheer cliffs on each side.  This photo would be in the general area and it fits the physical description.  It’s certainly a good visual backdrop for this passage.




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.