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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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ASHTAROTH . This city (pl. of Ashtoreth [wh. see]), originally held by Og, king of Bashan ( Deuteronomy 1:4 , Joshua 9:10; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:12; Joshua 13:31 ), later captured by the Israelites and by them awarded to the Gershonites ( Joshua 21:27 Be-eshterah , ‘dwelling [or temple] of Ashtoreth’; cf. || 1 Chronicles 6:56 , which reads Ashtaroth ), might, without contradicting Biblical records, be identified with Ashteroth-Karnaim (wh. see). However, a statement found in Eusebius’ Onomasticon favours the view that the names designate two localities. Eusebius relates that there were at his time two villages of the same name, separated by a distance of 9 miles, lying between Adara (Edrei) and Abila; viz., (1) Ashtaroth, the ancient city of Og, 6 miles from Abila, and (2) Karnaim Ashtaroth, a village in the corner of Bashan, where Job’s village is shown (cf. Book of Jubilees 29:10). Eusebius’ Karnaim Ashtaroth evidently lay in the corner or angle formed by the rivers Nahr er-Rukkad and Sharî‘at el-Manadireh , in which vicinity tradition places Uz, Job’s fatherland. At long. 36° E., lat. 32° 50′ N., on the Bashan plateau, stands Tell (‘hill’) ‘Ashtarâ , whose strategical value, as shown by the ruins, was recognized in the Middle Ages. Its base is watered by the Moyet en-Nebî Ayyûb (‘stream of the prophet Job’). Following this rivulet’s course for 2 1 / 2 miles N.N.E., passing through the Hammam Ayyûb (‘Job’s bath’), is found its source, a spring said to have welled forth when Job in his impatience stamped upon the ground. In the immediate vicinity towards the S., Job’s grave is shown. Furthermore, upon the hill at whose base these two places are situated lies the village of Sa‘dîyeh or Sheikh Sa‘d , whose mosque contains the Sakhret Ayyûb , a large basalt boulder against which Job is said to have leant while receiving his friends. Indeed, ¾ of a mile S. of Sa dîyeh at el-Merkez , another grave (modern) of Job is shown, and a Der (‘monastery’) Ayyûb , according to tradition built by the Ghassanide Amr I., is known to have existed. Eusebius’ Ashtaroth must then have been in the proximity of Muzerib , 9 1 /2 miles S. of Sa‘dîyeh , and 8 miles N.W. of Adara, almost the distance of the Onomasticon . Even Tell Ash‘arî , 4 1 /4 miles S. of Tell ‘Ashtarâ , protected on the one side by the Yarmuk, on the second by a chasm, and showing evidences of having been fortified by a triple wall on the third, is admirably situated for a royal stronghold.

None of these modern place-names, with the exception of Tell ‘Ashtarâ , is linguistically related to the ‘Ashtaroth and ‘Ashteroth-karnaim of the Bible and the Onomasticon . The description of ‘Ashteroth-karnaim ( 2Ma 12:21 f., cf. 1Ma 5:43 ) as a place hard to besiege and difficult of access because of numerous passes leading to it, in whose territory a temple was situated, is applicable to Sa‘dîyeh or to Tell ‘Ashtarâ or even to Tell Ash‘arî , whose double peak at the S. summit is partly responsible for the translation of the name ‘Ashtaroth of (near) the double peak’ (see Ashtoreth). The similarity of name between Tell ‘Ashtarâ and ‘Ashteroth-karnaim , even though Tell ‘Ashtarâ does not lie directly between Adara and Abila, and lacks, with the other places, narrow passes, would favour the identification of ‘Ashteroth-karnaim with Tell ‘Ashtarâ , and hence, according to the distances of Eusebius, the location of ‘Ashtaroth near Muzerib . However, until the ancient name of Muzerib is known, and the various sites excavated, a definite determination of the location of these cities, and even of the difference between them, must remain impossible.

N. Koenig.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Ashtaroth'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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