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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Keilah', קְעַילָה [in 1 Samuel 23:5, קְעַלָה ], prob. citadel; Septuag. Κεϊλά or Κείλᾶ, v. r. in Chronicles and Nehemiah Κεειλά ), a city in the plain of Judah (Joshua 15:44), bordering on the southern portion of the highlands (see Keil's Comment. ad loc.). It appears to have been founded by Naham the. Garmite, brother of Hodiah, one of the wives of Mered (1 Chronicles 4:19). " The Philistines had fallen upon the town at the beginning of the harvest (Josephus, Ant. 6:13, 1), plundered the corn from its threshing-floor, and driven off the cattle (1 Samuel 23:1). The prey was recovered by David (1 Samuel 23:2-5), who remained in the city till the completion of the ingathering. It was then a fortified place, with walls, gates, and bars (1 Samuel 23:7, and Josephus). During this time the massacre of Nob was perpetrated, and Keilah became the repository of the sacred ephod, which Abiathar the priest, the sole survivor, had carried off with him (1 Samuel 23:6). But it was not destined long to enjoy the presence of these brave and hallowed inmates, nor indeed was it worthy of such good fortune, for the inhabitants soon plotted David's betrayal to Saul, then on his road to besiege the place. Of this intention David was warned by divine intimation. He therefore left (1 Samuel 23:7-13). It will be observed that the word Baali is used by David to denote the inhabitants of Keilah in this passage (1 Samuel 23:11-12; A.V. men'), possibly pointing to the existence of Canaanites in the place" (Smith). (See BAAL).

Keilah was so considerable a city in the time of Nehemiah as to have two praefects, who are mentioned as assisting in the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:17-18), and existed in the days of Eusebius and Jerome, who place it eight (the former, s.v. Κηλά, less correctly, seventeen) Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, on the road to Hebron (see Reland, Palcest. p. 488, 698). Josephus calls it Cilla (Κίλλα , Ant. 6:13,1). The prophet Habakkuk is said to have been buried here (Sozomen, Hist. 7:29; Nicephorus, Hist. 12:48); but (See HUKKOK).

The above notices all point to a locality at a fork of wady el-Faranj, a little N. of Idhna (Jedna), " where on a projection of the right-hand mountain stands a ruined tower" (Robinson, Researches, ii, 427), which Van de Velde learned at Hebron was still called Kilah (Memoir, p. 328). This is confirmed by Tobler (Dritte Wanderung, p. 150 sq.), although he remarks (p. 467) that Van de Velde, on the first edition of his Map, had placed it too far south (S.E. of Idhna). A writer in Fairbairn's Dictionary (s.v.) argues in favor of the locality of Khuweilifeh (See RIMMON), but this is utterly out of the required region, being in the Simeonitish portion of the tribe. (See JUDAH)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Keilah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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