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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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Name of several places in Palestine. It is derived from (= "to look"), on account of which it is translated in certain instances by the Septuagint σκοπιά and ὅρασις, and by the Targumim (Genesis 31:49). Except in Hosea 5:1, "Mizpah" always occurs with the definite article prefixed; "Mizpeh" occurs three times with the article—(1) in Joshua 15:38, where it designates a town of Judah; (2) in Joshua 18:26, where it is applied to a town of Benjamin; and (3) in 2 Chronicles 20:24, where it probably signifies a watch-tower in the wilderness—and twice in the construct state; namely, in Judges 11:29 ("Mizpeh of Gilead") and in 1 Samuel 22:3 ("Mizpeh of Moab").

Mizpah is first mentioned in the Bible in connection with the meeting of Jacob and Laban on Mount Gilead, where the heap of stones which they erected as a witness, and which was called by Jacob "Galeed" and by Laban "Jegar-sahadutha," was called "Mizpah" also, for the stated reason, "the Lord watch between me and thee" (Gen. c.). This Mizpah is most probably identical with the Mizpeh of Gilead (see above), which, according to Schwarz ("Das Heilige Land," pp. 17, 183), is the same as Ramath-mizpeh of Gad (Joshua 13:26), and which he identifies with the modern village of Al-á¹¢uf in the eastern mountain-range of Gilead.

Mizpah in Palestine.

The most important of the places bearing the name of "Mizpah" was that in Palestine, which on several occasions was the seat of assemblies at which the Israelites discussed their affairs, e.g., in the time of Jephthah (Judges 11:11), and during the war of Israel with Benjamin (ib. 20:1). Samuel, also, summoned Israel to Mizpah (1 Samuel 7:5-6,11,16); and, finally, in the time of the Maccabees, Mizpah (Μασσηφά) appears again as a place of solemn assembly (I Macc. 3:46). From the foregoing it would appear that at Mizpah a shrine for the worship of Yhwh existed; but there is a diversity of opinion as to the location of the place. There is no doubt that, since it is mentioned with Geba of Benjamin, the Mizpah which Asa fortified against the attacks of the King of Israel (1 Kings 15:22; 2 Chronicles 16:6) was the Mizpah of Benjamin, which was called "Mizpeh" in Joshua 18:26 (see above), and which was over against Jerusalem. It was also this Mizpah which became the seat of the governor Gedaliah after the destruction of the Temple (2 Kings 25:23; Jer. 6 et seq., 41:1); for when Ishmael went forth from Mizpah he met certain people journeying from Shiloh to Jerusalem. W. F. Birch concludes that the other Mizpahs indicated as places of assembly are also identical with the same town of Benjamin ("Pal. Explor. Fund," 1881, pp. 91 et seq.; 1882, pp. 260 et seq.). Finally may be mentioned the opinion of Conder ("Hand-book to Bible," p. 277, London, 1879), who identifies Mizpah with NOB. The Mizpeh of Judah (Joshua 15:38; see above) is in the Shefelah or lowlands, mentioned as lying between Dilean and Jokthe-el, neither of which places has been identified. Schwarz(c. p. 74) identifies Mizpeh with Tel al-Safiyah, the Alba Specula of the Middle Ages (comp. Robinson, "Researches," 2:363 et seq.).

Land of Mizpah.

There was also a whole tract of land called "the land of Mizpah" ("ereẓ ha-Miẓpah") or "the valley of Mizpeh" ("biḳ'at Miẓpeh"), mentioned in connection with the battle between Joshua and Jabin, King of Hazor, which took place at the waters of Meron (Joshua 11:3,8). The topography indicated, "under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh" and "unto great Zidon and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward," taken in connection with Joshua 11:17, suggests that the land or valley of Mizpah is to be identified with the valley of the Lebanon or the Cœle-Syria of the Greek writers. The Mizpeh of Moab (see above) is mentioned only once (1 Samuel 22:3), as the residence of the King of Moab, to whose care David consigned his parents.

M. Sel.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Mizpah'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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