Kiriath Jearim ( 1 Samuel 7)

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Originally Kiriath Jearim was named after Baalah (Joshua 15:9) or Kiriath Baal, probably indicative of its religious significance when the city belonged to Canaanites who worshipped Baal. After the Israelites had entered Canaan under Joshua’s command, the town was allotted to the tribe of Judah, very close t the southern border of Benjamin (Joshua 18:14). Kiriath Jearim, which means “city of forests”, was strategically situated along an important route leading from the coastal plain to the Benjamin plateau and on to Jerusalem.

Following the capture of the ark of the covenant by the Philistines and its subsequent return to Beth Shemesh, men from Kiriath Jearim retrieved the ark and brought it to the house of Abinadab. The ark remained in Kiriath Jearim for 20 years (1 Samuel 7:2), until the nation repented at Mizpah. David conveyed it from Abinadab’s house to Jerusalem during his reign (2 Samuel 6:2-4, 2 Chronicles 1:4), and Solomon fortified the site (see 1 Kings 9:18), but Pharaoh Shishak is thought to have detroyed it. The final references to Kiriath Jearim in the Biblical record are as the hometown of the prophet Uriah (Jeremiah 26:20) and the destination of some of the returnees from the exile (Nehemiah 7:29). Kiriath Jearim has been identified with Deir el-Azhar, a hilltop that may preserve the name of Eleazar, the son of Abinadab, who was consecrated to guard the ark. An inscription found at the site indicates that the Tenth Roman Legion was later stationed there, and excavations in the early twentieth century have revealed a Byzantine church constructed there during the fifth century A.D.


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