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Encyclopedia of The Bible – Kiriath-Jearim
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Kiriath-Jearim

KIRIATH-JEARIM kĭr’ ĭ ăth je’ ə rĭm (קִרְיַ֥ת יְעָרִֽים, the town of forests; LXX Καριαθιαρείμ). KJV KIRJATH-JEARIM, kĭr’ jăth jē’ e rĭm. A city of the Gibeonites (q.v.) that was later on the border between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. It was evidently the site of a pre-Israelite shrine to Baal as indicated by its alternate names in the Bible, viz. KIRIATH-BAAL, kĭr’ ĭ ăth bā’ el, bāl [קִרְיַת־בַּ֗עַל] (Josh 15:60; 18:14), BAALAH, bā’ e le [בַּעֲלָ֔ה] (Josh 15:9) and BAALE-JUDAH, bā’ e lĭ jōō’ de [בַּעֲלֵ֖י יְהוּדָ֑ה] (2 Sam 6:2; cf. 1 Chron 13:6; LXX rejected this reading in both passages). Note also the variant KIRIATH-ARIM, kir’ ĭ ăth âr’ ĭm (קִרְיַ֤ת עָרִימ׃֙), caused by dropping of the yodh (y) in Ezra 2:25 (cf. the correct form in the parallel text, Neh 7:29).

1. Identification. E. Robinson observed that the ancient name prob. was preserved in Arab. Qaryat el-cInab, “city of the grape(s),” a town c. eight and one-third m. WNW of Jerusalem. The identification with Kiriath-jearim is confirmed by Eutychius, Patriarch of Alexandria (a.d. 877-940) who says in his Annals that from Beth-shemesh, the Ark was taken by “the inhabitants of a village known as Qaryet el-Inab” (ed. L. Cheikho, Corpus Scriptorum christianorum orientalium, Scriptores arabici, Ser. III, Vol. VI, p. 43). The local Arab villagers used to call it simply Qaryeh, but the town is widely known as Abu Ghosh, being so named after famous sheiks of the 18th and 19th centuries who maintained hegemony over the highway between Jerusalem and the coast. Though remains of the Roman and Crusader periods have been found in the village, the true site of the Biblical period is the imposing mound upon which stands the Church of the Ark of the Covenant. This “Tell” is known as Deir el-Azhar; some would see in this an allusion to Eleazar the son of Abinadab (q.v.) who was consecrated by the men of Kiriath-jearim to keep the Ark (1 Sam 7:1). Abundant sherds of the Late Bronze and Iron Ages are found on the slopes of the mound. The commanding position of this site satisfies all the requirements of the ancient sources for Kiriath-jearim. Eusebius said that Καριαθιαρείμ was about ten Rom. m. from Jerusalem on the road to Lod (Lydda); later he corrected the distance to nine m. It stands between Nephtoah (Liftā) and Chesalon (Keslā) which suits its position on the N border of Judah (Josh 15:9; 18:15). It is almost directly S of Chephirah (Tell Kefireh), which conforms to the boundary between Benjamin and Dan (Josh 18:14). Critics of Robinson’s identification (e.g., C. R. Conder, HDB, III, 3 and E. W. G. Masterman, ISBE, III, 1812) made too much of Josephus’ statement that Kiriath-jearim was a “neighboring” town to Beth-shemesh (Jos. Antiq., VI. i. 4 [17]) in combination with the allusion to Mahanah-dan (q.v.) on the W of it (Judg 18:12), since they assumed the latter to be restricted to an area between Zorah (Sar’ah) and Eshtaol (Ishwa) in accordance with Judges 13:25.

2. Excavation. Archeological investigation of the Abu Ghôsh area has usually concentrated on the Roman-Byzantine and Crusader structures on the one hand, or on prehistoric settlements on the other. (Cf. bibliography for details.)

3. History. Kiriath-jearim was one of the four Gibeonite cities that made a covenant with the invading Israelites by deceiving them (Josh 9:17). It served as a boundary marker between Judah and Benjamin (Josh 15:9; 18:14, 15). One of the nearby heights apparently was known as Gibeah of Kiriath-jearim (1 Sam 7:1; 2 Sam 6:3, 4; ASVmg.) which prob. is intended in Joshua 18:28 as belonging to Benjamin. The town of Kiriath-jearim was occupied by men of Judah (Judg 18:12). The father of Kiriath-jearim was Shobal, the son of Hur, son of Caleb by Ephrath (1 Chron 2:50b, 52, cf. v. 20). His descendants were the leading families of the town, viz. the Ithrites, the Puthites, the Shumathites, and the Mishraites, and some of their number moved down to settle in Zorah and Eshtaol (1 Chron 2:53). In the administrative division of Judah, Kiriath-jearim, and Rabbah (q.v.) comprised one small district (Josh 15:60).

After the Ark of the Covenant had been returned by the Philistines to Beth-shemesh it was transferred to Kiriath-jearim (1 Sam 6:19-7:2) until it was brought by King David to Jerusalem (1 Sam 6:1-15; 1 Chron 13:5-14; 15:2-28; 2 Chron 1:4).

The Baalath fortified by Solomon (1 Kings 9:18; 2 Chron 8:6; cf. Jos. Antiq. VIII. vi. 1 [152]) was possibly Kiriath-jearim which would provide an important link between Gezer and Beth-horon on the one hand and Jerusalem on the other. During the invasion by Pharaoh Shishak (1 Kings 14:25, 26; 2 Chron 12:1-9) the Egyp. army apparently began its attack by taking Gezer after which it advanced inland toward Jerusalem taking Beth-horon and Rabbah on the way. Kiriath-jearim may have fallen before them if the reading q-d-t-m of No. 25 in Shishak’s list can be understood as an error for q-r-t-m (r and d are quite similar in the Egyp. hieratic script from which the hieroglyphs were prob. copied).

During the reign of Jehoiakim, a prophet named Uriah son of Shemaliah from Kiriath-jearim spoke out against the regime and was forced to flee to Egypt for fear of the authorities. From thence he was extradited and put to death (Jer 26:20-23).

Some of the citizens from Kiriath-jearim returned from the Babylonian captivity with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:25; Neh 7:29). The supposed reference to this town in Psalm 132:6 is doubtful.

Bibliography E. Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine (2nd ed., 1856), II, 11, 12; C. R. Conder and H. H. Kitchener, Survey of Western Palestine, Memoirs, III (1883), 43-52; F. M. Abel, “Découverte d’un Tombeau antique à Abou Goch,” RB, XXX (1921), 97-102; F. D. Cooke, “The Site of Kirjath-jearim,” AASOR, V (1923-1924), 105-120; W. F. Albright, “Annual Report for 1925-1926,” BASOR, XXIV (1926) 15; F. M. Abel, “La question gabaonite et l’Onomasticon,” RB, XLIII (1934), 349-352; “Excavations in Palestine and Trans-Jordan, 1940-1941,” Abu Ghōsh (Qaryat el ’Inab,) QDAP, XI (1945), 113; Israel Dept. of Antiquities, “Notes and News,” IEJ, I (1951), 248; J. Perrot, “Les industries lithiques palestiniennes de la fin du Mésolithique à l’Age du Bronze,” IEJ, II (1952), 73, 75, 77; Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (1967), 224-227, 287, 301.