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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Hebrew "the Mizpah," generally a "watchtower". Μizpeh (masculine) expresses rather the town; Μizpah (feminine) the district (Joshua 11:8; Joshua 11:8).

1. In Gilead E. of Jordan. The name Laban gave to Galeed, the "heap of witness," the memorial of his covenant with Jacob, and the boundary landmark between them (Genesis 31:48-49; Genesis 31:52), "for he said, Jehovah watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another." (See GALEED.) Herein he adopts Jacoh's language (Hebrew) and religion (Jehovah's worship). In Hosea 5:1, "ye house of the king, ye have been a snare on Mizpah and a net spread upon Tabor," the sense is, Ye ought to have been "watchers" guarding Israel from evil, but ye have been as hunters entrapping them into it. Mizpah in the E. and Tabor in the W. include the high places of the whole kingdom in which the rulers set up idol altars. Here Israel assembled to choose a leader in its "misery" when Ammon, having oppressed eastern Palestine, was threatening also to attack Judah and Ephraim W. of Jordan.

Jephthah passed Mizpah on his way from Gilead to fight Ammon (Judges 10:16-17; Judges 11:29). Here on the hallowed ground he "uttered all his words before Jehovah in the Mizpah." Thenceforth his home was there; and at Mizpah the sad meeting with his daughter took place (Judges 11:34). Seemingly identical with Ramoth Gilead, or Ramath ("high place") Mizpeh (Joshua 13:26); now es Salt, or else Mizpah is the Mount Jebel Osha, to the N.W. Here too Israel met, as being the ancient sanctuary, to determine what was to be done after the outrage perpetrated at Gibeah (Judges 20:1; Judges 20:3; Judges 21:1; Judges 21:5; Judges 21:8).

2. Mizpeh Moab, where the Moabite king lived when David entrusted his parents to him (1 Samuel 22:3). Possibly Kir Moab, now Kerak, S.E. of the Dead Sea. More probably a mountain fastness on the high land bounding the Arboth Moab on the E. of the Dead Sea; on the mountains Abarim or Pisgah (Deuteronomy 34:1), which David could easily reach from Bethlehem by crossing the Jordan near its entrance into the Dead Sea. Mount Pisgah was the most commanding eminence in Moab, and contained the sanctuary Nebo, of which part was called Zophim (derived from the same root as Mizpeh).

3. The land of Mizpah, the abode of the Hivites, "under Hermon," who joined Jabin against Joshua (Joshua 11:8). To "the valley of Mizpah eastward" Joshua chased Jabin's conquered hosts (Joshua 11:8). The valley is probably part of the great hollow, Coelo-Syria, now Buka'a (Amos 1:5, margin), containing Baalbek; near which on the N. is the hill Haush tell Safiyeh.

4. Mizpah of Benjamin (Joshua 18:26). Fortified by Asa against the invasions of northern Israel (1 Kings 15:22). The residence and scene of Gedaliah's murder (Jeremiah 40:7-10; Jeremiah 41:1-2), At Mizpah Israel repented at Samuel's call (1 Samuel 7:5-6), and "drew water and poured it out before the Lord," pleading symbolically their misery, powerlessness, and prostration by the Philistines, that so God might strengthen them. An act of deepest humiliation and confession of misery, the result of sin. (Psalms 22:14; Psalms 58:7; 2 Samuel 14:14; Isaiah 40:29-30; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Lamentations 2:19, "pour out thine heart like water before the face of Jehovah.") Here Samuel appointed Saul king (1 Kings 10:17-25). Mizpah with Bethel and Gilgal were the three cities which Samuel as judge visited on circuit.

Men of Mizpah on the return from Babylon helped in rebuilding the wall; "the ruler of the district of Mizpah" and "the ruler of Mizpah" took part in it (Nehemiah 3:7; Nehemiah 3:15; Nehemiah 3:19). Judas Maccabeus (1 Maccabees 3:44) assembled the Jews at Maspha, as being "aforetime a place of prayer over against (implying Mizpah was in full sight of) Jerusalem." Josephus (Ant. 11:8, section 5; B. J. v. 2-3; 2:19, section 4; 5:2-3) mentions Sapha (a corruption of Maspha, Mizpah) as the place of Alexander's meeting Jaddua the high priest; and elsewhere calls it Scopus, i.e. the look-out place, from whence on the broad ridge (the continuation of Olivet), seven stadia N. of the city, one gains the first view of Jerusalem. The Septuagint twice renders Mizpah skopia. Nebi Samwil, on the W. bound of Benjamin toward the Philistines, with whom Israel was about to war (1 Samuel 7:5-6), Robinson identifies with Mizpah.

But it is five miles off, though in view of the Sakhrah of the temple and the Church of the Sepulchre; and this is at variance with 1 Maccabees, "over against Jerusalem." Moreover it is out of the way of the pilgrims from Samaria to Jerusalem, murdered by Ishmael; whereas Scopus is in the direct road (Jeremiah 41:7). Sennacherib at Nob first caught the full view of "the house of Zion and hill of Jerusalem"; Nob therefore is probably Mizpah. Condor (Palestine Exploration Quarterly Statement, January, 1875) identifies Nob with Nebi Samwil, the Arabs mistaking Nob "high place" for Nebi "prophet." Nebi Samwil is so near Gibeon that it must have been the high place visited by Solomon; the view from it is splendid. Traces of the outer court of the tabernacle are yet discoverable, and a curious rock cut approach. (but, see NOB.)

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Mizpah'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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