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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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GILGAL . A name meaning ‘stone circle’ applied to several places mentioned in the OT. 1. A place on the east border of Jericho ( Joshua 4:19 ), where the Israelites first encamped after crossing Jordan, and which remained the headquarters of the congregation till after the rout of the northern kings at Merom ( Joshua 14:6 ). The stone circle from which it certainly took its name (in spite of the impossible etymology given in Joshua 5:9 ), was no doubt that to which the tradition embodied in Joshua 4:20 refers, and the same as the ‘images’ by Gilgal in the story of Ehud ( Judges 3:19 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ). The name is still preserved in the modern Jiljûlieh . This is probably the same Gilgal as that included in the annual circuit of Samuel ( 1 Samuel 7:16 ). This shrine is mentioned by Hosea ( Hosea 4:16; Hosea 9:16; Hosea 12:11 ) and by Amos ( Amos 4:4; Amos 5:6 ). 2. A place of the same name near Dor mentioned in a list of conquered kings ( Joshua 12:23 ). It may be Jiljûlieh , about 4 miles N. of Antipatris ( Ras el-’Ain ). 3. A place in the Samaritan mountains ( 2 Kings 4:38 ), somewhere near Bethel (2:1). It may possibly be Jiljîlia , 8 miles N. W. of Bethel. 4. The Gilgal of Deuteronomy 11:30 is unknown. It may be identical with No. 1; but it seems closely connected with Ebal and Gerizim. There is a Juleijil 2 1 / 2 miles S. E. of Nâhlus that may represent this place. 5. A place of uncertain locality, also possibly the same as No. 1 , in the border of the tribe of Judah ( Joshua 15:7 ).

At none of these places have any remains of early antiquity been as yet observed. There was in a.d. 700 a large church that covered what were said to be the twelve commemoration stones of Joshua: this is reported by Arculf. The church and stones have both disappeared. The only relic of antiquity now to be seen is a large pool, probably of mediæval workmanship, 100 ft. by 84 ft. A tradition evidently suggested by the Biblical story of the fall of Jericho is recorded by Conder as having been related to him here.

R. A. S. Macalister.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Gilgal'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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