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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(kindred with the Arabic Jebel, a mountain), the name of two places in Palestine (although some regard them as one, Schwarz, Palest. page 63), both doubtless so called as being situated in a mountainous region. The root is the Heb. גָּבִל , gabal', to twist; whence גְּבוּל, a line or natural boundary, such as mountain ranges usually form. There seems also to have been an orthography גֹּבֶל, Go'bel (Τᾠβελ, Euseb. Onomast. s.v. Βω῏ / βλος; comp. Alcobile, i.e., El-Gobel, of the Peutinger tables), whence Gobolites = Sobal. The Gablan (גִּבְלָן ) in the Mishna, along with Galilee (Sotah, fol. 49, 6), arose out of the גָּוֹלָן, or Jaulan, which is considered as the eastern border of Galilee (Josephus, War, 4:1, 1).
1. (Heb. Gebal', גְּבִל; Sept. Βίβλιοι, Vulg. Giblii, Ezekiel 27:9), better known from the Gentile form GIBLITES (גַּבְלַי,Sept. Γαβλί,Vulg. omits, Joshua 13:5; plur. גַּבְלַים, Sept. Γίβλιοι, Vulg. Giblii, Auth. Vers. "stone-squarers," 1 Kings 5:18 ), the inhabitants of the city and district of Gebal, in Phoenicia, 34° 7' N. latitude, 35° 42' E. longitude, on the shore of the Mediterranean, under Mount Lebanon. (See a passage from Lucian, quoted by Reland, Paelest. page 269.): "The land of the Giblites," with "all Lebanon," was assigned to the Israelites by the original appointment (Joshua 13:5); but it does not seem that they ever possessed themselves of it. Gebal was called Byblos (Βύβλος, sometimes Βίβλος ) by the Greeks, and so the Sept. has it in one passage. It was an important place, and celebrated for the birth and worship of Adonis, the Syrian Tammuz. Pliny and other Roman authors call it Gabale (Hist. Nat. 5:20). The Giblites, or Byblians, seem to have been pre-eminent in the arts of stone-carving (2 Kings 5:18) and shipcalking (Ezekiel 27:9); but, according to Strabo, their industry suffered greatly from the robbers infesting the sides of Mount Lebanon. Pompey not only destroyed the strongholds from whence these pests issued, but freed the city from a tyrant (Strabo, 16:2, 18). Some have confounded Gebal, or Byblus, with the Gabala of Strabo, just below Laodicea, and consequently many leagues to the north, the ruins and site of which, still called Jebili, are so graphically described by Maundrell (Early Travellers in Palestine, by Wright, page 394). By Moroni (Dizion. Eccles.) they are accurately distinguished under their respective names. Finally, Byblus became a Christian see in the patriarchate of Antioch, subject to the metropolitan see of Tyre (Reland, Palest. page 214 sq.). It shared the usual vicissitudes of Christianity in these parts; and even now furnishes episcopacy with a title. It is called Jebail by the Arabs, thus reviving the old Biblical name. It is seated on a rising ground near the sea, at the foot of Lebanon, which here approaches close to the coast. It is walled on the three sides towards the land, and open on the west towards the sea, being perhaps about half a mile in circuit. Within the wall, which seems to be of the age of the Crusades, the chief building is an old castle, which has received modern repairs, and is now used as the abode of the agha or commandant. There are three or four open and lofty buildings belonging to the chief people of the place, a mosque with a low minaret, and an old Maronite church of good masonry; but the houses generally are of poor construction, and nearly half the space within the walls is occupied with the gardens of the inhabitants. The population is estimated at 600, none of whom are Jews (Maundrell's Journey, page 45; Burckhardt's Syria, page 180; Buckingham's Arab Tribes, page 455; Pococke, Travels, 2:98; Wilson, Lands of Bible, 2:40). Its antiquity is attested by multitudes of granite columns which are built into the walls and castles, choke up the small harbor, and lie scattered over the fields. The substructions of the old castle are of beveled masonry, and some of the stones are nearly twenty feet long. Beautiful sarcophagi are frequently dug out of the ruins. The columns are of the Grecian style, like those of the other cities of ancient Phoenicia (Bibliotheca Sacra, 1848, page 7). (See BYBLUS).
2. (Heb. Gebal', גְּבָל, Sept. Γεβάλ, Vulg. Gebal; Psalms 83:7), a district, or perhaps sovereignty, south of Judaea, in the land of Edom. Gebal signifying a mountain, apparently belongs not to the most ancient times, as it does not occur when the Israelites were actually in this quarter, but is first found in Psalms 83, which was probably written in the time of Jehoshaphat. That king had, in the beginning of his reign, humbled the Philistines and Arabians (2 Chronicles 17:9-10), and still more recently had assisted Ahab against the Syrians (ib. ch. 18). Now, according to the poetic language of the Psalmist, there were symptoms of a general rising against him: on the south, besides these Gelalites, the other Edomites, the Ishmaelites, and the Haearenes; on the south-east, Moab and Ammon;alhgi the whole line of the south-west coast (and, with Jehoshaphat's maritime projects, this would naturally disturb him most, see 2 Chronicles 20:36), the Amalekites, Philistines, and Phoenicians, or inhabitants of Tyre; with the aid and comfort even of Assur, i.e., the Syrians, or Assyrians, from the more distant north. The country south of the Dead Sea, and on the east of the Ghor, or great Jordan valley, bears the same name (Jebail) at the present day (Burckhardt, page 401 sq.), and is doubtless the sauce as the Gebal of Scripture, the Gebalitis (or, rather, Gobolitis) of Josephus (Γοβολῖτις, Ant. 2:1, 2; 3:2, 1; Γαβαλῖται, Ant. 9:9, 1), and the Cebs- lene of the Romans (Euseb. and Steph. Byz. have Γάβαλα, - ληνή; Γέβαλα, - ληνή ). Josephus says, indeed, that the sons of Eliphaz, son of Esau, settled in that part of Idumaea which was called Gebalitis, and that denominated from Amalek Amalekitis: "For Idumaea," he adds, "was the name of a large country, which in its several parts retained the names of its peculiar inhabitants" (Ant. 2:2, 1). We may therefore take Gelal as the name of the northernmost portion of Iumasea, which was nearest to Palestine. In Judith 3:1, Lat. Vers., and also in the writingsof the Crusaders, it is called Syria Sobal (q.v.). The Jerusalem Targum generally reads Mount Gablah (טורא דגבלה ) instead of Mount Seir; so also the Samar. in Deuteronomy 32:2. 'Seir, however, was the ancient name of Edom, whereas Gebal was only a part of it. (See Reland, Palaest. page 84; Michaelis, Supplem. 1:261 sq.; Robinson, Researches, 2:552.) (See IDUMEA).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Gebal'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/g/gebal.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.