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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Geshur

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(Heb. Geshur',. גִּשׁוּר; Sept. Γεσούρ and Γεσουρί ), the name of a district of Syria near Gilead (2 Samuel 15:8; 1 Chronicles 2:23), which adjoined, on the east side of the Jordan, the northern border of the Hebrew territory, and lay between Mount Hermon, Maachabh, and Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:13-14; Joshua 12:5). It is plain from these notices that Geshur lay in that portion of Syria which was connected with or adjoining to the land of Gilead, and the Geshurites probably dwelt in the rocky fastnesses of Argob. This region is supposed to be the same with what is now called the Lejah, and is remarkable for its singularly wild and rugged scenery. Burckhardt says, "In the interior parts of the Lejah the rocks are in many places cleft asunder, so that the whole hill appears, shivered, and in the act of falling down," etc. Porter adds, "No description can approach the reality. One cannot repress a shudder when he finds himself in such a den, surrounded armed hordes on whose faces the country seems do have stamped its oaen savage aspect. Ibrahim Pasha, flushed with victory, and maddened by the obstinacy of a handful of Druses, attempted to follow them into this stronghold; but scarcely a soldier who entered returned. Every nook concealed an enemy... . The Lejah has for ages been a sanctuary for outlaws, and not unfrequently a refuge for the oppressed" (Handbook for Syria, page 504). (See ARGOB).

Geshur is first associated with Aram or Syria as among the conquests of Jair, the son of Manasseh. After stating that he had three and twenty cities in the land of Gilead, it is said, Jair took "Geshur and Aram, with the towns of Jair, from them, with Kenath, and the towns thereof, three-score cities" (11 Chronicles 2:23). While these places were taken, they were held: only as subject territories, still to a great extent occupied by their original inhabitants. (See HAVOTH-JAIR). According to the boundaries of the Holy Land, as defined by Moses, Geshur would have formed part of it; but in Joshua 13:2; Joshua 13:13, it is stated that the Israelites had expelled neither the Geshurites nor the Maachathites, but dwelt together with them. That the Hebrews did not afterwards permanently subdue Geshur appears from the circumstance that, in David's time, this district had a king of its own, called Talmai, whose daughter, Maachah, was one of the wives of David (2 Samuel 3:3; 1 Chronicles 3:2). She was probably a person of superior beauty, as she became the mother of the two handsomest of David's children, Absaloml and Tamar. How David should have thought of getting a wife from such a quarter, or what prior link of connection between him and the king of Geshur might have led to such a result, is left unnoticed in the history. But possibly the Geshurites, who are mentioned among the tribes against whom David made incursions while he dwelt in Ziklag (l Samuel 27:8), and who, from the name being once found in connection with the Philistines (Joshua 13:3), are generally supposed to have been a different tribe from the other, may, after all, have been the same. (See GEHURITE). The Geshurites, very probably, from their fastnesses in Argob, were wont to sally forth, like the Amalekites, in occasional raids upon the districts to the south and east of Palestine, without having any settled habitations there; and David might justly regard them (though located at some distance), equally with the Amalekites who are mentioned along with them, as fair subjects for making reprisals upon. In that case he would be brought into close contact with Talmai, first, indeed, as occupying a hostile relation to him, but not unnaturally afterwards as wishing to form with him' a bond of alliance. Ahnid the troubles and difficulties which encompassed David's access to the throne, a marriage into the family of the king of Geshur might seem to afford a prospect not to be slighted of strengthening his position. As it ultimately proved, this alliance became the source of one of his greatest dangers, in giving birth to the fascinating, but restless and aspiring Absalom. The wild acts of Absalom's life may have been to some extent the results of maternal training; they were at least characteristic of the stock from which he sprung. In fleeing, as Absalom did, after the assassination of his brother Amnon, to the court of his maternal grandfather at Geshur (2 Samuel 13:37-38; 2 Samuel 14:23; 2 Samuel 14:32), one can easily understand how secure a refuge he might find there, while he required to be in concealment, but at the same time how unlikely it was his ambition could remain long satisfied with its dreary aspect and dreadful seclusion. (See ABSALOM). The word Geshur signifies a bridge, and corresponds with the Arabic Jisr, Syriac Giythara; and in the same region where, according to the above data, we must fix Geshur, between Mount Hermon and the Lake of Tiberias, there still exists an ancient stone bridge over the Upper Jordan, called Jisr-Benat-Jakub, or "the bridge of the daughters of Jacob," i.e., the Israelites. The ancient commercial route to and from Damascus and the East seems to have lain in this direction in the most ancient times (Genesis 37:25), and hence the probability that there was even then a bridge over the river, which (in times when bridges were rare) gave its name to the adjacent district. The Jordan, however, is at a considerable distance from the region in question. Dr. Robinson, moreover, regards the bridge in question as a structure of the time of the Crusades, although he admits that it occupies the site of a traditionary Ford of Jacob (Researches, 3:361) (See BRIDGE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Geshur'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/g/geshur.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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