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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Netophah', נְטֹפָה , distillation; Sept. Νετωφά in Ezra, v.r. Νεφωτά; but Ἀνετωφά in Nehemiah, v.r. Ἀτωφά; Vulg. Netopha), a town in Palestine, fifty-six of whose people returned from captivity with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:22; Nehemiah 7:26). Two of David's guard, Maharai and Heleb or Hildai, leaders also of two of the monthly courses (1 Chronicles 27:13; 1 Chronicles 27:15), were Netophathites, and it was the native place of at least one of the captains who remained under arms near Jerusalem after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar; for the "villages of the Netophathites" were the residence of the Levites (1 Chronicles 9:16), a fact which shows that they did not confine themselves to the places named in the catalogues of Joshua 21 and 1 Chronicles 6. From another notice we learn that the particular Levites who inhabited these villages were singers (Nehemiah 12:28). That Netophah belonged to Judah appears from the fact that the two heroes above mentioned belonged, the one to the Zarhites that is, the great family of Zerah, one of the chief houses of the tribe and the other to Othniel, the son-in-law of Caleb. To judge from Nehemiah 7:26, it was in the neighborhood of, or closely connected with, Bethlehem, which is also implied by 1 Chronicles 2:54, though the precise force of the latter statement cannot now be made out. From the number of Netophathites who returned from captivity, the place was probably only a small village, which indeed may account for its having escaped mention in the lists of Joshua. The Netophathites seem to have been a warlike race, if we may judge from the fact that one of the great military leaders of the Jews during the rule of the viceroy Gedaliah was Seraiah from that place (2 Kings 25:23; Jeremiah 40:8). A remarkable tradition, of which there is no trace in the Bible, but which, nevertheless, is not improbably authentic, is preserved by the Jewish authors, to the effect that the Netophathites slew the guards which had been placed by Jeroboam on the roads leading to Jerusalem to stop the passage of the first-fruits from the country villages to the Temple (Targum on 1 Chronicles 2:34; on Ruth 4:20, and Ecclesiastes 3:11). Jeroboam's obstruction, which is said to have remained in force till the reign of Hoshea (see the notes of Beck to Targum on 1 Chronicles 2:54), was commemorated by a fast on the 23d Sivan, which is still retained in the Jewish calendar (see the calendar given by Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, volume 6, chapter 29). Netophah is not mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome, and although in the Mishna reference is made to the "oil of Netophah" (Pearh, 7:1, 12), and to the "valley of Beth-Netophah," in which artichokes flourished, whose growth determined the date of some ceremonial observance (Shebiith, 9:7), nothing is said as to the situation of the place. The latter may well be the present village of Beit Nettif, which stands on the edge of the great valley of the Wady es-Sumt (Robinson, Bib. Res. 2:16, 17; Porter, Hand-book, page 248), but can hardly be the Netophah of the Bible, since it is not near Bethlehem, but in quite another direction. It may, however, be the place mentioned (as above) by the rabbins (see Reland, Palcest. pages 650, 909). The only name in the neighborhood of Bethlehem suggestive of Netophah is that which appears in Van de Velde's map (1858) as Antubeh, and in Tobler (Dritte Wand. page 80) as Urn-Tlba, attached to a half-ruined village about two miles north-east of Bethlehem and a wady which falls therefrom into the Wady en-Nar, or Kidron. (See NETOPHATH).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Netophah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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