the Fifth Week of Lent
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Heb. Ramnah', רָמָה ) signifies a height, or a high place, from the root רוּם, to be high; and thus it is used in Ezekiel 16:24. Very many of the ancient cities and villages of Palestine were built on the tops of hills, so as to be more secure, and hence, as was natural, such of them as were especially conspicuous were called by way of distinction, הָרָמָה (with the article), the Ileight; and this in the course of time came to be used as a proper name. We find no less than five Ramahs mentioned in Scripture by this simple name, besides several compounds, and in modern Palestine the equivalent Arabic name is of very frequent occurrence. With regart to most of them the traveller can still see how appropriate the appellation was. In the A. V. we have various forms of the word — Rumdath (רָמִת ), the status constructus (Joshua 13:26), Ramoth ( רָמוֹת and רָמֹת ), the plural (Joshua 21:36; 1 Samuel 30:27); and Reamathacimz (רָמָתִים ), a dual form (1 Samuel 1:1). Remaeth (רֶמֵת ) appears to be only another form of the same word. InI later Hebrew. ramtha is a recognised word for a hill, and as such is employed in the Jewish versions of the Pentateuch for the rendering of Pisgah. (See ARIMATHAEA). In the following account we largely follow the usual geographical authorities, with important additions from other sources.
1. RAMAH OF BENJAMIN (Sept. ῾Ραμά and Ἀραμά , v. r. Ι᾿αμά, ῾Ραμμά, ῾Ραμμάν, Βαμά, Vulg. Ramah), frequently mentioned in Scripture; Joshua, in enumerating the towuns of Benjamin, groups Ramah between Gibeon and Beeroth (18:25). This position suits the present Ram-Allah, but the consideratioms named in the text make it very difficult to identify any other site with it than er-Ram. It is probably this place which is mentioned in the story of Deborah, "She dwelt under the palm-tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Iethel in Mount Ephraim" (Judges 4:5). The Targum on this passage substitutes for the Palm of Deborah, Ataroth-Deborah, no doubt referring to the town of Ataroth. This has everything in its favor, since Atara is still found ol thie left hand of the north road, very nearly midway between er-Rhm anld Beitin. Its position is clearly indicated in the distressing narrative of the Levite recorded in Judges 19. He left Bethlehem for his home in Mount Ephraim in the afternoon. Passing Jerusalem, he journeyed northward, and, crossing the ridge, came in sight of Gibeah and Bainalh, each standing on the top of its hill; and he said to his servant, "Come and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeahl or in Ramah" (Judges 19:13). The towns were near the roaid on the right, and about two miles apart. The position of these two ancient towns explains another statement of Scrilpture. It is said of Saul (1 Samuel 22:6) that "he abode in (Gibeah under a tree in Ramah." The meaning appears to be that the site of his standing: camp was in some commanding spot on the borders of the two territories of Gibeah and Ramah. When Israel was divided, Ramah lay between the rival kingdoms, and appears to have been destroyed at the outbreak of the revolt; for we read that "Baasha, king of Israel, went up against Judah, and built Ramah" (1 Kings 15:17).
It was a strong position, and commanded the great road from the north to Jerusalem. The king of Judah was alarmed at the erection of a fortress in such close proximity to his capital, and he stopped the work by bribing the Syrians to invade northern Palestine (1 Kings 15:18-21), and then carried off all the building materials (1 Kings 15:22). There is a precise specification of its position in the catalogue of thle places north of Jerusalem which are enumerated by Isaiah as disturbed by the gradual approach of the king of Assyria (Isaiah 10:28-32). At Michmash he crosses the ravine; and then successively dislodges or alarms Geba, Ramah, and Gibeah of Saul. Each of these may be recognised with almost absolute certainty at the present day. Geba is Jeba, on the south brink of the great valley; and a mile and a half beyond it, directly between it and the main road to the city, is er-Ram, on the elevation which its ancient name implies. Ramah was intimately connected with one of the saddest epochs of Jewish history. The full story is not told, but the outline is sketched in the words of Jeremiah. In the final invasion of Judea by the Babylonians, Nebuchadnezzar established his headquarters on the plain of Hamath, at Riblah (Jeremiah 39:5). Thence he sent his generals, who captured Jerusalem. The principal inhabitants who escaped the sword were seized, bound, and placed under a guard at Ramah, while the conquerors were employed in pillaging and burning the temple and palace, and levelling the ramparts. Among the captives was Jeremiah himself (Jeremiah 40:1; Jeremiah 40:5, with 39:8-12). Perhaps there was also a slaughter of such of the captives as, from age, weakness, or poverty, were not worth the long transport across the desert to Babylon. There, in that heart-rending scene of captives in chains wailing over slaughtered kinudred and desolated sanctuaries, wmas fulfilled the first phase of the prophecy uttered only a few years before: "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping: Rachel weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children because they were not" (Jeremiah 31:15). That mourning was typical of another which took place six centuries later. when the infants of Bethlehem were murdered, and the second phase of the prophecy was fulfilled (Matthew 2:17). As Ramah was in Benjamin, the prophet introduces Rachel, the mother of that tribe, bewailing the captivity of her descendants. (See RAMA).
Ramah was rebuilt and reoccupied by the descendants of its old inhabitants after the captivity (Ezra 2:26; Nehemiah 7:30). The Ramah in Nehemiah 11:33 is thought by some to occupy a different position in the list, and may be a distinct place situated farther west, nearer the plain. (This, and Jeremiah 31:15, are the only passages in which the name appears without the article.) The Sept. finds an allusion to Ramah in Zechariah 14:1, where it renders the words which are translated in the A.V. "and shall be lifted up ( רָאֲמָה ‘), and inhabited in her place," by "Ramah shall remain upon her place." According to Josephus (who calls it ῾Ραμαθών ), it was forty stadia distant from Jerusalem (Ant. 8:12, 3); and Eusebius and Jerome place it in the sixth mile north of the holy city (Ononast. s.v. "Rama;" but in his commentary on Hosea 5:8, Jerome says in septizmo lapide); and the latter states that in his day it was a small village (ad Sophoniam, i, 15).
Modern travellers are right in identifying Ramah of Benjamin with the village of er-Ram (Brocardus, vii; Robinson, Bibl. Res. i, 576); though Maundrell and a few others have located it at Neby Samwil. Er-Ram is five miles north of Jerusalem and four south of Bethel. The site of Gibeah of Saul lies two miles southward, and Geba about the same distance eastward. Ram is a small, miserable village; but in the walls and foundations of the houses are many large hewn stones, and in the lanes and fields broken columns and other remains of the ancient capital. The situation is commanding, on the top of a conical hill, half a mile east of the great northern road, and overlooking the broad summit of the ridge; the eastern view is intercepted by bare ridges and hill-tops. The whole country round Ramah has an aspect of stern and even painfill desolation; but this is almost forgotten in the great events which the surrounding heights and ruins recall to memory. On the identity of this Ramah with that of Samuel, (See RAMATHAIM-ZOPHIM).
2. RAMAH OF ASHER (Sept. ῾Ραμά; Vulg. lTorma), a town mentioned only in Joshua 19:29, in the description of the boundaries of Asher. It would appear to have been situated near the sea-coast, and not far from Tyre, towards the north or north-east. Eusebius and Jerome mention this place, but in such a way as shows they knew nothing of it further than what is stated by Joshua. In the Vulgate Jerome calls it Horma, making the Hebrew article ה a part of the word; this, however, is plainly an error (Onomast. s.v. "Rama;" and note by Bonfrere). Robinson visited a village called Rameh, situated on the western declivity of the mountain-range, about seventeen miles south-east of Tyre. It "stands upon an isolated hill in the midst of a basin with green fields, surrounded by higher hills." In the rocks are numerous ancient sarcophagi, and the village itself has some remains of antiquity. He says "there is no room for question but that this village represents the ancient Ramah of Asher" (Bibl. Res. iii, 64). Its position, however, notwithstanding the assertion of so high an authority, does not at all correspond with the notice in Scripture, and the name Ramah was too common to indicate identity with any degree of certainty. Another Rameh has been discovered on a little tell, two miles south-east of modern Tyre, and about one mile northeast of Ras-el-Ain, the site of ancient Tyre (Van de Velde, Map and Memoir, p. 342). In position this village answers in all respects to the Ramah of Asher.
3. RAMAH OF GILEAD (2 Kings 8:29; 2 Chronicles 22:6), identical with Ramoth-Gilead (q.v.).
4. RAMAH OF NAPHTALI (Sept. Ἀραήλ v. r. ῾Ραμά; Vulg. Arania), one of the strong cities of the tribe, mentioned only in Joshua 19:36, and situated apparently to the south of Hazor, between that city and the Sea of Galilee. Reland seems inclined to identity it with the Ramah of Asher; but they are evidently distinct cities, as indicated both by ancient geographers and the sacred writer (Paloest. p. 963). Eusebius and Jerome record the name, though they appear to have known nothing of the place (Onomast. s.v. "Rama"). Beth-Rimah ( בֵּית רַימָה ), a place in Galilee on a mountain, and famous for its wine, according to the Talmud (Menachoth, 8:6), is thought by Schwarz (Palest. p. 178) to be the Ramah of Naphtali. About six miles west by south of Safed, on the leading road to Akka, is a large modern village called Rameh. It stands on the declivity of the mountain, surrounded by olive-groves, and overlooking a fertile plain. It contains no visible traces of antiquity; but the name and the situation render it highly probable that it occupies the site of Ramah of Naphtali. It was visited by Schultz in 1847 (Ritter, Pal. und Syr. iii, 772), and by Robinson in 1852 (Bib. Res. iii, 79). See also Hackett, Illlustr. of Script. p. 240; Thomson, Land and Book, i, 515. (See RAMATHITE).
5. RAMAH OF SAMUEL, the birthplace and home of that prophet (1 Samuel 1:19; 1 Samuel 2:11, etc.), and the city elsewhere called RAMATHAIM- ZOPHIM.
6. RAMAH OF THE SOUTH (See RAMATH-NEGEB).
7. A place mentioned in the catalogue of towns reinhabited by the Benjamites after their return from the captivity (Nehemiah 11:33). It may be the Ramah of Benjamin (above, No. 1), or the Ramah of Samuel, but its position in the list (remote from Geba, Michmash, Bethel, Nehemiah 11:31; comp. Ezra 2:26; Ezra 2:28) seems to remove it farther west, to the neighborhood of Lod, Hadid, and Ono. There is no further notice in the Bible of a Ramah in this direction; but Eusebius and Jerome allude to one, though they may be at fault in identifying it with Ramathaim and Arimathlaea (Onomast. s.v. "Armatha Sophim;" and the remarks of Robinson, Bibl. Res. ii, 239). The situtation of the modern Ramleh agrees very well with this, a town too important and too well placed not to have existed in the ancient times. The consideration that Ramleh signifies "sand," and Ramah "a height," is not a valid argument against the one being the legitimate successor of the other, if so, half the identifications of modern travellers must be reversed. Beit-fir can no longer be the representative of Beth-horon, because ur means "eye," while horon means "caves;" nor Beitlahm, of Bethlehem, because lahm is "flesh," and lehm "bread;" nor el-Aal, of Elealeh, because el is in Arabic the article, and in Hebrew the name of God. In these cases the tendency of language is to retain the solund at the expense of the meaning.
8. RAMAH NEAR HEBRON, called Er-Ramzeh, or Ramet el-Khalil — Ramah of Hebron, or Ramah of the Friend, i.e. Ramah of Abraham, or the High-place of Abraham the Friend of God. It lies about two miles north of Hebron, a little to the right or east of the road from Hebron to Jerusalem, on an eminence, the top and southern slope of which are covered with ancient foundations, the principal of which are those of a large building, apparently a Christian church. The ruins are described by Wolcott (Biblioth. Sac. i, 45), and by Dr. Wilson (Lands of the Bible, i, 382). The top commands a fine view of the Mediterranean through a gap in the mountains towards the north-west. This Ramah the Jews call the "House of Abraham," where, they say, Abraham lived when he dwelt at Mamre. But the "plains of Mamre," with the great Sindian, or evergreen oak in the middle of it (if not the same, the offspring, most probably, of the tree), under which Abraham entertained the angels, would seem to have anciently lain to the west of Hebron, as Machpelah, which is at Hebron, is said to be before, i.e. to the east of, Mamre. It is very possible, however, that Abraham may have had his habitation or tent at Ramah for a part of the time he was at Manire or near Helbron, or, which is still more probable, the altar which he erected (Genesis 13:18), his high-place, or place of worship, may have been at er-Rameh, or Ramet el-Khalil, "the high-place of the Friend," i.e. of Abraham the friend of God, while he dwelt or had his tent in the plain of Mamre.
Some suppose that this Ramah may be the Ramah of Samuel and the place where Saul was anointed. Wolcott and Van de Velde contend for this. But this place is far too distant from Rachel's tomb to admit of the supposition, not to speak of other insuperable difficulties. The place where Samuel was when he anointed Saul was evidently near or not far from Rachel's tomb (1 Samuel 10:1-11). It is much more probable that Bethlehem, or the high-place at or near Bethlehem, was the place where Samuel anointed Saul. The name of Ramet el-Khalil implies that that place had to do with Abraham the friend of God, and not with Samuel.
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ramah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​r/ramah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.