the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
[many Reho'both] (Heb. Rechoboth', רְחֹבוֹה [once רְהֹבֹת, Genesis 10:11], wide places, i.e. streets, as in Proverbs 1:20, etc.), the name of three places.
1. REHOBOTH THE WELL (Sept. εὐρυχωρία ; Vulg. latitudo), the third of the series of wells dug by Isaac in the Philistines' territory (Genesis 26:22). He had dug several wells before, but was obliged to abandon them in consequence of the quarrels of the Philistines. When this one was completed they did not strive for it. He celebrated his triumph and bestowed its name on the well in a fragment of poetry of the same nature as those in which Jacob's wives gave names to his successive children: "He called the nam of it Rehoboth (room) and said,
‘ Because now Jehovah hath made room for us
And we shall increase in the land.í"
The name was intended to indicate the fact that th patriarch had at length got space to rest in. Most of the ancient versions translate the word, though it mus evidently be regarded as a proper name. Isaac has left the valley of Gerar and its turbulent Inhabitant before he dug the well which le thu4 commemorates (Genesis 26:22). From it he, in time, "went up" to Beershebf (Genesis 26:23), an expression which is always used of motion towards the land of promise. The position of Geram has not been definitely ascertained, but it seems to havs lain a few miles to the south of Gaza and nearly due east of Beersheba. In this direction, therefore, if anywhere, the wells Sitnah, Esek, and Rehoboth should be searched for. The ancient Jewish tradition confines the events of this part of Isaac's life to a much narrower circle. The wells of the patriarchs were shown near Ashkelon in the time of Origen, Antoninus Martyr, and Eusebius (Reland, Paloest. p. 589); the Samaritan version identifies Gerar with Ashkelon; Josephus (Ant. i, 12, 1) calls it "Gerar of Palestine," i.e. of Philistia. It is a remarkable fact that the name clings to the spot still. In the wilderness of et-Tih, about twenty-three miles south-west of Beersheba, is a wady called er-Ruhaibeh, in which and on the adjoining heights are remains of antiquity thus described by Robinson: "In the valley itself is the ruin of a small rough building with a dome, built in the manner of a mosque. On the right of the path is a confused heap of hewn stones, the remains of a square building of some size, perhaps a tower. On the acclivity of the eastern hill we found traces of wells, a deep cistern, or rather cavern, and a fine circular threshing-floor, evidently antique. But on ascending the hill on the left of the valley we were astonished to find ourselves amid the ruins of an ancient city. Here is a level track of ten or twelve acres in extent entirely and thickly covered over with confused heaps of stones, with just enough of their former order remaining to show the foundations and form of the houses, and the course of some of the streets. The houses were mostly small, all solidly built of bluish limestone, squared and often hewn on the exterior surface. Many of the dwellings had each its cistern, cut in the solid rock; and these still remained quite entire. Once, as we judged upon the spot, this must have been a city of not less than twelve or fifteen thousand inhabitants" (Bib. Res. i, 106). This identification is adopted by Rowlands (in Williams, Holy City, i, 465), Van de Velde (Memoir, p. 343), Stewart (Tent and Khan, p. 343), and Bonar (Desert of Sinai, p. 316). Dr. Robinson could not find the well itself. Dr. Stewart found it "regularly built, twelve feet in circumference," but "completely filled up." Mr. Rowlands describes it as "an ancient well of living and good water."
2. REHOBOTH THE CITY (Heb. Rechoboth' ‘ Ir, עַיר רְחֹבֹת, i.e. Rehoboth City; Sept. ῾Ροωβὼθ πόλις v. r. ῾Ροωβώς; Vulg.platece civitates), one of the four cities built by Asshur, or by Nimrod in Asshur, according as this difficult passage is translated. The four were Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir, Calah, and Resen, between Nineveh and Calah (Genesis 10:11). It has been supposed by recent commentators that these four constituted one great city. They argue that the first name, Nineveh, is the chief, and that the other three are subordinate. "He built Nineveh, with (taking not as a copulative, but as the sign of subordination) Rehoboth-ir, Calah, and Resen, between Nineveh and Calah." From this it would follow that the four places formed a large composite city, or range of towns, to which the general name "Nineveh" was given (see Keil and Delitzsch, ad loc.). This appears to put too great a strain upon the passage; and it is better, because more natural, to take them as distinct places. They were most probe ably not far distant from each other; and as Nineveh and Calah stood on the Tigris, the others may be looked for there also. The Samaritan seems to understand Sittace in South Assyria, which was thence called Sittacene (Ptolemy, 6:1, 2), and is different from the Mesopotamian Sittace near the Tigris (Xenoph. Anab. it ii, 4, .13; comp. Mannert, Geogr. v, ii, 383 sq.), oun the d site of the modern Old Bagdad. Ephrem has Adiabewe, a well- known district of Assyria; but not, as Michaelis supposes (Spicil. i, 243), also a city. Schulthess (Parad. a p. 117) refers it to the Euphrates, and considers it the same as Rehoboth Han-nahar (No. 3, below). In that case we must understand Assyria in a wide sense, as the Assyrian empire, which is improbable. Bochart gives a far-fetched supposition, resting on conjectural etymology (Phaleg, 4:21). Jerome, both in the Vule gate and in his Questiones ad Genesim (probably from Jewish sources), considers Rehoboth-ir as referring to Nineveh, and as meaning the "streets of the city." The readings of the Targums of Jonathan, Jerusalem, and rabbi Joseph on Genesis and 1 Chronicles, viz. Platiah,-Platiuttha, are probably only transcriptions of the Greek s word πλατεῖαι, which; as found in the well-known ancient city Plataea, is the exact equivalent of Rehoboth. The name of Rahabeh is still attached to two places in the region of the ancient Mesopotamia. They lie, the one on the western and the other on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, a few miles below the confluence of the Khabtir. Both are said to contain extensive ancient remains. That on the eastern bank bears the affix of malik, or royal, and this Bunsen (Bibelwerk) and Kalisch (Genesis, p. 261) propose as the representative of Rehoboth. Its distance from Kalah-Sherghat and Nimrud (nearly 200 miles) is perhaps an obstacle to this identification. Sir H. Rawlinson (Athenaeum, April 15, 1854) suggests Selemiyah in the immediate neighborhood of Kalah, "where there are still extensive ruins of the Assyrian period," but no subsequent discoveries appear to have confirmed this suggestion.
3. REHOBOTH BY THE RIVER (Heb. Rechoboth' hanNahar', רְחֹבוֹת הִנָּהִר, i. Rechoboth of the River; Sept. ῾Ροωβὼθ [Iv. r. ῾Ρωβὼθ ] ἡ παρὰ πόταμον; Vulg. de fluvio Roboth, or Rohohoth, quc juxta anenem sita est), the city of a certain Saul or Shaul, one of the early kings of the Edomites (Genesis 36:37; 1 Chronicles 1:48). The affix "the river" fixes the situation of Rehoboth as on the Euphrates, emphatically "the river" to the inhabitants of Western Asia (see Genesis 31:21; Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy i, 7; Exodus 23:31). The Targum of Onkelos adds, "Rehoboth, which is on the Phrat." There is no reason to suppose that the limits of Edom ever extended to the Euphrates, and therefore the occurrence of the name in the lists of kings of Edom is possibly a trace of an Assyrian incursion of the same nature as that of Chedorlaomer and Amraphel. At all events, the kings of Edom were not all natives of that country. Schultens in his note (Index Geogr. in Vit. Salad. s.v. "Rahaba") identifies it with Rehoboth of Genesis 36:37; and this is the view of Bochart (Opp. i, 225), Winer, Gesenius (Thesaur. p. 1281), and others; but as the Euphrates was far distant from the site of Nineveh, there is a strong probability against this opinion. Rahabak is mentioned by Abulfeda. In his day there was a small village on the site. The name still remains attached to two spots on the Euphrates — the one, simply Rahabeh, on the right bank, eight miles below the junction of the Khabur and about three miles west of the river; the other four or five miles farther down on the left bank. The latter is said to be called Pahabeh-malik, i.e. "royal" (Kalisch, Kaplali), and is on this ground identified by the Jewish commentators with the city of Saul. The existence of the: second locality, however, rests but on slender foundation. It is shown on the map in Layard's Nineveh and Babylon, and is mentioned by the two Jewish authorities named above; but it does not appear on the map of colonel Chesney. The other locality is unquestionably authentic. Chesney says, "On the right bank of the Euphrates, at the north- western extremity of the plain of Shinar, and three and a half miles south- west of the town of Mavadin, are extensive ruins around a castle still bearing the name of Rehoboth" (1, 119; 2, 222).
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Rehoboth'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​r/rehoboth.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.