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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Shaphir', שָׁפַיר ,fair; Sept. translates as adverb, καλῶς ), A place in the kingdom of Judah, named only in Micah 1:11. By Eusebius and Jerome (Onomast. s.v. "Saphir") it is described as "in the mountain district between Eleutheropolis and Ascalon." But in this description Dr. Robinson thinks that the Onomasticon incorrectly takes it for one of the Hazors of Joshua 15:25, in the south of Judah (Bibl. Res. 2, 370). On the way from Jerusalem to Gaza, at Kuratiyeh, Robinson saw a place called by the Arabs es-Sawafir, N. 32° W., which seems to be a plural form for Saphir (comp. Gesenius, Thesaur. s.v. שָׁפַיר ). Es-Sawafir lies seven or eight miles to the northeast of Ascalon, and about twelve west of Beit-Jibrin, to the right of the coast road from Gaza (Van de Velde, Syr. and Pal. p. 159). Tobler prefers a village called Saber, close to Sawafir. containing a copious and apparently very ancient well (Dritte Wanderung, p. 47). "In one important respect, however, the position of neither of these agrees with the notice of the Onomasticon, since it is not near the mountains, but on the open plain of the Shefelah. But as Beit-Jibrin, the ancient Eleutheropolis, stands on the western slopes of the mountains of Judah, it is difficult to understand how any place could be westward of it (i.e. between it and Ascalon), and yet be itself in the mountain district, unless that expression may refer to places which, though situated in the plain, were for some reason considered as belonging to the towns of the mountains. (See KEILAH); (See NEZIB), etc. Schwarz, though aware of the existence of Sawafir (p. 116), suggests as a more feasible identification the village of Safiriyeh, a couple of miles northwest of Lydda (Palest. p. 136). The drawback to this is, that the places mentioned by Micah appear, as far as we can trace them to be mostly near Beit-Jibrin, and, in addition, that Safiriyeh is in clear contradiction to the notice of Eusebius and Jerome" (Smith). Van de Velde inclines to identify Saphir with one of the two other villages named es-Sawafir south by east of Esdfud, and nearer to it (Memoir, p. 346).

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

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