1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mizpah

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MIZPAH, or Mizpeh, the name of several places referred to in the Old Testament, in each case probably derived from a “commanding prospect,” the Hebrew name having that significance. (1) Mizpah of Gilead, where Jacob was reconciled to Laban (Gen. xxxi. 49); apparently the site of the camp of the Israelites when about to attack the Ammonites under Jephthah's leadership (Judges x. 17). This ancient sanctuary was probably the scene of Jephthah's vow (Judges xi. 29; cf. v. 11). The identification of this Mizpeh is a difficult problem: it is supposed to be the same as Ramoth Gilead, but the evidence is scarcely conclusive. It is referred to in Hos. v. 1. (2) Mizpah of Benjamin. It has been suggested, on hardly sufficient grounds, that the Mizpeh where the Hebrews assembled before the extermination of the Benjamites (Judges xx. 1) was not the shrine where Samuel made his headquarters (1 Sam. vii. 5). It was fortified by Asa (1 Kings xv. 22), and after the destruction of Jerusalem was the seat of government under the viceroy Gedaliah (2 Kings xxv. 23): here Gedaliah was murdered (ibid. 25). After the exile it retained the tradition of being a seat of government (Neh. iii. 7) and a holy place (1 Macc. iii. 46). It is probably to be identified with the mountain, Neby Samwil, north of Jerusalem, still considered sacred by the Moslems: a Crusaders' church (now a mosque), covers the traditional tomb of Samuel. (3) A territory near Mount Hermon, a seat of the Hivites, which joined the coalition of Jabin against Joshua (Joshua xi. 3). In the territory was the “valley of Mizpeh” (v. 8) where the Canaanites were routed. (4) A town in the tribe of Judah (Joshua xv. 38). (5) Mizpeh of Moab, where David interviewed the king of Moab and found an asylum for his parents (1 Sam. xxii. 3). (R. A. S. M.)