views updated


ACRABA , place on the edge of the desert in the eastern Samaria mountains. Acraba is a site with archaeological remains from the Roman and Byzantine periods. The site has not been excavated but surveys conducted there in the 19th century by V. Guérin, C.F. Tyrwhitt-Drake, and C. Clermont-Ganneau revealed the remains of numerous ancient buildings, including a church, Greek inscriptions, cisterns, an open reservoir (birkeh), and a number of burial caves. The site was inhabited during the Late Hellenistic period by Idumeans, Samaritans, and Jews. The site was apparently part of a toparchy that was established in the area during the Hellenistic period. First mentioned in 1 Macc. 5:3 and Judith 7:18, the town was later conquered by Hyrcanus and added to the territory of Judea. It was a Jewish village during the First and Second Jewish Revolts and was subsequently transferred to the dominion of the city of Neapolis [= Shechem]. Acrabbeim was mentioned by Eusebius (Onom. 14) as situated on the "boundary of Judea toward the east, belonging to the tribe of Judah. There is a town by this name nine miles (15 km.) from Neapolis to the east heading down toward the Jordan, on the way to Jericho across the toparchy called Acrabattene." The site appears on the Madaba map of the mid-sixth century c.e. with the Greek inscription: "Akrabim, now Akrabittine." Two Monophysite monasteries may have existed at the site according to a sixth century c.e. epistle, one was dedicated to St. Stephen and the other was founded by a certain Abbot Titus. The village still exists today ('Aqraba) and is inhabited by Moslems – the mosque is apparently situated above the remains of a church.


J. Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades (1977), 149; B. Bagatti, Ancient Christian Villages of Samaria. (2002), 55–56; Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea Palaestina: Eretz Israel in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Periods. Maps and Gazetteer (1994), 56–57; G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville, R.L. Chapman, and J.E. Taylor, Palestine in the Fourth Century. The Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea (2003),108; M. Piccirillo and E. Alliata (eds.), The Madaba Map Centenary 18971997 (1999), 62.

[Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]