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GEBA (Heb. גֶּבַע; "hill"), common name of inhabited places in Ereẓ Israel from biblical times onward; its Arabic form (Jabaʿ) has survived in the names of several Arab villages. Important places bearing this name include:

(1) A city of *Benjamin, near the northern border of the tribe, the present-day Jabaʿ, a Muslim village some 5½ mi. (9 km.) north of *Jerusalem and 2 mi. (3 km.) east of al-Rāma, situated on an ancient tell containing Iron Age remains. Because of the similarity between the names Geba, Gibeah, and other places in the area, it is sometimes difficult to determine exactly which place the Bible refers to, especially since there are also interchanges and probable errors in the text (e.g., in Judg. 20:10 *Gibeah is meant and in ii Sam. 25 Gibeon, according to the parallel verse in i Chron. 14:16). It is therefore not certain whether Geba of the Benjaminite cities (Josh. 18:24) is the one under discussion or a more northerly city known to Eusebius, 5 Roman miles north of *Gophnah (Onom. 74:2). Geba is one of the levitical cities (Josh. 21:17; i Chron. 6:45) and was apparently the seat of the family of Ehud, the son of Gera (Judg. 3:13; i Chron. 8:6, following the Septuagint reading Ehud (ʾΑωδ) instead of Eḥud). Strategically located south of Wadi Ṣuwaynīṭ, opposite *Michmas, it played a central role in Saul's wars with the Philistines. His son Jonathan seized control of the city after his victory over its Philistine garrison (i Sam. 13:3). From the continuation of the war between Geba and Michmas (ibid. 13:16; 14:5), it is clear that this Geba is meant. Moreover, the assumption that a Philistine garrison was stationed at Gibeah before Saul established his capital there has been refuted by excavations at this site. It thus also appears that the "hill of God" (Gibeath ha-Elohim), which was the site of the Philistine garrison (i Sam. 10:5), is identical with the Geba being discussed, and this indicates that a "high place" existed there during the time of Saul.

Asa fortified Geba with stones taken from nearby Ramah (i Kings 15:22; ii Chron. 16:6); excavations at Geba have also established that this reference is not to Gibeah, as some scholars have claimed. Geba's strategic position on the eastern branch of the northern highroad is described by Isaiah (10:29) and it is logical that this is the same city which is mentioned on the border of the kingdom of Judah in the latter days of the First Temple (ii Kings 23:8; Zech. 14:10; Neh. 11:31). From the statement that *Josiah brought the priests to Jerusalem "from Geba to Beer-Sheba" (ii Kings 23:8) it seems likely that up to his time a sanctuary was located in the city (especially after the discovery of an Israelite temple of this period at *Arad on the southeastern border of the kingdom). Geba's destruction came about with the fall of the First Temple and it was rebuilt in the post-Exilic period; the exiles who returned to it are listed together with those from neighboring Ramah (Ezra 2:26; Neh. 7:30; and see Neh. 12:29).

[Yohanan Aharoni]

(2) Geba-Parashim (Gr. Geba Hippeon, "Geba of the Horsemen"), city in Lower Galilee near the Jezreel Valley founded by Herod who settled demobilized cavalrymen there (Jos., Ant., 15:294; Wars, 3:36). It served as a Herodian and Roman administrative center in the valley and enjoyed several urban privileges, including the right to mint city-coinage. During the Jewish War (66–70/73) fighting between the Romans and the Galilean rebels under the command of Josephus took place near Geba (Jos., Life, 115). The city was in existence until the fourth century c.e. and was the seat of a Christian bishop. Most scholars identify it with Khirbat Ḥarithiyya near a key road at the entrance of the Jezreel Plain. Another suggestion is that Hellenistic Geba corresponds to the Geba mentioned in the list of Thutmose iii's conquests (No. 41, Geba-Shemen) which has been identified with Tell al-ʿAmr in the same neighborhood.

(3) Geba, a place mentioned in the Mishnah (Kelim 17:5) and Tosefta (Kelim; bm 6:10) as being inhabited by Kutim (Cutheans). This city has been identified with the Arab village of Jabaʿ, 3 3/4 mi. (6 km.) north of Samaria. It is also mentioned in the Samaria ostraca from the eighth century b.c.e.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]


Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 328–9; Aharoni, Land, index; em, s.v.; idb, s.v.Gibeah; Maisler (Mazar), in: bjpes, 11 (1945), 37ff.; Avi-Yonah, Geog, 145.