REHOBOTH (Heb. רְחֹבוֹת).
(1) Rehoboth-in-the-Negev. Rehoboth is the etiological name of a well dug by Isaac in the Negev in order to escape from quarrels with the people of Gerar (Gen. 26:22). Some scholars locate it in the region around al-Ruḥayba, approximately 20½ mi. (33 km.) southwest of Beersheba. Near the tell, an Iron Age fortress was discovered. *Nabatean remains, including a building (caravanserai?) and a bilingual Nabatean and Greek inscription, suggest that the site was a stopping place for traders on the secondary road extending to the Sinai via Rhinocorura. The main remains at the site date to the Byzantine period. After Haluza, ancient Elusa, Rehoboth (22 acres) is the second largest town in the Negev. The ancient town contained a large central church, apparently built in the late fourth or fifth centuries c.e., and two additional churches on the northern and southern edges of the settlement. Found in the north church were small glass plaques decorated with images of saints. On the site are the remains of one of the best-preserved bathhouses in the Negev. Numerous Greek inscriptions were found on tombstones in the cemetery, the earliest from 488 c.e. and the latest from 555 c.e. A kufic inscription was also found at the site referring to Amr ibn-al-As, conqueror of Byzantine Palestine in the seventh century. Excavations were conducted at the site by Y. Tsafrir and R. Rosenthal-Higgenbottom between 1975 and 1979, with further excavations by Tsafrir and K. Holum in 1986.
(2) Rehoboth ha-Nahar (Heb. רְחֹבוֹת הַנָּהָר; "Rehoboth by the River"), the residence of Shaul, king of Edom (Gen. 36:37; i Chron. 1:48). Roman sources (Notitia Dignitatum 73:27), the Beersheba edict, and Eusebius (Onom. 142:13–14) mention it as a garrison in the Gebalene. In the Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 10a) it is located on the Euphrates, usually called nahar ("river") in the Bible. It is perhaps to be identified with Khirbat al-Riḥāb on the Sayl al-Riḥāb, a confluent of the river Zered (Wadi al-Ḥasaʾ). Remains on the site date to the Nabatean and Roman periods.
T.E. Lawrence and C.L. Wooley, The Wilderness of Zin (1915), 117ff.; A. Musil, Arabia Petraea, 2 (1907), 79ff.; T. Wiegand, Sinai (1920), 57–61; N. Glueck, in: aasor, 18–19 (1939), 59; A. Alt, in: zdpv, 58 (1935), 30; Press, Ereẓ, s.v.add. bibliography: Y. Tsafrir, Excavations at Rehovot-in-the-Negev 1: The Northern Church (1988; cf. C. Dauphin, in: aja 95 (1991), 186–88); Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea – Palaestina. Maps and Gazetteer (1994), 88, s.v. "Betomolachon."
[Michael Avi-Yonah /
Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]