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Mizpah


Miz’pah and Miz’peh (a watch-tower), the name of several places in Palestine.

1. The earliest of all, in order of the narrative, is the heap of stones piled up by Jacob and Laban, Gen. 31:48, on Mount Gilead, ver. 25, to serve both as a witness to the covenant than entered into and as a landmark of the boundary between them. ver. 52. On this natural watch-tower did the children of Israel assemble for the choice of a leader to resist the children of Ammon. Judges 10:17. There the fatal meeting took place between Jephthah and his daughter on his return from the war. ch. 11:34. It seems most probable that the “Mizpeh-gilead” which is mentioned here, and here only, is the same as the “ham-Mizpah” of the other parts of the narrative; and both are probably identical with the Ramath-mizpeh and Ramoth-gilead, so famous in the later history.

2. A second Mizpeh, on the east on Jordan, was the Mizpeh-moab, where the king of that nation was living when David committed his parents to his care. 1 Sam. 22:3.

3. A third was “the land of Mizpeh,” or more accurately “of Mizpah,” the residence of the Hivites who joined the northern confederacy against Israel, headed by Jabin king of Hazor. Josh. 11:3. No other mention is found of this district in the Bible, unless it be identical with—

4. The valley of Mizpeh, to which the discomfited hosts of the same confederacy were chased by Joshua, Josh. 11:8; perhaps identical with the great country of Cœle-Syria.

5. Mizpeh, a city of Judah, Josh. 15:38, in the district of the Shefelah or maritime lowland.

6. Mizpeh, in Joshua and Samuel; elsewhere Mizpah, a “city” of Benjamin, not far from Jerusalem. Josh. 18:26; 1 Kings 15:22; 2 Chron. 16:6; Neh. 3:7. It was one of the places fortified by Asa against the incursions of the kings of northern Israel, 1 Kings 15:22; 2 Chron. 16:6; Jer. 41:10; and after the destruction of Jerusalem it became the residence of the superintendent appointed by the king of Babylon, Jer. 40:7, etc., and the scene of his murder and of the romantic incidents connected with the name of Ishmael the son of Nethaniah. It was one of the three holy cities which Samuel visited in turn as judge of the people, 1 Sam. 7:6, 16, the other two being Bethel and Gilgal. With the conquest of Jerusalem and the establishment there of the ark, the sanctity of Mizpah, or at least its reputation, seems to have declined. From Mizpah the city or the temple was visible. These conditions are satisfied by the position of Scopus, the broad ridge which forms the continuation of the Mount of Olives to the north and east, from which the traveller gains, like Titus, his first view, and takes his last farewell, of the domes, walls, and towers of the holy city.