Gilgal [N] [H] [S]


  • From the solemn transaction of the reading of the law in the valley of Shechem between Ebal and Gerizim the Israelites moved forward to Gilgal, and there made a permanent camp ( Joshua 9:6 ; 10:6 ). It was "beside the oaks of Moreh," near which Abraham erected his first altar ( Genesis 12:6 Genesis 12:7 ). This was one of the three towns to which Samuel resorted for the administration of justice ( 1 Samuel 7:16 ), and here also he offered sacrifices when the ark was no longer in the tabernacle at Shiloh ( 1 Samuel 10:8 ; 13:7-9 ). To this place, as to a central sanctuary, all Israel gathered to renew their allegiance to Saul ( 11:14 ). At a later period it became the scene of idolatrous worship ( Hosea 4:15 ; 9:15 ). It has been identified with the ruins of Jiljilieh, about 5 miles south-west of Shiloh and about the same distance from Bethel.

  • The place in "the plains of Jericho," "in the east border of Jericho," where the Israelites first encamped after crossing the Jordan ( Joshua 4:19 Joshua 4:20 ). Here they kept their first Passover in the land of Canaan ( 5:10 ) and renewed the rite of circumcision, and so "rolled away the reproach" of their Egyptian slavery. Here the twelve memorial stones, taken from the bed of the Jordan, were set up; and here also the tabernacle remained till it was removed to Shiloh ( 18:1 ). It has been identified with Tell Jiljulieh, about 5 miles from Jordan.

  • A place, probably in the hill country of Ephraim, where there was a school of the prophets ( 2 Kings 4:38 ), and whence Elijah and Elisha, who resided here, "went down" to Bethel ( 2 Kings 2:1 2 Kings 2:2 ). It is mentioned also in Deuteronomy 11:30 . It is now known as Jiljilia, a place 8 miles north of Bethel.

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Gilgal". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .
  • Gilgal [N] [E] [S]

    wheel; rolling; heap
    Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Gilgal'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.
    Gilgal [N] [E] [H]

    (a wheel; rolling ).

    1. The site of the first camp of the Israelites on the west of the Jordan, the place at which they passed the first night after crossing the river, and where the twelve stones were set up which had been taken from the bed of the stream, ( Joshua 4:19 Joshua 4:20 ) comp. Josh 4:3 where also they kept the first passover in the land of Canaan ch. ( Joshua 5:10 ) It was "in the east border of Jericho," apparently on a hillock or rising ground, ( Joshua 5:3 ) comp. Josh 5:9 in the Arboth-Jericho (Authorized Version "the plains"), that is, the hot depressed district of the Ghor which lay between the town and the Jordan. ch. ( Joshua 5:10 ) Here Samuel was judge, and Saul was made king. We again have a glimpse of it, some sixty years later, in the history of Davids return to Jerusalem. ( 2 Samuel 19:40 ) A Gilgal is spoken of in ( Joshua 15:7 ) in describing the north border of Judah. In ( Joshua 18:17 ) it is given as Geliloth. Gilgal near Jericho is doubtless intended.
    2. In ( 2 Kings 2:1 2 Kings 2:2 ; 4:38 ) is named a Gilgal visited by Elijah and Elisha. This could not be the Gilgal of the low plain of the Jordan, for the prophets are said to have gone down to Bethel, which is 3000 feet above the plain. It haa been identified with Jiljilia , about four miles from Bethel and Shiloh respectively.
    3. The "king of the nations of Gilgal" or rather perhaps the "king of Goim at Gilgal," is mentioned in the catalogue of the chiefs overthrown bv Joshua. ( Joshua 12:23 ) Possibly the site of this place is marked by the modern village Jiljulieh , about four miles south of Antipatris, which lies 16 miles northeast of Joppa. But another Gilgal, under the slightly-different form of Kilkilieh , lies about two miles east of Antipatris.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

    Bibliography Information

    Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Gilgal'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.


    gil'-gal (gilgal, "circle"; Galgala):

    The article is always with the name except in Joshua 5:9. There are three places to which the name is attached:

    (1) The first camp of Israel after crossing the Jordan (Joshua 4:19; 5:9,10; 9:6; 10:7; 14:6; 15:7; Deuteronomy 11:30). According to Joshua 15:7 it lay to the North of the valley of Achor, which formed the border between Judah and Benjamin. Here 12 memorial stones taken from the bed of the river were set up by Joshua, after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan; and here (Joshua 5:5) the people were circumcised preparatory to their possession of the land, when it is said in Josh, with a play upon the word, "This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you." Whereupon the Passover was celebrated (Joshua 5:10) and the manna ceased (Joshua 5:12). To Gilgal the ark returned every day after having compassed the city of Jericho during its siege (Joshua 6:11). Hither the Gibeonites came to make their treaty (Joshua 9:3), and again (Joshua 10:6) to ask aid against the Amorites. Gilgal was still the headquarters of the Israelites after the battle with the Amorites (Joshua 10:15); again after Joshua's extensive victorious campaign in the hill country of Judea extending to Kadesh-barnea and Gaza (Joshua 10:15); and still later upon his return from the great battle at the Waters of Merom (Joshua 14:6). At the conclusion of the conquest (Joshua 18:1), the headquarters were transferred to Shiloh on the summit of the mountain ridge to the West.

    Gilgal reappears frequently in subsequent history. Samuel (1 Samuel 7:16) made it one of the three places where he annually held circuit court, the other places being Bethel and Mizpah. The Septuagint text adds that these were holy places. The place continued as one of special resort for sacrifices (1 Samuel 10:8; 13:8,9,10; 15:21), while it was here that Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the Lord (1 Samuel 15:33), and that Saul was both crowned (1 Samuel 11:14,15) and rejected as king. It was at Gilgal, also (2 Samuel 19:15), that the people assembled to welcome David as he returned from his exile beyond Jordan during Absalom's rebellion. The early prophets refer to Gilgal as a center of idolatry in their day (Hosea 4:15; 9:15; 12:11; Amos 4:4; 5:5). Micah (6:5) represents Gilgal as at the other end of the Dead Sea from Shittim.

    In 1874 Conder recognized the name Gilgal as surviving in Barker Jiljuilieh, a pool beside a tamarisk tree 3 miles East of old Jericho. The pool measures 100 ft. by 84, and is surrounded with a wall of roughly hewn stones. North of the pool Bliss discovered lines of masonry 300 yds. long, representing probably the foundations of an ancient monastery. South of the pool there are numerous mounds scattered over an area of one-third of a square mile, the largest being 50 feet in diameter, and 10 feet in height. On excavation some pottery and glass were found. These ruins are probably those of early Christian occupation, and according to Conder there is nothing against their marking the original site. Up to the Middle Ages the 12 stones of Joshua were referred to by tradition.

    (2) According to 2 Kings 2:1; 4:38, Elisha for a time made his headquarters at Gilgal, a place in the mountains not far from Bethel identified by Conder as Jiljilia, standing on a high hill on the North side of the Wady el-Jib. It is lower than Bethel, but the phrase in 2 Kings 2:2, "they went down to Beth-el," may refer to their initial descent into the wady. It could not have been said that they went down from Gilgal to Bethel in the Jordan valley. The place seems to be referred to in Neb 12:29 as Beth-gilgal.

    (3) Gilgal of the nations:

    In Joshua 12:23 Gilgal is mentioned as a royal city associated with Dor, evidently upon the maritime plain. Dor is identified with Tantura, while Conder identifies this Gilgal with Jiljuilieh, 30 miles South of Dor and 4 miles North of Anti-patris.

    George Frederick Wright

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'GILGAL'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.