DISCUSSION

Mount Ephraim and Benjamin

In the Madaba Map the mountains Ebal and Garizim are shown twice, once near Galgala, in the Jericho region, and once near Nablus. The mosaicist was well aware of the existence of two traditions: the Samaritan and the Jewish one (followed also by the Christians) and, apparently, choose not to choose between them. See above no. 13.

42. Tur Gobel (Mount Ebal) - (Jabal Islamiyah)


A large mountain located just N of Shechem in the central Samaria mountains, often paired in the Bible with Mt. Gerizim immediately S of Shechem. One of the highest peaks in the area, Mt. Ebal descends to the E in four large steps, which continue to be cultivated today. In the days of Joshua, Mt. Ebal was the location of a major Israelite ceremony associated with the stone inscription of the Mosaic law, the building of an altar of unhewn stones, sacrifices, and a special liturgy of blessing and cursing (Josh 8:30-35; cf. Deut 11:26-32; 27:1-26).
Although the biblical passages attesting to the Mt. Ebal ceremony are clearly Deuteronomistic (and therefore late), their reference to an important ceremony outside Jerusalem and in the heart of N territory is in sharp contrast with the so-called "main theme" of the Deuteronomistic historian: namely, the centralization of the cult in Jerusalem. Thus, many scholars assume that the historical witness of these texts is generally authentic (see Soggin Joshua Testament Library, 241). This assumption has been reinforced by the April 1980 discovery of an early Iron Age site, apparently cultic, on the S part of one of the steps of the mountain.
This previously unknown site, known as el-Burnat, was discovered during a survey of the hill country of Manasseh begun in 1978. Actual excavations began in 1982, and six seasons of excavations were conducted...
The presence of a ritual place on Mt. Ebal is mentioned in two biblical sources (Deut 27; Josh 8:30-35). These describe a ceremony requiring the presence of all the people of Israel. The ceremony includes inscribing the Mosaic law on stones, erecting an altar of unhewn stones, sacrifices, and special pronouncements of blessing and cursing.
In spite of the Deuteronomistic nature of the texts many scholars accept the basic authenticity of the event, especially such a significant event which is described outside Jerusalem and in the heart of the House of Joseph. On this basis, the tradition of Mt. Ebal is considered ancient and historical by Steuernagel (1900: 96), Alt (1966: 125-26), Noth (1966: 141-42), Mazar (B. Mazar 1974: 149), etc.
If there is a historical basis for the biblical tradition, an ensuing question is if there is a connection between the biblical tradition and the site at Ebal. The site is the only one from the Early Iron I period on the mountain; it agrees with the biblical traditions by its date, its location, and the general character of the remains. Furthermore, it appears to connect with a new social identity - the settling Israelites. It therefore appears that the site on Mt. Ebal is connected to the biblical tradition and that a central ceremony was performed on Mt. Ebal. It is also suggested that the site was the first multitribal cultic center, preceding Shiloh. The possible correlation between the abandonment of Ebal and the foundation of Shiloh (mid-12th century B.C.E.) may be interpreted as the movement of the national and religious focus of the Israelites from the north to the south, or from Manasseh to Ephraim.
Bibliography: Alt, A. 1966. The Settlement of the Israelites in Palestine. Pp. 133-71 in Essays on Old Testament and Religion. Oxford. Mazar, B. 1974. "The Place of Shechem" - An Israelite Sacred Area. Pp. 144-52 in Canaan and Israel-Historical Essays. Jerusalem (in Hebrew). Noth, M. 1930. Das System der Zwolf Stamme Israels. Stuttgart. Repr. 1966. Zertal, A. 1986-1987. An Early Iron Age Cultic Site on Mount Ebal. Tel Aviv 13-14: 105-165.

ADAM ZERTAL, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ad v. "Ebal" (extract)

P. O'Callaghan (Supplément au Dictionnaire de la Bible, ad v. "Madaba", col. 642)
Gebal et un peu au sud Garizein, en lettres blanches. En mettant ces montagnes aux environs de Gilgal et de Jéricho, le mosaïste semble bien appuyer l'opinion d'Eusèbe (Onom., p. 64, 9 sq., que S. Jérôme traduit: ...sunt autem iuxta lericho duo montes vicini contra se invicem respicientes, e quibus unus Garizin alter Gebal dicitur, porro Samaritani arbitrantur hos duos montes iuxta Neapolim esse, sed vehementer errant: plurimum inter se distant, nec possum invicem benedicentium sive maledicentium inter se audiri voces, qued scriptura commemorat; ou encore, p. 64, 18 sq.:Golgol-e kai Galgal. Tautes einai plesion e graphe didaskei to Gapizeiv kai to Gaibal oros)
S. Jérôme se contente d'ajouter: ...errant igitur Samaritani, qui iuxta Neapolim Garizin et Gebal montes ostendere volunt, cum illos iuxta Galgal esse scriptura testetur. Cette opinion erronée, que partageaient déjà les Juifs, et qui trouvait écho chez Épiphane, dérive sans doute de Deut., XI, 30 qui situe ces montagnes " derrière le chemin du soleil couchant dans la terre du Cananéen qui habite la 'Arâbâh en face de Gilgal, près des chênes de Môreh". Ici cependant le Pentateuque samaritain ajoute « Môreh en face de Sichem », ce qui est confirmé par Gen., XII, 6. II n'y a pas à douter que la tradition des Samaritains, qui localise la scène des bénédictions et malédictions de Deut., XI, 29; XXVII, 12; Jos., VIII, 30 entre les montagnes situées au nord (Ebal) et au sud (Garizim) des ruines de Sichem soit la seule vraie. De même, le mosaïste nous signale Tour Gebal et Tour Garizin de chaque côté de Sichem: la légende ici encore, est en lettres blanches, mais plus grandes que dans le cas précédent. De plus, il a ici son orthographe propre, tandis que là il suivait Eusèbe. Dans le mot Tour on reconnaît naturellement l'araméen Tour "montagne", qui correspond à l'hébreu Har. La même indication se retrouve ailleurs, par ex. chez le Pèlerin de Bordeaux (Geyer, p. 20,1): Ibi est mons Agazaren... Inde ad pede montis ipsius locus est, cui nomen est Sechim et dans la Peregrinatio sanctae paulae (XVI). On peut en conclure que le mosaïste, tout en signalant l'opinion d'Eusèbe, ne la partage pas. La montagne 'Ebal en hébreu, Gaibal en grec (LXX), est aujourd'hui le Djebel es-Sitt es-Slemiyé, et la montagne Gerizim en hébreu, Garizein, Gareizein (Jud., IX,7) en grec (LXX), est aujourd'hui le Djebel et-Tor. Pour l'histoire plus détaillée, voir J. Montgomery, The Samaritains, Philadelphia, 1907, et F.-M. Abel, Géogr., I,p. 360-370.

Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 47)
Tur Gobel. Tur Garizim. the lettering is bigger than that of the mountains marked near Jericho, but the Aramaic form of these names is significant, as distinct from the Biblical (Septuagint) version used for the former. The true Samaritan tradition is followed by Josephus (War I, 63), by the Bordeaux pilgrim, by Procopius (De aedif. 5,7) an once even by St, jerome (Peregr. Paulae, 16: ex latere montis garizim extructam circa puteum Jacob intravit ecclesiam). The fact that the mosaicist has shown the two mountains twice proves that he had some doubt as regards the tradition followed by Eusebius.

For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Ebal mons", 114.

Map Section 5 Place Sources

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