The Mountain of Judah
and the Shephelah (south)

81. Saphitha - (Tell al-Safy)

Tell es-Safi. A large mound in the Shephelah (Plain[The]), halfway between Gezer and Lachish, it has been variously identified, the current theory identifying it with Gath of the Philistines. The site was excavated in 18981900 by F.J. Bliss and R.A.S. Macalister on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund. The excavators traced sections of the city wall, the building of which they attributed to the 'Jewish' (Iron Age) period. In the uppermost level remains of the Crusader castle of Blanche-Garde were discovered.

Avraham Negev (Ed.), The Archaeological Encyclopaedia of the Holy Land, ad v. "Safi" (extract)

Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 62)
This Byzantine village is not attested in ancient literary sources. It was situated in the vicinity of Tall as-Safi, the site of the Philistine Gat and might be identified with Hirbat as-Safiya, 1 km east-northeast of Tall as-Safi. Its name, meaning 'the white one', is preserved in the Crusaders' fortress Blanchegarde upon Tall as-Safi.

Leah Di Segni ("The Onomastikon of Eusebius and the Madaba Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 118)
Since Geth of the Philistines is now identified with Tell es-Safi, the Byzantine village that took its place, according to Eusebius, may have been the one called by the Madaba map Safitha - again an Aramaic toponym - and located northwest of the village called Bethzachar with the attached sanctuary of St. Zacharias, near Eleutheropolis. (See also the complete article)

For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Saphitha", 222.

Map Section 6 Place Sources

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Created Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 23:40:09
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copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000