|Cities of Ancient Israel|
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En-gedi. Tell. ej-Jurn. Engedi in Hebrew means "fountain of the wild goat". Engedi was a town, also called the city of palm trees (Hazazon-tamar, Gen 14:7; 2 Chron 20:2), and wilderness situated about 30 miles SE of Jerusalem, on the W shore of the Dead Sea. It is full of rocks and caves (1 Sam 23:29; Ezek 47:10). The source of the spring from which it derives its name is on the side of the mountain about 600 feet above the sea.
It is a fertile place and most suitable for refuge. The strongholds of David (Ezek 23:29; 24:22) must have been situated by the water, and the cave is described as being below them. It was immediately after an assault upon the "Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar," that the five Mesopotamian kings were attacked by the rulers of the plain of Sodom (Gen 14:7; 2 Chron 20:2). Saul was told that David was in the "wilderness of Engedi," and he took "three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats" (1 Sam 24:1-4).
At a later period Engedi was the gathering place of the Moabites and Ammonites who went up against Jerusalem and fell in the valley of Beracah (2 Chron 20:2,26). The vineyards of Engedi were celebrated by Solomon (Song 1:14), its balsam by Josephus, and its palms by Pliny.
At Tell el-Jurn, just S of the springs of Engedi, archaeologists researched the area and found no evidence of occupation in the time of David, but that is not surprising because the area probably was quite wild when David and his band hid there. Five periods of occupation were uncovered on the tell, dating from the last days of the Judean kingdom to the Roman-Byzantine period. A large fort stood in the middle of the city during the Hasmonean (Maccabean) period (Stratum III) and again in Herodian-Roman days (Stratum II). This city and fort were burned about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The place was again occupied during the Roman-Byzantine period. There was also excavated a Chalcolithic worship center (3500 B.C.) just N of the spring of Engedi.
Josh. 15:62; 1 Sam. 23:29; 24:1; Ezek. 47:10; 2 Chr. 20:2
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