International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ke-i'-la (qe`ilah; Keeilam):
(1) A city of the Shephelah mentioned (Josh 15:44) along with Nezib, Aehzib and Mareshah. Among those who repaired the walls of Jerusalem was "Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, for his district. After him repaired their brethren, Bavvai the son of Henadad, the ruler of half the district of Keilah" (Neh 3:17,18).
1. David and Keilah:
It is, however, from the story of the wandering of David that we have most information regarding this place. It was a city with gates and bars (1 Sam 23:7). The Philistines came against it and commenced robbing the threshing-floors. David, after twice inquiring of Yahweh, went down with his 600 men (1 Sam 23:13) and "fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and slew them with great slaughter." Saul hearing that David and his men were within a fortified town "summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men" (1 Sam 23:8). Then David asked Abiathar the priest to bring him an ephod, and he inquired of Yahweh whether, if Saul came, the men of Keilah would surrender him to save that city; hearing from Yahweh, "They will deliver thee up," he and all his men escaped from Keilah and went into the wilderness. The reputed strength of Keilah is confirmed by its mention in 5 tablets in the Tell el-Amarna Letters under the name of Kilts (qilti, Petrie) with Gedor, Gath, Rabbah and Gezer.
Although other identifications were proposed by the older topographers, there is now a general consensus of opinion that the site of this city is Khurbet Kila (Josephus, Ant, VI, xiii, 1, in his account of David's adventure calls the place "Killa"). It is a hill covered with ruins in the higher part of Wady es Sur, 1,575 ft. above sea-level, whose terraced sides are covered with grainfields. The Eusebius, Onomasticon (Latin text) states that it was 8 miles from Eleutheropolis, which is about the distance of Khurbet Kila from Beit Jibrin. Beit Nusib (Nezib) is a couple of miles away, and Tell Sandahannah (Mareshah) but 7 miles to the West (Josh 15:44). An early Christian tradition states that the prophet Habakkuk was buried at Keilah.
(2) The Garmite (which see), 1 Ch 4:19; see PEF, 314, Sh XXI.
E. W. G. Masterman
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'KEILAH'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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