Bible History Online
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
en-ro'-gel (`en roghel; pege Rhogel; meaning uncertain, but interpreted by some to mean "the spring of the fuller"):
No argument from this meaning can be valid because (1) it is a very doubtful rendering and (2) "fulling" vats are common in the neighborhood of most town springs and are today plentiful at both the proposed sites. G. A. Smith thinks "spring of the current," or "stream," from Syriac rogulo, more probable.
(1) En-rogel was an important landmark on the boundary between Judah and Benjamin (Josh 15:7; 18:16). Here David's spies, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, hid themselves (2 Sam 17:17), and here (1 Ki 1:9) "Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fatlings by the stone of Zoheleth, which is beside En-rogel," when he anticipated his father's death and caused himself rebelliously to be proclaimed king.
(2) The identification of this important landmark is of first-class importance in Jerusalem topography. Two sites have been proposed:
(a) The older view identifies En-rogel with the spring known variously as "the Virgin's Fount," `Ain sitti Miriam and `Ain Umm el deraj, an intermittent source of water which rises in a cave on the West side of the Kedron valley opposite Siloam (see GIHON). The arguments that this is the one Jerusalem spring and that this must have been a very important landmark are inconclusive. The strongest argument for this view is that put forward by M. Clermont-Ganneau, who found that a rough rock surface on the mountain slope opposite, an ascent to the village of Silwan, is known as es Zechweleh, a word in which there certainly appears to linger an echo of Zoheleth. The argument is, however, not as convincing as it seems. Firstly, Zoheleth was a stone; this is a natural rock scarp; such a stone might probably have been transferred from place to place. Secondly, it is quite common for a name to be transferred some miles; instances are numerous. Thirdly, the writer, after frequent inquiries of the fellahin of Silwan, is satisfied that the name is by no means confined to the rock scarp near the spring, but to the whole ridge running along from here to, or almost to, Bir Eyyub itself. The strongest argument against this identification is, however, that there are so much stronger reasons for identifying the "Virgin's Fount" with Gihon (see GIHON), and that the two springs En-rogel and Gihon cannot be at one site, as is clear from the narrative in 1 Ki 1.
(b) The view which places En-rogel at Bir Eyyub in every way harmonizes with the Bible data. It has been objected that the latter is not a spring but a well. It is today a well, 125 ft. deep, but one with an inexhaustible supply--there must be a true spring at the bottom. Probably one reason it only overflows today after periods of heavy rain is that such enormous quantities of debris have now covered the original valley bed that the water cannot rise to the surface; much of it flows away down the valley deep under the present surface. The water is brackish and is impregnated with sewage, which is not extraordinary when we remember that a large part of the rock strata from which the water comes is overlaid by land constantly irrigated with the city's sewage.
Although the well may itself be of considerable antiquity, there is no need to insist that this is the exact position of the original spring En-rogel. The source may in olden times have arisen at some spot in the valley bottom which is now deeply buried under the rubbish, perhaps under the southernmost of the irrigated gardens of the fellahin of Silwan. The neighborhood, at the junction of two deep valleys--not to count the small el wad, the ancient Tyropceon--is a natural place for a spring. There would appear to have been considerable disturbance here. An enormous amount of debris from various destructions of the city has collected here, but, besides this, Josephus records a tradition which appears to belong to this neighborhood. He says (Ant., IX, x, 4) that an earthquake took place once at Eroge--which appears to be En-rogel--when "half of the mountain broke off from the remainder on the West, and rolling 4 furlongs, came to stand on the eastern mountain till the roads, as well as the .king's gardens, were blocked." It is sufficient that En-rogel is to be located either at Bir Eyyub or in its immediate neighborhood; for practical purposes the former will do. En-rogel was an important point on the boundary line between Judah and Benjamin. The line passed down the lower end of the Kidron valley, past En-rogel (Bir Eyyub) and then up the Valley of Hinnom (Wady er Rababi)--a boundary well adapted to the natural conditions.
With regard to David's spies (2 Sam 17:17), whereas the Virgin's Fount--the great source of the city's water supply (see GIHON)--just below the city walls (see ZION) was an impossible place of hiding, this lower source, out of sight of almost the whole city and removed a considerable distance from its nearest point, was at least a possible place. Further, the facts that it was off the main road, that it afforded a supply of one of the main necessities of life--water--and that there were, as there are today, many natural caves in the neighborhood, greatly added to its suitability.
Here too was a most appropriate place for Adonijah's plot (1 Ki 1:9). He and his confederates dared not go to Gihon, the original sacred spring, but had to content themselves with a spot more secluded, though doubtless still sacred. It is recorded (1 Ki 1:40,41) that the adherents of Solomon saluted him at Gihon (the Virgin's Fount) and the people "rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them. And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him (at En-rogel) heard it as they had made an end of eating." The relative positions of these two springs allow of a vivid reconstruction of the narrative as do no other proposed identifications. The two spots are out of sight the one of the other, but not so far that the shout of a multitude at the one could not be carried to the other.
E. W. G. Masterman
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'en-rogel'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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