Kiriath Jearim

Also known as Tel Qiryat Ye'arim, Baalah, Baalah of Judah, Baale-judah, Baale of Judah, Deir el-Azar, Gibeath-Kiriath-Jearim (?), Kirath, Kiriath, Kiriath-arim, Kiriath-jearim, Kiriath Baal, Kiriath-baal, Kirjath, Kirjatharim, Kirjathbaal, Kirjathjearim, Kuryet el-'Enab, Qaryet el-Enab, Qiryat Yearim, Kiryat Ye'arim

From the Air

Kiriath Jearim occupies the hill in the center. Behind it is the Israeli Arab village of Abu Gosh, and the hill to the right is occupied by Moshav Yad HaShmonah. Today’s Highway 1 passes near the site, as did a major route in ancient times. This route was the way the Danites traveled when they migrated from their territory on the coast to the north. They camped near Kiriath Jearim at “Mahane Dan” (camp of Dan).

From the east

The biblical city of Kiriath Jearim is best known for the house of Abinadab which held the Ark of the Covenant from the time of Samuel until the time of David (about 120 years). Kiriath Jearim was originally a Gibeonite city that fell within the tribal territory of Judah near the borders of Benjamin and Dan. The prophet Uriah, a contemporary of Jeremiah, was from Kiriath Jearim.

The Church

In 1905, a farmer was plowing on the summit and found a semi-circular wall with mosaics and other objects. Excavations revealed a Byzantine church from the 5th century AD. Items that have been preserved include monolithic columns of an atrium, column bases, capitals, and mosaics. Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant Church was built over the 5th century Byzantine basilica by Sister Josephine Rumebe in 1911. The statue of Mary standing on the Ark of the Covenant was designed to be visible throughout the area.

Roman Inscription

The name Kiriath Jearim means “city of forests.” The modern Arabic name of Kiriath Jearim is Deir el-Azar, which may preserve the name of Eleazar son of Abinadab who was consecrated to guard the ark of the covenant. Kiriath Jearim was probably the site of Baal shrines and cult practices, as indicated by its previous names: Kiriathbaal (Josh 15:60, 18:14); Baal, Bada, Bala (Josh 15:9, 11); Baalath (1 Kgs 9:18, 2 Chr 8:6); Baale-Judah (2 Sam 6:2). The Romans had an outpost at Kiriath Jearim along the road from Jerusalem to Antipatris. Inscriptions in Latin have been found in the area.

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Related Websites

Kiriath-Jearim (Holman Bible Dictionary) Briefly introduces the site and the biblical passages that mention it.

Biblical Tel Kiriath Jearim Excavation (Coral Tours) Basic information about Kiriath Jearim, including biblical references.

Biblical Site Tied to Ark of the Covenant Unearthed at Convent in Central Israel (Times of Israel) A 2019 article regarding the large structure excavated at Kiriath Jearim.

Abu Gosh (Gems in Israel) Short article on the modern community, especially focusing on its restaurants.

Notre Dame Arche D’Alliance (Jewish Virtual Library) Describes the convent located on the hill of Kiriath Jearim.

Emmaus: Is Kiriath Jearim the Place Where It Happened? (Bible History Daily) A readable article making an argument in favor of Kiriath Jearim being identified as the New Testament site of Emmaus.

Kiriath-Jearim (Deir el-ʿÂzar): Archaeological Investigations of a Biblical Town in the Judaean Hill Country (Academia.edu) A full-text PDF of a 2018 article written by Chris McKinny, Oron Schwartz, Gabriel Barkay, Alexander Fantalkin, and Boaz Zissu. It specifically discusses the archaeology of the site.