Arbela

Arbe'la (τὰ Α᾿ρβήλα), mentioned in 1 Maccabees 9:2, as defining the situation of Masaloth, a place besieged and taken by Bacchides and Alcimus at the opening of the campaign in which Judas Maccabaeus was killed. According to Josephus (Ant. 12:11, 1) this was at Arbela of Galilee (ἐν Α᾿ρβήλοις), a place which he elsewhere states to be near Sepphoris, on the lake of Gennesareth, and remarkable for certain impregnable caves, the resort of robbers and insurgents, and the scene of more than one desperate encounter (comp. Ant. 14:15, 4 and 5; War, 1:16, 2 and 3; 2:20, 6; Life, 37). These topographical requirements are fully met by the existing Irbid, a site with a few ruins, west of Mejdel, on the south-east side of the Wady Hamam, in a small plain at the foot of the hill of Kurun Hattin. The caverns are in the opposite face of the ravine, and bear the name of Kulat Ibn Maan (Robinson, 2:398; Burckh. 331; Irby, 91). As to the change in the name, the Arbela of Alexander the Great is called Irbil by the Arabic historians (Robinson, 2:399). Moreover, the present Irbid is undoubtedly mentioned in the Talmud as Arbel (see Schwarz, Palest. 189; Reland, Palest. 358; Robinson, 3, 343 note). There seems, therefore, no reason to doubt the soundness of this identification (first suggested in the Muinch. Gel. Anzeigen, Nov. 1836). The army of Bacchides was on its road from Antioch to the land of Judaea (γῆν Ι᾿ούδα), which they were approaching "by the way that leadeth to Galgala" (Gilgal), that is, by the valley of the Jordan in the direct line to which Irbid lies. Ewald, however (Gesch. Isr. 4:370 note), insists, in opposition to Josephus, that the engagements of this campaign were confined to Judaea proper, a theory which drives him to consider "Galgala" as the Jiljilia north of Gophna. See GILGAL. But he admits that no trace of an Arbela in what direction has yet come to light. Arbela is probably the BETH-ARBEL SEE BETH-ARBEL (q.v.) of Ho 10:14 — Smith.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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