Jiph'thah-el (Heb. Yiphtach'-el, יַפתִּחאּאֵל, opening of God; Sept. [Γαϊv] Ι᾿εφθαήλ), a valley at the intersection of the line between Asher and Naphtali with the northern boundary of Zebulon (Jos 19:14,27). Dr. Robinson, with great probability, suggests (new ed. of Researches, 3, 106, 107) that the name is represented by that of Jotapata (Ι᾿ωτάπατα), the renowned fortress of Galilee mentioned by Josephus as having been fortified by himself ( War, 2, 20, 6; Life, 37). and then as having held out, under his own command, against the continued assaults of Vespasian, and where he was at last taken prisoner after the downfall of the place (War, 3, 7, 3-36). He describes it as surrounded by a precipice, except on the north, where the city extended out upon the sloping extremity of the opposite mountain; the deep valleys on the other sides were overlooked by surrounding mountains. It contained no fountains, but only cisterns, with caverns and subterranean recesses. Reland had already remarked (Paloest. p. 816, 867) that the Gopatata (גופתתא) of the Talmudic writings, three miles from Sepphoris, was probably identical with this place. It is doubtless the modern Jefat, which lies four or five English miles from Sefurieh. It was first visited and identified by Schultz (Ritter, Erdk. 16, 763 sq.). The valley in question would thus answer to the great wady Abilin, which runs southwesterly from Jefat, the boundary between Asher and Zebulon following the line of hills between Sukhnin and Kefr Menda, in which this wady has its head (Robinson, ut sup.), rather than to the deeper wady Jiddin, considerably south of this, and running in the same direction, on the southern side of which stands the village of Arukah, therefore not altogether answering to Beth-Emek (as thought by Dr. Smith, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1853, p. 121), which was thus situated on the valley Jiphthah-el (Jos 19:27). Dr. Thomson, while justly objecting to the letter valley, as being too far north (Land and Book, 1, 472), proposes as the site of Jiphthah the ruined site Jiftah, "situated on the edge of the long valley [rather plain] of Turan," which he would identify with the "valley of Jiphthah-el" (ib. 2, 122); but this, on the other hand, lies even south of Rumaneh (Rimmon), which undoubtedly lay within Zebulon (1Ch 6:77). The title (גִּיא, ravine, and not נִחִל, wady, i.e. "valley watered by a brook;" see Gesenius, Lexic. s.v.) properly designates this fine pass (hence the superlative name, God's Defile), which connects the rich plain el-Buttauf on the east with the yet more fertile plain of Acre on the west, and is described by the Scottish deputation as "enclosed with steep wooded hills; sometimes it narrows almost to the straitness of a defile... The valley is long, and declines very gently towards the west; the hills on either side are often finely wooded, sometimes rocky and picturesque. The road is one of the best in Palestine, and was no doubt much frequented in ancient days" (Report, p. 309, 310). There seems also to be an allusion to the etymological force of the name (q.d. the opening out of a gorge into a plain) in the statement (Jos 19:14), "And the outgoings thereof are in the valley of Jiphthah-el" (comp. De 33:18, "And of Zebulon he said, Rejoice, Zebulon, in thy goings out").

Bible concordance for JIPHTHAH-EL.

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