(Heb. Riblah', רַבלָה,fertility; Sept. Δεβλαθᾶ or Βηλά, v.r. ῾Ρεβλαθᾶ, ῾Ραβλαάμ, Α᾿βλαᾶ, etc.), the name probably of two places.
1. One of the landmarks on the eastern boundary of the land of Israel, as specified by Moses (Nu 34:11). Its position is noted in this passage with much precision. It was between Shepham and the sea of Cinnereth, and on the "east side of the spring." There is but one other incidental notice in Scripture tending to fix the site of Riblah; it is said to be "in the land of Hamath" (2Ki 23:33; 2Ki 25:21; Jer 52; Jer 9). The land of Hamath lay on the north of the ancient kingdom of Damascus. SEE HAMATH. It embraced the plain on both sides of the Orontes, extending from the city of Hamath southward to the fountain of the Orontes. This position, however, seems inconsistent with the preceding, inasmuch as Hazar-enan, the starting-point from the extreme north of the east border, lay at a considerable distance to the east of Hamath (the order given being thus: "entrance to Hamath, Zedad, Ziphron, Hazar-enan," Nu 34:8-9), so that a line drawn towards the Sea of Cinnereth (Lake of Tiberias) should have gone (one would think) a good deal to the east of Riblah; and the Riblah of the boundary line also seems to have been greatly nearer the Galilaean lake than the Riblah on the Orontes was, since Riblah was the town in the list nearest to the lake. The renderings of the ancient versions and the Targums only serve to confuse the passage. In the Sept. the division of the Hebrew words is even mistaken. Thus הרבלה משפם is rendered ἀπὸ Σεπφαμὰρ Βηλά, joining the two first letters of the second word to the first word. The Vulg., too, without any authority, inserts the word Daphnim; and Jerome affirms that Riblah is identical with Antioch (Onomast. s.v. "Reblatha"). In his commentary on Ezekiel he is still more explicit. He says, "From the end, therefore, of the northern side-that is, from the temple (atrio) Enan — the border extends, according to the book of Numbers, to Sepham, which the Hebrews call Apamia, and from Apamia to Rebla, which is now called Antioch of Syria. And that it may be known that Rebla means that city which is now the noblest in Coele-Syria, the words contra fontem are added, which, it is manifest, signify Daphne" (Opera, 5, 478. ed. Migne). This singular view appears to be taken from the Targums (Bochart, Opera, 1, 431). Some suppose that the Daphne here mentioned was the place near the Lake of Merom of which Josephus speaks (War, 4, 1,1); and that therefore Ain may mean one of the fountains of the Jordan. With this agrees Parchi, the Jewish traveler in the 13th and 14th centuries, who expressly discriminates between the two (see the extracts in Zunz, Benjamin, 2, 418), and in our own day J.D. Michaelis (Bibel fur Ungelehrten; Suppl. ad Lexica, No. 2313) and Bonfrerius, the learned editor of Eusebius's Onomasticon. So likewise Schwarz (Palest. p. 28). But Dr. Porter has endeavored to draw the boundary line in consistency with the position of the Riblah or Ribleh above described (Hand-book for Syria, p. 580); and Winer, Gesenius, Van de Velde, and others seem to have found no difficulty in identifying the Riblah of Numbers with that of Jeremiah and the later historical books. But Palestine never actually extended thus far north, and the arguments of Keil (ad loc.) appear to us conclusive that another Riblah must there be meant south of Mt. Hermon, perhaps the site afterwards called Leshem and Dan, the present Tell el-Kady. SEE TRIBE.
2. Riblah of Hamath lay on the great road between Palestine and Babylonia, at which the kings of Babylonia were accustomed to remain while directing the operations of their armies in Palestine and Phoenicia. Here Nebuchadnezzar waited while the sieges of Jerusalem and of Tyre were conducted by his lieutenants; hither were brought to him the wretched king of Judaea and his sons, and after a time a selection front all ranks and conditions of the conquered city, who were put to death, doubtless by the horrible torture of impaling, which the Assyrians practiced, and the long lines of the victims to which are still to be seen on their monuments (Jer 39:5-6; Jer 52:9-10,26-27; 2Ki 25:6,20-21). In like manner Pharaoh-necho, after his victory over the Babylonians at Carchemish, returned to Riblah and summoned Jehoahaz from Jerusalem before him (2Ki 23:33). Riblah is probably mentioned by Ezekiel (Eze 6:14), though in the present Hebrew text and A.V. it appears as Diblah or Diblath (q.v.).
This Riblah has no doubt been discovered, still retaining its ancient name, Ribleh, on the right (east) bank of el-Asy (the Orontes), upon the great road which connects Baalbek and Hums, about thirty-five miles northeast of the former and twenty miles southwest of the latter place. It lies about twelve miles east by north of its great fountain, which still bears the name el-Ain. The advantages of its position for the encampment of vast hosts, such as those of Egypt and Babylon, are enumerated by Dr. Robinson, who visited it in 1852 (Bib. Res. 3, 545). He describes it as "lying on the banks of a mountain stream in the midst of a vast and fertile plain yielding the most abundant supplies of forage. From this point the roads were open by Aleppo and the Euphrates to Nineveh, or by Palmyra to Babylon... by the end of Lebanon and the coast to Palestine and Egypt, or through the Bukaa and the Jordan valley to the center of the Holy Land." It appears to have been first alluded to by Buckingham in 1816 (Arab Tribes, p. 481). The most singular object in this neighborhood is a monument called Kamoa el Hermel, which stands on a high mound several miles farther up the Orontes than Riblah (that is, farther south), but distinctly visible from it. It stands on a pedestal of three steps, and in the form of two quadrilateral masses rising one above another, the lower ornamented with figures of dogs, stags, hunting-instruments, etc., and terminating in a kind of pyramid, it reaches the height of about sixty feet (as given by Robinson), but Van de Velde makes it about twenty more (2, 469). One of the corners, the southwest, is in a dilapidated state; in other respects it is entire, and forms a solid mass of masonry built of large square stones. It is known to be of great antiquity; but its precise date and object are unknown; and Abulfeda is the first writer who is known to have mentioned it. Dr. Thomson, who was the first to draw attention to it, would connect it with the ancient Babylonian dynasty (Bib. Sacra, May, 1847).