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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Joshua ( Joshua 12:14) struck its king. In ancient times, Zephath ( Judges 1:17). Capital of a Canaanite tribe in S. Palestine. Taken by Judah and Simeon ( Judges 1:17). Judah appropriated it ( Joshua 15:30;  1 Samuel 26:30). But Simeon's territory was so blended with that of Judah that elsewhere it is enumerated among Simeon's towns ( 1 Chronicles 4:30). In  Numbers 14:45 it is called Hormah by anticipation. After Israel's unbelief, consequent on the spies' report, and subsequent presumptuous advance toward Canaan, in defiance of the Lord who no longer would go with them since they had refused to go when He invited them, the Amalekites from the hill "smote them and discomfited them even unto Hormah" Then followed the wandering in the wilderness for 38 years.

Then they came again to Hormah ( Numbers 21:3), i.e. the place under the ban ( Leviticus 27:28-29), devoted to destruction. "Zephath" is compared with es Safah on the S.E. frontier of Canaan, the pass by which Israel probably ascended from the Et Tih desert and the Arabah. Rowlands however identifies it with Sebatah where are extensive ruins, and near is a ruined fortress El Meshrifeh, the presumed site of the "watchtower." The site suggested in the Speaker's Commentary is some miles E. of Sebatah, namely, Rakhmah, an anagram of Hormah, the more permanent name. Israel marching N.N.W. from the Arabah, past Rakhmah or Hormah, would come to the wide plain, es Sir, the "Seir" of  Deuteronomy 1:44.

Twenty miles' further march would have brought them to Arad royal city ( Numbers 21:1); but before they could reach it the king drove them back to Hormah Numbers 15-19 belong to the dreary period of the 38 years' wandering after a year spent at Sinai; Numbers 20 presents them at the same point they started from 38 years before, Kadesh, in the 40th year; Numbers 21 introduces Arad assailing Israel and taking prisoners, then defeated by Israel in answer to prayer, and Hormah utterly destroyed. Israel not wishing to remain there marched S.E.

The Canaanites reoccupied the place and restored it under the old name Zephath. Not until northern Canaan was subdued did Israel reach it again in the extreme S., and Joshua conquered the king. Finally under the judges Judah and Simeon consummated the ban of Moses and his contemporaries on it, so that henceforth its name was permanently Hormah. This sets aside the objection to  Numbers 14:45 and  Numbers 21:3 as if these passages were post-Mosaic because of  Judges 1:17.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

HORMAH (‘devoted’ or ‘accursed’) was a city, apparently not far from Kadesh, where the Israelites were overthrown, when, after the death of the ten spies, they insisted on going forward (  Numbers 14:45 ,   Deuteronomy 1:44 ). At a later time it was taken and destroyed by Israel (  Numbers 21:3 ,   Joshua 12:19 ), this feat being attributed in   Judges 1:17 to Judah and Simeon. There we learn that the former name was Zephath . Possibly the memory of the previous disaster here led to its being called ‘Accursed.’ It was one of ‘the uttermost cities of Judah, towards the borders of Edom in the south,’ and is named between Chesll and Ziklag (  Joshua 15:30 ), also between Bethul (or Bethuel) and Ziklag (  Joshua 19:4 ,   1 Chronicles 4:30 ), in the territory occupied by Simeon. It was one of the towns to which David sent a share of the booty taken from the Amalekites who had raided Ziklag in his absence (  1 Samuel 30:30 ). There is no need to assume with Guthe ( Bibelwörterbuch, s.v .) that two cities are so named. Probably, as in so many other cases, the old name persisted, and may be represented by the modern es-Sebaitâ , 23 miles north of ‘Ain Kadîs , and 26 miles south of Beersheba. The probability is increased if Ziklag is correctly identified with ‘Aslûj , 14 miles north of es-Sebaitâ . On the other hand, Naqb es-Safâ agrees better with the position of Arad; but it seems too far from Kadesh, being more than 40 miles to the north-east (Robinson, BRP [Note: RP Biblical Researches in Palestine.] 9 ii. 181).

W. Ewing.

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

 Numbers 14:45 Joshua 19:4 1 Samuel 30:30

The site controlled the east-west road in the Beersheba Valley and the north-south road to Hebron. Israel gained brief victory there ( Numbers 21:3 ) after their earlier defeat ( Numbers 14:45; compare  Deuteronomy 1:44 ). The list of kings Joshua defeated includes Hormah ( Joshua 12:14 ); the battle description says Judah and Simeon combined to take Hormah after Joshua's death ( Judges 1:1 ,Judges 1:1, 1:17 ), the city earlier being called Zephath. See Zephath .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Hor'mah. (A Place Laid Waste), or Zephath ,  Judges 1:17, was the chief town of a king of a Canaanitish tribe, on the south of Palestine, which was reduced by Joshua, and became a city of the territory of Judah,  Joshua 15:30;  1 Samuel 30:30, but apparently belonged to Simeon.  1 Chronicles 4:30. See Zephath .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

The name signifying 'utter destruction' given to ZEPHATHin the far south when conquered by Judah and Simeon.  Numbers 14:45;  Numbers 21:3;  Deuteronomy 1:44;  Joshua 12:14;  Judges 1:17;

 1 Samuel 30:30;  1 Chronicles 4:30 . Identified by some with ruins at S'baita, 30 52' N, 34 42' E .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

Destruction,  Numbers 21:1-3; also called Zephath; a city in the extreme south of Canaan, near which the rebellious Hebrews were defeated, in the second year after leaving Egypt,  Numbers 14:45; it was afterwards laid waste,  Judges 1:16,17 . The Simeonites repeopled it,  Joshua 19:4 , and David sent them some of his spoils taken from the Amalekites,  1 Samuel 30:30 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 Numbers 14:45 Judges 1:17 Numbers 21:1-3 Joshua 12:14 Judges 1:17

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [8]

hôr´ma ( חרמה , ḥormāh ): A city first mentioned in connection with the defeat of the Israelites by the Amalekites and the Canaanites, when, after the ten spies who brought an evil report of the land had died of plague, the people persisted, against the will of Moses, in going "up unto the place which Yahweh hath promised" (  Numbers 14:45;  Deuteronomy 1:44 ). after the injury done them by the king of Arad, Israel took the city, utterly destroyed it, and called it Hormah, i,e. "accursed" ( Numbers 21:3 ). To this event probably the reference is in  Judges 1:17; where Judah and Simeon are credited with the work. In  Joshua 12:14 it is named between Geder and Arad; in   Joshua 15:30 between Chesil and Ziklag, among the uttermost cities toward the border of Edom in the South; and in   Joshua 19:4 between Bethul and Ziklag (compare   1 Chronicles 4:30 ). To it David sent a share of the spoil taken from the Amalekites who had raided Ziklag ( 1 Samuel 30:30 ). The city must have lain not far from Kadesh, probably to the Northeast. No name resembling Hormah has been recovered in that district. The ancient name was Zephath ( Judges 1:17 ). It is not unlikely that in popular use this name outlived Hormah: and in some form it may survive to this day. In that case it may be represented by the modern eṣ - Ṣabaitā between el - Khalaṣa in the North and ‛Ain Ḳadı̄s in the South, about 23 miles from the latter. If we may identify Ziklag with ‛Aslūj , about 14 miles North of eṣ - Ṣabaitā , the probability is heightened. Robinson ( BR , III, 150) compares the name Zephath with that of Naḳb eṣ - Ṣafā , to the North of Wādy el - Fiḳrah  ; but this appears to be too far - about 40 miles - from Kadesh.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [9]

(Heb. Chormah', חָרְמָה , Devoted city, otherwise Peak of a hill; Sept. ῾Ερνά 5. r. occasionally ῾Ερμάθ and Ἀνάθεμα ), a royal city of the Canaanites in the south of Palestine ( Joshua 12:14;  1 Samuel 30:30), near which the Israelites experienced a discomfiture from the Amalekites resident there, as they perversely attempted to enter Canaan by that route after the divine sentence of wandering ( Numbers 14:45;  Numbers 21:1-3; Deuteronomy 1, 44). Joshua afterwards besieged its king ( Joshua 15:30), and on its capture assigned the city to the tribe of Judah, but finally it was included in the territory given to Simeon ( Joshua 19:4;  Judges 1:17;  1 Chronicles 4:30). It is elsewhere mentioned only in  1 Chronicles 4:30. It was originally called ZEPHATH ( Judges 1:17), under which name it appears to have been again rebuilt and occupied by the Canaanites (see Bertheau, ad loc.; Hengstenberg, Pentat. 2, 220); whereas the name Hormah was probably given to the site by the Israelites in token of its demolition (see  Numbers 21:3). Hence traces of the older name alone remain. (See Zephath).