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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

NEPHTOAH. A town on the boundary between Judah and Benjamin (  Joshua 15:9;   Joshua 18:16 ), usually identified with Lifta , about 2 miles N.W. of Jerusalem (so Tobler, Baedeker-Socin, Guthe, etc.). The Talmud identifies Nephtoah with Etam , the modern ‘Ain ‘Atâm , at what are popularly called the Pools of Solomon, S. of Bethlehem (Neuhauer, Géog. du Talm . p. 146). This latter is favoured by Conder, who would place Eleph at Lifta . The phrase ‘the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah’ would lead us to expect abundant supplies of water. In this respect the claim of ‘Ain ‘Atâm is certainly stronger than that of Lifta .

W. Ewing.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [2]

Neph'toah or Nephto'ah. (Opening). The Water Of Nephtoah . The spring or source of the water, or (inaccurately) waters, of Nephtoah was one of the landmarks in the boundary line, which separated Judah from Benjamin.  Joshua 15:9;  Joshua 18:15.

It lay northwest of Jerusalem in which direction, it seems to have been satisfactorily identified in Ain Lifta , a spring situated a little distance, above the village of the same name.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

The source of the waters of Nephtoah was a landmark between Judah and Benjamin ( Joshua 15:8-9;  Joshua 18:15). N.W. of Jerusalem, in a line with the Hinnom valley and Kirjath Jearim, S.W. of Benjamin. Now probably Ain Lifta , two miles and a half from the city, and six from Kuriet el Enab (formerly Kirjath Jearim, but others say Emmaus and place Kirjath Jearim on the mount on the N. of which now Chesla is found; and identify Ain Karim with N.E. of wady Haninah; see Imperial Bible Dictionary).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [4]

We read of the water of Nephtoah, which went towards mount Ephron,  Joshua 15:9. Perhaps the name means opening, if from Pathac.

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]

 Joshua 15:9 Joshua 18:15

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

 Joshua 15:8,9 18:15

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [7]

[some Neph'toLh] (Heb. Nephto'ach, נֶפְתּוֹח , Opened; Sept. Ναφθώ v.r. Μαφθώ ; Vulg. Nephthoa), the name of a spring ( עִיַן A . ". fountain," "well"), and apparently a streamlet ( מִיַם , A.V. " water," " waters") issuing from it (or perhaps a watering-place for cattle), on the border between Judah and Benjamin. Its position is described with considerable minuteness. From the valley of Hinnom the northern boundary of Judah was drawn to the top of the hill on the west, that is, in the direction of the Convent of the Cross; and the border was drawn from the top of the hill Unto The Fountain Of The Water Of Nephtoah, and thence to Kirjathjearim ( Joshua 15:8-9). A similar description of the southern boundary of Benjamin is given in  Joshua 18:14-16; and the name is not again mentioned in Scripture. Its site appears to have been unknown to Jerome and Eusebius; they do not mention it in their Onomasticon. From the above passages it might be inferred that the waters of Nephtoah lay somewhere in or near a direct line between Jerusalem and Kirjathjearim. Nephtoah was formerly identified with various springs, especially A In Karim, or Fountain of the Virgin of mediaeval times (Doubdan, Voyage, page 187; see also the citations of Tobler, Topographie, page 351; and Sandys, 3:184), and even the so- called Well Of Joab in the Kedron valley (Mislin, 2:155); but these, especially the last, are unsuitable in their situation as respects Jerusalem and Kirjath-jearim, and have the additional drawback that the features of the country there are not such as to permit a boundary-line to be traced along it. Schwarz (Palest. page 268 sq.) finds a large spring near the castle of Al-Burak, the water of which was once carried by an aqueduct to Jerusalem, in which openings were made in order that passers-by might draw water; and that it was thence called Me Nephto'ach,, the opened water. But this is fanciful. Recent geographers have pretty generally agreed to identify Nephtoah with Ain Lifta, a fountain near the village of that name, two and a half miles north-west of Jerusalem (Barclay, City of the Great King, page 544; Tobler, Dritte Wanderung, page 202; comp. Topographie, page 343 sq.; Stewart, Tent and Khan, page 349). The spring-of which a view is given by Dr. Barclay is very abundant, and the water escapes in a considerable stream into the valley below.

This, however, cannot be reconciled with the statement in  1 Samuel 10:2, that Rachel's sepulchre lay near the border of Benjamin, and it is nearly three, miles south of the valley of Hinnom. Consequently, from the top of the hill on the west of Hinnom the border must have turned southward, (See Tribe), and we must look for the waters of Nephtoah on the south or south-west of Jerusalem. About a mile and a half from Jerusalem, on the road to Rachel's tomb, and close to the convent of Mar-Elyas, is an old well, which some have identified with Nephtoah (Narrative Of Mission To Jews, June 13). It is, however, a mere well. A much more probable site is A in Yalo, in Wady el-Werd, three miles south-west of the city. It is a small fountain, whose waters flow into a large pool, and are drawn off to irrigate some gardens. Its water is esteemed at Jerusalem, whither it is conveyed in skins on the backs of donkeys (Porter, Hand-book, page 232; Robinson, Bib. Res. 3:265). In front of the fountain are some ruins. There is another larger and much more beautiful fountain a mile farther down the valley, called Ain Haniyeh, said by tradition to be the fountain in which Philip baptized the eunuch (Barclay, page 548). It is ornamented with a niched fagade and Corinthian pilasters. See Porter, Handbook for Palestine.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [8]

nef - tō´a , nef´tṓ - a ( נפתּוח , nephtōaḥ , occurs only in the expression ע ֿ2 מינ נ מעין , ma'yan nephtōaḥ , "the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah"; Septuagint πηγὴ ὔδατος Ναφθώ , pēgḗ húdatos Naphthṓ ): This spring was on the border line between Judah and Benjamin (  Joshua 15:9;  Joshua 18:15 ). The place is usually identified with Liftā , a village about 2 miles Northwest of Jerusalem, on the east bank of the Wâdy beit Ḥanı̄na . It is a village very conspicuous to the traveler along the high road from Jaffa as he nears Jerusalem. There are ancient rock-cut tombs and a copious spring which empties itself into a large masonry reservoir. The situation of Liftā seems to agree well with the most probable line of boundary between the two tribes; the spring as it is today does not appear to be so abundant as to warrant such an expression as "spring of the waters," but it was, like many such sources, probably considerably more abundant in Old Testament times.

Conder would identify Liftā with the ancient Eleph (which see) of Benjamin, and, on the ground that the Talmud (see Talmud Babylonian, Yōmā' 31a) identifies Nephtoah with Etam (which see), he would find the site of Nephtoah at ‛Ain ‛Atān , South of Bethlehem. The Talmud is not a sufficiently trustworthy guide when unsupported by other evidence, and the identification creates great difficulty with the boundary line. See Palestine Exploration Fund , III, 18,43, Sh Xvii .

E. W. G. Mastermin