From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

When Israel under Joshua crossed the Jordan to conquer Canaan, the first place they came to was Gilgal. There they set up a camp, which became the headquarters for the battles to follow ( Joshua 4:19;  Joshua 6:11;  Joshua 10:6).

Israel’s entrance into Canaan was the beginning of a new way of life, and Joshua set up a memorial at Gilgal to mark the occasion ( Joshua 4:20). He also arranged for the circumcision of all those who had been born during the years in the wilderness but had not yet been circumcised. The significance of this mass ceremony was that circumcision was the sign of the covenant under which Israel inherited the land ( Joshua 5:2-9).

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

1. Hebrew: "the Gilgal," i.e. rolling. Israel's first encampment W. of Jordan (five miles) where they passed their first night after crossing, and set up the twelve stones taken from the river bed ( Joshua 4:3;  Joshua 4:19-20). Here they kept the first Passoverin Canaan ( Joshua 5:10). On arising ground ("hill,"  Joshua 5:3;  Joshua 5:9) in the hot sunken Ghor between Jericho and the Jordan, one mile and a half E. of Jericho; five miles and a half W. of Jordan (Josephus, Ant. 5:1, 4, 11). On the N. side of wady Kelt, one mile and a third from the tower of modern Jericho (Eriha); toward the E. is a tamarisk, "Shejaret el Ithleh," which tradition makes the site of "the city of brass," whose walls fell on their besiegers marching round them. A pool is 150 yards S.E. of the tree, such as Israel would need in their long encampment at Gilgal; it is built with well packed pebbles without cement.

S.E. of this are twelve or more small mounds, Tell ayla't Jiljulieh, eight or ten ft. diameter, and three or four high, possibly remains of Israel's camp (Conder, Palestine Exploration). The distances stated by Josephus accord with this site. The Israelites born in the wilderness were here circumcised with stone knives ( Joshua 5:2 margin;  Exodus 4:25), which "rolling" away of the reproach of uncircumcision gave the name. The sons under 20 years, when at Kadesh in the second year of the wilderness journey the murmuring nation was rejected (Numbers 14), had been already circumcised; those born subsequently needed circumcision. As God abrogated at Kadesh the covenant, the sons of the rejected generation were not to receive the covenant rite. The manna and pillar of cloud were not withdrawn, because God would sustain the rising generation with the prospect of the ban being removed, and of the covenant temporarily suspended being renewed.

The sentence was exhausted when they crossed the Zered and entered the Amorites' land ( Deuteronomy 2:14;  Numbers 21:12-13), when all the sentenced generation was dead ( Numbers 26:63-65). Moses, himself under sentence to die, did not venture on the steppes of Moab to direct the circumcision of the younger generation without Jehovah's command. And the rule of divine grace is first to give, then to require; so first He showed His grace to Abraham by leading him to Canaan and giving the promises, then enjoined circumcision; also He did not give the law to Israel at Sinai until first He had redeemed them from Egypt, and thereby made them willing to promise obedience. So now He did not require the renewal of circumcision, the covenant sign of subjection to the law ( Galatians 5:3), until He had first showed His grace in giving them victory over Og and Sihon, and in making a way through Jordan, a pledge that He would fulfill all His promises and finally give them the whole land.

The circumcision was performed the day after crossing Jordan, i.e. the 11th day of the first month ( Galatians 4:19). The Passover was kept on the 14th (verse 10). The objection that all could not have been circumcised in one day is futile. For the males in Israel at the census in Moab shortly before were 601,730 upward of 20 years old, besides 23,000 Levites of a month old and upward; at the outside all the males would be less than one million. Of these about 300,000 were 38 years old, therefore born before the census at Kadesh and circumcised already; so that only 600,000 would remain to be circumcised. The uncircumcised could easily be circumcised in one day with the help of the circumcised; the latter would prepare and kill the Passover lamb for their brethren whose soreness ( Genesis 34:25) would be no bar to their joining in the feast.

The "reproach of Egypt rolled off" is (like "the reproach of Moab"  Zephaniah 2:8, and "Syria"  Ezekiel 16:57) that heaped on Israel by Egypt, namely, that Jehovah had brought them into the wilderness to slay them ( Exodus 32:12;  Numbers 14:13-16;  Deuteronomy 9:28). This "reproach of Egypt" rested on them so long as they were under the sentence of wandering and dying in the desert. The circumcision at Gilgal was a practical restoration of the covenant, and a pledge of their now receiving Canaan. No village was, or is, at Gilgal. In  Micah 6:5, "O My people, remember ... what Balak ... consulted, and what Balaam ... answered ... from Shittim unto Gilgal," the sense is, Remember My kindness from Shittim. the scene of Balaam's wicked counsel taking effect in Israel's sin, from the fatal effects of which I saved thee, all along to Gilgal where I renewed the covenant with Israel by circumcision ( 2 Samuel 19:15).

2. Gilgal from which Elijah and Elisha went down to Bethel ( 2 Kings 2:1-2). Clearly distinct from:

3. Gilgal, which is below in the Ghor along Jordan, not above Bethel, which is 1,000 ft. above Jordan. Now perhaps the ruins Jiljilieh, a few miles N. of Bethel. Another Gilgal has been found four miles from Shiloh, and five from Bethel, which is 500 ft. lower; this may be the Gilgal of  2 Kings 2:3. Gilgal not far from Shechem, beside the plains of Moreh ( Deuteronomy 11:30).  Joshua 12:23, "king of the nations ( Goim ) of Gilgal," i.e. of the nomadic tribes, the aboriginal inhabitants of the country whose center was Gilgal.

4. To the N. of Judah ( Joshua 15:7). (See Geliloth .)

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

1. Gilgal is most closely associated with Joshua, but the number of Gilgals involved continues an unsolved question. After crossing the Jordan, Joshua established the first camp at Gilgal ( Joshua 4:19 ). There Joshua took twelve stones from the bed of the river to set up a memorial for the miraculous crossing. Gilgal, the first foothold on Palestinian soil, became Israel's first worship place, where they were circumcised and observed the Passover. There God appeared to Joshua and affirmed his mission ( Joshua 5:1 ). This Gilgal apparently became Israel's military base of operations ( Joshua 9:6;  Joshua 10:6;  Joshua 14:6 ), though some scholars would identify this with a Gilgal farther north near Shechem. Joshua set up Gilgal as the border between Judah and Benjamin ( Joshua 15:7; compare  Joshua 18:17 ), though many Bible students think the border town must be south of the original camp. Ehud, the judge, passed Gilgal in his mission to slay the king of Moab ( Judges 3:19 ,Judges 3:19, 3:26 ). David passed through Gilgal as he fled from Absalom (2Samuel 19:15, 2 Samuel 19:40 ). This Gilgal is often located at modern khirbet Mefjir, a little more than a mile east of Jericho. Others would locate it at khirbet en-Nitleh, two miles southeast of Jericho. Still others remain baffled at finding a location. The boundary town is often seen as khan el-Ahmar or Araq ed-Deir. The military camp is at times located at tell Jiljulieh east of Shechem but without archaeological support. This could be the same Gilgal of  Deuteronomy 11:30 , if Joshua's original town is not meant. Gilgal was also one of the three places where Samuel annually held circuit court ( 1 Samuel 7:16 ). This could be near tell Jiljulieh or at Joshua's first landing place near the Jordan. Saul was both crowned and rejected as king at Gilgal ( 1 Samuel 11:14-15;  1 Samuel 13:14-15 ). Gilgal established itself as a major place of worship for Israel with ancient traditions. However, it also permitted worship associated with other gods and became the object of prophetic judgment ( Hosea 4:15;  Amos 4:4;  Amos 5:5 ).

2. Elijah and Elisha were associated closely with Gilgal. At one time Elisha made his headquarters there ( 2 Kings 4:38 ), where Elijah was taken up into heaven ( 2 Kings 2:1 ). This was apparently tell Jiljulieh about three miles southeast of Shiloh, though it could still be Joshua's original Gilgal.

3. Gilgal of the nations is mentioned as a royal city near Dor ( Joshua 12:23 ). The earliest Greek translation reads this as “kings of the nations in Galilee,” which many scholars think is the original reading, a copyist of the Hebrew text using the word “Gilgal” since it had become familiar in the earlier chapters of Joshua. If the Hebrew Gilgal is original, its location is not known. See Beth-Gilgal; Elisha; Joshua; Samuel; Saul .

Kenneth Craig

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

GILGAL . A name meaning ‘stone circle’ applied to several places mentioned in the OT. 1. A place on the east border of Jericho (  Joshua 4:19 ), where the Israelites first encamped after crossing Jordan, and which remained the headquarters of the congregation till after the rout of the northern kings at Merom (  Joshua 14:6 ). The stone circle from which it certainly took its name (in spite of the impossible etymology given in   Joshua 5:9 ), was no doubt that to which the tradition embodied in   Joshua 4:20 refers, and the same as the ‘images’ by Gilgal in the story of Ehud (  Judges 3:19 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ). The name is still preserved in the modern Jiljûlieh . This is probably the same Gilgal as that included in the annual circuit of Samuel (  1 Samuel 7:16 ). This shrine is mentioned by Hosea (  Hosea 4:16;   Hosea 9:16;   Hosea 12:11 ) and by Amos (  Amos 4:4;   Amos 5:6 ). 2. A place of the same name near Dor mentioned in a list of conquered kings (  Joshua 12:23 ). It may be Jiljûlieh , about 4 miles N. of Antipatris ( Ras el-’Ain ). 3. A place in the Samaritan mountains (  2 Kings 4:38 ), somewhere near Bethel (2:1). It may possibly be Jiljîlia , 8 miles N. W. of Bethel. 4. The Gilgal of   Deuteronomy 11:30 is unknown. It may be identical with No. 1; but it seems closely connected with Ebal and Gerizim. There is a Juleijil 2 1 / 2 miles S. E. of Nâhlus that may represent this place. 5. A place of uncertain locality, also possibly the same as No. 1 , in the border of the tribe of Judah (  Joshua 15:7 ).

At none of these places have any remains of early antiquity been as yet observed. There was in a.d. 700 a large church that covered what were said to be the twelve commemoration stones of Joshua: this is reported by Arculf. The church and stones have both disappeared. The only relic of antiquity now to be seen is a large pool, probably of mediæval workmanship, 100 ft. by 84 ft. A tradition evidently suggested by the Biblical story of the fall of Jericho is recorded by Conder as having been related to him here.

R. A. S. Macalister.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

1. Place west of the Jordan, 'in the east border of Jericho,' where the Israelites encamped after passing the river. Here the twelve memorial stones were placed that were taken out of Jordan. Here the Israelites were circumcised: type of the putting off the body of the flesh; that is, of separation from the system in which man in the flesh lives: cf.  Colossians 3:3-5 . Here the reproach of Egypt was 'rolled away' (from which the name of the place was called 'Gilgal'), and they had communion figuratively with the death of Christ in the Passover. On the next day they ate of the old corn of the promised land: type of Christ being the centre of heavenly things on which the Christian feeds.  Joshua 4:19,20;  Joshua 5:2-11 . Gilgal was not only the starting point in taking possession of the land, but the place to which Joshua returned again and again: it was the place of strength.  Joshua 9:6;  Joshua 10:6-15;  Joshua 14:6 . It was here that Saul was made king,  1 Samuel 11:14,15; and here he offered sacrifices, and Samuel hewed Agag in pieces.  1 Samuel 13:4-15;  1 Samuel 15:12,21,33 .

When David returned after the overthrow and death of Absalom, Judah gathered at Gilgal. to meet the king and conduct him over Jordan.  2 Samuel 19:15 . In the days of Jeroboam Gilgal was defiled with idolatry.  Hosea 4:15;  Hosea 9:15;  Amos 4:4 . Gilgal which signifies 'rolled away' should be itself 'rolled away.'  Amos 5:5 . In  Joshua 15:7 the border of Judah's portion 'looked toward' Gilgal, which well agrees with its being near Jericho. But in   Joshua 18:17 the same place is called GELILOTH, which cannot be traced. Gilgal is identified with Jiljulieh, 32 10' N, 34 57' E .

4. In   Deuteronomy 11:30 Moses, speaking of the mounts of Gerizim and Ebal, asks "Are they not . . . . in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh?" This does not at all agree with any of the above, but has not been identified with any place in the neighbourhood of the two mountains.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

a celebrated place situated on the west of Jordan, where the Israelites encamped some time after their passage over that river, and where Joshua pitched twelve stones taken out of Jordan as a memorial. A considerable city was afterward built there, which became renowned for many events recorded in the history of the Jews. Gilgal was about a league from Jordan, and at an equal distance from Jericho. It received its name from the circumstance of the Hebrews being there circumcised; for when by divine command that rite had been performed upon them, the Lord said, "This day have I rolled away from off you the reproach of Egypt,"

 Joshua 5:2-4 , &c.—The word Gilgal signifies rolling. Here the ark was long stationed, and consequently the place was much resorted to by the Israelites. It seems to have been the place in which Jeroboam or some of the kings of Israel instituted idolatrous worship; and hence the allusions to it by the prophets,   Hosea 4:15;  Amos 4:4 . It is probable that there were idols at Gilgal as early as the days of Ehud, who was one of the judges; for it is said that, having delivered his presents to the king, "Ehud went away, but returned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal,"

 Judges 3:19 . The margin of our Bibles reads, "the graven images," or idols set up by the Moabites, the viewing of which, it is thought, stirred up Ehud to revenge the affront thereby offered to the God of Israel. At this same place, the people met to confirm the kingdom to Saul,  1 Samuel 11:14-15 . It was at Gilgal, too, that Saul incurred the divine displeasure, in offering sacrifice before Samuel arrived, 1 Samuel xiii; and there also it was that he received the sentence of his rejection for disobeying the divine command, and sparing the king of Amalek with the spoils which he had reserved, 1 Samuel 15.

It has been supposed that the setting up of stones, as at Gilgal and other places, gave rise to the rude stone circular temples of the Druids, and other Heathens. The idea, however, appears fanciful, and there is an essential difference between stones erected for memorials, and those used to mark sacred, or supposed sacred, places for worship.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

A rolling,

1. A celebrated place between the Jordan and Jericho, where the Israelites first encamped, after the passage of that river; where also they were circumcised, and kept their first Passover in Canaan,  Joshua 4:19   5:9,10 . It continued to be the headquarters of the Israelites for several years, while Joshua was occupied in subduing the land,  Joshua 9:6   10:6,15,43 . A considerable city was afterwards built there,  Joshua 15:7 , which became famous for many events. Here the tabernacle rested, until its removal to Shiloh; here also, according to the prevalent opinion, Samuel offered sacrifices, and held his court as a judge of Israel; and here Saul was crowned,  1 Samuel 7:16   10:8   11:15   1 Samuel 13:7-9   15:33 . A school of the prophets was established,  2 Kings 4:38; and yet it afterwards appears to have become a seat of idolatry,  Hosea 4:15   9:15   12:11   Amos 4:4   5:5 . At this day, no traces of it are found. According to Josephus, it lay within two miles of Jericho.

2. Another Gilgol lay near Antipatris,  Joshua 12:23   Nehemiah 12:29 . And perhaps a third in the mountains of Ephraim, north of Bethel,  Deuteronomy 11:30   2 Kings 2:1-6 . There are not wanting those who would make the Gilgal near Antipatris the seat of Samuel's judgeship, and of one of the schools of the prophets.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Gilgal ( L'Găl ), Rolling. I. The name of the first station of the Israelites after crossing the Jordan,  Joshua 4:19-20, where the twelve stones were set up, and the tabernacle remained until removed to Shiloh.  Joshua 18:1. Samuel judged, and Saul was made king there;  1 Samuel 7:16;  1 Samuel 10:8;  1 Samuel 11:14-15; at Gilgal the people gathered for war; there Agag was hewn in pieces.  1 Samuel 13:4-7;  1 Samuel 15:33. Gilgal is not named in the New Testament. Josephus places this Gilgal 10 furlongs from Jericho and 50 from the Jordan: Jerome had it pointed out 2 miles from Jericho. 2. The Gitgal in Elijah's time was above Bethel, since the prophet "went down" from that Gilgal to Bethel.  2 Kings 2:2. As Bethel is 3300 feet above the Jordan plain, it must have been a Gilgal not in that plain, It has been identified with Jiljilia, 8 miles north of Bethel, where the school of the prophets was probably established. 3. Gilgal of  Joshua 12:23 is supposed to be at a Jiljûlieh, near Antipatris, in the plain of Sharon.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

  • A place, probably in the hill country of Ephraim, where there was a school of the prophets ( 2 Kings 4:38 ), and whence Elijah and Elisha, who resided here, "went down" to Bethel (2:1,2). It is mentioned also in  Deuteronomy 11:30 . It is now known as Jiljilia, a place 8 miles north of Bethel.

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Gilgal'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

    gil´gal ( גּלגּל , gilgāl , "circle"; Γάλγαλα , Gálgala ): The article is always with the name except in   Joshua 5:9 . There are three places to which the name is attached:

    (1) The first camp of Israel after crossing the Jordan ( Joshua 4:19;  Joshua 5:9 ,  Joshua 5:10;  Joshua 9:6;  Joshua 10:7;  Joshua 14:6;  Joshua 15:7;  Deuteronomy 11:30 ). According to  Joshua 15:7 it lay to the North of the valley of Achor, which formed the border between Judah and Benjamin. Here 12 memorial stones taken from the bed of the river were set up by Joshua, after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan; and here (  Joshua 5:5 ) the people were circumcised preparatory to their possession of the land, when it is said in Josh, with a play upon the word, "This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you." Whereupon the Passover was celebrated ( Joshua 5:10 ) and the manna ceased ( Joshua 5:12 ). To Gilgal the ark returned every day after having compassed the city of Jericho during its siege ( Joshua 6:11 ). Hither the Gibeonites came to make their treaty ( Joshua 9:3 ), and again ( Joshua 10:6 ) to ask aid against the Amorites. Gilgal was still the headquarters of the Israelites after the battle with the Amorites ( Joshua 10:15 ); again after Joshua's extensive victorious campaign in the hill country of Judea extending to Kadesh-barnea and Gaza ( Joshua 10:15 ); and still later upon his return from the great battle at the Waters of Merom ( Joshua 14:6 ). At the conclusion of the conquest ( Joshua 18:1 ), the headquarters were transferred to Shiloh on the summit of the mountain ridge to the West.

    Gilgal reappears frequently in subsequent history. Samuel ( 1 Samuel 7:16 ) made it one of the three places where he annually held circuit court, the other places being Bethel and Mizpah. The Septuagint text adds that these were holy places. The place continued as one of special resort for sacrifices ( 1 Samuel 10:8;  1 Samuel 13:8 ,  1 Samuel 13:9 ,  1 Samuel 13:10;  1 Samuel 15:21 ), while it was here that Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the Lord ( 1 Samuel 15:33 ), and that Saul was both crowned ( 1 Samuel 11:14 ,  1 Samuel 11:15 ) and rejected as king. It was at Gilgal, also ( 2 Samuel 19:15 ), that the people assembled to welcome David as he returned from his exile beyond Jordan during Absalom's rebellion. The early prophets refer to Gilgal as a center of idolatry in their day ( Hosea 4:15;  Hosea 9:15;  Hosea 12:11;  Amos 4:4;  Amos 5:5 ). Micah ( Micah 6:5 ) represents Gilgal as at the other end of the Dead Sea from Shittim.

    In 1874 Conder recognized the name Gilgal as surviving in Birket Jiljúlieh , a pool beside a tamarisk tree 3 miles East of old Jericho. The pool measures 100 ft. by 84, and is surrounded with a wall of roughly hewn stones. North of the pool Bliss discovered lines of masonry 300 yds. long, representing probably the foundations of an ancient monastery. South of the pool there are numerous mounds scattered over an area of one-third of a square mile, the largest being 50 feet in diameter, and 10 feet in height. On excavation some pottery and glass were found. These ruins are probably those of early Christian occupation, and according to Conder there is nothing against their marking the original site. Up to the Middle Ages the 12 stones of Joshua were referred to by tradition.

    (2) According to  2 Kings 2:1;  2 Kings 4:38 , Elisha for a time made his headquarters at Gilgal, a place in the mountains not far from Bethel identified by Conder as Jiljilia , standing on a high hill on the North side of the Wādy el - Jib . It is lower than Bethel, but the phrase in  2 Kings 2:2 , "they went down to Beth-el," may refer to their initial descent into the wādy . It could not have been said that they went down from Gilgal to Bethel in the Jordan valley. The place seems to be referred to in   Nehemiah 12:29 as Beth-gilgal.

    (3) Gilgal of the nations: In  Joshua 12:23 Gilgal is mentioned as a royal city associated with Dor, evidently upon the maritime plain. Dor is identified with Tantura , while Conder identifies this Gilgal with Jiljúlieh , 30 miles South of Dor and 4 miles North of Anti-patris.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

    Gilgal, 1

    Gil´gal, the place where the Israelites formed their first encampment in Palestine, and which continued for some time to be their headquarters while engaged in the conquest of the land (;; , etc.). It was here that they set up the twelve stones which they took out of the bed of the Jordan . Samuel used to visit Gilgal in his annual circuit as a judge; and here there was a school of the prophets . There is no notice of the place after the Captivity. Indeed, it does not seem that the name belonged at first to a town, although Gilgal eventually became an inhabited place. It appears to have been early abandoned, and Josephus does not seem to mention it as existing in his time. This writer places it on the east border of Jericho, ten stadia from that city, and fifty from the Jordan. From this it would seem to have been in the vicinity of the present village of the pseudo-Jericho, Riha, which is about the assigned distance from the river. No trace of the name or site can now be discovered.

    Gilgal, 2

    Gilgal, a place in the region of Dor, whose king was subdued by Joshua . The Gilgal of , and , is probably the same as this; as well as the ancient Galgala, which Eusebius and Jerome place six Roman miles north of Antipatris. In this neighborhood there is still a village called Jiljuleh, which probably represents the ancient site.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

    Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Gilgal'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.