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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

("fortress".) In the Shephelah or lower hills of Judah ( Joshua 15:44), hence the phrase "go down to Keilah." David in dependence on Jehovah's promise, notwithstanding his men's protest on the ground of their weakness, rescued it from the Philistines (1 Samuel 23); here Abiathar joined him with the ephod, having escaped from the massacre of priests at Nehemiah The proximity of Hareth, where David was, accounts for his helping it though he did not help other towns when robbed by the Philistines. (See Hareth .) Saul too looked to God, as if His providence had "delivered" David to him by David's entering a town with "gates and bars," Saul's hope was presumption, for God would never be the minister to gratuitous and murderous malice. David again consulted God in sincere faith, whether the men of Keilah would betray him. Like the Antitype, David was being betrayed by the ungrateful men whom he came to save.

The grain abounding character of the Judaeau lowland accords with the Philistines robbing the "threshing floors" of Keilah. Its strength, as a key to the hill country of Judah, is implied in the "armies" of the Philistines, and in Saul's calling "all the people together to go down to Keilah." All "the inhabitants of Keilah" probably did not join in the treachery against David, only the Baalites, Hebrew: Baali for "men" of Keilah ( Joshua 15:11-12), i.e. the Canaanite portion, votaries of Baal, to whom David's devotion to Jehovah and the presence of the sacred ephod with the priest Abiathar were an offense.  Psalms 31:6;  Psalms 31:8;  Psalms 31:21 alludes, with the undesignedness which characterizes genuineness, to this: "I have hated them that regard lying vanities (idols as Baal), but I trust in Jehovah."

"Thou hast known my soul in adversities" (David's phrase in the independent history,  2 Samuel 4:9). "Thou hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy, Thou hast set my feet in a large room .... Blessed be Jehovah, for He hath shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city," the very description of Keilah. In  Nehemiah 3:17-18 Hashabiah is "ruler of the half part ( Pelek ) of Keilah" and Bavai ruler of the other half part. Ρelek means a "breast," a "round hill", or Mamelon ; applied to Jerusalem composed of two swelling hills with the Tyropeon valley passing between. Each half had its military ruler. El Khuweilifeh on the edge of the great plain, the road between Gaza and Hebron, answers probably to the double stronghold Keilah. It consists of two tells or round hills, with a valley between.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

KEILAH . A city of Judah in the Shephçlah, named with Nezib and Achzib (  Joshua 15:44 ). David delivered it from the marauding Philistines, and it became his residence for a time. Becoming aware of the treachery of its inhabitants, he left it (  1 Samuel 23:1 ff.). It was reoccupied after the Exile (  Nehemiah 3:17 f.,   1 Chronicles 4:19 ). It is commonly identified with Khirbet Kîlâ , about 7 miles E. of Beit Jibrîn . It lies very high, however, for a city in the Shephçlah, being over 1500 ft. above the level of the sea.

W. Ewing.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [3]

Keilah ( Kçi'Lah or Keî'Lah ), Fortress. A city in the lowland of Judah, near the Philistine frontier.  Joshua 15:44. When captured and plundered by a Philistine invasion David came to its rescue, but the inhabitants treacherously plotted with Saul for his betrayal.  1 Samuel 23:1-13. After the captivity its rulers aided in restoring the walk of Jerusalem,  Nehemiah 3:17-18; now Kîla, seven miles east of Beit Jibrîn.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

1. City inthe lowlands of Judah. It was delivered by David from an attack of the Philistines. He and Abiathar with the ephod took shelter there; but warned by God that the people of the city would deliver him up to Saul, they escaped.  Joshua 15:44;  1 Samuel 23:1-13;  Nehemiah 3:17,18 . Identified with Kila, 31 37' N, 35 E.

2. One called 'the Garmite,' in the genealogy of Judah.  1 Chronicles 4:19 .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Kei'lah. (Fortress). A city of the Shefelah , or lowland district of Judah.  Joshua 15:44. Its main interest consists in its connection with David.  1 Samuel 23:7-13. It is represented by Kila , a site with ruins, on the lower road from Beit Jibria to Hebron.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

A city in the plains of Judah, which David once relieved from a siege by the Philistines, but which afterwards sought to deliver him up to Saul,  1 Samuel 23:1-13;  Nehemiah 3:17 .

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

 1 Chronicles 4:19 2 1 Samuel 23:1-13 Nehemiah 3:17-18

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [8]

A town of Judah. ( Joshua 15:44) The word is compounded of Kol, a voice; and Jah, the Lord.—The voice of the Lord.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

 Joshua 15:44 1 Samuel 23:1-8 1 Samuel 23:15

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

(Heb. Keilah', קְעַילָה [in  1 Samuel 23:5, קְעַלָה ], prob. Citadel; Septuag. Κεϊλά or Κείλᾶ , v. r. in Chronicles and Nehemiah Κεειλά ), a city in the plain of Judah ( Joshua 15:44), bordering on the southern portion of the highlands (see Keil's Comment. ad loc.). It appears to have been founded by Naham the. Garmite, brother of Hodiah, one of the wives of Mered ( 1 Chronicles 4:19). " The Philistines had fallen upon the town at the beginning of the harvest (Josephus, Ant. 6: 13, 1), plundered the corn from its threshing-floor, and driven off the cattle ( 1 Samuel 23:1). The prey was recovered by David ( 1 Samuel 23:2-5), who remained in the city till the completion of the ingathering. It was then a fortified place, with walls, gates, and bars ( 1 Samuel 23:7, and Josephus). During this time the massacre of Nob was perpetrated, and Keilah became the repository of the sacred ephod, which Abiathar the priest, the sole survivor, had carried off with him ( 1 Samuel 23:6). But it was not destined long to enjoy the presence of these brave and hallowed inmates, nor indeed was it worthy of such good fortune, for the inhabitants soon plotted David's betrayal to Saul, then on his road to besiege the place. Of this intention David was warned by divine intimation. He therefore left ( 1 Samuel 23:7-13). It will be observed that the word Baali is used by David to denote the inhabitants of Keilah in this passage ( 1 Samuel 23:11-12; A.V. men'), possibly pointing to the existence of Canaanites in the place" (Smith). (See Baal).

Keilah was so considerable a city in the time of Nehemiah as to have two praefects, who are mentioned as assisting in the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem ( Nehemiah 3:17-18), and existed in the days of Eusebius and Jerome, who place it eight (the former, s.v. Κηλά , less correctly, seventeen) Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, on the road to Hebron (see Reland, Palcest. p. 488, 698). Josephus calls it Cilla ( Κίλλα , Ant. 6: 13,1). The prophet Habakkuk is said to have been buried here (Sozomen, Hist. 7: 29; Nicephorus, Hist. 12: 48); but (See Hukkok).

The above notices all point to a locality at a fork of wady el-Faranj, a little N. of Idhna (Jedna), " where on a projection of the right-hand mountain stands a ruined tower" (Robinson, Researches, ii, 427), which Van de Velde learned at Hebron was still called Kilah (Memoir, p. 328). This is confirmed by Tobler (Dritte Wanderung, p. 150 sq.), although he remarks (p. 467) that Van de Velde, on the first edition of his Map, had placed it too far south (S.E. of Idhna). A writer in Fairbairn's Dictionary (s.v.) argues in favor of the locality of Khuweilifeh (See Rimmon), but this is utterly out of the required region, being in the Simeonitish portion of the tribe. (See Judah)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

kḗ - ı̄´la ( קעילה , ḳe‛ı̄lāh  ; Κεελάμ , Keeilám ):

(1) A city of the Shephelah mentioned ( Joshua 15:44 ) along with Nezib, Aehzib and Mareshah. Among those who repaired the walls of Jerusalem was "Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, for his district. After him repaired their brethren, Bavvai the son of Henadad, the ruler of half the district of Keilah" ( Nehemiah 3:17 ,  Nehemiah 3:18 ).

1. David and Keilah:

It is, however, from the story of the wandering of David that we have most information regarding this place. It was a city with gates and bars ( 1 Samuel 23:7 ). The Philistines came against it and commenced robbing the threshing-floors. David, after twice inquiring of Yahweh, went down with his 600 men ( 1 Samuel 23:13 ) and "fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and slew them with great slaughter." Saul hearing that David and his men were within a fortified town "summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men" ( 1 Samuel 23:8 ). Then David asked Abiathar the priest to bring him an ephod, and he inquired of Yahweh whether, if Saul came, the men of Keilah would surrender him to save that city; hearing from Yahweh, "They will deliver thee up," he and all his men escaped from Keilah and went into the wilderness. The reputed strength of Keilah is confirmed by its mention in 5 tablets in the Tell el-Amarna Letters under the name of Kilta ( qilti , Petrie) with Gedor, Gath, Rabbah and Gezer.

2. Identification:

Although other identifications were proposed by the older topographers, there is now a general consensus of opinion that the site of this city is Khurbet Ḳı̄lā (Josephus, Ant ., VI, xiii, 1, in his account of David's adventure calls the place "Killa"). It is a hill covered with ruins in the higher part of Wādy eṣ Ṣûr , 1,575 ft. above sea-level, whose terraced sides are covered with grainfields. The Eusebius, Onomasticon (Latin text) states that it was 8 miles from Eleutheropolis, which is about the distance of Khurbet Ḳı̄lā from Beit Jibrı̄n . Beit Nusı̂b (Nezib) is a couple of miles away, and Tell Sandahannah (Mareshah) but 7 miles to the West (  Joshua 15:44 ). An early Christian tradition states that the prophet Habakkuk was buried at Keilah.

(2) The Garmite (which see),  1 Chronicles 4:19; see PEF , 314, Sh Xxi .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

Kei´lah, a city of the tribe of Judah , about twenty miles south-west from Jerusalem. When this city was besieged by the Philistines, David was commissioned by God to relieve it; notwithstanding which, if he had not made his escape, the ungrateful inhabitants would have delivered him into the hands of Saul . Keilah was a considerable city in the time of Nehemiah , and existed in the days of Eusebius and Jerome, who place it eight Roman miles from Eleutheropolis on the road to Hebron.