“The whole land
Shall be turned
Into a plain
South of Jerusalem.
But Jerusalem shall remain aloft
On its site,
From the Gate of Benjamin
To the place
Of the former gate,
To the Corner Gate.
It will remain
From the Tower of Hananel
To the king’s wine presses.
It shall be inhabited.
Never again shall it be doomed
Jerusalem shall abide in security.”
Although the whole land south of Jerusalem from Geba to Rimmon would be turned into a plain, Jerusalem would remain aloft from the fray, tall and strong. Geba would be the northern boundary of Judah, about 5 miles north of Jerusalem, but actually in Benjamin. Rimmon was the southernmost town in Judah, in the old Simeon territory, about 13 miles south of Hebron. Jerusalem would be safe from its norther Gate of Benjamin to the wines presses in the southern part of the city. Never again would Jerusalem be destroyed, because it would live in security.
“Then Holofernes went down to the seacoast with his army. He stationed garrisons in the fortified towns. He took picked men from them as his auxiliaries. These people and all in the countryside welcomed him with garlands, dances, and tambourines. Yet he demolished all their shrines. He cut down their sacred groves. He had been commanded to destroy all the gods of the land. All the nations should worship King Nebuchadnezzar alone. All their dialects and tribes should call upon him as a god. Then he came toward Esdraelon, near Dothan, fronting the great ridge of Judea. He camped between Geba and Scythopolis. He remained for a whole month in order to collect all the supplies for his army.”
General Holofernes went down along the seacoast and set up garrisons of his troops in the fortified cities. He even picked some men from the local area to serve in his auxiliary army. They all welcomed him with garlands, dances, and tambourines as a conquering hero. Everything seemed great until he decided to tear down their shrines and sacred groves. He wanted all the local gods destroyed. The only god would be King Nebuchadnezzar. However, this is a misplaced historical event since the idea of king or ruler as a god only came with the Greeks and the Romans, not the Assyrians or Persians who were very tolerant of various religions. Besides, the unity of religious beliefs was not part of the original assignment of Holofernes. Finally, he rested a month at Esdraelon, on the border of Judah, to get more supplies for his troops. Esdraelon was on the plains of Jezreel between the coast and the Jordan River in the old Ephraim territory. Geba was actually in the Benjamin territory. So Holofernes was already in Israel, when he camped with his troops for a month.
“Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with rejoicing, thanksgivings, and singing, along with cymbals, harps, and lyres. The companions of the singers gathered together from the circuit round Jerusalem and from the villages of the Netophathites. They also came from Beth-Gilgal and from the region of Geba and Azmaveth. The singers had built for themselves villages around Jerusalem. The priests and the Levites purified themselves. They purified the people, the gates, and the wall.”
This probably should have come after chapter 6 in this book, when the wall was completed. In some ways it is reminiscent of the dedication of the Temple that was in Ezra, chapter 6. They wanted all the Levites from every town to come to the celebration with their various musical instruments, cymbals, harp, and lyres. They were to rejoice and given thanksgiving. The singers had made villages around Jerusalem. The priests and Levites purified themselves, the people, the gates, and the wall.
“The people of Benjamin also lived from Geba onward, at Michmash, Aija, Bethel and its villages, Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim, Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat, Lod, and Ono, the valley of artisans. Certain divisions of the Levites in Judah were joined to Benjamin.”
This author named 15 towns in the old Benjamin territory. Geba and Michmash were on the northeast side, while Hadid, Lod and Ono were on the west side. Bethel would be on the north side. Aija, this Zeboim, and Neballat are only mentioned here. Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah, Hazor, Ramah, were all within 10 miles of Jerusalem. Some of the Levites went to these towns in Judah and Benjamin.
“The men of Gibeon were ninety-five. The men of Bethlehem and Netophah were one hundred eighty-eight. The men of Anathoth were one hundred twenty-eight. The men of Beth-Azmaveth were forty-two. The men of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth were seven hundred forty-three. The men of Ramah and Geba were six hundred twenty-one. The men of Michmas were one hundred twenty-two. The men of Bethel and Ai were one hundred twenty-three. The men of the other Nebo were fifty-two. The descendents of the other Elam were one thousand two hundred fifty-four. The descendents of Harim were three hundred twenty. The men of Jericho were three hundred forty-five. The men of Lod, Hadid, and Ono were seven hundred twenty-one. The men of Senaah were three thousand nine hundred thirty.”
Once again, we have a very close similarity with Ezra, chapter 2, almost word for word. This list refers to the towns that they had come from in Judah, but also a lot from the Benjamin territory. These were the leaders there that had been taken into captivity. Gibbar or the town of Gibeon had a mere 95 people, the same as Ezra. Bethlehem had 188 not 123 people. Here it is combined with Netophah, a small town near Bethlehem that only had 56 people, so that the net change is only 9 more people here. Anathoth, another small town in Benjamin, had exactly the same amount of 128 people. Beth-Azmaveth or just Azmaveth, a town near Jerusalem, had 42 people, the smallest amount, but exactly the same as in Ezra. There was a group of 3 towns near Jerusalem in the Benjamin territory of Kiriath-jearim, Chephirah, and Beeroth with exactly the same amount of 743 people. Ramah and Geba were northern towns in Benjamin with exactly the same amount of 621 people. Michmas was another Benjamin town with exactly the same amount of 122 people. Bethel and Ai were 2 northern Benjaminite towns with 123 instead of 223 people as in Ezra. This Nebo was a small town near Bethel and Ai with exactly the same amount of 52 people. There was no mention here of Magbish, a small town in Benjamin with 156 people as there was in Ezra. This other Elam had 1,254 people, but that is the exact amount as mentioned in the previous paragraph and in Ezra. Harim with 320 people was exactly the same as in Ezra. Lod, Hadid, and Ono were 3 Benjaminite towns with 721 instead of 725 people. Jericho had exactly the same amount of 345 people. Senaah, a town in northern Benjamin had the largest group with 3,930 instead of 3,630 people as in Ezra. Thus there were only minor discrepancies between this account and the one in Ezra.
“There were the descendents of Gibbar, ninety-five. There were the descendents of Bethlehem, one hundred twenty-three. There were the descendents of Netophah, fifty-six. There were the descendents of Anathoth, one hundred twenty-eight. There were the descendents of Azmaveth, forty-two. There were the descendents of Kiriatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty-three. There were the descendents of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty-one. There were the descendents of Michmas, one hundred twenty-two. There were the descendents of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty-three. There were the descendents of Nebo, fifty-two. There were the descendents of Magbish, one hundred fifty-six. There were the descendents of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four. There were the descendents of Harim, three hundred twenty. There were the descendents of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty-five. There were the descendents of Jericho, three hundred forty-five. There were the descendents of Senaah, three thousand six hundred thirty.”
The second part of this list refers to the towns that they came from in Judah, but also in Benjamin. Thus these were the leaders there that had been taken into captivity. Gibbar or the town of Gibeon had a mere 95 people. Bethlehem had 123 people. Netophah was another small town near Bethlehem that only had 56 people, while Anathoth, another small town in Benjamin, had 128 people. Azmaveth, a town near Jerusalem, had 42 people, the smallest amount. There was a group of 3 towns near Jerusalem in the Benjamin territory of Kiriatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth with 743 people. Ramah and Geba were northern towns in Benjamin with 621 people. Michmas was another Benjamin town with 122 people. Bethel and Ai were 2 northern Benjaminite towns with about 223 people. Although there are many places with the name of Nebo, this Nebo was a small town near Bethel and Ai with 52 people. Magbish was a small town in Benjamin with 156 people. From the other Elam there were 1,254 people. Harim had 320 people. Lod, Hadid, and Ono were 3 Benjaminite towns with 725 people. Jericho had 345 people. Senaah, a town in northern Benjamin had the largest group of 3,630 people.
“These are the sons of Ehud. They were the heads of the ancestral houses of the inhabitants of Geba. They were carried into exile to Manahath. They were Naaman, Ahijah, and Gera, that is, Heglam, who was the father of Uzza and Ahihud.”
This Ehud, son of Gera, may be the judge in Judges, chapter 3. Apparently, this family or clan settled in Geba, which was a Levite city in Benjamin, about 6 miles north of Jerusalem. They were taken into exile in the 6th century BCE to Manahath, which actually seems like a place in Judah. One of the leaders of this clan was (1) Naaman, mentioned in Numbers, chapter 26, or maybe a brother of Gera. There were 7 different biblical people with the name of (2) Ahijah. The most famous Ahijah was a prophet of Shiloh in the days of King Rehoboam in 1 Kings, chapters 11 and 14. (3) Gera is somehow Heglam, but this is the only mention of Heglam. There are 3 other people with the name of Uzza, but there is also one other Ahihud.