DISCUSSION

Mount Ephraim and Benjamin

This is not the city nor the valley of Aijalon, which constitute the main approach to the Judean Hills from the west, as is today commonly thought. The Madaba map follows a different identification (indeed present already in Eusebius' Onomasticon) with an almost unknown place, situated on the edge of the Judean desert, northeast of Jerusalem.

50. Aialon, where the moon stood still for a whole day at the bidding of Joshua the son of Nun - (Kh. Haiyan ?)


[The book of] Joshua referred to the valley of Aijalon in connection with his defeat of the Amorites. Joshua asked for a miracle to prevent the sun from setting so that the Israelites could avenge themselves on the Amorites. Joshua said: "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Aijalon" (Josh. 10:12). The city is included in the tribal area of Dan (Josh. 19:42) and in the list of levitical cities (Josh. 21:24; I Chron. 6:54), but the Danites were unable to subject the Amorites, and later the region came under the influence of the "house of Joseph" (Ephraim; Judg. 1:34-35). The valley became a field of battle between the tribes of Dan, Ephraim, Judah, and Benjamin on the one side and the Amorites and Philistines on the other (I Chron.7:21; 8:6). The region was finally conquered by the Israelites under David. Aijalon is included in Solomon's second administrative district under "the son of Deker" (I Kings 4:9). With the division of the kingdom, the valley remained within the kingdom of Judah, in the territory of Benjamin, and Rehoboam fortified it as part of his defense system of Jerusalem (II Chron. 11:10). It is mentioned in the list of cities (No. 26) captured by Shishak, king of Egypt, in about 924 B.C.E. and the Philistines also captured it during the reign of Ahaz but held it only briefly (II Chron. 28:18). There is no reference to Aijalon during the Second Temple period. The valley was located on the route taken by Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, in his campaign against Jerusalem in 66 C.E. (Jos., Wars, 2:513-6). In Byzantine times, Aijalon is mentioned as Ialo. a name which is preserved in the present-day Arab village of Yalu.

Encyclopaedia Judaica, ad v. "Aijalon" (extract)

Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 48)
The map follows Eusebius (On. 18,14) who located Aialon three miles east of Bethel. The mosaicist paid no attention to St. Jerome's correction in the Latin translation of the Onomasticon, according to which Jewish tradition placed Aialon correctly at Yalu, two miles from Nicopolis on the road to Jerusalem (On. 19, 13). In his commentary on Ezechiel (XIII, 22 ­ PL 25, col. 488) and his Peregrinatio Paulae VI, St. Jerome follows the 'Jewish' view. The site referred to by Eusebius might be Kh. Haiyan or 'Almit; the On. has Ailon; the form Ailamon is peculiar to our map.

Leah Di Segni ("The Onomastikon of Eusebius and the Madaba Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, 116)
The artist faithfully followed Eusebius ... in locating Aialon, 'where the moon stood one day in the time of Joshua son of Nun', near Bethel, ignoring the correction by Jerome, who replaced it with Aialon near Nicopolis, in accordance with Jewish tradition. By the way, in spite of his fidelity to Eusebius' identification, the artist caught the name wrong, writing Ailamon instead of Eusebius' Ailon (Jerome's Aialon) - or possibly he took both the location and the name from an unknown source, which agreed with the Onomastikon on the former but not on the latter. Aialon is located near Bethel also by Epiphanius in his Treatise on Weights and Measures, and possibly other sources followed this tradition. (See also the complete article)

Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994, 59)
Aialon II, Ailon. Kh. Hayan (175145). Village three miles east of Bethel, near Gaba and Rama. Identified by Eusebius as the site of the miracle performed by Joshua (Josh. 10:12-14). Church, oil presses, cisterns, tombs.
More sources and bibliography are found thereafter.

Map Section 5 Place Sources

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Created Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 23:39:37
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
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copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000