Ancient Sources

The Jordan Valley



10. Galgala, also the twelve stones - (Kh. al-Nitla)

ORIGINAL TEXTS


Golgol, quae et Galgal, iuxta quam montes esse scribuntur Garizim et Gebal. Galgal autem est locus iuxta Iericho. Errant igitur Samaritani, qui iuxta Neapolim Garizim et Gebal montes ostendere volunt, cum illos iuxta Galgal esse scriptura testetur (Jerome 65:18-21)


Galgala. Haec est quam supra posuimus Golgol, ad orientalem plagam antiquae Ierichus cis Iordanem, ubi Iesus secundo populum circumcidit et pascha celebravit ac deficiente manna triticeis panibus usus est Israel. In ipso loco lapides quoque, quos de alveo Iordanis tulerunt, statuerunt. Ubi et tabernaculum testimonii fixum multo tempore fuit. Cecidit autem in sortem tribus Iudae. Et ostenditur usque hodie locus desertus in secundo Ierichus miliario, ab illius regionis mortalibus miro cultu habitus. Sed et iuxta Bethel quidam aliam Galgalam suspicantur.
(Jerome 65:25-67:7)


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Jos 4:19
The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal...

Eusebius, Onomasticon 64:18-20 (ca. 295 A.D.); Jerome 65:18-21 (ca. 390 A.D.)
Gebal. Galgas is a place near Jericho. Therefore the Samaritans are mistaken when they claim to locate Mount Gerizim and Mount Gebal near Neapolis, for the Scripture attests that they are near Galgal.

Eusebius, Onomasticon 64:24-66,7 (ca. 295 A.D.); Jerome 65:25-67:7 (ca. 390 A.D.)
Galgala (Jos 4:19) is the same as Golgol which we have mentioned above, to the east of ancient Jericho on this side of the Jordan, where Joshua circumcised the people for the second time and kept the Passover, and for the first time the children of Israel ate wheat bread, while the manna ceased; and in the same place they also set up the stone which they took out of the Jordan. The ark of the testimony also remained there for a long time. (Galgala) fell to the lot of the tribe of Judah, and to this very day a desert place is shown at the second milestone from Jericho, which is held most sacred by the people of that country. But there seems to be also another Galgala near Bethel.

BIBLICAL BACKGROUND

Josh 4:1-9; 19-24 The twelve memorial stones
When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua: "Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, and command them, 'Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.'" Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. Joshua said to them, "Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, 'What do those stones mean to you?' then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever."
The Israelites did as Joshua commanded. They took up twelve stones out of the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord told Joshua, carried them over with them to the place where they camped, and laid them down there. (Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.)
...The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, saying to the Israelites, "When your children ask their parents in time to come, 'What do these stones mean?' then you shall let your children know, 'Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.' For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we crossed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, and so that you may fear the Lord your God forever."

Josh 5:2-12
The circumcision and the first Passover in Gilgal
At that time the Lord said to Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites a second time." So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath-haaraloth. This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the warriors, had died during the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. Although all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people born on the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the Israelites traveled forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the warriors who came out of Egypt, perished, not having listened to the voice of the Lord. To them the Lord swore that he would not let them see the land that he had sworn to their ancestors to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So it was their children, whom he raised up in their place, that Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.
When the circumcising of all the nation was done, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. The Lord said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt." And so that place is called Gilgal to this day.
While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.

MORE ANCIENT SOURCES

Josephus, Antiquities 5.1.4 (1st cent. A.D.)
So the Hebrews went on further fifty furlongs, and pitched their camp at the distance of ten furlongs from Jericho; but Joshua built an altar of those stones which all the heads of the tribes, at the command of the prophet, had taken out of the deep, to be afterwards a memorial of the division of the stream of this river, and upon it offered sacrifice to God; and in that place celebrated the passover, (21) and had great plenty of all the things which they wanted hitherto; for they reaped the corn of the Canaanites, which was now ripe, and took other things as prey; for then it was that their former food, which was manna, and of which they had eaten forty years, failed them.

Itinerarium Burdigalense 597, 4-6 (333 A.D.)
From this point you have a view of the very place where the children of Israel set down the ark of the covenant, and placed the twelve stones which they brought up out of the Jordan. It is also the place where Joshua the Son of Nun circumcised the children of Israel and burried their foreskins.

Anonymus Placentinus, Itinerarium 13 (ca. 570 A.D.)
The stones which the children of Israel brought up from the Jordan are in a basilica not far from Jericho. They have been placed behind the altar and they are huge. In front of the basilica is a plain, The Lord's Field, in which the Lord sowed wich his own hand. Its yield is three pecks, and it is reaped twice in the year, but it grows naturally, and is never sown. The reap is in February, and they use the harvest for Communion at Easter. After this harvest they plough, and the next reaping is at the time of the other harvesting, after which it is ploughed and left fallow.


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Created Saturday, December 16, 2000 at 11:50:35
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
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copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000