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Article Info
published: 3/31/13

Debir in the Bible



Debir in the Old Testament

File:Jordan River.jpg
The Jordan River

"And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir, and fought against it: and he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword .... he left none remaining" (Josh 10:38,39). In Josh 15:15-17 and Jdg 1:11-13 is an account of how Othniel captured Debir, which "beforetime was Kiriath-sepher," and won thereby the hand of Achsah, Caleb's daughter. In Josh 15:49 Debir is called Kiriath-sannah. It had once been inhabited by the Anakim (Josh 11:21). It was a Levitical city (Josh 21:15; 1 Ch 6:58).

The Meaning of the Name

Debir is usually accepted as meaning "back," but this is doubtful; the word Heb: debhir is used to denote the "holy of holies" (1 Ki 6:5). According to Sayce (HDB), "the city must have been a sacred one with a well-known temple." Kiriath-sepher is translated "town of books," and Sayce and others consider that in all probability there was a great storehouse of clay tablets here; perhaps the name may have been Heb: qiryath copher, "town of scribes." Heb: Kiriath-sannah (Josh 15:49) is probably a corruption of Heb: Kiriath-sepher; the Septuagint has here as in references to the latter Grk: polis grammaton, "town of books."


The Site

Unfortunately this site, important even if the speculations about the books are doubtful, is still a matter of uncertainty. Edh-Dhaheriyeh, some 11 miles Southwest of Hebron, has a good deal of support.

It was unquestionably a site of importance in ancient times as the meeting-place of several roads; it is in the Negeb (compare Jdg 1:15), in the neighborhood of the probable site of Anab (Josh 11:21; 15:50); it is a dry site, but there are "upper" and "lower" springs about 6 1/2 miles to the North.

A more thorough examination of the site than has as yet been undertaken might produce added proofs in favor of this identification. No other suggestion has any great probability.

Debir, on the border between Judah and Benjamin (Josh 15:7), must have been somewhere East of Jerusalem not far from the modern Jericho road.

Thoghgret edition Debr, "the pass of the rear," half a mile Southwest of the Tal`at edition Dumm, close to the so-called, "Inn of the Good Samaritan," may be an echo of the name which has lingered in the neighborhood. Many authorities consider that there is no place-name in this reference at all, the text being corrupt.

Debir the Revised Version, margin, Lidebir (Josh 13:26), a town on the border of Gad, near Mahanaim; Ibdar, South of the Yarmuk has been suggested. May be identical with Lo-debar (2 Sam 9:4).


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Source:

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain (with minor edits).