23968181911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 12 — GilgalRobert Alexander Stewart Macalister

GILGAL (Heb. for “circle” of sacred stones), the name of several places in Palestine, mentioned in the Old Testament. The name is not found east of the Jordan.

1. The first and most important was situated “in the east border of Jericho” (Josh. iv. 19), on the border between Judah and Benjamin (Josh. xv. 7). Josephus (Ant. v. 1. 4) places it 50 stadia from Jordan and 10 from Jericho (the New Testament site). Jerome (Onomasticon, s.v. “Galgal”) places Gilgal 2 Roman miles from Jericho, and speaks of it as a deserted place held in wonderful veneration (“miro cultu”) by the natives. This site, which in the middle ages appears to have been lost—Gilgal being shown farther north—was in 1865 recovered by a German traveller (Hermann Zschokke), and fixed by the English survey party, though not beyond dispute. It is about 2 m. east of the site of Byzantine Jericho, and 1 m. from modern er-Riha. A fine tamarisk, traces of a church (which is mentioned in the 8th century), and a large reservoir, now filled up with mud, remain. The place is called Jiljūlieh, and its position north of the valley of Achor (Wadì Kelt) and east of Jericho agrees well with the biblical indications above mentioned. A tradition connected with the fall of Jericho is attached to the site (see C. R. Conder, Tent Work, 203 ff.). This sanctuary and camp of Israel held a high place in the national regard, and is often mentioned in Judges and Samuel. But whether this is the Gilgal spoken of by Amos and Hosea in connexion with Bethel is by no means certain [see (3) below].

2. Gilgal, mentioned in Josh. xii. 23 in connexion with Dor, appears to have been situated in the maritime plain. Jerome (Onomasticon, s.v. “Gelgel”) speaks of a town of the name 6 Roman miles north of Antipatris (Ras el ‘Ain). This is apparently the modern Kalkilia, but about 4 m. north of Antipatris is a large village called Jiljūlieh, which is more probably the biblical town.

3. The third Gilgal (2 Kings iv. 38) was in the mountains (compare 1 Sam. vii. 16, 2 Kings ii. 1-3) near Bethel. Jerome mentions this place also (Onomasticon, s.v. “Galgala”). It appears to be the present village of Jiljilia, about 7 English miles north of Beitin (Bethel). It may have absorbed the old shrine of Shiloh and been the sanctuary famous in the days of Amos and Hosea.

4. Deut. xi. 30 seems to imply a Gilgal near Gerizim, and there is still a place called Juleijil on the plain of Makhna, 21/2 m. S.E. of Shechem. This may have been Amos’s Gilgal and was almost certainly that of 1 Macc. ix. 2.

5. The Gilgal described in Josh. xv. 7 is the same as the Beth-Gilgal of Neh. xii. 29; its site is not known. (R. A. S. M.)