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x. In 1 Sam. i. 1, Ramathaim-zophim (as appears from v. 19, the same as Ramah) is named as the city of Elkanah, the father of Samuel, a great-great-grandson of Zuph, "an Ephrathite," that is, a native of Ephratha (Bethlehem). The expression "Ramathaimzophim of Mount Ephraim," must thus be understood as Ramah in the land of Zuph, in the hill country of Ephratha-not Mount Ephraim to the north of Benjamin's inheritance, a name which in Holy Scripture the territory of Joseph's son repeatedly bears; for that would imply a contradiction, inasmuch as Ephratha, in the tribe of Judah, cannot be said likewise to be in that of Ephraim.
In opposition to this may not the objection be started, whether the verse in question might not possibly have this meaning?-There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of Mount Ephraim, a descendant of a certain Zuph, who once dwelt at Ephratha.
I answer, No; for everywhere else in Scripture, the city from which a family begins to reckon their genealogy, is uniformly named as the city of that family, although succeeding generations may have settled elsewhere. Thus, for example, our Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem, because Joseph and Mary, who, as respects their ancestry, were originally from Bethlehem (Luke ii. 4), had gone up thither to be enrolled, because according to the decree of the emperor, every one was to be enrolled in his own city," -and this notwithstanding their living at a great distance from it, at Nazareth in Galilee. It appears also from David's frequent flight from Saul to Samuel,
during the lifetime of that prophet, that Ramah and Bethlehem were not far distant from each other.
The question then comes to be, Where is to be found in Judah a Ramah which answers to this condition?
Eusebius speaks of a Ramah near Rachel's tomb; and the existence of a city of that name appears first to have been forgotten by travellers in the last century, although the inhabitants of Beit-jala have still preserved the tradition of the ancient Ramah. Cornelis de Bruin,* Bruin,* speaking of Rachel's tomb, says among other things: "Hereabouts "to the southwest of the tomb, and at about four hundred and fifty or five hundred yards' distance-" there is found a great quantity of massive stones and ancient foundations of buildings, of which the people of that country say that they are the remains of the ancient city of Ramah." (Jer. xxxi. 15.) (Jer. xxxi. 15.) True, the old massive stones lie there, and also the foundations; that here there was once a town is past all doubt; and as little can we doubt that, if the town was called Ramah, the prophecy of Jeremiah, to which Matthew refers (ch. ii. 17, 18), has its locality clearly elucidated. Yet, that this should be the same Ramah from which Saul departed when leaving Samuel (1 Sam. x. 2), is inconsistent with the too close vicinity of Rachel's tomb. Should we, on the contrary, take er-Rameh, full threequarters of an hour to the north of Hebron, for the Ramah of 1 Sam. i. 1, then all difficulties are resolved; or let me rather express it thus: the site of er-Rameh beside Hebron answers completely to what Scripture requires for its being Ramah in the land of Zuph, in * Reis Naar, &c., p. 279.
the hills of Ephratha. The distance from er-Rameh to Bethlehem is fully four hours. According to our method of naming mountains, chiefly from their most elevated summits, we should say that er-Rameh lies in the hills of Hebron; but the Scripture calls the heart of the mountains of Judah after Ephratha, on account of the important persons who had given notoriety to that small town.
One hour to the south-east of Hebron lies Ziph, the ancient Ziph of Joshua xv. 55, at a distance of an hour and a half from er-Rameh, a distance not too much to justify the supposition that Ziph, founded by Samuel's ancestor Zuph, gave the country to the north-east of Hebron the name of "the land of Zuph," so that this Ramah could be called with all justice Ramathaimzophim, or Ramah in the land of Zuph.
To that Ramah, accordingly, Samuel again returned at the close of his yearly circuits to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpeh, "for there was his house (1 Sam. v. 16, 17), and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the Lord."
After this, the ninth chapter enters upon Saul's search for his father's asses. Saul's city was Gibeah (1 Sam. xi. 4, &c.), about three hours N.N.E. of Jerusalem. Thence went Saul through the mountains of Ephraim (that is literally, for we have no reason to understand it otherwise, as in the case of 1 Sam. i. 1); yet his search was in vain. He appears, therefore, to have turned southwards, probably through the grassy hills between Shiloh and the vales of the Jordan (Scripture calls the country Shalisha and Shalim), until he again returned to the inheritance of Benjamin. But
all was to no purpose. Saul was not discouraged, however; he now enters the country to the south, until, having come to Ramah (in the land of Zuph), he reminds his servant that his father might now in consequence of their long absence be more concerned about them than about the asses. Upon this, however, Saul's servant recollects that in that city Samuel, the man of God, dwelt. He would be able to give them counsel. "Thy word is good," says Saul; 66 come, let us go." They go up the hill (er-Râmeh lies on a hill); on their way they meet young maidens going out to draw water (Wolcott remarks that he found only one large rain-tank hewn out of the rock, and two other smaller excavations, that might have been meant for collecting rain, from which it appears that the drinking water of the city was brought from springs or running streams outside). They ask: "Is the seer here?" and the answer is: "He is; behold, he is before you; haste, now, for he came to-day to the city' seeing he is often absent on account of his circuits"for there is a sacrifice of the people to-day in the high place." Saul is on that day Samuel's special guest. The royal anointing takes place on the following day "at the end of the city." Thereafter Samuel suffers the young man to depart, and shews him away by Rachel's sepulchre to the plain of Tabor (possibly at the foot of the Mount of Olives, called at this day by the Arabs Jebel-et-Tûr, that is, Tabor), where he will find men going up to Bethel, and further, to the hill of God (Mizpeh?) where there is a garrison of the Philistines. Now, it is impossible to take this course otherwise than in a direction from south to north.
Ramah's position is thus determined. Robinson has sought for Ramathaïm-Zophim in Soba, a village about two hours in a direction west by north of Jerusalem; but the walk which he thus makes Saul to have taken past Rachel's grave, is by much too roundabout and crooked to satisfy the requisitions of the Bible narrative.* As little can the Jewish tradition stand the test, which places Samuel's Ramah under the name of Nabi-Samuel at a high conical hill, situated at a short two hours' distance to the northwest of Jerusalem, a point which Robinson, I believe rightly, holds to have been Mizpeh.† The prophet, so think the Jews, and the Mohammedans think along with them, lies buried on the hill. According to 1 Sam. xxv. 1, Samuel was buried in his house at Ramah.
In fine, I would further remark that Ramah, viewed as a suburb of Hebron, or a city subject to Hebron, wholly agrees with what was required for Samuel's priestly ministration. "And they gave them (the Levites) the city of Arba, which is Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, with the suburbs thereof round about it. (Joshua xxi. 11.)
Of the "Naioth in (near) Ramath," of 1 Sam. xix. 18-24, whither David fled and where Saul prophesied, I have been able to discover no trace, and as little of Sechu and the great well there. To be sure, there lies to the north-east, at an hour's distance from erRâmeh, a village called Shûk, in which we find something corresponding to the name Sechu, and Professor Robinson found, a quarter of an hour east-north-east + Vol. ii. pp. 143, 144.
* Bibl. Res., vol. ii. p. 328, &c.