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APHEK (ā'fĕk, Heb. ’ăpēk, strength, fortress)

APHEK ā’ fĕk (אֲפֵ֖ק, stream-bed, strong, fortress [?]). Variant, Aphik (Judg 1:31). A name which appears in widely scattered areas of Pal. 1. A city of the tribal inheritance of Asher taken from the Canaanites (Josh 19:30; Judg 1:31). The tribe was not able to drive out its inhabitants so they dwelt among them. It was strategically located on the coastal highway connecting Phoenicia and Egypt, and was identified with Tell Kurdaneh near the sources of the River Na’main on the Plain of Acco, three m. inland from the Bay of Haifa.

2. A site located on the northern boundary of the Canaanite territory adjoining “the boundary of the Amorites” (Josh 13:4). “Amorite” does not have the general connotation usually found in the OT, but rather is a reference to the kingdom of Amurru, well known from Hitt. and Egyp. sources of the 14th and 13th centuries b.c. It is prob. to be identified with modern Afqa (ancient Aphaca), near the sources of the Nahr (River) Ibrahim, SE of Byblos (modern Jebeil). It was once a center of the Astarte-Adonis cult.

3. One of an important chain of cities on the Plain of Sharon (“level country” or “forested region”). It is to be identified with Tell Ras el-’Ain at the source of the Yarkon, just NE of Joppa. It was a key point on the Via Maris. For this reason it is mentioned in many military campaigns. Its king was slain by Joshua and the Israelites during the conquest of Canaan (Josh 12:18). It was the starting point for the Philistine expedition which captured the Ark and destroyed Shiloh, c. 1050 b.c. (1 Sam 4:1). The Philistines also assembled their forces at Aphek before the campaign which resulted in the death of Saul at Gilboa (29:1).

The Memphis Stele of Amenhotep II mentions Aphek in his second campaign against the Sharon and Jezreel Plains as one of the cities captured by him (c. 1440). The LXX text of Joshua 12:18 seems to indicate that the king of Aphek was called the “King of Aphek of the Sharon” instead of naming two different kings, as the RSV indicates. It was part of the province of Samaria during the reign of Esarhaddon (681-669 b.c.). A letter apparently from the king of Ashkelon has been found requesting help of Egypt against the Babylonian army of Nebuchadnezzar which had already taken Aphek (c. 600 b.c.).

4. A city in the N Trans-Jordan district of Bashan on a road from Damascus through the Jezreel Valley to Beth-shean. It was near here that Ben-hadad, the Syrian ruler, was defeated by Ahab of Israel and fled into the city itself where he sought mercy from Ahab (1 Kings 20:26-34). It was here that Ben-hadad, son of Hazael of Syria, was defeated by Joash of Israel according to a prophecy of the dying Elisha (2 Kings 13:14-25).


G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology (1957), 175; I. M. Price, O. R. Sellers, E. L. Carlson, The Monuments and the Old Testament (1958), 235, 347, 378; J. Bright, A History of Israel (1959), 165, 173; M. Noth, The History of Israel (1960), 165, 177, 244; Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (1967).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(’apheq, "fortress"; Aphek):

(1) In Jos 12:18 we should probably read with the Septuagint "the king of Aphek in Sharon." This may correspond to Aphek in 1Sa 4:1. It was a royal city of the Canaanites whose king was slain by Josh. Probably it is the Aphek mentioned by Josephus as being near to Antipatris (BJ, II, xix, 1). Kakon, a strong position commanding the main entrance to Samaria might suit; but the name has perished.

(2) (Greek Taphek or Apheka): A city in the lot of Asher (Jos 13:4). The inhabitants were not ejected by Asher, nor is it said that they became tributary (Jud 1:31). In this passage it is written ’aphiq (Hebrew). It may be represented by ’Afqa on Nahr Ibrahim, although this is probably farther north than we should expect.

(3) To this place the Philistines gathered their hosts, while the Israelites pitched by the fountain which is in Jezreel (1Sa 29:1). It has been generally supposed that these two positions were over against each other, and that therefore Aphek must be sought in the plain of Esdraelon. No place answering this description has been found here. Fuqu`ah on Mount Gilboa is plainly impossible. If, however, this was only the rallying point of the Philistines from which they went up to Jezreel (1Sa 29:11), it may be identical with the Aphek in the plain of Sharon (compare 1Sa 29:1 above).

(4) A city on the plateau east of the Jordan, where disaster befell Benhadad (1Ki 20:26,30). The same place may be intended in 2Ki 13:17. The modern Fiq or Afiq (for both forms are heard) on the brow of the hill beyond Qal`at el-Chucn, east of the Sea of Galilee, probably represents this ancient city.