Baskama

BASKAMA băs’ kə mə (Βάσκαμα). The place in Gilead, NE of the Sea of Galilee where the Seleucid commander Trypho murdered Jonathan in 143-142 b.c.

Trypho had tried to subdue Jonathan, ruler of Judea, but Jonathan had surprised him at Bethshan with such a strong force that Trypho decided to take him by subterfuge, rather than by war. He therefore promised to give Jonathan the Mediterranean coastal city of Ptolemais if he would send his troops home. Innocently Jonathan did this and was trapped in the city of Ptolemais by Trypho’s plan in which the inhabitants cooperated. Jonathan was captured and marched S into southern Judea and then northward up the Jordan Valley only to be cruelly killed at Baskama. (See 1 Macc 12:39-54; 13:1-30; Josephus, Antiq 13:187-212.)

The site is hardly to be identified with Tell bazūq, but with Tell es-samak (Strabo’s “Sycaminos,” Geog. 13:6:1), W of Haifa or el-Gummeize (“Sycamore tree”) at NE corner of Sea of Galilee. This last identification is favored toponomastically since Baskama seems to mean “house” (Ba- or Be for Beth) and “Sycamore-tree” (from Shiqmah) and geographically in Trypho’s line of march.

Bibliography

J. Simons, The Geographical and Topographical Texts of the OT (1959), 418; Y. Aharoni and M. Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas N.Y.: Macmillan Co. (1968), 128.