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2. A king of Eglon, who made an alliance with the king of Jerusalem against Joshua and was defeated at Gibeon (Josh.10.1-Josh.10.11).

3. A town on the border of Gad near Mahanaim (Josh.13.25-Josh.13.26).

4. A town on the border between Judah and Benjamin (Josh.1.7), on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.

DEBIR de’ bər (Heb. דְּבִ֥יר and Heb. דְּבִ֑ר). 1. A king of Eglon, a member of the confederacy of five Amorite rulers who opposed the town of Gibeon at the invitation of Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem. The Gibeonites appealed to Joshua and he and his army fought the Amorites in the Valley of Aijalon where Joshua's Long Day|Joshua’s Long Day, q.v., occurred (Josh 10:3-39). The name Debir has been etymologized to a possible Egypt. root “back” or “shrine” but this is merely conjectural.

3. Still another reference to the name appears in Joshua 13:26 as the name of a town in Gilead located near the Jordan. This town has the full name Heb. לִדְבִֽר, meaning unknown. It was the refuge to which the family of Jonathan fled when Israel was defeated by the Philistines. It was the home of Jonathan’s lame son, Mephibosheth, and from that place David summoned him to the palace (2 Sam 9:4-13). The last reference to the name is in the prophecy of Amos. It has been conjectured that perhaps it was lost in the Israelite wars with the Arameans and regained under Jeroboam II. In Amos the name is purposefully perverted in time-honored Sem. fashion by twisting the vowels to Heb. לְלֹ֣א דָבָ֑ר (Amos 6:13) “nothingness,” as it was most likely a place of pagan sacrifice and heathen idolatry and a subject of great satisfaction to the corrupt monarchy. The site of this and the lesser references to the names are so far unidentified.


W. F. Albright, “The Excavations of Tell Beit Mirsim,” AASOR, vol. XII (1930-1931); vol. XIII (1931-1932); vol. XVII (1936-1937); vols. XXI-XXII (1941-1943); J. Simons, GTT (1959) par. 514 et al.; Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (1967), 18, 136, 197, 199, 209, 230, 235, 240, 259, 270, 292, 300, 344.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

King of Eglon, one of the five Amorite kings whose confederation against Israel was overcome and who were killed by Joshua (Jos 10:3).

"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" (Jos 10:38,39). In Jos 15:15-17 and Jud 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 Jos 15:49 Debir is called Kiriath-sannah. It had once been inhabited by the Anakim (Jos 11:21). It was a Levitical city (Jos 21:15; 1Ch 6:58).

1. The Meaning of the Name:

(1) Debir is usually accepted as meaning "back," but this is doubtful; the word debhir is used to denote the "holy of holies" (1Ki 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 qiryath copher, "town of scribes." Kiriath-sannah (Jos 15:49) is probably a corruption of Kiriath-sepher; the Septuagint has here as in references to the latter polis grammaton, "town of books."

2. 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 Jud 1:15), in the neighborhood of the probable site of Anab (Jos 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. See PEF, III, 402; PEFS, 1875.

(2) Debir, on the border between Judah and Benjamin (Jos 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 (see Adummim), 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.

(3) Debir the Revised Version, margin, Lidebir (Jos 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 (2Sa 9:4).