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GABBATHA (găb'a-tha, Aram gabbetha’, height, ridge). The place called “the Stone Pavement” (John.19.13). Here Pilate sat on the Bema, or judgment seat, and sentenced Jesus before the people. Josephus (Antiq. 15.8.5) states that the temple was near the castle of Antonia and implies that Herod’s palace was near the castle (15.11.5). Therefore, if Pilate was residing in Herod’s palace at Passover time in order to keep a watchful eye on the Jews, he was staying near the castle. An early pavement consisting of slabs of stones three feet (one m.) square and a foot (one-third m.) or more thick has been excavated near here. This may well have been the pavement where Jesus was brought from the judgment hall for sentencing.

GABBATHA găb’ bə thə (Γαββαθα̂, G1119; Aram., גּוֹבְבָתָא, open space, or גַּבְּתָא, meaning uncertain: ridge [?] height [?]). A location in Jerusalem, where Pilate judged Jesus.

At Gabbatha, Pilate sat on the βη̂μα, G1037, “judicial bench,” and ultimately acceded to the pressure of the Jewish leaders, delivering Jesus to them for crucifixion (19:16).


HDB, II, 74, 75; M. Burrows, BA, 1 (1938), 17-19; Arndt, 704 (πραιτώριον, G4550); L. Vincent, Jerusalem de L’AT (1959), 216-221.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

gab’-a-tha: Given (Joh 19:13) as the name of a special pavement (to lithostroton), and is probably a transcription in Greek of the Aramaic gabhetha’, meaning "height" or "ridge."

Tradition which now locates the Pretorium at the Antonia and associates the triple Roman arch near there with the "Ecce Homo" scene, naturally identifies an extensive area of massive Roman pavement, with blocks 4 ft. x 3 1/2 ft. and 2 ft. thick, near the "Ecce Homo Arch," as the Gabbatha.

This paved area is in places roughened for a roadway, and in other places is marked with incised designs for Roman games of chance. The site is a lofty one, the ground falling away rapidly to the East and West, and it must have been close to, or perhaps included in, the Antonia. But apart from the fact that it is quite improbable that the Pretorium was here (see Praetorium), it is almost certain that the lithostroton was a mosaic pavement (compare Es 1:6), such as was very common in those days, and the site is irretrievably lost.