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LIBNAH (lĭb'na, Heb. livnâh, whiteness)

LIBNAH lĭb’ nə (לִבְנָֽה, whiteness). 1. The location of one of the Israelite encampments in the wilderness. It is listed in the roster of sites recorded by Moses and is otherwise unknown (Num 33:20, 21). It is thought by some to be identical with Laban (Deut 1:1).

2. A Canaanite city located in the Shephelah which was conquered by the Israelites under Joshua (Josh 10:29). It was N of Lachish and has been identified variously with Tell es-Safi and Tell Bornat. The conquest of Libnah was an important factor in solidifying the territorial holdings of the Israelites in the campaign in S Pal. Libnah is cited in the list of conquered Canaanite cities (12:15) and was one of the cities included in the territory allotted to the tribe of Judah (15:42). It later became a Levitical city, i.e. a city assigned exclusively to the priests and Levites for their places of residency in Pal. (21:13; 1 Chron 6:57).

The most probable of the sites suggested for ancient Libnah seems to be the modern Tell es-Safi. Joshua 15:42 places Libnah in the Shephelah and Eusebius identified the site of ancient Libnah with a town in the district of Eleutheropolis. If Libnah was a border city, as its divided loyalty would seem to indicate, then Tell es-Safi seems to be the best choice. The white limestone cliffs which dominate the site led the Crusaders to give to it the name Blanchegarde. They may also explain the origin of the name Libnah which means “whiteness.”

Archeological excavations at Tell es-Safi have yielded evidence of the Assyrian presence there. A limestone tablet depicting the launching of a ship and the accompanying ceremony of sacrifice was found at the site. It is evidently Assyrian and there is little doubt that it is to be dated in the reign of Sennacherib.


W. F. Albright, “Historical Geography of Palestine,” AASOR II-III (1921-1922), 12-17; F. M. Cross and G. E. Wright, “The Boundary and Province Lists of Judah,” JBL, LXXV (1956), 217, 218.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(libhnah "whiteness," "transparency," "pavement" (compare Ex 24:10 where libhnath, is translated "paved work" or a "compact foundation"); Lebna):

(1) A desert camp of the Israelites between Rimmon-perez and Rissah (Nu 33:20,21). Probably the same as Laban (De 1:1).

See Wanderings of Israel.

The site of this important stronghold remains unknown. In the Eusebius, Onomasticon it is described, under the name Lobana or Lobna, as near Eleutheropolis (Beit Jebrin). All the indications point to a site in the Southwest of the Shephelah, not very far from Lachish. The Palestine Exploration Fund surveyors suggested (PEF, III, 259) the commanding site `Arak el Menshiyeh, or rather the white chalky mound 250 ft. high to the North of this village, and Stanley proposed Tell es Cafi. (Both these identifications are due to the interpretation of Libnah as meaning "whiteness.") In the PEFS (1897, Sh XX) Conder suggests a ruin called el Benawy, 10 miles Southeast of Lachish.