Ramah, Rama

RAMAH, RAMA rā’ mə (רָמָ֖ה, without the definite article [Neh 11:33, Jer 31:15]; a fairly common geographical name meaning “height,” given to several towns in ancient Israel—these were usually situated on some lofty perch).

1. Of Naphtali. This city is mentioned once (Josh 19:36; LXX ̔Ραμά, G4821, A, or ̔Αράηλ, B); it was assigned to the cities of Naphtali. E. Robinson was apparently the first modern scholar to note that the name is preserved in that of the village er-Râmeh, about 8 m. WSW of Safad (present-day Zefat). The situation of this Arab town (Christian and Druze) is topographically remarkable; it sits on the lower slope of Jebel Heider (today Har Ha’ari) near the pass that separates that mountain from the other hills in the high ridge that rises sharply from the Wâdĩ esh-Shãghûr (the Talmudic valley of Beth-cerem, Nidd. II, 7; Tosef. ibid., III, 11) to form a massive wall between lower Galilee on the S and upper Galilee on the N. Thus er-Râmeh stands on the natural dividing line between upper and lower Galilee; it is also near the junction of the Acco-Safad road with the route leading S to Nazareth. The Biblical context in which Ramah appears conforms to the geographical location of er-Râmeh; the towns before Ramah are in lower Galilee, and those that follow it are in upper Galilee (even Hazor, which was bound to have been more closely attached to the latter though it was in the Huleh Valley). The terms upper and lower Galilee are not recorded in the Bible, but the distinction is obvious in the topography; furthermore, the order of Naphtali’s cities in this list certainly reflects a knowledge of the two regions. Josephus (Jos. War III. iii. 1 [39]) was well aware of that division and placed the demarcation line at the northern Beer-sheba, today Khirbet Abū esh-Shibã, which stands on a high hill just 3 m. E of er-Râmeh; such a strong position would naturally be cited by the military commander of Galilee who was concerned with fortifying the strategic points. On the other hand, the rabbis, who were interested in matters of everyday life, gave as the boundary point between the two Galilees a rural center known for its market and its religious leaders, viz. Kefar Hananiah (Kefr ’Inân, a village in the valley below Beersheba, Shebi. IX, 2).

In the village of er-Râmeh, the ancient remains (including an Aram. inscr. “In memory of Rabbi Eleazer son of Tedeor, who built this guest house”) date to the Rom. and Hel. periods.

As for the Biblical Ramah, its actual site was at Khirbet Zeitûn er-Râmeh, also known as Khirbet Jûl, an ancient mound about 2 m. E of er-Râmeh on the S side of the Safad road. It is a typical tell of Iron Ages I and II, located on a rocky outcrop in the valley. The exact limits of the ancient settlement are hard to determine today since the whole area is covered by the famous olive orchards of this region.

Bibliography E. Robinson, Biblical Researches III (1852), 79; J. Ben-Zvi, “A Third Century Inscription in er-Râma,” JPOS, XIII (1933), 94-96; A. Marmorstein, “The Inscription of er-Rame,” PEQ (1933), 100, 101; Y. Aharoni, The Settlement of the Israelite Tribes in Upper Galilee (1957), 2, 76, 78, 81, 86; M. Avi-Yonah, The Holy Land (1966), 133-135.

2. Of Asher. The boundary description of the Asher tribe, the exact line of which is difficult to follow, apparently places the town of Ramah (Josh 19:29; LXX ̔Ραμᾶ) somewhere between Great Sidon and “the fortified city of Tyre.” This latter place is known in non-Biblical sources by the name Usū (Assyrian spelling: Ushū) and was located at Tell Rashīdîyeh, the classical Palaityros (Strabo, XVI, ii, 24). Therefore, this Ramah should most likely be sought in the area NW of modern Tyre. The oft proposed identification with the small village of er-Râmiyeh seems out of the question because it is too far S.

Bibliography E. Robinson, op. cit., III, 64; A. Alt, “Eine Galilaische Ortsliste in Jos. 19,” ZAW, N.F. IV (1927), 59-81; idem., “Die Reise,” PJB, XXIII (1927), 46; R. Dussaud, Topographie historique de la Syrie antique et medievale (1927), 11; M. Noth, “Studien zu den historisch-geographischen Dokumenten des Josuabuches,” ZDPV, LVIII (1935), 185-255 (esp. 222, 223); Y. Aharoni, op. cit., 88.



Bibliography Robinson, op. cit., I, 576; SWP, III, 155; H. Vincent, “Ossuaires juifs,” RB, XVI (1907), 410-412; W. F. Albright, “Excavations and Results at Tell el-Ful (Gibeah of Saul),” AASOR, IV (1924), 134-140; Z. Kallai-Kleimann, “The Town Lists of Judah, Simeon, Benjamin and Dan,” VT, VIII (1958), 134-160; Y. Aharoni, “The Province List of Judah,” Vet Test XIX (1959), 225-240; idem., “The Land of the Bible” (1966), Index, s.v.




Bibliography G. Dalman, “Ramathajim,” PJB, IX (1913), 37, 38; S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel (1913), 1-4; W. F. Albright, “Excavations and Results at Tell el-Fûl (Gibeah of Saul),” AASOR, IV (1924), 112, 123; G. Dalman, “Die Nordstrasse Jerusalems,” PJB, XXI (1925), 58-89; H. W. Wiener, “The Ramah of Samuel,” JPOS, VII (1927), 109-111; A. Alt, “Das Institute im Jahre 1927;” PJB, XXIV (1928), 70, 71; idem., “Das Institute im Jahre 1928,” PJB, XXV (1929), 28, 29; F. M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine, II (1938), 428, 429; M. Noth, History of Israel (1958), 376; Y. Aharoni, Carta’s Atlas of the Bible (1964), 58, 59, Maps 85, 86 (Heb.).

5. Of the Negeb. A town mentioned in the description of Simeon’s tribal inheritance (Josh 19:8). The MT states that the towns of Simeon and their respective villages extended “as far as Baalath-beer, Ramath-negeb.” The Gr. MSS show some confusion in the text; A reads—“as far as Baalath-beer-ramōth, going to Bameth towards the south”; whereas B has—“as far as Barek (variant: Balek) going to Bameth towards the south.” The LXX tr. of the geographical term “Negeb” by a directional one (“south”) must be disregarded; it is more likely that the Heb. “Ramath-Negeb” stands as an adverbial accusative of direction. The verse may thus be rendered: “as far as Baalath-beer (in the direction of) Ramath-Negeb.” Such an interpretation obviates two conjectures previously proposed, viz. that the reference is to the southern boundary of Simeon’s settlement (Albright), or that Ramath-Negeb should be equated with Baalath-beer (Abel). The parallel passage (1 Chron 4:33) has simply “as far as Baal” (MT—some LXX MSS read Balat or Balaad); and Ramath-Negeb is also missing from the roster of settlements in the Negeb of Judah (Josh 15:21-32), which included Simeon.

On the other hand, it seems likely that this town appears as Ramoth of the Negeb (1 Sam 30:27) one of the places to whose elders David sent some of his spoil from the Amalakites. There is no indication of its locale.

The newly discovered ostracon from Tell ’Arad (July, 1967) raises anew the whole question of the identification and location of Ramath/Ramoth-Negeb. The legible portion of the text (on the reverse) reads as follows:

[...] from Arad...and from [...], and you (pl.) shall send them to Ramoth (or Ramath)-Negeb under the command of Malchiah son of Qerab’ur and he will commit them into the charge of Jeremiah the son of Elisha in Ramoth-Negeb lest something should happen to the city. And the king’s word is stringently incumbent upon you. Behold, I have sent to admonish you. Get the men to Elisha! Lest Edom should come there.

The epistle is obviously a memorandum from a higher authority demanding confirmation of a previous order by the king that troops be sent from Arad and some other place to Ramoth-Negeb. The transfer of these forces was for the purpose of warding off an impending Edomite attack (another ostracon found in 1962 at Tell ’Arad referred to a certain Malchiah in conjunction with Edom, the king of Judah [unnamed] and some evil that was coming upon the land; perhaps the two letters relate to the same event, but this is far from certain). The script of the Ramoth-Negeb ostracon dates it to the end of the Judean monarchy (i.e., it is contemporary with the Lachish letters and the seventeen texts in the Eliashib archive found at Arad in 1964). The Edomite threat to Ramoth-Negeb prob. corresponds to the situation depicted in Psalm 137:7 and Obadiah 10-14 whereby Edom took advantage of Judah’s downfall in 587 b.c. to pillage the hapless settlements in Cis-jordan. Obadiah’s prophetic retribution called for a reversal of this deed: “Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau” (v. 19).

Current speculation about the identification of Ramoth-Negeb centers on Khirbet Ghazzeh at the eastern edge of the Negeb of Judah guarding a major route from Edom (Aharoni). Besides the casemate fortress there from Iron Age II, a certain quantity of Iron I sherds has also been found in the general vicinity. On the other hand, the lofty commanding position of Khirbet Gharreh and its location in the center of the Negeb of Judah (i.e., on the fringe of Simeon’s inheritance) are strong arguments in favor of the latter’s candidacy.

Bibliography W. F. Albright, “Egypt and the Early History of the Negeb,” JPOS, IV (1924), 161; M. L. Margolis, The Book of Joshua in Greek (1931); F.-M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine, II (1938), 258; Z. Kallai, The Tribes of Israel (1967), 298, 303 (Heb.); Y. Aharoni, “Three Hebrew Ostraca from Arad,” BASOR, No. 197 (Feb. 1971), 16-42.

Article 2

RAMAH, RAMA (rā'ma, Heb. hārāmâh, height). 1. Ramah Arael, a city assigned by lot to the tribe of Naphtali, probably to be identified with the modern er-Rama, a large Christian village on the southern tier of the mountains of upper Galilee (Josh.19.36).

2. Rhama-Ramah, a territory mentioned as forming the boundary of Asher (Josh.19.29). It has been identified with Ramiyeh, a village some thirteen miles (twenty-two km.) SE of Tyre, and twelve miles (twenty km.) east of the “Ladder of Tyre.”

3. Ramah Iamah (or Ramah of Benjamin, and various other orthographic forms), a city assigned to the tribe of Benjamin, mentioned along with Gibeon and Beeroth; the headquarters of Deborah, judge of Israel during the days of the oppression of Sisera (Judg.4.5). The Levite whose concubine’s flight and killing brought about intertribal warfare (Judg.19.1-Judg.19.30-Judg.20.1-Judg.20.48) could have spent the night here, but stayed in Gibeah instead. At the time of the division of the kingdom, Ramah of Benjamin was destroyed, for we read that Baasha of Israel built it again to ward off his rival, Asa king of Judah (1Kgs.15.16-1Kgs.15.17). Ramah of Benjamin is mentioned in the “catalogue of doom” listing the cities about to be punished by the Assyrian king (Isa.10.28-Isa.10.32). This is probably the Ramah that is referred to in Jer.37.15 and Matt.2.18.


5. Ramah in the Negev, Ramah of the South. A city in the southern sector of Judah that was allotted to the tribe of Simeon (Josh.19.8; kjv “Ramath of the South”). It is understood to be the same as Baalath Beer by many, as well as identified with the Ramoth (pl.) to whose inhabitants David sent gifts that he had taken as spoil from the Amalekites (1Sam.30.27). All proposed identification is tenuous.