Riblah

RIBLAH (rĭb'la, Heb. rivlâh). The city at the head waters of the Orontes River was a stronghold for both Egyptians and Assyrians. Copious water ran from its springs; fertile lands, east and west, and timber lands in nearby Lebanon made it a coveted prize of war. When Pharaoh Neco captured Jerusalem about 600 b.c. he took King Jehoahaz, put Judah under tribute to Egypt, and led the king to Egypt, where he died (2Kgs.23.31-2Kgs.23.34). A few years later, Nebuchadnezzar, then at war with Egypt, captured Jeremiah and took King Zedekiah to Riblah as a captive. There Zedekiah’s sons were killed before him, his eyes were put out, and he was taken in chains to Babylon (2Kgs.25.6-2Kgs.25.7). Nebuchadnezzar then destroyed Jerusalem, and the chief priests and temple guards were led to Riblah, where, before the Jews were taken into captivity, they were executed (2Kgs.25.21). Riblah was on the east side of Ain, probably near Mount Hermon (Num.34.11).


RIBLAH rĭb’ lə (רִבְלָה; LXX ̓Ρεβλαθά and other forms, meaning unknown). A town in Syria c. thirty-five m. NE of Baalbek.

Pharaoh Neco of Egypt made a campaign through Pal. during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah (2 Kings 23:28ff.). In an effort to stop the pharaoh, Josiah lost his life at Megiddo. In his stead, the people made Josiah’s younger son, Jehoahaz, king. This popular choice did not please Neco nor God, for Jehoahaz “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Neco put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath “that he might not reign in Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:31-33). Neco had apparently reached the Orontes River by that time and was making it his headquarters. He made Jehoahaz’s older brother, Eliakim, king, but changed his name to Jehoiakim (v. 34).

Riblah is c. fifty m. S of Hamath and upstream from Lake Homs. The modern town of Ribleh represents it. Topographically and geographically, it is well situated, and one can understand why a military monarch would have chosen it for a base of operations.

In 605 b.c., c. five years after Neco’s campaign, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians gained the upper hand and made Riblah their staging ground for operations against Pal. Zedekiah the new king whom Nebuchadnezzar had put on the throne in Jerusalem, resisted such vassalhood and rebelled against the king of Babylon. When Jerusalem was besieged, Zedekiah fled. Nebuchadnezzar’s army captured him near Jericho, took him to Riblah, and put out his eyes just after making him witness his sons’ execution (2 Kings 25:1-7; cf. Jer 39:1-7; 52:1-11). Later, other rebellious Israelite leaders lost their lives at the same town (2 Kings 25:18-21; Jer 52:24-27).

Some authorities read “Riblah” (see RSV) at Ezekiel 6:14, although the MT has “Diblah.”

Numbers 34:11 mentions Riblah as a point on the E border of the Promised Land (Ezek 47:15-18 does not mention it, however). In this one instance, the name has the definite article הָרִבְלָ֖ה (the Riblah). It is an unidentified town somewhere NE of the Sea of Galilee. The LXX reads ̓Αρβηλα, but any name resembling it in the area of Golan is not to be found.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(ribhlah; Rheblatha, with variants):

(1) Riblah in the land of Hamath first appears in history in 608 BC. Here Pharaoh-necoh, after defeating Josiah at Megiddo and destroying Kadytis or Kadesh on the Orontes, fixed his headquarters, and while in camp he deposed Jehoahaz and cast him into chains, fixed the tribute of Judah, and appointed Jehoiakim king (2Ki 23:31-35). In 588 BC Nebuchadnezzar, at war with Egypt and the Syrian states, also established his headquarters at Riblah, and from it he directed the subjugation of Jerusalem. When it fell, Zedekiah was carried prisoner to Riblah, and there, after his sons and his nobles had been slain in his presence, his eyes were put out, and he was taken as a prisoner to Babylon (2Ki 25:6,20; Jer 39:5-7; 52:8-11). Riblah then disappears from history, but the site exists today in the village of Ribleh, 35 miles Northeast of Baalbek, and the situation is the finest that could have been chosen by the Egyptian or Babylonian kings for their headquarters in Syria. An army camped there had abundance of water in the control of the copious springs that go to form the Orontes. The Egyptians coming from the South had behind them the command of the rich corn and forage lands of Coele-Syria, while the Babylonian army from the North was equally fortunate in the rich plains extending to Hamath and the Euphrates. Lebanon, close by, with its forests, its hunting grounds and its snows, ministered to the needs and luxuries of the leaders. Riblah commanded the great trade and war route between Egypt and Mesopotamia, and, besides, it was at the dividing-point of many minor routes. It was in a position to attack with facility Phoenicia, Damascus or Palestine, or to defend itself against attack from those places, while a few miles to the South the mountains on each side close in forming a pass where a mighty host might easily be resisted by a few. In every way Riblah was the strategical point between North and South Syria. Riblah should probably be read for Diblah in Eze 6:14, while in Nu 34:11 it does not really appear. See (2).

(2) A place named as on the ideal eastern boundary of Israel in Nu 34:11, but omitted in Eze 47:15-18. The Massoretic Text reads "Hariblah"; but the Septuagint probably preserves the true vocalization, according to which we should translate "to Harbel." It is said to be to the east of `Ain, and that, as the designation of a district, can only mean Merj `Ayun, so that we should seek it in the neighborhood of Hermon, one of whose spurs Furrer found to be named Jebel `Arbel.