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ZAPHON (zā'fŏn, Heb. tsāphôn, north). A territory east of Jordan allotted by Moses to Gad (Josh.13.27). It is the modern Amateh.

ZAPHON zā’ fŏn (צָפֹ֗ון; LXX Σαφάν and Σαφών, meaning north). A town lying to the E of Jordan in the territory of Gad (Josh 13:27). It is prob. referred to in Judges 12:1 as the place where the Ephraimites gathered (tr. צָפֹ֑ונָה “to Zaphon” not “northward”) to meet with Jephthah who had just defeated the Ammonites. A battle ensued (Judg 12:4) and the Ephraimites were defeated. Zaphon is known in Egyp. records of the nineteenth dynasty as dapuna, and in one of the Armana letters (q.v.) as Sapuna. A princess called “the lady of the lions” sought help from the Pharaoh to ward off invaders. Some have conjectured that the name Zaphon may indicate that it was once a shrine of Baalzephon (q.v.).

Various identifications have been proposed among which are Tell es Sa’idiyeh (see Zeredah) and Tell el Qos on the N side of the Wadi Rajeb. Both sites command a fine view of the Jordan valley and both are some distance from the Jordan fords (Judg 12:5).


F. M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine (1938), 448; N. Glueck, “Explorations in Eastern Palestine, IV,” AASOR XXVXXVIII (1951), pt. 1, 297-300, 334-355.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A city on the East of the Jordan in the territory of Gad (Jos 13:27). It is named again in Jud 12:1 as the place where the elders of Gilead gathered to meet with Jephthah (tsaphonah should be translated "to Zaphon," not "northward"). It must have lain well to the North of Gad. According to the Talmud Amathus represented Zaphon (Neubauer, Geog. du Talmud, 249). Here sat one of the Synedria created by Gabinius (Ant., XIV, v, 4). It was a position of great strength (B J, I, iv, 2). Eusebius, Onomasticon places it 21 Roman miles S. of Pella. This is the modern Tell ’Amateh, on the south bank of Wady er-Rujeib, 15 miles South of Pella, and nearly 5 miles North of the Jabbok. Buhl (GAP, 259) objects to the identification that Tell ’Amateh corresponds to the Asophon of Josephus (Ant., XIII, xii, 5). But this objection does not seem well founded.