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ZEMARAIM (zĕm'a-rā'ĭm, Heb. tsemārayim)

An ancient town allotted to the tribe of Benjamin, about four miles (seven km.) north of Jericho in the Arabah, and long since merely a ruin (Josh.18.22).A mountain in the hill country of Ephraim on which King Abijah stood and rebuked Jeroboam and Israel for their rebellion against Judah and for their idolatry (2Chr.13.4ff.). Though Jeroboam’s army was twice the size of Abijah’s, God gave Abijah victory.

ZEMARAIM zĕm’ ə rā’ əm (צְמָרַ֖יִם, meaning uncertain). The name of a city in Benjamin and of a mountain in Ephraim.

Zemaraim of Joshua 18:22 is one of twelve cities belonging to Benjamin. Since Jericho, Bethel, etc. are included, the location of Zemaraim is to be sought near modern day Ramallah and el-Bireh (a few m. N of Jerusalem).

Mount Zemaraim, according to 2 Chronicles 13:4, was located in the hill country of Ephraim. Since Benjamin on its N bordered on Ephraim, and since Abijah of Judah is associated with Mount Zemaraim in his attack on Israel and is credited with capturing, among other cities, Bethel which was located on the Ephraim-Benjamin, Israel-Judah border (2 Chron 13:4, 19), it is probable that the city and the mountain were both near Bethel and shared the same name.


E. G. Kraeling, Bible Atlas (1956), 271; Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (1967), 287.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A city in the territory of Benjamin. It is named between Betharabah and Bethel (Jos 18:22), and is probably to be sought East of the latter city. It is usual to identify it with es-Samra, a ruin about 4 miles North of Jericho. Mt. Zemaraim probably derived its name from the city, and must be sought in the neighborhood. On this height, which is said to be in Mt. Ephraim, Abijah, king of Judah, stood when making his appeal to the men of Israel under Jeroboam (2Ch 13:4). If the identification with es-Samra is correct, this hill must be in the uplands to the West, es-Samra being on the floor of the valley. Dillmann (Joshua, at the place) thinks Zemaraim cannot be so far East of Bethel, but may be found somewhere to the South of that town.