Libnah or Lobna (Hebrew: לִבְנָה, whiteness; Latin: Lobna) was an independent city, probably near the western seaboard of Israel, with its own king at the time of the Israelite occupation of Canaan. It is thought to have been an important producer of revenue, and one that rebelled against the Judahite crown. It is assigned to the tribe of Judah as one of the 13 Kohanic cities during the Israelite settlement (Joshua 21:13). The town revolted during the reign of King Jehoram of Judah, according to 2 Kings 8:22 and 2 Chronicles 21:10, because Jehoram "had abandoned [the] God of his fathers". The revolt took place at the same time as Edom revolted against Judean rule (2 Kings 8:20-22).
Josiah, King of Judah, married Hamutal, daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah (1 Chronicles 3:15; 2 Kings 23:31-32;2 Kings 24:17-18; Jeremiah 22:11). Two of their sons, Jehoahaz and Zedekiah also became Kings of Judah.
According to the narrative at (2 Chronicles 32:2021a, an angel of Yahweh destroyed the host of Sennacherib's army, and at 2 Kings:19:35, the number of Assyrian soldiers killed is claimed to have amounted to 185,000. Kenneth Kitchen, for one, found no difficulty in the traditional account, which has Libnah attacked after Lachish. The large number of troops reportedly dying overnight is explained as possibly due to poisoning, and the Targum version refers to pestilence. That Sennacherib's army may have attacked Libnah in 701 BCE is possible, but the various biblical reports are, recent scholarship has argued, somewhat confused, having Libnah attacked after Hezekiah had already surrendered at Lachish. Since Sennacherib attacked from the north, it is odd that he would move back to conquer a town in the north after a victory in the south. It is possible that the editor reversed the historical chronology.
Libnah is also the name of the 17th station among the places the Israelites are said to have stopped over at during the Exodus. The context suggests that this Libna lay somewhere in the Sinai Desert which the Israelites are described as traversing prior to entering the land of Canaan.
Possible Sites and ExcavationsEdit
- Tel Lavnin (Khurbet Tell el Beida) in the Judean Shephelah.
- The excavators of Tell Zeitah have suggested it as a possible location of Libnah.
- An excavation has been initiated at Tel Burna, which has also been identified as the possible site of Libnah, based on William F. Albright's proposal. Tel Burna, was fortified, lies between the Philistine city of Gath and the Judahite city of Lachish, and was inhabited continuously from the Bronze Age onwards. Until the Judahite period, it appears to have been a pagan cultic centre. James Adcock follows William F. Albright's identification of Libnah at Tel Burna, but allows for the possibility in future archaeological excavations that Tel Goded might prove to be the site of biblical Libnah (cf. footnote 11 for Adcock's article in Bible and Spade).
- Gina Hens-Piazza Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries: 1-2 Kings Abingdon Press, 2006 ISBN 978-1-426-75973-4 p.282.
- Kenneth Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003 pp.41-43 ISBN 978-0-802-84960-1
- William R. Gallagher, Sennacherib's Campaign to Judah: New Studies, BRILL, 1999 ISBN 978-9-004-11537-8 p.220.
- John Bright, A History of Israel, 4th.ed. Westminster John Knox Press, 2000 ISBN 978-1-611-64209-4 p.307.
- Encyclopaedia Biblica: a critical dictionary of the literary, political, and religious history, the archaeology, geography, and natural history of the Bible (vol. 3), ed. Cheyne, T. K. (Thomas Kelly) & Black, J. Sutherland (John Sutherland), Toronto 1899-1903, p. 2794 (s.v. Libnah)
- Hawk, L. Daniel (2010). Joshua in 3-D: A Commentary on Biblical Conquest and Manifest Destiny. Eugene, Ore.: Cascade Books. p. 126. ISBN 9781606088197. OCLC 636959402.
- Cf. the excavation's website (The Zeitah Excavations - Introduction Archived December 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine)
- Tel Burna Excavation website (The Tel Burna Excavation Project)
- Adcock, James "Seth" (2018). "After Nine Seasons at Tel Burna, Have We Found Biblical Libnah?". Bible and Spade.
- Ruth Schuster,'Biblical city of Libnah found, archaeologists surmise,' Haaretz 8 February 2015.
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