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RAMATHA (Ῥαμαθά), the form in which Josephus represents the name of Samuel's native city, Ramathaim Sophim (LXX. Ἀρμαθαὶμ Σιφά) of Mount Ephraim (1 Sam. 1.1), perhaps identical with Ramah, where was his ordinary residence (7.17, 8.4, 19.18--24, 25.1), but distinct from the Ramah above named. Ancient tradition has fixed this city at Neby Samwîl, i. e. “The Prophet Samuel,” a village situated on a very high and commanding hill, two hours to the NNW. of Jerusalem, where the place of his sepulture is shown. Eusebius and S. Jerome, however, found it in the western plain, near Lydda (Onomast. s. v. Armatha Sophim; see RAMATH-LEHI). Dr. Robinson has stated his objections to the identification of Ramathaim Sophim with Neby Samwîl, and has endeavoured to fix the former much further to the south, on the hill called Sôba, a little to the south of the Jaffa road, about 3 hours from Jerusalem; while Mr. Wolcott has carried it as far south as the vicinity of Hebron. (Robinson, Bibl. Res. vol. ii. pp. 139--144, 330--334, Bibl. Sacra, vol. i. pp. 44--52.) These objections are based on the hypothesis that the incidents attending Saul's unction to the kingdom, narrated in 1 Sam. ix. x., took place in Ramah of Samuel, of which, however, there is no evidence; and his difficulty would press almost with equal weight on Sôba, as the direct route from Sôba to Gibeah (Jeba) would certainly not have conducted Saul by Rachel's sepulchre. Neither can be district of Mount Ephraim be extended so far south. Indeed, this last seems to be the strongest objection to Neby Samwîl, and suggests a site further north, perhaps Ram-Ullah, in the same parallel of latitude as the other Ramah and Bethel, which were certainly in Mount Ephraim. (Judges, 4.5.) On the other hand, the name Ramah, signifying “a height,” is so remarkably applicable to Neby Samwîl, which is evidently the site of an ancient town, which could not, as Dr. Robinson suggests, have been Mizpah, that it would be difficult to find a position better suited to Ramathaim Sophim than that which tradition has assigned it. [MIZPAH] [G.W] [p. 2.692]


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