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τὰ Ἄρβηλα: Eth. Ἀρβηλῖται, Strab. xi. p.737; Diod. 17.53; Arrian, Arr. Anab. 3.8, 15; Curt. 4.9; Amm. Marc. 23.6), a town of eastern Adiabene, one of the provinces of Assyria, between the Lycus (the greater Zb‘) and the Caprus (the lesser Záb). Its present name is Arbil (Niebuhr, Voy. vol. ii. p. 277). Strabo states that it was in Aturia, and belonged to Babylonia; which is true, if we suppose that the Lycus was the boundary between Babylonia and Assyria Proper. Arbela has been celebrated as the scene of the last conflict between Dareius and Alexander the Great. The battle, however, really took place near the village of Gaugamela ( “the camel's house,” Strab. xvii. p.737), on the banks of the Bumodus, a tributary of the Lycus, about 20 miles to the NW. of Arbela. (Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece, vol. vi. p. 217.) Dareius left his baggage and treasures at Arbela, when he advanced to meet Alexander. [V]


Kŭlat Ibn Ma'an), a village in Galilee, in the neighbourhood of which were certain fortified caverns. This Arbela of Galilee was probably the Beth-Arbel of the prophet Hosea (10.14). The caverns are first mentioned in connection with the march of Bacchides into Judaea; they were then occupied by many fugitives, and the Syrian general encamped at Arbela long enough to make himself master of them. (J. AJ 12.11.1.) This is probably the same event as that recorded (1 Mace. 9.2), where Bacchides is said to have subdued Messaloth in Arbela. The word Messaloth (Μεσσαλώθ), probably meaning steps, stories, terraces. When Herod the Great took Sepphoris these caverns were occupied by a band of robbers, who committed great depredations in that quarter, and were with difficulty exterminated by Herod. After defeating the robbers, Herod laid siege to the caverns; but as they were situated in the midst of steep cliffs, overhanging a deep valley with only a narrow path leading to the entrance, the attack was very difficult. Parties of soldiers were at length let down in large boxes, suspended by chains from above, and attacked those who defended the entrance with fire and sword, or dragged them out with long hooks, and dashed them down the precipices. (J. AJ 14.15. § § 4, 5, B. J. 1.16. § § 2--4). The same caverns were afterwards fortified by Josephus himself during his command in Galilee against the Romans; in one place he speaks of them as the caverns of Arbela (Vita, § 37), and in another as the caverns near the lake of Gennesareth (B. J. 2.20.6). According to the Talmud Arbela lay between Sepphoris and Tiberias. (Lightfoot, Chorog. Cent. 100.85.) For these reasons Robinson identifies the Arbela of Galilee and its fortified caverns with the present Kŭl'at Ibn Ma'an, and the adjacent site of Mins, now known as Irbid, a name which is apparently a corruption of Irbil, the Arabic form of Arbela. These singular remains were first mentioned by Pococke (ii. p. 67), who describes them under the name of Baitsida. They have been visited and described by Irby and Mangles, who write the name Erbed. (Trav. p. 299.) Burckhardt's account (Trav. p. 331) agrees remarkably with that given by Jo. sephus. He describes them as natural caverns in the calcareous rock, with artificial passages cut in them, and fortified; the whole affording refuge to about six hundred men.

There was another Arbela, a large village in Gadara, E. of the Jordan (Euseb. et Hieron. Onomast. s. v.), now called Irbid or Erbad (Burkhardt, Trav. pp. 268, 269; Winer, Real Wört. s. v.; Robinson, Palestine, vol. iii. pp. 251, 279). [E.B.J]

hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 17.53
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 12.11.1
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 14.15
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 23.6
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 3.15
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 3.8
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 4.9
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