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GILGAL (Γάλγαλα, LXX.; Γολγών and Γαλγάν, Euseb.), the first station of the Israelites after crossing the Jordan, and, therefore, between Jericho and that river, “in the east border of Jericho.” (Josh. 4.19.) It was here that the twelve stones taken out of the bed of the Jordan were deposited, that the first passover was celebrated in the promised land, and the ordinance of circumcision renewed from which last circumstance the place derived its name. “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you; wherefore, the name of the place is called Gilgal (i. e. rolling) unto this day.” (5.9.) It seems to have been the head-quarters of Joshua during the subjugation of the land (9.6, 10.6. 43), and was probably invested with a sacred character from that time forward: for there Samuel judged, in his annual circuit (1 Sam. 7.16); there he publicly inaugurated the kingdom (11.14, 15); and there he commanded Saul to await his arrival, when he should come to offer sacrifice (10.8. 13.4, &c.). According to Eusebius, it was 2 miles from Jericho (Onomast. s. v.); but Josephus, with greater show of accuracy, places it 10 stadia from Jericho, and 50 from the Jordan (Ant. 5.1.4). It was a desert place in the time of Eusebius, but regarded with great veneration by the inhabitants of the country. No traces of an ancient city can now be discovered between the site of Jericho, which is clearly identified, and the river. It may be doubted whether the Gilgal mentioned in 2 Kings, 2.1, where there was a school of the prophets (4.38), is identical with the one above noticed. Eusebius alludes to another in the vicinity of Bethel (s. v.), whose site is still marked by the large modern village of Jilgîlia, to the left of the Nablûs road, about 2 hours north of Bethel. (Robinson, Bib. Res. vol. 3.81, 82.) This is possibly the Gilgal mentioned in Deut. 11.29, 30, in the vicinity of Mounts Ebal and Gerizim; a notable difficulty, which Eusebius and St. Jerome propose to solve by transferring these mountains to the banks of the Jordan. Another modern village of the same name near the coast, a little south of Antipatris, seems to indicate the site of a third town of the same name. Dr. Robinson thinks that “the Gilgal of Nehemiah,” 12.29 and of 1 Macc. 9.2 may be referred to the place so called in the western plain, near Antipatris. (Bib. Res. vol. ii. p. 287. n. 3.)


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