Ritual or military action: interpreting Israel's muster at Mizpah in 1 Sam 7:2-17

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This article evaluates the historicity of 1 Sam 7:2-17 in light of renewed analysis of the archaeological remains from Tell en-Nasbeh, other Iron Age I sites in the region of Benjamin, broader literary considerations in 1 Sam 1-10, and the geography of the Central Hill Country. In so doing, a case is made that there is far more going on in vv. 6-7 than what appears to be a miscommunication between the Israelites, who have gathered at the site of Mizpah, and the Philistines, who send troops against the Israelites. A historical reconstruction that considers the narrative form of 1 Sam 7:2-17 and the archaeological remains is offered, as is a new proposal for the identification of the site of Gibeath-elohim.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-633
Number of pages14
JournalVetus Testamentum
Issue number4-5
Early online date17 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Tell en-Nasbeh
  • Iron Age I
  • 1 Samuel
  • Philistines
  • historical geography
  • historiography
  • Mizpah
  • Gibeath-elohim
  • archaeology


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