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"BEHOLD HIS HEAD SHOULD BE THROWN TO YOU OVER THE WALL.
THEN THE WOMAN WENT UNTO ALL THE PEOPLE IN HER WISDOM.
AND THEY CUT OFF THE HEAD OF SHEBA THE SON OF BICHRI      
AND THREW IT TO JOAB."                            second SAMUEL 20      
                                                   

Holy Sites -- Gila's Highlights

Let's salute the wise woman from Abel Beit Maacah

Everyone knows about Absalom – that he was a long-haired beauty with nary a blemish from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet.  When Absalom rebelled against his father David, he had the misfortune to be caught hanging between heaven and earth, with his curly mane twisted in the branches of a terebinth tree as his mule stubbornly marched onwards.  David’s general Joab squashed the rebellion when he thrust three darts right into Absalom’s heart.

But then, an even more serious threat to David’s reign appeared on the scene.  He was a Benjaminite named Sheba, son of Bichri.

When King David saw that the men of Israel followed Sheba, he feared that Sheba would do more harm than Absalom and commanded his army to chase and capture Sheba.  Sheba and his men took refuge in the northern city of Abel in Beit Maacah, about 5 miles due west of Dan.  Joab and his army laid siege to the city while battering the wall in an effort to knock it down.

Satellite image of the Upper Galilee

Courtesy of NASA

Satellite image of Upper Galilee including Abel Beit Maacah

In the midst of the raging battle, a wise woman shouted from the city, “Hear, hear, tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak with you’.”  When Joab approached the city wall, she asked why he sought to destroy a mother city (i.e. an important city) in Israel.  Joab replied, “Far be it …if you give up Sheba son of Bichri who has lifted his hand against King David, I will withdraw from the city.”  The woman told Joab, “His head shall be thrown over the wall to you.”

The unnamed wise woman kept her word and convinced the residents of Abel in Beit Maacah to cut off the head of Sheba son of Bichri and toss it over the wall, like a Frisbee, to Joab.  What a grisly tale!  It ends, however, with Joab blowing the shofar to announce his retreat back to Jerusalem, D.C., (David’s capital).

View from Dan to the west, towards Abel Beit Maacah

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

View from Dan to the west, towards Abel Beit Maacah

In the 1980s when I would take groups up to the “Good Fence” northern border with Lebanon, I would point out Abel Beit Maacah and briefly relate the story.  I hadn’t thought about it for years, until the hostilities with Lebanon (in the summer of 2006)  when Nasrallah, chief of the Hezbollah, appeared on our TV screens to taunt us. Suddenly I had a flash – if we could only find a wise woman in today’s Beirut, who would convince her fellow civilians to roll Nasrallah’s head out of a bunker or a TV studio, then we could quickly restore peace and tranquility to northern Israel and southern Lebanon.
This is a great story with the potential to spark a lively debate about the nature of war, the price of peace and the role of wisdom in negotiating between the two.  On your next visit to the Upper Galilee, ask me to take you by Abel Beit Maacah and let’s retell the story of a conflict threatening the lives of innocent civilians which was resolved by one wise woman.

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"Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights"

 
Gila Yudkin, who has been living in King’s David’s court for the past thirty years, wants to be a “wise woman” when she grows up.  In the meantime, her goal as a guide is to bring the Bible to life and reveal its tapestry of vivid colors and moral dilemmas.
 
When Joab received Sheba's head, he blew the shofar (ram's horn) to signal that the battle was over.  If you want to know how Joab may have cleaned his shofar when he returned to Jerusalem, see "ask Gila how to clean a shofar."
 
There is another unnamed wise woman who plays a supporting role in the time of David.  She lived in Tekoa, a village not far from Bethlehem.  Read about the discovery of Herod's Tomb at Herodion which has a bird's eye view of Tekoa.
 
More on women of the Bible:
 

Let's meet where Mary met Elizabeth

Let's wander in the wilderness of Zin where Miriam died

Mary and Elizabeth   

Sarah in the Negev

Witch of En Dor

 
"Let's salute the wise woman at Abel Beit Maacah" (as text without the photos) is one in the series of free bimonthly e-letters sent on request to tour leaders, pastors, clergy, teachers, Bible students, colleagues and friends.  If you'd like to receive "Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights" every other month, please contact Gila.  The last highlight was ""Let's hear the call to Samuel at Shiloh."  This month's highlight is "Let's claim our heritage at the Temple Mount."  The next highlight will be "Let's overlook the site of Jacob's wrestling match."
 

Copyright 2006, 2010 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.


GILA YUDKIN TCHERNIKOVSKI 64A JERUSALEM ISRAEL
gila@itsgila.com

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Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin