The name Aphek or Aphec refers to one or several locations mentioned by the Hebrew Bible
as the scenes of a number of battles between the Israelites
and the Arameans
*Most famously, a town near which one or more rulers of Damascus
were defeated by the Israelites and in which the Damascene king and his surviving soldiers found a safe place of retreat (; ). Just before his death, the prophet Elisha
:"The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them."
*A place at which the Bible states that the Philistines
had encamped, while the Israelites pitched in Eben-Ezer
, before the Battle of Aphek
in which the sons of Eli
were killedI Samuel 4:1–ff.
*A city of the Tribe of Issachar
, near to Jezreel
, in the north of the Sharon plain
. The scene, according to the Bible; of another encampment of the Philistines, which led to the defeat and death of Saul
, a city of the tribe of Asher
, identified as either Tel Afek
, or Afqa
Since the turn of the 20th century the predominant opinion was that the location of all these battles is one and the same, and that the town lay east of the Jordan. Initially it was thought that the name is preserved in the now depopulated
village of Fiq
near Kibbutz Afik
, three miles east of the Sea of Galilee
, where an ancient mound, Tell Soreg
, had been identified. Excavations by Moshe Kochavi
and Pirhiya Beck
in 1987-88 have indeed discovered a fortified 9th- and 8th-century BCE settlement, probably Aramean, but Kochavi considered it to be too small to serve the role ascribed to Aphek in the Bible. The site most favoured now by the archaeologists is Tel 'En Gev
/Khirbet el-'Asheq, a mound located within Kibbutz Ein Gev
A more recent theory has focused on regarding this same Aphek also as the scene of the two battles against the Philistines mentioned by the Bible - the supposition being that the Syrians were invading Israel from the western side, which was their most vulnerable.
Since most scholars agree that there were more than one Aphek, C.R. Conder
identified the Aphek of Eben-Ezer with a ruin (''Khirbet'') some distant from Dayr Aban
(believed to be Eben-Ezer), and known by the name ''Marj al-Fikiya''; the name ''al-Fikiya'' being an Arabic corruption of Aphek. Eusebius
, when writing about Eben-ezer in his ''Onomasticon
'', says that it is "the place from which the Gentiles seized the Ark, between Jerusalem and Ascalon, near the village of Bethsamys (Beit Shemesh),"
[''Eusebius Werke'', Erich Klostermann (ed.), Leipig 1904, p. 33,24.]
a locale that corresponds with Conder's identification.
Category:Hebrew Bible cities