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KEILAH (Heb. קְעִילָה), city of Judah, in the fourth district of the kingdom, together with Achzib and Mareshah (Josh. 15:44; cf. I Chron. 4:19). It is first mentioned in the *el-Amarna letters, in connection with disputes between the king of Jerusalem and the kings of the Shephelah (nos. 279, 280, 287, 289, 290). In I Samuel 23:7 it is described as a town with gates and bars, threshing floors, and cattle. Attacked by the Philistines, it was defended by David, then a fugitive outlaw. When, after the defeat of the enemy, Saul approached the town intending to capture David with the help of the inhabitants, who were ready to betray him, David escaped into the desert. In post-Exilic times, Keilah served as the headquarters of a district divided into two parts (Neh. 3:17, 18). The Keilah whose fig-cakes are mentioned in talmudic literature (TJ, Bik. 3:3, 65c) may be another place on the other side of the Jordan River. Eusebius refers to Keilah as a village 8 mi. (12¾ km.) from Eleutheropolis (Bet Guvrin) on the way to Hebron (Onom. 114:15ff.). A tomb of Habakkuk is located near the village in Onomasticon 88:27 and by Sozomenus (Historia Ecclesiastica 7:2). Keilah is identified with Khirbat Qīlā, 10 mi. (16 km.) northwest of Hebron.


Alt, in: PJB, 21 (1925), 21–22; 24 (1928), 26–27; Albright, in: BASOR, 15 (1924), 4; Beyer, in: ZDPU, 54 (1931), 222, n. 5; Aharoni, Land, index.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.