HEPHER (Heb. חֵפֶר). (1) A royal Canaanite city mentioned in the list of kings defeated by Joshua (12:17); it appears between Tappuah (Sheikh Abu Zarad in the hill country of Ephraim) and Aphek (Ras al-ʿAyn at the sources of the Yarkon). The "land of Hepher" is included in one of Solomon's administrative districts together with Aruboth and Socoh (Raʾs al-Shuwayka near Tulkarm; I Kings 4:10). On the basis of these topographical details, most scholars locate Hepher in the northern Sharon, in the area formerly known as the Wadi Ḥawārith, a region sparsely populated in antiquity, containing mostly swamps and woods. The Israelites were apparently unable to subdue the few Canaanite cities in this area until the time of David. The appearance of the name Hepher in the genealogies of Manasseh (Num. 26:33; 27:1; Josh. 17:2) has led various scholars to assume that some of the former Canaanite population had become integrated into the Israelite clans. Since Zelophehad, son of Hepher, had no male descendants (Num. 27:1; Josh. 17:3), and the names of some of his daughters correspond to known localities in the vicinity of Samaria, it has been suggested that these families were grafted onto the Israelite tribal system. The exact location of the city of Hepher is uncertain. Alt has proposed al-Ṭayyiba (Ophrah) south of Tūl Karm, and Mazar has suggested Tell al-Ifshār in the western Sharon, where pottery from the 16th century B.C.E. to the Roman period has been found. Others, however, locate Hepher in the northern part of the hills of Samaria on the assumption that all the clans of Manasseh were settled in this region.   (2) A city mentioned in the Talmud as the home of Tanḥum b. Ḥiyya, a pupil of Manna (TJ, Shev. 6:1, 36c). It was some 12 mi. (19 km.) from Sepphoris. The city has been identified with gath-hepher , the traditional home of Jonah (II Kings 14:25) whose tomb is still venerated in the nearby village of Mashhad. Jerome (Praefatio in Jonam) and Benjamin of Tudela also locate the tomb in this vicinity (cf. Gen. R. 98:11). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: (1) Albright, in: JPOS, 11 (1931), 249ff.; Alt, in: PJB, 22 (1926), 68–9; 28 (1932), 27ff.; idem, in: ZDPV, 70 (1954), 48, 59–60; Maisler, in: ZDPV, 58 (1935), 82; Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 23, 81, 348; Press, Ereẓ, 2 (1948), 268–9; Aharoni, Land, index; Wright, in: Ereẓ Yisrael, 8 (1967), 63 (English section). (2) Neubauer, Géogr, 200–1; Albright, in: BASOR, 35 (1929), 8; Avi-Yonah, in: QDAP, 5 (1936), 32, S.V. Gath Ofer; idem, Geog, 134. (Michael Avi-Yonah)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Hepher —    A well or stream.    1) A royal city of the Canaanites taken by Joshua (12:17).    2) The youngest son of Gilead (Num. 26:32; 27:1).    3) The second son of Asher (1 Chr. 4:6).    4) One of David s heroes (1 Chr. 11:36) …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

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