ISRAEL - Who Are the Geshurites?

Arno Froese

Dating to around the time of King David 3,000 years ago, what may be the earliest fortified settlement in the Golan Heights was recently discovered during salvage excavations ahead of the construction of a new neighborhood. Incredible rock etchings of two figures holding their arms aloft—possibly at prayer with what could be a moon—were uncovered inside the unique fort, which was dated to circa 11th-9th century BCE. 

The striking find is being tentatively linked to the Geshurite people, whose capital is recorded in the Bible as having been located nearby, to the north of the Sea of Galilee. 

In a brief Hebrew video about the discovery, dig co-director Barak Tzin said that when the etching was found near the entrance of the fort, “We understood that we had something very, very important… We were astonished to discover a rare and exciting find: a large basalt stone with a schematic engraving of two horned figures with outspread arms.” 

Next to the etching was discovered a stone table or shelf, which the archaeologists believe was an altar, upon which was found another seemingly ritual object of a small figure holding what looks to be a drum. 

This is an era of “foggy history” as small city-states attempted to fill the vacuum created by the splintering of the Hittite empire in the north and the Egyptian empire in the south.

Among the peoples fighting for a foothold were the Geshurites, a group of Arameans, whose capital city was in today’s Bethsaida, just north of the Sea of Galilee., 11 November 2020

Arno's commentary

Evidently, this discovery confirms Israel’s mingling with the nations—in this case, the Geshurites. Moses reports: “Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashanhavothjair, unto this day” (Deuteronomy 3:14). Emil G. Hirsch writes in the Jewish Encyclopedia the following: “Geshur was a territory in the northern part of Bashan, adjoining the province of Argob (Deut. iii. 14) and the kingdom of Aram or Syria (II Sam. xv. 8; I Chron. ii. 23). It was allotted to the half-tribe of Manasseh, which settled east of the Jordan; but its inhabitants, the Geshurites, could never be expelled (Josh. xiii. 13). In the time of David, Geshur was an independent kingdom: David married a daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur (II Sam. iii. 3). Her son Absalom fled, after the murder of his half-brother, to his mother’s native country, where he stayed three years (ib. xiii. 37, xv. 8). Geshur is identified with the plateau called to-day “Lejah,” in the center of the Hauran. There was also another people called “Geshurites” who dwelt in the desert between Arabia and Philistia (Josh. xiii. 2 [A. V. “Geshuri”]; I Sam. xxvii. 8; in the latter citation the Geshurites are mentioned together with the Gezrites and Amalekites).”

Over and again, we notice the original inhabitants were not expelled, in violation of God’s instructions. Such mixture later contributed toward Israel’s fall.

Here we are reminded of modern Israel. In their Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948, it says among other things, “It is moreover the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation as all other nations in its own sovereign State.” Later, an appeal to the United Nations “to admit Israel into the family of nations.” That is Israel’s goal and dream, but only of temporary value: Israel was, is, and always will be special—not to be compared with any other nation on the globe.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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