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Kiriath-Jearim (Hebrew: קִרְיַת-יְעָרִים Qiryaṯ Yə‘ārîm; Ancient Greek: Καριαθιαριμ "city of woods", Latin: Cariathiarim) also spelled Kiriyat Yearim,[1] was a city in the Land of Israel mentioned 18 times in the Hebrew Bible. It also appears under the names Kiriath-Ba'al, Ba'alah and Ba'ale-Judah (see, e.g. Joshua 15:60; 2 Samuel 6:2; I Chronicles 13:6), which implies the city was affiliated with Baal worship at an earlier date.[2]


Eusebius says that the city was located about 9 Roman miles, or about 15 km (9.3 mi), from Jerusalem. It is now identified with Deir el-Azar (Tel Qiryat Yearim), near the town of Abu Ghosh (formerly, Qaryat al-'Inab),[3] on a hill where the Deir El-Azar Monastery currently stands, about 7 miles west of Jerusalem.[2] and first identified as such by biblical researcher Edward Robinson.[4][5] It is the only major biblical site in ancient Judah that has not yet been excavated, but an excavation is planned in 2017 by a team from Tel Aviv University and the Collège de France.[2] Others have identified the biblical site of Kiriath-Jearim with the ruin now known as Khirbet 'Erma, a little further southwest of Abu-Ghosh, based on its phonetic similarity and its vicinity to Beit Shemesh.[6]


Kiriath-Jearim was mentioned as a Hivite city and connected with the Gibeonites (see Joshua 9:17). It was a key landmark in identifying the border between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (see Joshua 15:9 & 18:14, 15). It is mentioned as the place the Ark of the Covenant may have been moved after being in Beth Shemesh (1 Samuel 6:21-7:2). About 60 years (2 Sam 6) afterward, the ark was moved to Jerusalem and placed in a tent outside the palace of David.

Kiriath-Jearim's change in designation from Kiriath-Ba'al betrays the population change that took place after Joshua's military campaign to take possession of the land from its previous inhabitants. The religious basis for the war is revealed in the city's renaming; the name Baal belonged to a pagan deity and, according to the Bible, the God of Israel ordered Joshua and the Israelites to erase the memory of the Ba'al cult (see Joshua 18.14). However, the name change does not reflect the Yahwist religious affiliation of the city's conquerors. Rather, it reflects salient geographical features.

The Scriptures identify at least one prophet of God who came from this town. Uriah the son of Shemaiah was from Kiriath-Jearim, a contemporary of Jeremiah who prophesied against Jerusalem (see Jeremiah 26:20). This aroused the wrath of King Jehoiakim (r. 609-598 BC) who sought to put Uriah to death. Uriah escaped to Egypt, where he was apprehended by the king's henchman and extradited to Jerusalem for execution and burial in an unmarked grave (Jeremiah 26:22-23).

Descendants of Kiriath-Jearim were among the Jewish exiles who returned to Judea with Zerubbabel (see Nehemiah 7:29).

The writer of Chronicles teaches that Shobal (possibly a descendant of Caleb) was "the father of Kiriath-Jearim" (see 1 Chronicles 2:50-53), possibly in the sense of being the founder of this town.

The modern town of Kiryat Yearim is named after this town and is situated in its presumed location.


  1. ^ The spelling Kiriyat Yearim may be found, for example, in Silberman and Finkelstein's (2001) The Bible Unearthed, first edition, page 125.
  2. ^ a b c Temporary Home of The Ark of The Covenant, Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2017, Vol. 43, No. 4, p. 12.
  3. ^ Kiriath Jearim,
  4. ^ Cooke, Francis T. (1925). "The Site of Kirjath-Jearim". Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research. New Haven: Yale University Press. 5 (1923–1924): 105.
  5. ^ Robinson, E. (1856). Later Biblical Researches in Palestine and in the Adjacent Regions - A Journal of Travels in the Year 1852. Boston: Crocker & Brewster. p. 156.
  6. ^ A site located 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) south of Kesla and 6.4 kilometres (4.0 mi) east of Beit-Shemesh. See Conder, C. R., The Survey of Western Palestine, Memoirs, III, pp. 43–ff.