Merhavia (kibbutz)

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Hebrew transcription(s)
 • standard Merhavya
Merhavia is located in Jezreel Valley region of Israel
Coordinates: 32°36′21″N 35°18′26″E / 32.60583°N 35.30722°E / 32.60583; 35.30722Coordinates: 32°36′21″N 35°18′26″E / 32.60583°N 35.30722°E / 32.60583; 35.30722
Grid position 179/223 PAL
District Northern
Council Jezreel Valley
Affiliation Kibbutz Movement
Founded 1929
Founded by Galician Hashomer Hatzair members
Population (2017)[1] 1,162
Golda Meir in the fields at Kibbutz Merhavia in the 1920s

Merhavia (Hebrew: מֶרְחַבְיָה‬, lit. Great Enlargement – God) is a kibbutz in northern Israel. Located to the east of Afula, it falls under the jurisdiction of Jezreel Valley Regional Council. In 2017 it had a population of 1,162.[1]


The name Merhavia is derived from the Book of Psalms 118:5;

Out of my straits I called upon the LORD; .. answered me with great enlargement – God.

In the metaphorical sense: "God set me free" - the experience of the Jews immigrating to the Land of Israel and achieving a new homeland without the straits of persecution.


The place was earlier named in Arabic al-Fuleh ("The beans"),[2] also rendered as El Fuleh, al-Fula etc. It was possibly the place called Alpha in the list of Thutmes III.[3]

In the Crusader era it was known as la Feve or Castrum Fabe. It had a Templar castle (first mentioned in 1169/72), of which just some mounds remain.[4][5] The area was under Crusader control between 1099 and 1187.[6] In 1183 the Battle of Al-Fule took place here, between the Crusaders and the forces of Saladin.

In 1226, Syrian geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi mentioned it as being "a town in Jund Filastin," and formerly a Crusader castle between Zir'in and Nazareth.[7] The area was again under Crusader control between 1240/1 and 1263.[6]

The Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) noted a ruined church about 200 meters SSE of the castle,[8] which probably was the remains of the Crusader parish church.[6] However, these remains were destroyed in 1939-1940.[6]

Ottoman era[edit]

According to Denys Pringle, al-Fula, the Arab village, seem to have existed until the end of the sixteenth century.[6]

In 1799, during Napoleon's Syrian campaign, the Battle of Mount Tabor was fought around Al-Fuleh.[9]

In 1816, James Silk Buckingham described Fooli as a village. He observed there the remains of a large building, which he presumed was "Saracen". By the water wells he found two covers for sarcophagi, one was ornamented with sculptures. There were several other settlements in sight, all populated by Muslims.[10]

In 1838, Edward Robinson described both Al-Fuleh and the adjacent Afuleh as "deserted".[11]

In 1859 Al-Fuleh had 64 inhabitants, and the tillage was 14 feddans, according to the English consul Rogers.[3] William McClure Thomson, in a book published the same year, noted that both El Fuleh and the adjacent Afuleh, were "both now deserted, though both were inhabited twenty-five years ago when I first passed this way." Thomson blamed their desertion on the bedouin.[12]

In 1875 Victor Guérin noted the remains of multicoloured mosaics by Bir Fouleh. At this time, Al-Fuleh was the home of 15 Arab families.[9] In 1882, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described Al-Fuleh as a small adobe village, "with a few stone houses in the middle. It stands on a swell of ground, and is surrounded by corn land, and has marshy ground to the north. The water supply is from wells west of the village. Round the site are remains of the ancient Crusader fosse."[3]

A population list from about 1887 showed that Fuleh had about 300 inhabitants; all Muslims.[13]

British Mandate era[edit]

Kibbutz Merhavia was established in 1929 adjacent to moshav Merhavia (from which it took its name). The founders were members of Hashomer Hatzair who had immigrated from Galicia after World War I and had been living in Haifa, including Eliezer Peri, who later represented Mapam in the Knesset.

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ a b "List of localities, in Alphabetical order" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  2. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 161
  3. ^ a b c Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 82
  4. ^ Rey, 1883, p. 439
  5. ^ Pringle, 1997, p. 49
  6. ^ a b c d e Pringle, 1993, p. 207
  7. ^ le Strange, 1890, p. 441
  8. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP II, p.101. Note typo: Afuleh for Fule
  9. ^ a b Guérin, 1880, pp. 110-111
  10. ^ Buckingham, 1822, vol 2, p. 381
  11. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, pp. 163, 181
  12. ^ Thomson, 1859, vol 2, p. 216
  13. ^ Schumacher, 1888, p. 183


External links[edit]