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Thought to be a city within the plains of Galilee north of Mt. Tabor in Israel which was cursed by the angel of God in the song of Deborah and Barak; whose inhabitants did not come to help the Israelites in battle against Sisera's army. Meroz may possibly be identified with el-Murussus, a village about 5 miles Northwest of Beisan, on the slopes to the North of the Vale of Jezreel. The village of Kafr Misr has also been identified as a possible site, due its proximity to other nearby ancient sites such as Nein (Nain) and Indur (Endor).
Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of YHWH, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of YHWH, to the help of YHWH against the mighty.
Meroz in the Talmud
According to the Talmud (Moed Katan 16a), Meroz is a certain planet in the stellar sphere, and because the mention of it in Judges 5:23 is preceded by the phrase, "the stars in their course fought against Sisera" (v.20), it thus follows that Meroz must be defined as a celestial body. This mysterious 'Meroz' may not only be the name of a star, but also may allude to an unidentified group of outworld inhabitants somewhere in the second heaven (outer space) to which failed in their willingness to assist the righteous in a war against the wicked, and hence cursed by the angel of God.
Meroz in later thought
In Protestant thought, the "sin of Meroz" refers to apathy or a failure to testify. In John Buchan's Witch Wood, set at the time of the Covenanters, the narrator says of the protagonist, David Semphill, that "he felt that it was his duty to testify, or otherwise he would be guilty of the sin of Meroz, the sin of apathy when his faith was challenged.
Meroz in Modern Hebrew literature
From Hayim Nahman Bialik's poem Birkat 'am (People's blessing, Adar II 5654/March 1894):
וְלָמָּה, הַמְפַגְּרִים, פַּעֲמֵיכֶם כֹּה בוֹשְׁשׁוּ? הַעֶבֶד יִשְׂרָאֵל, הַאִם בְּנֵי מֵרוֹז?
Why did your steps hesitate so much, you stragglers? Are Jews slaves, are they Meroz' sons?
- Wilson, 1847, p. 107.
- John Buchan, Witch Wood,p. 38.
- Erab Shalev, "Evil Councilors, Corrupt Traitors, and Bad Kings: The Hebrew Bible and Political Critique in Revolutionary America," in Dustin Gish and Daniel Klinghard (eds.), Resistance to Tyrants, Obedience to God: The Mutual Influence of Religion and Reason at the American Founding (Lexington Books, 2013), p. 113.
- Wilson, John (1847). The Lands of the Bible Visited and Described, Volume 2. White.
- Ewing, W. "Meroz," International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (1913).