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 was moved after being in Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 6:21-7:2). About 70 years afterward, the ark was moved to Jerusalem and placed in a tent outside the palace of David.
- 1 SAMUEL 7:1-2—Accordingly the men of Kiriathjearim came and brought the ark of Jehovah up and took it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and Eleazar his son was the one whom they sanctified to guard the ark of Jehovah. 2: And it came about that from the day of the Ark's dwelling in Kiriathjearim the days kept multiplying, so that they amounted to twenty years, ...
Kiriath-jearim's change in designation from Kiriath-Ba'al betrays the population change that took place after Joshua's military campaign, or holy war (Heb., cherem) 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). Interestingly, 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 from Kiriath-Jearim and prophesied during an unknown period 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 executed and burial in an unmarked grave (Jeremiah 26:22-23).
Descendants of Keriath-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.
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