Gilgal (Sharon), Jaljulia

This Arab village is identified with the Biblical Gilgal of the Sharon, one of the Kings that were defeated by the Israelites: "the king of the nations of Gilgal" (Joshua 12:23).

 

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Contents:

Background

History

Photos

Biblical

References

Etymology

 

Background:

 

The village is located on the east side of via Maris, the main ancient road from north (Damascus, Syria) and the south (Cairo, Egypt). For thousands of years caravans have passed this village. Even today the Israel's main Toll road (6) passes this site.

 

The site has been identified with Biblical "Gilgal" of the Sharon (not to be misplaced with the city on the Jordan river). The only remains that are seen today are located at the west side of the congested Arab village: the ruins of a large Khan (motel), and a Crusaders sugar factory.

 

History of the place:

 

   According to the ceramics survey in the village, the site has been inhabited from the late Bronze period (1550-1200BC), through the early and late Israelite/Iron period (1200-1000BC, 1000-586BC)), and on to the Persian period (586-332BC).  Therefore, the scholars identify the place with "Gilgal" in the Sharon, as referred in Joshua (see references). The name of the Arabic village (Jaljulia) preserved the ancient site's name.

 

   The ceramics and other findings show that the site was inhabited in the early Arabic and Crusaders period (640AD-1099AD,  1099AD-1250AD). In the east of the village there are ruins of buildings from the Crusaders period and the Mameluks period (1250-1517AD).

 

Photos:

 

(a) Crusader Sugar factory:

 

  A large sacred Arabic tomb is in the north side of the modern cemetery east to the main old road. According to Arabic tradition, it is the holy tomb of Shams E-Din, Saladin's general. In the Crusaders period this building, now in restoration, was used as a sugar factory ("Miskara"). The sugar canes  were grown in the area and brought to the factory. Then they were chopped, smashed, boiled, then poured into pots. During the cooling the juice would crystallize into sugar, and sold. The water that was used in the process was fetched from the well nearby and the factory was operated by oxen.

   In Cypress, near Kolossi,  Limassol, there is a similar sugar-refining factory which was also built by the Crusaders. Another sugar processing factory is located in the west upper Galilee - in Manueth (Manot).

 

Click on the photos to view in higher resolution...

 

A detail inside the building. Its entrance is towards the west and it is built in Gothic style.

 

 

(b) Mameluk Khan (motel):

 

North to the sugar factory is the ruins of a large Khan, an important and impressive  middle-ages Hotel that used to host the caravans from Damascus (Syria) to Cairo (Egypt). This Khan was built in the 13th C AD.

 

 

A detail of one of the rooms of this large roadside motel. A lot of the stones have been stolen for reuse in the houses around. The site is also filled with rubbish, hopefully one day the municipality will clean it up and restore parts of it, bringing back a touch of its glory.

 

 

Biblical References:

 

(a) Joshua 12:7,23

 

Gilgal of the Sharon is mentioned in the list of Kings that were defeated by Joshua and the Israelites:


7 And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west...


23 The king of Dor in the coast of Dor, one; the king of the nations of Gilgal, one;
 

Other  References:

 

 

 

Etymology (behind the name):

 

  • Gilgal - from the root word Galgal (Hebrew for circle or wheel). In Biblical times the Gilgal referred to a ancient ritual place, based on a stone circle , like Stonehenge in England.  There were several similar sites in Israel, like in the Golan heights. In the course of the years the name evolved to to Gilgal (Hebrew) or Jaljulia or Rujem El-Hiri (Arabic). Therefore, there might have been a ritual circle of stones in the area of the site.

 

  • Sharon - this region in Israel lays along the shore, between the Yarkon river (Tel Aviv) in its south side, and the Carmel on the North side. According to Ariel Encyclopedia (Z. Vilnai), the name originates from  the Horites, cave dwellers from area of Petra, where the  name "Sharna" means  forest.

 

 

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