|ZOHELETH, THE STONE OF |
zo'-he-leth, ('ebhen ha-zacheleth, "serpent's stone"):
"And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fatlings by the stone of Zoheleth, which is beside En-rogel" (1 Kings 1:9). Evidently this was a sacred stone--probably a matstsbhah such as marked a Canaanite sanctuary. A source of "living water" has always in the Semitic world been a sacred place; even today at most such places, e.g. at Bir Eyyub, the modern representative of En-rogel, there is a michrab and a platform for prayer. The stone has disappeared, but it is thought that an echo of the name survives in ez-Zechweleh, the name of a rocky outcrop in the village of Siloam. Because the name is particularly associated with an ascent taken by the woman coming from the Virgin's Fount, to which it is adjacent, some authorities have argued that this, the Virgin's Fount, must be En-rogel; on this see EN-ROGEL; GIHON. Against this view, as far as ez- Zechweleh is concerned, we may note:
(1) It is by no means certain that the modern Arabic name--which is used for similar rocky spots in other places--is really derived from the Hebrew;
(2) the name is now applied to quite different objects, in the Hebrew to a stone, in the Arabic to a rocky outcrop;
(3) the name is not confined to this outcrop near the Virgin's Fount alone, but applies, according to at least some of the fellahin of Siloam, to the ridge along the whole village site; and
(4) even if all the above were disproved, names are so frequently transferred from one locality to another in Palestine that no argument can be based on a name alone.
E. W. G. Masterman