20 February 2009


Mizpah is another word discovered in a poem, this one by Laurie Byro, on Desert Moon (since this is a workshop that link will most likely break after a while; if you catch it before I do, please let me know) Review Poetry Workshop. Between the dictionary definitions below, and a visit to Wikipedia, I have a confusing collection of meanings. It seems, mostly, to be a place name for various places in the Old Testament and/or Hebrew Bible, but may be taken to mean "watchtower," reminiscent, I suppose, of Bob Dylan's great old song.

At first I thought it might be another spelling of "mitzvah," but it is not.

All Along the Watchtower, by Bob Dylan

And, just in case you thought old Jehovah was a softie, after the story of Abraham and Isaac:

From Judges 11 in the King James version of the Bible:

29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon. 30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, 31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. 32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. 33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. 36 And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. 37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. 38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. 39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, 40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

Mizpah or Miz'peh, watch-tower; the look-out. (1.) A place in Gilead,
so named by Laban, who overtook Jacob at this spot (Gen. 31:49)
on his return to Palestine from Padan-aram. Here Jacob and Laban
set up their memorial cairn of stones. It is the same as
Ramath-mizpeh (Josh. 13:26).

(2.) A town in Gilead, where Jephthah resided, and where he
assumed the command of the Israelites in a time of national
danger. Here he made his rash vow; and here his daughter
submitted to her mysterious fate (Judg. 10:17; 11:11, 34). It
may be the same as Ramoth-Gilead (Josh. 20:8), but it is more
likely that it is identical with the foregoing, the Mizpeh of
Gen. 31:23, 25, 48, 49.

(3.) Another place in Gilead, at the foot of Mount Hermon,
inhabited by Hivites (Josh. 11:3, 8). The name in Hebrew here
has the article before it, "the Mizpeh," "the watch-tower." The
modern village of Metullah, meaning also "the look-out,"
probably occupies the site so called.

(4.) A town of Moab to which David removed his parents for
safety during his persecution by Saul (1 Sam. 22:3). This was
probably the citadel known as Kir-Moab, now Kerak. While David
resided here he was visited by the prophet Gad, here mentioned
for the first time, who was probably sent by Samuel to bid him
leave the land of Moab and betake himself to the land of Judah.
He accordingly removed to the forest of Hareth (q.v.), on the
edge of the mountain chain of Hebron.

(5.) A city of Benjamin, "the watch-tower", where the people
were accustomed to meet in great national emergencies (Josh.
18:26; Judg. 20:1, 3; 21:1, 5; 1 Sam. 7:5-16). It has been
supposed to be the same as Nob (1 Sam. 21:1; 22:9-19). It was
some 4 miles north-west of Jerusalem, and was situated on the
loftiest hill in the neighbourhood, some 600 feet above the
plain of Gibeon. This village has the modern name of Neby
Samwil, i.e., the prophet Samuel, from a tradition that Samuel's
tomb is here. (See NOB.)

Samuel inaugurated the reformation that characterized his time
by convening a great assembly of all Israel at Mizpeh, now the
politico-religious centre of the nation. There, in deep
humiliation on account of their sins, they renewed their vows
and entered again into covenant with the God of their fathers.
It was a period of great religious awakening and of revived
national life. The Philistines heard of this assembly, and came
up against Israel. The Hebrews charged the Philistine host with
great fury, and they were totally routed. Samuel commemorated
this signal victory by erecting a memorial-stone, which he
called "Ebenezer" (q.v.), saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped
us" (1 Sam. 7:7-12).

-- From Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary

Mizpah, Mizpeh, a watch-tower; speculation

-- From Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary (late 1800's)

Mizpah, MN (city, FIPS 43540)
Location: 47.92255 N, 94.21544 W
Population (1990): 100 (41 housing units)
Area: 7.8 sq km (land), 0.0 sq km (water)
Zip code(s): 56660

-- From U.S. Gazetteer (1990)

Mizpah, MN -- U.S. city in Minnesota
Population (2000): 78
Housing Units (2000): 51
Land area (2000): 3.029863 sq. miles (7.847308 sq. km)
Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km)
Total area (2000): 3.029863 sq. miles (7.847308 sq. km)
FIPS code: 43540
Located within: Minnesota (MN), FIPS 27
Location: 47.925154 N, 94.206407 W
ZIP Codes (1990): 56660
Note: some ZIP codes may be omitted esp. for suburbs.
Mizpah, MN

-- From U.S. Gazetteer Places (2000)

(see poem in DMPW Lori, Leah? being buried with your cat)

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