Places of Interest
There are two locations for Gilgal.
1. Tel Gilgal is situated in the Jordan Valley plain at the place of the modern city of Gilgal, which is located about 8 miles (12 km.) north of Jericho on Hwy. 90.
2. Camp Gilgal is located on the eastern edge of Jericho on Hwy. 90.
1. The late Professor Adam Zertal (University of Haifa) did much research on the biblical location of Gilgal and discovered that it’s possible it wasn’t necessarily a specific location, but a common name for a camp or religious site in its early period.
2. In Zertal’s research, he discovered 5 potential sites where the Israelites could have camped after crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land. Each place is uniquely shaped like a human right footprint. This is likely attributed to the promise given to them in Deuteronomy 11:24: Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea.
3. Joshua 4:19, places Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho: Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho. The place of Tel Gilgal (modern-day Gilgal) doesn’t seem to fit the qualifications found in Joshua 4:19.
4. If Zertal’s claims are true, then it’s possible Tel Gilgal (located at modern Gilgal) was the more permanent Gilgal that is referred to 35 times in Scripture, and the place on the eastern edge of Jericho was a temporary place where the Israelites camped. This seems reasonable as there are no remains of a permanent city on the eastern edge of Jericho.
5. Tel Gilgal became a central meeting place throughout the rest of the Old Testament and appears to have been a small city.
Places of Interest
1. Tel Gilgal
3. Heel part of the footprint shape of Tel Gilgal
4. Center part of the footprint shape of Tel Gilgal
6. 12 Stone Monument (it appears it was moved from Camp Gilgal to Tel Gilgal as a permanent monument at a later date)
8. Toe part of the footprint shape of Tel Gilgal
9. Modern Gilgal
11. Jordan River
12. Camp Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho
Gilgal in the Bible
1. Camp Gilgal is the first place the Israelites camped after crossing the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land.
Joshua 4:19: Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho.
2. At Camp Gilgal, Joshua erected 12 stones taken from the Jordan River as a monument of remembrance.
Joshua 4:18–20: It came about when the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord had come up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up to the dry ground, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and went over all its banks as before. 19 Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho. 20 Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22 then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
3. Camp Gilgal was the first place the Israelites celebrated the Passover after entering the Promised Land.
Joshua 5:10: While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal, they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.
4. It was at Gilgal that the Gibeonites tricked the Israelites into making a covenant with them so they wouldn’t be destroyed.
Joshua 9:3–6: When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4 they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5 and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6 They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now, therefore, make a covenant with us.”
5. Gilgal was the place from which Caleb, one of the two faithful spies Moses sent to spy out the Promised Land, asked Joshua for his portion of the land.
Joshua 14:6–9: Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the Lord spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. 8 Nevertheless, my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully.” 9 So Moses swore on that day, saying, “Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God fully.”
Joshua 14:13: So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance.
6. The Prophet Samuel visited and taught the Word of God regularly at Tel Gilgal.
1 Samuel 7:15–16: Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 He used to go annually on circuit to Bethel and Gilgal and Mizpah, and he judged Israel in all these places.
7. Saul, the first king of Israel, was made king at Tel Gilgal.
1 Samuel 11:14–15: Then Samuel said to the people, “Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they also offered sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
8. Tel Gilgal was a central gathering place for the Israelites.
1 Samuel 13:4: All Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. The people were then summoned to Saul at Gilgal.
9. King Saul’s reign over Israel came to an end at Tel Gilgal because of his disobedience.
1 Samuel 13:8–14: Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. 11 But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12 therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” 13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
10. God pronounced judgment upon Israel at Tel Gilgal because of their disobedience to Him.
Hosea 9:15: All their evil is at Gilgal; Indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; all their princes are rebels.
Amos 5:4–6: For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel, “Seek Me that you may live. 5 But do not resort to Bethel and do not come to Gilgal, nor cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal will certainly go into captivity and Bethel will come to trouble.”
Faith Lesson from Gilgal
1. Like the Israelites who took 12 stones out of the Jordan River to mark the fulfillment of God’s miracle in bringing them into the Promised Land, we too should set up remembrances to help us remember what God has done in our lives.
2. Like Caleb, who was faithful in trusting God, we should emulate his faith and strength.
3. Unlike Joshua, who failed to pray and seek the Lord regarding the trickery of the Gibeonites, we should bring our cares and decisions to the Lord.
4. We should heed the warnings from the life of King Saul, who presumed upon God’s grace and disobeyed the Lord regularly.
5. Lastly, we should not be like the Israelites who slowly turned away from the Lord and were disciplined by God.