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Keilah (Hebrew: קעילה), meaning Citadel, was a city in the lowlands of Judah (Joshua 15:44). It is now a ruin, known as Kh. Qeila, near the modern village of Qila.

According to the biblical narrative in the first Book of Samuel, the Philistines had made an inroad eastward as far as Keilah, and had begun to appropriate the country for themselves, until David prevented them (1 Samuel 23:1). Later, he discerned in prayer that the inhabitants would prove unfaithful to him, in that they had offered to deliver him up to King Saul (1 Samuel 23:10-12), he and his 600 men "departed from Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go”. They fled to the woods in the wilderness of Ziph. "And David was in the wilderness of Ziph, in a wood" (1 Samuel 23:15). Here his friend Jonathan sought him out, "and strengthened his hand in God": this was the last meeting between David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 23:16-18).

Keilah is mentioned in the Book of Joshua (15:44) as one of the cities of the Shephelah ("lowlands"). Benjamin of Tudela identified Kâkôn (Qaqun) as ancient Keilah in 1160.[1] Conder and Kitchener, however, identified the biblical site with the ruin Kila, "seven English-miles from Beit Jibrin,"[2] and 11 km (7 mi) northwest of Hebron.[3] Victor Guérin, who visited Palestine between the years 1852–1888, also identified Keilah with the same ruin, Khirbet Kila (Arabic: خربة كيلا‎), near the modern village by that name,[4] a place situated a few kilometers south of Adullam (Khurbet esh Sheikh Madhkur) and west of Kharas. This view has been adopted by the Israel Antiquities Authority; the ruin, Khirbet Kila, lies on the north side of the village Kila. Guérin found here a subterranean and circular vault, apparently ancient; the vestiges of a wall surrounding the plateau, and on the side of a neighboring hill, tombs cut in the rock face;[5] the town is mentioned in the Amarna tablets under the corruption Ḳilta.

The town's present residents are Bedouins who were expelled during Israel's War of Independence from areas around Beer Sheba.


  1. ^ Conder, 2002, p. 213.
  2. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 314
  3. ^ David Toshio Tsumura, The First Book of Samuel (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 550.
  4. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 341–343; Guérin, 1869, pp. 350-351.
  5. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 118.


  • Conder, C.R. (2002). Tent Work in Palestine: A Record of Discovery and Adventure. Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4021-8987-6.
  • Conder, C.R.; Kitchener, H.H. (1883). The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology. 3. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
  • Guérin, Victor (1869). Description Géographique Historique et Archéologique de la Palestine (in French). 1: Judee, pt. 3. Paris: L'Imprimerie Nationale.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainEaston, Matthew George (1897). "article name needed". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.

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