Dictionary of Bible Names

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Bible Meaning: Their captivity, captive, their rejoicing
Strong's Concordance #H1474

Golan, in the territory given to the tribe of Manasseh, was located east of the Jordan River. It was designated both a Levitical city and a place of refuge (Joshua 21:27). It was the most northerly of the three refuge cities east of Jordan.

Why were they needed?

God created six refuge cities in Israel so that anyone in the land would be no more than a day's travel from reaching one of them. The three refuge cities west of the Jordan River were Kedesh, Shechem and Hebron. Those east of the Jordan included Golan, Ramoth-gilead and Bezer (Exodus 21:12 - 14, Joshua 20).

The purpose of such cities was to protect those who killed someone from being killed themselves as revenge. It ensured those who took a life received a fair trial where it would be determined whether the loss of life was accidental or intentional.

Herod the Great, from 37 to 4 B.C., ruled Golan as part of his kingdom. After his death, the area was governed by Philip the Tetrarch, one of his sons, from 4 B.C. to 34 A.D.

Location of Golan in Ancient Israel
Location of Golan

Modern times

The Golan Heights, in modern times, was at one time controlled by Syria. In 1967 the nation of Israel captured the area during the Six-Day War. In 1981 Israel officially decided to begin applying its laws on the land, which many viewed as being a de facto annexation of the territory. In 2019 the United States of America offically recognize the Golan area as sovereign Israeli territory.

Important Verses

Deuteronomy 4:41 - 43
Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising: that the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past: and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:

Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites: and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites: and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.

Joshua 20:1 -2 , 8
The Lord also spake unto Joshua, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses . . .

And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh.

Joshua 21:27
And unto the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, out of the other half tribe of Manasseh they gave Golan in Bashan with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer: and Beeshterah with her suburbs: two cities.

Additional Studies

Dictionary of Biblical Names
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Series Notes
References are based on the
King James Bible translation (KJV).