SHOBACH (; written Shophach [] in I Chron. xix. 16-18):

Captain of the army of Hadarezer, King of Aram, who was defeated and slain by David at Helam (II Sam. x. 16-18). According to Soṭah viii., Shobach was as famous for his strength as Goliath, and the Ammonites, as allies of Aram, expected through him to be led to victory; but his defeat brought defeat also on them. The Talmudic Haggadah likewise dwells on the fame of Shobach. The two forms of his name are explained by Rab and Samuel: one says that his real name was Shophach, and that he was called Shobach because he had the figure of a dove-cot ("shobak"); the other, that his real name was Shobach, and that he was called Shophach (= "the melter") because he looked so fierce and terrible that those who saw him "melted" away from mere fright.

In the Samaritan Book of Joshua.

Shobach is made the special subject of popular legend in the Samaritan Book of Joshua (ch. xxvi.-xxxvii.). He appears there as the son of Haman, King of the Persians, whom Joshua, the son of Nun, had slain together with various other kings. Being very powerful and wealthy, Shobach concluded friendships with many kings of the surrounding countries, inciting them to join him in a war against Joshua to avenge his father's death. He made alliances with the Canaanites, the Armenians (Arameans ?), the kings of Sidon and Kaimun (Yokneam) near Mount Carmel, and with the son of Japheth the Giant, who possessed miraculous weapons inherited from his grandfather Noah. Before they went to war these allied monarchs sent a letter to Joshua informing him that they numbered thirty-six kings, each with 60,000 horsemen and countless foot soldiers, ready to make war on him, and that Ben Japheth, the giant who was able to kill 1,000 men with one stroke of his thunderbolt of steel, was with them. The messenger, who returned with an answer from Joshua in which the latter recounted all the victories he had achieved, related all the miraculous things he had seen at Joshua's royal residence, and made the king and people tremble with fear. The mother of Shobach, who was a great magician, then resorted to witchcraft and, with the aid of her host of sorcerers, built seven walls of iron around Joshua and his army as soon as they had encamped for battle.

In his perplexity Joshua, by means of a dove, sent a letter to his cousin Nabiḥ ( = "the shouter"; comp. Num. xxxii. 42, "Nobah"), king of the two and one-half tribes on the east of the Jordan, asking him to come to his assistance. Nabiḥ forthwith gave utterance to a shout that was heard throughout the lands and to the end of the heavens; and immediately there appeared an innumerable host of horsemen and other soldiers, with whom he went to the assistance of Joshua. Shobach's mother saw a star which forebode no good for her son and warned him; but in his rage he killed her, and then, putting on his armor and taking his bow and arrows, went forth to engage Nabiḥ in single combat. "What is the matter with thee, Nabiḥ, that thou barkest?" he asked derisively. Whereupon Nabiḥ replied: "I am the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, the son of Joseph, the descendant of Abraham, who slew the kings of Babylonia; and so shall I kill thee." Shobach then said: "I am the son of Haman, the son of Put, the son of Ham, theson of Noah. Stand before me and I shall shoot first." To this Nabiḥ replied: "Do so." Thereupon Shobach shot three arrows in succession; but, although he had never missed his mark before, he failed to hit Nabiḥ. When Shobach turned to flee, Nabiḥ shot an arrow, which, first rising heaven-ward, fell upon the head of Shobach, then pierced his belly and that of his horse, and finally plunged into the earth to a depth of twelve cubits. Immediately thereafter a fountain gushed forth, which is called "The Fountain of the Arrow" to this day. When the Israelites saw this miracle, they shouted, "There is no power besides God"; and the walls encircling Joshua and his army fell at the sound of trumpets blown by the priests (comp. the extract from the Samaritan Chronicle printed by Samuel Shullam in his edition of the "Sefer Yuḥasin" by Abraham Zacuto, who refers to a Jewish midrash, "Liber Yuḥasin" [ed. Filipowski, 1857, ii. 60-61]; also Kirchheim, "Karme Shomeron," 1851, p. 55).

E. G. H. K.
Images of pages