“Tishbe, the exact spot?” Nobody is pointing to it. Yet everyone seems certain Elijah lived among the beautiful hills of Gilead on the East Bank of the Jordan River, the home of the two Israeli tribes Gad and Manasseh.
The Jabbok River runs through Gilead and empties into the Jordan. Elijah’s ancestor Jacob crossed the Jabbok on his way from Haran into Canaan. Today Gilead is the northwestern part of the Kingdom of Jordan.
Some authors do wave toward the eastern part of ancient Gilead at the small town of Listib, just 13 kilometers north of the Jabbok. Local Arabs call this town el-Istib, which sounds a bit like the Hebrew Tishbeh. Since many place names in the Holy Land have held their basic sounds over the centuries, we are tempted to think this town could be the Tishbe of Elijah.
In this area an old church called Mar Elias commemorates the life of Elijah.
Not ancient enough
One problem with making these locations be ancient Tishbe is that little Listib and Mar Elias are too young. That is, they were both founded by the Byzantines several centuries after Elijah and show no trace of earlier settlement.
“Stranger” from Tishbe
One meaning of Tishbite is “stranger.” For instance, Abraham lived as a “stranger” in the Land. So if we take “stranger” as the meaning, we could read 1 Kings 17:1 as “Elijah the stranger from among the strangers in Gilead.”
The apocryphal book of Tobit would then seem to make sense when it says Elijah was born in Tishbe in the Upper Galilee. Plus we could say Elijah later moved across the river into the region of Gilead, where he lived as a “stranger.” (See a wiki about “Tishbite” here.)
For what it’s worth, the Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities 8:13, 2) places Tishbe in Gilead.
Yet the real fun would be in digging up Elijah’s hometown ourselves. So….