From BiblePortal Wikipedia
Revision as of 12:25, 13 October 2021 by BiblePortalWiki (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

Entering Canaan, Abraham built an altar at Bethel, calling “upon the name of the Lord” ( Genesis 12:8 ), and returned here after his time in Egypt ( Genesis 13:3 ). His grandson, Jacob, spent the night here on his way to Syria to find a wife. In a dream the Lord confirmed the Abrahamic covenant, and Jacob responded by renaming this locale which was previously called Luz, “Bethel” (“house of God”;  Genesis 28:10-22 ). Probably the name “Bethel” is referred to but out of chronological sequence in the earlier Abraham passages. When he returned with his large family, Jacob came to Bethel again to hear the Lord's confirmation of the covenant and his name was changed to “Israel.” Here again Jacob set up a stone monument ( Genesis 35:1-16;  Hosea 12:4-5 ). Extensive fortification of Bethel came after this patriarchal period.

At the time of the conquest, Bethel and Ai were taken together ( Joshua 7:2;  Joshua 8:3-17;  Joshua 12:9 ,Joshua 12:9, 12:16 ), but the definitive defeat of Bethel is recounted later in  Judges 1:22-26 . It was a Benjamite border town initially ( Joshua 16:1-2;  Joshua 18:13 ,Joshua 18:13, 18:22 ). Later it was a part of the Northern Kingdom ( 1 Chronicles 7:28 ), only briefly annexed to Judah by Abijah ( 2 Chronicles 13:19 ).

The ark of the covenant was kept in Bethel during a period of the judges ( Judges 20:27 ), so the tribes converged there upon Benjamin to avenge the moral atrocity at Gibeah ( Judges 20:18-28 ), offering sacrifices and seeking the Lord's direction ( Judges 21:1-4 ). Bethel also was a place where both Deborah ( Judges 4:5 ) and Samuel ( 1 Samuel 7:16 ) judged the civil and religious affairs of the Israelites in the area. Bethel was evidently vulnerable at the time of the judges, since archaeology shows it to have been destroyed several times in this period.

David considered the city significant enough to send it gifts during his flight as a fugitive from Saul, hoping to establish a friendship of diplomatic value in the future ( 1 Samuel 30:27 ). When he eventually named Jerusalem his capital, Bethel grew and prospered.

Whereas Bethel had been a place of orthodox worship from Abraham to the judges, Jeroboam I made it a religious center of his innovative, apostate religion of the Northern Kingdom. He erected a golden calf both here and in Dan with non-Levitic priests and an illegitimate feast to compete with the celebrations and religion of Jerusalem, ten and a half miles to the south in Judah ( 1 Kings 12:29-33 ). Bethel was the prominent site over Dan. There an anonymous prophet from Judah found and rebuked Jeroboam I and brought destruction to the king's altar ( 1 Kings 13:1-10 ). Another anonymous prophet from Bethel entrapped the first prophet into disobedience. Because of his disobedience, the Lord caused a lion to kill the first prophet ( 1 Kings 13:11-25 ).

Other true prophets seem to have been attached to Bethel even during the time of northern apostasy, since Elijah encountered a group of them there as he traveled ( 2 Kings 2:2-3 ). Amos was sent to Bethel to rebuke the kingdom of Jeroboam II in the eighth century ( Amos 7:10-13 ) since it was the center of northern idolatry and a royal residence. He met the resistance of Amaziah, the priest, who vainly ordered him to leave the city. In addition to Amos' prophetic charges against those who sacrificed there ( Amos 4:4 ), he predicted the destruction of Bethel and its false altars ( Amos 3:14 ,  Amos 5:5-6 ), as did Hosea ( Hosea 10:14-15 ). Hosea seems to have played with the name of Bethel (“city of God”), by referring to it as “Beth-aven” (“city of a false [god],”  Hosea 5:8-9;  Hosea 10:5 ).

The religious significance of Bethel is confirmed also by Assyria's appointment of a priest to this city to teach the new residents of the north who displaced the Israelites ( 2 Kings 17:28 ). Later, Josiah desecrated another false altar of Bethel during his reforms ( 2 Kings 23:4-19 ) and perhaps annexed the city to his Southern Kingdom.

Bethel was destroyed in the sixth century during the Exile; however, some returned there when released by the Persians ( Ezra 2:28;  Nehemiah 7:32;  Nehemiah 11:31 ).

Since it was a late first century Roman garrison town, it was probably a city of importance at the time of Christ. 2. Another city variously spelled Bethul ( Joshua 19:4 ), Bethuel ( 1 Chronicles 4:30 ), and Bethel ( 1 Samuel 30:27 ). This may be modern khirbet el Qaryatein north of Arad.

Daniel C. Fredericks

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

("house of God".)

1. Abram pitched his tent on a mountain E. of Bethel, abounding in pasture ( Genesis 12:8;  Genesis 13:3). The city, near the place, then bore the Canaanite name Luz. Bethel is the name given by anticipation to the place; appropriately so, as Abram virtually made it the "house of God." It was expressly so named by Jacob, when he had the vision of the heavenly ladder, on his way from his father at Beersheba to Harsh ( Genesis 28:19;  Genesis 31:13). He set up a pillar, and anointed it with oil, to mark the place where God spoke with him. Bethel, the place, is expressly distinguished from Luz, the old Canaanite city. "Jacob called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of that city was called Luz at the first" ( Joshua 16:1-2). The naming of Bethel Jacob repeated more publicly on his return home, 20 years later, with his family purified of idols, when God again appeared to him, and confirmed his change of name to Israel ( Genesis 35:1-15;  Genesis 32:28).

Bethel belonged by lot to Benjamin, but was falcon by Ephraim (Bethel being on his southern border) through the treachery of an inhabitant ( Judges 1:22-26). It was about 12 miles N. of Jerusalem. In  Judges 20:26 translate for "the house of God" Bethel. During the civil war with Benjamin the tribes took the ark thither to consult God (compare  1 Samuel 10:3). It was one of Samuel's towns of circuit for judging ( 1 Samuel 7:16). One of Jeroboam's two sanctuaries for the calf worship, selected doubtless because of its religious associations (1 Kings 12-13). There the prophet from Judah foretold the overthrow of the calf altar by Josiah. Abijah, king of Judah, took Bethel from Jeroboam ( 2 Chronicles 13:19), but it was soon recovered by Israel. Under Ahab the Baal worship at Samaria and Jezreel drew off attention from the calf worship at Bethel. This accounts for a school of prophets of Jehovah being there in Elijah's time ( 2 Kings 2:2-3).

The existence of "bears," two, near the town, implies that Bethel was then less frequented ( 2 Kings 2:23-25). Under Jehu, who restored the calf worship, and Jeroboam II his great grandson, Bethel comes again into prominence ( 2 Kings 10:29). Bethel became the king's chapel" (sanctuary) "the king's court" ("house of the kingdom") ( Amos 7:13;  Amos 3:14-15). More altars, besides the original one were erected. "Summer and winter houses" too, and "great houses" and "houses of ivory." After the overthrow of Israel, the king of Assyria sent one of the Israelite priests to settle at Bethel, and teach the new settlers from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, "the manner of the god of the land," and "how they should fear Jehovah" ( 2 Kings 17:27-28). Josiah, as foretold, defiled the altar with dead men's bones, but disturbed not the sepulchre of the prophet of Judab when he discerned its title. It was ordered by God that the votaries of the calf worship at Bethel never dared to violate the sepulchre and title of the prophet who denounced their idol. The worship of Jehovah and of the calves had been all along strangely blended. (See Bethaven .)

Among those returning from captivity were men of Bethel ( Ezra 2:28;  Nehemiah 7:32;  Nehemiah 11:31.) The ruins, covering three or four acres, still bear a like name, Beitin, on a low bill, between two wadies, which unite in the main valley of es-Suweinit, toward the S.E. Bethel still abounds in stones such as Jacob used for his pillow and afterward for a sanctuary. On the round mount S.E. of Bethel. Abram doubtless built the altar, and afterwards stood with Lot when giving him his choice of the land ( Genesis 12:7;  Genesis 13:10). E. of this mount stands the ruin Tel er Rijmah, "the mound of the heap," answering to Ai or Hai. Ritter makes Medinet Gai answer to Ai.

2. A town in southern Judah ( Joshua 12:16;  1 Samuel 30:27). Bethel in  Joshua 19:4 answers to Chesil in  Joshua 15:30. Bethuel,  1 Chronicles 4:30. Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho under the curse ( 1 Kings 16:34).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

BETHEL . 1 . On a rocky knoll beside the great road to the north, about 12 miles from Jerusalem, stands the modern Beilîn , a village of some 400 inhabitants, which represents the ancient Bethel. Four springs furnish good water, and in ancient times they were supplemented by a reservoir hewn in the rock, south of the town. Luz was the original name of the town. The name Bethel was first applied to the stone which Jacob set up and anointed (  Genesis 28:22 ). See Pillar. But ‘the place’ (  Genesis 28:11 etc.) was evidently one with holy associations. It was visited by Abraham, who sacrificed here (  Genesis 12:8 ). This may have induced Jacob to come hither on his way to the north, and again on his return from Paddan-aram. From an eminence to the east almost the whole extent of the plains of Jericho is visible. This may have been the scene of Lot’s selfish choice (  Genesis 13:1-18 ). ‘Bethel’ in the end prevailed over ‘Luz,’ and the town came to be known by the name of the sanctuary, the neighbourhood of which lent it distinction.

Bethel, a royal Canaanite city ( Joshua 12:16 ), fell to Benjamin in the division of the land (  Joshua 18:22 ), but he failed to make good his possession. It was finally taken by Ephraim (  Judges 1:22 ,   1 Chronicles 7:28 ). Hither the ark was brought from Gilgal (  Judges 20:18 LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ), and Bethel was resorted to as a place of sacrifice (  1 Samuel 10:3 ). The prophetess Deborah dwelt between Bethel and Ramah (  Judges 4:5 ). In judging Israel, Samuel went from year to year in circuit to Bethel (  1 Samuel 7:10 ). No doubt the ancient sanctity of the place led Jeroboam to choose Bethel as the site of the rival shrine, which he hoped might counteract the influence of the house of the Lord at Jerusalem (  1 Kings 12:26 ff.). It became the great sanctuary of the Northern Kingdom, and the centre of the idolatrous priests who served in the high places (  1 Kings 12:32 ff.). At Bethel, Jeroboam was denounced by the man of God out of Judah (  1 Kings 13:19 ). It was one of the towns taken from Jeroboam by Abijah king of Judah (  2 Chronicles 13:19 ). It is noteworthy that Elijah is silent regarding the calf-worship at Bethel; and that a school of the prophets, apparently in sympathy with him, flourished there (  2 Kings 2:2 f.). But the denunciations of Amos ( 2Ki 3:14 ,   2 Kings 4:4 ,   2 Kings 5:5 etc.) and Hosea (  Hosea 4:15;   Hosea 5:8 etc.) lack nothing in vehemence. The priest resided at Bethel, who was brought by the king of Assyria to teach the mixed peoples, who lived in the country during the Exile, the manner of the God of the land (  2 Kings 17:29 ff.). Bethel was reoccupied by the returning exiles (  Ezra 2:28 etc.). We find it in the hands of Bacchides ( 1Ma 9:50 ). It was one of the towns ‘in the mountains’ taken by Vespasian in his march on Jerusalem (Jos. [Note: Josephus.] BJ IV. ix. 9).

2 . A town in Judah, not identified, called in different places, Bethul , Bethel, and Bethuel (  Joshua 19:4 ,   1 Samuel 30:27 ,   1 Chronicles 4:30 ).

W. Ewing.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

1. Name, signifying 'house of God,' given to the place where God first appeared to Jacob in a dream. It led him to say, "Surely the Lord is in this place . . . . this is none other but the house of God . . . . and he called the name of that place Beth-el."  Genesis 28:16-19 . God thus gave to Jacob the apprehension that the house of God on earth — the gate of heaven — was to be connected with him and his seed, and afterwards God acknowledged the place and the name, saying, "I am the God of Beth-el,"  Genesis 31:13 . To take Jacob out of a false position God bade him go up to Beth-el and dwell there, and Jacob felt he must take no idols there, so he told his household to put away the strange gods from among them, to be clean, and to change their garments. "He built there an altar and called the place El-beth-el; " and there God met him, revealed His name to him, and confirmed the change of his name to Israel (cf.  Genesis 32:28,29 ), blessed him, and renewed His promises.  Genesis 35:1-16 .

It was afterwards conquered and given to Benjamin.  Joshua 12:9;  Joshua 18:22;  Judges 1:22 . Apparently the tabernacle was pitched at Shiloh near Bethel, for Israel went there to inquire of God, and Samuel told Saul that he should meet three men "going up to God to Beth-el."  Judges 21:19;  1 Samuel 10:3 . At the division of the kingdom Beth-el fell to Israel, and Jeroboam set up there one of the golden calves to prevent the Israelites going to Jerusalem to worship. An altar was erected and sacrifices offered to the idol; but it was condemned by a man of God, and the altar was rent.  1 Kings 12:29-33;  1 Kings 13:1-32;  Amos 7:10,13 . There were sons of the prophets dwelling at Beth-el,  2 Kings 2:3 , but the idolatrous altar was not destroyed until the days of Josiah.  2 Kings 23:4,15,17,19 . Among those who returned from exile were men of Beth-el, and the place was again inhabited.  Ezra 2:28;  Nehemiah 7:32;  Nehemiah 11:31 . See also  Hosea 10:15;  Hosea 12:4;  Amos 3:14;  Amos 4:4;  Amos 5:5,6 .

The city had been originally named Luz. It is now identified with Beitin, 35 14' E 31 56' N , some 10 miles north of Jerusalem. It stands on a rocky ridge between two valleys, but has higher ground on each side except the south.  Amos 5:5 said it should 'come to nought,' and now amid the scattered ruins are about 20 houses roughly formed out of the old materials. 'Mount Beth-El' occurs in   Joshua 16:1;  1 Samuel 13:2 . See Beth-Aven

2. This name, found in  Joshua 12:16 (not that in   Joshua 12:9 ) and  1 Samuel 30:27 , is probably a different place from the preceding because of the names associated with it, and was farther south. It is probably the same as Bethul, Bethuel. In the latter reference the LXX (Vat.) read Baethsur.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

When Abraham entered Canaan, one of his main camping places was near Bethel, in the hill country west of the lower Jordan. There he built an altar, and there he later returned after a time in Egypt ( Genesis 12:8;  Genesis 13:3).

In those days the town was known by its Canaanite name, Luz. It was renamed Bethel (i.e. ‘house of God’) by Jacob, after he had a remarkable dream that made him feel he was in the dwelling place of God. From that time on, God was, to Jacob, ‘the God of Bethel’. Many years later he returned to Bethel to fulfil vows he made on the night of his dream ( Genesis 28:11-22;  Genesis 31:13;  Genesis 35:6-7).

Bethel, along with other towns and villages of central Canaan, fell to Israel at the time of Joshua’s conquest. When Canaan was divided among Israel’s tribes, Bethel was on the border between Ephraim and Benjamin. It was allotted to Benjamin, but was occupied by Ephraim ( Joshua 8:9;  Joshua 16:1;  Joshua 18:11-13;  Joshua 18:21-22;  Judges 1:23;  1 Chronicles 7:20;  1 Chronicles 7:28; for map see Benjamin ).

For a brief period after the conquest, the ark of the covenant was kept at Bethel ( Judges 20:18;  Judges 20:27-28). Bethel was an important religious and administrative centre in the time of Samuel and a school for prophets was established there. The school was still functioning in the time of Elijah and Elisha ( 1 Samuel 7:16;  1 Samuel 10:3;  2 Kings 2:3;  2 Kings 2:23).

When the Israelite kingdom split into two, Jeroboam, king of the breakaway northern kingdom, set up golden idols at Dan and Bethel, the northern and southern border towns of his kingdom. The idolatry of Bethel, which God’s prophets repeatedly denounced, was the reason why the altar and the town were eventually destroyed ( 1 Kings 12:28-33;  1 Kings 13:1-3;  2 Kings 23:15-20;  Jeremiah 48:13;  Amos 3:14;  Amos 4:4;  Amos 5:5;  Amos 7:10-13).

With the rebuilding of Israel after the captivity, Bethel again became a settlement ( Nehemiah 11:31). It still existed in the time of Christ, though it is not mentioned in the New Testament.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Beth'el. (The House Of God). Well known city and holy place of central Palestine, about 12 mlles north of Jerusalem. If we are to accept the precise definition,  Genesis 12:8, the name of Bethel would appear to have existed at this spot, even before the arrival of Abram in Canaan.  Genesis 12:8;  Genesis 13:3-4. Bethel was the scene of Jacob's vision.  Genesis 28:11-19;  Genesis 31:13. Jacob lived there.  Genesis 35:1-8. The original name was Luz .  Judges 1:22-23.

After the conquest, Bethel is frequently heard of. In the troubled times, when there was no king in Israel, it was to Bethel that the people went up in their distress, to ask counsel of God.  Judges 20:18;  Judges 20:26;  Judges 20:31;  Judges 21:2. Authorized Version, "House Of God". Here was the Ark of the Covenant.  Judges 20:26-28;  Judges 21:4.

Later, it is named as one of the holy cities to which Samuel went, on circuit.  1 Samuel 7:16. Here, Jeroboab placed one of the two calves of gold. Toward the end of Jeroboam's life, Bethel fell into the hands of Judah.  2 Chronicles 13:19. Elijah visited Bethel, and we hear of "sons of the prophets" as resident there.  2 Kings 2:2-3.

But, after the destruction of Baal worship by Jehu, Bethel comes once more into view.  2 Kings 10:29. After the desolation of the northern kingdom, by the king of Assyria, Bethel still remained an abode of priests.  2 Kings 17:27-28. In later times, Bethel is named only once under the scarcely-altered name of Beitin. Its ruins still lie on the righthand side of the road from Jerusalem to Nablus.

1. A town in the south part of Judah, named in  Joshua 12:16 and  1 Samuel 30:27. In  Joshua 15:30;  Joshua 19:4;  1 Chronicles 4:29-30, the place appears under the name of Chesil , Bethul and Bethuel . Hiel, the Bethelite, is recorded as the rebuilder of Jericho.  1 Kings 16:34.

2. In  Joshua 16:1 and  1 Samuel 13:2, Mount Bethel, a hilly section near Beth-el, is referred to.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

House of God, the name of a city west of Hai, on the confines of the tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin,  Genesis 12:8   28:10-22 , and occupying the spot where Jacob slept and had his memorable dream, the name he then gave it superseding the old name Luz,  Judges 1:23 . Thirty years after, he again pitched his tent there,  Genesis 35:1-15 . It was captured by Joshua, and given to Benjamin,  Joshua 12:9   18:22 . The Ephraimites, however, expelled the Canaanites,  Judges 1:22-26 . Here the ark of the covenant, and probably the tabernacle, long remained,  Judges 20:26   1 Samuel 10:3 . Samuel held his court here in turn,  1 Samuel 7:16 . After Solomon, it became a seat of gross idolatry; Jeroboam choosing it as the place for one of his golden calves, from the sacredness previously attached to it,  1 Kings 12:29 . The prophets were charged with messages against Bethel,  1 Kings 13:1,2   Jeremiah 48:13   Amos 3:14   7:10 . The first of these was fulfilled by Josiah,  2 Kings 23:13; and the others in the later desolation of Bethel, where nothing but ruins can now be found. Its site was identified by Dr. Robinson, in the place now called Beitin. It is twelve miles from Jerusalem towards Shechem, on the southern side of a hill, with a narrow and fertile valley on the east, and the long-traveled road on the west. At the bottom of the hill are the remains of a vast stone reservoir, of an ancient Hebrew age.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [8]

Bethel ( Bĕth'Ĕl ), House Of God.  Joshua 18:13. 1. A town about twelve miles north of Jerusalem. It was visited by Abraham,  Genesis 12:8;  Genesis 13:3; marked by Jacob after his vision of the ladder,  Genesis 28:11-19;  Genesis 31:13; dwelling-place of Jacob,  Genesis 35:1-8; name applied to Luz,  Judges 1:22-23. See  Joshua 16:2;  Genesis 28:19; Samuel judged there,  1 Samuel 7:16; a place of calf-worship,  1 Kings 12:29;  2 Kings 10:29; called Beth-aven— I.E., "house of idols,"  Hosea 10:5 (in verse 8 simply Aven); taken by Judah,  2 Chronicles 13:19; home of prophets,  2 Kings 2:2-3; of a priest,  2 Kings 17:28;  2 Kings 23:15;  2 Kings 23:19; was desolate,  Amos 3:14;  Amos 5:5-6; settled by Benjamites after the captivity,  Nehemiah 11:31; named about seventy times in the Old Testament; not noticed in the New Testament; now called Beitin (nine miles south of Shiloh), a village of about 25 Moslem hovels, standing amid ruins which cover about four acres.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

  • A town in the south of Judah ( Joshua 8:17;  12:16 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Bethel'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [10]

     Genesis 28:19 (c) The meaning of the word is "The House of GOD."

    It is used as a type of GOD making Himself known to His people, revealing His loving care, and His mighty power. The Christian should always be dwelling in "Bethel" in the conscious presence of GOD. (See also  Genesis 31:13).

    Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [11]

    a city which lay to the west of Ai, about eight miles to the north of Jerusalem, in the confines of the tribe of Ephraim and Benjamin. Here Jacob slept and had his vision. The name of this city had formerly been Luz, which signifies an almond, and was probably so called from the number of almond trees which grew in those parts. See Jacob .

    Webster's Dictionary [12]

    (1): (n.) A house of worship for seamen.

    (2): (n.) A chapel for dissenters.

    (3): (n.) A place of worship; a hallowed spot.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

    beth´el ( בּית־אל , bēth - 'ēl  ; Βαιθήλ , Baithḗl and οῖκος θεοῦ , oı́kos theoú , literally, "house of God"):

    (1) A town near the place where Abraham halted and offered sacrifice on his way south from Shechem.

    1. Identification and Description

    It lay West of Ai ( Genesis 12:8 ). It is named as on the northern border of Benjamin (the southern of Ephraim,  Joshua 16:2 ), at the top of the ascent from the Jordan valley by way of Ai ( Joshua 18:13 ). It lay South of Shiloh ( Judges 21:19 ). Eusebius, Onomasticon places it 12 Roman miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Neapolis. It is represented by the modern Beitı̄n , a village of some 400 inhabitants, which stands on a knoll East of the road to Nāblus . There are four springs which yield supplies of good water. In ancient times these were supplemented by a reservoir hewn in the rock South of the town. The surrounding country is bleak and barren, the hills being marked by a succession of stony terraces, which may have suggested the form of the ladder in Jacob's famous dream.

    2. The Sanctuary

    The town was originally called Luz ( Genesis 28:19 , etc.). When Jacob came hither on his way to Paddan-aram we are told that he lighted upon "the place" ( Genesis 28:11 . Hebrew). The Hebrew māḳōm , like the cognate Arabic maḳām , denotes a sacred place or sanctuary. The māḳōm was doubtless that at which Abraham had sacrificed, East of the town. In the morning Jacob set up "for a pillar" the stone which had served as his pillow ( Genesis 28:18; see Pillar - maccēbhāh ), poured oil upon it and called the name of the place Bethel, "house of God"; that is, of God whose epiphany was for him associated with the pillar. This spot became a center of great interest, lending growing importance to the town. In process of time the name Luz disappeared, giving place to that of the adjoining sanctuary, town and sanctuary being identified. Jacob revisited the place on his return from Paddan-aram; here Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died and was buried under "the oak" ( Genesis 35:6 f). Probably on rising ground East of Bethel Abraham and Lot stood to view the uninviting highlands and the rich lands of the Jordan valley (  Genesis 13:9 ).

    3. History

    Bethel was a royal city of the Canaanites ( Joshua 12:16 ). It appears to have been captured by Joshua ( Joshua 8:7 ), and it was allotted to Benjamin ( Joshua 18:22 ). In  Judges 1:22 it is represented as held by Canaanites, from whom the house of Joseph took it by treachery (compare   1 Chronicles 7:28 ). Hither the ark was brought from Gilgal ( Judges 2:1 , Septuagint). Israel came to Bethel to consult the Divine oracle ( Judges 20:18 ), and it became an important center of worship ( 1 Samuel 10:3 ). The home of the prophetess Deborah was not far off ( Judges 4:5 ). Samuel visited Bethel on circuit, judging Israel ( 1 Samuel 7:16 ).

    With the disruption of the kingdom came Bethel's greatest period of splendor and significance. To counteract the influence of Jerusalem as the national religious center Jeroboam embarked on the policy which won for him the unenviable reputation of having "made Israel to sin." Here he erected a temple, set up an image, the golden calf, and established an imposing ritual. It became the royal sanctuary and the religious center of his kingdom ( 1 Kings 12:29;  Amos 7:13 ). He placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made ( 1 Kings 12:32 ). To Bethel came the man of God from Judah who pronounced doom against Jeroboam (1 Ki 13), and who, having been seduced from duty by an aged prophet in Bethel, was slain by a lion. According to the prophets Amos and Hosea the splendid idolatries of Bethel were accompanied by terrible moral and religious degradation. Against the place they launched the most scathing denunciations, declaring the vengeance such things must entail ( Amos 3:14;  Amos 4:4;  Amos 5:11 m;   Amos 9:1;  Hosea 4:15;  Hosea 5:8;  Hosea 10:5 ,  Hosea 10:8 , 23). With the latter the name Bethel gives place in mockery to Beth-aven. Bethel shared in the downfall of Samaria wrought by the Assyrians; and according to an old tradition, Shalmaneser possessed himself of the golden calf (compare  Jeremiah 48:13 ). The priest, sent by the Assyrians to teach the people whom they had settled in the land how to serve Yahweh, dwelt in Bethel ( 2 Kings 17:28 ). King Josiah completed the demolition of the sanctuary at Bethel, destroying all the instruments of idolatry, and harr ying the tombs of the idolaters. The monument of the man of God from Judah he allowed to stand ( 2 Kings 23:4 ,  2 Kings 23:25 ). The men of Bethel were among those who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel ( Ezra 2:28;  Nehemiah 7:32 ), and it is mentioned as reoccupied by the Benjamites ( Nehemiah 11:31 ). Zechariah ( Zechariah 7:2 ) records the sending of certain men from Jerusalem in the 4th year of King Darius to inquire regarding particular religious practices. Bethel was one of the towns fortified by Bacchides in the time of the Maccabees (1 Macc 9:50; Ant , Xiii , i, 3). It is named again as a small town which, along with Ephraim, was taken by Vespasian as he approached Jerusalem ( BJ , IV, ix, 9).

    (2) A city in Judah which in  1 Samuel 30:27 is called Bethel; in   Joshua 19:4 Bethul; and in   1 Chronicles 4:30 Bethuel. The site has not been identified. In   Joshua 15:30 Septuagint gives Baithel in Judah, where the Hebrew has Keṣı̄l ̌ - probably a scribal error.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

    Beth´el, originally Luz, an ancient town which Eusebius places 12 R. miles north of Jerusalem, on the right hand of the road to Shechem, Jacob rested here one night on his way to Padan Aram, and commemorated the vision with which he was favored by erecting and pouring oil upon the stone which had served him for a pillow, and giving to the place the name of Bethel (place or house of God), which eventually superseded the more ancient designation of Luz ( Genesis 28:11-19). Under that name it is mentioned proleptically with reference to the earlier time of Abraham ( Genesis 12:8;  Genesis 13:3). After his prosperous return, Bethel became a favorite station with Jacob: here he built an altar, buried Deborah, received the name of Israel (for the second time), and promises of blessing; and here also he accomplished the vow which he had made on his going forth ( Genesis 35:1-15; comp. 32:28, and 28:20-22). It seems not to have been a town in those early times; but at the conquest of the land, Bethel is mentioned as the royal city of the Canaanites ( Joshua 12:9). It became a boundary town of Benjamin towards Ephraim ( Joshua 18:22), and was actually conquered by the latter tribe from the Canaanites ( Judges 1:22-26). At this place, already consecrated in the time of the patriarchs, the ark of the covenant was apparently for a long while, deposited [[[Ark Of The Covenant]]] and probably the tabernacle also ( Judges 20:26; comp.  1 Samuel 10:3). It was also one of the places at which Samuel held in rotation his court of justice ( 1 Samuel 7:16). After the separation of the kingdoms Bethel was included in that of Israel, which seems to show, that although originally in the formal distribution assigned to Benjamin, it had been actually possessed by Ephraim in right of conquest from the Canaanites—which might have been held by that somewhat unscrupulous tribe to determine the right of possession to a place of importance close on their own frontier. Jeroboam made it the southern seat (Dan being the northern) of the worship of the golden calves; and it seems to have been the chief seat of that worship ( 1 Kings 12:28-33;  1 Kings 13:1). This appropriation, however, completely desecrated Bethel in the estimation of the orthodox Jews; and the prophets name it with abhorrence and contempt—even applying to it the name of Bethaven (house of idols) instead Bethel (house of God) ( Amos 1:5;  Hosea 4:15;  Hosea 5:8;  Hosea 10:5;  Hosea 10:8). The town was taken from Jeroboam by Abijah, king of Judah ( 2 Chronicles 13:19); but it again reverted to Israel ( 2 Kings 10:29). After the Israelites were carried away captive by the Assyrians, all traces of this illegal worship were extirpated by Josiah, king of Judah, who thus fulfilled a prophecy made to Jeroboam 350 years before ( 2 Kings 13:1-2;  2 Kings 23:15-18). The place was still in existence after the Captivity, and was in the possession of the Benjamites ( Ezra 2:28;  Nehemiah 7:32). In the time of the Maccabees Bethel was fortified by Bacchides for the king of Syria. It is not named in the New Testament; but it still existed, and was taken by Vespasian. It is described by Eusebius and Jerome as a small village; and this is the last notice of it as an inhabited place. Bethel and its name were believed to have perished until within these few years; when it has been identified with Beitin, the situation of which corresponds very exactly with the position assigned to the ancient Bethel. The ruins, which are considerable, lie upon the point of a low hill, between the heads of two shallow wadys which unite below, and run off into a deep and rugged valley. The spot is shut in by higher land on every side.

    The Nuttall Encyclopedia [16]

    E . house of God), a place 11 m. N. of Jerusalem, scene of Jacob's dream, and famous in the history of the patriarchs.