From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

 Joshua 19:22 Joshua 19:38 Judges 1:33 Jeremiah 43:13 Joshua 15:10 Joshua 19:41

The Danite tribe was unable to control the lands of its inheritance because of the Amorites ( Judges 1:34-35 ) and/or the Philistines. Some were forced into the hills near Zorah and Eshtaol (as was Samson's family,  Judges 13:1-2 ). Beth-shemesh was apparently controlled by Israel (ca. 1050 B.C.) when the ark of the covenant passed through the city upon returning from the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 6:13 ). Around 795 B.C., the city was the scene of a battle in which Jehoash of Israel was victorious over Amaziah of Judah, resulting in the pillaging of the Temple ( 2 Kings 14:11-14;  2 Chronicles 25:21-24 ). Beth-shemesh is last mentioned in Scripture during the decadent reign of Ahaz. The Philistines captured Beth-shemesh from Judah (ca. 734), seen as judgment from God ( 2 Chronicles 28:18-19 ).

Beth-shemesh was excavated by D. Mackenzie in 1911-1912 and Haverford College in 1928-31,1933. The city was first settled about 2200 B.C. by a relatively small group. The city achieved importance after being conquered and rebuilt by the Hyksos about 1720 B.C. A huge city wall, three defensive towers, and several tombs were uncovered. The Hyksos city was captured by the Egyptians of the Eighteenth Dynasty about 1550 B.C. Beth-shemesh flourished in the Late Bronze Age under Egyptian and Canaanite rule, evidenced by imported wares from Mycenae and Egypt, as well as quality Canaanite finds, including inscriptions. Iron Age I (Judges) finds show that Beth-shemesh was heavily influenced by the Philistines, but the city was in general decline. After David defeated the Philistines, the city was rebuilt. Excavations indicate the Israelite city had olive oil, wine, copper, fabric dyeing, and wheat production industries. After Beth-shemesh was destroyed by the Babylonians (588-587 B.C.) under Nebuchadrezzar, the city was largely unoccupied, except for remnants of the Roman/Byzantine city at Ain Shems (monastery on the corner of the tell).

Dennis Cole

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

Beth-Shemesh (‘house’ or ‘temple of the sun’). 1. A town in Judah (  Joshua 15:10 etc., called Ir-Shemesh in   Joshua 19:41 ) allotted to the children of Aaron (  Joshua 21:15 ). Hither the ark was brought when sent back by the Philistines, and the inhabitants were smitten because of their profane curiosity (  1 Samuel 6:1-21 ). Here Amaziah was defeated and captured by Jehoash, king of Israel (  2 Kings 14:11;   2 Kings 14:13 ). It was one of the cities taken by the Philistines in the time of Ahaz (  2 Chronicles 28:18 ). It is identified with the modern ‘Ain Shems , on the S. slope of Wâdy es-Surâr , 15 miles W. of Jerusalem. 2. A city in Issachar (  Joshua 19:22 ), unidentified. 3. A city in Naphtali (  Joshua 19:38 ), unidentified. 4. A city in Egypt, a seat of heathen idolatry (  Jeremiah 43:13 ), identified with the ancient Heliopolis, called ‘Ain Shems by the Arabs (Wallis Budge, The Nile , 281f.).

W. Ewing.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

House of the sun,

1. A city of Judah given to the priests,  Joshua 21:16   1 Chronicles 6:59   1 Samuel 6:15 . It lay fifteen miles west of Jerusalem, near the border of Dan and of the Philistines,  Joshua 15:10   1 Samuel 6:12 . Probably the same as Irshemesh,  Joshua 19:41 . It is memorable for a battle between Judah and Israel, in which Amaziah was defeated,  2 Kings 14:12-14; and for the return of the ark from among the Philistines, and the punishment of those who then profaned it,  1 Samuel 6:1-21 . There is reason to suppose the numbers in  1 Samuel 6:19 should be translated "threescore and ten men, even fifty out of one thousand," or one in two hundred of the men of the city.

2. A celebrated city in Egypt,  Jeremiah 43:13 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Beth-shemesh ( Bĕth-Shç'Mesh, or Bĕth'Shç-Mĕsh ), House Of The Sun. 1. A city on the north of Judah belonging to the priests,  Joshua 15:10;  Joshua 21:16; perhaps Ir-shemesh and Mount Heres,  Joshua 19:41;  Judges 1:35; noted as the place to which the ark was returned,  1 Samuel 6:9-20; now a heap of ruins near ʾAin Shems, about 14 miles west of Jerusalem. 2. A fenced city of.Naphtali.  Joshua 19:38. 3. A city on the border of Issachar,  Joshua 19:22; perhaps the same as No. 2. 4. A place in Egypt,  Jeremiah 43:13; same as Heliopolis, or On. See On.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [5]

A city belonging to the priests in the tribe of Judah. ( Joshua 15:10) This place is rendered remarkable from the slaughter the Lord made on the men of Beth-shemesh for their curiosity in looking into the ark. (See  1 Samuel 6:19) An invasion by any into the priest's office hath been always punished. (See  Numbers 4:5; Num 4:15; Num 4:20) How blessedly the Holy Ghost testifieth of Christ, that he took not upon him the office of High Priest uncalled of Jehovah A glorious consideration to all his people. ( Hebrews 5:4-5)

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Beth-she'mesh.' (House Of The Sun).

1. One of the towns which marked the north boundary of Judah.  Joshua 15:10. It is now Ainshems , about two miles from the great Philistine plain, and seven from Ekron.

2. A city on the border of Issachar.  Joshua 19:22.

3. One of the "fenced cities" of Naphtali.  Joshua 19:38;  Judges 1:33.

4. An idolatrous temple, or place in Egypt.  Jeremiah 43:13. In the middle ages, Heliopolis was still called by the Arabs Ain Shems .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

  • An idol sanctuary in Egypt ( Jeremiah 43:13 ); called by the Greeks Heliopolis, and by the Egyptians On (q.v.),  Genesis 41:45 .

    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 'Beth-Shemesh'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

    (Heb. Beyth She'mesh, בֵּית שֶׁמֶשׁ , House Of the sun; in pause Beyth Sha'mesh, בֵּית שָׁמֶשׁ ; Sept. in  Joshua 15:10, Πόλις Ἡλίου , elsewhere in Joshua and Judges Βηθσάμες , in Sam. and Chron. Βαιθσαμύς , in Kings Βαιθσάμις , in Jeremiah ῾Ηλιούπολις; Josephus Βηθσάμη , Ant. 6, 1, 3), the name of four places. (See Heliopolis).

    1. A sacerdotal city ( Joshua 21:16;  1 Samuel 6:15;  1 Chronicles 6:59) in the tribe of Dan, on the northern border (between Chesalon and Timnath) of Judah ( Joshua 15:10), toward the land of the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 6:9;  1 Samuel 6:12), probably in a lowland plain ( 2 Kings 14:11), and placed by Eusebius and Jerome ( Onomast . s.v. Βηθσάμες , Bethsamis) ten Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, in the direction of the road to Nicopolis. The expression "went down" in  Joshua 15:10;  1 Samuel 6:21, seems to indicate that the position of the town was lower than Kirjath-jearim; and it is in accordance with the situation that there was a valley ( עֵמֶק ) of corn- fields attached to the place (1 Samuel 5:13). It was a "suburb city" ( Joshua 21:16;  1 Chronicles 6:59),. and it is named in one of Solomon's commissariat districts under the charge of Ben-Dekar ( 1 Kings 4:9). It was the scene of an encounter between Jehoash, king of Israel, and Amaziah, king of Judah, in which the latter was worsted and made prisoner ( 2 Kings 14:11;  2 Kings 14:13;  2 Chronicles 25:21;  2 Chronicles 25:23), Later, in the days of Ahaz, it was taken and occupied by the Philistines, together with several other places in this locality ( 2 Chronicles 28:18). From Ekron to Beth-shemesh a road ( דֶּרֶךְ , Ὁδός ) existed along which the Philistines sent back the ark by milch-kine after its calamitous residence in their country ( 1 Samuel 6:9;  1 Samuel 6:12); and it was in the field of "Joshua the Beth-Shemite " (q.v.) that the "great Abel" (whatever that may have been, prob. a stone; (See Abel)-) was on which the ark was set down ( 1 Samuel 6:18). On this occasion it was that, according to the present text, "fifty thousand and threescore and ten men" were miraculously slain for irreverently exploring the sacred shrine ( 1 Samuel 6:19). This number has occasioned much discussion (see Schram, Le Plaga Bethschemitarum, Herb. 17. .). The numeral in the text has probably been erroneously transcribed. (See Abbreviation). The Syriac and Arabic have 5070 instead of 50070, and this statement agrees with 1 Cod. Kennicott (comp. Gesenius, Gesch. Der Hebr. Sprache, p. 174). Even with this reduction, the number, for a provincial town like Beth-shemesh, would still be great. We may therefore suppose that the number originally designated was 570 only, as the absence of any intermediate denomination between the first two digits would seem to indicate. The fact itself has been accounted for on natural principles by some German writers in a spirit at variance with that of Hebrew antiquity, and in which the miraculous part of the event has been explained away by ungrammatical interpretations. (See Number).

    By comparison of the lists in  Joshua 15:10;  Joshua 19:41;  Joshua 19:43, and  1 Kings 4:9, it will be seen that IR-SHEMESH (See Ir-Shemesh) (q.v.), "city of the sun," must have been identical with Beth-shemesh, Ir being probably the older form of the name; and again, from  Judges 1:35, it appears as if Har-cheres, "mount of the sun," were a third name for the same place, suggesting an early and extensive worship of the sun in this neighborhood. (See Heres) .

    Beth-shemesh is no doubt the modern Ain-shems found by Dr. Robinson in a position exactly according with the indications of Scripture, on the north- west slopes of the mountains of Judah "a low plateau at the junction of two fine plains" (Later Researches, p. 153) about two miles from the great Philistine plain, and seven from Ekron (Researches, 3, 17-20; comp. Schwarz, Palest. p. 98). It is a ruined Arab village constructed of ancient materials. To the west of the village, upon and around the plateau of a low swell or mound, are the vestiges of a former extensive city, consisting of many foundations and the remains of ancient walls of hewn stone. With respect to the exchange of Beth for Ain, Dr. Robinson remarks (3, 19): "The words Beit (Beth) and Ain are so very common in the Arabic names of Palestine, that it can excite no wonder there should be an exchange, even without an obvious reason. In the same manner the ancient Beth- shemesh (Heliopolis of Egypt) is known in Arabian writers as Ain-shems" (see below). (See Beth)-; (See En)-.

    2. A city near the southern border of Issachar, between Mount Tabor and the Jordan ( Joshua 19:22); probably the same with the present village Kaukab ("the star") El-Hawa (Schwarz, Palest. p. 167), which in also identical with the Belvoir of the Crusaders (see Roblinson, Researches, 3, 226).

    3. One of the "fenced cities" of Naphtali, named ( Joshua 19:38;  Judges 1:33) in connection with Bethanath, from neither of which places were the Canaanite inhabitants expelled, but became tributaries to Israel. Jerome's expression ( Onom. Bethsamis) in reference to this is perhaps worthy of notice, "in which the original inhabitants ( Cultores, ? worshippers) remained;" possibly glancing at the worship from which the place derived its name. Keil ( Comment On Joshua p. 440) confounds this place with the foregoing. M. De Saulcy suggests ( Narrative, 2, 422) that it may have been identical with a village called Medjel Esh-Shems, seen by him on the brow of a hill west of the road from Banias to Lake Phiala; it is laid down on Van de Velde's Map at 2.5 miles north of the latter.

    4. By this name is mentioned ( Jeremiah 43:13) an idolatrous temple or place in Egypt, usually called Heliopolis (q.v.) or On ( Genesis 41:45). In the Middle Ages Heliopolis was still called by the Arabs Ain-Shems, which is the modern name (Robinson, Researches, 1, 36). (See Aven); (See On).

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

    beth - shē´mesh , beth´shē̇mesh ( בּית־שׁמשׁ , bēth - shemesh  ; Βαιθσάμυς , Baithsámus , "house of the sun"): This name for a place doubtless arose in every instance from the presence of a sanctuary of the sun there. In accordance with the meaning and origin of the word, it is quite to be expected that there should be several places of this name in Bible lands, and the expectation is not disappointed. Analysis and comparison of the passages in the Bible where a Beth-shemesh is mentioned show four places of this name.

    1. Beth-Shemesh of Judah

    The first mention of a place by this name is in the description of the border of the territory of Judah ( Joshua 15:10 ) which "went down to Beth-Shemesh." This topographical indication "down" puts the place toward the lowlands on the East or West side of Palestine, but does not indicate which. This point is clearly determined by the account of the return of the ark by the Philistine lords from Ekron ( 1 Samuel 6:9-19 ). They returned the ark to Beth-shemesh, the location of which they indicated by the remark that if their affliction was from Yahweh, the kine would bear the ark "by the way of its own border." The Philistines lay along the western border of Judah and the location of Beth-Shemesh of Judah is Thus clearly fixed near the western lowland, close to the border between the territory of Judah and that claimed by the Philistines. This is confirmed by the account of the twelve officers of the commissariat of King Solomon. One of these, the son of Dekar, had a Beth-shemesh in his territory. By excluding the territory assigned to the other eleven officers, the territory of this son of Dekar is found to be in Judah and to lie along the Philistine border ( 1 Kings 4:9 ). A P hilistine attack upon the border-land of Judah testifies to the same effect ( 2 Chronicles 28:18 ). Finally, the battle between Amaziah of Judah and Jehoash of Israel, who "looked one another in the face" at Beth-shemesh, puts Beth-Shemesh most probably near the border between Judah and Israel, which would locate it near the northern part of the western border of Judah's territo ry. In the assignment of cities to the Levites, Judah gave Beth-shemesh with its suburbs ( Joshua 21:16 ). It has been identified with a good degree of certainty with the modern ‛Ain Shems .

    It may be that Ir-shemesh, "city of the sun," and Har - ḥereṣ , "mount of the sun," refer to Beth-shemesh of Judah ( Joshua 15:10;  Joshua 19:41-43;  1 Kings 4:9;  Judges 1:33 ,  Judges 1:35 ). But the worship of the sun was so common and cities of this name so many in number that it would be hazardous to conclude with any assurance that because these three names refer to the same region they therefore refer to the same place.

    2. Beth-Shemesh of Issachar

    In the description of the tribal limits, it is said of Issachar ( Joshua 19:22 ), "And the border reached to Tabor, and Shahazumah, and Beth-shemesh; and the goings out of their border were at the Jordan." The description indicates that Beth-shemesh was in the eastern part of Issachar's territory. The exact location of the city is not known.

    3. Beth-Shemesh of Naphtali

    A Beth-shemesh is mentioned together with Beth-anath as cities of Naphtali ( Joshua 19:38 ). There is no clear indication of the location of this city. Its association with Beth-anath may indicate that they were near each other in the central part of the tribal allotment. As at Gezer, another of the cities of the Levites the Canaanites were not driven out from Beth-shemesh.

    4. Beth-Shemesh "That Is in the Land of Egypt"

    A doom is pronounced upon "Beth-shemesh, that is in the land of Egypt" ( Jeremiah 43:13 ). The Seventy identify it with Heliopolis. There is some uncertainty about this identification. If Beth-shemesh, "house of the sun," is here a description of Heliopolis, why does it not have the article? If it is a proper name, how does it come that a sanctuary in Egypt is called by a Hebrew name? It may be that the large number of Jews in Egypt with Jeremiah gave this Hebrew name to Heliopolis for use among themselves, Beth-shemesh. being a translation of Egyptian Perra as suggested by Griffith. Otherwise, Beth-shemesh. cannot have been Heliopolis, but must have been some other, at present unknown, place of Semitic worship. This latter view seems to be favored by Jeremiah's double threat: "He shall also break the pillars of Beth-shemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of Egypt shall he burn with fire" (save place). If Beth-shemesh were the "house of the sun," then the balancing of the state ment would be only between "pillars" and "houses," but it seems more naturally to be between Beth-shemesh, a Semitic place of worship "that is in the land of Egypt" on the one hand, and the Egyptian place of worship, "the houses of the gods of Egypt," on the other.

    But the Seventy lived in Egypt and in their interpretation of this passage were probably guided by accurate knowledge of facts unknown now, such as surviving names, tradition and even written history. Until there is further light on the subject, it is better to accept their interpretation and identify this Beth-shemesh with Heliopolis. See ON.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [10]

    Beth-She´mesh (house of the sun, i.q. Sun-town) a sacerdotal city ( Joshua 21:16;  1 Samuel 6:15;  1 Chronicles 6:59) in the tribe of Judah, on the south-east border of Dan ( Joshua 15:10), and the land of the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 6:12), probably in a lowland plain ( 2 Kings 14:11); and placed by Eusebius ten Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, in the direction of the road to Nicopolis. It belonged at an early date to the Philistines, and they had again obtained possession of it in the time of Ahaz ( 1 Kings 4:9;  2 Chronicles 28:18). It was to this place that the ark was taken by the milch kine from the land of the Philistines, and it was here that, according to the present text, 'fifty thousand and threescore and ten men' were miraculously slain for irreverently exploring the sacred shrine ( 1 Samuel 6:19). This number has occasioned much discussion. It appears likely that the text has been corrupted in transcription by an erroneous solution of an arithmetical sign. The Syriac and Arabic have 5070 instead of 50070. At the distance, and in the vicinity indicated by Eusebius and Jerome, a place called Ain Shems was found by Dr. Robinson, and, with great probability, identified with Beth-Shemesh. The name is applied to the ruins of an Arab village constructed of ancient materials. To the west of the village, upon and around the plateau of a low swell or mound, are the vestiges of a former extensive city, consisting of many foundations and the remains of ancient walls of hewn stone.