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Bethel


Beth’el (the house of God).

1. A well-known city and holy place of central Palestine, about 12 miles north of Jerusalem. If we are to accept the precise definition of Gen. 12:8, the name of Bethel would appear to have existed at this spot even before the arrival of Abram in Canaan. Gen. 12:8; 13:3, 4. Bethel was the scene of Jacob’s vision. Gen. 28:11-19; 31:13. Jacob lived there. Gen. 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, 26, 31; 21:2; Authorized Version, “house of God.” Here was the ark of the covenant. Judges 20:26-28; 21:4. Later it is named as one of the holy cities to which Samuel went in circuit. 1 Sam. 7:16. Here Jeroboam placed one of the two calves of gold. Toward the end of Jeroboam’s life Bethel fell into the hands of Judah. 2 Chron. 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 the 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 Beitı̂n. Its ruins still lie on the right-hand side of the road from Jerusalem to Nablûs.

2. A town in the south part of Judah, named in Josh. 12:16 and 1 Sam. 30:27. In Josh. 15:30; 19:4; 1 Chron. 4:29, 30, the place appears under the names of Chesil, Bethul and Bethuel. Hiel the Bethelite is recorded as the rebuilder of Jericho. 1 Kings 16:34.

3. In Josh. 16:1 and 1 Sam. 13:2 Mount Bethel, a hilly section near Bethel, is referred to.