Bethel (Beth´uhl; Heb., “house of God”)

An important biblical city (modern Beitin) on the north-south mountain road north of Jerusalem. The religious heritage of Bethel for the Hebrews went back to Jacob, who had a dream at the site and gave it its name (Gen 28:19; Gen 35:1-7). Later, the city there (called Luz) was conquered by the Joseph tribes (late thirteenth century BCE) and became a part of the tribe of Ephraim. Bethel became a center of the tribal confederacy and the Ark of the Covenant was located there for a time (Judg 20:18-28). But the town was not mentioned during the reigns of David and Solomon, its role as a sanctuary apparently being usurped by Jerusalem, the capital city. After the division of the kingdoms, Jeroboam I made it a chief sanctuary and set up a golden calf there (1Kgs 12:26-33). During the resurgence of Judah’s power at the time of Josiah (ca. 639–609 BCE), Bethel’s sanctuary was destroyed and its priests killed (2Kgs 23:15-20), but the city was spared.

Gen 28:19

19He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

Gen 35:1-7

Jacob Returns to Bethel
1God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and settle there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from you ... View more

Judg 20:18-28

18The Israelites proceeded to go up to Bethel, where they inquired of God, “Which of us shall go up first to battle against the Benjaminites?” And the Lord answ ... View more

1Kgs 12:26-33

26Then Jeroboam said to himself, “Now the kingdom may well revert to the house of David.27If this people continues to go up to offer sacrifices in the house of ... View more

2Kgs 23:15-20

15Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin—he pulled down that altar along with the high place. ... View more

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