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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Bethel

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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, 31 56' N, 35 14' E , 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.

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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Bethel'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/mbd/b/bethel.html. 1897.

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