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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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Betham, John D.D.
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Bethany Beyond Jordan
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(Βηθανία; according to Simonis, Onom. N.T. p. 42, for the Heb. בֵּית עֲנִיָּה, house of depression; but, according to Lightfoot, Reland, and others, for the Aramaean בֵּית הִינֵי, house of dates; comp. the Talmudic אֲהִינָא, an unripe date, Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 38), the name of two places.

1. Instead of Bethabara (Βηθαβαρά ), in John 1:28 (where the text was altered since Origen's time; see Crome, Beitr. 1, 91 sq.), the reading in the oldest and best MSS. (also in Nonnius's Paraphr. in loc.) is Bethany, Βηθανία (see De Dieu, Crit. Sacr. p. 491), which appears to have been the name of a place east of Jordan (against the interpretation of Kuinol, Comment. in loc., that πέραν signifies on this side; see Lucke, in Krit. Journ. 3, 383; Crome, Beitr. 1, 82 sq.; while the punctuation of Paulus, Samml. 1, 287, who places a period after ἐγένετο, Comment. 4, 129, is not favored by the context). Possin'(Spicil. Evang. p. 32) supposes that the place went by both names (regarding "Beth-abara" = בֵּית עֲבֵרָה, domus transitus, ferry-house; and "Bethany" = אנִיָּה, domus navis, boat-house). (See BETHABARA). The spot is quite as likely to have been not far above the present "pilgrims' bathing-place" as any other, although the Greek and Roman traditions differ as to the exact locality of Christ's baptism (Robinson, Researches, 2, 261). The place here designated is apparently the same as the BETH-BARAH (See BETH-BARAH) (q.v.) of Judges 7:24, or possibly the same as BETH-NIMRAH (See BETH-NIMRAH) (q.v.).

2. A town or village in the eastern environs of Jerusalem, so called probably from the number of palm-trees that grew around, and intimately associated with many acts and scenes of the life of Christ. It was the residence of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, and Jesus often went out from Jerusalem to lodge there; it was here that he raised Lazarus from the dead; from Bethany he commenced his "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem; here, at the house of Simon the leper, the supper was given in his honor; and it was in this vicinity that the ascension took place (Matthew 21:17; Matthew 26:6; Mark 11:11-12; Mark 14:3; Luke 24:50; John 11:1; John 12:1). It was situated "at" (πρός ) the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29), about fifteen stadia from Jerusalem (John 11:18), on or near the usual road from Jericho to the city (Luke 19:29, comp. 1; Mark 11:1, comp. Mark 10:46), and close by and east (?) of another village called BETH-PHAGE (See BETH-PHAGE) (q.v.). There never appears to have been any doubt as to the site of Bethany, which is now known by a name derived from Lazarus el- 'Azariyeh, or simply Lazarieh. It lies on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, fully a mile beyond the summit, and not very far from the point at which the road to Jericho begins its more sudden descent toward the Jordan valley (Lindsay, p. 91; De Saulcy, 1:120). The spot is a woody hollow more or less planted with fruit-trees olives, almonds, pomegranates, as well as oaks and carobs; the whole lying below a secondary ridge or bump, of sufficient height to shut out the village from the summit of the mount (Robinson, 2, 100 sq.; Stanley, p. 189; Bonar, p. 138, 139). From a distance the village is "remarkably beautiful" "the perfection of retirement and repose" "of seclusion and lovely peace" (Bonar, p. 139, 230, 310, 337; and see Lindsay, p. 69); but on a nearer view is found to be a ruinous and wretched village, a wild mountain hamlet of some twenty families, the inhabitants of which display even less than the ordinary Eastern thrift and industry (Robinson, 2:102; Stanley, p. 189; Bonar, p. 310). In the village are shown the traditional sites of the house and tomb of Lazarus, the former the remains of a square tower apparently of old date, though certainly not of the age of the kings of Judah, to which De Saulcy assigns it (1, 128)-the latter a deep vault excavated in the limestone rock, the bottom reached by twenty-six steps. The house of Simon the leper is also exhibited. As to the real age and character of these remains there is at present no information to guide us. Schwarz maintains el-'Azariyeh to be AZAL, and would fix Bethany at a spot which, he says, the Arabs call Beth-hanan, on the Mount of Offence above Siloam (p. 263, 135). These traditional spots are first heard of in the fourth century, in the Itinerary of the Bourdeaux Pilgrim, and the Onomasticon of Eusebius and Jerome, and they continued to exist, with certain varieties of buildings and of ecclesiastical establishments in connection therewith, down to the sixteenth century, since which the place has fallen gradually into its present decay (Robinson, Researches, 2, 102, 103). By Mandeville and other mediaeval travelers the town is spoken of as the "Castle of Bethany," an expression which had its origin in castellum being employed in the Vulgate as the translation of κώμη in John 11:1. (See JERUSALEM)..

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Bethany'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​b/bethany.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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