Bethel

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

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Gen 35:1-7

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Judg 20:18-28

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1Kgs 12:26-33

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2Kgs 23:15-20

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