Ancient Sources

Mount Ephraim and Benjamin


48. Luza, also Bethel - (Beitin)

ORIGINAL TEXTS

Bethel vicus in duodecimo ab Aelia lapide ad dexteram euntibus Neapolim, quae primum Luza, id est ajmuvg-dalon, vocabatur et cecidit in sortem tribus Beniamin, iuxta Bethaun et Gai, quam expugnavit Iesus, rege illius interfecto.
(Jerome 41:17-21)


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Eusebius, Onomasticon 40:20-24 (ca. 295 A.D.); Jerome 41:17-21 (ca. 390 A.D.)
Bethel (Gen 12:8). And today it is a village at the 12th milestone from Jerusalem on the way to Neapolis, on the right side. At first it was called ªUlammaus andº Luza, that is, almond, and fell into the lot of Benjamin, near Bethaven and Ai. Joshua captured it and slew its king.

BIBLICAL BACKGROUND

Gen 12:8; 13:2-4 Abram's altar near Bethel
And he [Abram] removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord...
... And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Gen 28:10-22 Jacob's dream
He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12 And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And the Lord stood beside him and said, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14 and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. 15 Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." 16 Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place - and I did not know it!" 17 And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."
Gen. 28:18 ¶ So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one tenth to you."

Gen 35:1-15 God appears once more to Jacob's
And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:
And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.
And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him.
And he built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.
But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allon-bachuth.
And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan-aram, and blessed him.
And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.
And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.
And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

1Kings 12:26-33 The religious schism
And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

1Kings 13:1-11 The condamnation of the altar in Bethel
And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.
And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord.
And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.
And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward.
And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
For so was it charged me by the word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.
So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Bethel.
Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.

2Kings 2:2-3 The sons of the prophets from Bethel
And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.
And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

2Kings 23:15-20 Josiah destroys the altar of Bethel
Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.
Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Bethel.
And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.
And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.
And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.

Hos 10:15; 12:4 The end of the reign of Israel
So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off...
... Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us.

Amos 3:14; 5:4-6
Prophecy against Bethel
That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground...
... For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: Seek me and live; 5 but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beer-sheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing.
6 Seek the Lord and live, or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire, and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.

Amos 7:10-16 The prophet is expelled from Bethel
Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said, 'Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.'" 12 And Amaziah said to Amos, "O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom."
14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, "I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15 and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.' 16 "Now therefore hear the word of the Lord. You say, 'Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.'

MORE ANCIENT SOURCES

Josephus, War 4.9.9 (1st cent. A.D.)
In the meantime Vespasian removed from Cesarea, on the fifth day of the month Daesius [Sivan], and marched against those places of Judea which were not yet overthrown. (551) So he went up to the mountainous country, and took those two toparchies that were called the Gophnitick and Acrabattene toparchies. After which he took Bethel and Ephraim, two small cities; and when he had put garrisons into them, he rode as far as Jerusalem, in which march he took many prisoners, and many captives.

Hieronymus, Ep.108 (Peregrinatio Paulae) 13 (385 A.D.)
Time would fail me to tell of the Valley of Achor (or "tumult and disturbance") where theft and avarice were condemned; and of Bethel ("House of God") where on the naked earth slept Jacob, himself naked and poor. Yet the stone under his head was the one described by Zechariah as having seven eyes, and by Isaiah as the corner stone, and he saw reaching to heaven the ladder, and the Lord bending down from above it giving his hand to those climbing up, and casting down the careless from on high.


Map Section 5 Place Discussion

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Created Saturday, December 16, 2000 at 13:03:11
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
Webmaster: John Abela ofm - Space by courtesy of Christus Rex
copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000