House of God - Bethel

House of God - Bethel

Most scholars today locate Old Testament Bethel at the Arab village of Beitin about 11 mi north of Jerusalem. An examination of the evidence, however, indicates that this identification in incorrect. It is important to correctly locate Bethel because Ai is located with relation to Bethel (Gn 12:8; Jos 7:2), and finding Ai has been a major focus of ABR’s research work. How was Beitin originally identified as Bethel? Edward Robinson was the first to identify it in the 1830's. He equated the modern Arabic name of "Beitin" with "Bethel" (which is feasible, but not compelling). Actually, there was no village at the site in Robinson's day. Apparently, it was an area name rather than a village name. In fact, for over 1400 years the very name "Bethel" had been completely forgotten in the area.

Bethel is identified with the modern Benin or Beitin. It stands upon the point of a low rocky ridge, between two shallow wadis which unite, the water then falls into the Wadi Suweinit toward the SE. 

 Archaeologists have determined that although there was a village at Beitin as early as 3200 BC, continuous occupation of the site apparently began around BC During the sixteenth century the settlement was enlarged and surrounded with an 11 foot thick stone wall and possessed some of the best-laid masonry of that period yet discovered in Palestine.

 Around 1235 BC the city was destroyed in a great fire that left debris five feet thick in places. It is believed to be attributed to the Israelite conquest of Judg 1:22-25. The later Israelite level of occupation has construction strikingly inferior to Canaanite levels, but the period of David and Solomon shows noticeable recovery. No sanctuary dating to the days when Jeroboam I instituted calf worship there has yet been recovered. 

Although Bethel was only a small village during Nehemiah's day (5th cent BC), it became an important place during the Hellenistic period and grew even larger in Roman and Byzantine days. Remains in the area show that the city continued to exist throughout the Byzantine era but apparently disappeared when the Muslims took over Palestine. Name of Bethel, "house of God," because of Jacob's dream (28:10-22). Bethel was assigned to the Benjamites, but they did not possess it, and we find it taken by the children of Joseph (Judg 1:22-26). 
Apparently the Ark of the Covenant was brought here (Judg 20:26-28). It was one of the three places that Samuel chose in which to settle legal matters (1 Sam 7:16), and Jeroboam chose Bethel as one of the two places in which he set up golden calves (1 Kings 12:28-33). King Josiah removed all traces of idolatry and restored the true worship of Jehovah (2 Kings 23:15-20). Bethel was occupied by Jews returning from Babylon (Ezra 2:28 with Neh 11:31).
House of God - Bethel House of God  - Bethel Reviewed by Kannuri JOEL on 07:24:00 Rating: 5

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