|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
House of God.
(1.) A place in Central Palestine, about 10 miles north of Jerusalem, at the head of the pass of Michmash and Ai. It was originally the royal Canaanite city of Luz (Genesis 28:19). The name Bethel was at first apparently given to the sanctuary in the neighbourhood of Luz, and was not given to the city itself till after its conquest by the tribe of Ephraim. When Abram entered Canaan he formed his second encampment between Bethel and Hai (Genesis 12:8); and on his return from Egypt he came back to it, and again "called upon the name of the Lord" (13:4). Here Jacob, on his way from Beersheba to Haran, had a vision of the angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder whose top reached unto heaven (28:10, 19); and on his return he again visited this place, "where God talked with him" (35:1-15), and there he "built an altar, and called the place El-beth-el" (q.v.). To this second occasion of God's speaking with Jacob at Bethel, Hosea (12:4, 5) makes reference.
In troublous times the people went to Bethel to ask counsel of God (Judges 20:18, 31; 21:2). Here the ark of the covenant was kept for a long time under the care of Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron (20:26-28). Here also Samuel held in rotation his court of justice (1 Samuel 7:16). It was included in Israel after the kingdom was divided, and it became one of the seats of the worship of the golden calf (1 Kings 12:28-33; 13:1). Hence the prophet Hosea (Hosea 4:15; 5:8; 10:5, 8) calls it in contempt Beth-aven, i.e., "house of idols." Bethel remained an abode of priests even after the kingdom of Israel was desolated by the king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:28, 29). At length all traces of the idolatries were extirpated by Josiah, king of Judah (2 Kings 23:15-18); and the place was still in existence after the Captivity (Ezra 2:28; Nehemiah 7:32). It has been identified with the ruins of Beitin, a small village amid extensive ruins some 9 miles south of Shiloh.
(2.) Mount Bethel was a hilly district near Bethel (Joshua 16:1; 1 Samuel 13:2).
(3.) A town in the south of Judah (Joshua 8:17; 12:16).
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) A place of worship; a hallowed spot.
2. (n.) A chapel for dissenters.
3. (n.) A house of worship for seamen.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
beth'-el (beth-'el; Baithel and oikos theou, literally, "house of God"):
(1) A town near the place where Abraham halted and offered sacrifice on his way south from Shechem.
1. Identification and Description:
It lay West of Ai (Genesis 12:8). It is named as on the northern border of Benjamin (the southern of Ephraim, Joshua 16:2), at the top of the ascent from the Jordan valley by way of Ai (Joshua 18:13). It lay South of Shiloh (Judges 21:19). Eusebius, Onomasticon places it 12 Roman miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Neapolis. It is represented by the modern Beitin, a village of some 400 inhabitants, which stands on a knoll East of the road to Nablus. There are four springs which yield supplies of good water. In ancient times these were supplemented by a reservoir hewn in the rock South of the town. The surrounding country is bleak and barren, the hills being marked by a succession of stony terraces, which may have suggested the form of the ladder in Jacob's famous dream.
2. The Sanctuary:
The town was originally called Luz (Genesis 28:19, etc.). When Jacob came hither on his way to Paddan-aram we are told that he lighted upon "the place" (Genesis 28:11. Hebrew). The Hebrew maqom, like the cognate Arabic maqam, denotes a sacred place or sanctuary. The maqom was doubtless that at which Abraham had sacrificed, East of the town. In the morning Jacob set up "for a pillar" the stone which had served as his pillow (Genesis 28:18; see PILLAR, matstsebhah), poured oil upon it and called the name of the place Bethel, "house of God"; that is, of God whose epiphany was for him associated with the pillar. This spot became a center of great interest, lending growing importance to the town. In process of time the name Luz disappeared, giving place to that of the adjoining sanctuary, town and sanctuary being identified. Jacob revisited the place on his return from Paddan-aram; here Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died and was buried under "the oak" (Genesis 35:6 f). Probably on rising ground East of Bethel Abraham and Lot stood to view the uninviting highlands and the rich lands of the Jordan valley (Genesis 13:9).
Bethel was a royal city of the Canaanites (Joshua 12:16). It appears to have been captured by Joshua (8:7), and it was allotted to Benjamin (Joshua 18:22). In Judges 1:22 it is represented as held by Canaanites, from whom the house of Joseph took it by treachery (compare 1 Chronicles 7:28). Hither the ark was brought from Gilgal (Judges 2:1, Septuagint). Israel came to Bethel to consult the Divine oracle (Judges 20:18), and it became an important center of worship (1 Samuel 10:3). The home of the prophetess Deborah was not far off (Judges 4:5). Samuel visited Bethel on circuit, judging Israel (1 Samuel 7:16).
With the disruption of the kingdom came Bethel's greatest period of splendor and significance. To counteract the influence of Jerusalem as the national religious center Jeroboam embarked on the policy which won for him the unenviable reputation of having "made Israel to sin." Here he erected a temple, set up an image, the golden calf, and established an imposing ritual. It became the royal sanctuary and the religious center of his kingdom (1 Kings 12:29 Amos 7:13). He placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made (1 Kings 12:32). To Bethel came the man of God from Judah who pronounced doom against Jeroboam (1 Kings 13), and who, having been seduced from duty by an aged prophet in Bethel, was slain by a lion. According to the prophets Amos and Hosea the splendid idolatries of Bethel were accompanied by terrible moral and religious degradation. Against the place they launched the most scathing denunciations, declaring the vengeance such things must entail (Amos 3:14; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:11 m; Amos 9:1 Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5, 8, 15). With the latter the name Bethel gives place in mockery to Beth-aven. Bethel shared in the downfall of Samaria wrought by the Assyrians; and according to an old tradition, Shalmaneser possessed himself of the golden calf (compare Jeremiah 48:13). The priest, sent by the Assyrians to teach the people whom they had settled in the land how to serve Yahweh, dwelt in Bethel (2 Kings 17:28). King Josiah completed the demolition of the sanctuary at Bethel, destroying all the instruments of idolatry, and harr ying the tombs of the idolaters. The monument of the man of God from Judah he allowed to stand (2 Kings 23:4, 25). The men of Bethel were among those who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:28 Nehemiah 7:32), and it is mentioned as reoccupied by the Benjamites (Nehemiah 11:31). Zechariah (Zechariah 7:2) records the sending of certain men from Jerusalem in the 4th year of King Darius to inquire regarding particular religious practices. Bethel was one of the towns fortified by Bacchides in the time of the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 9:50; Ant, XIII, i, 3). It is named again as a small town which, along with Ephraim, was taken by Vespasian as he approached Jerusalem (BJ, IV, ix, 9).
(2) A city in Judah which in 1 Samuel 30:27 is called Bethel; in Joshua 19:4 Bethul; and in 1 Chronicles 4:30 Bethuel. The site has not been identified. In Joshua 15:30 Septuagint gives Baithel in Judah, where the Hebrew has Kecil-probably a scribal error.
(har beth-'el; Baithel louza (1 Samuel 13:2, the Revised Version (British and American) "the mount of Bethel"; Joshua 16:1)): The hill which stretches from the North of the town to Tell `Acur. The road to Shechem lies along the ridge. An army in possession of these heights easily commanded the route from north to south.
Bethel (67 Occurrences)
Genesis 12:8 He left from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to Yahweh and called on the name of Yahweh. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 13:3 He went on his journeys from the South even to Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 28:19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. (WEB KJV YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 31:13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you vowed a vow to me. Now arise, get out from this land, and return to the land of your birth.'" (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 35:1 God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there. Make there an altar to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother." (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 35:3 Let us arise, and go up to Bethel. I will make there an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went." (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 35:6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 35:7 And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. (Root in KJV YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 35:8 Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; and its name was called Allon Bacuth. (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 35:15 Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him "Bethel." (WEB KJV YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 35:16 They traveled from Bethel. There was still some distance to come to Ephrath, and Rachel travailed. She had hard labor. (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 7:2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, "Go up and spy out the land." The men went up and spied out Ai. (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 8:9 Joshua sent them out; and they went to set up the ambush, and stayed between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua stayed among the people that night. (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 8:12 He took about five thousand men, and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 8:17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel. (KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 12:9 the king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one; (WEB KJV ASV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 12:16 the king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one; (WEB KJV ASV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 16:1 The lot came out for the children of Joseph from the Jordan at Jericho, at the waters of Jericho on the east, even the wilderness, going up from Jericho through the hill country to Bethel. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 16:2 It went out from Bethel to Luz, and passed along to the border of the Archites to Ataroth; (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 18:13 The border passed along from there to Luz, to the side of Luz (the same is Bethel), southward. The border went down to Ataroth Addar, by the mountain that lies on the south of Beth Horon the lower. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Joshua 18:22 Beth Arabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 1:22 The house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel; and Yahweh was with them. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 1:23 The house of Joseph sent to spy out Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.) (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 4:5 She lived under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 20:18 The children of Israel arose, and went up to Bethel, and asked counsel of God; and they said, "Who shall go up for us first to battle against the children of Benjamin?" Yahweh said, "Judah shall go up first." (WEB DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 20:26 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came to Bethel, and wept, and sat there before Yahweh, and fasted that day until even; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before Yahweh. (WEB DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 20:31 The children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to strike and kill of the people, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goes up to Bethel, and the other to Gibeah, in the field, about thirty men of Israel. (WEB DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 21:2 The people came to Bethel, and sat there until evening before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore. (WEB DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 21:19 They said, "Behold, there is a feast of Yahweh from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah." (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 7:16 He went from year to year in circuit to Bethel and Gilgal, and Mizpah; and he judged Israel in all those places. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 10:3 "Then you shall go on forward from there, and you shall come to the oak of Tabor; and three men shall meet you there going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three young goats, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine: (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 13:2 Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel, of which two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the Mount of Bethel, and one thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 30:27 He sent it to those who were in Bethel, and to those who were in Ramoth of the South, and to those who were in Jattir, (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 12:29 He set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 12:30 And this became a sin in Israel; for the people went to give worship to the one at Beth-el, and to the other at Dan. (See RSV)
1 Kings 12:32 Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast that is in Judah, and he went up to the altar; so did he in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 12:33 He went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart: and he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and went up to the altar, to burn incense. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 13:1 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. (KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 13:4 It happened, when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar in Bethel, that Jeroboam put out his hand from the altar, saying, "Seize him!" His hand, which he put out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back again to himself. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 13:10 So he went another way, and didn't return by the way that he came to Bethel. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 13:11 Now there lived an old prophet in Bethel; and one of his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 13:32 For the saying which he cried by the word of Yahweh against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, will surely happen." (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 16:34 In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid its foundation with the loss of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of Yahweh, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun. (Root in WEB KJV JPS DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 2:2 Elijah said to Elisha, "Please wait here, for Yahweh has sent me as far as Bethel." Elisha said, "As Yahweh lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 2:3 The sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that Yahweh will take away your master from your head today?" He said, "Yes, I know it; hold your peace." (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 2:23 He went up from there to Bethel. As he was going up by the way, some youths came out of the city and mocked him, and said to him, "Go up, you baldy! Go up, you baldhead!" (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 10:29 However from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel to sin, Jehu didn't depart from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 17:28 So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear Yahweh. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 23:4 The king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold, to bring forth out of the temple of Yahweh all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the Asherah, and for all the army of the sky, and he burned them outside of Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried the ashes of them to Bethel. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 23:15 Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and beat it to dust, and burned the Asherah. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 23:17 Then he said, "What monument is that which I see?" The men of the city told him, "It is the tomb of the man of God, who came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that you have done against the altar of Bethel." (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 23:19 All the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke Yahweh to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
1 Chronicles 7:28 Their possessions and habitations were Bethel and its towns, and eastward Naaran, and westward Gezer, with its towns; Shechem also and its towns, to Azzah and its towns; (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Chronicles 13:19 Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with its towns, and Jeshanah with its towns, and Ephron with its towns. (WEB KJV JPS DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Ezra 2:28 The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty-three. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Nehemiah 7:32 The men of Bethel and Ai, a hundred twenty-three. (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Nehemiah 11:31 The children of Benjamin also lived from Geba onward, at Michmash and Aija, and at Bethel and its towns, (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 48:13 Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Hosea 10:15 So Bethel will do to you because of your great wickedness. At daybreak the king of Israel will be destroyed. (WEB KJV DBY NAS NIV)
Hosea 12:4 Indeed, he struggled with the angel, and prevailed; he wept, and made supplication to him. He found him at Bethel, and there he spoke with us, (WEB KJV DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Amos 3:14 "For in the day that I visit the transgressions of Israel on him, I will also visit the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar will be cut off, and fall to the ground. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Amos 4:4 "Go to Bethel, and sin; to Gilgal, and sin more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days, (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Amos 5:5 but don't seek Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and don't pass to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Amos 5:6 Seek Yahweh, and you will live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, and there be no one to quench it in Bethel. (WEB KJV JPS DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Amos 7:10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Amos 7:13 but don't prophesy again any more at Bethel; for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a royal house!" (WEB KJV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Zechariah 7:2 The people of Bethel sent Sharezer and Regem Melech, and their men, to entreat Yahweh's favor, (WEB JPS DBY NAS RSV NIV)