|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
House of the sun.
(1.) A sacerdotal city in the tribe of Dan (Joshua 21:16; 1 Samuel 6:15), on the north border of Judah (Joshua 15:10). It was the scene of an encounter between Jehoash, king of Israel, and Amaziah, king of Judah, in which the latter was made prisoner (2 Kings 14:11, 13). It was afterwards taken by the Philistines (2 Chronicles 28:18). It is the modern ruined Arabic village `Ain-shems, on the north-west slopes of the mountains of Judah, 14 miles west of Jerusalem.
(2.) A city between Dothan and the Jordan, near the southern border of Issachar (Joshua 19:22), 7 1/2 miles south of Beth-shean. It is the modern Ain-esh-Shemsiyeh.
(3.) One of the fenced cities of Naphtali (Joshua 19:38), between Mount Tabor and the Jordan. Now Khurbet Shema, 3 miles west of Safed. But perhaps the same as No. 2.
(4.) An idol sanctuary in Egypt (Jeremiah 43:13); called by the Greeks Heliopolis, and by the Egyptians On (q.v.), Genesis 41:45.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
beth-she'-mesh, beth'-shemesh (beth-shemesh; Baithsamus, "house of the sun"): This name for a place doubtless arose in every instance from the presence of a sanctuary of the sun there. In accordance with the meaning and origin of the word, it is quite to be expected that there should be several places of this name in Bible lands, and the expectation is not disappointed. Analysis and comparison of the passages in the Bible where a Beth-shemesh is mentioned show four places of this name.
1. Beth-shemesh of Judah:
The first mention of a place by this name is in the description of the border of the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:10) which "went down to Beth-Shemesh." This topographical indication "down" puts the place toward the lowlands on the East or West side of Palestine, but does not indicate which. This point is clearly determined by the account of the return of the ark by the Philistine lords from Ekron (1 Samuel 6:9-19). They returned the ark to Beth-shemesh, the location of which they indicated by the remark that if their affliction was from Yahweh, the kine would bear the ark "by the way of its own border." The Philistines lay along the western border of Judah and the location of Beth-Shemesh of Judah is thus clearly fixed near the western lowland, close to the border between the territory of Judah and that claimed by the Philistines. This is confirmed by the account of the twelve officers of the commissariat of King Solomon. One of these, the son of Dekar, had a Beth-shemesh in his territory. By excluding the territory assigned to the other eleven officers, the territory of this son of Dekar is found to be in Judah and to lie along the Philistine border (1 Kings 4:9). A Philistine attack upon the border-land of Judah testifies to the same effect (2 Chronicles 28:18). Finally, the battle between Amaziah of Judah and Jehoash of Israel, who "looked one another in the face" at Beth-shemesh, puts Beth-Shemesh most probably near the border between Judah and Israel, which would locate it near the northern part of the western border of Judah's territo ry. In the assignment of cities to the Levites, Judah gave Beth-shemesh with its suburbs (Joshua 21:16). It has been identified with a good degree of certainty with the modern `Ain Shems.
It may be that Ir-shemesh, "city of the sun," and Har-cherec, "mount of the sun," refer to Beth-shemesh of Judah (Joshua 15:10; Joshua 19:41-43 1 Kings 4:9 Judges 1:33, 35). But the worship of the sun was so common and cities of this name so many in number that it would be hazardous to conclude with any assurance that because these three names refer to the same region they therefore refer to the same place.
2. Beth-shemesh of Issachar:
In the description of the tribal limits, it is said of Issachar (Joshua 19:22), "And the border reached to Tabor, and Shahazumah, and Beth-shemesh; and the goings out of their border were at the Jordan." The description indicates that Beth-shemesh was in the eastern part of Issachar's territory. The exact location of the city is not known.
3. Beth-shemesh of Naphtali:
A Beth-shemesh is mentioned together with Beth-anath as cities of Naphtali (Joshua 19:38). There is no clear indication of the location of this city. Its association with Beth-anath may indicate that they were near each other in the central part of the tribal allotment. As at Gezer, another of the cities of the Levites the Canaanites were not driven out from Beth-shemesh.
4. Beth-shemesh "that is in the Land of Egypt":
A doom is pronounced upon "Beth-shemesh, that is in the land of Egypt" (Jeremiah 43:13). The Seventy identify it with Heliopolis. There is some uncertainty about this identification. If Beth-shemesh, "house of the sun," is here a description of Heliopolis, why does it not have the article? If it is a proper name, how does it come that a sanctuary in Egypt is called by a Hebrew name? It may be that the large number of Jews in Egypt with Jeremiah gave this Hebrew name to Heliopolis for use among themselves, Beth-shemesh. being a translation of Egyptian Perra as suggested by Griffith. Otherwise, Beth-shemesh. cannot have been Heliopolis, but must have been some other, at present unknown, place of Semitic worship. This latter view seems to be favored by Jeremiah's double threat: "He shall also break the pillars of Beth-shemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of Egypt shall he burn with fire" (save place). If Beth-shemesh were the "house of the sun," then the balancing of the state ment would be only between "pillars" and "houses," but it seems more naturally to be between Beth-shemesh, a Semitic place of worship "that is in the land of Egypt" on the one hand, and the Egyptian place of worship, "the houses of the gods of Egypt," on the other.
But the Seventy lived in Egypt and in their interpretation of this passage were probably guided by accurate knowledge of facts unknown now, such as surviving names, tradition and even written history. Until there is further light on the subject, it is better to accept their interpretation and identify this Beth-shemesh with Heliopolis.
M. G. Kyle
Bethshemesh (19 Occurrences)
Joshua 15:10 And the border compassed from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim, which is Chesalon, on the north side, and went down to Bethshemesh, and passed on to Timnah: (KJV)
Joshua 19:22 And the coast reacheth to Tabor, and Shahazimah, and Bethshemesh; and the outgoings of their border were at Jordan: sixteen cities with their villages. (KJV)
Joshua 19:38 And Iron, and Migdalel, Horem, and Bethanath, and Bethshemesh; nineteen cities with their villages. (KJV)
Joshua 21:16 And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes. (KJV)
Judges 1:33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them. (KJV)
1 Samuel 6:9 And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us. (KJV)
1 Samuel 6:12 And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethshemesh. (KJV)
1 Samuel 6:13 And they of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. (KJV)
1 Samuel 6:15 And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD. (KJV)
1 Samuel 6:19 And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter. (KJV)
1 Samuel 6:20 And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us? (KJV)
1 Kings 4:9 The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Bethshemesh, and Elonbethhanan: (KJV)
2 Kings 14:11 But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah. (KJV)
2 Kings 14:13 And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits. (KJV)
1 Chronicles 6:59 And Ashan with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs: (KJV)
2 Chronicles 25:21 So Joash the king of Israel went up; and they saw one another in the face, both he and Amaziah king of Judah, at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah. (KJV)
2 Chronicles 25:23 And Joash the king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, at Bethshemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits. (KJV)
2 Chronicles 28:18 The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Bethshemesh, and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages thereof: and they dwelt there. (KJV)
Jeremiah 43:13 He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire. (KJV)