Beth-shemesh and surrounding region
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and the border turned about from Baalah westward to Mount Seir, and passed along to the side of Mount Jearim on the north (the same is Chesalon), and went down to Beth Shemesh, and passed along by Timnah;
Joshua 21:16 Ain with its suburbs, Juttah with its suburbs, and Beth Shemesh with its suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.
1 Samuel 6:9 Behold; if it goes up by the way of its own border to Beth Shemesh, then he has done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it was a chance that happened to us."
1 Samuel 6:12 The cows took the straight way by the way to Beth Shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and didn't turn aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh.
1 Samuel 6:13 They of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
1 Samuel 6:14 The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they split the wood of the cart, and offered up the cows for a burnt offering to Yahweh.
1 Samuel 6:15 The Levites took down the ark of Yahweh, and the coffer that was with it, in which the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day to Yahweh.
1 Samuel 6:18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages, even to the great stone, whereon they set down the ark of Yahweh, which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.
1 Samuel 6:19 He struck of the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Yahweh, he struck of the people fifty thousand seventy men; and the people mourned, because Yahweh had struck the people with a great slaughter.
1 Samuel 6:20 The men of Beth Shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God? To whom shall he go up from us?"
1 Kings 4:9 Ben Deker, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Beth Shemesh, and Elon Beth Hanan;
2 Kings 14:11 But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Beth Shemesh, which belongs to Judah.
2 Kings 14:13 Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
1 Chronicles 6:59 and Ashan with its suburbs, and Beth Shemesh with its suburbs;
2 Chronicles 25:21 So Joash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Beth Shemesh, which belongs to Judah.
2 Chronicles 25:23 Joash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash the son of Jehoahaz, at Beth Shemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
2 Chronicles 28:18 The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the lowland, and of the South of Judah, and had taken Beth Shemesh, and Aijalon, and Gederoth, and Soco with its towns, and Timnah with its towns, Gimzo also and its towns: and they lived there.
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
BETH-SHE'MESH, Levitical city in Judah, now Ain Shems, probably the same as Ir-shemesh (Josh. 19:41) but not mount Heres of Judges 1:35. It is now only ruins 14 ms. a little s. of w. from Jerusalem. It is spoken of in 1 Sam. 6:9. Two other places are called by the same name, one being in Naphtali and the other in Issachar but their exact sites are unknown. On in Egypt is also called by this name.
Strong's HebrewH1053: Beth Shemesh
"sun temple," three places in Palestine, also a place in Egypt