Bible Cities: Beth Shemesh
Ancient Beth Shemesh
Beth Shemesh in Easton's Bible Dictionary
house of the sun. (1.) A sacerdotal city in the tribe of Dan
(Josh. 21:16; 1 Sam. 6:15), on the north border of
15:10). It was the scene of an encounter between
of Israel, and Amaziah, king of Judah, in which the
made prisoner (2 Kings 14:11, 13). It was afterwards
the Philistines (2 Chr. 28:18). It is the modern
village 'Ain-shems, on the north-west slopes of the
Judah, 14 miles west of Jerusalem.
(2.) A city between Dothan and the Jordan, near the
border of Issachar (Josh. 19:22), 7 1/2 miles south
Beth-shean. It is the modern Ain-esh-Shemsiyeh.
(3.) One of the fenced cities of Naphtali (Josh.
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 (Jer. 43:13); called
Greeks Heliopolis, and by the Egyptians On (q.v.),
Beth Shemesh in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
("house of the sun".)
1. A town on the N. boundary of Judah (Joshua
15:10), itself low in situation. A "valley" of wheat fields
is mentioned accordingly as nigh (1 Samuel 6:13). Now Ain
Shems, on the N.W. slopes of the mountains of Judah, "a low
plateau at the junction of two fine plains" (Robinson), two
miles from the Philistian plain, and seven from Ekron. From
the latter was the road to Bethshemesh, on which the
Philistines sent back the ark to Israel after its fatal stay
among them. In the field of Joshua the Bethshemite was "the
great Abel" (the Septuagint reads Aben "stone"; others
retaining Abel explain it "the stone of mourning," compare 1
Samuel 6:19) whereon the ark was set (1 Samuel 6:18).
Providence fitly arranged that Bethshemesh being a priests'
city (Joshua 21:16; 1 Chronicles 1:59) had Levites and
priests ready on the spot duly to receive the ark and
sacrifice before it.
Curiosity tempted many to stare at (not necessarily
"into") the ark beneath the cover; compare Numbers 4:20; 2
Samuel 6:6-7. So God smote in the proportion of 50 out of
the 1,000, i.e. one twentieth instead of one tenth of the
population, as sometimes; seventy men in all, out of the
population of Bethshemesh, which amounted to 1,400 in this
view. The numbers in the English Bible are evidently a
mistake (1 Samuel 6:19). Josephus (Ant. 6:4) makes it only
70. It was one of Solomon's commissariat districts under
Bendekar (margin 1 Kings 4:9). Here Joash king of Israel
encountered and made prisoner of Amaziah of Judah (2 Kings
14:11-13; 2 Chronicles 25:21-23). In Ahaz' reign the
Philistines occupied Bethshemesh (2 Chronicles 28:18.) Ir-
shemesh was the older name (compare Joshua 15:10; Joshua
19:41; Joshua 19:43; 1 Kings 4:9). Harcheres, "mount of the
Sun." was another name for Bethshemesh (Judges 1:35.)
2. A city on Issachar's border (Joshua 19:22).
3. A fenced city of Naphtali (Joshua 19:38; Judges
1:33). The inhabitants were not expelled, but became
4. An idol sanctuary in Egypt (Jeremiah 43:13), the
Greek Heliopolis, Egyptian On, E. of the Nile, a few miles
N. of Memphis (Genesis 41:45). The statue in honor of the
sun rose to 60 cubits, the base was 10, above there was a
miter a thousand pounds weight. These many towns of this
name show how widespread the worship of the sun had been.
Beth Shemesh in Hitchcock's Bible Names
house of the sun
Beth Shemesh in Naves Topical Bible
1. A priestly city of the tribe of Dan
Jos 21:16; 1Sa 6:15; 1Ch 6:59
On the northern border of territory of the tribe of
Jos 15:10; 1Sa 6:9,12
In later times transferred to the tribe of Judah
Mentioned in Solomon's commission districts
Amaziah taken prisoner at
2Ki 14:11-13; 2Ch 25:21-23
Retaken by the Philistines
-2. A city near Jerusalem
-3. A fortified city of the territory of the tribe of
Jos 19:38; Jud 1:33
-4. An idolatrous temple
Beth Shemesh in Smiths Bible Dictionary
(house of the sun).
1. One of the towns which marked the north boundary of
Judah. Jos 15:10 It is now 'Ainshems, about two miles from the
great Philistine plain, and seven from Ekron.
2. A city on the border of Issachar. Jos 19:22
3. One of the "fenced cities" of Naphtali. Jos 19:38;
4. An idolatrous temple, or place in Egypt. Jer 43:13
In the middle ages Heliopolis was still called by the Arabs
Beth Shemesh in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
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 (Josh
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 Israel, 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 Sam
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 Ki
4:9). A Philistine attack upon the border-land of Judah
testifies to the same effect (2 Ch 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 (Josh 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
(Josh 15:10; 19:41-43; 1 Ki 4:9; Jdg 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
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 1 Chronicles 6:59
And Ashan with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs:
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 1 Kings 4:9
The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Bethshemesh,
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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].
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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?
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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.
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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.
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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.
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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.
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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.
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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.
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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.
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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:
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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.
Beth Shemesh Scripture - Joshua 19:38
And Iron, and Migdalel, Horem, and Bethanath, and Bethshemesh;
nineteen cities with their villages.
Beth Shemesh Scripture - Joshua 21:16
And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, [and]
Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two
Beth Shemesh Scripture - 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.
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