What is Bethel?
(house of God). 1. A town about 12 miles north of Jerusalem. History. -- Visited by Abraham, Gen 12:8; Gen 13:3; marked by Jacob after his vision of the ladder. Gen 28:11-19; Gen 31:13; dwelling-place of Jacob, Gen 35:1-8; name applied to Luz, Jud 1:22-23; before this the city and the altar site appear to have had different names, see Josh 16:2; Jud 1:22-23; Gen 28:19; Samuel judged there, 1 Sam 7:16 a place of calf-worship, 1 Kgs 12:29 2 Kgs 10:29; called Beth-aven -- i.e. "house of idols," Hos 10:5, 1 Kgs 15:8; taken by Judah, 2 Chr 13:19; home of prophets, 2 Kgs 2:2-3; of priests, 2 Kgs 17:28; 2 Kgs 23:15-17; was desolate. Am 3:14; Am 5:5-6; settled by Benjamites after the Captivity, Neh 11:31; named about seventy times in the O.T.; not noticed in the N.T.; now called Beitin (9 miles south of Shiloh), a village of about 25 Moslem hovels, standing amid ruins which cover about 4 acres. Among the ruins is a Greek church, which appears to have been built out of the ruins of an older, and probably a Jewish, edifice. There are also the remains of a tower and a very large cistern. From the top of this ruined tower the Mount of Olives is distinctly visible, and Jewish tradition asserts, no doubt truthfully, that from the rival temple of Jeroboam idol priests could look down upon the temple of Solomon at Jerusalem. The spot is hallowed by Jacob's dream of a ladder which reached from earth to heaven, and caused him to exclaim, "How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." Gen 28:17. 2. A town in the south of Judah; same as Chesil, Bethul, and Bethuel. Josh 12:16; Josh 15:30; Josh 19:4; 1 Chr 4:30. Either Beit Aula, or El-Khulanah, 3. Mount Bethel, Josh 16:1; 1 Sam 13:2, a hilly district near Bethel.