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Ancient Bethel

Ancient Palestinian city originally known as Luz 11 miles north of Jerusalem. Captured by Ephraim during the invasion of Canaan it was probably considered a holy place in pre-Israelite times. Tradition connects Abraham with it; he erected an altar and worshipped there (Genesis 12:8). Likewise Jacob received a revelation there (Genesis 28:10-22) and confirmed the sanctity of the place (Genesis 35:15). Jeroboam I made Bethel a national shrine for the Northern Kingdom (I Kings 12:28-33) and this constituted his great sin in the eyes of Deuteronomist. It was the chief religious centre of the Northern Kingdom and perhaps even the temporary capital in the days of Jeroboam II. It remained a religious centre even after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom and suffered from the radical reform measures of Josiah II (II Kings 23) concerning idol worship. It continued to be inhabited down into the Christian Era. The modern name of the settlement is Betin -- an evident corruption of Betil (See *) ...

The finds indicate a settlement established around 2000 BC and destroyed by a very fierce fire during the thirteenth century BC -- probably in the disturbed and disorganized period of the Judges or as some think by the incoming Israelites under Joshua.

The town was rebuilt in the ninth century and destroyed by the Assyrians in 724-22 BC while the siege of Samaria was being carried on. It revived but was destroyed by a great fire around 597 BC probably by the army of Nebuchadnezzar. Rebuilt in the late Persian Period it prospered until destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. The earlier city walls were among the best found in Palestine of that period and there was a remarkably well constructed system of stone lined drains ...

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium