Click to donate today!
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
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 ).
It may be that Ir-shemesh, "city of the sun," and
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
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. See ON.
These files are public domain and were generously provided by the folks at WordSearch Software.
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Beth-Shemesh'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/b/beth-shemesh.html. 1915.
the First Week of Advent