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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Beth-She´mesh (house of the sun, i.q. Sun-town) a sacerdotal city (Joshua 21:16; 1 Samuel 6:15; 1 Chronicles 6:59) in the tribe of Judah, on the south-east border of Dan (Joshua 15:10), and the land of the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:12), probably in a lowland plain (2 Kings 14:11); and placed by Eusebius ten Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, in the direction of the road to Nicopolis. It belonged at an early date to the Philistines, and they had again obtained possession of it in the time of Ahaz (1 Kings 4:9; 2 Chronicles 28:18). It was to this place that the ark was taken by the milch kine from the land of the Philistines, and it was here that, according to the present text, 'fifty thousand and threescore and ten men' were miraculously slain for irreverently exploring the sacred shrine (1 Samuel 6:19). This number has occasioned much discussion. It appears likely that the text has been corrupted in transcription by an erroneous solution of an arithmetical sign. The Syriac and Arabic have 5070 instead of 50070. At the distance, and in the vicinity indicated by Eusebius and Jerome, a place called Ain Shems was found by Dr. Robinson, and, with great probability, identified with Beth-Shemesh. The name is applied to the ruins of an Arab village constructed of ancient materials. To the west of the village, upon and around the plateau of a low swell or mound, are the vestiges of a former extensive city, consisting of many foundations and the remains of ancient walls of hewn stone.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Beth-Shemesh'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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