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Beth-shemesh

Meaning: house of the sun

The name of four biblical places…

  1. A sacerdotal city in the tribe of Dan (Josh. 21:16; 1 Sam. 6:15), on the north border of Judah (Josh. 15:10). It was the scene of an encounter between Jehoash, king of Israel, and Amaziah, king of Judah, in which the latter was made prisoner (2 Kings 14:11,13).

    It was afterwards taken by the Philistines (2 Chr. 28:18). It is the modern ruined Arabic village 'Ain-shems, on the northwest slopes of the mountains of Judah, 14 miles west of Jerusalem.

    See the Christian archaeological video which describes this ancient city: On the Promised Land: Crossroads of the World (part of the Faith Lessons video series). “Unlike Samson, who succumbed to the evils of the Philistine culture, our lives must be distinctive, virtuous, and godly if we are to effectively influence modern society.”

  2. A city between Dothan and the Jordan, near the southern border of Issachar (Josh. 19:22), 7 1/2 miles south of Beth-shean. It is the modern Ain-esh-Shemsiyeh.

  3. One of the fenced cities of Naphtali (Josh. 19:38), 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 by the Greeks Heliopolis, and by the Egyptians On (q.v.), Genesis 41:45.

Author: Matthew G. Easton, with minor editing by Paul S. Taylor.