Dictionary of Bible Names

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Bible Meaning: House of God
Strong's Concordance #H1008

Originally named Luz (Genesis 28:19), which means "almond tree" (Strong's #H3870), the city was renamed Bethel by Jacob.

Located close to Ai, Bethel is one of the locations where Abraham camped when he first came into the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:5 - 8). It is also Biblically well known as the place where Jacob dreamed of a ladder reaching to heaven (Genesis 28:11 - 22).

It was one of the many cities the Israelites conquered under Joshua. Initially, it was a border town between Benjamin and Ephraim that Benjamin was given (Joshua 18:11 - 13, 22). It was soon, however, with the Lord's blessing, taken over by Ephraim (Judges 1:22 - 23). A mount near the city is also called Bethel (Joshua 16:1).

Location of Bethel in Ancient Israel Map

The Ark of the Covenant, for a period after Israel entered the Promised Land, resided in the city (Judges 20:18 - 27). King Jeroboam, when the northern ten tribes of Israel became its own nation, set up idols in it was well. He did this because it was the southernmost city of the new kingdom (1Kings 12:28 - 29).

Important verses

Genesis 12:7 - 8
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.

And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent . . .

Genesis 28:12, 18 - 19
And he (Jacob) dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it . . .

And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.

Joshua 16:1
And the lot of the children of Joseph fell from Jordan by Jericho, unto the water of Jericho on the east, to the wilderness that goeth up from Jericho throughout mount Bethel . . .

Judges 1:22 - 23
And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the Lord was with them.

And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel (Now the name of the city before was Luz)

Judges 20:18, 27 - 28
And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God (Bethel), and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up first . . .

And the children of Israel enquired of the Lord, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days) . . .

1Kings 12:28 - 29
Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy Gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.

Additional Studies

Dictionary of Biblical Names
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Series Notes
Scripture references are based
on the King James translation.