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Bet-El (Hebrew בֵּית אֵל "House of El " or "House of God"; also called Bethel ) is a place mentioned in the Bible , 17 km north of Jerusalem and 16 km south of Shiloh in the Israeli- occupied West Bank .

Bet-El is the second most frequently mentioned place in the Bible after Jerusalem . Some streets also crossed in Bet-El and connected the place, which was important in biblical times, with Jerusalem, Bethlehem , Hebron and Be'er Sheva (north-south connection) as well as with Joppa on the Mediterranean (west connection) and with that on the Jordan located Jericho (east connection). The city is said to have been since the 21st century BC. Have been settled.

According to the biblical tradition, Abraham stopped at Bet-El when he came to Canaan after being in Shechem :

“From there he set out for the hill country east of Bet-El and pitched his tent so that he had Bet-El in the west and Ai in the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. "

- ( Genesis 12.8  EU )

Later biblical reports show that Bet-El originally had the Canaanite name "Lus". Jacob stayed in this place during his flight from Esau on the way from Be'er Sheva to Harran . In a dream he saw a ladder ( Jacob's ladder ), the top of which reached to heaven, where the angels of YHWH ascended and descended and stood above the YHWH, who spoke to Jacob and confirmed the Abrahamic promise .

Jacob woke up from his sleep and said: Verily, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it! He was afraid and said, How dreadful is this place! Yes, that is the abode of God and the gate of heaven!
But early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a painting stone, and poured oil on top of it. And he named that place Bethel; but before that the city was called Lus. "

- (Genesis 28:16 - 19 TB , text Bible 1899)

In Genesis 31: 48–53, YHWH spoke again to Jacob in Haran , YHWH identifying himself as the one who had spoken to him in Bet-El. Bet-El is mentioned in many other passages, which shows its importance at the time of the biblical plot.

Watchtower of Jeroboam's Temple in Bet-El

During the Israelite era it became an important religious center, and at times competed with Jerusalem for prestige. The first king of the northern kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam I , had a golden calf erected in Bethel, as in Dan , to offer a counterpart to the central sanctuary, the temple in the southern kingdom. Jeroboam I is therefore sharply condemned by the Deuteronomist historians who regard the Jerusalem temple as the only legitimate sanctuary of YHWH .

The place can be found today near the Palestinian village of Beitin in the West Bank . It is believed that the name Beitin is the Arabic form of the former betel . There is also the Jewish settlement of Bet El nearby, but it was only established there by Israel after the Six Day War in 1967.


  • James Leon Kelso: Bethel . In: New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavation in the Holy Land . Volume 1, Jerusalem 1993, pp. 192-194.
  • Ernst Axel KnaufBethel . In: Religion Past and Present (RGG). 4th edition. Volume 1, Mohr-Siebeck, Tübingen 1998, Sp. 1375-1376.
  • Henrik Pfeiffer: The sanctuary of Bethel in the mirror of the Hosea book . Göttingen 1999, ISBN 3-525-53867-7 (= research on religion and literature of the AT and NT 183).
  • Klaus Koenen: Bethel. History, Cult and Theology . Göttingen / Friborg 2003, ISBN 978-3-7278-1432-7 (Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, 192).
  • Melanie Köhlmoos : Bet-El - memories of a city. Perspectives of the Old Testament Bet-El Tradition. Tübingen 2006, ISBN 978-3-16-148774-3 (= research on the Old Testament, 49).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Emil Kautzsch, 1841-1910; Carl von Weizsäcker, 1822–1899: Text Bible of the Old and New Testaments in connection with numerous scholars . Mohr, Paul Siebeck, Tübingen ( [accessed April 4, 2016]).

Coordinates: 31 ° 57 '  N , 35 ° 13'  E