Beit Shemesh—1 Samuel 6:12

The name Beth Shemesh means ‘house of sun’ after the Canaanite sun god, Shamash. It was part of the territory assigned to the tribe of Dan on the border with Judah (Joshua 15:10) and was designated as a Levite city (Josh. 21:16; 1 Chron. 6:58); it was not initially conquered. This was where the Philistines returned the ark of the covenant after capturing it (I Sam. 6:9-18). Solomon established it as an administrative district center (1 Kings 4:9). The kings of Judah and Israel fought each other close to that area (2 Kings 14:11-13). During the reign of Ahaz, the Philistines seized the city (2 Chron. 28:18).

Tel Beth Shemesh is situated on a small rise near the juncture of the Sorek Valley and the western base of the Judean hills. The site has revealed a continuous occupation from Canaanite times (MB) into the Philistine period (Iron I) with some evidences of Philistine culture. The city became a fortress under the United Monarchy with a tower, large civic buildings and an underground rainwater reservoir. The conflict between the kings of the northern and southern kingdoms resulted in the burning of the city. Rebuilt as an unwalled town, it hosted a farming community focused on the production of olive oil, only to be destroyed by Sennacherib during the Assyrian period of domination.


Manor, “Beth-Shemesh,” The Oxford Encyclopedia of The Bible and Archaeology, 129-139.