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BETH-HORON:

Name of two villages at the western end of the Ephraimitc mountains, called respectively "upper Beth-horon" (Josh. xvi. 5) and "nether Beth-horon" (Josh. xvi. 3, xviii. 13; I Kings ix. 17). They are nowadays spoken of as the two villages "Bet 'ûr et-Taḥta" (the lower) and "Bet 'ûr el-Foḳa" (the upper). They were situated on an old road leading from Gibeon to the plain on the coast; this is mentioned in the Old Testament as a difficult and steep road between the villages ofBeth-horon (Josh. x. 10; ἡ ἀνάβασις Βαιθωρών, I. Macc. iii 16), or Morad Beth-horon (Josh. x. 11; έν τῆ καταβασει BαιΘωρών. I. Macc. iii. 24). In ancient times the road was the principal highway between the mountains and the plain. Here the Canaanites fled from Joshua (Josh. x. 10 et seq.); and by this road the Egyptian king Shishak probably invaded the country, since Beth-horon is mentioned in the inscription relating his victory (W. Max Müller, "Asien und Europa," p. 166). It was for strategic reasons that Solomon fortified the lower Beth-horon. In Grecian times the Syrian general Seron attempted to force an entrance by Beth-horon into the country, but was repulsed by Judas Maccabeus (I Macc. iii. 13 et seq.). Nicanor afterward met with the same fate (I Macc. vii. 39 et seq.). When Bacchides became master of the Jewish country he strongly fortified this important point. It is again mentioned when the Romans under Cassius sustained heavy losses there (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 19, § 8). It may also be gathered from the Old Testament that these two villages were built by the daughter of Ephraim (I Chron. vii. 24), and that Sanballat, the adversary of Nehemiah, came from there (Neh. ii. 10, 19; xiii. 28). For the form "Horônî" compare 'Ωρωνíν; i.e., "Horonaim" in Septuagint of Josh. ix. 10 and 11; Sam. xiii. 24. Several of the Talmudic scholars came from Beth-horon (Neubauer, "G. T." p. 154).

J. Jr. F. Bu.
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