By Matthew George Easton
Beer - Bitumen
well. (1.) A place where a well was dug by the direction of
Moses, at the forty-fourth station of the Hebrews in their
wanderings (Num. 21:16-18) in the wilderness of Moab. (See WELL.)
(2.) A town in the tribe of Judah to which Jotham fled for fear of Abimelech (Judg. 9:21). Some have identified this place with Beeroth.
Beer-elim - well of heroes, probably the name given to Beer, the place where the chiefs of Israel dug a well (Num. 21:16; Isa. 15:8).
Beeri - illustrious, or the well-man. (1.) The father of Judith, one of the wives of Esau (Gen. 26:34), the same as Adah (Gen. 36:2). (2.) The father of the prophet Hosea (1:1).
Beer-lahai-roi - i.e., "the well of him that liveth and seeth me," or, as some render it, "the well of the vision of life", the well where the Lord met with Hagar (Gen. 16:7-14). Isaac dwelt beside this well (24:62; 25:11). It has been identified with 'Ain Muweileh, or Moilahhi, south-west of Beersheba, and about 12 miles W. from Kadesh-barnea.
Beeroth - wells, one of the four cities of the Hivites which entered by fraud into a league with Joshua. It belonged to Benjamin (Josh. 18:25). It has by some been identified with el-Bireh on the way to Nablus, 10 miles north of Jerusalem.
Beeroth of the children of Jaakan - (Deut. 10:6). The same as Bene-jaakan (Num. 33:31).
Beersheba - well of the oath, or well of seven, a well dug by Abraham, and so named because he and Abimelech here entered into a compact (Gen. 21:31). On re-opening it, Isaac gave it the same name (Gen. 26:31-33). It was a favourite place of abode of both of these patriarchs (21:33-22:1, 19; 26:33; 28:10). It is mentioned among the "cities" given to the tribe of Simeon (Josh. 19:2; 1 Chr. 4:28). From Dan to Beersheba, a distance of about 144 miles (Judg. 20:1; 1 Chr. 21:2; 2 Sam. 24:2), became the usual way of designating the whole Promised Land, and passed into a proverb. After the return from the Captivity the phrase is narrowed into "from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom" (Neh. 11:30). The kingdom of the ten tribes extended from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim (2 Chr. 19:4). The name is not found in the New Testament. It is still called by the Arabs Bir es-Seba, i.e., "well of the seven", where there are to the present day two principal wells and five smaller ones. It is nearly midway between the southern end of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.
Beetle - (Heb. hargol, meaning "leaper"). Mention of it is made only in Lev. 11:22, where it is obvious the word cannot mean properly the beetle. It denotes some winged creeper with at least four feet, "which has legs above its feet, to leap withal." The description plainly points to the locust (q.v.). This has been an article of food from the earliest times in the East to the present day. The word is rendered "cricket" in the Revised Version.
Beeves - (an old English plural of the word beef), a name applicable to all ruminating animals except camels, and especially to the Bovidce, or horned cattle (Lev. 22:19, 21; Num. 31:28, 30, 33, 38, 44).
Beg - That the poor existed among the Hebrews we have abundant evidence (Ex. 23:11; Deut. 15:11), but there is no mention of beggars properly so called in the Old Testament. The poor were provided for by the law of Moses (Lev. 19:10; Deut. 12:12; 14:29). It is predicted of the seed of the wicked that they shall be beggars (Ps. 37:25; 109:10).
In the New Testament we find not seldom mention made of beggars (Mark 10:46; Luke 16:20, 21; Acts 3:2), yet there is no mention of such a class as vagrant beggars, so numerous in the East. "Beggarly," in Gal. 4:9, means worthless.
Behead - a method of taking away life practised among the Egyptians (Gen. 40:17-19). There are instances of this mode of punishment also among the Hebrews (2 Sam. 4:8; 20:21,22; 2 Kings 10:6-8). It is also mentioned in the New Testament (Matt. 14:8-12; Acts 12:2).
Behemoth - (Job 40:15-24). Some have supposed this to be an Egyptian word meaning a "water-ox." The Revised Version has here in the margin "hippopotamus," which is probably the correct rendering of the word. The word occurs frequently in Scripture, but, except here, always as a common name, and translated "beast" or "cattle."
Bekah - Both the name and its explanation, "a half shekel," are given in Ex. 38:26. The word properly means a "division," a "part." (R.V., "beka.")
Bel - the Aramaic form of Baal, the national god of the Babylonians (Isa. 46:1; Jer. 50:2; 51:44). It signifies "lord." (See BAAL.)
Bela - a thing swallowed. (1.) A city on the shore of the Dead Sea, not far from Sodom, called also Zoar. It was the only one of the five cities that was spared at Lot's intercession (Gen. 19:20,23). It is first mentioned in Gen. 14:2,8.
(2.) The eldest son of Benjamin (Num. 26:38; "Belah," Gen. 46:21).
(3.) The son of Beor, and a king of Edom (Gen. 36:32, 33; 1 Chr. 1:43).
(4.) A son of Azaz (1 Chr. 5:8).
Belial - worthlessness, frequently used in the Old Testament as a proper name. It is first used in Deut. 13:13. In the New Testament it is found only in 2 Cor. 6:15, where it is used as a name of Satan, the personification of all that is evil. It is translated "wicked" in Deut. 15:9; Ps. 41:8 (R.V. marg.); 101:3; Prov. 6:12, etc. The expression "son" or "man of Belial" means simply a worthless, lawless person (Judg. 19:22; 20:13; 1 Sam. 1:16; 2:12).
Bell - The bells first mentioned in Scripture are the small golden bells attached to the hem of the high priest's ephod (Ex. 28:33, 34, 35). The "bells of the horses" mentioned by Zechariah (14:20) were attached to the bridles or belts round the necks of horses trained for war, so as to accustom them to noise and tumult.
Bellows - occurs only in Jer. 6:29, in relation to the casting of metal. Probably they consisted of leather bags similar to those common in Egypt.
Belly - the seat of the carnal affections (Titus 1:12; Phil. 3:19; Rom. 16:18). The word is used symbolically for the heart (Prov. 18:8; 20:27; 22:18, marg.). The "belly of hell" signifies the grave or underworld (Jonah 2:2).
Belshazzar - Bel protect the king!, the last of the kings of Babylon (Dan. 5:1). He was the son of Nabonidus by Nitocris, who was the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar and the widow of Nergal-sharezer. When still young he made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and when heated with wine sent for the sacred vessels his "father" (Dan. 5:2), or grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from the temple in Jerusalem, and he and his princes drank out of them. In the midst of their mad revelry a hand was seen by the king tracing on the wall the announcement of God's judgment, which that night fell upon him. At the instance of the queen (i.e., his mother) Daniel was brought in, and he interpreted the writing. That night the kingdom of the Chaldeans came to an end, and the king was slain (Dan. 5:30). (See NERGAL-SHAREZER)
The absence of the name of Belshazzar on the monuments was long regarded as an argument against the genuineness of the Book of Daniel. In 1854 Sir Henry Rawlinson found an inscription of Nabonidus which referred to his eldest son. Quite recently, however, the side of a ravine undermined by heavy rains fell at Hillah, a suburb of Babylon. A number of huge, coarse earthenware vases were laid bare. These were filled with tablets, the receipts and contracts of a firm of Babylonian bankers, which showed that Belshazzar had a household, with secretaries and stewards. One was dated in the third year of the king Marduk-sar-uzur. As Marduk-sar-uzar was another name for Baal, this Marduk-sar-uzur was found to be the Belshazzar of Scripture. In one of these contract tablets, dated in the July after the defeat of the army of Nabonidus, we find him paying tithes for his sister to the temple of the sun-god at Sippara.
Belteshazzar - Beltis protect the king!, the Chaldee name given to Daniel by Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 1:7).
Benaiah - built up by Jehovah. (1.) The son of Jehoiada, chief priest (1 Chr. 27:5). He was set by David over his body-guard of Cherethites and Pelethites (2 Sam. 8:18; 1 Kings 1:32; 1 Chr. 18:17). His exploits are enumerated in 2 Sam. 23:20, 21, 22; 1 Chr. 11:22. He remained faithful to Solomon (1 Kings 1:8, 10, 26), by whom he was raised to the rank of commander-in-chief (1 Kings 2:25, 29, 30, 34, 35; 4:4).
(2.) 2 Sam. 23:30; 1 Chr. 11:31.
(3.) A musical Levite (1 Chr. 15:18, 20).
(4.) A priest (1 Chr. 15:24; 16:6).
(5.) The son of Jeiel (2 Chr. 20:14).
Ben-ammi - son of my kindred; i.e., "born of incest", the son of Lot by his youngest daughter (Gen. 19:38).
Bench - deck of a Tyrian ship, described by Ezekiel (27:6) as overlaid with box-wood.
Bene-jaakan - children of Jaakan (Num. 33:31, 32), the same as Beeroth.
Ben-hadad - the standing title of the Syrian kings, meaning "the son of Hadad." (See HADADEZER.)
(1.) The king of Syria whom Asa, king of Judah, employed to invade Israel (1 Kings 15:18).
(2.) Son of the preceding, also king of Syria. He was long engaged in war against Israel. He was murdered probably by Hazael, by whom he was succeeded (2 Kings 8:7-15), after a reign of some thirty years.
(3.) King of Damascus, and successor of his father Hazael on the throne of Syria (2 Kings 13:3, 4). His misfortunes in war are noticed by Amos (1:4).
Benjamin - son of my right hand. (1.) The younger son of Jacob by Rachel (Gen. 35:18). His birth took place at Ephrath, on the road between Bethel and Bethlehem, at a short distance from the latter place. His mother died in giving him birth, and with her last breath named him Ben-oni, son of my pain, a name which was changed by his father into Benjamin. His posterity are called Benjamites (Gen. 49:27; Deut. 33:12; Josh. 18:21).
The tribe of Benjamin at the Exodus was the smallest but one (Num. 1:36, 37; Ps. 68:27). During the march its place was along with Manasseh and Ephraim on the west of the tabernacle. At the entrance into Canaan it counted 45,600 warriors. It has been inferred by some from the words of Jacob (Gen. 49:27) that the figure of a wolf was on the tribal standard. This tribe is mentioned in Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5.
The inheritance of this tribe lay immediately to the south of that of Ephraim, and was about 26 miles in length and 12 in breadth. Its eastern boundary was the Jordan. Dan intervened between it and the Philistines. Its chief towns are named in Josh. 18:21-28.
The history of the tribe contains a sad record of a desolating civil war in which they were engaged with the other eleven tribes. By it they were almost exterminated (Judg. 20:20, 21; 21:10). (See GIBEAH.)
The first king of the Jews was Saul, a Benjamite. A close alliance was formed between this tribe and that of Judah in the time of David (2 Sam. 19:16, 17), which continued after his death (1 Kings 11:13; 12:20). After the Exile these two tribes formed the great body of the Jewish nation (Ezra 1:5; 10:9).
The tribe of Benjamin was famous for its archers (1 Sam. 20:20, 36; 2 Sam. 1:22; 1 Chr. 8:40; 12:2) and slingers (Judge. 20:6).
The gate of Benjamin, on the north side of Jerusalem (Jer. 37:13; 38:7; Zech. 14:10), was so called because it led in the direction of the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. It is called by Jeremiah (20:2) "the high gate of Benjamin;" also "the gate of the children of the people" (17:19). (Comp. 2 Kings 14:13.)
Beor - a torch. (1.) The father of Bela, one of the kings of Edom (Gen. 36:32).
(2.) The father of Balaam (Num. 22:5; 24:3, 15; 31:8). In 2 Pet. 2:15 he is called Bosor.
Bera - gift, or son of evil, king of Sodom at the time of the invasion of the four kings under Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14:2, 8, 17, 21).
Berachah - blessing. (1.) A valley not far from Engedi, where Jehoshaphat overthrew the Moabites and Ammonites (2 Chr. 20:26). It has been identified with the valley of Bereikut. (R.V., "Beracah.")
(2.) One of the Benjamite warriors, Saul's brethren, who joined David when at Ziklag (1 Chr. 12:3).
Berea - a city of Macedonia to which Paul with Silas and Timotheus went when persecuted at Thessalonica (Acts 17:10, 13), and from which also he was compelled to withdraw, when he fled to the sea-coast and thence sailed to Athens (14, 15). Sopater, one of Paul's companions belonged to this city, and his conversion probably took place at this time (Acts 20:4). It is now called Verria.
Berechiah - blessed by Jehovah. (1.) Son of Shimea, and father of Asaph the musician (1 Chr. 6:39; 15:17).
(2.) One of the seven Ephraimite chieftains, son of Meshillemoth (2 Chr. 28:12).
(3.) The fourth of the five sons of Zerubbabel, of the royal family of Judah (1 Chr. 3:20).
(4.) The father of the prophet Zechariah (1:1,7).
Bered - hail. (1.) A town in the south of Palestine (Gen. 16:14), in the desert of Shur, near Lahai-roi.
(2.) A son of Shuthelah, and grandson of Ephraim (1 Chr. 7:20).
Beriah - a gift, or in evil. (1.) One of Asher's four sons, and father of Heber (Gen. 46:17).
(2.) A son of Ephraim (1 Chr. 7:20-23), born after the slaughter of his brothers, and so called by his father "because it went evil with his house" at that time.
(3.) A Benjamite who with his brother Shema founded Ajalon and expelled the Gittites (1 Chr. 8:13).
Bernice - bearer of victory, the eldest daughter of Agrippa I., the Herod Agrippa of Acts 12:20. After the early death of her first husband she was married to her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis. After his death (A.D. 40) she lived in incestuous connection with her brother Agrippa II. (Acts 25:13, 23; 26:30). They joined the Romans at the outbreak of the final war between them and the Jews, and lived afterwards at Rome.
Berodach-baladan - the king of Babylon who sent a friendly deputation to Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:12). In Isa. 39:1 he is called Merodach-baladan (q.v.).
Beryl - the rendering in the Authorized Version of the Hebrew word tarshish, a precious stone; probably so called as being brought from Tarshish. It was one of the stones on the breastplate of the high priest (Ex. 28:20; R.V. marg., "chalcedony;" 39:13). The colour of the wheels in Ezekiel's vision was as the colour of a beryl stone (1:16; 10:9; R.V., "stone of Tarshish"). It is mentioned in Cant. 5:14; Dan. 10:6; Rev. 21:20. In Ezek. 28:13 the LXX. render the word by "chrysolite," which the Jewish historian Josephus regards as its proper translation. This also is the rendering given in the Authorized Version in the margin. That was a gold-coloured gem, the topaz of ancient authors.
Besom - the rendering of a Hebrew word meaning sweeper, occurs only in Isa. 14:23, of the sweeping away, the utter ruin, of Babylon.
Besor - cold, a ravine or brook in the extreme south-west of Judah, where 200 of David's men stayed behind because they were faint, while the other 400 pursued the Amalekites (1 Sam. 30:9, 10, 21). Probably the Wadyes Sheriah, south of Gaza.
Bestead - the rendering in Isa. 8:21, where alone it occurs, of a Hebrew word meaning to oppress, or be in circumstances of hardship.
Betah - confidence, a city belonging to Hadadezer, king of Zobah, which yielded much spoil of brass to David (2 Sam. 8:8). In 1 Chr. 18:8 it is called Tibhath.
Beth - occurs frequently as the appellation for a house, or dwelling-place, in such compounds as the words immediately following:
Bethabara - house of the ford, a place on the east bank of the Jordan, where John was baptizing (John 1:28). It may be identical with Bethbarah, the ancient ford of Jordan of which the men of Ephraim took possession (Judg. 7:24). The Revised Version reads "Bethany beyond Jordan." It was the great ford, and still bears the name of "the ford," Makhadhet 'Abarah, "the ford of crossing over," about 25 miles from Nazareth. (See BETHBARAH.)
Beth-anath - house of response, one of the fenced cities of Naphtali (Josh. 19:38). It is perhaps identical with the modern village 'Ainata, 6 miles west of Kedesh.
Beth-anoth - house of answers, a city in the mountainous district of Judah (Josh. 15:59). It has been identified with the modern Beit-'Anun, about 3 miles northeast of Hebron.
Bethany - house of dates. (1.) The Revised Version in John 1:28 has this word instead of Bethabara, on the authority of the oldest manuscripts. It appears to have been the name of a place on the east of Jordan.
(2.) A village on the south-eastern slope of the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:1), about 2 miles east of Jerusalem, on the road to Jericho. It derived its name from the number of palm-trees which grew there. It was the residence of Lazarus and his sisters. It is frequently mentioned in connection with memorable incidents in the life of our Lord (Matt. 21:17; 26:6; Mark 11:11, 12; 14:3; Luke 24:50; John 11:1; 12:1). It is now known by the name of el-Azariyeh, i.e., "place of Lazarus," or simply Lazariyeh. Seen from a distance, the village has been described as "remarkably beautiful, the perfection of retirement and repose, of seclusion and lovely peace." Now a mean village, containing about twenty families.
Beth-arabah - house of the desert, one of the six cities of Judah, situated in the sunk valley of the Jordan and Dead Sea (Josh. 18:22). In Josh. 15:61 it is said to have been "in the wilderness." It was afterwards included in the towns of Benjamin. It is called Arabah (Josh. 18:18).
Beth-aram - house of the height; i.e., "mountain-house", one of the towns of Gad, 3 miles east of Jordan, opposite Jericho (Josh. 13:27). Probably the same as Beth-haran in Num. 32:36. It was called by king Herod, Julias, or Livias, after Livia, the wife of Augustus. It is now called Beit-haran.
Beth-arbel - house of God's court, a place alluded to by Hosea (10:14) as the scene of some great military exploit, but not otherwise mentioned in Scripture. The Shalman here named was probably Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:3).
Beth-aven - house of nothingness; i.e., "of idols", a place in the mountains of Benjamin, east of Bethel (Josh. 7:2; 18:12; 1 Sam. 13:5). In Hos. 4:15; 5:8; 10:5 it stands for "Bethel" (q.v.), and it is so called because it was no longer the "house of God," but "the house of idols," referring to the calves there worshipped.
Beth-barah - house of crossing, a place south of the scene of Gideon's victory (Judg. 7:24). It was probably the chief ford of the Jordan in that district, and may have been that by which Jacob crossed when he returned from Mesopotamia, near the Jabbok (Gen. 32:22), and at which Jephthah slew the Ephraimites (Judg. 12:4). Nothing, however, is certainly known of it. (See BETHABARA.)
Beth-car - sheep-house, a place to which the Israelites pursued the Philistines west from Mizpeh (1 Sam. 7:11).
Beth-dagon - house of Dagon. (1.) A city in the low country or plain of Judah, near Philistia (Josh. 15:41); the modern Beit Degan, about 5 miles from Lydda.
(2.) A city near the south-east border of Asher (Josh. 19:27). It was a Philistine colony. It is identical with the modern ruined village of Tell D'auk.
Beth-diblathaim - house of two cakes of figs, a city of Moab, upon which Jeremiah (48:22) denounced destruction. It is called also Almon-diblathaim (Num. 33:46) and Diblath (Ezek. 6:14). (R.V., "Diblah.")
Bethel - house of God. (1.) A place in Central Palestine, about 10 miles north of Jerusalem, at the head of the pass of Michmash and Ai. It was originally the royal Canaanite city of Luz (Gen. 28:19). The name Bethel was at first apparently given to the sanctuary in the neighbourhood of Luz, and was not given to the city itself till after its conquest by the tribe of Ephraim. When Abram entered Canaan he formed his second encampment between Bethel and Hai (Gen. 12:8); and on his return from Egypt he came back to it, and again "called upon the name of the Lord" (13:4). Here Jacob, on his way from Beersheba to Haran, had a vision of the angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder whose top reached unto heaven (28:10, 19); and on his return he again visited this place, "where God talked with him" (35:1-15), and there he "built an altar, and called the place El-beth-el" (q.v.). To this second occasion of God's speaking with Jacob at Bethel, Hosea (12:4,5) makes reference.
In troublous times the people went to Bethel to ask counsel of God (Judg. 20:18, 31; 21:2). Here the ark of the covenant was kept for a long time under the care of Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron (20:26-28). Here also Samuel held in rotation his court of justice (1 Sam. 7:16). It was included in Israel after the kingdom was divided, and it became one of the seats of the worship of the golden calf (1 Kings 12:28-33; 13:1). Hence the prophet Hosea (Hos. 4:15; 5:8; 10:5, 8) calls it in contempt Beth-aven, i.e., "house of idols." Bethel remained an abode of priests even after the kingdom of Israel was desolated by the king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:28, 29). At length all traces of the idolatries were extirpated by Josiah, king of Judah (2 Kings 23:15-18); and the place was still in existence after the Captivity (Ezra 2:28; Neh. 7:32). It has been identified with the ruins of Beitin, a small village amid extensive ruins some 9 miles south of Shiloh.
(2.) Mount Bethel was a hilly district near Bethel (Josh. 16:1; 1 Sam. 13:2).
(3.) A town in the south of Judah (Josh. 8:17; 12:16).
Bethelite - a designation of Hiel (q.v.), who rebuilt Jericho and experienced the curse pronounced long before (1 Kings 16:34).
Bether - dissection or separation, certain mountains mentioned in Cant. 2:17; probably near Lebanon.
Bethesda - house of mercy, a reservoir (Gr. kolumbethra, "a swimming bath") with five porches, close to the sheep-gate or market (Neh. 3:1; John 5:2). Eusebius the historian (A.D. 330) calls it "the sheep-pool." It is also called "Bethsaida" and "Beth-zatha" (John 5:2, R.V. marg.). Under these "porches" or colonnades were usually a large number of infirm people waiting for the "troubling of the water." It is usually identified with the modern so-called Fountain of the Virgin, in the valley of the Kidron, and not far from the Pool of Siloam (q.v.); and also with the Birket Israel, a pool near the mouth of the valley which runs into the Kidron south of "St. Stephen's Gate." Others again identify it with the twin pools called the "Souterrains," under the convent of the Sisters of Zion, situated in what must have been the rock-hewn ditch between Bezetha and the fortress of Antonia. But quite recently Schick has discovered a large tank, as sketched here, situated about 100 feet north-west of St. Anne's Church, which is, as he contends, very probably the Pool of Bethesda. No certainty as to its identification, however, has as yet been arrived at. (See FOUNTAIN; GIHON.)
Beth-gamul - camel-house, a city in the "plain country" of Moab denounced by the prophet (Jer. 48:23); probably the modern Um-el-Jemal, near Bozrah, one of the deserted cities of the Hauran.
Beth-gilgal - house of Gilgal, a place from which the inhabitants gathered for the purpose of celebrating the rebuilding of the walls on the return exile (Neh. 12:29). (See GILGAL.)
Beth-haccerem - house of a vineyard, a place in the tribe of Judah (Neh. 3:14) where the Benjamites were to set up a beacon when they heard the trumpet against the invading army of the Babylonians (Jer. 6:1). It is probable that this place is the modern 'Ain Karim, or "well of the vineyards," near which there is a ridge on which are cairns which may have served as beacons of old, one of which is 40 feet high and 130 in diameter.
Beth-horon - house of the hollow, or of the cavern, the name of two towns or villages (2 Chr. 8:5; 1 Chr. 7:24) in the territory of Ephraim, on the way from Jerusalem to Joppa. They are distinguished as Beth-horon "the upper" and Beth-horon "the nether." They are about 2 miles apart, the former being about 10 miles north-west of Jerusalem. Between the two places was the ascent and descent of Beth-horon, leading from Gibeon down to the western plain (Josh. 10:10, 11; 18:13, 14), down which the five kings of the Amorites were driven by Joshua in that great battle, the most important in which the Hebrews had been as yet engaged, being their first conflict with their enemies in the open field. Jehovah interposed in behalf of Israel by a terrific hailstorm, which caused more deaths among the Canaanites than did the swords of the Israelites. Beth-horon is mentioned as having been taken by Shishak, B.C. 945, in the list of his conquests, and the pass was the scene of a victory of Judas Maccabeus. (Comp. Ex. 9:19, 25; Job 38:22, 23; Ps. 18:12-14; Isa. 30:30.) The modern name of these places is Beit-ur, distinguished by el-Foka, "the upper," and el-Tahta, "the nether." The lower was at the foot of the pass, and the upper, 500 feet higher, at the top, west of Gibeon. (See GIBEON.)
Beth-jeshimoth - house of wastes, or deserts, a town near Abel-shittim, east of Jordan, in the desert of Moab, where the Israelites encamped not long before crossing the Jordan (Num. 33:49; A.V., "Bethjesimoth"). It was within the territory of Sihon, king of the Amorites (Josh. 12:3).
Beth-le-Aphrah - (R.V. Micah 1:10), house of dust. The Authorized Version reads "in the house of Aphrah." This is probably the name of a town in the Shephelah, or "low country," between Joppa and Gaza.
Bethlehem - house of bread. (1.) A city in the "hill country" of Judah. It was originally called Ephrath (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11). It was also called Beth-lehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2), Beth-lehem-judah (1 Sam. 17:12), and "the city of David" (Luke 2:4). It is first noticed in Scripture as the place where Rachel died and was buried "by the wayside," directly to the north of the city (Gen. 48:7). The valley to the east was the scene of the story of Ruth the Moabitess. There are the fields in which she gleaned, and the path by which she and Naomi returned to the town. Here was David's birth-place, and here also, in after years, he was anointed as king by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:4-13); and it was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his heroes brought water for him at the risk of their lives when he was in the cave of Adullam (2 Sam. 23:13-17). But it was distinguished above every other city as the birth-place of "Him whose goings forth have been of old" (Matt. 2:6; comp. Micah 5:2). Afterwards Herod, "when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men," sent and slew "all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (Matt. 2:16, 18; Jer. 31:15).
Bethlehem bears the modern name of Beit-Lahm, i.e., "house of flesh." It is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, standing at an elevation of about 2,550 feet above the sea, thus 100 feet higher than Jerusalem.
There is a church still existing, built by Constantine the Great (A.D. 330), called the "Church of the Nativity," over a grotto or cave called the "holy crypt," and said to be the "stable" in which Jesus was born. This is perhaps the oldest existing Christian church in the world. Close to it is another grotto, where Jerome the Latin father is said to have spent thirty years of his life in translating the Scriptures into Latin. (See VERSION.)
(2.) A city of Zebulun, mentioned only in Josh. 19:15. Now Beit-Lahm, a ruined village about 6 miles west-north-west of Nazareth.
Beth-peor - house of Peor; i.e., "temple of Baal-peor", a place in Moab, on the east of Jordan, opposite Jericho. It was in the tribe of Reuben (Josh. 13:20; Deut. 3:29; 4:46). In the "ravine" or valley over against Beth-peor Moses was probably buried (Deut. 34:6).
Beth-phage - house of the unripe fig, a village on the Mount of Olives, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho (Matt. 21:1; Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29), and very close to Bethany. It was the limit of a Sabbath-day's journey from Jerusalem, i.e., 2,000 cubits. It has been identified with the modern Kefr-et-Tur.
Bethsaida - house of fish. (1.) A town in Galilee, on the west side of the sea of Tiberias, in the "land of Gennesaret." It was the native place of Peter, Andrew, and Philip, and was frequently resorted to by Jesus (Mark 6:45; John 1:44; 12:21). It is supposed to have been at the modern 'Ain Tabighah, a bay to the north of Gennesaret.
(2.) A city near which Christ fed 5,000 (Luke 9:10; comp. John 6:17; Matt. 14:15-21), and where the blind man had his sight restored (Mark 8:22), on the east side of the lake, two miles up the Jordan. It stood within the region of Gaulonitis, and was enlarged by Philip the tetrarch, who called it "Julias," after the emperor's daughter. Or, as some have supposed, there may have been but one Bethsaida built on both sides of the lake, near where the Jordan enters it. Now the ruins et-Tel.
Beth-shean - house of security or rest, a city which belonged to Manasseh (1 Chr. 7:29), on the west of Jordan. The bodies of Saul and his sons were fastened to its walls. In Solomon's time it gave its name to a district (1 Kings 4:12). The name is found in an abridged form, Bethshan, in 1 Sam. 31:10, 12 and 2 Sam. 21:12. It is on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus, about 5 miles from the Jordan, and 14 from the south end of the Lake of Gennesaret. After the Captivity it was called Scythopolis, i.e., "the city of the Scythians," who about B.C. 640 came down from the steppes of Southern Russia and settled in different places in Syria. It is now called Beisan.
Beth-shemesh - house of the sun. (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 north-west slopes of the mountains of Judah, 14 miles west of Jerusalem.
(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.), Gen. 41:45.
Beth-tappuah - house of apples, a town of Judah, now Tuffuh, 5 miles west of Hebron (Josh. 15:53).
Bethuel - man of God, or virgin of God, or house of God. (1.) The son of Nahor by Milcah; nephew of Abraham, and father of Rebekah (Gen. 22:22, 23; 24:15, 24, 47). He appears in person only once (24:50).
(2.) A southern city of Judah (1 Chr. 4:30); called also Bethul (Josh. 19:4) and Bethel (12:16; 1 Sam. 30:27).
Bethzur - house of rock, a town in the mountains of Judah (Josh. 15:58), about 4 miles to the north of Hebron. It was built by Rehoboam for the defence of his kingdom (2 Chr. 11:7). It stood near the modern ed-Dirweh. Its ruins are still seen on a hill which bears the name of Beit-Sur, and which commands the road from Beer-sheba and Hebron to Jerusalem from the south.
Betroth - to promise "by one's truth." Men and women were betrothed when they were engaged to be married. This usually took place a year or more before marriage. From the time of betrothal the woman was regarded as the lawful wife of the man to whom she was betrothed (Deut. 28:30; Judg. 14:2, 8; Matt. 1:18-21). The term is figuratively employed of the spiritual connection between God and his people (Hos. 2:19, 20).
Beulah - married, is used in Isa. 62:4 metaphorically as the name of Judea: "Thy land shall be married," i.e., favoured and blessed of the Lord.
Bewray - to reveal or disclose; an old English word equivalent to "betray" (Prov. 27:16; 29:24, R.V., "uttereth;" Isa. 16:3; Matt. 26:73).
Beyond - when used with reference to Jordan, signifies in the writings of Moses the west side of the river, as he wrote on the east bank (Gen. 50:10, 11; Deut. 1:1, 5; 3:8, 20; 4:46); but in the writings of Joshua, after he had crossed the river, it means the east side (Josh. 5:1; 12:7; 22:7).
Bezaleel - in the shadow of God; i.e., "under his protection", the artificer who executed the work of art in connection with the tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex. 31:2; 35:30). He was engaged principally in works of metal, wood, and stone; while Aholiab, who was associated with him and subordinate to him, had the charge of the textile fabrics (36:1, 2; 38:22). He was of the tribe of Judah, the son of Uri, and grandson of Hur (31:2). Mention is made in Ezra 10:30 of another of the same name.
Bezek - lightning. (1.) The residence of Adoni-bezek, in the lot of Judah (Judg. 1:5). It was in the mountains, not far from Jerusalem. Probably the modern Bezkah, 6 miles south-east of Lydda.
(2.) The place where Saul numbered the forces of Israel and Judah (1 Sam. 11:8); somewhere in the centre of the country, near the Jordan valley. Probably the modern Ibzik, 13 miles north-east of Shechem.
Bezer - ore of gold or silver. (1.) A city of the Reubenites; one of the three cities of refuge on the east of Jordan (Deut. 4: 43; Josh. 20:8). It has been identified with the modern ruined village of Burazin, some 12 miles north of Heshbon; also with Kasur-el-Besheir, 2 miles south-west of Dibon.
(2.) A descendant of Asher (1 Chr. 7:37).
Bible - Bible, the English form of the Greek name Biblia, meaning "books," the name which in the fifth century began to be given to the entire collection of sacred books, the "Library of Divine Revelation." The name Bible was adopted by Wickliffe, and came gradually into use in our English language. The Bible consists of sixty-six different books, composed by many different writers, in three different languages, under different circumstances; writers of almost every social rank, statesmen and peasants, kings, herdsmen, fishermen, priests, tax-gatherers, tentmakers; educated and uneducated, Jews and Gentiles; most of them unknown to each other, and writing at various periods during the space of about 1600 years: and yet, after all, it is only one book dealing with only one subject in its numberless aspects and relations, the subject of man's redemption.
It is divided into the Old Testament, containing thirty-nine books, and the New Testament, containing twenty-seven books. The names given to the Old in the writings of the New are "the scriptures" (Matt. 21:42), "scripture" (2 Pet. 1:20), "the holy scriptures" (Rom. 1:2), "the law" (John 12:34), "the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms" (Luke 24:44), "the law and the prophets" (Matt. 5:17), "the old covenant" (2 Cor. 3:14, R.V.). There is a break of 400 years between the Old Testament and the New. (See APOCRYPHA.)
The Old Testament is divided into three parts:, 1. The Law (Torah), consisting of the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses. 2. The Prophets, consisting of (1) the former, namely, Joshua, Judges, the Books of Samuel, and the Books of Kings; (2) the latter, namely, the greater prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets. 3. The Hagiographa, or holy writings, including the rest of the books. These were ranked in three divisions:, (1) The Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, distinguished by the Hebrew name, a word formed of the initial letters of these books, emeth, meaning truth. (2) Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, called the five rolls, as being written for the synagogue use on five separate rolls. (3) Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. Between the Old and the New Testament no addition was made to the revelation God had already given. The period of New Testament revelation, extending over a century, began with the appearance of John the Baptist.
The New Testament consists of (1) the historical books, viz., the Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles; (2) the Epistles; and (3) the book of prophecy, the Revelation.
The division of the Bible into chapters and verses is altogether of human invention, designed to facilitate reference to it. The ancient Jews divided the Old Testament into certain sections for use in the synagogue service, and then at a later period, in the ninth century A.D., into verses. Our modern system of chapters for all the books of the Bible was introduced by Cardinal Hugo about the middle of the thirteenth century (he died 1263). The system of verses for the New Testament was introduced by Stephens in 1551, and generally adopted, although neither Tyndale's nor Coverdale's English translation of the Bible has verses. The division is not always wisely made, yet it is very useful. (See VERSION.)
Bier - the frame on which dead bodies were conveyed to the grave (Luke 7:14).
Bigtha - garden, or gift of fortune, one of the seven eunuchs or chamberlains who had charge of the harem of Ahasuerus (Esther 1:10).
Bigthan - one of the eunuchs who "kept the door" in the court of Ahasuerus. With Teresh he conspired against the king's life. Mordecai detected the conspiracy, and the culprits were hanged (Esther 2:21-23; 6:1-3).
Bildad - son of contention, one of Job's friends. He is called "the Shuhite," probably as belonging to Shuah, a district in Arabia, in which Shuah, the sixth son of Abraham by Keturah, settled (Gen. 25:2). He took part in each of the three controversies into which Job's friends entered with him (Job 8:1; 18:1; 25:1), and delivered three speeches, very severe and stern in their tone, although less violent than those of Zophar, but more so than those of Eliphaz.
Bilgah - cheerful. (1.) The head of the fifteenth sacerdotal course for the temple service (1 Chr. 24:14). (2.) A priest who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Neh. 12:5, 18).
Bilhah - faltering; bashful, Rachel's handmaid, whom she gave to Jacob (Gen. 29:29). She was the mother of Dan and Naphtali (Gen. 30:3-8). Reuben was cursed by his father for committing adultry with her (35:22; 49:4). He was deprived of the birth-right, which was given to the sons of Joseph.
Bilshan - son of the tongue; i.e., "eloquent", a man of some note who returned from the Captivity with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7).
Bird - Birds are divided in the Mosaic law into two classes, (1) the clean (Lev. 1:14-17; 5:7-10; 14:4-7), which were offered in sacrifice; and (2) the unclean (Lev. 11:13-20). When offered in sacrifice, they were not divided as other victims were (Gen. 15:10). They are mentioned also as an article of food (Deut. 14:11). The art of snaring wild birds is referred to (Ps. 124:7; Prov. 1:17; 7:23; Jer. 5:27). Singing birds are mentioned in Ps. 104:12; Eccl. 12:4. Their timidity is alluded to (Hos. 11:11). The reference in Ps. 84:3 to the swallow and the sparrow may be only a comparison equivalent to, "What her house is to the sparrow, and her nest to the swallow, that thine altars are to my soul."
Birsha - son of wickedness, a king of Gomorrah whom Abraham succoured in the invasion of Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14:2).
Birth - As soon as a child was born it was washed, and rubbed with salt (Ezek. 16:4), and then swathed with bandages (Job 38:9; Luke 2:7, 12). A Hebrew mother remained forty days in seclusion after the birth of a son, and after the birth of a daughter double that number of days. At the close of that period she entered into the tabernacle or temple and offered up a sacrifice of purification (Lev. 12:1-8; Luke 2:22). A son was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth, being thereby consecrated to God (Gen. 17:10-12; comp. Rom. 4:11). Seasons of misfortune are likened to the pains of a woman in travail, and seasons of prosperity to the joy that succeeds child-birth (Isa. 13:8; Jer. 4:31; John 16:21, 22). The natural birth is referred to as the emblem of the new birth (John 3:3-8; Gal. 6:15; Titus 3:5, etc.).
Birth-day - The observance of birth-days was common in early times (Job 1:4, 13, 18). They were specially celebrated in the land of Egypt (Gen. 40:20). There is no recorded instance in Scripture of the celebration of birth-days among the Jews. On the occasion of Herod's birth-day John the Baptist was beheaded (Matt. 14:6).
Birthright - (1.) This word denotes the special privileges and advantages belonging to the first-born son among the Jews. He became the priest of the family. Thus Reuben was the first-born of the patriarchs, and so the priesthood of the tribes belonged to him. That honour was, however, transferred by God from Reuben to Levi (Num. 3:12, 13; 8:18).
(2.) The first-born son had allotted to him also a double portion of the paternal inheritance (Deut. 21:15-17). Reuben was, because of his undutiful conduct, deprived of his birth-right (Gen. 49:4; 1 Chr. 5:1). Esau transferred his birth-right to Jacob (Gen. 25:33).
(3.) The first-born inherited the judicial authority of his father, whatever it might be (2 Chr. 21:3). By divine appointment, however, David excluded Adonijah in favour of Solomon.
(4.) The Jews attached a sacred importance to the rank of "first-born" and "first-begotten" as applied to the Messiah (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18; Heb. 1:4-6). As first-born he has an inheritance superior to his brethren, and is the alone true priest.
Bishop - an overseer. In apostolic times, it is quite manifest that there was no difference as to order between bishops and elders or presbyters (Acts 20:17-28; 1 Pet. 5:1, 2; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3). The term bishop is never once used to denote a different office from that of elder or presbyter. These different names are simply titles of the same office, "bishop" designating the function, namely, that of oversight, and "presbyter" the dignity appertaining to the office. Christ is figuratively called "the bishop [episcopos] of souls" (1 Pet. 2:25).
Bit - the curb put into the mouths of horses to restrain them. The Hebrew word (metheg) so rendered in Ps. 32:9 is elsewhere translated "bridle" (2 Kings 19:28; Prov. 26:3; Isa. 37:29). Bits were generally made of bronze or iron, but sometimes also of gold or silver. In James 3:3 the Authorized Version translates the Greek word by "bits," but the Revised Version by "bridles."
Bith-ron - the broken or divided place, a district in the Arabah or Jordan valley, on the east of the river (2 Sam. 2:29). It was probably the designation of the region in general, which is broken and intersected by ravines.
Bithynia - a province in Asia Minor, to the south of the Euxine and Propontis. Christian congregations were here formed at an early time (1 Pet. 1:1). Paul was prevented by the Spirit from entering this province (Acts 16:7). It is noted in church history as the province ruled over by Pliny as Roman proconsul, who was perplexed as to the course he should take with the numerous Christians brought before his tribunal on account of their profession of Christianity and their conduct, and wrote to Trajan, the emperor, for instructions (A.D. 107).
Bitter - Bitterness is symbolical of affliction, misery, and servitude (Ex. 1:14; Ruth 1:20; Jer. 9:15). The Chaldeans are called the "bitter and hasty nation" (Hab. 1:6). The "gall of bitterness" expresses a state of great wickedness (Acts 8:23). A "root of bitterness" is a wicked person or a dangerous sin (Heb. 12:15).
The Passover was to be eaten with "bitter herbs" (Ex. 12:8; Num. 9:11). The kind of herbs so designated is not known. Probably they were any bitter herbs obtainable at the place and time when the Passover was celebrated. They represented the severity of the servitude under which the people groaned; and have been regarded also as typical of the sufferings of Christ.
Bittern - is found three times in connection with the desolations to come upon Babylon, Idumea, and Nineveh (Isa. 14:23; 34:11; Zeph. 2:14). This bird belongs to the class of cranes. Its scientific name is Botaurus stellaris. It is a solitary bird, frequenting marshy ground. The Hebrew word (kippod) thus rendered in the Authorized Version is rendered "porcupine" in the Revised Version. But in the passages noted the kippod is associated with birds, with pools of water, and with solitude and desolation. This favours the idea that not the "porcupine" but the "bittern" is really intended by the word.
Bitumen - Gen. 11:3, R.V., margin, rendered in the A.V. "slime"), a mineral pitch. With this the ark was pitched (6:14. See also Ex. 2:3.) (See SLIME.)