🔼The name Beth-horon in the Bible
There are two towns named Beth-horon in the Bible: Upper and Lower Beth-horon, which were built by Ephraim's daughter Sheerah (1 Chronicles 7:24). Much later king Solomon would fortify both Beth-horons (2 Chronicles 8:5).
The region of the Beth-horons was close to Makkedah, which featured a cave large enough for five Amorite kings to hide in (Joshua 10:10, 10:16). That happened in the awesome battle in which YHWH threw stones at the enemy, and the sun and the moon stood still while the battle raged (Joshua 10):
- Upper Beth-horon was situated somewhere at the southern end of the territory of Ephraim of Joseph (Joshua 16:3), and later this village was given to the Kohathite Levites (1 Chronicles 6:68).
- Lower Beth-horon marked the northern border of Benjamin, which is the border between Benjamin and Ephraim (Joshua 16:3).
At the Battle of Beth-horon of 66 AD, Jewish rebels pelted the Twelfth Legion with darts and stones and finally destroyed it. Upon this defeat, Vespasian invaded Galilee and his son Titus besieged and sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD (for more on this second Battle of Beth-horon, see our article on the name Legion).
The name Beth-horon is spelled בית־חורן in Joshua 10:10-11 and 16:3, the same but without a maqqep (בית חורן) in Joshua 16:5 and 21:22 and 1 Samuel 13:18, בית־חרון in Joshua 18:13-14, בית חרן in 1 Kings 9:17, בית חורון in 1 Chronicles 6:68 and 2 Chronicles 8:5 and 25:13, and the same but with a maqqep in 1 Chronicles 7:24.
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-horon
The name Beth-horon consists of two elements. The first part is identical to the common Hebrew word בית (bayit) meaning house:
The second part of our name seems to come from the following root cluster:
Because the area of Beth-horon had at least one major cave, scholars assume that the horon-part comes from the word חר (hor), meaning hollow or hole, or else חור (hur), meaning cavern. The ון-extension is a common device to personify or localize the word it's attached to. In this case horon would thus mean: of the hor.
For a meaning of the name Beth-horon, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads House Of The Hollow, and Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names), who sees the ון extension as a mere intensifier, suggests Place Of The Great Cavern. BDB Theological Dictionary is unsure as always, and proposes Place Of A Hole or Hollow?