Glimpses of Israel - Beth Shemesh

by Joseph Hunting

Beth Shemesh, meaning House of the Sun, was first mentioned in the Bible when Joshua allocated this Canaanite town to the sons of Aaron. It also featured in the return of the Ark of the Covenant when the Philistines returned it on a cart drawn by two oxen.

Beth Shemesh lies mid-way between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. This was the area familiar to Samson who lived in nearby Zorah. It was in this vicinity that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah and his wife and promised them a son who would deliver Israel from Philistine bondage.

When I visited Beth Shemesh in 1972 it was only a small village and my interest was mainly in the ruins and the scenes of ancient Biblical battles fought in the area. But like so many towns and villages in Israel there has been a population explosion and growth fulfilling the prophecy made by Ezekiel, "I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall increase and bear fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings" (36:10-11).

Today Beth Shemesh fulfils Ezekiel's prophecy and is like a phoenix rising from the ashes and ruins of its ancient past. New industries and an influx of new immigrants ensure a steady development of this town that has its origin dating back to the conquest of Canaan by Joshua.