BET(H)-DAGON (Heb. בֵּית דָּגוֹן), several biblical places, named after a house (shrine) of the god Dagon (cf. the Temple of Dagon in Ashdod, i Sam. 5:1ff.). (1) An unidentified city in the southern Shephelah district of Judah (Josh. 15:41). (2) A place in Galilee on the eastern border of the tribe of Asher, northeast of Mount Carmel (Josh. 19:27), which is possibly mentioned in a list of cities of Pharaoh Ramses iii. (3) A city mentioned as Bit-Daganna, near Jaffa, in the inscriptions of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in whose time (701 b.c.e.) it was under the rule of Ashkelon. The Tosefta in reference to it (Oho. 3:9) specifies that it is located "in Judah," and distinguishes it from Beth-Dagon located by Eusebius (Onom. 50:16) "between Diospolis (Lydda) and Jamnia (Jabneh)," but called by him Kefar Dagon. The original name appears on the Madaba Map in the form (Bet) odegana. It was populated by Samaritans, who built a synagogue there in the fourth century; their presence is still attested to in the tenth century. The crusaders erected a castle there, known as Casal Moyen or Castellum de Maen, i.e., "midway" between Jaffa and Ramleh, which was destroyed by Saladin in 1187, but rebuilt by Richard the Lion-Hearted four years later.
This site is now the small town of Bet Dagan. In modern times the Arab village Beit Dajan existed there, which increased in population and wealth due to the development of nearby Tel Aviv. Heavy fighting took place there during the War of Independence (1948) to secure Jewish traffic to Jerusalem and the south, and the village was abandoned. It was settled by immigrants from Bulgaria at the end of 1948 and called Bet Dagan ("House of Corn"). This soon developed from a moshav into a semi-urban community. In 1953 Bet Dagan received municipal council status. In 1962 the Israel Institute for Meteorology was opened there along with a state-owned agricultural experimental station. The town had 2,680 inhabitants in 1968 and 4,830 in 2002, occupying a municipal area of 0.6 sq. mi. (1.5 sq. km.).
[Efraim Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]
M. Avi-Yonah, Madaba Mosaic Map (1954), 62; Avi-Yonah, Land, 157; 107; Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 269; G. Beyer, in: zdpv, 56 (1933), 227; E. Dhorme, in: rhr, 138 (1950), 130–1; Press, Ereẓ, 1 (1951), 79; Aharoni, Land, 337. website: www.beitdagan.muni.il.