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BET(H)-HORON (Heb. בֵּית חוֹרוֹן; Upper, עֶלְיוֹן (Elyon), and Lower, תַּחְתּוֹן (Taḥton)), two adjacent biblical towns named after the Canaanite deity Horon mentioned in Ugaritic literature and other texts. The towns, known as Upper and Lower Horon, were strategically located on the Gibeon-Aijalon road and guarded the important "ascent of Beth-Horon." Biblical tradition attributes their founding to Sheerah, daughter of Beriah, son of Ephraim (i Chron. 7:24). They were located on the border between the territory of the tribe of Ephraim and that of Benjamin (Josh. 16:3; 18:13–14). One or both of the towns was a levitical city (Josh. 21:22; i Chron. 6:53). Solomon fortified Beth-Horon (the lower town only, according to i Kings 9:17; both towns according to ii Chron. 8:5). Beth-Horon is mentioned together with Gibeon in the list of towns conquered by Pharaoh *Shishak (tenth century b.c.e.). It then became part of the kingdom of Judah (cf. ii Chron. 25:13). In the Persian and Hellenistic periods, Beth-Horon was in Judea. During the Hasmonean Wars, *Bacchides fortified both towns (i Macc. 9:50). The Mishnah (Shev. 9, 2) states that the Maritime Plain begins at Beth-Horon. It is located by Eusebius (Onom. 46:21) 12 (Roman) mi. from Aelia Capitolina (i.e., Jerusalem) and within its territory; on the *Madaba Map the two villages are marked as one place. Upper Beth-Horon is now identified with the Muslim Arab village ʿUr al-Fawqā (pop. 298 in 1967) and Lower Beth Horon with Beit ʿUr al-Taḥtā (pop. 920 in 1967). The road passing the two and the ascent between them were of military importance in ancient times. *Joshua pursued the Canaanite kings along this ascent after the battle of Gibeon (Josh. 10:10–11); the *Philistines passed this way after their setback at Michmas (i Sam. 13:18); here also *Judah Maccabee defeated Seron, the Seleucid general (i Macc. 3:16), and a Zealot force defeated the Roman governor *Cestius Gallus on his retreat from Jerusalem (Jos., Wars, 2:538ff., 546ff.). Archaeological finds indicate that Lower Beth-Horon, where potsherds from the Late Bronze Age onward have been uncovered, was established before Upper Beth-Horon, where the finds date only from and after the Iron Age (the Monarchy). An ostracon found at Tell el Qasīle (north Tel Aviv) mentions a consignment of gold for "Beth-Horon," but it is uncertain whether the name of the place Beth-Horon is meant or "the temple of [the god] Horon."

[Michael Avi-Yonah]


Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 274; B. Maisler (Mazar), in: jnes, 10 (1951), 266ff.; Mazar, in: vt, Suppl., 4 (1957), 61; Aharoni, Land, index; J. Garstang, Joshua-Judges (1931), 224; em, 2 (1954), 73–75.