Bayt Nattif

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Bayt Nattif
Beit Natif 1948.jpg
Bayt Nattif after capture, 1948
Bayt Nattif is located in Mandatory Palestine
Bayt Nattif
Bayt Nattif
Subdistrict Hebron
Coordinates 31°41′43.9″N 34°59′45.6″E / 31.695528°N 34.996000°E / 31.695528; 34.996000Coordinates: 31°41′43.9″N 34°59′45.6″E / 31.695528°N 34.996000°E / 31.695528; 34.996000
Population 2150 (1945)
Date of depopulation October 21, 1948[1]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces

Bayt Nattif was a Palestinian Arab village in the Hebron Subdistrict. It was depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War on October 21, 1948 under Operation Ha-Har. It was located 21 km northwest of Hebron.[citation needed]

In 1945 it had a population of 2,150. Bayt Nattif contained several shrines, including a notable one dedicated to al-Shaykh Ibrahim.[2] Roughly a dozen khirbas lay in the vicinity.[3]

Figurine discovered in Bayt Nattif

The Bayt Nattif lamp[4] is named for a type of ceramic oil lamp found during the archaeological excavation of two cisterns at Bayt Nattif in southern Judaea.[5] Bayt Nattif was located 20 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem, midway between Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem. Based on the discovery of unused oil lamps and molds, it is believed that in ancient times the village manufactured late Roman or Byzantine pottery, possibly selling its wares in Jerusalem and Beit Guvrin.[6]


Bayt Nattif is mentioned in the writings of Josephus under the slightly different rendering, Bayt Letepha (Bethletephon).[7] According to Josephus, the city was sacked under Vespasian and Titus, during the first Jewish uprising against Rome.[8] The city had been assigned the status of toparchy, one of eleven toparchies or prefectures in Judaea given certain administrative responsibilities: 1) The toparchy of Gophna; 2) The toparchy of Acrabatta; 3) The toparchy of Thamna; 4) The toparchy of Lydda; 5) The toparchy of Emmaus; 6) The toparchy of Pella; 7) The toparchy of Idumea, one of whose principal cities being Bethletephon; 8) The toparchy of En Gedi; 9) The toparchy of Herodium; 10) The toparchy of Jericho, and 11) The toparchy of Jamnia and Joppa. These all answered to Jerusalem.[9]

During the 12th year of the reign of Nero, when the Roman army had suffered a great defeat under Cestius, with more than five-thousand foot soldiers killed, the people of the surrounding countryside feared reprisals from the Roman army and made haste to appoint generals and to fortify their cities. Generals were at that time appointed for Idumea, namely, over the entire region immediately south and south-west of Jerusalem, and which incorporated within it the towns of Bethletephon, Betar, Kefar Tobah, Dora and Marissa. This region was called Idumea on account of it being a region inhabited largely by the descendants of Esau (Edom) who made themselves proselytes to Judaism during the time of John Hyrcanus. Generals, likewise, were appointed for Jericho and Perea (in trans-Jordan), and another general for Thamma (whose authority extended over those able-bodied fighting men in Lydda, Joppa and Emmaus), while yet another general was appointed over the area about Gophna and Acrabatta, and yet another over the cities in the Galilee.[10]

Based upon archaeological finds that were discovered in Bayt Nattif, the city was still an important site in the Late Roman period. The place was now inhabited by Roman citizens and veterans, who settled the region as part of the Romanisation process that took place in the rural areas of Judaea after the Bar Kokhba war.[11]

Bayt Nattif was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War on October 21, 1948 under Operation Ha-Har, by the Fourth Battalion of the Har'el Brigade. Most of its inhabitants escaped to Bethlehem and Hebron.[12]


  1. ^ Morris, 2004, p.xx, village #342. Also gives cause of depopulation.
  2. ^ Walid Khalidi, All that Remains, Washington, D.C. 1992, pp. 211-212.
  3. ^ ibid.
  4. ^ Judean Beit Nattif Oil Lamp
  5. ^ New light on daily life at Beth Shean
  6. ^ Jerusalem Ceramic Chronology: Circa 200-800 CE, Jodi Magness
  7. ^ Walid Khalidi, All that Remains, Washington, D.C. 1992, pp. 211-212.
  8. ^ Josephus, De Bello Judaico (Wars of the Jews) iv.viii.1.
  9. ^ Josephus, De Bello Judaico (Wars of the Jews), iii.iii.4. [1]
  10. ^ Josephus, De Bello Judaico (Wars of the Jews), ii.xx.3-4
  11. ^ Boaz Zissu & Eitan Klein, A Rock-Cut Burial Cave from the Roman Period at Beit Nattif, Judaean Foothills, Israel Exploration Journal 61 (2), 2011, pp. 196-216
  12. ^ Walid Khalidi, All that Remains, Washington, D.C. 1992, pp. 211-212; Carta's Official Guide to Israel, Jerusalem 1983, s.v. Bayt Nattif.


Further reading[edit]

Boaz Zissu & Eitan Klein, "A Rock-Cut Burial Cave from the Roman Period at Beit Nattif, Judaean Foothills," Israel Exploration Journal 61(2), 2011, pp. 196-216

External links[edit]