Ruins at Beth-zur, 1920s
Beth-Zur (also Beit Tzur, Bethsura) is a biblical site of historic and archaeological importance in Judea. Beth Zur is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible and the writings of the Roman Jewish historian Josephus. It has been identified as the site of the Battle of Beth-Zur.
The name Beth-Zur means "house of rock," or less likely "house of the god Zur." Beth-Zur is mentioned in Joshua as being near Halhul and Gedor, in the Judean hill country. Rehoboam is credited with its fortification. The Prophet Nehemiah is said to have been the ruler of a half district of the same name.
In 164 BC, during the Maccabean wars, the Battle of Beth-Zur was fought here. The site’s importance lay in its strategic location on a hilltop dominating the highway, preventing the approach of a hostile army from the Valley of Elah to the Judean plateau. Josephus describes Beth-Zur as the mightiest stronghold in Judea.
The battle was the confrontation between the Seleucid Greek general Lysias and the Maccabees, led by Judas Maccabeus, resulting in the defeat of Lysias and his forces. This victory was followed by the recapture of Jerusalem by the Maccabees. The key to the battle was the exploitation of the natural terrain and fortifications.
- Masterman, E. W. G. (1915). "Beth-Zur". International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Eds. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. Retrieved December 9, 2005.
- Hutchinson, J. (1915). "Lysias". International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Eds. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. Retrieved December 12, 2007.
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