(Heb. Beyth, the "construct form" of בִּיִת, ba'yith, according to Furst, from בּוּת, to lodge in the night; according to Gesenius, from בָּנָה, to build, as δομός, domus, from δέμω), the name of the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, corresponding to our B, which was derived from it. As an appellative, it is the most general word for a house or habitation. Strictly speaking, it has the force of a settled stable dwelling, as in Ge 33:17, where the building of a "house" marks the termination of a stage of Jacob's wanderings (comp. also 2Sa 7:2,6, and many other places); but it is also employed for a dwelling of any kind, even for a tent, as in Ge 24:32, where it must refer to the tent of Laban; also Jg 18:31; 1Sa 1:7, to the tent of the tabernacle, and 2Ki 23:7, where it expresses the textile materials (A. V. "hangings") for the tents of Astarte. From this general force the transition was natural to a house in the sense of a family; as Ps 107:41, "families," or a pedigree, as Ezr 2:59. In 2Sa 13:7; 1Ki 13:7, and other places, it has the sense of 'house," i.e. "to the house." Beth also. has some collateral and almost technical meanings, similar to those which we apply to the word "house," as in Ex 25:27, for the "places" or sockets into which the bars for carrying the table were "housed;" and others. Like AEddes in Latin and Dom in German, Beth has the special meaning of a temple or house of worship, in which sense it is applied not only to the tabernacle (see above) or temple of Jehovah (1Ki 3:2; 1Ki 6:1, etc.), but to those of false gods — Dagon (Jg 16:27; 1Sa 5:2), Rimmon (2Ki 5:18), Baal (2Ki 10:21), Nisroch (2Ki 19:37), and other gods (Jg 9:27). "Bajith" (q.v.) in Isa 15:2 is really hab-Bajith= "the Temple" — meaning some well- known idol fane in Moab. Beth is more frequently employed as the first element of the names of places than either Kirjath, Hazer, Beer, Ain, or any other word. See those following. In some instances it seems to be interchangeable (by euphemism) for Baal (q.v.). In all such compounds as Beth-el, etc., the latter part of the word must be considered, according to our Occidental languages, to depend on the former in the relation of the genitive; so that BETHEL can only mean "house of God." The notion of house is, of course, capable of a wide application, and is used to mean temple, habitation, place, according to the sense of the word with which it is combined. In some instances the Auth. Vers. has translated it as an appellative; SEE BETH-EKED; SEE BETH-HAG-GAN; SEE BETH- EDEN.

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