(now Beitin). Of this locality we extract the following additional particulars from Porter's Handbook, p. 238.
"The site is surrounded by higher ground on every side except the south, and yet it is so high that from the upper part of it the dome of the great mosque in Jerusalem can be seen. The ruins of the ancient city cover the whole surface of the ridge, and are three or four acres in extent. They consist of foundations, fragments of walls, and large heaps of stones. On the highest point are the remains of a square tower; and towards the south are the walls of a Greek church, standing within the foundations of a much older edifice. Amid the ruins are about a score of low huts, rudely formed out of ancient materials. In the western valley is a cistern 314 feet by 217, constructed of massive stones. The southern side is entire, but the others are more or less ruinous." The following details are from Conder's Tent-work in Palestine, 2, 105 sq. "Bethel at the present day is one of the most desolatelooking places in Palestine; not from lack of water, for it has four good springs, but from the absence of soft soil on its rocky hills. All the neighborhood is of gray, bare stone, or white chalk. The miserable fields are fenced in with stone walls; the hovels are rudely built of stone; the hill to the east is of hard rock, with only a few scattered fig-gardens; the ancient sepulchres are cut in a low cliff, and a great reservoir south of the village is excavated in rock. The place seems as it were turned to stone, and we can well imagine that the lonely patriarch found nothing softer than a stone for the pillow under his head, when on the bare hill-side he slept, and dreamed of angels.
"It is very remarkable that in this narrative the word 'place' occurs in a manner which suggests that it is used with a special significance. Jacob came not to any city, but to a 'certain place' (Ge 28:11), the stones of which formed his pillow. The word 'place' (Makom) occurs five times in the same chapter, and the place called Bethel is distinguished specially from the neighboring city of Luz (ver. 19). The same word (Makom) is used to denote the sacred places of the Canaanites (De 12:2), and in the Talmud to denote the shrines held to be lawful for Israel before the Temple was built. It is thus, perhaps, a sacred place that is intended as having been Jacob's refuge on his way; and we at once recall the altar which Abraham raised between Bethel and Ai — towns which, as now identified, were only two miles apart. Abraham's altar must have been close to the city of Luz, subsequently named from it Bethel, 'the House of God;' and it was perhaps from the stones of this ancestral shrine that Jacob's pillow was made."