Location is the key. If you consider yourself a Christian, then you probably already know God has a plan for everything. And God’s Will is more powerful than anything. A big thing about His plan is the location. I bet there were times when you wondered this yourself “Why are they meeting in Jerusalem? Why is Israel so important? Why is Beit Shemesh a big deal?”
We might never understand the bigger picture, but what we need to understand is that God intended it this way. You will notice in the Holy Book that God sends signs to His children, sometimes even telling them exactly where to go and what to do there.
There are many locations in the Bible that prove important to God. One of them is Beit Shemesh, or “Beth Shemesh,” as some still call it. This ancient city was located between Judah and Dan and was given to the Levites. The Levites in the Bible were the descendants of Jacob’s son, Levi.
The Levites were chosen to serve God in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. At that time, the city of Beth Shemesh was the most important city of the Israelites. One of the reasons for its importance was its strategic position. It offered great visibility in all directions. To the East and West, you could see through the Sorek Valley, and to the North and South, you could see the Diagonal Route.
Why Is the Ancient City of Beit Shemesh Important in the Bible?
Beit Shemesh, or “the House of the Sun,” was extremely important to travelers, mostly because of its location at that time. Although no name has ever been given to the route connecting the ancient city of Beth Shemesh to Lachish. Many of them still refer to it as the “Diagonal Route.” This is because it was a massive route at that time that guaranteed you reach the major cities of the time, Azekah, Moresheth Gath, Mareshah/Beth Guvrin, and Lachish.
Beth Shemesh is also associated with the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant is a crucial piece of history for Christians everywhere. It is said that the two tablets that show the Ten Commandments are kept inside this gold-plated wooden chest.
As you can probably imagine, the Ark of the Covenant is a priceless artifact for Christianity, and anything related to it instantly becomes “gold.” Such is the case for the city of Beit Shemesh. Therefore, the story that revolves around this ancient city and the Ark of the Covenant is an interesting one.
It is said that the Ark was placed in Shiloh, the central sanctuary of the Israelites, during the pre-monarchic period when the First Temple was not built yet. Shiloh was located just north of Jerusalem, and the Israelites were living there. After a tragic battle, the Philistines, who were always the number one enemy of the Israelites throughout the Bible, defeated them and stole the Ark of the Covenant.
The Philistines in the Bible represent the “eternal enemy” of the Israelites. The Holy Book describes them as “a crude and warlike race.” They did not believe in God, for they had a false one that they worshiped, Dagon.
Did God Punish the Philistines for Stealing the Ark of the Covenant from Beit Shemesh?
“After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon.” (1 Samuel 5:1-2) God was angry at their actions and decided to punish them for their heinous crime toward the Israelites. “But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD!
His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.” (1 Samuel 5:4) After destroying the statue of their god, Dagon, in their beloved temple, God decided to cast an illness upon them.
“The LORD’s hand was heavy upon the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation upon them and afflicted them with tumors. When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, [The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon, our god.].”
And so, the illness, the destruction, and the chaos did not stop until the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant to the place where God Himself intended it to stay, in Beit Shemesh.
Why Are Locations Important in the Bible?
The Bible is the most important book in humankind’s history. It gives great insights into how people lived before Jesus Christ. And it is a constant reminder that Christianity was not always what it is today. Sadly, there have been many battles, many deaths recorded, and many atrocities that happened to the early followers of the Lord for us. Also, to be able to freely walk the streets in all corners of the world today.
And because the stories in the Holy Book are crucial to Christianity, so are the locations. Imagine if the Bible never mentioned that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. Millions of non-believers claim they found their paths to God after they visited some iconic places mentioned in the Bible. Just like Jesus Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem.
At the same time, many miracles have happened over the years in holy places. Also, many places are thought to be protected by God forever. Mainly because of their purity and the hardship that they have faced. For example, the ancient city of Beit Shemesh was destroyed a few times but was always rebuilt.
The Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant from the people who lived there. But after being punished by the Lord Himself, they returned it. Travelers who visited Jerusalem claim there is a presence there that you can feel, protecting, watching. Likewise, travelers And although we as Christians know that God is always with us. It is not a farfetched idea to assume that he has guardian angels guarding certain locations.