There were two cities of this name in the northern border of the tribe of Benjamin (Josh.
16.5, 18.13), but belonging to the tribe of Ephraim, and assigned to the Levites. (Josh.
21.22.) Originally built by Sherah (1 Chron.
7.24); they were fortified by Solomon. (2 Chron.
The two cities were distinguished as the Upper
and the Lower,
the Upper being situated more to the east, the Lower to the west, where the mountain country inclines towards the great western plain.
It was in this neighbourhood that Joshua defeated the allied kings (10.10, 11), and 15 centuries later that same “going down to Bethoron” was fatal to the Roman army under Cestius, retreating before the Jews from his unsuccessful attempt upon the city (B. J.
2.19. § § 2, 8), as it had been once again, in the interim, to the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes, under Seron, who lost 800 men in this descent after he had been routed by Judas Maccabaeus. (1 Mace.
3.16, 24.) Bethoron was one of several cities fortified by Bacchides against Jonathan, the brother of Judas (9.50).
These towns lay on the high road from Jerusalem to Caesarea, by way of Lydda, and are frequently mentioned in the line of march of the Roman legions (ll. cc., B. J.
2.19. § § 1, 2, 8).
The highway robbery of Stephanus, the servant of the emperor Claudius, one of the events which helped to precipiate the war, took place on this road (B. J.
2.12.2), at the distance of 100 stadia from Jerusalem. (cf. Ant.
20.5.4.) Eusebius and St. Jerome mention two villages of this name 12 miles from Aelia (Jerusalem), on the road to Nicopolis (Emmaus) [they would more correctly have written Diospolis (Lydda)]; and St. Jerome remarks that Rama, Bethoron, and the other renowned cities built by Solomon, were then inconsiderable villages. (Commsent. in Sophon.
c. l.) Villages still remain on the sites of both of these ancient towns, and are still distinguished as Beit-‘ûr et-Tahta
i. e. the Lower and the Upper. They both contain scanty remains of ancient buildings, and traces of a Roman road are to be found between them. They are about an hour (or three miles) apart. (Robinson, B. R.
vol. iii. pp. 59--62.)