This coast is marked out Joshua 18:12; where, at verse 14, are very many versions to be corrected, which render the sea; such are, the Syriac, the Seventy, the Vulgar, the Italian, ours, &c.: whence ariseth a sense of insuperable difficulty to a chorographical eye: when it should, indeed, be rendered of the west, as the Chaldee, Arabic, R. Solomon, &c. rightly do.
We read of a double Beth-horon in the Old Testament, but one only under the second Temple...
At that place that great Canaanitish army perished, Joshua 10, not with hail (the Jews being judges), which presently melted,--but with stones, which hardened, and lasted unto all following ages. Hence is that, "Whosoever shall see the place, where the Israelites passed through the sea, where they passed through Jordan, where they passed by the rivers of Arnon, or those great stones in the going down of Beth-horon,--is bound to bless."
They believe, in the same place, also, the army of Sennacherib fell. For so the Gloss upon the words before spoken, "The going down of Beth-horon was the place where the army of Sennacherib fell."
This was a highway. Josephus, in the place above cited, relating a story of one Stephen, a servant of Caesar, who suffered hardly by robbers in this place, saith, that it was "in the public way of Beth-horon,"--namely, in the king's highway, which goes from Jerusalem to Caesarea.
Yet the passage and ascent here was very strait; which the Talmudists do thus describe: "If two camels go up together in the ascent of Beth-horon, both fall." The Gloss, "The ascent of Beth-horon was a strait place; nor was there room to bend to the right hand or to the left."
The story of Cestius, the Roman captain, in Josephus, is sad, but not unseasonable in this place. He intrenched against Jerusalem, in a place called the Scope on the north part of the city (which we shall show hereafter): and being at length forced by the Jews to retreat, "he came near to Gabaon, to his former camp." And being pressed farther by them, he betook himself to Beth-horon; "He led his forces to Beth-horon."
"But the Jews, whilst he marched along places where there was room, did not much press him; but they getting before the Romans who were shut up within the straits of the descent (of Beth-horon), stopped them from going out: others thrust them that came in the rear down into the valley. And the whole multitude being spread at the opening of the way, covered the army with their darts."
Behold! the way leading from Jerusalem to Beth-horon:--
I. From the city to Scopo (of which we shall speak afterward), is seven furlongs.
II. From Scopo to Gabao, or Geba, forty-three furlongs. For Gabao was distant from Jerusalem...Josephus relating it, fifty furlongs,--that is, six miles and more.
III. From Geba to Beth-horon fifty furlongs, or thereabouts. And about Beth-horon was a very great roughness of hills, and a very narrow passage.