beth'-zur (beth-tsur; Baith-sour, "house of rock"; less probably "house of the god Zur"):
(1) Mentioned (Joshua 15:58) as near Halhul and Gedor in the hill country of Judah; fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:7). In Nehemiah 3:16 mention is made of "Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of half the district of Beth-zur." During the Maccabean wars it (Bethsura) came into great importance (1 Macc 4:29,61; 6:7,26,31,49,50; 9:52; 10:14; 11:65; 14:7,33). Josephus describes it as the strongest place in all Judea (Ant., XIII, v, 6). It was inhabited in the days of Eusebius and Jerome.
(2) It is the ruined site Belt Cur, near the main road from Jerusalem to Hebron, and some 4 miles North of the latter. Its importance lay in its natural strength, on a hilltop dominating the highroad, and also in its guarding the one southerly approach for a hostile army by the Vale of Elah to the Judean plateau. The site today is conspicuous from a distance through the presence of a ruined medieval tower. (See PEF, III, 311, Sh XXI).
E. W. G. Masterman
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