A Jewish acquaintance has spent a lot of time with archeologists in and around Jerusalem, researching the latest finds in the ancient area known as the City of David. Although a very successful businessman, he is also a true scholar of Israel’s history and of the Old Testament. I will refer to him as KB.
KB’s considered view (with which I am in accord) is that the site of Jerusalem and particularly the Gihon Spring and Zion area is the original site at which Jacob declared, ‘this is none other than the house of God (BETHEL) and the gate of heaven’ (Gen. 28:17). I quote KB as follows (with some clarifications of mine in parenthesis. Underlining is also mine).
The map referred to is at right--
“The precise location of Bethel (which is Luz according to Genesis 28:19 and Joshua 18:13) remains a major point of contention among academics and Biblical scholars. Luz being synonymous with Bethel may not seem that significant, but it has caused and continues to cause Israel's greatest disasters. Rivalry is the heart of this dynamic millennial problem.
The problem is relevant because modern Bethel, which is north of Jerusalem significantly distorts our understanding of Torah, especially when it substitutes the location of Luz-Bethel-Jerusalem on Benjamin’s southern border intersecting Judah's northern boundary. The problem originated on Benjamin's northern boundary with Ephraim (see Bethel in the map above).
Replace the name "Jerusalem" with "Bethel" and you will immediately notice the mirror image problem for two of Israel's most competitive tribes at their dueling Bethel locations (dueling over their Bethel locations).
What's the big deal you may ask? During Israel’s ~250 year exile in Egypt and sojourn in the desert, the location of Jacob's covenant at Bethel was hidden. Around 250 years before the allotment of land to the tribes of Israel under Joshua, Jacob had returned to Luz-Bethel-Jerusalem where he had made a covenant and took the name Israel (Genesis 35:10). Importantly the mountain on which Luz-Bethel-Jerusalem was located, Mount Moriah (Mt Moriah must be seen as the ‘Moriah Complex’, including its ridge southward into the Kidron Valley) would ultimately become the site of the altar and temple.
As such it would be extremely prestigious and economically lucrative, but, at that time it was not generally known whether Jacob's Bethel was on the northern or southern boundary of Benjamin. This gave rise to massive rivalry between Ephraim and Judah.
The Book of Joshua, was completed by the end of his life, it set the guidance that would demarcate land, but in Joshua's absence it was open to interpretation and became food for rivals (rivalry). The tribes were preoccupied defending and settling their respective land, but they could not penetrate the fortress that had been built over Jacob’s covenant (site) and (had been) occupied by Jebusites at Luz.
It would be another 300 years before the fortress would be captured by King David. During this long period, without knowing where Luz-Bethel-Jerusalem was in the south, Bethel north of Benjamin became entrenched (or understood to be the site)”
This explanation clarifies much. Clearly the original Bethel (Beit-El) ‘House of God’ was where Jacob had his vision and he, as his father Abraham had, called the site, HaMakom—THE PLACE.
Discover more about this ancient and most significant Biblicel site in
'THE PLACE HaMakom: where Jerusalem's temples stood'
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