Monday, November 30, 2009

Are Bet El and Luz really the same place?

Summary: Despite the pasuk at the start of Vayeitzei that Luz was the original name of Bet El, a pasuk in sefer Yehoshua suggests otherwise, for the border went from Bet El to Luz! How can we resolve this? Shadal, Malbim and Radak attack this problem, and solve it by interpreting the pasuk in Yehoshua in different ways.

The pasuk at the start of Vayeitzei:

יט  וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שֵׁם-הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא, בֵּית-אֵל; וְאוּלָם לוּז שֵׁם-הָעִיר, לָרִאשֹׁנָה.
19 And he called the name of that place Beth-el, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.
I might be tempted to draw a distinction between the general area and the city. But we also have in the beginning of Sefer Shofetim, when they conquer Luz:

כב  וַיַּעֲלוּ בֵית-יוֹסֵף גַּם-הֵם, בֵּית-אֵל; וַה, עִמָּם.
22 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Beth-el; and the LORD was with them.
כג  וַיָּתִירוּ בֵית-יוֹסֵף, בְּבֵית-אֵל; וְשֵׁם-הָעִיר לְפָנִים, לוּז.
23 And the house of Joseph sent to spy out Beth-el--now the name of the city beforetime was Luz.
But in sefer Yehoshua, 16:2:

א  וַיֵּצֵא הַגּוֹרָל לִבְנֵי יוֹסֵף, מִיַּרְדֵּן יְרִיחוֹ, לְמֵי יְרִיחוֹ, מִזְרָחָה; הַמִּדְבָּר, עֹלֶה מִירִיחוֹ בָּהָר--בֵּית-אֵל.
1 And the lot for the children of Joseph went out from the Jordan at Jericho, at the waters of Jericho on the east, going up from Jericho through the hill-country to the wilderness, even to Beth-el.
ב  וְיָצָא מִבֵּית-אֵל, לוּזָה; וְעָבַר אֶל-גְּבוּל הָאַרְכִּי, עֲטָרוֹת.
2 And it went out from Beth-el-luz, and passed along unto the border of the Archites to Ataroth.

For Luza means "to Luz", as we know in dikduk, and as Rashi says in the beginning of parshat Vayishlach:

to the land of Seir: Heb. אַרְצָה שֵׂעִיר [like] לְאֶרֶץ שֵׂעִיר, to the land of Seir. [In] every word that requires the prefix “lammed” [to] at the beginning, Scripture placed a“heh” at the end. — [from Yev. 13b]

ארצה שעיר: לארץ שעיר, כל תיבה שצריכה למ"ד בתחילתה הטיל לה הכתוב ה"א בסופה:

And Targum on the pasuk indeed states 'leLuz'. And then we see Luz again in perek 18:

יג  וְעָבַר מִשָּׁם הַגְּבוּל לוּזָה, אֶל-כֶּתֶף לוּזָה נֶגְבָּה--הִיא, בֵּית-אֵל; וְיָרַד הַגְּבוּל, עַטְרוֹת אַדָּר, עַל-הָהָר, אֲשֶׁר מִנֶּגֶב לְבֵית-חֹרוֹן תַּחְתּוֹן.
13 And the border passed along from thence to Luz, to the side of Luz--the same is Beth-el--southward; and the border went down to Atroth-addar, by the mountain that lieth on the south of Beth-horon the nether.

Depending on how one translates this pasuk, it might or it might not be a problem. Shadal writes, local to parshat Vayeitzei:
לוז שם העיר: לוז היתה עיר קודם לכן ואיננה במקום בית אל ממש, כי יעקב לא שכב בעיר אלא חוץ לעיר במקום שהיה בתחומה של עיר ונכלל עמה ונקרא בשמה; ומשם והלאה בני ישראל היו קוראים ללוז בית אל, ואצל הכנענים נקראה לוז כמלפנים, כנראה משופטים א' כ"ג וכ"ו.
ומה שכתוב ביהושע ט"ז ב' ויצא מבית אל לוזה, אין ראיה שהיו בית אל ולוז שתי ערים, אלא בית אל לוזה הכל עיר אחת, כלו' בית אל הנקראת לוזה; ואם תאמר א"כ מה זו הה"א בסוף התבה? והיה לו לומר מבית אל לוז, דע כי מצאנו לוזה בה"א יתרה, אל כתף לוזה נגבה היא בית אל (יהושע י"ח י"ג), וגם ממקרא זה ראיה שלא היו בית אל ולוז שתי ערים.
Luz was the name of the city: Luz was the name of the city before then, and it was not in the place of Bet El precisely, for Yaakov did not sleep in the city but rather outside the city, in a place which was in the techum of the city, such that it was encompassed within in and called by its name. And from then on, the Israelites called Luz "Bet El", while by the Canaanites it was called Luz just as aforetimes, as is apparent from Shofetim 1:23 and 1:26.
And that which is written in Yehoshua 16:2, "and it went from Bet El (to) Luz", this is not evidence that Bet El and Luz were two cities, but rather "Bet El Luza" is a single city. That is to say, Bet El which is called Luza. And if you say, if so, what is that heh at the end of the word? And it should have stated "from Bet El Luz" {rather than Luza}. Know that we do find Luza with an extra heh, in Yehoshua 18:13: אֶל-כֶּתֶף לוּזָה נֶגְבָּה--הִיא, בֵּית-אֵל. {Perhaps because we already have the leading word el in el ketef luza}. And also from this pasuk is evidence that Bet El and Luz are not two cities.
Thus, Bet El and Luz are the same, Luza is just a fancy name for it, and the text would say "Bet El Luza" as the name of the place.

It seems a solid position, yet something feels forced. And especially in contexts where we would expect the final heh to mark the destination, to choose the fancy form of the name, even in the same pasuk where the non-fancy form of the name appears, feels needlessly misleading.

Malbim grapples with the same issue, and he gives a more satisfying explanation, but in which Luz and Bet El are really two separate places:

טז, ב]

ויצא -
לוז לא עמד כנגד הר בית אל רק נכנס לצד דרום, שכן אמר (יח יב) והיו תוצאותיו מדברה בית און (מבואר ששם כלה חוט הרוחב) ועבר משם הגבול לוזה, א"כ היה כנוס לפנים לצד דרום, לכן אמר ויצא מבית אל לוזה, ולוז היה ליוסף, ועבר, ביושר..

And [the lot] went out: Luz did not stand just at the mountain of Bet El, but rather entered on the southern side, for so do we see (in Yehoshua 18:12, the previous pasuk):

יב  וַיְהִי לָהֶם הַגְּבוּל לִפְאַת צָפוֹנָה, מִן-הַיַּרְדֵּן; וְעָלָה הַגְּבוּל אֶל-כֶּתֶף יְרִיחוֹ מִצָּפוֹן, וְעָלָה בָהָר יָמָּה, והיה (וְהָיוּ) תֹּצְאֹתָיו, מִדְבַּרָה בֵּית אָוֶן.
12 And their border on the north side was from the Jordan; and the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north, and went up through the hill-country westward; and the goings out thereof were at the wilderness of Beth-aven.

which makes it clear that there ended the line of the width {of Eretz Yisrael}, and the border traveled from there to Luz. If so it entered inwards to the southern side. And therefore it said {here} that it went from Bet El to Luz {Luza}. And Luz was to Yosef, "and it passed", straightwise. {?}
I am not certain I understand his explanation fully, but it seems like it would work out. And then, Bet El and Luz would be two distinct but close places. And this also makes sense in terms of Vayeitzei, since Yaakov did not sleep in the city itself. So Bet El would be the Har Bet El, and Luz the city which was renamed Bet El would be a bit to the southern side of it.

Radak solves this problem neatly :

טז, ב]

מבית אל לוזה -
זה מקום היה שמו בית אל ואינו המקום שקרא יעקב אבינו בית אל, כי אותו שמו לוז והנה הוא אומר שיצא הגבול מבית אל ללוז ומגבול בנימין היה לוז, כמו שאומר בנחלת בנימין. ועבר משם הגבול לוזה אל כתף לוזה נגבה הוא בית אל

From Bet El to Luz: This place was named Bet El, but was not the place that Yaakov Avinu called Bet El. For that one was named Luz, and behold it states that the border went out from Bet El to Luz, and from the border of Binyamin was Luz, as is stated by the inheritance of Binyamin {in Yehoshua 18:2}, "and the border passed from there to Luz, to the side of Luz southward, that was Bet El."

This would also neatly solve the problem, that there was a second Bet El, which was not the same as that which Yaakov named. This confusion would then be a result of an unfortunate coincidence.

All of these meforshim are trying to give peshat in the pasuk. But I think that Malbim works out the best (meaning most straightforwardly, and doing the least harm to the simple implication of the pesukim), followed by Radak, and finally followed by Shadal.


yaak said...

You know what the gemara says about Luz. Also see Rashi there.

As a kid, I remember hearing that there were 2 cities called Luz - that would also answer the question - but I don't remember the source for it.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. indeed, that gemara is likely tied up with the dual Luz. because it is based on the pasuk in Shofetim.

in shofetim, they conquered Luz, and renamed it Bet El. they did this by promising safety to this one Luzite (Luz-er?). and he built another city in the area of the Chivi. and that rebuilt city is the one which no one can conquer.

so there was certainly this original Luz, which was Bet El, and this second Luz, established by this survivor of the first Luz.

i don't know if that is the same as the two Luzes you heard of as a kid. if not, then almost certainly. if it is, I am not sure. this could conceivably answer it, assuming that second Luz is in the right spot for a border town.


Anonymous said...

I had a thought about this on Shabbat. See what you think. It is my understanding that Yaakov fell asleep on Har Habayit with his head resting on the Even Hashtiya. This was known as both Beit El, since it was where the Beit Hamikdash would eventually be built and also as Luz, which is the bone from which the entire body will be rebuilt in time to come, because the whole world was created from this stone (the even hashtiya). Settlements which developed in close proximity, much like the Beit El of today, took these commonly known names. Are there any sources for such an idea?

joshwaxman said...

sorry, nothing i can put together. certainly there is basis for some elements there, such as the makom being har hamoriah...



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