Name History

What’s in a name?  Almost every town or city is named for something, a person, an event or a nearby geographical wonder.  Beit Lehi is no different.  Beit comes from the Arabic word meaning house or dwelling.  Lehi means jawbone.  Beit Lehi means the “house” or “dwelling” of the jawbone.  An odd name without the rest of the story.

The story begins around 1160 B.C.  As recorded in the Bible Judges chapters 13-15, Manoah and his wife have no children, but a man of Manoah’s means and stature in the community must have an heir.  He and his wife traveled often to a holy place near their home to make sacrifice and pray for a child.  That prayer is heard and answered when an angel appears to his wife and tells her that she will bare a son by God’s providence; that he should be a goodly child, of great strength; by whom the Israelites will be delivered from the hands of the Philistines.  He was to be a Nazirite, one who takes a vow of dedication to God.  At the time of Samson’s birth, the Israelites had been in bondage to the Philistines for more than 40 years.

Perhaps the strongest man in biblical history, Samson’s impetuous nature  causes havoc among the Philistines.  He ties torches to the tails of 300 foxes and releases them into the fields of the Philistines destroying all their crops.  He kills 30 Philistines when they didn’t play fair in solving a riddle.  The Philistines seek to remedy the situation by sending an army of one thousand men to capture Samson who is hiding in the cave of a rock at Etam.  The army demands that 3,000 men of Judah capture Samson and deliver him into their hands.  With Samson’s consent, the men of Judah bind him with rope and are about to hand him over to the Philistines when he breaks free.  Using the jawbone of an donkey that lays at his feet, Samson slays 1,000 Philistines.

Exhausted and near death from thirst, Samson prays for water.  Miraculously, a spring  bursts forth from the ground to revive the champion.  “And when he drunk, his spirit came again and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore (meaning fountain of the crier), which is in Lehi unto this day.” (Judges 15:19).  In writing “The Antiquities of the Jews”, the great Jewish historian Josephus (1st century A.D.) confirms the biblical account and notes that the spring remained vibrant in his day.  Samson remained at Lehi for 20 years as a judge of the people of Israel.

More than 3100 years later, Jewish tradition suggests that the spring that gave life to Samson continues to this day near Beit Lehi.


Samson's spring with the Beit Lehi archaeology site in the background


Samson's spring in the Fall. The water level is much higher in the Spring