Beit Yerach

Beit_Yerakh_Mound_תל_בית_ירח_-_panoramioBeit Yerach was a Canaanite city and later a prominent Hellenist town. There is little to see at the site as the antiquities are now in museums.
The name Beit Yerach means, ‘house of the moon.’ The name probably reflects the worship of the city’s founders. Nearby Zinabri is also thought to be named for a Babylonian moon god. The ‘holy anchors’ on display at the Gordon Museum were found here. The Canaanite city’s size is suggested by its grain silos dating from 2500 BCE: their total capacity was approximately 1500 tons of wheat, enough to feed a population of 6000 for over a year. The biggest ancient storage facility found in Israel, the silos (as well as the massive city walls) suggest that Beit Yerach had a well organized government serving a population of excellent farmers. A thousand years later the city was apparently abandoned, and was not rebuilt until the Persian conquest (sixth to fourth centuries BCE).
During the Second Temple period Beit Yerach was renamed Philoteria for the sister of an Egyptian ruler. A bath house, synagogue and church dating from the Byzantine period were uncovered. Unlike Kfar Nachum, here the church prospered while the synagogue was damaged. In the seventh century invading Moslems destroyed the church and built a winter palace in its place. Subsequently the site was abandoned, and restored only with the renewal of Jewish settlement in the last century. Thus Beit Yerach was twice deserted for a millennium at a time.
In 1905 the land here was bought by Jews looking for a place to build villas. The villas were never built, and today Beit Yerach Regional High School and Oholo Teacher Training Seminary stand on the site.


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