Old Testament: Places

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Home > The Old Testament > Places within Israel

This page has two purposes. The first is to serve as a quick reference to quickly explain the significance of important places within Old Testament Israel. The second is to collect links to additional background material on a single page. Locations outside of Israel are treated at Old Testament: Foreign Nations. Each entry on this page should remain short enough to read in under two minutes.


One can get through the Old Testament without knowing much of what is written on this page. But this information will enrich one's understanding by explaining the significance of a reference to a particular place.

Modern readers bring a lot of cultural knowledge to references to places such as Paris, New York City, Silicon Valley, and Nebraska. What follows are to which the Old Testament makes passing references without explaining the cultural knowledge that an ancient Israelite would bring.

Five of these are clustered together in southern Israel: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Gibeah, Bethel, Mizpah. Four more are clustered together in central Israel: Samaria, Gerizim, Shechem, Shiloh. That leaves only eight other places scattered around Israel.

BETHLEHEM is a good model of what entries on this page should be.


Located in northeast Israel, east of the Sea of Galilee, on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid C.2-3.

Northern part of Trans-Jordan. Very fertile.

Additional information on Bashan can be found at:


Located in far southern Israel on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid A-B.7.

Conquered by David. Many wells in the area, at least some dug by Abraham and Jacob. Southernmost settled area of Israel. Abraham’s pact with Abimelech (Gen. 26:23-33). Jacob had his dream at Shechem after leaving Ber Sheeba (28:10-15; 46:1-7). In area of Simeon and Judah. Elijah took refuge here after Jezenbel ordered him killed (1 Kgs 19:3). Samuel’s sons were judges here (1 Sam 8:2). Saul built a fort here for his campaign against the Amalekites (1 Sam 14:48; 15:2-9). Has at times been entirely abandoned. Today over 200,000. Did not extract a list of cites. Bersheeba is significant as:

  • part of the phrase "Dan to Bersheeba," meaning all of combined Israel, from the far northernmost point to the southernmost

Additional information on Bersheeba can be found at:


Located in south-central Israel, north of Jerusalem, on LDS Bible Maps 3-4, Grid A-B.5, C-D.5.

Bethel, previously known as Luz, was one of the most sacred places in Israel. Bethel was located 12 miles north of Jerusalem and about 12 miles west of Jericho on the border between Benjamin and Ephraim. Bethel was significant as:

  • the place where Abraham built his first altar in Canaan (__), and to which he then returned after going to Egypt (Genesis 12:8, 13:3).
  • the place where Jacob had his dream, God promises him the land of Canaan, and he sets up a pillar. (Genesis 28:19).
  • the place where Jacob covenant renewed and name change to Israel. (Genesis 35:__).

In the days of united Israel, Bethel was a sanctuary. (1 Samuel 7:16, 10:3).

  • One of the two cities (Dan and Bethel) in which Jeroboam I, first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, placed two golden calves as he tried to dissuade his new subjects from leaving the kingdom to go worship at Jerusalem (1 Kgs 12:26-30).

Bethel is also mentioned in the followng passages: Gen 12:8; 13:3; 28:19; 31:13; 35:1-16; Joshua 7:2; 8:9-17; 16:1-2; 18:13, 22; Judges 1:22-23; 4:4; 21:19; 1 Sam 7:16; 10:3; 13:2; 30:27; 1 Kings 12:29-13:32; 2 Kings 2:2-3, 23; 10:29; 17:28; 23:4-19; 1 Chron 7:28; 2 Chron 13:19; Ezra 2:28; Neh 7:32; 11:31.

"Mentioned 71 times (2nd only to ), the city is located 12 miles north of on the Ephraim-Benjamin border (Josh 16:2). It is tied to both Abraham (Gen 12:8) and Jacob (Gen 28:19) and is the site of one of King Jeroboam’s two shrines (1 Kgs 12:32-33). It is a target of the prophet Amos (Amos 5:5-6), and is rebuilt by returning exiles during the Persian period (Ezra 2:28)."

Joshua 8:17 and 12:16 is a different Bethel in southern Judah.

Additional information on Bethel can be found at:


A small town located in southern Israel, 5 miles south of Jerusalem, on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid B.6.

Bethlehem was significant as:

Bethlehem also figured prominently in the "Bethlehem Trilogy," a name applied to the last two stories in Judges regarding the apostasy of tribes of Dan (Judg 17:7-10) and the destruction of Benjamin (Judg 19:1-2, 18) plus the story of David’s great grandmother Ruth (Ruth 1:1, 19, 22; 2:4; 4:11).

Bethlehem is also mentioned in the following passages:

Additional information on Bethlehem can be found at:

Additional pictures of Bethlehem can be found at:


Located in northwest Israel, near the Mediterranean coast, on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid B.3.

Mount Carmel. Elijah. Transfiguration.

Additional information on Carmel can be found at:


This heading discusses Dan as a location, not as a tribe or people.

Located in far northern Israel on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid C.2.

Dan, previously known as Laish, was located at the far northern end of Israel. Dan was not generally important to the history of Israel, but was significant as:

  • part of the phrase "Dan to Bersheeba," meaning all of combined Israel, from the far northernmost end to the southernmost
  • One of the two cities (Dan and Bethel) in which Jeroboam I, first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, placed two golden calves as he tried to dissuade his new subjects from leaving the kingdom to go worship at Jerusalem (1 Kgs 12:26-30).

Dan is also mentioned in the following passages:

Additional information on Dan can be found at:


Located in central Israel overlooking Shechem on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid B.4-5 and LDS Bible Maps 3-4, Grid A-B.4, C-D.4.

Samaritan temple post-exile.

Additional information on Mount Gerizim can be found at:


Located in southern Israel, north of Jerusalem, on LDS Bible Map 4, Grid C-D.5

Gibeah, also known as Gibeah of Saul or Gibeah of Benjamin, was a small town located 3 miles north of Jerusalem. Gibeah was significant as:

  • the town where Benjamites raped a concubine, which in turn led to the destruction of Benjamin
  • the hometown and capitol of King Saul
  • Kirjath-Jearim was the location of the Ark of the Covenant (at Abinidab's house at Kirjath-Jearim) for at least twenty years after it was captured and then returned by the Philistines in the days of Eli and Samuel (1 Sam 6:1-7:2) until it was moved by King David (from Abinidab's house at Gibeah) to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6).

Gibeah is also mentioned in the following passages: Joshua 15:57; 18:28 allotment to Benjamin; 24:33; Judges 19:12-16; 20:4-43; same as Awarta in Joshua 24:33 where Eleazer son of Aaron is buried; 1 Sam 10:26-11:4; 13:2-16; 14:2-5, 16; 15:34; 22:6; 23:19; 26:1; 2 Sam 6:3-4; 21:6; 23:29; 1 Chron 11:31; 2 Chron 13:2.

Additional information on Gibeah can be found at:


Located east of the Jordan River LDS Bible Map 1, Grid C.3-4

Name given to Trans-Jordan south of Bashan.

Additional information on Gilead can be found at:


Located north of the Dead Sea, along the Jordan River, on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid B-C.5-6

Gilgal may mean "circle of standing stones." Gilgal was located barely north of Jericho where the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea. Gilgal was significant as:

Symbolically important, and in Saul's day a sacred city.

  • the location where the Israelites camped on the first night after crossing the Jordan River into the promised land of Canaan and set up twelve stones as witnesses that the Lord had parted the river for them to cross. (Joshua 4:19; 5:10; 10).
  • the location where Saul was made king (1 Samuel 10:8; 11:14-15; 13:4, 15; 15:12-33), though some scholars think that was a different Gilgal near Bethel.

Gilgal is also mentioned in the following passages: Deut 11:30; Joshua 4:19-5:10; 9:6; 10:6-15, 43; 14:6; 15:7; Judges 2:1; 3:19; 1 Sam 7:16; 10:8; 11:14-15; 13:4-15; 15:12, 21, 33; 2 Sam 19:15, 40; 2 Kings 2:1; 4:38; Neh 12:29.

This is probably not the same Gilgal mentioned in Joshua 12:7 since it would not make sense for Israel to go back and conquer a place where it had previously encamped while conquering the large nearby city of Jericho. This is probably also not the same Gilgal that Elijah and Elisha later visit probably 8 miles north of Bethel. Scholars do not know if the Gilgal mentioned in Deuteronomy 11:29 is the same as any of these.

Additional information on Gilgal can be found at:


Located a little east of the Jordan River on LDS Bible Map 3, Grid B.4

Located just east of the Jordan River in Manasseh. Known primarily for its friendship toward the tribe of Benjamin and toward King Saul. Only town that did not join in destroying Benjamin. Saul’s kingship was cemented when he lifted the siege of Jabesh-gilead. It informed on David to King Saul, and after Saul’s death removed his body from the wall of a Philistine city.

Judges 21:8-14; 1 Sam 11:1-10; 31:11-13; 2 Sam 2:4-5; 21:12; 1 Chron 10:11-12.

Additional information on Jabesh-Gilead can be found at:


Located in southern Israel on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid B.6

Israel did not conquer Jerusalem until the seventh year of King David's reign. David promptly made Jerusalem his capitol. (2 Samuel 5:5-9). When Solomon built the temple, it was also at Jerusalem (CITE). When the kingdom was divided following Solomon's reign, the capitol of the Southern Kingdom of Judah remained in Jerusalem (CITE).

Jerusalem is also mentioned in the following passages prior to its conquest by the Israelites. Joshua 10:1-5, 23; 12:10; 15:8, 63; 18:28; Judges 1:7-8, 21; 19:10; 1 Sam 17:34 or 54; 2 Sam 5:5-14; 8:7; 9:13; 10:14; 11:1-31; 14:23, 28; 15:8-37; 16:3, 15; 17:20; 19:19-34; 20:2-7, 22; 24:8, 16; 1 Kings 2:11, 36-3:1, 15; 8:1 9:15, 19; 10:2, 26-27; 11:7, 29-42; 12:18-28; 14:21-25; 15:1-4, 10; 22:42; 2 Kings 8:17, 26; 9:28; 12:1, 17-18; 14:2; etc.

Additional information on Jerusalem can be found at:


Located in northwest Israel on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid B.3-4.

Megiddo sat atop a large hill overlooking the Jezreel Valley or Esdraelon Plain. Control of Megiddo translated into military control of the entire Jezreel Valley, as well as control of the main Via Maris route between Egypt and Syria as it left the Mediterranean coast to avoid the Carmel uplands.(CITE)

Several important battles were fought near Megiddo. The Hebrew word har means hill or mountain, so the hill on which Megiddo sat was known as Har-megiddo, which is rendered in Greek as Armageddon, site of the great and final battle prophesied in Rev 16:16.[1] The Valley of Jehosaphat or Valley of Decision referenced in Joel 3:2, 12, 14 is often interpreted to likewise mean the Jezreel Valley.(CITE)

Megiddo is also mentioned in the following passages: site of Sisera’s defeat by Deborah and Barak (Judg 5:19); fortified by Solomon (1 Kgs 9:15); site of Ahaziah's death, last king of the Omrid dynasty over the Northern Kingdom of Israel (2 Kgs 9:27); site where king Josiah was killed while trying to stop an Egyptian army that was on its way up the coast to oppose the Babylonians (2 Kgs 23:29–30; 2 Chr 35:20-24).

Additional information on Megiddo can be found at:


Located in southern Israel, north of Jerusalem, on [Map]

Located 8 miles north of Jerusalem.

Gen 31:48; Joshua 11:3, 8; 5:38; 18:26; Judges 10:19; 11:11-34; 20:1-3; 21:1-8; 1 Sam 7:5-16; 10:17; 22:3; 1 Kings 15:22; 2 Kings 25:23, 25; 2 Chron 16:6; Neh 3:7-19.

Mizpah of Benjamin is about 8 miles north of Jerusalem. This is where Israel gathered to destroy Benjamin in Judges. Also with Samuel after the ark was lost to the Philistines and again to anoint Saul as King (a Benjamite at the location where they had plotted to destroy Benjamin).

After Jeremiah released from Ramah by Babylonians, he went to Mizpah of Benjamin.

Mizpah in Gilead is where Jacob and Laban put pile of stones. Gen 31:49. May be the same Mizpah of Gilead where Jephthah of Judges lived. Mizpah in Gilead in Joshua may be different, at the foot of Mount Hermon. The heap of stones raised by Jacob and Laban (Gen. 31:49; Judges 10:17; 11; 20-21). Gad (Joshua 18:26).

Mizpah in Moah is a fortress where David took his parents for safety. 1 Samuel 22:3

Joshua 15:38 may also be a different place in Judah southwest of Jerusalem.

Additional information on Mizpah can be found at:


This heading discusses the city of Samaria, not the region.

Located in central Israel on LDS Bible Map 1, Grid B.4

Samaria was located __ miles northwest of Shechem on Maps 1, 9 near modern Nablus. King Omri purchased this hill and built a new capitol for the Northern Kingdom of Israel. (1 Kgs 16:24; 2 Kgs 17:5-6). Samaria survived three sieges by Ben Hadad II of Syria before falling to Assyria. (1 Kgs 20, 2 Kgs 7).

1 Kings 13:32; 16:24-32; 18:2; 20:1-21:18; 22:10-51; 2 Kings 1:2-3; 2:25-3:6; 5:3; 6:19-25; 7:1, 18; 10:1-17, 35-36; 13:1-13; 14:14-23; 15:8-27; 17; 18; 21:13; 23:18-19; 2 Chron 18:2, 9; 22:9; 25:13, 24; 28:8-15; Ezra 4:10-17; Neh 4:2.

Additional information on Samaria can be found at:


Located in central Israel, between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, on LDS Bible Maps 3-4, Grid A-B.4, C-D.4

Located west of the Jordan River halfway between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee, in the heart of Ephraim at the foot of Mount Gerizim. Very old commercial city located on trade routes.

Visited by Abraham on his first visit to Canaan (Ge.n. 12:6). Jacob bought land here (Gen. 33:18; 35:4; 37:14; Acts 7:16). Ephraim (Joshua 17:7). Levite city and city of refuge (Joshua 20:7; 21:21; 1 Chron 6:67). Joshua addressed the people (Joshua 24:1). Bones of Joseph buried (Joshua 24:32). Rehoboam crowned here in hopes of pacifying North (1 Kings 12:1; 2 Chron. 10). Also Judges 8:31; 9:6, 46; 21:19; I Kgs 12:25; 1 Chron 7:28; Jer. 41:5). Abimelech.

Located in Manasseh, or the hill country of Ephraim, and is the first capitol of the Northern Kingdom. North of Bethel and Shiloh. May be the first place Abraham stopped on entering Canaan. Here revenge on those who raped Dinah by prince of Schechem area. Here Joshua gathered the Israelites to have them affirm loyalty to the Torah. Here Abimelech was crowned king. Joseph’s bones are buried here. Jacob’s well is nearby. It is at the foot of Mount Gerizim, on which Jotham makes his speech about Abimelech. After Abimelech destroyed it, rebuilt and probably the capitol of Ephraim. After Solomon’s death here Jeroboam made king of ten tribes and it was the Northern Kingdom capitol for a time. Capitol them moved to Tirzah and then to Samaria. Now Nablus in Palestine. Then not important until when Nehemiah casts out the priest who married Sanballat’s daughter, they go to Shechem. Then a main settlement of the Samaritans with their temple on Mount Gerizim.

"The twin peaks of and Mt Gerizim dominate this city in the Central Hill Country (30 miles north of ). Easy access to trade routes connecting the Coastal Plain the Via Maris to the west and fords of the and King’s Highway in the east make this site one of the major crossing points. It is attached to Abraham’s entrance to here (Gen 12:6-7), Joshua’s covenant renewal ceremony following the conquest (Deut 11:29; Josh 24), and Rehoboam’s disastrous meeting with the tribal elders here (1 Kgs 12:1-17)."

Gen 33:18-34:26; 35:4; 37:12-14; Num 26:31; Joshua 17:2, 7; 20:7; 21:21; 24:1-32; Judges 8:31-9:57; 21:19; 1 Kings 12:1, 25; 1 Chron 6:67; 7:19, 28; 10:1.

Additional information on Schechem can be found at:


Located in central Israel on LDS Bible Maps 3-4, Grid A-B.4, C-D.4

Located halfway between Bethel and Shechem, 10 miles from each, in the hill country of Ephraim.

Tabernacle and ark kept here and is the religious center of Israel during Judges until ark lost (1 Sam 1:3). Joshua 22:9, 12; Judges 21:12-23; 1 Sam 1:24; 3:21; 4:3-4; 14:3; 1 Kgs 2:27; 14:2, 4. This is where people gathered for the major festivals and sacrifices, and Joshua assigned the lands of inheritance.

(Ark set up at Shiloh (Josh 18:1); Judges 18:31). Gen 49:10; Joshua 18:1-10; 19:51; 21:2; 22:9-12; Judges 18:31; 21:12-21; Taken from Shiloh into battle, where lost to Philistines for seven months (1 Sam 1-4); 14:3; 1 Kings 2:27; 14:1-4.

"Located in the Ephraimite Hill Country between Shechem and Bethel (10 miles north of Bethel and 20 miles northeast of Jerusalem) just east of the trade route (Judg 21:19). Its fame originates with the story of Joshua’s division of the land (Josh 18:1), its use as a cultic center where the ark of the covenant resides in Eli’s time (1 Sam 4:3-4), and reference to its ruins as a sign of God’s displeasure (Jer 7:12-14; Ps 78:60)."

Additional information on Shiloh can be found at:


This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Maps


Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.

  1. LDS Bible Dictionary: Armageddon; Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon

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