BETHER (bē'thêr, Heb. bether, separation). A mountain range mentioned in the Song.2.17 (kjv, nasb “mountains of Bether”; rsv “rugged mountains”; niv “rugged hills”). A proper name may not have been intended. The phrase “spice-laden mountains” (Song.8.14) may refer to the same place.
BETHER be’ thər
, meaning unknown, but possibly a contraction of בֵת הַר
, house of the mountain
; LXX Βαιθής
; Talmud בִּיתֵּר
in Neubauer, Geogr.d.Tal.
, 103; Βαθθηρα
in Eusebius, H.E. IV, 6).
“The mountains of Bether” are found only in one OT passage: Song of Solomon. Whether this reference actually refers to the city of Bether is doubtful and many take it to be a plant-name or something like Song of Solomon 8:14, “mountains of spices.” The LXXA of Joshua 15:59a reads Βαιθηρ and LXXA of 1 Chronicles 6:59 (H.44) reads Βαιθθηρ, the city now identified with Kirbet el-Yehudiyeh, SW of Bittir which preserves the ancient name of the city. Bittir is seven m. SW of Jerusalem. Some detect the name of “Bether” in the reading of 3 Esd 5:17 Βαιτηρους. While the two following names (Bethlehem and Netophah) fit the area, J. Simons feels that Βαιτηρους is a scribal error for Γαβηρους “Gibbār.”
Bether is most famous as the site where Bar Kochba with the Jews made their last stand against Hadrian in a.d. 135 resulting in their being massacred.
J. Simons, Geographical & Topographical Texts of OT, 151, 204, 379, 536; W. D. Carroll, “Bittir and Its Archaeological Remains,” AASOR V (1924-25), 77-104
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
In So 2:17 mention is made of "the mountains of Bether." It is doubtful if a proper name is intended. The Revised Version, margin has, "perhaps, the spice malobathron." A Bether is prominent in late Jewish history as the place where the Jews resisted Hadrian under Bar Cochba in 135 AD. Its identity with Bittir, 7 miles Southwest of Jerusalem, is attested by an inscription.