LUZ (lŭz, Heb. lûz, turning aside)

A town located on the northern boundary of the area of the tribe of Benjamin (Josh.16.2; Josh.18.13). Jacob came here when fleeing from home. He slept here, and God appeared to him in a dream. To commemorate the occasion Jacob changed the name of the town to Bethel (“house of God,” Gen.28.19). But the place continued to be called Luz down to the time of the judges.A town in the land of the Hittites built by a man from Luz in Canaan (Judg.1.26).

LUZ luz (ל֥וּז, almond tree). 1. The more ancient (Canaanite) name of the city of Bethel (Gen 28:19; 35:6). It was changed to Bethel (House of God) by Jacob after the Lord appeared to him in a dream during his flight from home. It became a holy place in the later history of Israel. According to the citations in Genesis, Luz is indistinguishable from Bethel but Joshua (16:2), in delineating the S boundary of Ephraim and Manasseh, speaks of it as going out “from Bethel to Luz,” apparently regarding the two as distinct locations. It is possible that this reflects a distinction between the city and the holy place which may have been close by. More prob., however, the reference is not to the city of Bethel but to a mountain range closely associated with the city which is mentioned as the previous boundary point (v. 1) and from which the line went out to Luz (the city of Bethel). In Joshua 18:13, which records the delineation of the boundary of the territory of Benjamin, Bethel and Luz are regarded as identical.

The city continued to be known as Luz to the Canaanite inhabitants until the time of the Judges (Judg 1:23-26).

2. A Hitt. town, yet unknown, which was built by a former inhabitant of Luz in Canaan and apparently named after that city. At the destruction of Luz (Bethel) by the Benjamites, he was shown mercy and went to the land of the Hittites.


F. M. Abel, Geographie de la Palestine, II (1938), 371; J. Simons, The Geographical and Topographical Texts of the Old Testament (1959).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(luz):The Hebrew word means "almond tree" or "almond wood" (OHL, under the word). It may also mean "bone," particularly a bone of the spine, and might be applied to a rocky height supposed to resemble a backbone (Lagarde, Uebersicht., 157 f). Winckler explains it by Aramaic laudh, "asylum," which might be suitably applied to a sanctuary (Geschichte Israels). Cheyne (EB, under the word) would derive it by corruption from chalutsah, "strong (city)."

(1) This was the ancient name of Bethel (Ge 28:19; Jud 1:23; compare Ge 35:6; 48:3; Jos 16:2; 18:13). It has been thought that Jos 16:2 contradicts this, and that the two places were distinct. Referring to Ge 28:19, we find that the name Bethel was given to "the place," ha-maqom, i.e. "the sanctuary," probably "the place" (28:11, Hebrew) associated with the sacrifice of Abraham (12:8), which lay to the East of Bethel. The name of the city as distinguished from "the place" was Luz. As the fame of the sanctuary grew, we may suppose, its name overshadowed, and finally superseded, that of the neighboring town. The memory of the ancient nomenclature persisting among the people sufficiently explains the allusions in the passages cited.

(2) A Bethelite, the man who betrayed the city into the hands of the children of Joseph, went into the land of the Hittites, and there founded a city which he called Luz, after the ancient name of his native place (Jud 1:26). No satisfactory identification has been suggested.