BETHLEPTEPHA, town in Judea which, in the time of Herod, replaced Keilah as the headquarters of one of the toparchies into which the province was divided. It is sometimes written "Betholeptephon" and is mentioned by Josephus (Wars, 4:445) as "Pella." Schuerer regards the name as a distortion of the hebrew bet netofah (Beit Nattif) a village six miles (10 km.) north of Bet Guvrin. The identification has now been generally accepted, though some identify it with Bet le-Tappu'aḥ (the Tappuah of Josh. 15:34). Vespasian destroyed Bethleptepha and killed all its inhabitants on his way from Emmaus to Edom. A mosaic floor of a fifth-century Byzantine church was discovered there as well as other mosaics, tombs, cisterns, and pillars from the Roman-Byzantine period. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Reland, Palaestina… (1714), 648; Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (19074), 232n.; S. Klein, Ereẓ Yehudah (1939), 214; A. Schalit, Hordos ha-Melekh (19643), 111ff. (Michael Avi-Yonah)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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