Aram Rehob, in southern Beqa’a: Note the wide expanses before the constriction below the Litani Reservoir.
Aram Rehob, 2Sam 10:8 like Aram Maachah has geography that reflects its name. The governate of Aram Rehob covers the remainder of the Beqa’a north of the Litani reservoir to the Nahr Kabir, or the great river that marks the northern terminus of the Lebanese range, Num 13:21. Its name means broad, and reflects the wide expanse of the valley. The rich agricultural fields of the Beqa’a were controlled from Berothai its central town, a location on the central crossroads somewhere near Baalbek.
Known also as the “plain of Aven” Amos 1:5, its other name reflects the emptiness or worthlessness of worship of Hadad or Baal, so reflected in Baal-bek. It was here that the campaigns of Alexander the Great were reflected on the floors in mosaic. Having conquered the areas of Turkey and northern Syria, the now self-proclaimed “king of Asia” swept south to control the area of Phoenicia, the coastal plain of Israel and the entrance of Egypt before turning back to Jerusalem. This campaign is reflected in the actions of the latter-day Gog, who follows the same route Dan 11:41f. But what is significant is that the burden of Yahweh concerning Alexander would rest on Damascus and on Hadrack, or the lands of Syria styled “the bowing to Hadad” Zech 9:1f. Alexander would control the resources of the fleeing Persians, which he captured and gathered at Damascus. But it would be here at Baalbek that the depiction of the birth of Alexander was found. Here is a definitive illustration of the newly born king of Asia, the king of kings, and son of god! This mosaic defines a religious birth of the champion to the lands of Syria. This religious influence seen in the name “beth-rehob” the house of the broad place Judges 18:28; 2Sam 10:6.
“Alexander Nymph” The birth of Alexander depicted in mosaic at Baalbeck, Beqa’a Lebanon. preserved at the National Museum, Beirut, Lebanon.
The Betah and Berothai were the cities central to this governate. Their names meaning the security of the Cyprus grove, 2Sam 8:8. Groves were used as areas where worship of gods could be conducted without scrutiny, and in particular the expression of worship in sexual profanity, 2Chron 33:3; Jer 17:2, so described as being “under” green trees 1Kings 14:23. This was the strength of the king of Damascus. In the time of David the king’s name was Hadad-ezer, or the help or support of Hadad (Baal) 2Sam 8:8. After conquering the area, David renamed the cities Tibhath and Chun, The slaughter of flesh has established, 1Chron 18:8. It was from here that David would take “exceeding much brass” so reflecting the overcoming of flesh as reflected in the colour and hard nature of the metal so commonly used for construction of weapons and utensils, see Job 6:12. This connection between brass and flesh is confirmed in the parable of the brazen serpent which reflected the bitten flesh of the nation of Israel at Punon, Num 21. David however takes the brass to construct in particular the large basins of the temple in which the water would clean the worshippers, and so highlighted that the word of God seen as water Eph 5:26, could so influence a man to bring him to worship God acceptably. David in contrast to Hadadezer was helped by the God of heaven, 2 Sam 8:6,14.
The location of Berothai and Betan are hard to fix within the valley. Numerous suggestions have been made between Baalbek to Zahle further south. We spent a day examining these sites and the site of Beritan or Brital just to the SW of Baalbek on a strategic hill seems likely for four reasons: 1) Its control of the central crossroads of the Beqa’a 2) Its strategic position and defensible geography and 3) from the testimony of Josh 19:30 this town was on a line from Aphek or modern Afqa in wadi Ibrahim into the Beqa’a 4) Its inclusion in Ezek 47:16 precludes a coastal location such as Beirut, and suggests a location between Hamath and Damascus, most likely on the anti-Lebanese range. (For further information read E Lapinski: The Arameans their ancient History, Culture, Religion pg 333f)
The broad place so reflected in the name, conveys the idea of easy passage, and so it is. Travel is not easy in Lebanon with the relentless surging of independent traffic, but in the Beqa’a long straight roads provide easy access along the length of the valley. The word Rehob is reflected in the idea of street, or particular plaza or piazza the wide common area where social interaction was common, Neh 8:1. The term is translated as “broad places” Jer 5:1 and “broad ways” Nahum 2:4. It was in the street or broad places of Gibeah that the national identity of Israel was to be demonstrated in its failure to commit to covenants, Judges 19:15,17,20f. At the request of worthless men, the concubine, reflecting the nation’s religious commitment, was thrown out onto the street to be abused and finally die. So the religion of Israel would through its history become defiled and taken into the streets or broad places of the religious world, so described as the “streets” Rev 11:8. This is reflected in the carrying of the Ephah or measure of Judaism into the land of Shinar, to set it on its own base Zech 5:5-11 from which its “resemblance” would influence the whole earth Zech 5:6.
Broad is the way to destruction, and many that go in it Matt 7:13, but straight (constrained, greek stenos from which we get stenosis or narrowed arteries) is the path that leads to life. Few will find this path, sadly because of the broad and common call of self-centered religion in the broad places of the world. It will be the place were God helps, a religion where self-interest and ability is condemned, and where the water or cleaning influence of God is paramount. To the scriptures we must turn as it is only through this way that God will save men. It is the word of God that is able to make wise to salvation 2Tim 3:15. Every feature of religion must be proved by this revealed method of saving, not the word of priests, monks, religious elders and other ordained prophets. If it be not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them, Isa 8:20.