Reference: Regem Melech
("the king's official") (Zec 7:2). Sent by Jews of the country (Zec 7:5) to "the house of God" (Bethel) or congregation at Jerusalem. Beth-el is here used for Beth-Jehovah; the religious authorities, not "the house of Jehovah" (named in Zec 7:3), are meant. The temple was not actually completed until two years later (Ezr 6:15 with Zec 7:1). But the congregation, headed by their priests, was "the house of God," paving the way for the spiritual New Testament "house of God" (Heb 3:6; Zec 3:7; Ho 8:1). Ezra (Ezr 5:8,15; 6:7; 7:20,23) uses Bet Elowah for "the house of God." The allusion is to God's words to Jacob, "go up to Bethel" (Ge 28:19; 35:1).
Jacob's "house of God" consisted as yet of but a pillar first and an altar afterward (Ge 28:17-18,22; 36:1,7); so the house of God at the time of Regem Melech consisted merely of an altar, and congregation, and priests favored with God's presence in worship at it. God, as in Jacob's case, could bless the obedient at the bore altar before the temple was reared. But many sent to Jehovah's house, not like Jacob at Bethel but as the apostate Israelites to the calf at Bethel, with no spirit of true obedience. Hence the name "Bethel" is used. In Ge 36:5, it is not to the people of Bethel but "unto all the people of the land" the word of the Lord came in reply; therefore Bethel is not the nominative to "sent" in Ge 36:2, as Maurer proposes.