Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bet She'an

Bet She'an is 30 km south of the Sea of Galilee. Its strategic location where the Valley of Jezreel meets the Jordan Valley near Mount Gilboa was where the main roads from Egypt to Damascus intersect making the town a thriving commercial and cosmopolitan centre. Excavations show 20 layers of occupation dating back to the Chalcolithic era (4th century BCE). Presence of Egyptian temples and stelae suggest that this was also an Egyptian administrative town. It was allocated to the tribe Manasseh who were unable to drive out the local Canaanites (Joshua 17:12). Instead they settled among them.

Bet She'an was where the bodies of Saul and his three sons were fastened to the city wall after their death on Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:10). Men from Jabesh-Gilead took them down at night and gave them a decent burial.

Later Bet She'an was taken over by the Greeks and renamed Scythopolis which became one of the cities of the Decapolis in Jesus' times. After the Greek came the Romans who were great city builders. The present ruins were of that of a walled city with the agora, temples, a theatre with a colonnated street that were once lined with shops.

detailed bronze replica of Roman Bet She'an

a closer view

this hill was probably where the original Canaanite city stood


This may be where the bodies of saul and his sons were hung and their bodies were retrieved for burial by the men from Jabesh-Gilead.

the Roman theater

the bath house

pillars to hold the floor and retain the heat for a sauna
colonnaded street which may once be lined with shops
aerial view of the ruins in Bet Shean (source: The Holy Land)

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