10 – Bet Shean

Bet Shean (also called Beth Shean, Bet She’an and Scythopolis) is a beautiful place strategically located at the Jordan river and the Jezreel valley, southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

It is near Mount Gilboa and close to the Jordan River, in the portion of land belonging to the tribe of Menasheh (Josh. 17:11). The rich soil and fresh water made Beth Shean one of the most desirable areas in Eretz Yisroel. Rebbe Yochanan proclaimed, “If Gan Eden is in Eretz Yisroel, its gateway is in Beth Shean.” (Erub. 19a). Because its so attractive, it’s been conquered by the Egyptians (14th century BC), the Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans .. you get the picture. Consequently, there’s a lot of archaeology there.

Some of the battles were a little grisly: The Philistines fought against Israel, and Israel’s men fled from them. Many were killed on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons and killed his sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua. When the battle intensified against Saul, the archers caught up with him and severely wounded him. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through with it, or these uncircumcised men will come and run me through and torture me.” But his armor-bearer would not do it because he was terrified. Then Saul took his sword and fell on it. When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his own sword and died with him. So on that day, Saul died together with his three sons, his armor-bearer, and all his men. When the men of Israel on the other side of the valley and on the other side of the Jordan saw that Israel’s men had run away and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned the cities and fled. So the Philistines came and settled in them. The next day when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa. They cut off Saul’s head, stripped off his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to spread the good news in the temples of their idols and among the people. Then they put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and hung his body on the wall of Beth-shan. When the residents of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their brave men set out, journeyed all night, and retrieved the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. When they arrived at Jabesh, they burned the bodies there. Afterwards, they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days. (1Sa 31:1-13 HCSB).

We walked along a 1/2 mile trail before coming to the actual city of Bet Shean.Remember the story about Gideon choosing all those men to fight the Midianites and God told him he had too many men? So he brought the men to a stream and told them to drink the water. Most of the men just plunged their faces in and started gulping, but some used their hands and brought the water to their mouths.Well, here it is!

I’m thinking if it were me, I’d say “Gideon.. I don’t think this water is clean!”

But that was 3,000 years ago, so I’m betting it was cleaner back then.

Everywhere you go in Israel, there are ruins just waiting to be excavated. I think they said this dated back to the Crusaders period (1000 AD)
Our trail hike ended at the top of a hill. Awesome view down into the city.(For more on this, be sure to see the movie clip section)
Pamela was our tour guide in Israel. She’s an American and works with her husband as Messianic Jews to reach Jews for Christ. She knows a lot about Jewish geography and history.
Each of the tiles for this walkway is about 1/2″ square. That’s a lot of work!
I bet the greek says “Keep Off The Tiles”
The top of the hill on the left is the place where we stood to look down at this site while Pamela gave us the historical details about it.
The amphitheater had what looked like box seats around the perimeter at the top. Nice view.
As we were leaving the place, Dr. Dave brought our attention to this little arena, about 1/4 mile east of the city site. He said there’s good evidence to believe that Christians were fed to the lions in this arena. Sad.
Here’s a photo of the Jordan Valley with the mountains of Jordan on the far side. Since Jordan isn’t too cheery about Israel, we didn’t go there.