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Beit Shean in the Bible

Part One

Beit Shean in the Bible is mentioned in the Book of Judges:

The very first mentioning of Beit Shean in the Bible is in the book of Judges. It is told that the mighty Canaanite city wasn’t conquered by the Israelites (Judges 1:27):  “But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor Or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land.”
Where The Philistines Hung King Saul’s and his sons’ Bodies
 “They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fasten his body to the walls of Beit-Shean.”
(1 Samuel 31:10)

The Bible mentions the city of Beit Shean multiple times. The most known episode is told in the Book of Samuel: Saul, who was anointed King in order to liberate Israel from the Philistines dies while being defeated by the Philistines.

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The Goddess Ashtoreth In The Bible

As an act of rage and hatred, the Philistines abused the bodies of Saul and his Sons. Then the Philistines took the slain body of Saul, cut off his head, stripped off his armor, and fastened his body to the walls of Beit-Shean (1 Samuel 31:10). When I give private tours in the Jezreel Valley I like to take them to Mt.Saul where according to tradition was the area where Saul “fell on his sword”.

Beit Shean in the Bible: Why Did The Greeks Leave The Top Of  Tel Beit Shean?

As a private tour guide in Israel that offers biblical tours in Israel, I show the actual spot where the old walls were. Below the biblical tel, are the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Beit-Shean named in those days – Scythopolis. After the Persian rule the Greeks in 332 B.C.E, took over the Land of Israel, headed by Alexander the Great.

The Hellenistic period is also the time where you already have planned out cities with a hippodrome; theatres; a gymnasium; temples; agora and so forth. All these kinds of facilities require lots of space and the little tel didn’t suffice, so the Greeks choose to leave the biblical tel of Beit Shean and used it as the Acropolis of the city where they built on top of a temple.

Beit Shean in the Bible: A New City Plan is Introduced by the Greeks

As a private tour guide in Israel I like to ask my guests:

Did you ever hear about Hippodamus of Miletus? well, you should have!

According to Aristotle, he was the first urban planner to focus attention on the proper arrangements of cities. Ideas like zoning and streets laid out as grids dividing the city into smaller blocks were all his ideas.

 He lived around 500 B.C.E,  we don’t really know if he is the one that invented this kind of city but the Greeks did associate it with him.

We can find these kinds of Hippodamian town plan all over the Hellenistic world, Including in Beit-Shean.

Alright folks that’s it for now, this is Arik from Private Tours in Israel Signing off!

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arik-about

Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

Did you know the Hoopoe is Israel's national bird?! For more cool info about Israel, join our ever growing community and get exclusive travel tips, and giveaways!

The Sycamore Fig in Israel

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