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Bethshean

Bethshean, also translated in an abbreviated form as Bethshan (the actual Hebrew word is pronounced bayth-she-awn) was a city in northern Israel that was allotted to the tribe of Manasseh, although it very often remained under non-Israelite control. The city was situated on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus, about 5 miles east of the Jordan River (see The Jordan Valley), about 14 miles south of The Sea Of Galilee. After the exile of Israel (see also The Galilee Captivity), Bethshean came to be known as Scythopolis (as it is named on our map below), meaning "city of the Scythians." From the perspective of Bible History, the city is perhaps best-known as Bethshan, where the Philistines hung the body of King Saul after he was killed in battle.

"the wall of Bethshan"

"Bethshean" was in the tribal territory of Manasseh (see Tribal Lands), although "Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land"

The Jordan River

"And Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher Bethshean and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries. Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute; but did not utterly drive them out" (Joshua 17:11-13 KJV)

Saul's death in battle with the Philistines (i.e. "Palestinians" - see Caphtor to understand how "Philistine" became "Palestinian") was followed by his body being hung on the wall of "Bethshan" before it was heroically recovered by some men of Jabeshgilead.

"Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul's sons. And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.

Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me.

But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.

And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.

And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa. And they cut off his head [see also Beheadings], and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people. And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.

And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul; All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there. And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days." (1 Samuel 31:1-13 KJV)

Fact Finder: Although Saul was buried in Jabesh in Gilead after his body was recovered from Bethshan, what Israelite king who succeeded Saul was responsible for Saul being reburied in Saul's tribal homeland of Benjamin?
2 Samuel 21:12-14


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