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Explore Beit Shean during your Jewish Heritage Tour of Israel

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The ancient ruins of Beit Shean will impress throughout your trip to Israel located 17 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, the traditional city was located in a strategically necessary junction of the Harod and Jordan Valley. The fertile lands had been made famous with the Jewish sages who said "if the land of Eden is within the land of Israel, then its gate is Beth Shean."

It is no surprise that Beit Shean and surrounding area has been inhabited continuously since the Chalcolithic area to present day. Its rich history has included being conquered by the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III in 1150 BCE, and recorded in inscriptions at the site of Karnak.

During the Iron Age I Canaanite city was constructed on the site of the Egyptian town center shortly after its destruction. Canaanite Beit Shean was overtaken by the Philistines, who used it as a base of military operations for deeper penetrations into Israel. In a subsequent battle against the Jewish King Saul at nearby Mount Gilboa, the Philistines won the battle and it is here where Saul and his three sons died and bodies hung to the wall of Beit Shean. After King David captured Beit Shean in a impressive military campaign which threw out the Philistines, becoming part of the larger Israelite King David kingdom, and his son King Solomon. Later King David was able to capture Beit Shea'an in a series of brilliant military campaigns that expelled the Philistines from the area, pushing them back to their coastal strongholds. Beit She’an became part of the larger Israelite kingdom under the rule of King David and King Solomon, however the exact historical facts is debated, yet it’s obvious the Assyrian who conquered the north of Israel destroyed the city with a fire for a second time. Few occupied Beit Shean during the entire Hellenistic period, until Pompey and the Romans reconstructed Beth Shean in 63 BC and  renamed Scythopolis ("city of the Scythians;" cf. Col 3:11). It became the capital city of the Decapolis and was the only one on the west side of the Jordan. The city continued to grow and prosper in the Roman and Byzantine periods until it was destroyed on January 18, 749 by a large earthquake. You’ll see evidence of this destruction by the earthquake during your Jewish heritage tour of Israel walking down one of the ancient roads with dozens of huge columns that have fallen over in a similar direction. 

There are few Roman ruins in the world that will rival Beit Shean, even ruins found in Italy. This is a great site to visit during a Jewish tour of Israel, as well as Christians on their Holy Land tours have a marvelous opportunity to experience amazing Roman archeology, learn about the history of Israel in person, and an opportunity to hike a top a large mountain mound for an beautiful panoramic view of Beit Shean, and surrounding country side.

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