The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Joshua 17

Jos 17:16

BETH SHAN: In this area lies the 263-foot-high tell of Beth-shean, one of the oldest cities in Bible lands. The remains of 20 layers of settlement have been found going back more than three thousand years BC. The Israelites failed to conquer the city in Joshua's time (Jos 17:16; Jdg 1:27), and the fortified town was still under Philistine control in the time of Saul, the first king of Israel. When Saul and his sons were slain in battle their bodies were hung on the walls of this city by the victors (1Sa 31:6-13).

Beth-shean is included in the cities of Solomon's kingdom (1Ki 4:12). When the Greek empire dominated the area the city was known as Scythopolis. Pliny, the Roman author (1st century AD) mentions the city in his writings. It was one of the cities in the Roman province of Decapolis which was visited by Jesus (Mar 7:31). The city was further developed by the Romans and all around the ancient tell the archaeologists are busy uncovering this large city that was devastated by an earthquake.

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