Beit Shean, or Beit She’an as it is known today, is a town that still exists in modern times in Israel. It is believed to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Throughout history, it played a major role. Mainly because of its location near the Jordan River Valley and the Jezreel Valley.
Although it is not mentioned by name in the Bible, Beit She’an appears in the New Testament among the ten pagan cities that were visited by Jesus Christ. Some say Jesus visited this town on his way to the baptism. And also while one of His pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
The Holy Book tells us that Beit She’an means “the house of rest, the house of tranquillity. Dwelling in quiet or the house of security.” The town was extremely loved and mostly known for its fertile soil and the abundant water. You might think these are two totally random things to love in a place, given how some of our cities look today.
But it would be best if you remembered in those times, water and a fertile soil meant a good life. With a full belly and a healthy family. Jewish sages are remembered throughout history for saying, “If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then its gate is Beth Shean.” Beth Shean is another name, Beit Shean.
What Happened in Beit Shean According to the Bible?
Even though we previously mentioned that Beit Shean was a beloved location, famed for its fertile soil and abundant water. And also Jesus Christ’s visits in biblical times, there is one more thing the Holy Book reveals about this town. It appears that King Saul and three of his sons were hung by the Philistines after they all battled in Gilboa.
It is important to note that King Saul was the first king of Israel. He was defeated by the Philistines at Mount Gilboa in 1005 BC. The Philistines were always enemies of the Israelites and have been described multiple times as “a person who is narrow-minded. And also hostile to the life of the mind.”
You’ve probably heard of the conflict between the Israelites and the Philistines. And might be wondering why they hated each other so badly. Well, the truth is, the Philistines, are as narrow-minded as they are described. They lived in the land of Canaan long before God told Moses about “the promised land.”
God said to Moses, “Go up to this mountain of Abarim and see the land which I have given to the sons of Israel.” (Numbers 27:12-14) The Israelites were always trying to access their right to “the promised land.” But they could never co-exist with the Philistines, so they constantly carried out battles for the land.
Although King Saul died in battle, his death was nothing but God’s will. He died because he was unfaithful to God. “Saul died for his unfaithfulness, which he had committed against the Lord. But he did not keep the word of the Lord. And also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore, He killed him and turned the kingdom over to David.” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)
Why Is the Town of Beit Shean Important Nowadays?
The ancient town of Beit Shean is still an important subject of discussion among Christians. Many might not know about this location at first. But after reading the Bible and doing a little research, they quickly find out exactly why. Some theological experts call this town “King Saul’s Downfall.” And not because he died here, because he didn’t, but because his disobedience towards God cost him his life. As well as the lives of three of his sons.
We already know that the first king of Israel did not die in Beit She’an. Instead, he died on the battlefield in Gilboa, Israel. However, the Philistines brought the bodies of the king and the sons and decapitated them. And also hung them on the town’s walls to prove they were victorious.
The victory of the Battle of Gilboa might be accredited to the Philistines, but in reality, it was not. King Saul was actually being punished by God for his acts. “So, it happened the next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.
And they stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent word throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among the people. Then they put his armor in the temple of their gods and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon.” (1 Chronicles 10)
Therefore, King Saul, and the town of Beit Shean, will forever represent unfaithfulness to God and where it can get you. The events that happened show that nothing truly matters if you don’t have God on your side.
Did Jesus Christ Ever Visit Beit She’an?
The New Testament tells us that Beit She’an was one of the 10 Pagan places that Jesus visited on his way to the baptism, as well as while He was on one of His pilgrimages to Jerusalem. This ancient location was so close to Nazareth that it would be almost impossible for Jesus not to visit it occasionally.
Some scholars claim that when He was a young man, Jesus Christ, worked on buildings in this town alongside His father, Joseph. But unfortunately, it would be hard to determine these facts without some proof, and sadly, the town was completely destroyed in 749 AD by a gigantic Earthquake.
At the same time, it is important to note that the biblical tale of Beit Shean has approximately 20 layers of discovered civilization. However, given how incredibly close Beth Shean is to Nazareth, it would be logical to assume that at least once in His incredible life, Jesus Christ walked on this land.
And if you were curious, yes, you can too. The town is still around and is definitely worth a visit. It best encapsulates the Roman and Byzantine cultures. In addition, you will be totally fascinated by the architecture and ancient history dating back to 5000 BCE.