BETH SHAN, BETH SHEAN (bĕth' shăn, bĕth' shē'ăn, Heb. bêth shan, bêth sheān, house of quiet). A town of Manasseh in the territory of Issachar. The people of Israel were not able to drive the Canaanites out of this town (
Today the site of the city is a mound, called Tell el-Husn (“Mound of the Fortress”), located near the Arab village of Beisan (note the similarity to Beth Shan). Excavations by the University of Pennsylvania, a.d. 1921-33, have yielded rich finds, dating the history of the city from 3500 b.c. to the Christian era. A stratification of eighteen levels of debris and ruined houses can be seen as evidence of repeated destructions and eras of rebuilding. Because of its commanding location, it was fortified with double walls and was a strong Egyptian outpost from the fifteenth to the twelfth centuries. Temples and monument inscriptions by three pharaohs were discovered and date back to this time. The excavators have shown that Beth Shan was destroyed between 1050 and 1000, the approximate time of King David, who may have destroyed it. Four Canaanite temples were unearthed at the site, one of which has been identified with the “temple of the Ashtoreths” (
A Roman theater, erected about a.d. 200, still stands, and the remains of a synagogue from the fourth century have been found.——AMR
BETH-SHEAN bĕth she’ ən (בֵּית־שְׁאָ֣ן, place of quiet); BETH-SHAN (בֵּ֥ית שָֽׁן). A city and important stronghold in the valley of Jalud, near the junction of the Valley of Jezreel with the Jordan Valley.
Only a few perennial streams join the Jordan on its W bank, and the most important is the Jalud. Hence this valley was densely settled in the Canaanite and Israelite periods, though the principal city was at Rehob, not mentioned in the Bible, and five m. S of Bethshean. The valley of Jezreel is a minor rift valley leading into the broaderand the Mediterranean coast. The huge pyramid of Tell el-Ḥuṩn, site of ancient Bethshean, is located at a step in the narrow Jezreel trough, in a nodal position of great military importance. It commanded thus the routes S along the Jordan, N to Syria by way of the and W to the coast of the Mediterranean. It is situated at c. 350 ft. below sea level, but Tell el-Husn commands a wide prospect on a promontory between Jalud Valley to the N, and a converging valley to the SE, high above the Jordan.
Publications of the Pal. section of the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania (1930-40); I. A. Rowe, The Topography and History of Beth-shan (1930); G. M. Fitzgerald, Beth-shan Excavations 1921-23, Arab and Byzantine Levels (1931); G. M. Fitzgerald, Beth-shan, Sixth Century Monastery (1939); A. Rowe, Bethshan, Four Canaanite Temples (1940); See also, D. Winton Thomas (ed.), Archaeology andStudy (1967), article by G. M. Fitzgerald, “Beth-shan,” 185-196.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
beth-she’-an, beth’-shan (beth-shan, or [beth-she’an]; in Apocrypha Baithsan or Bethsa): A city in the territory of Issachar assigned to Manasseh, out of which the Canaanites were not driven (
It is represented by the modern Beisan, in the throat of thewhere it falls into the Jordan valley, on the southern side of the stream from `Ain Jalud. The ruins of the ancient city are found on the plain, and on the great mound where probably stood the citadel. Between the town and the stretch of marsh land to the South runs the old road from East to West up the Vale of Jezreel, uniting in Esdraelon with the great caravan road from North to South.