The ancient ruins of Beit She’an are sure to impress during your trip to the Holy Land. Located 17 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, the ancient city was situated in a strategically important junction of the Harod and Jordan Valleys. The fertile lands were made famous with the Jewish sages to say "If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then its gate is Beth She’an."
Not surprising the area has been nearly inhabited continuously since the Chalcolithic period to the present. Beit She’an was conquered and ruled by many including Egyptians by the pharaoh Thutmose III in the 15th century BCE, and recorded in inscriptions still seen today at Karnak. However in 1150 BCE and described by invasions of the “Sea Peoples,” the city was destroyed by a fire however exact circumstances have never been discovered. After during the Iron Age I Canaanite city was built on the site of the Egyptian center shortly after its destruction. Canaanite Beit She'an was conquered by the Philistines, who used it as a base of operations for further penetrations into Israel. During a subsequent battle against the Jewish King Saul at nearby Mount Gilboa, the Philistines prevailed (1 Samuel 31), "So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together...and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan." 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 (1 Kings 4:12), though the exact historical accuracy is debated, yet it’s clear the Assyrian conquest of north Israel brought a second destruction by fire. Little occupation during the entire Hellenistic period, until Pompey and the Romans rebuilt Beth She’an in 63 BC and it was 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 Israel tour by seeing dozens of massive columns toppled over in the same direction of the main road in Beit She’an.
There are few ruins around the world this complete and impressive as the ones in Beit She’an which even rival Roman ruins in Italy. This stop and part of your Christian tour of Israel will provide for wonderful opportunity of experiencing world class archeology, great photo opportunities, wonderful teachings and lessons of history seen with your own eyes, and an opportunity to hike a top a large mountain mound for an amazing panoramic view of Beit She’an, and surrounding Israeli country side.