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Bethsan

Ancient city with Issachar

Bethsan (Heb. Beth Shean, BYT-SAN], Beth Shan, “place of rest”), a city within Issachar, but assigned to Manasses (Jos., xvii, 11; I Par., vii, 29); later Scythopolis, now the village Beisan, three miles west of the Jordan. Because of its strength the Israelites could not take it at the time of the conquest (Jos., xvii, 16; Judges, i, 27), and when the Philistines hung up the bodies of Saul and his three sons on its walls after the battle of Gelboe (II Kings, xxi, 12), it was probably still in the hands of the Chanaanites. Under Solomon it was the center of an administrative district (III Kings, iv, 12). About the beginning of the third century B.C. it was named Scythopolis, probably because Scythians had settled there. After paying tribute to the Ptolemies, it passed under Syrian rule in 198 B.C., and in 107 fell into the hands of John Hyrcanus. Pompey took it from the Jews, and thenceforth it was a free city and one of the chief towns of Decapolis. In Christian times it became an episcopal and later a metropolitan see.

F. BECHTEL


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