Scythopolis

G7 on the Map.

(Beth-shan): Tell. el-Husn. Greek name of the former Beth-shan. The city was located at the E end of the Jezreel Valley. It was a very strategic location being right at the junction of the Jezreel and Jordan valleys. Many wars have been fought here between ancient Egypt in the Philistines dating back to the 12 century B.C. Beth-Shan was one of the Canaanite cities that resisted the attack of the Israelites. When king Saul committed suicide and Israelites were defeated by the Philistines they placed Saul's and his sons bodies on the walls of Beth-Shan (I Sam 31:10, 12). David conquered this city along with Megiddo and Tanaach while he was expanding his kingdom.

Around 700 B.C. the city was deserted and unoccupied until the Hellenistic period, when it became known as Scythopolis, "the city of the Scythians", probably because of the Scythian cavalry in the army of Ptolemy II. In the second century B.C. the Seleucids gave the city an additional name "Nysa" in honor of the nurse of the goddess Dionysus, who according to mythology had been born there.

The city was again conquered by John Hyrcanus (135-104 B.C.), and also by Pompey (63 B.C.) when it became the capital city of the Decapolis. This city name was in use from the Hellenistic period; Judith 3:10; 2 Macc. 12:29-30. (But in 1 Macc. 12:40 Heb. name Beth-shan is used.) In N.T. times it was a city of Decapolis, walled, with the hippodrome, a theatre, and pagan temples. The city was very prosperous and later became a Christian city and the seat of the bishopry.

There have been extensive excavations here revealing 18 levels of occupation dating back to the Chalcolithic Period.

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