bethshean Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
bethshean in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
BETHSHEAN or BETHSHAN ("house of quiet.") Now Beisan. A city of Manasseh (1 Chronicles 7:29), though within Issachar's boundary; 14 miles S. of the sea of Galilee, 4 miles W. of and on the height over the Ghor or valley of the Jordan, connected with the great plain of Jezreel, Esdraelon (Joshua 17:11). The Canaanites were not driven out thence (Judges 1:27). One of Solomon's commissariat districts was named from it, extending thence to Abel-meholah (1 Kings 4:12). Except its temporary subjection in his reign, it kept a kind of independence of Israel, holding close relations with the Phoenicians on the N. and the Philistines on the S. Hence the latter fastened Saul's body to the wall of Bethshean, and put his armor in the house of Ashtaroth (1 Samuel 31:10; 1 Samuel 31:12).
The men of Jabesh Gilead stole the bones of Saul and Jonathan and Saul's other two sons from the wall in "the street" or open space before the gate of Bethshean (2 Samuel 21:12.) In 1 Samuel 29:1 translate "the Israelites pitched (before the fatal battle at Gilboa), by THE fountain in Jezreel." Close to Bethshean is the water of Ain Jalud, of which "the fountain is in Jezreel." The abundant supply of water, and the level country favoring the use of chariots, were the secondary causes which enabled the Canaanites to keep hold of Bethshean against Israel. Robinson places Jabesh Gilead at Ed Deir; so the distance to Bethshean which "the valiant men of Jabesh Gilead" took "all night" to traverse was 20 miles. The ruins are of a pagan character, and occupy a space three miles in circumference.