Day 3 in Israel. We visited Bet Shean/Scythopolis, Mt. Gilboa, Meggido, Bet Alpha, and the Jordan River.
The first place we visited is Bet Shean or Scythopolis as it was known during the days of Jesus. Because of the fertility of the land, the abundance of water, and its strategic location on the main trading route, Jewish sages said about the city, "If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then the gate is Bet Shean."
Bet Shean was continually inhabited for over 7,000 years. It was one of the chief cities of the Decapolis. Although it's not mentioned by name, there's a great chance that Jesus spent time there as he traveled from the Galilee region to Jerusalem.
When Saul and his sons were killed in the battle against the Philistines, they hanged their bodies on the wall of this city (1 Sam. 31:10-12).
It is one of the best examples of what ancient cities were like in the days of Jesus.
|The Coliseum at Bet Shean/Scythopolis where the gladiatorial games took place.|
|Bet Shean or Scythopolis was one of the chief towns of the decapolis. This city was inhabited by civilizations for 7,000 years before finally being destroyed by a major earth quake in the 700's CE|
|The main street or cardo of Bet Shean|
|Closer view of the main street/cardo|
|A model of the city of Bet Shean|
|The view of the theater from the outside|
|One of two main bath houses of Bet Shean|
|The side walk of main street. The entire side walk was decorated with mosaic|
|The main street was lined by side walks on both sides. The main street was angled for drainage complete with its own sewer system. Pretty ingenious|
|The tel of Bet Shean. That's not a hill. The tel is the build of layers of multiple civilizations that built upon the ruins of older civilizations.|
|Columns and more columns. It had to have been an awesome site.|
|An artist's rendition of what the city would have looked like|
|Guess what those seats are for?|
|Here's Preston demonstrating how the ancients might have taken care of business.|
|An artist's rendition of the public latrines|
|The main entrance to the theater|
|Another view of the city|
|Inside of the main theater|
|The acoustics in this place is amazing!|
|An artist's rendition of the theater|
Meggido is the place where:
- Joshua defeated the king of Meggido - Josh 12:7, 21
- Deborah and Barak defeated Sisera and his armies - Judges 5:19-20
- King Josiah was killed in battle against Pharaoh Neco - 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chron. 35:20-24
- and where the final battle on earth will take place before Christ's triumphal return - Rev. 16:13-16
|A model of the fortress on top of Meggido|
|The altar in Meggido for sacrifices|
|View of the Jezreel valley from Meggido. This is the place where the final battle on earth is to take place before Jesus returns|
|It was a very windy day...wind gusts of 30-40mph!|
By the 6th century, secularism had so entered into Jewish religion that there was great tolerance regarding God's command about making no images. Synagogues prior to the 4th century would have never adorned their synagogue with art, let alone pagan symbols.
|The mosaic floor of a 6th century synagogue discovered at Bet Alpha|
|What's amazing about this mosaic is that it depicts a zodiac and the god Helios, god of the sun, as its center place in a Jewish synagogue!|
|A view of the Jordan river. Many Christians make pilgrimage here to be baptized and to reaffirm their baptismal vows|