Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bet She'an

Our next Israel installment takes us to Bet She'an. 

I was unfamiliar with this location, but Bet She'an is the city where Saul and Jonathon's bodies were hung by the Philistines on the city walls after their defeat, inspiring one of the greatest examples of Hebrew poetry by David.  The reference to Bet She'an is found in 1 Samuel 31:10-13, "And they put his weapons in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.  Now when the inhabitantsof Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men rose and walked all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh, and burned them there.  And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days." (NASB)

David's lament can be found in 2 Samuel 1:17-27
(thanks to this website for pointing me in the right direction):
"Then David chanted with this lament over Saul and Jonathan his son and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the song of the bow; behold, it is written in the book of Jashar. 
'Your beauty, O Israel, is slain on your high places! 
How have the mighty fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.
O mountains of Gilboa,
Let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings;
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
Fromt he blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
And the sword of Saul did not return empty.
Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life,
And in their death they were not parted;
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
HOw have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan is slain on your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me.
Your love to me was more wonderful
Than the love of women.
How have the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished!'"

The entrance to the city
I was just so amazed that these are National Parks in Israel!

And this little guy greeted us each time we visited a national park.  I thought he was such a cute mascot. :)

This image is a model of the entire city.

Beautiful stonework

Entering the theater
I loved the curved archways.

View of the ruins with the main road in the center.  That main road was difficult to build due to the rock layers beneath it.

More ruins

The covered area is the ruins of the bathhouse.

The theater's main stage

The theater seats

More ruins of the city with beautiful hills in the distance.

The following signs describe some specific areas within the ruins of Bet She'an.

One other truly amazing piece about Bet She'an is that ten years ago all of these ruins were mounds of dirt and mud.  I just loved the columns pictured above.

Beautiful arch

A model of what part of the city would have looked like.

More columns awaiting excavation

An image of what the area of the city would have looked like.

View from the hills of Bet She'an.  It was quite a climb!

But I made it to the top!
Storm clouds were brewing in the background...
I loved the juxtiposition of the beautiful yellow flowers and the dark clouds in the background.

These images explained the experience of Saul and Jonathan with the Philistines.

Another favorite photo. Three great scholars of the Word in deep discussion with the beautiful mountains beyond them and a single flower growing on the right.
This image describes the home of the Egyptian ruler who lived here.
This image is of the ruins of the governer's home described above.

A view of the city from the hill.  In the center is the theater.

A view from further away
I thought that tree was so interesting, especially with with the clouds beyond.

Another view of the city

Walking down the main road of the city.  Iron figures were placed around these ruins as in Megiddo to give an idea of what the city would have looked like in its heyday.

The columns were so beautiful.

Petra posing by a column.  The storm clouds had brought rain be this time and our umbrellas were coming in handy!
A closer view of the bathhouse.

More information about the bathhouse
The beautiful mosaic floor of the bathhouse.
Another image on the main road of a woman shopping in the market. 
The sense of history behind these ruins was what seemed to overwhelm me about this place.  Whether it was walking down the main road or through the ruins of the Egyptian governer's home or walking down the steps to a seat in the theater, I was catapulted to a different time and filled with gratitude that these places have been preserved for us to visit.

Next, on our Israel tour we head to the Jordan River, but we might make a detour to me recent Chicago Fourth of July weekend first! :)

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