Started off the day with some of the most impressive ruins uncovered in Israel. Beth Shean shows over 20 layers of occupation. The city sits at an ideal intersection between the Jordan Valley and the Harod Valley (extension of the Jezreel Valley). Control of the city passed between Egyptians, Israelites, Greeks and finally the Romans, becoming the largest city of the Decapolis (Ten cities, Matthew 4:25). Beth Shean makes an appearance in 1 Samuel 31:10 after Saul’s death when his armor is hung in the temple and his body was fastened to the wall. The highlight of Beth Shean is the lower city, also known as Scythopolis, which shows remains of Roman public buildings, streets and one of the best preserved theater’s that held over 7,000 people. The city was ultimately destroyed by an earthquake in the 7th century.
The next stop for the day was Bethlehem, the city of Jesus’s birth. Bethlehem with its proximity to Jerusalem was where many of the sheep were raised that would later be used as a sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem. Another notable person who called Bethlehem their birth place was David who became one of God’s greatest Kings to rule in Israel, “a man after His own heart.”
To finish off the day we had lunch in Bethlehem and visited a friend of GTI’s, Johnny, who owns a shop where you can find amazing olive wood carvings and beautiful jewelry.