Bethshan (Bethshean)
Dictionary of Bible Names

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Bethshan (Bethshean)
Bible Meaning: House of ease
Strong's Concordance #H1052

Bethshan and Bethshean refer to the same city in the King James Bible.

The tribe of Manasseh laid claim to Bethshan (Bethshean) even though it was located in land given to tribe of Isaachar (Joshua 17:11, Judges 1:27).

Bethshan (Bethshean) was located in an important strategic location within Israel. It stood at the entrance of the Jezreel valley (where many battles were fought) and was at the intersection where it met the Jordan River valley. It was therefore used to both guard the valleys and as a checkpoint for an important Jordan River crossing.

Grisly Bethshan warning

The Philistines, after years of battling King Saul, were finally able to overcome and kill him and three of his sons. When the battle ended, they found their dead bodies on Mount Gilboa where they were slain.

As part of their gruesome victory celebration, the Philistines chopped off Saul's head and sent it throughout their territory as a testament to their military power. They then hung up the head in their temple dedicated to the pagan God Dagon!

In order to further advertise their victory, and as a warning to Israel, the Philistines additionally fastened Saul's headless corpse, along with the bodies of his sons (which included Jonathan), to the wall surrounding Bethshan (1Chronciles 10:8 - 10, 1Samuel 31:8 - 13).

It took the valiant efforts of some men from Jabesh-gilead to retrieve the bodies. Although they subsequently burned them, King David retrieved the remaining bones and had they buried in their hometown (2Samuel 21:12 - 14).

Important Verses

Joshua 17:11
And Manasseh had in Isaachar and in Asher Bethshean (Bethshan) and her towns, and Ibleam and her towns, and the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Endor and her towns, and the inhabitants of Taanach and her towns, and the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns, even three countries.

Location of Bethshan (Bethshean) in Ancient Israel Map

Joshua 17:16
And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean (Bethshan) and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.

Judges 1:27
Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean (Bethshan) and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

1Samuel 31:8 - 12
And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa. And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armor, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.

And they put his armor in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan. And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;

All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.

2Samuel 21:12
And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, which had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa . . .

1Chronicles 7:29
And by the borders of the children of Manasseh, Bethshean (Bethshan) and her towns, Taanach and her towns, Megiddo and her towns, Dor and her towns. In these dwelt the children of Joseph the son of Israel.

Additional Studies

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Series Notes
References are based on the
King James Bible translation (KJV).