Day 4, Relishing the “taste” of Beth Shean

22 03 2013

I thought that Beth Shean was an amazing stop for us. So much of interest to see, so many amazing ruins to view, and some great insights to be gained. And it was a powerful visual of what you read about regarding some ancient “tels,” that is, how some “tels” have both an “upper city” and a “lower city.” That was most certainly the case with Beth Shean.

Beth Shean was a textbook example of an ancient “tel” where the original ancient city at first goes through the steps of, over time, building layer upon layer until it literally becomes a city mound. And then, if the city continues to thrive and grow, a portion of the city’s population ends up spilling over the edge of the city mound and adds to the city at the base of the city mound, which results in there being both an “upper city,” up on the top of the city mound, and a “lower city,” at the base of the city mound.
Now for us here at Beth Shean, there was so much to see with the “lower city” that our group never made it to the “upper city,” which was a disappointment because there was so much to see in the “upper city.”
I suspect that my knee issues might have had something to do with our tour guide’s decision to not include a trip up the steep steps that led to the top of the “upper city,” because we did have time issues due to the need to get to so many different stops each day of our tour. So if indeed that is the case then I must apologize to the rest of our group for what my handicap might have caused them to miss.
Up at the top of the city mound, in the “upper city,” we missed seeing the Old Testament era city of Beth Shean that would have included what was there during the time of Joshua through the First Temple Period. In particular I would have liked to have seen the Canaanite and Egyptian ruins of Beth Shean, none of which were visible in what we saw in the “lower city.”
This would be one of the reasons that I find myself already considering a return visit to Israel. For me, it is like our visit to the Holy Land provided me with a taste of many of the different and delicious treats that were on the table, but instead of satisfying my hunger, it only served to increase it.
And if I could continue to use the analogy of a table with many different dishes to relish and enjoy, some of what we tasted on our visit I had my fill of and if I were to ever return to this particular table (to Israel), I wouldn’t need to taste from these dishes again. Most of these particular dishes would be the stops on our trip that involved sites that church traditions made into Holy Sites. So places like Bethlehem, or Mt. Carmel, or the Mt. of Transfiguration, etc. I an glad that I tasted, but now that I have, I would not need to “taste” from again. But the dishes that we tasted from that involved sites that historical and/or archaeological evidence made significant, those sites, I long to taste from once again. So I find myself longing for a “second helping” of sites like Beth Shean, Tizipori (Sepphoris), Capernaum, Jerusalem, etc.
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