A Writer’s First Trip to the Holy Land: The Decapolis City of Beit She’an (Scythopolis)
It is about the one year anniversary of our trip to Israel. I am grateful I had the opportunity to complete this trip of a lifetime. I would like to finish this series with a description and images from our trip to Scythopolis. After a year it remains a trip of a lifetime and I gladly remember the many wonderful people Kathyrn and I met in our group.
A Description of Scythopolis
At the junction of the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley one finds the ruins of the ancient city of Scythopolis one of the towns of the Decapolis. These Greek settlements were founded after Alexander the Great’s conquests. Likely Pella and Dion were founded first, since they are Macedonian names.
Scythopolis is the only Decapolis town on the west side of the Jordan River and sits athwart one of the key access routes connecting the coastal region with the caravan routes skirting the fertile crescent.
According to E. M. Blaiklock, the presence of a Greek city in Palestine had a significant influence on Jewish culture and Jewish awareness of Greek culture. For example, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the far off land where he fed the swine may have been modeled on Scythopolis.
The presence of Scythopolis may also indicate that Jews and Galileans in biblical times had an understanding of Greek since they likely traded and interacted with these Greek cities.
Acknowledgment. The excellent article by E. M. Blaiklock in The Zondervan Pictorial Dictionary of the Bible on the Decapolis was most helpful in the writing of this article.