beth-she'-an, beth'-shan (beth-shan, or [beth-she'an]; in Apocrypha Baithsan or Bethsa): A city in the territory of Issachar assigned to Manasseh, out of which the Canaanites were not driven (Jos 17:11; Jg 1:27); in the days of Israel's strength they were put to taskwork (Jg 1:28). They doubtless were in league with the Philistines who after Israel's defeat on Gilboa exposed the bodies of Saul and his sons on the wall of the city (1Sa 31:7 ff), whence they were rescued by the men of Jabesh , who remembered the earlier kindness of the king (1Sa 31:7 ff; 2Sa 21:12). In 1 Ki 4:12 the name applies to the district in which the city stands. It was called Scythopolis by the Greeks. This may be connected with the invasion of Palestine by the Scythians who, according to George Syncellus, "overran Palestine and took possession of Beisan." This may be the invasion noticed by Herodotus, circa 600 BC (i.104-6). Here Tryphon failed in his first attempt to take Jonathan by treachery (1 Macc 12:40). It fell to John Hyrcanus, but was taken from the Jews by Pompey. It was rebuilt by Gabinius (Ant., XIV, v, 3), and became an important member of the league of the "ten cities" (BJ, III, ix, 7). The impiousness of the inhabitants is painted in dark colors by Josephus (Vita, 6; BJ, II, xviii, 3); and the Mishna speaks of it as a center of idol worship (`Abhodhah Zarah, i.4). Later it was the seat of a bishop.
It is represented by the modern Beisan, in the throat of the Vale of Jezreel where it falls into the Jordan valley, on the southern side of the stream from `Ain Jalud. The ruins of the ancient city are found on the plain, and on the great mound where probably stood the citadel. Between the town and the stretch of marsh land to the South runs the old road from East to West up the Vale of Jezreel, uniting in Esdraelon with the great caravan road from North to South.