Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tiberias to Bet Shean

Bet Shean is magnificent! You must visit there. It is located just
north of the West bank on the main road through the Jordan Valley. We passed through on the way from Naharia to Jerusalem, via Tiberias. If you check your map you will see that the direct route is not that. The idea was to see some of the Galilee region, and maybe visit some historical sights along the way. We had hoped to see Jericho also, but time and temperature concerns did not allow that.

Tiberias is not much to see, although we did see some ruins that are still visible after the floods and earthquakes and invasions that have devastated the city over the years. Maimonides tomb is there as well, but we did not make a pilgrimage to it.

Just south of Tiberias is a hot spring that has a great mosaic as well. There was a synagogue there, and it was decorated with what is apparently the oldest surviving depiction of the Zodiac. The signs are labelled in Greek, which gives you an idea of what "Hellenised" means. The upper portion of the mosaic, nearest the Bimah, was less Pagan, having a candelabra, and a representation of the temple. Nearby are the remains of the old city walls, and the source of the hot spring, which we verified was in fact quite hot. We did not verify the powerful laxative properties of the water that were attested to by several Rebbe's whose quotations were on display in a
reconstrucion of the old spa.

Bet Shean! The Tell where once stood the city walls on which Saul's body was displayed after the defeat of the Israelites. The remains of a Byzantine city destroyed by earthquake, whose columns you can still view, having been stood back upright as part of the restoration work that seems to be ongoing. The house where the Egyptian ruled the place, when it was Egypt's to rule.


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