Places of Interest
1. Tel Jezreel was a biblical fortified city located on the southern ridge of the beautiful Jezreel Valley in the Lower Galilee region of northern Israel.
2. The tel sits 100 meters above the valley and covers approximately 22 acres. It is strategically located close to the ancient Via Maris trade route running from north to south and was an important stop along the way.
3. Its strategic location on the entrance to the north-south trade route made the city a gatekeeper like Lachish, Gezer, Megiddo, and Hazor which were located on the international highway known as the Via Maris (way of the sea).
1. Tel Jezreel was a major Biblical city in the northern Kingdom of Israel.
2. The Bible tells about many events associated with the city.
3. Excavations reveal that the city was inhabited in the Canaanite/Late Bronze period in around the 15th Century BC, and then later in the Israelite/Iron period.
4. The city belonged to the region of the tribe of Issachar.
5. Archaeological findings dating to the Iron age include a large enclosure surrounded by a moat, a gate with six chambers, and large towers. These findings are dated to around 880 BC, which would have been during the reign of King Omri and Ahab.
6. In 722 BC, the Jezreel and the northern Kingdom of Israel were conquered by the Assyrians and many of the people were led away to Assyria as captives.
7. During the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Periods, the city continued to be an important gateway along the main road from north to south.
8. Jesus would have passed through the city of Jezreel on his journies from the Galilee area to Jerusalem.
9. The Crusaders who followed also left structures and remains of a medieval church which were uncovered in excavations.
10. The Ottomans inhabited the Tel in the 19th century.
11. In more recent history, the Tel was the site of major battles in 1948 when the State of Israel was established. On the Tel, you can see a memorial to the Palmach fighters who died in the battle.
Places of Interest at Tel Jezreel
1. Biblical walls that are mentioned several times in the Bible. The walls once enclosed the ancient fortress complex. One of the famous Biblical scenes is of Queen Jezebel being thrown over the walls: “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the walls of Jezreel.”
2. Likely place of King Ahab's Palace
Places of Interest Around Tel Jezreel
1. Jezreel Valley (Valley of Armageddon)
2. Mountains of Gilboa ~ Place King Saul and his sons were killed by the Philistines.
3. En Dor ~ Place King Saul met with a woman diviner who contacted Samuel from the dead.
4. Mount Tabor ~ Likely place of the transfiguration of Jesus.
5. Gideon's Spring ~ Place God chose 300 men to defeat the Midianites.
6. Beth Shean ~ Place the bodies of King Saul and his sons were hanged after the Philistines killed them in battle.
Samaria In the Bible
1. The City of Jezreel was in the territory of the tribe of Issachar as found in Joshua 19:17-18.
2. King Saul, on the eve of the fatal battle with the Philistines, camped with his army near the spring of Jezreel. The battle was fought in Jezreel Valley and on mount Gilboa the followowing day. King Saul died fighting this battle together with his 3 sons.
1 Samuel 29:1: Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek, while the Israelites were camping by the spring which is in Jezreel.
1 Samuel 31:1: Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled from the Philistines but fell fatally wounded on Mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines also overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul.
3. The great showdown between the 850 false prophets of Baal and Asherah and Elijah took place on Mount Carmel, just 30 miles (50 km.) north of Samaria.
1 Kings 18:20–21: So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
4. After the prophet Elijah's great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah instructed Ahab to return home to Jezreel, to report the news to his wife, Jezebel (Jezreel is around 30 miles or 50 km. from Mount Carmel).
1 Kings 18:45–46: Meanwhile the sky became dark with clouds and wind came up, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46 Then the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he belted his cloak around his waist and outran Ahab to Jezreel.
6. King Ahab had a palace in Jezreel.
1 Kings 21:1–3: Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
7. King Ahab killed Naboth to acquire his vineyard. This event took place north of Samaria at Ahab's summer palace of Tel Jezreel.
1 Kings 21:1–3: Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”
7. God killed King Ahab because of his great wickedness.
1 Kings 22:37–38: So the king died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria. 38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the Lord that he had spoken.
8. The fall of wicked Queen Jezebel took place as prophesied by Elijah.
2 Kings 9:30–37: When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard about it, and she put makeup on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked down through the window. 31 As Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is your intention peace, Zimri, his master’s murderer?” 32 Then he raised his face toward the window and said, “Who is with me, who?” And two or three officials looked down at him. 33 Then he said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and he trampled her underfoot. 34 When he came in, he ate and drank; and he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter.” 35 So they went to bury her, but they found nothing of her except the skull, the feet, and the palms of her hands. 36 Therefore they returned and informed him. And he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘On the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37 and the corpse of Jezebel will be like dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, “This is Jezebel.”’”
In 2 Kings 10:8 Jehu orders the death of 70 descendants of Ahab, and has their heads sent to the new king in Jezreel and piled up in "two heaps at the gate entrance."
Jezreel is also mentioned in the book of Hosea where God commands Hosea to name his son "Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel" (Hosea 1:4). God also tells Hosea as to a future event, "I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel." (Hosea 2:21–22). Hosea also mentions, "In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel." (Hosea 1:5).
Faith Lesson from Samaria
1. Unfortunately, the division of the Nation of Israel into two parts was born out of disobedience to God.
2. Nonetheless, God sent prophet after prophet to warn them to leave their false Gods and return to Him.
3. God extended mercy and patience upon them despite their continual rejection of Him.
4. Because of their hardhearted rejection, God had no choice but to discipline the Northern Kingdom and deport most of them to Assyria.
5. Do we really believe that disobedience to God causes pain and suffering (Rom 8:6)?
6. Do we understand that God is merciful and patient but disciplines those He loves (Heb. 12:7–11)?
7. The Samaritan people gladly received the gospel under Philip’s preaching. Do we realize that those living in darkness are the most receptive to the light?
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