Absalom’s Home City—Near the Sea of Galilee

Absalom, David’s son who attempted to kill him (2 Samuel 15–18), was the “son of Maacah daughter of Talmai” who was the king of Geshur (2 Sam 3:3).  It was to Geshur that Absalom fled after killing his half-brother, Amnon, who had raped his sister Tamar. (2 Samuel 13).

The city of Geshur, capital of the kingdom, is well–identified with the site of et–Tell that is located 1 mi. [1.5 km.] north of the Sea of Galilee, slightly to the east of the present course of the Jordan River.  It is a large 22-acre [9 ha.] mound that has been excavated since 1987 by Rami Arav.  Almost all of the structures of et–Tell were constructed of black basalt (volcanic) stone.

It appears that Geshur, despite its nearness to Israel, was a semi–independent kingdom until its destruction by the Assyrian king Tiglath–Pileser III during his campaign in the area in 732 B.C.—during the days of Ahaz and Isaiah.

Iron Age II City Gate at et-Tell/Geshur

The remnants of this massive four–chamber city gate are located on the southeast side of the Tell.  This view is from the east, from the plaza outside the four–chamber gate, looking west.  Note the two chambers on the right (north) side of the central passageway, the two standing stones (massevoth) at the sides of the entrance, and on the right (north) side of the gate the High Place.

High Place at City Gate with: Standing Stone, Stepped Approach, and Basin

A high place, for the worship of a deity, is located on the right (north) side of the gate.  Note the staircase that leads up to a hollowed out basalt stone into which liquids could be ritually poured and the upright standing stone (massevah) on the left side of the high place.  This standing stone may have been inscribed, but it more probably represented the presence of a (pagan) deity.

Et–Tell’s identification with New Testament Bethsaida is possible, but not certain.  Bethsaida was the home of Philip, Andrew, and Peter—disciples of Jesus, and there Jesus performed a number of miracles including the healing of a blind man and the feeding of the 5,000.

To view more images of et–Tell/Geshur/Bethsaida Click Here.

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One response to “Absalom’s Home City—Near the Sea of Galilee

  1. This was a very interesting place to visit. I especially liked the look of the black basalt structures.

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