Tel Rehov

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Tel Rehov
Ktovet recov AA.jpg
"Mosaic of Rehob" from Khirbet Farwana/Horvat Parva near Tel Rehov
Tel Rehov is located in Israel
Tel Rehov
Shown within Israel
Coordinates32°27′26″N 35°29′54″E / 32.457125°N 35.498242°E / 32.457125; 35.498242

Rehov (also Rehob), meaning "broad", "wide place",[1] was an important Bronze and Iron Age city located at Tel Rehov (Hebrew: תל רחוב‎) or تل الصارم Tell es-Sarem (Arabic name), an archaeological site in the Bet She'an Valley, a segment of the Jordan Valley, Israel, approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south of Beit She'an and 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) west of the Jordan River.

The oldest apiary discovered anywhere by archaeologists, including man-made beehives and remains of the bees themselves, dating between the mid-10th century BCE and the early 9th century BCE, came to light on the tell. In the nearby ruins of the mainly Byzantine-period successor of Iron Age Rehov, a Jewish town named Rohob or Roōb, archaeologists discovered the longest mosaic inscription found so far in the Land of Israel.


Rehov means "street" or "broad place".[2]

Biblical era[edit]

Tel Rehov does not correspond to the Hebrew Bible places named as Rehov, of which two were in the more westerly allotment of the Tribe of Asher, and one more northerly.[2]

An ostracon with a partially preserved inscription was deciphered as reading "Elisha", associated by some with the biblical prophet of that name. Both the reading and the association are contested.[3]

Inscriptions mentioning the family of a certain Nimshi were discovered there; the name of the father, grandfather or forebear of biblical king Jehu is given in the Bible as Nimshi.[3]

Bronze and Iron Age[edit]

Identification of Tell es-Sarem/Tel Rehov with the ancient Canaanite and Israelite city of Rehov was based on the preservation of the name at the nearby Islamic holy tomb of esh-Sheikh er-Rihab (one kilometre to the south of Tel Rehov), and the existence of the ruins of a Byzantine-period Jewish town that preserved the old name in the form of Rohob or Roōb/Roob (one kilometre northwest of Tel Rehov).[4][5][6]

The site represents one of the largest ancient tells (archaeological mounds) in Israel, its surface area comprising 120,000 square metres (1,300,000 sq ft) in size, divided into an "Upper City" (40,000 square metres (430,000 sq ft)) and a "Lower City" (80,000 square metres (860,000 sq ft)).[citation needed]

Rehov was one of the largest cities in the region during the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 BCE) and Iron Age I-IIA (1200–900 BCE).[4] During the Late Bronze Age, while Egypt ruled over Canaan, Rehov was mentioned in at least thee sources dated between the 15th-13th century BCE, and again in the list of conquests of Pharaoh Shoshenq I, whose campaign took place around 925 BCE.[4]

Rehov was a joint Israelite-Canaanite city, and had an estimated population of 2,000.[citation needed][when?]

Byzantine era[edit]

During the Byzantine era, a Jewish town that preserved the old name in the form of Rohob or Roob, stood one kilometre northwest of Tel Rehov, at Khirbet Farwana/Horbat Parva and was mentioned by Eusebius as being on the fourth mile from Scythopolis, modern-day Beit She'an/Bisan.[4][6]

Archaeological work at Farwana has also exposed pottery and other finds from the Iron Age, the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Early Islamic, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman periods.[7]


Archaeological excavations have been conducted at Rehov since 1997 under the directorship of Amihai Mazar, Professor at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and with the primary sponsorship of John Camp.

Iron Age II levels of the site have emerged as a vitally important component in the current debate regarding the chronology of the United Monarchy of Israel. Important data has also been forthcoming regarding the Early Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age and medieval occupation of the site.

"Elisha" ostracon[edit]

In 2013, a potsherd was found holding a partially preserved inscription, which has been reconstructed as to be the rare name of Elisha, best known as the name of biblical Prophet Elisha. [3] The association with the prophet is strenuous, based on the date of the ostracon (the second half of the ninth century), the rarity of the name, and the geographic vicinity of Elisha's biblical hometown, Abel-meholah; but the name reconstruction is disputed, and the presence of incense altars in the house of the find and throughout Tel Rehov is considered contrary to the teachings of biblical prophets. [3]


In and near Tel Rehov, inscriptions containing references to the family of Nimshi have been found.[3] King Jehu of the northern kingdom of Israel, anointed by a disciple of Elisha, is the son, grandson, or otherwise descendant of a certain Nimshi.[3]

Iron Age beehives[edit]

The oldest known archaeological finds relating to beekeeping were discovered at Rehov.[8]

In September 2007 it was reported that 30 intact beehives and the remains of 100-200 more dated to the mid-10th century BCE to the early 9th century BCE were found by archaeologists in the ruins of Rehov.[9] The beehives were evidence of an advanced honey-producing beekeeping (apiculture) industry 3000 years ago in the city, then thought to have a population of about 2000 residents at that time, both Israelite and Canaanite. The beehives, made of straw and unbaked clay, were found in orderly rows of 100 hives.[10] Previously, references to honey in ancient texts of the region (such as the phrase "land of milk and honey" in the Hebrew Bible) were thought to refer only to honey derived from dates and figs; the discoveries show evidence of commercial production of bee honey and beeswax.

In addition to beehives, the remains of bees and bee larvae and pupae were also found. In 2010, using DNA from the remains of bees found at the site, researchers identified the bees as a subspecies, similar to the Anatolian bee, found now only in Turkey. It is possible that the bees' range has changed, but more likely that the inhabitants of Tel Rehov imported bees because they were less aggressive than the local bees and provided a better honey yield (three to eight times higher than Israel's native bees).[11]

Supporting archaeological knowledge include evidence of other imports in Rehov from eastern Mediterranean lands; later Egyptian documentation of transferring bees in large pottery vases or portable beehives; and an Assyrian stele from the 8th century BCE that evidences that bees had been brought from the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey to the land of Suhu - about the same distance as between the Taurus and Rehov (400 kilometres (250 mi)).[11][12]

The beehives were dated by carbon-14 radiocarbon dating at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, using organic material (wheat found next to the beehives).

Ezra Marcus of the University of Haifa, said the finding was a glimpse of ancient beekeeping seen in Near Eastern texts and ancient art. Religious practice was evidenced by an altar decorated with fertility figurines found alongside the hives.[13][14][15]

Ancient synagogue[edit]

Tel Rehov ancient synagogue: marble screen with menorah relief

Remains of a mainly Byzantine-period synagogue built in three successive phases between the fourth and the seventh century CE were found at the site of Tulul Farwana ("mounds of Farwana"),[7] now part of the agricultural lands of Kibbutz Ein HaNetziv.[citation needed] Among the remains of the synagogue archaeologists found a relatively well-preserved mosaic pavement, the narthex part of which includes a very long sixth-century inscription in Aramaic; the so-called Mosaic of Rehob, Tel Rehov inscription or Baraita of the Boundaries ains details of Jewish religious laws concerning "the Borders of the Land of Israel" (Baraitha di-Tehumin), tithes and the Sabbatical Year.[16][7][17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Avraham Negev; Shimon Gibson (July 2005). Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 434. ISBN 978-0-8264-8571-7. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b Rehob at Bible Study Tools
  3. ^ a b c d e f Noah Wiener, Tel Rehov House Associated with the Biblical Prophet Elisha, Bible and archaeology news, July 23, 2013, Biblical Archaeology Society, accessed 13 July 2019
  4. ^ a b c d Mazar, Amihai (1999). "The 1997-1998 Excavations at Tel Rehov: Preliminary Report". Israel Exploration Journal. 49: 1–42. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Section R. The Pentateuch". Roōb (entry No. 766) (PDF). The Onomasticon of Eusebius Pamphili: Compared with the Version of Jerome and Annotated. Translated by Wolf, C. Umhau. 1971. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b R. P. Henricus Marcellius (ed.). "Liber de situ et nominibus locorum hebraicorum, [Letter R:] De pentateucho". Roob. Theologia scripturæ divinæ, au[c]tore R. P. Henrico Marcellio, cui accesserunt liber Eusebii de situ locorum hebraicorum, juxta sancti Hieronymi translationem. Editio nova castigata et emendata. Paris: Bibl. Ecclésiastique. p. 469. Retrieved 15 July 2019 – via "Sainte Bible expliquée et commentée, contenant le texte de la Vulgate", Appendice (1837, digitised 2010).
  7. ^ a b c Yardenna Alexandre, 2017, Horbat Parva: Final Report, Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel (HA-ESI), volume 129, year 2017, Israel Antiquities Authority, accessed 15 July 2019
  8. ^ Oldest known archaeological example of beekeeping discovered in Israel
  9. ^ Friedman, Matti (September 4, 2007), "Israeli archaeologists find 3,000-year-old beehives" in USA Today, Retrieved 2010-01-04
  10. ^ Mazar, Amihai and Panitz-Cohen, Nava, (December 2007) It Is the Land of Honey: Beekeeping at Tel Rehov Archived 2010-07-02 at the Wayback Machine Near Eastern Archaeology, Volume 70, Number 4, ISSN 1094-2076
  11. ^ a b Bloch, G.; Francoy, T. M.; Wachtel, I.; Panitz-Cohen, N.; Fuchs, S.; Mazar, A. (7 June 2010). "Industrial apiculture in the Jordan valley during Biblical times with Anatolian honeybees". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (25): 11240–11244. Bibcode:2010PNAS..10711240B. doi:10.1073/pnas.1003265107. PMC 2895135. PMID 20534519.
  12. ^ SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH, JUDY (2010-06-24). "Biblical buzz". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  13. ^ Friedman, Matti. "Archaeologists Discover Ancient Beehives." Associated Press. 7 September 2007.
  14. ^ "Hebrew University excavations reveal first Biblical period beehives in 'Land of Milk and Honey'". Beth-Shean Valley Archaeological Project Tel Rehov Excavations. Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology. September 2, 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-04-19.
  15. ^ "Tel Rehov Reveals the First Beehives in Ancient Near East." 4 September 2007. [1]
  16. ^ The permitted villages of Sebaste in the Rehov Mosaic
  17. ^ Jewish legal inscription from a synagogue, Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Accessed 15 July 2019.
  18. ^ Rachel Hachlili, "Ancient Synagogues - Archaeology and Art: New Discoveries and Current Research", p. 254, BRILL, 2013. Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 1: The Near and Middle East, ISBN 9789004257726. Accessed 15 July 2019.

External links[edit]