Tel Dothan

Coordinates: 32°24′48.70″N 35°14′23.50″E / 32.4135278°N 35.2398611°E / 32.4135278; 35.2398611
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Tel Dothan

Dothan (Hebrew: דֹתָן‎) (also Dotan) was a location mentioned twice in the Hebrew Bible. It has been identified with Tel Dothan (Arabic: تل دوثان), also known as Tel al-Hafireh, located adjacent to the Palestinian town of Bir al-Basha,[1] and ten kilometers (driving distance) southwest of Jenin, near Dotan Junction of Route 60.[2][3][4]


1940s Survey of Palestine map of the area

The modern consensus is that the archaeological site of Tel Dothan corresponds to ancient Dothan.

Eusebius places Dothan 12 miles to the north of Sebaste; broadly consistent with the modern location.[5]

View of Tel Dothan

Other proposed locations[edit]

Van de Velde noted that the Crusaders and later mediaeval travellers had located Dothan at the village of Hittin.[6]

Hebrew Bible[edit]

Dothan is first mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Book of Genesis) in connection with the history of Joseph, as the place in which the sons of Jacob (Israel) had moved their sheep and, at the suggestion of Judah, the brothers sold Joseph to the Ishmaelite merchants (Gen. 37:17). It later appears as the residence of Elisha (Second Book of Kings, 2 Kings 6:13) and the scene of a vision of chariots and horses of fire surrounding the mountain on which the city stood.[7]

Northern views. Joseph's Well at Dothan

The plain near Dothan is also mentioned in the apocryphal Book of Judith.[8]

History and archaeology[edit]

Northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria)[edit]

The city served as an Israelite administrative centre, and archaeologist have discovered a large complex and Hebrew inscriptions at the site.[9][10]

A bronze bull has been found in an Israelite sanctuary east of Tell Dothan, in the mountains of Samaria, dated to around the 11th century, which may be related to the episode of the golden calf.[citation needed]

Crusader period[edit]

Castellum Beleismum (Latin) or Chastiau St Job (medieval French)[11] was the Frankish name of a tower built by the Crusaders on the ancient tell in 1156 and given to the Hospitallers in 1187.

Modern discovery[edit]

Charles William Meredith van de Velde visited the site in 1851, and was considered the first modern traveller to visit it.[12] He described the discovery in his 1854 book:[6]

...I saw a huge tell at the distance of only a few hundred yards from our way, covered over with ruins, and the fragment of an ancient aqueduct, that had been supported on arches. I asked Abu Monsur the name of the tell, and the answer was, "Haida Dothan" (that is, Dothan). "Dothan," I asked, "Dothan?" "Nahm; Dothan, Dothan, Dothan!" exclaimed the testy old shech, as if hurt at my not believing him at the instant. My object in reiterating the question was to get him to repeat the name; for the discovery of Dothan was a very special circumstance, with respect to which I was anxious to assure myself, by having the name properly pronounced.

Van de Velde's visit had taken place a few days before Edward Robinson's;[4] Robinson credited van ve Velde with the discovery.[13]

Modern use of the name[edit]

The Israeli settlement of Mevo Dotan (lit. Approach to Dothan) is named for the city, as is Dothan, Alabama in the US.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shahin, Mariam (2005). Palestine: A Guide. Interlink Books. ISBN 978-1-56656-557-8. Tel al-Hafireh (Tel Dothan) Tel al-Hafireh is an archeological site that lies 6 kilometers south of Jenin, close to the village of Bir al-Basha.
  2. ^ Daniel M. Master; John Monson. "Tel Dothan 2002 Overview". Harvard University: Faculty of arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2011-07-24.
  3. ^ "Tel Dothan (photo and map)". Retrieved 2011-07-24.
  4. ^ a b Robinson, Edward, Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions, second edition, page 122; "footnote 434: We learned afterwards from Mr Van de Velde, that he too had unexpectedly lighted upon Dothan a few days earlier."
  5. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea, Onomasticon (1971), Notes edited by. C. Umhau Wolf under "Merran", accessed 27 December 2017
  6. ^ a b Velde, van de, Charles William Meredith (1854). Narrative of a journey through Syria and Palestine in 1851 and 1852. Vol. 1. William Blackwood and son. p. 364.
  7. ^ 2 Kings 6:17
  8. ^ Judith 4:6
  9. ^ Master; Monson; Lass; Peirce (2005). Dothan I: Remains from the Tell (1953-1964). Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns.
  10. ^ Miglio (2014). "Epigraphic Artifacts from Tell Dothan". BASOR.
  11. ^ Ellenblum, R. (2007). Crusader Castles and Modern Histories. Cambridge University Press. p. 173. ISBN 9781139462556. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  12. ^ Bonar, Horatius (1858). The Land of Promise: Notes of a Spring-journey from Beersheba to Sidon. James Nisbet & Company. p. 384. See Van de Velde's Syria and Palestine vol. i. p. 364. That traveller may claim the discovery of the site. He visited the spot, whereas E Robinson, like ourselves, only had it pointed out at a distance
  13. ^ Master, Daniel M.; Larsen, Timothy; Monson, John; Egon H. E. Lass; George A. Pierce (2005). Dothan: Remains from the Tell (1953-1964). Eisenbrauns. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-57506-115-3.


32°24′48.70″N 35°14′23.50″E / 32.4135278°N 35.2398611°E / 32.4135278; 35.2398611

External links[edit]