What is Dothan in the Bible?

Author: BibleAsk Team


Dothan, a place mentioned in the Bible, holds a unique significance in various biblical narratives. Its name appears several times in the Old Testament, and each reference unveils different facets of historical, cultural, and spiritual importance. Let us review this place in the Bible, exploring the events, people, and messages associated with this intriguing location.

Dothan or Dothain (two wells) is a name of a place in the land of Israel. It is a town on the common caravan route between Gilead and Egypt, near the plain of Esdraelon and a pass leading to the highlands of Samaria. It was 14 1/8 mi. (22.6 km.) north by east from Shechem, and 10 mi. (16 km.) north by east of Samaria. This site is now known as Tel Dothan. It is about 5 miles to the Southwest of Jenin. It is mentioned on monuments in B.C. 1600.

Dothan is engulfed on three sides by hills. It is a location suitable for defense. The place has excellent pasture in the plain, and on the adjoining slopes. Because of the rich fountains, the two ancient wells and numerous Cisterns (Genesis 37:24), there are herds of cattle, sheep, and goats that pasture there.

The significance of Dothan lies in its location upon the roads in the hill country of Ephraim and the resulting commercial trade. It managed all commerce going between the high lands and the Jezreel Valley. It was important when the neighboring high-road was a major road from Damascus to Egypt. Today, caravans still pass through this place.

Bible References

Dothan was the place where Joseph found his brothers, who were tending their flocks there (Genesis 37:17). Joseph’s envious brothers seized him and threw him into a well pit that had become dry, and afterward sold him to Ishmaelite merchants, who traveled that road between Syria and Egypt (Genesis 37:17).

Today, there exist numerous bottled-shaped cisterns hewn in the rock with bottle shaped hallow mouths, such as egress. It is impossible to get out from it without help. These are perhaps similar to the “pit” where Joseph was thrown by his brothers (Genesis 37:24). One of the “two wells” that exist there bears the name of the “pit of Joseph” (Jubb Yusuf).

Dothan is referred to once more as the place where Elisha resided (2 Kings 6:13). Elisha’s servant was greatly frightened when he saw the Syrian army coming. But Elisha told him, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16–17). These horses and chariots around Elisha were myriads of strong angels sent by God to protect His people.


In 1953, excavations were initiated by Joseph E. Free under the supervision of Wheaton College. The unearthing of tell Dotha, showed that there was occupation of the location from the final part of the Chalcolithic Age through the Hellenistic Roman Period (3200 B.C. through A.D. 300-400) with a break from 700 to 330. This site became a city enclosed with walls about 3000 B.C.


In conclusion, the biblical account of Dothan unveils a tapestry of historical events, divine interventions, and symbolic meanings. Whether as the backdrop for Joseph’s betrayal or the stage for Elisha’s supernatural encounters, Dothan serves as a canvas upon which God paints His redemptive and transformative narrative. Dothan is more than a geographical location—it is a stage where God’s providence, protection, and purposes are revealed in the unfolding drama of human history.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Leave a Comment