The Shema Seal from Megiddo

Perhaps you have seen a drawing or a photo of a replica of the Shema Seal. Professors Israel Finkelstine and David Ussishkin, directors of the most recent major excavation at Megiddo, tell us about the discovery.

The first excavation of the site was undertaken between 1903 and 1905 on behalf of the German Society for the Study of Palestine by Gotlieb Schumacher, an engineer who lived in the German community of Haifa. Schumacher cut a 65-foot-wide trench across the mound from north to south and a number of smaller trenches in other parts of the site, identifying six building levels. His most famous find is a jasper seal portraying a roaring lion and inscribed “(belonging) to Shema, servant of Jeroboam.” Shema was apparently a high official of the king of the northern kingdom, either Jeroboam I (end of tenth century B.C.E.) or Jeroboam II (eighth century B.C.E.). This striking emblem of a powerful lion was sent by Schumacher to the Turkish Sultan in Constantinople, who kept it there in his royal collection. It is not clear what happened to it later, but today its whereabouts are unknown. (“Back to Megiddo.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan/Feb 1994).

McKinny dates the reign of Israelite king Jeroboam II from 793 to 753 B.C. He says there was a sole reign of 29 years and a joint reign of 12 years with Jehoash (Regnal Chronology of the Kings of Judah and Israel: An Illustrated Guide, 21). The biblical reference says,

In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. (2 Kings 14:23 ESV)

On one of my earliest tours, either 1967 or shortly thereafter, I purchased a metal desktop paper weight replica of the Shema seal. It may have been at the shop at Megiddo or at the Rockefeller Museum. It is certainly larger than the original jasper seal. The photo which I recently made of my “seal” is slightly different in detail from the one included in Ussishkin’s study in Coogan, et al., Scripture and Other Artifacts, 410-428. (See also Pritchard, The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, 75.)

This is a replica that I bought during one of my earliest trips, perhaps in 1967. I think it may have been at Megiddo or at the Rockerfeller Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This is a replica that I bought during one of my earliest trips, perhaps in 1967. I think it may have been at Megiddo or at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ussishkin describes the original seal:

The seal of Shema is an unpierced scaraboid of jasper measuring 37 by 27 by 17 mm; it portrays a roaring lion and contains the inscription … “(belonging) to Shema, servant of Jeroboam.” (419)

I thought this photo might be useful to teachers who like to have good images to use in their classes.

Earthquakes felt in Galilee

The Times of Israel reports that two earthquakes were felt in and around Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee last night. The report describes a “wave of earthquakes” that have hit the area in the past week.

The Great Rift, which we wrote about recently in a series of post on the Arabah here, runs all the way from northern Syria through Lebanon, Israel, the Arabah, and into eastern Africa. In Israel the area is called the Jordan Valley or the Dead Sea Rift, It is not surprising that earthquakes are mentioned frequently in the Bible. The prophet Amos dates his visions to “two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1). The earthquake he makes reference to must have been so memorable that everyone would know what he was talking about. Zechariah (14:5) also calls attention to this earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.

Jesus, in predicting the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans, said, “and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes” (Matthew 24:7; see Luke 21:11).

We have a wonderful example of the power of an earthquake in the Jordan Valley at the site of Bethshan [Bet-she’an, Beth-shean], about 25 miles south of the Sea of Galilee. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 749. This photo shows the evidence brought to light during recent archaeological excavations in the city.

Earthquake damage at Beth-shean in the Jordan Valley. FerrellJenkins.blog.

Earthquake damage at Beth-shean in the Jordan Valley from A.D. 749. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Below we have a closeup of some of damage remaining from A.D. 749.

Closeup of the earthquake damage at Bethshean in A.D. 749. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Closeup of the earthquake damage at Bethshean in A.D. 749. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If you would like to see more material about earthquakes in the Middle East just put the word earthquake in the search box.

2000 in the bag

It is not an earth-shattering achievement, but I am pleased to have been blessed to visit most of the Bible World over the past 50 years. The only major country that eluded me is Iran. At one time I knew a couple working for an American corporation in Iran. The wife was visiting family near me and brought me eight historical and travel books about the country which are still on a top shelf in my study. She encouraged me to bring a group to the country. Not long afterwards there were many political changes in Iran and the tour never materialized.

But I have been greatly blessed to travel and to share my experiences with many others. In 2007 I began a little blog on WordPress to keep family and friends of those on my tour updated to our activities. This is now the 2000th post on ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com and ferrelljenkins.blog. The last 100 or so have been slow in coming, but finally we have reached that milestone.

Post number 2000 for ferrelljenkins.blog.

Post number 2000 for ferrelljenkins.blog. This photo, without the 2000, was made at Avedat in the Negev of Israel.

Some of our blog posts have been tour reports, others have been more significant, and hopefully helpful, posts for all Bible students. A few posts have been repeats with updated information or photos.

Almost every post has included one or more photographs. The greater number of them have been photos from my collection. Over the years I have learned a lot about preparing the photos for publication (in print and on the web). We now have nearly 2700 followers who receive every post we write. According to WordPress we have reached two and a half million hits. I thank each of you for your interest. I still have former students and church friends to ask me what I have written lately! And some who see one photo and a few lines from a post mentioned on social media never click through to read the entire post. Sigh…

My hope is that you think of this blog as a sort of (incomplete) Bible Lands and Customs Dictionary. Use our indexes and the search box to locate places and customs you may be studying.

I wanted to share a few beautiful photos as a sort of celebration of the 2000th post.

Spring flowers among the ruins at Pergamum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Spring flowers among the ruins at Pergamum, site of one of the seven churches of the book of Revelation (2:12-17). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In addition to my 50 years of tours in the Bible World and other parts of the world, I have made numerous extended trips with just another person, or up to three others. On these excursions we have been able to visit some places not easily accessible to a group with a bus. Beginning in about 1980 I have made these excursion with Melvin Curry, Phil Roberts, Harold Tabor, Jim Hodges, Raymond Harris, Curtis and Kyle Pope, David Padfield, Gene Taylor, Lowell Sallee, David McClister, Larry Haverstock, Dan Kingsley, and my lovely wife Elizabeth. Leon Mauldin has joined me on more of these personal trips than anyone else; no less than ten. Just as soon as I publish I will surely think of someone else.

One way I sometimes describe my travels, and these are included on the blog, is by a biblical timeline – from Ararat to Patmos (or Genesis to Revelation). We have discussed the possibility other sites for the biblical account of Noah and the Flood, but here is one photo of Greater Ararat in northeast Turkey.

Greater Mount Ararat, in the land of Ararat, near the Iranian border. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Greater Mount Ararat, in the land of Ararat, near the Iranian border. This is the traditional site of the landing of Noah’s ark. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

And here is a photo of the little Greek island where John was exiled in the later years of the first century A.D.

A view of the harbor on the island of Patmos, the place where the apostle John received, and possibly wrote the Book of Revelation. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view of the harbor on the island of Patmos, the place where the apostle John received, and possibly wrote the Book of Revelation. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This next photo was made May 13, 1970 long before we started this blog. I wanted to use this and another photo to further illustrate the extent of our travels. These photos cover the earliest period of biblical history to the close of the New Testament epistles and the Apocalypse. I only made one tour to Iraq, but we traveled from Ur, the traditional home of Abraham, to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrians. Our scanned photo shows a reconstructed ziggurat. I always described the ziggurats to my students as a staged, or stepped, temple tower. Steve Barabas describes this ziggurat,

The ziggurat at Ur was 200 feet (63 m.) long, 150 feet (47 m.) wide, and some 70 feet (22 m.) high. The inside was made of unbaked brick; the outside consisted of about 8 feet (2.5 m.) of baked brick set in bitumen. The Stele of Ur-Nammu is a contemporary record of the building of this ziggurat. The tower of Babel was a ziggurat (Gen 11:1–9). (Douglas, J. D., and Merrill Chapin Tenney. New International Bible Dictionary 1987 : 1088. Print.)

The ziggurat at Ur, Iraq. The remaining ruins can be seen above the reconstructed brick work. The reconstruction is about four stories high. Photo made by Ferrell Jenkins, May 13, 1970.

The ziggurat at Ur, Iraq. The remaining ruins can be seen above the reconstructed brick work. The reconstruction is about four stories high.
Photo made by Ferrell Jenkins, May 13, 1970.

If we follow the New Testament epistles to the west we come to Rome, the city where both Paul and Peter are said to have given their lives for the cause of Christ. The statue of Emperor Augustus reminds us of the power of Rome from the birth of Jesus to the close of the New Testament.

Replica of a statue of the Emperor Augustus in Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Replica of a statue of the Emperor Augustus in Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I have made numerous friends as a result of the blog. My first knowledge of Todd Bolen came through his Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, and we corresponded on a few items before we met. We first met in November, 2005, in Jerusalem. He frequently mentions my posts on his weekly roundup at BiblePlaces Blog. I am pleased that he now licenses my photos to publishers who wish to use them.

Other bloggers who have encouraged me include Carl Rasmussen (HolyLandPhotos blog), Charles Savelle, Wayne Stiles, and  Steve Wolfgang for his frequent re-blogging of my posts. Tom Powers has helped me correct or avoid a mistake more than once. And a host of friends who have encouraged me by letting me know they read and use our photos and learn from our comments. Without a count, I am confident that Joseph Lauer has more Hat Tips (HT) than anyone else. Many thanks for all the helpful updates he has provided.

I should add three of my former students and travelers who are now leading tours. Barry Britnell, Luke Chandler, and Leon Mauldin all have high recommendations from those who travel with them.

If you have enjoyed and profited by following this blog will you please tell at least one friend about it? Many thanks.

A drive through Wadi Shu’ayb in Jordan

Leaving Bethany Beyond the Jordan in the Jordan Valley we drove northeast on highway 437 toward Salt. We wanted to bypass Amman on our way to Jerash, the second largest city of the Decapolis after Damascus. This road took us through Wadi Shu’ayb.

Does Wadi Shu’ayb have anything to do with the Bible? Maybe so.

Shu’ayb is the Arabic name for Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses (Exodus 3:1). It you have traveled around the Sea of Galilee in Israel you have doubtless seen the Horns of Hattin. You can see our photo-filled post about it here. Below Hattin, on the edge of the Arbel Pass, there is a building believed by the Druze to be the burial site of Nebi Shu’ayb (or Shu’eib). The Druze gather at the site every spring for a festival.

Back to Jordan and the Wadi Shu’ayb or Valley of Jethro. The Moslem belief in the area is that Shu’ayb (or Jethro) is buried here. I have observed that it is not uncommon in the Moslem world to find multiple burial sites for various Old Testament greats. Our aim was to get to Jerash in time for the morning Roman Army and Chariot Experience so we only took time to make a few photos in the valley.

The first photo looks back toward the Jordan Valley. It is interesting to note the barrenness on the west side of the valley and the vegetation on the east side. I have read in a few sources that the water runs perpetually, but I don’t think that is the case now. I enlarged some of the original photos and found places where the stream bed is dry. There were some dark areas where I can not rule out a few pools of water. In many cases the water that once flowed in these streams is now diverted for use by the burgeoning population for their agriculture.

Wadi Shu'ayb, looking toward the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view of Wadi Shu’ayb looking toward the Jordan Valley.
Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

As we continued to drive northeasterly we stopped for another photo of the hillsides with nice houses and orchards.

Wadi Shu'ayb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Continuing in Wadi Shu’ayb we saw nice houses and orchards.
Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Is the legend about Jethro the only connection between Wadi Shu’ayb and the Bible? Definitely not.

Two sources that I have enjoyed studying in preparation for this post remind us that Jazer was one of the towns allotted to the Gaddites, and associated with the territory of Gilead. Burton MacDonald finds the site of Jazer, one of the Levitical cities, in this area.

Jazer (Num 21.32; 32.3, 35; Josh 13.25; 21.39; 2 Sam 24.5; 1 Chr 6.81; 26.31; Isa 16.8, 9; Jer 48.32; 1 Macc 5.8): According to Num 21.32, Jazer was a possession of the Amorites that the Israelites captured, while Num 32.3 identifies it as a place the Reubenites and Gadites desired. Jazer was among the towns that Moses is said to have allotted to the Gadites, who rebuilt it (Num 32.35). It is listed as Gadite territory (Josh 13.25) and as a Levitical city (Josh 21.39; 1 Chr 6.81); and it is cited as one of the
places where Joab took the census in Transjordan (2 Sam 24.5). David found men of great ability in Jazer in Gilead (1 Chr 26.31), thus associating the site with the district of Gilead (see Chapter 10). Jazer appears in the oracles of both Isaiah (16.8, 9) and Jeremiah (48.32) against Moab, and so it would appear to be a Moabite possession. Finally, Judas Maccabeus is said to have crossed the Jordan and taken Jazer and its villages (1 Macc 5.8). (“East of the Jordan,” p. 106)

MacDonald concludes,

Based on the available evidence, there seems to be little doubt that Khirbat Jazzir is the best candidate for the site of biblical Jazer. It matches the biblical and extra-biblical literary information, it is toponymically viable, and there is archaeological evidence of settlement during the Iron Age. (108).

David Z. Moster, in a 2017 Ph.D. Thesis at Bar-Illan University, discusses Wadi Shu’ayb as it relates to the land of Gilead. He thinks that the land of Gilead was divided so that we may think of the two “halves” of Gilead, something already mentioned by Moses in Deuteronomy 3:12-13, and Joshua 12:2, 5; 13:31. The two “halves” are divided along the Jabbok River (Joshua 12:2).

The northern portion roughly corresponds to what is today called the Ajloun (Arab. عجلون ) and the southern portion roughly corresponds to what is today called the Balqa (Arab. البلقاء ). There were two “lands” within this general territory that were not considered Gilead proper, namely the land of Jazer (Num 32:1; Josh 13:25; cf. 1 Chr 26:31), which was probably located along Wadi Shu’ayb until es-Salt (perhaps at Khirbet Jazzir), and the land of Ammon (e.g., Deut 3:16; Josh 12:2; 13:25; Judg 11:29), which was located along the Zarqa River until Ammon itself, contemporary Amman. (Moster, David Z. The Tribe of Manasseh and the Jordan River: Geography, Society, History, and Biblical Memory. Diss. Bar Illan U. 2017.) p. 169.

Traveling in the Bible lands and studying the geography of those lands provides the background for understanding what we read in the Bible. I trust that this little article will help you better understand this area when you read about it in the Bible.

Tomb complex discovered in Tiberias

Many interesting discoveries are made by construction workers who are preparing to build a new structure, built a new road, or install new water, sewer or gas lines. It happened this month in Tiberias. Here is a portion of the report from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

— “ —

A fine and complex burial cave dating from the Roman period (c. 2000 years ago) came to light a couple of days ago in Tiberias. The cave was discovered in the course of development works carried out by the Tiberias Municipality for a new neighborhood in the northern part of the town. The contractor immediately informed the Israel Antiquities Authority when a mechanical digger exposed the cave entrance, and an antiquities inspector came to the site.

The tomb was exposed accidentally during preparation for construction of a housing project. Photo: Miki Peleg, IAA.

The tomb was exposed accidentally during preparation for construction of a housing project. Photo: Miki Peleg, IAA.

The rock-hewn cave comprised an entrance hall decorated with colored plaster, a central room with several burial niches, decorated ceramic and stone ossuaries, and a small inner chamber. Carved stone doors stood at the entrances into the rooms. In one of the chambers Greek inscriptions were engraved with the names of the interred. These inscriptions will be studied by specialists. The cave was probably robbed in antiquity.

According to Yair Amitsur, Antiquities Inspector of Tiberias and Eastern Lower Galilee in the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the cave must have served as a burial complex for a family who lived in the town of Tiberias or in one of the adjacent villages”.

This photo provides a wonderful view into the Roman period tomb with burial niches (kokim) and ossuaries. Photo: Miki Peleg, Israel Antiquities Authority.

This photo provides a wonderful view into the Roman period tomb with burial niches (kokhim) and ossuaries. Photo: Miki Peleg, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Two thousand years ago, in 18 CE, Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, and Governor of the Galilee, established the city of Tiberias and named it in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Over the centuries, Tiberias served as the capital of the Galilee, and was one of the largest cities in the country. The city extended from south of Hamei Tiberias, the hot springs, to the center of the modern town. In the Roman and Byzantine periods, several smaller villages grew up on the outskirts of the city, including Bet Maon, the home of Resh Lakish, Kofra, Beer Meziga and others. The cave must have been owned by a family from Tiberias, or from one of the surrounding villages, who chose to be interred north of Tiberias, overlooking the Lake of Galilee.

According to Amitsur, “The burial cave is a fascinating discovery since it is an almost unique find in this area. The high-quality rock-hewing, the complexity of the cave, the decorations, and the Greek inscriptions point to the cave belonging to a wealthy family, who lived in the area in the Roman period.”

The cave was blocked up in order to protect it, and it will be researched by experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

— ” —

The kokhim-type tombs such as this were typically in use by Jews from the end of the second century B.C. to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament, citing V. Tzaferis on p. 204). There may be more recent evidence that would change this understanding, especially in Galilee.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Who is this bearded man from Abel Beth Maacah?

This small head was found at Abel Beth Maacah (also Abel-beth-Maacah, and spelled as one word) during the 2017 archaeological excavations. Announcement was made recently after the artifact was put on display in the Israel Museum.

Faience head of a king discovered at Abel Beth Maacah in northern Israel. Photo released by Azusa Pacific University.

Glazed ceramic head of a king discovered at Abel Beth Maacah in northern Israel. Photo released by Azusa Pacific University.

According to Robert Mullins, Ph.D., lead archaeologist at Abel Beth Maacah and chair and professor in Azusa Pacific’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, the head measures 2.2 x 2 inches and has carefully executed features, including glossy black tresses combed back from a headband painted in yellow and black and a manicured beard. His almond-shaped eyes and pupils are lined in black and the pursed lips give him a look that is part pensive, part stern. The glazed surface is tinted light green due to the addition of copper to the quartz paste. Its elegant style indicates that the man was a distinguished personage, probably a king. By all appearances, the head appears to have broken off from the body of a figurine that stood 8-10 inches high.

“Despite the head’s small and innocuous appearance, it provides us with a unique opportunity to gaze into the eyes of a famous person from the past; a past enshrined in the Book of Ages,” said Mullins. “Given that the head was found in a city that sat on the border of three different ancient kingdoms, we do not know whether it depicts the likes of King Ahab of Israel, King Hazael of Aram-Damascus, or King Ethbaal of Tyre, rulers known from the Bible and other sources. The head represents a royal enigma.”

The News Release continues,

Details about the figurine head and its discovery were recently presented to the Israeli archaeological community at the 44th Annual Archaeological Congress at Ben Gurion University of the Negev by Dr. Naama Yahalom-Mack of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A more detailed article about the head and the current excavations at Abel Beth Maacah will appear in the June issue of the professional journal, Near Eastern Archaeology. The dig is licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

This photo shows the north end of Abel Beth Maacah with Mount Hermon in the distance across the Beka Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo shows the northern end of Abel Beth Maacah with Mount Hermon in the distance across the Beka Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The biblical references to Abel Beth Maacah include the following episodes.

No sooner had King David put down the rebellion of his son Abaslom when a Benjamite by the name of Sheba led a rebellion against him. The men of Israel rebelled against David and followed Sheba, but the men of Judah remained loyal to the king.

Realizing that Sheba was a greater threat than Absalom had been, David called on Abishai to take servants (warriors) and capture Sheba. Joab’s men went out from Jerusalem to capture Sheba. This pursuit took Joab’s men all the way to the north of the Israelite territory, to a town named Abel-Beth-Maacah. Some English versions use Abel Beth Maacah, or a similar variant. In modern Israel this archaeological mound is almost on the border with Lebanon between Kiryat Shmona and Metulla.

The wise woman reasons with Joab. She tells him that this town formerly was a place where people would ask for advice to end a dispute. She said,

 I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the LORD?” (2 Samuel 20:19 ESV)

Joab agreed that he would not destroy the city if she would hand over Sheba. She agreed to throw the head of Sheba over the wall. She did what she promised and the destruction was averted. Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

Abel-beth-Maacah is mentioned in at least two other passages.

  1. The city was conquered by Ben-hadad, king of Aram [Syria] (1 Kings 15:20).
  2. The city was captured by Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, in the days of Pekah of Israel.

A nice photo of the little head on display in the Israel Museum is included with an article by Ilan Ben Zion in The Times of Israel here.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Shiloh, “where the Lord’s tabernacle stands”

Joshua 22:19 describes Shiloh as the place “where the LORD’S tabernacle stands.” During the midst of the allocation of the land to the various tribes of Israel, all of them gathered at Shiloh (Shilo) and set up the tent of meeting or tabernacle (Hebrew mishkan) (Joshua 18:1), which is also called the house of God in Joshua 18:31. Here they made the final division of the land (Joshua 18:8-10).

Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them. (Joshua 18:1 ESV)

The area where the tabernacle is thought to have stood on the north side of the tel as it looked in 2013, and about the same when I saw it earlier this year,  is shown in our first photo. Other scholars place the tabernacle on the summit of the tel, and some on the south end of the tel. Dr. Scott Stripling, the current excavator, suggests that it was first on the summit and later relocated to either the north or the south. (See link to his work below.)

A popular view is that the tabernacle, or tent of meeting, stood here for many years. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A popular view is that the tabernacle, or tent of meeting, stood in this area of Shiloh for many years. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Below is a photo of the tabernacle in the wilderness in the park at Timna, a few miles north of Eilat. These photos are not high-resolution but are suitable for use in teaching presentations.

The tabernacle in the wilderness as shown at Timna near Eilat, Israel. Oil adaptation from a photograph. FerrellJenkins.blog.

The tabernacle in the wilderness as shown at Timna near Eilat, Israel. Oil adaptation from a photograph by Ferrell Jenkins.

Our next photo shows a section of the Canaanite wall (1640-1600 B.C.), and below it a portion of the Iron Age wall with a couple of large clay jugs from the Canaanite period. The massive Canaanite walls remind us of the repeated statement of Moses in Deuteronomy.

The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. (Deuteronomy 1:28; cf. 3:5; 9:1, et al.  ESV)

The Canaanites had a glacis on the outside of the wall. The Israelites had to remove part of it to build their wall. Price defines a glacis as “a natural or artificial slope found in ancient fortified cities, usually employed for defensive purposes.” (Price, Randall. Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology, p. 353.)

The wall of large stones at the back of the photo is a Cannanite Wall (Middle Bronze - 1650-1600 B.C. The lower wall in the foreground is from the Iron Age. This would include the time of Eli and Samuel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The wall of large stones at the back of the photo is a Cannanite Wall (Middle Bronze – 1650-1600 B.C. The lower walls in the foreground is from Iron Age I houses from the time of Samuel, but the large clay jars, several of which were found in storage rooms, belong to the Canaanite period. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Last Sunday I was listening to a sermon about Hannah as she prayed to the LORD for a son at Shiloh. Eli the priest observed her praying silently, and told her that God would grant her petition. In due time Samuel was born to Hannah and her husband Elkanah. In what many would see as an unusual move, Hannah promised her son to the service of the LORD.

Taking a sacrifice to the tabernacle in Shiloh this couple brought “a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine” (1 Sam. 1:24 ESV), and the son that she had promised to the LORD. She tells Eli that she has lent the son to the LORD for as long as he lived. Elkanah and his wife went home to Ramah, but Samuel stayed at Shiloh and ministered to the LORD in the presence of Eli the priest.

Samuel would become the last of the judges of Israel, and the first of the prophets (Acts 3:24; 13:20). As a prophet he would anoint both Saul and David as kings of Israel. Two books of the Old Testament are named for him.

I wish to close with a notice of the reference in 1 Samuel 2:13-14. The text reads,

The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. (1 Sam. 2:13-14 ESV)

We have archaeological examples of these three-pronged forks used in connection with sacrificial offerings at pagan sites. Notice this example displayed in the Israel Museum.

Trident and tongs from Acco displayed in the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Trident (three-pronged fork) and tongs from Akko displayed in the Israel Museum (14-13 century B.C.). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The 2018 excavation at Shiloh, under the sponsorship of the Associates for Biblical Research, and directed by Dr. Scott Stripling, is in its second week. A report on the first week and links to the work from last year may be read here.