Daily Archives: April 14, 2008

Intermediate stop for Jacob and his family

Yesterday we were disappointed that we could not locate the road to the tell (Tell Dhahab west) that is thought (by some at least) to be the site of Penuel. Not wishing to be defeated, this morning I contacted the Department of Antiquities and inquired about how to reach the site from Deir Allah. I was given the mobile (cell in the USA) number for the Inspector for the area. When I called he said he would be delighted to assist.

When we arrived at Deir Allah (likely the site of biblical Succoth), we went to the Inspector’s office and visited a while. After tea, he went with us to the sites. Some of the road was very difficult, but we followed his pickup and made it in our rental car. This site is a few miles east of the Plains of the Jordan.

The site of Penuel with the Jabbok River below. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo above shows Tell Dhahab (West) on the left. I put a white dot on the impressive tell. You can see the Jabbok River below on the right. It was in terrain like this where Jacob crossed the Jabbok after wrestling with an angel.

So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. (Genesis 32:30-31)

Jeroboam fortified Penuel at the beginning of his reign as king of the northern kingdom of Israel (shortly after 931 B.C.).

Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and lived there. And he went out from there and built Penuel. (1 Kings 12:25).

For one who loves traveling in the land of the Bible as much as I do, this was an exciting day. Maybe even better than finding the Roman road north of Tarsus last summer. The bus could not have made it to this place.

A day in Perea (Jordan Valley)

Yesterday we spent a large part of the day in the Jordan Valley. This area was called Perea by the Romans. We typically divide the ministry of Jesus into the Early Judean, Galilean, Perean, and Later Judean. You probably will not find the word Perea in an English translation of the Bible. The Greek word peran is translated “beyond” in passages such as Matthew 19:1 and Mark 10:1.

We visited mostly Old Testament sites, but there is considerable disagreement among scholars about the precise identification of most of these sites. Here are some possible sites we saw: Abel-Shittim, Succoth, Zarethan (or Zaphon). We also visited Tell Mazar, and the area of Tell Dhahab (possible sites of Penuel, and nearby Mahanaim). There are no road signs to these places and the locals in the nearby villages provided little help. This is the vicinity where Jacob settled for a while on his trek from Padan-Aram to Shechem.

One of our most interesting stops was at Tell Kafrein. This site had not yet been identified, but a team of archaeologists from a Greek university were working there. We met the director and received a good tour of the site and of the pottery lab.

Today we will probably go to the area south of Amman, including Heshbon, Dibon, and other sites.