Monthly Archives: September 2008

Mount Carmel – site of a great conflict

Mount Carmel is not just a protrusion into the Mediterranean Sea as some sketch maps might suggest. It is a range about 14 1/2 miles long by 5 miles wide, consisting largely of limestone. The elevation of Mount Carmel is about 1500 feet above sea level. From the western promontory one can overlook the city and port of Haifa. The Roman general Vespasian, who later became emperor, offered sacrifices on Mount Carmel before the war against the Jews (A.D. 66-70) (Hoade, Guide to the Holy Land, 665).

Mount Carmel is best known to Bible students as the place where the prophet Elijah contended with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:17-40). The traditional site for this event is shown at Muhraka on the eastern end of Mount Carmel. This photo was made near Muhraka.

View of part of Mount Carmel near Muraka. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of part of Mount Carmel near Muraka. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Professor Avraham Biran

Dr. David Ilan, Director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, announced the passing of Professor Avraham Biran. Jack Sasson reports to the academic community the passing of Prof. Avraham Biran.

It is my sad duty to inform you that Prof. Avraham Biran passed away last night.  He was one month shy of his 99th birthday.

Avraham Biran, a third generation Israeli, received his Ph.D. at Johns  Hopkins University under William Foxwell Albright and was Thayer Fellow in the American Schools of Oriental Research, Jerusalem, 1935-37. Formerly Director of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums, he served as Director of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem from 1974-2003. He participated in the excavations of the  Uiversity of Pennsylvania in Iraq, at Tepe Gawra near Mosul, and at Hafaje near Baghdad. He accompanied Nelson Glueck in his epoch-making discoveries at the head of the Gulf of Eilat. Professor Biran directed the excavations of Anathoth, Tel Zippor, Ira, Aroer, the synagogue of Yesud Hama’alah, and the longest ongoing excavations in Israel at Tel Dan (under his direction from 1966 to 1999).

It was my pleasure on several occasions to hear Prof. Biran at professional meetings. I remember hearing him tell of the discovery of the House of David inscription. He always spoke with such enthusiasm; it was contagious. The last year I saw him at one of these annual meetings I was walking across the street from my hotel to the conference center. There was Prof. Biran. I spoke to him and more or less helped him across the street. 

The tremendous work done at Tel Dan seemed to me to be a testimony to his continuing work there. It takes a long time to do a lot of good things, especially archaeology.

The significant discoveries at Dan are too numerous to mention just now. In 1979 a complete Middle Bronze city gate (19th/18th century B.C.) was found at Dan (ancient Laish). This gate illustrates that the city was strongly fortified at the time Abraham rescued Lot (Genesis 14:14). I made this photo of the preserved gate on August 31.

The Middle Bronze age city gate at Dan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Middle Bronze age city gate at Dan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Azekah was an important fortified city of Judah

The biblical site of Azekah is identified with Tell ez-Zekariyeh which overlooks the Valley of Elah. Azekah is a town of the Shephelah and is mentioned seven times in the Bible. Here is a summary of the information:

  • Azekah is mentioned in the account of Joshua’s long day (Joshua 10:10-11).
  • It was assigned to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:35).
  • The Philistines camped at Ephes-Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah, at the time of the conflict between David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1).
  • It was one of the fortified cities of Rehoboam, king of Judah (2 Chronicles 11:9).
  • Upon return from Babylonian captivity some of the Jews settled in Azekah and its villages (Nehemiah 11:30).

Jeremiah states that only Lachish and Azekah remained of the fortified cities of Judah at the time of the Babylonian captivity of Judah in 586 B.C. (Jeremiah 34:7). This indicates that Jeremiah wrote shortly before Lachish Letter # 4 was written. The last portion of the letter reads this way:

And let (my lord) know that we are watching for the signals of Lachish, according to all the indications which my lord hath given, for we cannot see Azekah. (The Ancient Near East an Anthology of Texts and Pictures, 322)
Here is a photograph of Azekah from the Valley of Elah.
Tel Azekah overlooks the Valley of Elah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tel Azekah overlooks the Valley of Elah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A photograph of the Valley of Elah made from atop Tel Azekah may be seen here. An excavation conducted by Bliss and Macalister in 1898-99 showed that Azekah was occupied from Canaanite times. (The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeoogy, 83).

Roman army photos

A large number of visitors to this blog have looked at the post on the Roman soldiers and chariot races at Jerash, Jordan. Photos of Roman soldiers can be helpful in illustrating Bible class lessons and sermons. Think of a few of the texts.

  • The Centurion at Capernaum (Matthew 8:5).
  • Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to Christ (Acts 10:1).
  • “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:41).
  • Soldiers who mocked Jesus (Luke 23:36).
  • Soldiers and centurions who rescued Paul from the mob (Acts 21:32).
  • Paul’s figurative reference to fellow-workers in the Kingdom as soldiers (2 Timothy 2:4; Philemon 1:2).
  • The praetorian guard (Philippians 1:13).
  • The full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10).

David Padfield has prepared 15 photos from the RACE (Roman Army and Chariot Experience) program at Jerash, Jordan, under the title Bible Times: Roman Army Enactment. All of these photos are prepared in 1024 x 768 size, suitable for PowerPoint presentations. Here is a small photo from the collection.

Roman Army in Battle Gear. Photo by David Padfield.

Roman Army in Battle Gear. Photo by David Padfield.

Take a look at all of the photos here. From this page you can locate other sets of photos that David has prepared for use in teaching the Word.

Cappadocian sunrise

He is a photograph I made at sunrise in the Cappadocian region of Turkey.

Cappadocian sunrise. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cappadocian sunrise. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Bible tells us that Jews of Cappadocia were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9). Peter wrote his epistles to saints scattered throughout Cappadocia and other places in Roman Asia Minor (modern Turkey).

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,  2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:1-2)

Second Temple wall of Jerusalem uncovered

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced last week the discovery of a wall below modern “Mount Zion” that dates from the time of the Hasmonean kings to the destruction about A.D. 70. Here are a few comments in the official press release.

An exciting discovery in Jerusalem constituting extraordinary remains of the wall of the city from the time of the Second Temple (second century BCE-70 CE) that was built by the Hasmonean kings and was destroyed during the Great Revolt, and also the remains of a city wall from the Byzantine period (324-640 CE) which was built on top of it, were uncovered in an extensive excavation that is currently underway on Mount Zion. The lines of these fortifications delineated Jerusalem from the south in periods when the ancient city had reached its largest size.

The new finds were presented today (Wednesday) at a press conference that was held on Mount Zion. The excavation has been in progress for the past year and a half, under the direction of archaeologist Yehiel Zelinger of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and with financial support provided by the Ir David Foundation.

You may read the entire news release at the IAA web page.

Here is an aerial photograph of the excavation, Mount Zion Valley. Photograph: Skyview, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Aerial photo of Mount Zion valley. Skyview. Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority.

Aerial photo of Mount Zion valley. Skyview. Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority.

This pictures shows the excavation area.

Tsilla Sagiv. Courtesy of the IAA.

The excavated area. Photo: Tsilla Sagiv. Courtesy of the IAA.

Todd Bolen provides a concise summary of the information on this discovery at his BiblePlaces Blog.

Israel trip comments

Elizabeth and I returned last Thursday from a two week trip to Israel. We hosted our first tour in 1967. Since that time I have been to Israel nearly forty times. We have been privileged to show hundreds of Bible students the land of the Bible. Of course, there are also tours to Greece, Turkey, and Egypt, that also visited Bible sites.

We made the recent trip to visit some places we had not been, and also to make digital photographs at some places, both Old Testament and New Testament, we had not been able to visit with a good digital camera. We were able to get to a great percentage of the sites we intended to visit. A few eluded us, mostly due to a lack of time. There were also some surprises along the way that allowed us to visit a few sites that were not on our list.

August is not the ideal time to visit Israel due to the heat. If you followed our blog you know that we encountered temperatures of 113 degrees Fahrenheit some days. Of course, we had an air conditioned car and nice air conditioned hotels. We used Delta Reward Miles for our flights. Considering my schedule and the available Reward dates, it was the best we could do. Having visited Israel in March, April, May, June, July and November, it was good to add August to the list. In many cases I think the 2600+ high resolution photos we made were good. We made our overseas flight from Detroit on Air France via Paris. The return was on Delta’s non-stop flight from Tel Aviv to Atlanta (12 hours and 45 minutes). We had enough points to fly business. Getting back to coach will be difficult!

One advantage of traveling in the summer is that the days are longer for making photos. In the winter the daylight hours are much shorter, and you face the likelihood of rain and larger crowds.

Driving in Israel is little different from driving in the USA, but the cities are not laid out in the neat western way of avenues and streets. Parking is difficult in most of the cities. The day we visited the Old City of Jerusalem we took a taxi to the Dung Gate, and then another taxi at the end of the day from Jaffa Gate. We rented from Eldan, and also rented a GPS unit from the company that supplies the units for all car rental agencies. We received a defective unit that was a real pain for four days until we were back near the airport to replace it. We rented a cell phone from Travel Cell before leaving the USA that allowed free incoming calls.

Gasoline costs about $8 per gallon, and prices for food are about double what we would expect to pay in the USA. The water in Israel is good, but we bought bottled water for our daily travel. The hotels had small refrigerators for our use. Internet connections cost as high as $20 per day. Most were $12 a day. One hotel, the Ron Beach in Tiberias, charged only $2 per day. The $12 and $20 rates are really tough when we think of getting free Internet connections in most American hotels. By the way, the Ron Beach is an ideal hotel for individuals traveling. It is away from the the hustle and bustle of Tiberias and is situated on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Plastic water bottles and cigarette butts abound everywhere Israelis hike. The area around the Sea of Galilee is especially bad. If I could give the officials some advice it would be to declare a clean up day.

We do not advise the first or second time traveler to try it on your own. You need to be with a group and a competent guide.

Perhaps the biggest danger we faced was at the Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. I let down the car window to make a photo of one of the ostriches and almost lost a lens. See for yourself.

Ostrich at the Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ostrich at the Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The ostrich is listed among the unclean birds for the Israelites in Leviticus 11:16 and Deuteronomy 14:15.

We drove almost 1900 miles, traveled from Dan to Beersheba, even from the border of Egypt on the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba) on the Red Sea to the border with Lebanon at Metulla. We drove along the Lebanon border in the mountains of Upper Galilee from Kedesh to Akko. We were close to the Gaza strip when we visited Ashkelon. We drove from the Mediterranean Sea on the West to the border with Jordan in the Arabah, and along the Jordan River valley. Some of the sites along the central mountain range (read West Bank) are not easily accessible.

Israel has a good National Parks system. When we travel with a group the guide buys an entry card for the sites we will visit. This was what we intended to do, but our first stop was at Bet Guvrin/Maresha. We bought a pass, good for a year, to visit all of the parks. This was a good purchase, and we still have time to get back and visit some other sites. 🙂 There were a few other places we visited that were not part of the national parks network (e.g., Timna Park, and the Tabernacle Model).

Both of us stayed healthy the entire tour and arrived home safely. Every flight was on time. We are thankful to the Lord for this wonderful opportunity and look forward to using what we learned and photographed in teaching others.