Monthly Archives: November 2008

Archaeologist thinks he has located Shaaraim

To most folks this probably evokes a yawn. To me it is exciting. We have reported earlier here and here about the excavation at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site overlooking the Elah Valley. The San Francisco Chronicle, in an article by Matthew Kalman, reports that Prof. Garfinkel will announce today that he has found the site of the biblical city of Shaaraim (this is the way popular English versions transliterate the Hebrew word).

For 3,000 years, the 12-foot high walls of an ancient city have been clearly visible on a hill towering above the Valley of Elah where the Bible says David slew Goliath.

But no one has ever linked the ruins to the city mentioned in the First Book of Samuel’s famous account of the legendary duel and the victory of the Israelites – until now. On Tuesday, Hebrew University archaeology Professor Yosef Garfinkel will present compelling evidence to scholars at Harvard University that he has found the 10th century biblical city of Sha’arayim, Hebrew for “Two Gates.” Garfinkel, who made his startling discovery at the beginning of this month, will also discuss his findings at the American Schools of Oriental Research conference hosted by Boston University on Thursday.

Garfinkel believes the city provides evidence that King David ruled a kingdom from his capital of Jerusalem. Some modern scholars have questioned the biblical account of David’s kingdom and even whether he existed. Although it is not clear how the Sha’arayim relates to David, Garfinkel says finding a Judean city along the ancient highway to Jerusalem that appears to have been a fortress on the western border with the Philistines indicates a kingdom with a developed political and military organization that was powerful enough to include a major fortified city.

The Bible makes reference to Shaaraim in the following verses:

  • Joshua 15:36 – a town of Judah.
  • 1 Samuel 17:52 -After David’s defeat of Goliath, “the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron” (ESV).
  • 1 Chronicles 4:31 – belonged to the descendants of Simeon until the reign of David.

This photograph of the ostracon is found at the Qeiyafa Ostracon Chronicle web page. Only 10 of 50 words on the shard have yet been read.

Qeiyafa Ostracon. Photo by G. Laro.

Qeiyafa Ostracon. Photo by G. Laro.

Check the Elah Fortress web page for a nice high res. promotional video. The video claims that the Bedouin who tend their sheep in the area call the ruin Khirbet Daoud (Ruin of David).

Bedouin shepherd in the Elah brook in the area below Khirbet Qeiyafa, Elah Fortress, or Khirbet Daoud. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bedouin shepherd in the Elah brook in the area below Khirbet Qeiyafa, Elah Fortress, or Khirbet Daoud. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Importance of Water in the Bible World

Dr. Claude Mariottini, Professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary, has shared two good articles on the importance of water in the development of civilization. These are worthwhile post, and I urge you to take time to read both of them.

The first article is here.

The second article is here.

The photo below was made a Beit Guvrin (near Old Testament Mareshah). It shows a well for water, a tree for shade, and a milestone (which has been moved from the general area to this place.

A well, shade, and milstone at Beit Guvrin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A well, shade, and milstone at Beit Guvrin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo shows how ropes pulling water from the well cut grooves in the soft stone from which the curb was made.

Grooves cut in the well curb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Grooves cut in the well curb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There are many accounts in the Bible showing the importance of such a place as this. Note a few.

  • Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:19).
  • David craved the water from the well at Bethlehem (2 Sam. 23:15-17).
  • The figurative use in Proverbs 5:15 and Song 4:15.
  • The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4).

Gold earring from Roman-Byzantine period

We noted earlier here about the discovery in Jerusalem of what is thought to be a palace belonging to the first century Queen of Adiabene. Archaeologists working for the Israel Antiquities Authority have found a single earring. The IAA press release describes the earring this way:

The earring, which is made of a coiled gold hoop, has a large inlaid pearl in its center. Connected to the hoop are two identical gold pendants, each of which is adorned with one emerald and pearl. The emerald is held by a kind of gold cap that connects it to the main hoop by means of a small hoop that is also fashioned from gold. Another pearl that is relatively smaller than the one inlaid in the upper hoop is attached to the other side of the emerald. The pearl is fastened to the emerald by means of a gold finding, which passes through a tiny hole that was drilled in it.

The earring was discovered in the ruins of a building dating from the Byzantine period (fourth-fifth centuries A.D.). The excavators say that this jewelry could have been produced sometime between the first century B.C. and the fourth century A.D.

The earring and a model displaying it. IAA Photos.

The earring and a model displaying it. IAA Photos.

I suspect we will see this design in stores soon.

Jesus spoke a parable that illustrates the value of a pearl.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46 NASB)

Brawls at the Holy Sepulchre

According to the biblical records, Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem (John 19:20), probably not far from a gate (Hebrews 13:12), near a road (Mark 15:29; Matthew 27:39), and near a garden with a new tomb in it (John 19:41).

This photo of the Second Temple model, now located at the Israel Museum, shows the location of Calvary in the center of the image.

Second Temple model showing location of Calvary. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Second Temple model showing location of Calvary. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Nothing about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre reminds one of the actual setting where Christ was crucified and buried. One must remember, however, that Jerusalem has been continuously inhabited for many centuries. Strong evidence suggests that the site now occupied by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was outside the wall of Jerusalem at the time of Christ.

Charlesworth points out that “there are no competing places for Calvary or Golgotha prior to the last century.” He has reference to Gordon’s Calvary and Garden Tomb which is located about a block north of Damascus Gate.

Some columns in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre date from the fourth century church built by Constantine. Through the centuries many additions and changes have been made. It reminds one of a building that needs to be remodeled.

Five religious groups compete for time and space in the Church today. From time to time we hear of a brawl breaking out among the competing groups for certain rights. This link leads to a video of the latest scuffle.

Elizabeth and I were in the Church one afternoon in September at the time of one of the services.

Entrance to the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Photo by FJ.

Entrance to the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Photo by FJ.

Numerous disputes have arisen through the centuries, and some have not yet been resolved. In photos of the entrance you will see a ladder on the ledge above the blocked door. It has been there since the middle of the 19th century because the sects cannot agree who should remove it.

Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

These things are shameful. I have often remarked that many non-Christians of Palestine known nothing of New Testament Christianity except what they have learned from Church History (read: the Crusades) and the Shrines. If one wishes to learn about Christ and the Early Church let him/her read the New Testament.

We know what the Lord desires of those who believe in Him:

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21 NAS)

“Honor to whom honor” on Veteran’s Day

After a significant battle some of David’s men suggested that those who were not actually in the battle should not share any of the spoils that were recovered. David responded this way:

“You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the LORD has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us.Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” (1 Samuel 30:23-24 ESV)

Our photo shows the latest in communication equipment used at Normandy in 1944.

Communications was important in World War II. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Communications was important in World War II. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Alexandria Troas # 3

For # 1 scroll down to November 7, or click here. For # 2 scroll down to November 10, or click here.

Recent excavations by the University of Münster have uncovered a portion of the Roman road at Troas. A member of the staff said, “We like to think that this is the road traveled by the apostle Paul when he entered the city.” Perhaps this photo helps illustrate the statement in Acts 16:8 which says “they came down to Troas.” The Aegean Sea is visible in the distance.

Recently excavated Roman road at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 2006.

Recently excavated Roman road at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 2006.

Alexandria Troas # 2

For # 1 scroll down to November 7, or click here.

Paul visited Troas on the return from his third journey. His companions, including the men who were taking the contribution to the poor among the saints at Jerusalem arranged time to be with the disciples on the first day of the week. When they met to break bread Paul spoke for a long time and raised Eutychus (Acts 20:4‑12). After the raising of Eutychus, Paul’s companions set sail for Assos, but Paul decided to travel about 20 miles south by land from Troas to Assos and meet the ship there (Acts 20:13‑14).

On another occasion, while awaiting the return of Titus from Corinth, Paul was very discouraged during his stay at Troas (2 Cor. 2:12ff.). He did not write a letter to the church at Troas, but in his last letter he requested Timothy to bring the cloak, the books, especially the parchments, which he had left at Troas with Carpus (2 Tim. 4:13).

The inner harbor at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The inner harbor at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Earlier visits to Troas have allowed us to see only a few exposed ruins and a pathetic looking artificial harbor. The entry to the harbor is now clogged up; water flows into the harbor from the Aegean Sea, but none flows out. Over the past ten years archaeologists from the University of Münster and other institutions have been excavating in Troas. We will show some of the new discoveries in the next post.

The outter harbor at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The outter harbor at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Along the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail

Most of this week was spent in Columbia, Missouri, where I presented lessons on Christian apologetics under the title of Evidences for Faith at the Eastside Church of Christ. A good number of students from the University of Missouri are members of the church. It was a pleasure to be with them and the rest of the church, including some former students and long-time friends.

Highway 63, leading south from Columbia to Jefferson City, is part of the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail. The National Park Service web page gives this brief statement about the Trail.

Between May 1804 and September 1806, 31 men, one woman, and a baby traveled from the plains of the Midwest to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. They called themselves the Corps of Discovery. In their search for a water route to the Pacific Ocean, they opened a window onto the west for the young United States.

On election day, having already cast an absentee ballot in Florida, I drove to Jefferson City to make a few photos. Here is one I made of the state capitol building.

Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

New photo header

The new header shows one of the streets in the temple area at the ancient Hittite capital of Hattusas (now Bogazkale in Turkey). The Hittites are mentioned more than 40 times in the Old Testament.

Alexandria Troas

The terms Troy, Troas, and Troad were derived from the name of the ancient people known as the Troes. The Troes lived in the Troad. This region became part of the Roman province of Asia, and was a substantial portion of the area known as Mysia which included the cities of Troas, Assos and Pergamum.

The term Troas or Troad was used to describe the region where Alexander first defeated the Persians in the Battle of Granicus. The city of Alexandria Troas, located about 10 miles from ancient Troy was first called Antigonia. Lysimachus changed the name to Alexandria in about 300 B.C., but there were many cities named for Alexander, so this one came to be called Alexandria Troas.

Colin Hemer points out that “Troas was a nodal point on what became a sophisticated system of international routes, organized functionally with regard to complex variables of speed and safety, of season and weather and conditions by land and sea.” Troas was, therefore, an ideal place from which the Gospel would spread into Europe.

Troas was made a Roman colony by Augustus, and became one of the important cities of northwest Asia. A man of Macedonia appeared in a night vision to Paul at Troas and immediately his traveling party sailed for Macedonia (Acts 16:8‑11). Timothy, Silas, Luke, and perhaps others, were with Paul at Troas.

This photo from Berea illustrates the vision of the man of Macedonia calling on Paul to come over into Macedonia.

A man of Macedonia appears to Paul at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A man of Macedonia appears to Paul at Troas. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.