Monthly Archives: January 2009

From Egypt to New York in 12 hours

We arrived in the USA yesterday afternoon, and got a good night of rest. Typically it takes about a day for every hour in time change to get over jet-lag. We look forward t0 making our way to Florida this afternoon.

Delta now has a non-stop New York/Cairo flight. The service was good in both directions, and the flights were on time. We felt fortunate yesterday to have quite a few empty seats that allowed passengers to spread out over the plane. We know that other members of the tour group arrived in the USA last Monday. We have heard from most of them after arrival at their homes. For this we are thankful.

Our tour members repeatedly said that the trip was a real adventure,  just as we had advertised. It was fun, but primarily it was a real educational and spiritual experience. We not only learned about ancient and modern Egypt, but we related this to the biblical characters who called Egypt home for a while.

Elizabeth and I went to Alexandria on Tuesday. We traveled along the high desert road from Giza to Alexandria. The area is filled with new housing, factories, and agricultural area made possible by modern irrigation.

Shortly before we reached Alexandria we passed an area filled with bulrushes. We stopped to watch some fishermen pull in their nets. We were told that these fish are farm fish.

An Egyptian fisherman working the nets. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

An Egyptian fisherman working the nets. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I also made some similar photos along the Nile and the canals of Egypt. As we think of ancient Egypt we recall the oracle against Egypt in Isaiah 19. I suggest you read the entire chapter. For now, note these verses.

The bulrushes by the Nile, by the edge of the Nile And all the sown fields by the Nile Will become dry, be driven away, and be no more. And the fishermen will lament, And all those who cast a line into the Nile will mourn, And those who spread nets on the waters will pine away. (Isaiah 19:7-8 NAS)

References like these from the Old Testament prophets were fulfilled in the centuries before the coming of Christ. Remember that the ancient Hamitic Egyptian disappeared long ago. The modern Semitic Egyptians are caretakers of an antiquity they had nothing to do with.

Roman period figurine discovered in Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced a few days ago the discovery of a figurine in the image of a bearded man, probably a boxer. The artifact was uncovered in the Givati car park excavation south of the Dung Gate, and is dated to the second or third century A.D.

Clara Amit, IAA.

Head of Roman Boxer found at Jerusalem. Photo: Clara Amit, IAA.

Notice a few comments from the press release.

The stylistic motifs that are manifested in the image, such as its short hair style, the prominent lobes and curves of the ears, as well as the almond-shaped eyes suggest that the object most likely portrays an athlete, probably a boxer. Boxing was one of the most popular fields of heavy athletics in Roman culture and more than once Roman authors mention the demand by the Roman public in general, and the elite in particular, for boxing matches. Besides the prestige and the substantial amounts of money the victors of boxing competitions won, they were also afforded the support of the emperor himself, as in the famous case of Melancomas who was Titus’ favorite boxer.

According to the researchers the two tiny holes that were drilled in its nape and which contained the remains of metal that was inserted in them indicate that this is a suspended weight that was used with hanging scales that are characteristic of the Roman period. Miniature bronze images of athletes, philosophers, satyrs etc were among the most popular of the suspended weights that were used in the regions that were under the control of the  Roman Empire – from Pompeii to Sepphoris.

I have seen busts of boxers or wrestlers with “cauliflower ears” in museums.  One such bust is in the museum at Thessalonica.

In a different setting, writing to the church in Greco-Roman Corinth, Paul says,

Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27).

Read the complete report here.

A final visit to the Sphinx and Pyramids

For the past six days my wife and I have been staying at a hotel near the famous Giza Pyramids as we traveled in the area to visit various sites. Children from the early grades learn about the Pyramids of Egypt. Our four-year-old grandson stayed with us shortly before we left for this tour. Early one morning he said, “What were the pyramids?” I tried to explain.

This morning Elizabeth and I went to the Pyramid Plateau for one last view.  Our first visit here was 1967. We never fail to be impressed with the enormity of the structures, and the motivation that caused them to be built.

The sphinx and the pyramid of Cheops. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The sphinx and the pyramid of Cheprern. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Giza Pyramids were built about 2400-2600 B.C. Biblical characters such as Abraham, Joseph, and Moses likely saw these structures. Obviously the biblical Israelites, who lived in the country nearly a millennium later, had nothing to do with their building.

Alexandria, Egypt

Today we visited Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast. The drive from our hotel in Giza takes about 3 hours along the high desert road. The weather was fine, and the light and sky was good for photography.

Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great. The library of ancient Alexandria was the most famous in the world at the time. Originally it was established in the 4th century B.C. by Ptolemy Soter I, or a few years later by his son. About 220 languages are presented on the granite wall that surrounds the library.

The new Bibliotheca Alexandria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The new Bibliotheca Alexandrnia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The new library, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, opened in 2003. It may not be the best library of the world today, but it is likely one of the most beautiful. A statue of Ptolemy stands outside the entrance to the modern Library.

The reading room is impressive.

Reading room of the new Bibliotheca Alexandria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Reading room of the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek under the Ptolemaic rulers, beginning about 280 B.C. There are four references to Alexandria or the Alexandrians in the  New Testament.

  • Alexandrians were among those who disputed with Stephen (Acts 6:9).
  • Apollos was an Alexandrian by birth (Acts 18:24).
  • The ship Paul sailed on from Myra toward Rome was an Alexandrian ship. Eventually the ship was wrecked off the island of Malta (Acts 27:5ff.).
  • The ship used for the final leg of Paul’s voyage to Rome was an Alexandrian ship (Acts 28:11).

Another day in Goshen

Today I spent another “long” day in the land of Goshen, but still did not get to all of the places I had hoped to visit.

This photo shows reeds (bulrushes) growing on the banks of the Great Bitter Lake. The Suez Canal runs through a chain of lakes. This is the largest of them.

Reeds (bulrushes) growing in the Great Bitter Lake. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Reeds (bulrushes) growing in the Great Bitter Lake. Photo by F. Jenkins.

There are several good suggestions for the place of the exodus recorded in Exodus 14. This vicinity may be the sea described in Exodus 14:9.

Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

Other scholars suggest a location associated with Lake Timsa which is further north.

Group headed for home

Our group, all healthly and happy, left the hotel a short time ago for the Cairo International Airport.  The flight isn’t until 12:30 p.m. (Cairo time), but we have been staying near the Giza Pyramids. With nearly 20 million people in Cairo one never knows how long the normally 1 hour trip to the airport will take.

Elizabeth and I are remaining for a few days to visit some other sites we have not seen or been able to photograph.

Yesterday I had a photo ready that I wanted to share. It was made at Memphis and is typical of so much of what we see in Egypt. Don’t get the wrong impression. There are many affulent people in this country, but the vast majority seem to eek out a living day by day.

Moving the "herd" near ancient Memphis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Moving the "herd" near ancient Memphis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Yesterday our group used a long day to visit the Eastern Delta of
Egypt. Biblically we know that land as Goshen. Few travelers are able to go into this area of Egypt. Over the next few weeks I will try to share a few photos and thoughts about the area.

You might enjoy reading a first person account of the tour written by one of our tour members. This would be especially true if you know some of the folks who have been traveling with us. Click on Picture This.

Memphis in Egypt

This morning, after a period of worship, we visited the ruins of ancient Memphis. The prophet Ezekiel has this to say about Memphis.

This is what the sovereign LORD says: I will destroy the idols, and put an end to the gods of Memphis. There will no longer be a prince from the land of Egypt; so I will make the land of Egypt fearful.  (Ezekiel 30:13)

The alabaster sphinx of Rameses II  (13th century B.C.) is one of the nicest pieces on display at the site. It is also one of the few artifacts to be seen. The prophecy has surely come to pass.

Alabaster sphinx of Rameses II at Memphis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Alabaster sphinx of Rameses II at Memphis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Next we moved to the edge of the desert to visit the tomb of a Nobleman dating to about 2400 B.C., and the Step Pyramid of Zoser.

After lunch we returned to Old Cairo to spend some time in the Coptic Museum and the Abu Sarga church. This is the church associated with the visit of Mary, Jopseph, and Jesus to Egypt (Matthew 2).

The last event of the day, and of the tour, was a felucca ride on the Nile River. The large buildings of down town Cairo are beautiful after sunset.

Cairo on the Nile at Night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cairo on the Nile at Night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Reeds, Rushes, or Bulrushes along the Nile

One of the best known stories of the Bible is the account of the mother of Moses hiding the baby among the reeds, rushes, or bulrushes along the edge of the Nile. The terms mentioned above are used interchangeably in various English Bible versions.

Read the full account in Exodus 21. Here are the first few verses.

A man from the household of Levi married a woman who was a descendant of Levi.  The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a healthy child, she hid him for three months.  But when she was no longer able to hide him, she took a papyrus basket for him and sealed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and set it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile.  (Exodus 21:1-3 NET Bible)

In the past few days we traveled on the Nile River and saw many examples of the reeds or rushes along the banks of the River.

Reeds or rushes along the edge of the Nile River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Reeds or rushes along the edge of the Nile River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tirhakah of Cush

Frequently the Bible records the statements of various foreign rulers. One such record is that of the Assyrian king Sennacherib.

When he heard them say concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, “Behold, he has come out to fight against you,” he sent messengers again to Hezekiah saying,  “Thus you shall say to Hezekiah king of Judah, ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, “Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”  (2 Kings 19:9-10)

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament comments on the term Cush (Ethiopia) as it is used in several Old Testament prophecies.

In several cases, especially in the prophets, Ethiopia is used in parallel construction as a synonym of Egypt (Isa 20:3-5; Ezek 30:4; Nah 3:9). This probably represents the dominance of Ethiopia (or, more precisely, Nubia) over Egypt between 750 and 663 B.C. Terhakah was a notable Nubian pharaoh who tried, unsuccessfully, to block Sennacherib’s westward expansion (2Kings 19:9 ; Isa 37:9). After 663 B. C. Egypt was independent of Nubia (Jer 46:9; Ezek 25:4, 5, 9).

Tirhakah under the protection of the god Amun. British Museum photo by F. Jenkins.

Tirhakah under the protection of the god Amun. British Museum photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This colossal statue shows Tirhakah standing under the protection of the god Amun shown as a recumbent ram. The gray granite sculpture, dating to about 675 B.C., was found at Karnak. This granite is typical of the Aswan area.

Yesterday afternoon we visited a Nubian Village on the banks of the Nile River at the first cataract of the Nile at Aswan. The Nubians at the village originally lived south of Aswan in the ancient territory of Cush. When the new High Dam was built on the Nile the Nubians were moved to other settlements.

One of the interesting things I observed at the village was a shop of some sort called House of Kush (Cush). A sign on top of the building added “Welcome to Taharka Kingdom.”

House of Kush at Nubian Village, Aswan, Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

House of Kush at Nubian Village, Aswan, Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo is especially for Mrs. Caldwell’s class at the Florida College Academy. I hope you are enjoying the photos of Egypt.

Visiting the Valley of the Kings

While at Luxor we visited the Valley of the Kings. This is where the Pharaoh’s of the New Kingdom Period of Egyptian history are buried. There are no pyramids during this periods, but at least sixty four tombs are known in the Valley of the Kings. Our group visited two or three.

The Valley of the Kings is located on the West Bank of the Nile River a short distance from the Nile valley.

The Valley of the Kings. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Valley of the Kings. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

New archaeological excavations continue in the Valley of the Kings. It was fascinating to see workers carrying buckets filled with debris. This is reminiscent of old photos of workers in Mesopotamia or Palestine in the early nineteenth century. Beginning with the excavation of Masada by Yigal Yadin, volunteers are used. Students often pay their own transportation, room and board, to work on a dig. It is a form of educational slavery, one might say.

Workers at archaeologicaly site in the Valley of the Kings. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Workers at archaeological site in the Valley of the Kings. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Some archaeologists were busy surveying. Others were photographing small items. I saw four individuals washing and restoring broken pottery.

Pottery reconstruction in the Valley of the Kings. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pottery reconstruction in the Valley of the Kings. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Travel can be exciting and educational.