Monthly Archives: February 2009

James B. Pritchard on film in 1967

Last evening I watched The Book and the Spade, a documentary film produced in 1967 by the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. The film is about the archaeological work in Jordan. At the time that included Jerusalem, Gibeon, Shechem, Samaria, Bethlehem, Qumran, Amman, Jerash, and Tell es Sadiyeh in the Jordan Valley. Pritchard is seen on the film at Tell es Saidiyeh, east of the Jordan River, giving an account of the discoveries there. He believed the site to be Zarethan. The Bible says that the bronze utensils which Hiram made for King Solomon were made,

In the plain of the Jordan the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan. (1 Kings 7:46)

This film is of great historical significance because it features Pritchard and because it shows places that no longer look the way they did in 1967. I suggest you take the time to watch it. Here is the link to The Book and the Spade. The film is about 28 minutes long.

Excavations were resumed in 1985 by Jonathan N. Tubb of the British Museum.

Some scholars have suggested that Zarethan should be located on the west side of the Jordan Valley.

This photo shows the north side of Tell es Saidiyeh with the steps leading to the spring that Pritchard mentions in the film.

Tell es Sadiyeh, excavated by James B. Pritchard. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tell es Saidiyeh, excavated by James B. Pritchard. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: The Book and the Spade blog by Gordon Govier.

Jesus visited the town of Nain

The town of Nain is mentioned only once in the New Testament.

Soon afterward Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. (Luke 7:11 NET)

In the full account, Luke (7:11-17) reports that as Jesus approached the town gate a funeral procession was in progress. When Jesus saw the widow He had compassion and told her to stop weeping. Luke, the physician (Colossians 4:14), reports that Jesus touched the bier and said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” Then, as a simple matter of fact, Luke says,

So the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. (verse 15)

Nain is identified with the Arab village of Nein on the north slope of the Hill of Moreh. Nein is said to mean pleasant.

The town of Nein on the north slope of the Hill of Moreh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The town of Nein on the north slope of the Hill of Moreh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ralph Earle describes the pleasant location of Nain.

The town of Jesus’ day may have stood higher on the hill than the present village. It probably was named for the pleasant view that the site affords across the plain of Esdraelon. To the west one can see Mt. Carmel, and to the north the hills behind Nazareth stand out, about 91/2 km (6 mi) away. To the northeast one can look past nearby Tabor (3 km [2 mi] away) to snowcapped Mt. Hermon in the distance. Southward lies Mt. Gilboa. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, 3:480)

Rainbow over the Dead Sea

My friend Leon Mauldin is in Israel. He sent me a nice photo in which he captured a rainbow over the Dead Sea. I publish it here with his permission. This view looks east toward the Transjordan tableland. You can’t see the mountains because of the heavy clouds. To the far right of the photo you will see a glimmer of light on the surface of the Dead Sea.

Rainbow over the Dead Sea. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Rainbow over the Dead Sea. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The land in the foreground of the photo was covered by the water of the Dead Sea just forty years ago. With less water flowing into the Dead Sea the level has been declining over the past few decades.

The name Dead Sea is not used in the Bible. Rather, this body of water is called the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, or the Eastern Sea. The Bible describes the territory of the Transjordan tribes, Reuben and Gad, this way:

The Arabah and the Jordan River were also a border, from the sea of Chinnereth to the sea of the Arabah (that is, the Salt Sea), beneath the watershed of Pisgah to the east. (Deuteronomy 3:17).

Josepus called this body of water Lake Asphaltitis.

Royal seals from the time of Hezekiah

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of several impressive artifacts from Umm Tuba, in the southern hill of Jerusalem. These items include royal seal impressions from the time of Hezekiah, king of Judah (c. 716-687 BC; Schultz, ISBE).

A large building that dates to the time of the First and Second Temples, in which there was an amazing wealth of inscriptions, was discovered in a salvage excavation conducted by Zubair Adawi, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the village of Umm Tuba in southern Jerusalem (between Zur Bahar and the Har Homa quarter), prior to construction work by a private contractor.

Considering the limited area of the excavation and the rural nature of the structure that was revealed, the excavators were surprised to discover in it so many royal seal impressions that date to the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah (end of the eighth century BCE). Four “LMLK” type impressions were discovered on handles of large jars that were used to store wine and oil in royal administrative centers. These were found together with the seal impressions of two high ranking officials named Ahimelekh ben Amadyahu and Yehokhil ben Shahar, who served in the kingdom’s government. The Yehokhil seal was stamped on one of the LMLK impressions before the jar was fired in a kiln and this is a very rare instance in which two such impressions appear together on a single handle.

Royal seal from the time of Hezekiah. Photo: Mariana Saltzberger, IAA.

Royal seal from the time of Hezekiah. Photo: Mariana Saltzberger, IAA.

The site of this discovery has been identified as Biblical Netofa (English Netophah). Two of David’s “mighty men” (or warriors) were from Netophah.

Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, Heleb the son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin (2 Samuel 23:28-29).

The full press release may be seen at the IAA site at the bottom of the page.  A ZIP file of the seven pictures is available here for those interested.

HT: Joseph Lauer and several bloggers.

The museum at Hierapolis

There is a small, but nice, museum at Pamukkale (ancient Hierapolis, Colosians 4:13). It is housed in a second century Roman bath house. The exhibits indicate a large Roman presence in the area during the second and third century A.D.

The museum has the nicest statue of the “god” Hades that I have seen.

The god Hades in the Pamukkale Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The god Hades in the Pamukkale Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hades was known in Greek mythology as the lord of death and the god of the underworld or nether world. The term hades is used in the New Testament of the abode of the souls of the wicked prior to the judgment. Note the comments by William Hendriksen.

As to the word “hell,” which here in the original is Gehenna (and so also in [Matthew] 5:22, 29, 30; 18:9; 23;15, 33; Mark 9:43-47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6), it generally refers to the abode of the wicked, body and soul, after the judgment day. When the same abode is called Hades the references is to the time before the judgment day, though Hades also has other meanings in Scripture. (New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew 472).

The Book of Revelation makes it clear that Jesus has control over both Death and Hades.

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,  and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18 NAU; see also 6:8; 20:13, 14)

Refreshing Snow

This afternoon when I arrived at the airport in Louisville, Kentucky, snow was beginning to fall. By the time I reached my destination on the eastern outskirts of the city with friends Boyd and Linda the snow was covering the ground.

Snow in Louisville. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Snow in Louisville. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is certainly something I would not have seen in Florida.

Snow has a refreshing quality. The Wise Man said,

Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, For he refreshes the soul of his masters. (Proverbs 25:13 NAS)


The traveler of Hierapolis

The tomb of a merchant named Flavius Zeuxis at Hierapolis is often called the “Traveler’s Tomb.” The marble inscription above the entrance states that he circumnavigated the southern cape of Peloponnesus 72 times on his way to Italy. It has been estimated that this would have amounted to about 150,000 miles.

The tomb of Flavius Zeuxis at Hierapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The tomb of Flavius Zeuxis at Hierapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This gentleman was roughly contemporary with the Apostle Paul, but he traveled more miles than Paul.

Paul spoke of the dangers associated with his many journeys.

I have been on journeys many times, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own countrymen, in dangers from Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers from false brothers (2 Corinthians 11:26)

Hierapolis, Philip and Papias

Early tradition associates Philip with the city, but scholars differ over whether it was Philip the apostle (Matthew 10:3) or Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8).

This was the home of Papias (about A.D. 60 to 130) who was a disciple of the apostle John and a companion of Polycarp. Fragments of his writings about the apostles survive in Irenaeus and Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius (about A.D. 265 − about A.D. 339), tells us that Papias wrote as follows:

“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.” He adds that John, the disciple who leaned on Jesus’ breast, published a Gospel from Ephesus (Against Heresies III.1.1).

Some things of interest to see at Hierapolis include the hot springs and limestone formations, the monumental Arch of Domitian and Roman Street. This entire region suffered from the policies of the Emperor Domitian. The photo below shows the theater set against the surrounding hills.

Roman theater at Hierapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman theater at Hierapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The theater was built in the 2nd century A.D., renovated in the 3rd century, and again in the 4th century.

During the 4th-century renovations, the orchestra area of the theater was altered to allow it to be filled with water for staging mock naval battles and other water presentations. (Fant and Reddish, A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, 213)

The hot springs at Hierapolis

The hot springs at Hierapolis caused the city to be known for its textile industry. There were guilds of wool workers, carpet weavers, and purple dyers. The hot medicinal springs (95°) attracted visitors. The city prospered under the Romans, but often suffered from earthquakes.

Ruins of the Roman city of Hierapolis in the hot springs. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ruins of the Roman city of Hierapolis in the hot springs. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Recall that Hierapolis is one of three cities of the Lycus River valley named in the New Testament.

For I can testify that [Epaphras] has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:13 NET)

Hierapolis and the Lycus River Valley

Hierapolis is mentioned only once in the New Testament. Paul commends Epaphras, who seems to be from Colossae, for his burdensome labor for the churches of the Lycus River Valley. He says,

For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. (Col. 4:13 ESV)

The name Hierapolis means “holy city.” The modern Turkish name is Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” or “cotton fortress.” The city is famous for the hot springs and the limestone formations that cascade down the hillside below the city.

Limestone formations at Hierapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Limestone formations at Hierapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Lycus valley is in extreme southwestern Phrygia, Asia Minor. Hierapolis is situated on a plateau about 600 feet above the valley floor. Hierapolis, Colossae, and Laodicea form a triangle in the valley. From Hierapolis to Laodicea is about 6 miles south. The sites can be seen across the valley. From Laodicea to Colossae is about 10 miles to the southwest. From Colossae it is about 12 miles to Hierapolis.

The Lycus River Valley.

The Lycus River Valley.

Click on the map for a copy large enough to use in a PowerPoint presentation. Detailed maps of the area around Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Colossae are not usually found in maps found in Bibles, or even atlases. I used Bible Mapper to make this map showing the three cities of the valley. The Lycus river begins south east of Colossae, flows through the valley to join the Meander River. The Meander flows west to the Aegean Sea at Miletus. The dotted lines show the major roads traversing the valley.