Monthly Archives: February 2009

Cinema fire reveals Roman wall in Izmir (Smyrna)

A report from Izmir says that a cinema (movie theater) burned down in Izmir, Turkey, revealing portions of an 11 meter Roman wall and arch.

Archaeologist Akın Ersoy, the leader of a local excavation team, said this new discovery proved the importance of the agora, a meeting place in ancient times. Stating that Izmir had become synonymous with agoras, Ersoy said: “(The excavation) of the agora is the best heritage to leave behind for future generations. With the support of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, the environment of the Izmir agora, one of the biggest and oldest agoras in the world, has been opened up and can now be seen by people from the Çankaya neighborhood. We have not started work on the wreckage of the cinema building yet but we believe this ancient site is two times bigger than the local agora site.”

The full account is carried in Hurriyet Daily News.

Always a good reason to return to a site. Here is a photo of the lower level of the agora in Izmir. Notice the older buildings along the edge of the agora. If the city of Izmir would clear and excavate this entire area the city would have a real reason for many tourists to visit the city.

Looking over the lower level of the Izmir Agora. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Looking over the lower level of the Izmir Agora. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Turkish city of Izmir is known as Smyrna in Revelation 1:11, 2:8.

HT: RogueClassicism.

Nefertiti smuggled from Egypt?

The title tells a lot. “Secret note reveals how Germany smuggled Queen Nefertiti bust from Egypt.” Here are a few excerpts:

Nefertiti bus in Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nefertiti bust in Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

German archaeologists cheated Egyptian customs officers in order to smuggle the 3,400-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti to Berlin, according to a secret document unearthed in archives….

The document is sure to stoke the row between German and Egypt over the removal of antiquities at the beginning of the 20th century.

The document, discovered in the German Oriental Institute, shows that the archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt deliberately hid the true value of the Nefertiti bust when he submitted the inventory of his finds to the Egyptian authorities in 1913….

The agreement was that Germany and Egypt would divide the spoils equally between them. But, says the witness, Borchardt “wanted to save the bust for us”. So it was tightly wrapped up and placed deep in a box in a poorly lit chamber to fool the chief antiquities inspector, Gustave Lefebvre….

It was enough to get Nefertiti out of the country into Germany. Now her long swan-like neck and exquisite features have come to symbolise the join between ancient and modern ideas of feminine beauty. Over half a million visitors a year are drawn to see her at Berlin’s Egyptian Museum.

But Egypt wants Nefertiti back and a document showing that the bust only left the country because of skulduggery could well strengthen Cairo’s case. Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, has already threatened trouble. “We will make the lives of these (German) museums miserable,” he said.

At the very least Cairo wants Nefertiti back on loan to mark the opening of a new Grand Egyptian Museum, near the pyramid at Giza, in 2012.

For the full print story read here.

Nefertiti was the wife (Queen) of Pharaoh Akhenaten in 14th century B.C. Egypt.

HT: J. T. Lauer

Do the work of an evangelist

This morning I am scheduled to speak at the Florida College annual lectures on the subject “Do the Work of an Evangelist.” I thought I would share a tiny section of the material I have prepared in a part of the lecture dealing with the importance of preparation (next two paragraphs).

The evangelist must be an approved workman who can handle accurately the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). A. T. Robertson wrote a small book nearly 90 years ago entitled Types of Preachers in the New Testament. He began with a chapter on “Apollos the Minister with Insufficient Preparation.” Apollos was eloquent (learned, cultured) and “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). We understand that his knowledge was incomplete, but that he was willing to learn. Robertson’s comment is apropos for today.

There is hope for the man who is ready to learn. One is never too old to learn. The minister who is always learning will always have a hearing. There is no deadline for him. That comes the minute one stops learning. Apollos is a rebuke to the preacher who is content to preach his old sermons through the years without reading the new books or mastering the old ones. Here is a profound student of the Scriptures, a master in Old Testament interpretation, who is glad to sit at the feet of Priscilla and Aquila and learn more of Jesus. That is the place for all of us, at the feet of anyone who can teach us more about Jesus. We cannot know too much about Him. We cannot be too accurate in our knowledge of Him. (24)

Paul, Timothy, Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila were all associated with the work of the gospel at Ephesus (Acts 18:24-19:1; 1 Timothy 1:3). The photo below shows the ruins of the Arcadian Way. This street led from the theater to the harbor. The harbor is now dry, but must have been used by all of these characters in their contact with the city of Ephesus.

The Arcadian Way at Ephesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Arcadian Way at Ephesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Vulture

Vultures were among the unclean animals for the Israelites (Leviticus 11:13, 18; Deuteronomy 14:12, 17). This means that Israelites were not permitted to eat vultures. In some of the references both eagles and vultures are mentioned.

Vulture at the Hai-Bar Reserve in Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Vulture at the Hai-Bar Reserve in Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the Greek New Testament the word aetos is translated both eagle (Revelation 8:13; 12:14) and vulture (Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37).

One of the most memorable comments about the vulture was made by Jesus in His discussion of the destruction of Jerusalem. He described the condition of the Jewish state at the time when the Roman armies invaded the country.

Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:28 ESV)

Not a pretty picture. And a clear warning for all.

A meditation for Sunday

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

Illustrating a parable at Neot Kedumim in Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Illustrating a parable at Neot Kedumim in Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Travel to Egypt

Because of a severe famine in Canaan, Abraham traveled to Egypt and sojourned there (Genesis 12:10). Joseph was sold by his brothers and eventually became a slave in Egypt (Genesis 37:28). Jacob and his family, at least 70 persons, went into Egypt and settled in the land of Goshen (the eastern Delta) during a time of famine in Canaan (Genesis 46; Acts 7:11-16).

What do we know outside the Bible about travel to Egypt during the Patriarchal age (the Middle Bronze age)? It is clear that foreigners traveled to Egypt. In the tomb of Khnum-hotep III at Beni Hasan, about 169 miles south of Cairo, there is a painting showing 37 Asiatics of the desert bringing gifts to Egypt and desiring trade. This tomb painting is dated to about 1890 B.C.

Here is a description of the painting given by J. A. Thompson in The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology:

One picture shows thirty-seven seminomadic tribesmen from Palestine, from the land of Shutu (central Trans-Jordan), led by Absha, their chief. The men were beared, and the women used bands to hold their long hair in place. Their clothes were multicolored, the men wearing short skirts and sandals and the women having calf-length dresses, which they fastened at the shoulder by means of a clasp. Instead of sandals, the women had shoes on their feet. One of the men carried a lyre, and on one of the donkeys were two bellows, indicating that at least some members of the group were traveling metalworkers.

Egypt has many shops selling papyrus sheets. Some have tomb paintings. I am told that the Abu Simbel Papyrus store in Giza is the only one that has permission to sell a painting of the Asiatics arriving in Egypt. This looks better than any tomb painting one might see today while visiting a tomb. This papyrus painting shows only a portion of the 37 travelers making their way into Egypt. The Asiatics are wearing multicolored clothing. The person to the right in white is an Egyptian.

A portion of the Beni Hasan painting showing Asiatics arriving in Egypt.

A portion of the Beni Hasan painting showing Asiatics arriving in Egypt.

Click on the art for a larger image that might be suitable for use in a PowerPoint presentation.

Antonia Fortress discussion

A street in the Moslem Quarter of Jerusalem. Photo by F. Jenkins.

A street in the Moslem Quarter of Jerusalem. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Todd Bolen calls attention to an article by Ehud Netzer in the curent Biblical Archaeology Review on the location of the Antonia Fortress. Read the post here.

Leen Ritmeyer posted a response to Netzer and included some of his great diagrams here.

With Todd’s photo and Leen’s diagrams you will have some great material to help you understand the location of the Antonia.

The Antonia may not be the place where Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate, as we once thought, but it is the place where Paul stayed under the custody of the Romans before his transfer to Caesarea Maritima.

English versions refer to the building as the barracks (Acts 21:37). Paul’s speech on the stairs was from the steps leading from the temple precinct to the Antonia.

Our photo above was made in the Moslem Quarter of Jerusalem near the site of the Antonia.  I think the street is Bab Hutta. These little side streets are always so intriguing.

The photo below shows the Temple Mount in the Second Temple model at the Israel Museum. The Antonia is the large building on the right, the northwest corner of the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount and the Antonia Fortress. Photo by F. Jenkins.

The Temple Mount and the Antonia Fortress. Photo by F. Jenkins.

The last time I saw “Tilley”

Our group prepared for a late afternoon felucca ride on the Nile River at Cairo. I had on my Tilley Endurable. I bought it at the Queen’s Quay Terminal in Toronto in November, 2002. Too far back to be covered by the Tilley insurance. On the last few tours I noted that other tour members were wearing a Tilley. We began making a “Tilley Group” photo.

Thanks to Katherine of Alabama I have a way to remember my Tilley Endurable. I still had it at the end of the felucca ride, but the next morning I realized that it was not in my room. Had I left it on the bus? The driver said no. Had I left it in the hotel lobby after talking with our tour guide? The hotel staff said it was not among their lost and found items.

I hope my kids will give me a new Tilley for Father’s Day. Till then, here is my final memory.

Tilley Group in Egypt. Photo by Katherine.

Tilley Group in Egypt. Photo by Katherine.

My only consolation came the next day when I went with my guide and one of his local friends to the Eastern Delta, biblical Goshen, in a private car. I lamented my lost hat. Osman said, it is better that you don’t have it today. Egyptians don’t wear hats. You blend in better without one. The few times we stopped at police checkpoints, the officer never said, “Who is the foreigner?”

Oh, and by the way, if you see an Egyptian wearing a Tilley hat ask him where he found it.

Thanks for following our tours

Thanks to your interest we noticed an increase in readers during our trip to Egypt. We appreciate your interest in the subjects we write about.

A blog is different from a web page. On a web page, such as the Biblical Studies Info Page, there are many categories and pages available. When you check the blog you see the last entry at the top of the page. You must click on the Archives listing, or use the Search Box to locate earlier posts.

A list of some other trips we have covered on this blog might be helpful to you (from the most recent to the earliest).

  • Egyptian Adventure (begin January 16, 2009).
  • Israel (personal study) trip (begin August 20, 2008).
  • Steps of Paul and John (Greece and Turkey) (May, 2008).
  • Bible Land Tour of Israel and Jordan (April, 2008).
  • Scotland Highlights (September 2007).
  • Biblical & Historical Sites in Turkey (May and June, 2007).

The purpose of these trips is educational. We seek to relate the history and the land to the biblical account.

Suez Canal near Ismailia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Suez Canal near Ismailia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This view of the Suez Canal at Ismailia looks from the east to the west. The ancient Egyptians dug numerous canals in the general area. This modern canal was officially opened November 17, 1869.

We would like for you to continue to check the blog several times a week as we write about other matters of interest to Bible students.

The Story of Sinuhe – an Egyptian traveler

The earliest description of Canaan comes from an Egyptian literary text. In The Story of Sinuhe (see-NUU-hay) written in the 20th century B.C., a traveler tells of his pleasant stay in northern Canaan (possibly the Beka Valley of Lebanon). He describes the land as follows:

Figs were in it, and grapes. It had more wine than water. Plentiful was its honey, abundant its olives. Every (kind of) fruit was on its trees. Barley was there, and emmer. There was no limit to any (kind of) cattle. (qtd. in Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 19)

This description reminds one of the promise God made to the Israelites to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8). A copy of The Story of Sinuhe written on stone is on display in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England. The stone below, now in the British Museum, contains the final stanza of the Story or Tale.

Final stanza of the Story of Sinuhe in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Tale of Sinuhe in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo of grapes from Lachish reminds us of the abundance of the land through which Sinuhe traveled.

Grapes near Lachish. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Grapes on the vine near Lachish. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.