Monthly Archives: May 2009

Another reason to attend Bible study

“Kansas girl rides ‘Laodicean’ to National Spelling Bee victory”

According to  USA Today, 13 year old Kavya Shivashankar won the national Spelling Bee championship by correctly spelling the word Laodicean. Several news reports say the word means lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics, but they fail to mention that the concept comes from the Bible.

Laodicea was one of three cities of the Lycus River Valley in Asia Minor (Colossians 2:1; 4:15-16). Today this area is in Turkey. Toward the end of the first century the book of Revelation was distributed to several churches of Asia (Revelation 1:11).

The water of Laodicea came from hot springs immediately south of the city. By the time the water reached Laodicea it was lukewarm.  Jesus described the church as being like the water supply of the city.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot.  16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16 NAS)

This photo shows part of the water distribution tower at ancient Laodicea. Mount Cadmus is seen in the distance.

Ruins of the water distribution tower at Laodicea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ruins of the water distribution tower at Laodicea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We might also define Laodicean as a member of the body of Christ in the city of Laodicea.  Or, simply, a citizen in the city of Laodicea.

HT: Olen, Harriet

Paul in Ephesus

Paul taught in the school of Tyrannus during his stay in Ephesus. We need not think that Paul was assigned as an Associate Professor, or Lecturer. He may have simply used a rented facility or hall for his teaching.

But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. (Acts 19:9)

When we visit Ephesus today we see nothing but ruins and a few partially reconstructed buildings. We wonder about all of the things that happened to Paul, Apollos, Aquila, Priscilla, and Timothy in these places. Meditate on these things as you enjoy today’s photo.

Flowers blooming among the ruins at Ephesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Flowers blooming among the ruins at Ephesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Discovery of the Roman Pool of Siloam

In early June, 2004, an announcement was made by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron of the discovery of a pool dating to the Second Temple period (Herod’s temple). Continuing excavations have revealed three sets of stairs leading down into the pool. Most of the pool has not yet been uncovered. In November, 2005, I spoke with Professor Reich at the pool and he explained several things about the discovery.

A feature article was published in Biblical Archaeology Review, Sept.-Oct., 2005. Todd Bolen of, who assisted in the excavations at the site, included some comments on his BiblePlaces Blog here in August, 2005. Many reports that appear in the news media are incomplete and sometimes misleading.

Pool of Siloam. View toward East. Byzantine pool is to our back. Photo by F.Jenkins.

Pool of Siloam. View toward East. Byzantine pool is to our back. Photo by F. Jenkins.

See Todd’s photos and comments about The Pool of Siloam Revealed at

Our photo shows the northern steps and the eastern corner of the pool. You can detect the present road level at the top of the wooden steps. In the distance, across the Kidron Valley, you can see a hill south of the Mount of Olives, sometimes called the Hill of Evil Counsel. Beyond that lies the Judean Wilderness.

Get 1,000 Bible Images now

Logos has announced the publication of 1,000 Bible Images for the pre-pub price of $19.95. Estimated ship date is June 2. This means you should buy today! Check full info here. I think these are all black and white drawing, but they will look good in PowerPoint or for use in class handouts. Here is a brief description of the program.

Don’t just read the Bible, see the Bible!

Now you can literally see the people, places, and events of the Bible text—right in front of your eyes! Bring your study of the Bible to life with this collection of 1,000 images, drawings, and illustrations—all produced by professional artists under the supervision of biblical scholars, in association with the German Bible Society. This vivid artwork shows the biblical sites, religious objects, plants and animals, archaeological findings, scenes from daily life in the Bible, and much more! As reliable documentation of biblical life, these images often give a better illustration and explanation than the text itself can give.

Each image includes information which explains the historical and archaeological background, giving you context and study material to understand scenes from the Bible, making this collection a must-have for teachers and pastors, as well as anyone interested in the history, archaeology, and culture in the Bible.

What’s more, with Logos, you can quickly access the Bible text relevant to each image! We make it easy to search for images by keyword, by Bible reference, or by each image description. These images will aid your personal study and sermon preparation, and will serve as a valuable teaching tool when you use them on your handouts or projected presentations. As you study the Bible, you can instantly see what you’re reading about!

This program is in the Libronix Digital Library System and may be downloaded (by those who have the LDLS installed, or by DVD. Here is a reduced illustration from the publication.

Drawing of Ancient Babylon from 1,000 Bible Images.

Drawing of Ancient Babylon from 1,000 Bible Images.

HT: Bible Places Blog.

The Pool of Siloam

More than 700 years before Christ, the Judean King Hezekiah dug a tunnel to bring the water of the Gihon spring to a new pool which he constructed on the west side of the city of David (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chron 32:30; Sirach 48:17). This pool would later be known as the pool of Siloam.

One of the great signs of Jesus, recorded in the Gospel of John, is the healing of a man born blind (John 9). Jesus spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle. He then applied the mud to the blind man’s eyes and told him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” We understand that mud made from saliva and water from Siloam will not normally cause a blind person to see. This sign demonstrates the power of Jesus over blindness and demonstrates the validity of His claim to be “the Light of the world” (9:5). The blind man’s faith to obey Jesus clearly played a role in his healing.

For many years we have been aware of the Pool of Siloam at the southern end of Hezekiah’s tunnel. A church dedicated to “Our Savior, the Illuminator” was built here in the fifth century by the Byzantine Empress Eudokia, but was destroyed in A.D. 614 and never rebuilt. Some columns from the building can still be seen. See Hoade, Guide to the Holy Land, and Murphy-O’Connor, The Holy Land, for details.

This photo shows the Byzantine pool at the southern end of Hezekiah’s tunnel. Note the present ground level along the blue fence.

Ruins of the Byzantine church at end of Hezekiah's Tunnel. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Ruins of the Byzantine church at end of Hezekiah's Tunnel. Photo by F. Jenkins.

In a post to follow we will discuss the newly discovered Pool of Siloam from the Roman period.

Jesus spoke in the treasury of the Temple

The events of John 8 take place in the Temple precinct in Jerusalem. At this time He claims to be the light of the world (John 8:12). Notice verse 20.

These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. (John 8:20 ESV)

This photo of the Second Temple Model shows the area of the Court of the Woman where the “treasury” or offering boxes were located.

Second Temple Model showing the Court of the Women. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Second Temple Model showing the Court of the Women. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Alfred Edersheim includes the following information about the Court of the Women with an explanation of the 13 offering boxes found there. The info follows without indentation.


The Court of the Women obtained its name, not from its appropriation to the exclusive use of women, but because they were not allowed to proceed farther, except for sacrificial purposes. Indeed, this was probably the common place for worship, the females occupying, according to Jewish tradition, only a raised gallery along three sides of the court. This court covered a space upwards of 200 feet square. All around ran a simple colonnade, and within it, against the wall, the thirteen chests, or ‘trumpets,’ for charitable contributions were placed. These thirteen chests were narrow at the mouth and wide at the bottom, shaped like trumpets, whence their name.

Their specific objects were carefully marked on them. Nine were for the receipt of what was legally due by worshippers; the other four for strictly voluntary gifts. Trumpets I and II were appropriated to the half-shekel Temple-tribute of the current and of the past year. Into Trumpet III those women who had to bring turtledoves for a burnt- and a sin-offering dropped their equivalent in money, which was daily taken out and a corresponding number of turtledoves offered. This not only saved the labour of so many separate sacrifices, but spared the modesty of those who might not wish to have the occasion or the circumstances of their offering to be publicly known. Into this trumpet Mary the mother of Jesus must have dropped the value of her offering (Luke 2:22, 24) when the aged Simeon took the infant Saviour ‘in his arms, and blessed God.’ Trumpet IV similarly received the value of the offerings of young pigeons. In Trumpet V contributions for the wood used in the Temple; in Trumpet VI for the incense, and in Trumpet VII for the golden vessels for the ministry were deposited. If a man had put aside a certain sum for a sin-offering, and any money was left over after its purchase, it was cast into Trumpet VIII. Similarly, Trumpets IX, X, XI, XII, and XIII were destined for what was left over from trespass-offerings, offerings of birds, the offering of the Nazarite, of the cleansed leper, and voluntary offerings. In all probability this space where the thirteen Trumpets were placed was the ‘treasury,’ where Jesus taught on that memorable Feast of Tabernacles (John 7 and 8; see specially 8:20). We can also understand how, from the peculiar and known destination of each of these thirteen ‘trumpets,’ the Lord could distinguish the contributions of the rich who cast in ‘of their abundance’ from that of the poor widow who of her ‘penury’ had given ‘all the living’ that she had (Mark 12:41; Luke 21:1).

But there was also a special treasury-chamber, into which at certain times they carried the contents of the thirteen chests; and, besides, what was called ‘a chamber of the silent,’ where devout persons secretly deposited money, afterwards secretly employed for educating children of the pious poor.

It is probably in ironical allusion to the form and name of these treasure-chests that the Lord, making use of the word ‘trumpet,’ describes the conduct of those who, in their almsgiving, sought glory from men as ‘sounding a trumpet’ before them (Matthew 6:2)—that is, carrying before them, as it were, in full display one of these trumpet-shaped alms-boxes (literally called in the Talmud, ‘trumpets’), and, as it were, sounding it.

Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services as They Were at the Time of Jesus Christ, electronic ed. (Garland, TX: Galaxie Software, 2000).

Memorial Day 2009

Memorial Day (Monday) honors all the men and women who have died in military service in the defense of our country. There were 1,465 USA deaths in the Battle of Normandy. In addition, 2,700 UK soldiers and 500 Canadian soldiers died. It is estimated that between 4,000 and 9,000 German soldiers died.D-Day, June 6, 1944, is a very important day in American history. Here is one of the photos I made of “Omaha” Beach on a rainy day in 2002. This is where many American soldiers landed.

"Omaha" Beach in Normandy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

"Omaha" Beach in Normandy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A visit to this area and especially to the American cemetery helps us realize what a great debt we owe to those who gave their lives while fighting for freedom. A few years ago, prior to his death, I visited regularly with a veteran of World War II who was at Normandy. I enjoyed hearing him talk about the war, and asking him questions. I was always encouraged when I left his home.

The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. Photo by F. Jenkins.

The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. Photo by F. Jenkins.

We should not apologize for what happened here. We must never rewrite this history!

The Aladdin Lamp gave light to all in the house

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, provides this information about the Aladdin Lamp:

The subject of a story in the Arabian Nights. The young boy Aladdin acquires a magic lamp that, when rubbed, brings forth a genie, who grants Aladdin’s wishes to win the hand of the sultan’s daughter and to build a palace. The magician who first gave Aladdin the lamp steals it back, but Aladdin regains the lamp, and he and the sultan’s daughter live happily ever after.

The lamp that Americans of the 1930s and 1940s came to know as the Aladdin Lamp was already in use in Germany during the early part of the 20th century. The flat wick kerosene lamp was common in the rural south when I was a youngster, but the Aladdin Lamp provided much more light because the flame heated a frameless mantle that hung over the flame. We had one Aladdin Lamp which we kept in the “big room” where both my parents and I slept until during my earliest grammar school years. This was literally our “living room.”

All of my evening school work was done in the light of the bright Aladdin Lamp. I thought that was the brightest light I had ever seen at night, and it was.

A few years ago, during a speaking engagement, I stayed with a fine family in Cullman, Alabama. They had the largest collection of Aladdin Lamps I have seen. Many of them have been refitted with electric fittings to make them usable today, like the one in our photo. I asked if he knew how much “wattage” one of the original lamps provided. He told me that it was about 60 watts.

The Aladdin Lamp provided light for all in the house. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Aladdin Lamp provided light for all in the house. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Lamps like this provide us with a reminder of the wonderful illustration used by Jesus.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

And, we recall the illumination and guidance provided by the LORD and His word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105 NAS)

This photo has been prepared in a size large enough to be used in PowerPoint presentations by my preaching/teaching friends. Just click on the image for a larger one.

Hebrew seal of “Saul” found in Jerusalem

A Hebrew seal dating to the time of the First Temple was displayed yesterday in the City of David in Jerusalem.

Hebrew Seal bearing name of "Saul." Photo by Vladimir Naykhin, IAA.

Hebrew Seal bearing name of "Saul." Photo by Vladimir Naykhin, IAA.

The news release issued by the Israel Antiquities Authority follows:

The seal, which is made of bone, was found broken and is missing a piece from its upper right side. Two parallel lines divide the surface of the seal into two registers in which Hebrew letters are engraved:


A period followed by a floral image or a tiny fruit appear at the end of the bottom name.

The name of the seal’s owner was completely preserved and it is written in the shortened form of the name שאול (Shaul). The name is known from both the Bible (Genesis 36:37; 1 Samuel 9:2; 1 Chronicles 4:24 and 6:9) and from other Hebrew seals.

This name appears many other times in the Bible. Our minds are immediately drawn to the name of Saul, the first king of Israel.

Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor.  He had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:1-2 NAU)

Saul, the son of Kish, lived several decades before the First Temple period. Saul was king of Israel from about 1050-1010 B.C. The temple was built by Solomon about 966 B.C. Do not make the mistake of saying that this is the seal of Saul the king. Seals and bullae (seal impressions) are fairly common. What they reveal is that the names found are the ones we might expect in given time periods, and similar, or sometimes identical, to those names found in the Bible.

The news release continues:

According to Professor Reich, “This seal joins another Hebrew seal that was previously found and three Hebrew bullae (pieces of clay stamped with seal impressions) that were discovered nearby. These five items have great chronological importance regarding the study of the development of the use of seals. While the numerous bullae that were discovered in the adjacent rock-hewn pool were found together with pottery sherds from the end of the ninth and beginning of the eighth centuries BCE, they do not bear any Semitic letters. On the other hand, the five Hebrew epigraphic artifacts were recovered from the soil that was excavated outside the pool, which contained pottery sherds that date to the last part of the eighth century.

It seems that the development in the design of the seals occurred in Judah during the course of the eighth century BCE. At the same time as they engraved figures on the seal, at some point they also started to engrave them with the names of the seals’ owners. This was apparently when they started to identify the owner of the seal by his name rather than by some sort of graphic representation.

It appears that the “office” which administered the correspondence and received the goods that were all sealed with bullae continued to exist and operate within a regular format even after a residential dwelling was constructed inside the same “rock-hewn pool” and the soil and the refuse that contained the many aforementioned bullae were trapped beneath its floor. This “office” continued to generate refuse that included bullae, which were opened and broken, as well as seals that were no longer used and were discarded into the heap of rubbish that continued to accumulate in the vicinity.
Professor Ronnie Reich is well known for his work in uncovering the Pool of Siloam and the street leading from the Pool to the Temple Mount. The Pool of Siloam is mentioned in John 9. This photo was made at the Pool of Siloam in 2005.
Professor Reich and Ferrell Jenkins at the Pool of Siloam. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Professor Reich and Ferrell Jenkins at the Pool of Siloam. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Sir William M. Ramsay – New Testament Scholar

As a student Ramsay had been influenced by Baur and the Tubingen School and doubted the historical trustworthiness of the New Testament. His studies in Asia Minor caused him to study the book of Acts, which he accepted as a document of the second half of the second century. He tells in The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament how he came to change his mind about this. In a study of Acts 14, Ramsay saw that Luke listed Lystra and Derbe as cities of Lycaonia, but did not include Iconium (Acts 14:6). He thought this had been deliberately invented by Luke because he was under a false impression. Check maps you have in your Bible and various Bible Atlases. You will probably see that some of them still have this incorrect. The SN (Study Note) in the NET Bible contains this note:

Iconium was a city in Lycaonia about 90 mi (145 km) east southeast of Pisidian Antioch. It was the easternmost city of Phrygia.

This comment relies on the older classical location of Iconium, but it was not this way during the Roman Imperial period.

In The Bearing of Recent Discovery…, Ramsay says that the purpose of his book, St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, is to show:

“that Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historical sense; he fixes his mind on the idea and plan that rules in the evolution of history, and proportions the scale of his treatment to the importance of each incident. He seizes the important and critical events and shows their true nature at greater length, while he touches lightly or omits entirely as much that was valueless for his purpose. In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians” (222).

The people of Lystra spoke the Lycaonian language (14:11). They called Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes (14:12). Inscriptions have been found that identify these particular gods with Lycaonia.

F. F. Bruce mentions his debt to the writings of Sir William Ramsay, and frequently calls attention to Ramsay’s works. Colin Hemer’s works on Acts and Revelation build on the work of Ramsay.

Dr. Mark W. Wilson, of Seven Churches Network has edited and updated at least four of Ramsay’s works: The Letters to the Seven Churches (Hendrickson), St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen (Kregel), and Historical Commentary on First Corinthians (Kregel). This makes these older works much more valuable.

Our photo below shows a portion of a Roman road a few miles north of Tarsus, home of Saul of Tarsus. I think this is the route that would have been taken by Paul and Silas to connect them to the Cilician Gates and the Anatolian plateau. See Acts 15:41 – Acts 16:2.

Roman Road north of Tarsus. Note the fallen milestone. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman Road north of Tarsus. Note the fallen milestone. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.