Monthly Archives: May 2009

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.

Sir William M. Ramsay

William M. Ramsay (1851-1939), a native of Scotland, studied classics at the University of Aberdeen. In 1880 he won a traveling studentship to study in Asia Minor. For several decades he was able “to study the geography and archaeology of Roman proconsular Asia, Phyrgia, Lycaonia, Cappadocia, and Galatia” (Gasque, Sir William M. Ramsay Archaeologist and New Testament Scholar, 15; I am indebted to this work for much information about Ramsay). He was knighted in 1906.

Gasque’s book has recently been made available here by Rob Bradshaw of Biblical in either PDF or Scribd. Grab it while it is available. Rob is providing a wonderful service in making works like this available.

Some of Ramsay’s more significant writings include The Historical Geography of Asia Minor, The Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, The Letters to the Seven Churches, and A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians. He wrote many articles for the 9th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica and for the five-volume Dictionary of the Bible by Hastings, including “Roads and Travel in the New Testament.”

This photo of a butterfly among wild flowers was made west of Konya, Turkey. Konya was biblical Iconium (Acts 13:51 – Acts 14).

Spring wild flowers growing west of Konya, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Spring wild flowers growing west of Konya, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the next post we will explain more about the significance of Ramsay to New Testament studies.

The Lion of Babylon

Babylon was excavated by Germans between 1899 and 1917. Local villagers discovered the image of a lion trampling a man during one of the periods when the archaeologists were not present. Upon return, the archaeologists completed the excavation of the image. This is the way the sculpture looked in 1970. I have noticed the image in several photo by American military personnel.

The Lion of Babylon trampling a man. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Andre Parrot says,

There is … no such certainty about the basalt statue of a lion trampling on a man. This extraordinary work, which represents a beast overcoming a man, does not seem to be Mesopotamian in origin; it has been thought to be Hittite. (Babylon and the Old Testament 29-30)

Parrot also points out that the lion was associated with the goddess Ishtar.

The Bible records that Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians captured the city of Jerusalem in the days of Jehoiachin the king of Judah (2 Kings 24).

He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war. (2 Kings 24:14-16 ESV)

Reverse Reading?

Overnight we lost 3380 hits. Long ago I put a simple counter, supplied by WordPress, on this page. There is also a stats chart that I can see when I login. The chart was based on some time zone other than the one in which I live. So, each morning when I am home I write down my own daily stats. When I opened the page to do that this morning I noted that I had 3380 hits less than yesterday morning.

What happened to all of my readers? Maybe you had been reading and decided to take it back! I don’t know what happened, but I see that WordPress has changed the stats chart to match my time zone. I don’t know how that could have messed up the total number. Anyway, deep in my heart I know you have been here. The count this morning should have been about 170,685 +/-. I was looking forward to a big 200,000-hit party and inviting each of you to come read and see. Don’t know what I will do now.

More importantly, my ranking at Alexa has continued to improve significantly. Thanks for coming my way.

Another view from Babylon

The early part of the week finds me traveling in Alabama, but I brought along another old slide scan of a photo I made at Babylon in 1970. When I compare the quality of the camera I used that year with the one I use today it is amazing that the old photo is this good. Slides fade even under the best home conditions.

This site is identified as Nebuchaznezzar’s Principal Palace. You will notice that even then, long before Saddam Hussein, some reconstruction had been carried out at the site. The lighter colored bricks at the top of the walls are part of the reconstruction to give the viewer some idea of what was original. It also helps one to visualize the size of the rooms, etc. This is the sort of thing we see at Masada, Megiddo, and other sites in Israel where the black line distinguishes the original from the reconstructed.

Nebuchadnezzar's Principal Palace in 1970. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nebuchadnezzar's Principal Palace in 1970. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I understand the white on the ground to be salt residue.

The prophet Isaiah predicted the overthrow of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. (Isaiah 13:19 ESV)

God spoke, and it happened.