Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Exploration in Antiquity Center

The Explorations in Antiquity Center at LaGrange, Georgia, is the brainchild of Dr. James Fleming. Fleming has lived and worked in Israel since 1973. Numerous tour groups have visited his Biblical Resources center there. I first met Jim many years ago in the home of Richard Cleave in Jerusalem. Cleave is the author/photographer/publisher of The Holy Land Satellite Atlas and other photographic and geographic materials. In that meeting I saw that the three of us shared a common passion in wanting to use what we had learned about the Bible lands in teaching others.

The Explorations in Antiquity Center web page says,

Dr. Fleming established Biblical Resources in 1975, for the purpose of producing educational materials and aids for teaching the historical, geographical, and archaeological background of the Bible.

It was wonderful to have these resources together at one place in Israel, but it is beneficial to many more to have the resources available in the Southeastern United States.

David Padfield recently visited the Center in LaGrange. At my request he has written a brief review for Ferrell’s Travel Blog. We plan to run the review with photographs during the next few days.

The city gate at Exploration in Antiquities Center. Photo by David Padfield.

The city gate at Exploration in Antiquities Center. Photo by David Padfield.

You may access the Center’s web site here.

David Padfield is well known for his helpful web site,

The Garrard temple model

A few months ago the world discovered Alec Garrard’s model of Herod’s Temple. I was traveling a lot then, and many of the blogs covered the news, so I let it go. I suppose I received 10 or 12 emails from readers informing me about the articles. Well, finally, here it is for those who missed it.

Garrard is a 78 year old retired property developer from Norfolk in the East of England who has spent 33,000 hours researching and building a model of Herod’s Temple. It is fascinating that one person spends so much time on a project. The Daily Mail reporter comments on this.

And while he sees it as a form of relaxation, he says his wife thinks he is mad. ‘She wishes she’d married a normal person,’ he said.

Garrard and his Temple Model. Photo: Geoff Robinson Photography.

Garrard and his Temple Model. Photo: Geoff Robinson Photography.

The article in the Daily Mail is here. The Telegraph article is here.

The Telegraph has added an album of nice photos here.

Walter Bingham of Israel National News has a report about the model, including an interview with Garrard, here.

HT: Reminder – Joseph I. Lauer.

Update: I see that Leen Ritmeyer has a set of PowerPoint slides based on Garrard’s model. Full details here.

Breakfast with Jesus

Jesus told the disciples that after His resurrection He would go ahead of them to Galilee (Matthew 26:32). His third appearance to the disciples was on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee/Gennesaret).

Tradition locates the place of His meeting with the disciples at (or near) Tabgha on the northwest shore of the Sea of Tiberias. The events are recorded in John 21. The disciples had fished during the night and caught nothing. At day break Jesus invited them to “Come and have breakfast.”

The small church, made of the local basalt stone, is called the Church of the Primacy of Peter. Roman Catholics believe Christ promised and conferred the primacy of jurisdiction over the entire church on the Apostle Peter at this time and place (John 21:14-17). Need I say that many do not agree with this interpretation?

The traditional site where Jesus prepared breakfast for the disciples. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The traditional site where Jesus prepared breakfast for the disciples. The building covers what Catholics call the Mensa Christi (the Table of Christ). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Observe in the photo that the shoreline is far from the building. This is because the water level has been extremely low in the past few years. Remnants of a small harbor can be seen beside the building. Mendel Nun, in his well-known article about the 15 man-made harbors around the Sea of Galilee, writes about Tabgha:

In the winter, fishermen from Capernaum worked at Tabgha, where several warm mineral springs attracted musht, popularly called St. Peter’s Fish. (The name Tabgha is a corruption of the Greek for “Seven Springs.”) Today the remains of this small harbor’s breakwater can be seen when the water level is low. Christian tradition ascribes the meeting place of Jesus with his disciples to a prominent rock at the warm springs. From a fisherman’s viewpoint, this is the correct choice. This is the area where musht schools formerly concentrated in the winter and spring. Here Jesus met his disciples for the first—and also the last—time (Luke 5:1–7; John 21:1–8). On this rock, now known as the rock of the primacy of Peter, stands a small modern Franciscan chapel, the Church of the Primacy of Peter. It was built on the foundations of earlier churches, the oldest of which dates from the first half of the fourth century. The altar is built around a stone outcropping known to pilgrims as the Lord’s Table (Mensa Domini), on which Jesus served the disciples after the miraculous draught of fishes (John 21:13). (Nun, Mendel. “Ports of Galilee.” Biblical Archaeology Review. July/August 1999).

I take every step with them

A couple of my friends, Royce and Luke Chandler, are in Israel to participate in the archaeological dig at Khirbet Qeiyafa. The site, overlooking the Valley of Elah, is also called the Elah Fortress. They are spending a few days traveling in Israel prior to joining the dig.

Luke is posting some of his photos and a bit of information about the places on his A Bible, History & Travel Blog. Today he has a great photo of the Jezreel Valley from the Spring of Harod to the Hill of Moreh (Judges 7). Take a look.

More information on Judean exiles in Babylon

Abraham Rabinovich, a long time writer for the The Jerusalem Post, has compiled some fascinating information about the Judeans in Babylonian Exile during the time of Nebuchadnezzar.

King Jehoiachin was only 18 years old and had occupied the throne of Judah barely three months when he was led off into Babylonian captivity in 598 BCE together with his wives, his mother, his servants, his eunuchs and thousands of “the chief men of the land.”

But what happened to them when they reached Babylon? And what happened there to the tens of thousands of others who joined them in exile when the First Temple was destroyed a decade later? The Bible tells us of the return to Judah half a century later but virtually nothing of what the expellees experienced in Babylon itself…

However, scholars have been able to gain a measure of access to these missing years from cuneiform documents unearthed in Iraq in the last century, including a trove illicitly dug up in the final years of Saddam Hussein’s regime and only now nearing publication. The documents are innocuous – business records, land deeds, tax accounts – but together are able to shed light, feeble but suggestive, on this central period in Jewish history.

Rabinovich comments specifically on the fate of Jehoiachin, the young Judean king.

“We have been able to make history out of dry documents,” says Prof. Israel Eph’al of the Hebrew University, an epigrapher and historian of the ancient Near East.

Early last century, archeologists digging in Babylon, the capital of Babylonia, uncovered cuneiform tablets in a vaulted chamber beneath the ruins of an ancient structure believed by some to have been the base of the fabled “Hanging Gardens” of Babylon. These tablets, deciphered in the 1930s by German Assyriologist Ernst Weidner, detailed the storage of oil and other commodities and their distribution. Four of the badly damaged tablets concerned the supply of oil to “Jehoiachin, king of Judah” and his five sons. The date is five years after he was taken captive. The fact that he was being provisioned by the Babylonian authorities and that he retained his royal title suggests that he was being treated with deference even though he had been taken captive because his father, Jehoiakim, had rebelled against Babylon. Favorable treatment is also suggested by the fact that at 23 he already has five sons, indicating that the young royal was not deprived of the wives who had accompanied him.

Read the entire article here.

Because German archaeologists worked at Babylon for more than a decade in the early part of the 20th century, the best collection of archaeological artifacts are in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin. Here is a photo of one of the ration tablets mentioned in the article.

Ration tablet from Babylon, now in Berlin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ration tablet from Babylon mentioning Jehoiachin, the exiled king of Judah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This information harmonizes with what we are told in the Bible, under  (2 Kings 25:27-30). This text describes an event some years later under the reign of Evil-merodach. Verse 30 says of Jehoiachin,

He was given daily provisions by the king for the rest of his life until the day he died. (2 Kings 25:30 NET)

Here are the dates I normally follow in the study of this part of Bible history:

  • Nebuchadnezzar takes Daniel and other royal youths to Babylon (605 BC).
  • Jerusalem captured by the Babylonians. Jehoiachin taken to Babylon (597 BC). Zedekiah was made king. Ezekiel was among the prophets taken to Babylon.
  • Zedekiah was blinded and taken to Babylon (586 BC). Jerusalem destroyed. Many exiles taken to Babylon. Jeremiah was left in the land of Judah.
  • Babylon captured by the Medes and Persians (539 BC).
  • Judean exiles allowed to return to Judah (536 BC).
  • A second group of exiles returned in the days of Ezra (458 BC). Some remained in Babylon.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Where were you 40 years ago?

Even if we did not remember the exact day, all of us have heard that today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Our family had moved to Florida the previous December. School was not in session. What a great opportunity to take the boys to Cape Canaveral to see the “moon shot.”

Still in awe after the launch of Apollo 11. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Still in awe after the launch of Apollo 11. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

You may notice what appears to be a scratch on the slide running from the ground up into the water. That is the antenna to an little battery-operated TV. Afterwards we had a great picnic lunch mom had prepared.

The Land of Rameses

Note: Over the past nine years I have contributed nearly 100 articles on Bible places to a magazine published by some of my friends. Normally I do not repeat the material here for several years.  The typesetter made a mistake in the July, 2009, issue of Biblical Insights using the title from the previous issue. Because of this I decided to run the article here with the correct title.


For many years scholars identified Rameses with Tanis (San el Hagar). Tanis is often identified with the Zoan which was built seven years after Hebron (Numbers 13:22). As a result of recent excavations in the eastern Nile Delta by Austrian archaeologists under the direction of Manfred Bietak, Rameses is now identified with Tell el-Daba. Tell el-Daba is situated on the eastern side of the ancient Pelusiac branch of the Nile River in the biblical land of Goshen (Gen. 45:10) which is also called the land of Rameses (Genesis 47:11). Rameses was the starting point of the exodus (Ex. 12:37; Num. 33:3,5).

Scholars posit four main proposals for the date of the exodus. (1) Before 2000 B.C. (Anati); (2) 1477 B.C. (Goedicke); (3) about 1450 B.C. (Bimson); (4) 1280 B.C. (popular view). If we believe that 1 Kings 6:1 should be taken seriously, as I do, the date of the exodus would have been about 1446 B.C. Conservative scholars disagree over whether there was a long bondage (430 years), or a short bondage (215 years).

The history of this area should be divided into three periods: pre-Hyksos, Hyksos, and post-Hyksos. The Hyksos were foreign (Canaanite or Asiatic) rulers who lived in the eastern Nile Delta and eventually ruled northern Egypt for some 108 years (c. 1663-1555 B.C.; 15th dynasty). In the pre-Hyksos period the town was known as Rowaty (“the door of the two roads”). During the 15th Dynasty the name was changed to Avaris. The Hyksos made their capital there and retained the name. When the Egyptians ran the Hyksos out of Egypt the name was likely changed to Peru-nefer (“happy journey”). Pharaoh Rameses built a new city at the same location and named it Rameses.

During their stay in the land of Egypt the Israelites built the storage cities of Pithom and Rameses (Exodus 1:11). Pharaoh Rameses II ruled Egypt about 1304 to 1227 B.C. How could the Israelites have built the city of Rameses prior to 1446 B.C. if Pharaoh Rameses was not the ruler of Egypt until nearly 200 years later? Some have suggested that the name Rameses was given to the city by the Hyksos in the 17th century B.C. Perhaps the city was named for a private individual by that name. The most common explanation is that Rameses is the modernization of an obsolete place name. We might say that Caesar crossed the English Channel though it was not known by that name at the time. We say St. Nicholas of Myra was a Turkish bishop, but Turkey did not exist at the time.

Earlier this year I spent two days in the land of Goshen. My guide gained access to a field in the Tell el-Daba area where we saw remnants of a colossal statue of Pharaoh Rameses II estimated to have been more than 30 feet high. The royal precinct of the city at the time of Moses has also been uncovered at Ezbet Helmi on the bank of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile.

Remnant of a colossal statue of Rameses II at Tell el-Daba in the land of Goshen.

Remnant of a colossal statue of Rameses II at Tell el-Daba in the land of Goshen.

It is incorrect to say that there was no Egyptian building in the delta during the time of Rameses II. The storage city constructed by the Israelites was not known as Rameses when they built it, but by one of the earlier names.