Daily Archives: September 11, 2009

Second Temple period synagogue discovered at Magdala

Israel Antiquities Authority announces the discovery of one of the oldest synagogues known.

A synagogue from the Second Temple period (50 BCE-100 CE) was exposed in archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting at a site slated for the construction of a hotel on Migdal [Magdala] beach, in an area owned by the Ark New Gate Company. In the middle of the synagogue is a stone that is engraved with a seven-branched menorah (candelabrum), the likes of which have never been seen. The excavations were directed by archaeologists Dina Avshalom-Gorni and Arfan Najar of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The town of Magdala is not mentioned in the Bible, but Mary Magdalene is mentioned a total of 12 times in the four gospels. This place may have been her birthplace or her home. A few late manuscripts mention Magdala (Matthew 15:39 KJV), but earlier manuscripts read Magadan. Magdala is located about 4 miles north of Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Josephus had his headquarters at Magdala during the first Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 66-70). He was able to get a group of at least 230 boats to go from Magdala to Tiberias (Jewish Wars 2.635-637). Vespasian attacked the town from the sea and destroyed it.

IAA reports the following facts about the new discovery.

The main hall of synagogue is c. 120 square meters in area and its stone benches, which served as seats for the worshippers, were built up against the walls of the hall. Its floor was made of mosaic and its walls were treated with colored plaster (frescos).

A square stone, the top and four sides of which are adorned with reliefs, was discovered in the hall. The stone is engraved with a seven-branched menorah set atop a pedestal with a triangular base, which is flanked on either side by an amphora (jars).

The decorated stone depicting . Phoo: Moshe Hartal, IAA.

The decorated stone depicting seven-branch Menorah. Phoo: Moshe Hartal, IAA.

The complete IAA report may be read here.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Group arrives safely in Switzerland

We arrived on time this morning after an all night flight from Atlanta to Zurich. As soon as we got out luggage, with three or four bags missing, we went to downtown Zurich to visit the statue of Ulrich Zwingli at the Wasserkirche (Water Church), the Grossm√ľnster (the great cathedral where Zwingli preached in the early 15th century), and a few other sites in the downtown area of the city.

After our guide presented some of the history of the political and religious conditions in Switzerland in the early 15th century, I took the opportunity to talk about the work and beliefs of Zwingli as an early leader of the Reformation Movement. More in a later post.

Ferrell Jenkins Tour Group at the Zwingli Statue in Zurich.

Ferrell Jenkins Tour Group at the Zwingli Statue in Zurich.

The steps there seemed like a good place to line up the group for a photo. If you think you know someone in the group you may click on the photo for a larger image. This wasn’t our “official” tour photo with banner, etc., and some of the ladies didn’t much like the idea of the photo being posted. I think they look nice after being up all night. How about you?

Remembering Black Tuesday: 9-11


The little ribbon was used by many immediately after the events of 9-11, but I haven’t seen it much lately.

David West, a minister in Florida, presented a lesson on the Sunday following 9-11 entitled “Black Tuesday: Reflections on Another Day of Infamy.” I think you might enjoy taking a look the full speech. The link is here.

It is only by remembering such horrific events that we will be able to avoid similar ones in the future.