Monthly Archives: March 2010

A quiet day for Jesus

The Gospel accounts indicate no activity  for Jesus on Wednesday of the final week. After all of the conflict on Tuesday, one can imagine He needed a time for seclusion. We should consider another possibility. Had He continued the intense conflict with the religious leaders it might have affected the time of His death.

Jesus carefully orchestrated His death. From the beginning He spoke of His hour. After the raising of Lazarus he withdrew to a place northwest of Jerusalem on the edge of the wilderness at Ephraim.

Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. (John 11:54 ESV)

Jesus would offer Himself as the sacrificial lamb at the time of the Passover meal. This took intricate planning.

The crowds of pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem for Passover overloaded the system. Many of them likely slept in the open on the Mount of Olives and other places near the city. On Monday evening,

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:11 ESV)

Luke tells us that it was His custom to do so.

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. (Luke 22:39 ESV)

Bethany, the village of Mary, Martha and Lazarus (John 11:1), was located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about two miles from Jerusalem (John 11:1, 18). The photo below of the eastern slope of Olivet was made from near the traditional tomb of Lazarus at Bethany. In the time of Jesus the mountain was likely filled with olive trees. Today we see modern housing. Jerusalem may be seen only after one reaches the crest of the mountain.

Eastern slope of Mount of Olives near Bethany. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Eastern slope of Mount of Olives near Bethany. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A day of conflict for Jesus

Tuesday of the week of Jesus’ death was a day of great conflict. The tensions between Jesus and the Jewish leaders had been growing for a long time and was about to reach its peak. The Gospel of John records this climax in His ministry.

37 Although Jesus had performed so many miraculous signs before them, they still refused to believe in him, 38 so that the word of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled. He said, “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, because again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and turn to me, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s glory, and spoke about him. (John 12:37-41 NET)

Not everyone rejected Jesus. John says that many among the rulers believed on Him. Their faith was not strong enough to overcome their fear of being cast out of the synagogue and elicit a confession of Him (John 12:42).

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the chief priests and elders questioned His authority to do the things He was doing. It seems they were especially perturbed that He would dare do these things in the temple courts. That was where they were in control! (Matthew 21:23ff.). The intellectual sparring was followed by His scathing rebuke of them recorded in Matthew 23.

When Jesus and His disciples left the Temple that day to go out to the Mount of Olives, His disciples pointed out the magnificent buildings of the temple that had been constructed by Herod the Great. And the work continued long past the death of Herod in 4 B.C. (John 2:20).

1 Now as Jesus was going out of the temple courts and walking away, his disciples came to show him the temple buildings. 2 And he said to them, “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!” (Matthew 24:1-2 NET)

In the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 (= Mark 13; Luke 21), Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in A.D. 70. The destruction was so complete that only the retaining walls around the Temple precinct were left standing. Archaeological excavations following 1967 have brought to light some of the rubble that was pushed from the platform into the Tyropoeon Valley on the western side. The stones are still impressive.

Broken stones once part of the temple precinct. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Broken stones that once were part of the temple precinct. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found

Almost everyone who visits Israel with a tour group makes a stop at Qumran. The guide gets a commission when you buy Ahava beauty products! But that’s o.k. Also, everyone who wishes listens to the story of Qumran and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most folks get a photo of Cave 4 where many of the fragments of biblical books were found.

Qumran Cave 4. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cave 4 at Qumran. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There are other caves in the area where important scrolls were found. Todd Bolen has written an informative post, especially about how to locate Caves 1 and 2, at the Bible Places Blog here. He even includes a PDF file so you can print the material and carry it with you on your next trip to Israel.

Jesus cleanses the Temple

On two separate occasions, perhaps separated by at least three years, Jesus cast out the money changers and merchants from the temple precinct. The first account, early in His ministry, is recorded in John 2:13-17. The second cleansing took place during the final week of His earthly ministry on Monday (Matthew 21:12-16; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-47).

Then Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying in the temple courts, and turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. And he said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are turning it into a den of robbers!” (Matthew 21:12-13 NET)

The photo below shows the Temple as it is envisioned from the time of Jesus. This wonderful model was displayed for many years on the grounds of the Holyland Hotel, but is now displayed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Money changing and selling of sacrificial animals was an appropriate function. Then why did Jesus react as He did? The merchants were in the wrong place. They were in the temple precinct (hieros), the large area surrounding the temple proper (the sanctuary where the priests were allowed; naos).

Second Temple Model at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Second Temple Model at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jesus enters Jerusalem (The Lexham English Bible)

Last evening I downloaded The Lexham English Bible, which Logos is giving away to Logos Libronix users. Information here. The Lexham Bible is available free in several popular formats here. I decided to share this text about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in preparation for His death. Notes have been removed. The note are an important part of The Lexham Bible, but you may read those when you download your own copy.

And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village before you, and right away you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her. Untie them“bring them to me. 3 And if anyone says anything to you, you will say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 Now this took place so that what was spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled, saying,
5 “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a pack animal.’”
6 So the disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 And a very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading on the road. 9 And the crowds who went ahead of him and the ones who followed were shouting, saying,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Donkey and Colt at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Donkey and Colt at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The late William Hendriksen makes these comments about this important event.

However, he also shows the crowds what kind of Messiah he is, namely, not the earthly Messiah of Israel’s dreams, the One who wages war against an earthly oppressor, but the One who came to promote and establish “the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:42), lasting peace: reconciliation between God and man, and between a man and his fellow man. Accordingly, Jesus enters Jerusalem mounted on a colt, the foal of an ass, an animal associated not with the rigors of war but with the pursuits of peace, for he is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).

But the people in general, their minds filled with earthly ideas concerning the Coming One, did not understand or appreciate this. In hailing him as the Messiah, the people were right; the Pharisees, chief priests, and scribes (Matt. 21:15, 16; Luke 19:39, 40) were wrong. But in expecting this Messiah to reveal himself as a political, earthly Messiah the Hosanna shouters were as wrong as were their leaders. Those who in every way rejected Jesus were committing a crime, but those who outwardly “accepted” and cheered him were also doing him a gross injustice, for they did not accept him for what he really was. Their tragic mistake was committed with dire results for themselves. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, 760)

Scholarship or theft?

Someone unknown to me has copied numerous of my posts and posted them at their own site here.

I am delighted for others to use my material with a credit line, but this source includes no indication of the source of the material. It cost me many thousands of dollars to obtain the photos that I use on this page. Gaining permission to use material is not that difficult, and a credit line is certainly required.

You shall not steal. (Exodus 20:15 NAU)

He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. (Ephesians 4:28 NAU)

Update Regarding Ethical and Legal Violations (March 27, 2010)

I knew that the person back of the actions mentioned above had done something unethical (sinful, according to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament). I knew they were in violation of copyright law. After doing a little check, I learned that the practice is an infringement of the agreement made with WordPress, and a violation of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

After checking the archives of the web site, I learned that this practice has been going on since December, 2009. The owner has used my photos with the same or similar captions, but has removed “Photo by Ferrell Jenkins” or other credits that I included. Outrageous, isn’t it?

Update (March 29, 2010): In response to my letter stating that my material had been plagiarized, WordPress has notified me that the offending web site “has been removed.” Thank you, WordPress. You are a great service.

Update # 2 (March 29, 2010): Soon after the single post that I reported to WordPress was taken down, others were moved to the top of the blog. Later, I reported 40 of my blogs that were copied. Late this afternoon I received this note: “The entire blog has now been removed, as per these multiple reports.”

ArchaeologyExcavations taken down from WordPress.

Hippos overlooks the Sea of Galilee

I think many Bible Land travelers pass En Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and never realize that the site of Hippos is visible about one and a half miles to the east. Perhaps that is because of the almost magnetic attraction of the Sea of Galilee.

The site of Hippos (Susita), east of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The site of Hippos (Susita), east of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Vassilios Tzaferis wrote about Hippos in Biblical Archaeology Review:

If you look at the site of Sussita/Hippos from an adjacent mountain, or, better yet, from the air, and follow the adjoining ridge, or saddle, to the east, the site looks like the head of a horse and the saddle, or ridge, looks like the long, outstretched neck of a horse. It is this configuration that gave the site its name for nearly a thousand years. The ancient Greeks, who apparently were the first to settle the site, must have been aware of this resemblance because they named the place Hippos (horse). When the Jews conquered the city, they translated the name to Sussita, “mare” in Aramaic. When the Arabs conquered it, they called it Qal’at el Husn, the “fortress of the horse.”

The summit of the mountain is a plateau of about 37 acres on which lie scattered the ruins of what was once a beautiful town overlooking the lake.

Our story begins—perhaps it will begin much earlier after the site is thoroughly excavated—about a century after Alexander the Great conquered and Hellenized much of the then-known world. After Alexander’s death in 331 B.C., his empire split in two—the Ptolemies in Egypt and the Seleucids in Syria shared this world. Over the centuries Palestine passed from one side to the other, occasionally winning its own independence. The first evidence we now have of organized habitation at Hippos indicates that it was founded by the Seleucids in the middle of the third century B.C., very probably as a frontier fortress against the threat of the Ptolemaic kingdom to the south. The settlement was located on a most strategic point, on the western approach to Gaulanitis (today’s Golan Heights). The site’s natural fortification and defense allowed it to serve equally as a fortress stronghold and as an effective frontier post, controlling any movement to the east, both in time of war and peace. In about 200 B.C., the boundaries of the Seleucid kingdom were pushed down to southern Palestine, so Hippos lost much of its strategic significance but it retained its importance as an urban cultural center, with a social and political organization in accord with the principles of a Greek polis.

When the town was formally recognized as an official constitutional polis, it was renamed Antiocha, in honor of the head of the Seleucid kingdom, Antiochus the Great (III), although the old name Hippos was also officially used.

Hippos had a port on the Sea of Galilee “to serve the commercial and navigational needs” of the city.

The progress of the city as a Hellenistic center was interrupted for a period of about 20 years during the first half of the first century B.C. Sometime between 83 and 80 B.C., the Judean king Alexander Jannaeus, who then ruled an independent fiefdom, conquered Hippos. According to the first-century A.D. historian Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 14.75), Jannaeus forced Hippos’ heathen inhabitants to be circumcised and to accept Judaism. In 64 B.C., however, the Roman army entered the scene. The Roman general Pompey took the city from the Jews; it was then included in the League of the Ten Cities, the Decapolis, created by Pompey in the northern Jordan Valley and adjacent Transjordan. Each city in the Decapolis had jurisdiction over an extensive area. As a member of the Decapolis, Hippos enjoyed internal autonomy and could even mint its own coins. The population of Hippos welcomed Pompey with open arms.

About 35 years later, Hippos again became part of a Jewish realm. In 30 B.C. the Roman emperor Augustus gave Hippos to Herod the Great, who ruled it until his death 26 years later, in 4 B.C. After Herod’s death, Hippos was assigned by the Romans to the province of Syria.

During the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66–70 A.D.), the Jews attacked Hippos and its Greek inhabitants, who retaliated by killing or imprisoning the Jews residing there. (Biblical Archaeology Review 16:05, Sep/Oct 1990).

Riesner says that Hippos “must be” the city of the Decapolis presupposed in Mark 5:1-20 (the account of casting demons into swine; Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels 40). It might be. Hippos is the closest of the cities of the Decapolis to the area of Jesus’ ministry which was centered in Capernaum. It would make sense that Gentiles in this area might be growing pigs.

And he [the healed demon-possessed man]went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:20 ESV)

And great crowds followed him [Jesus] from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:25 ESV)

During excavations at Hippos in 2007, a sandal print identified as that of a Roman soldier was uncovered:

Sandal print from Hippos.

Roman sandal print from Hippos. Photo: University of Haifa.

Archaeologists have discovered a footprint made by the sandal of a Roman soldier in a wall surrounding the Hellenistic-Roman city of Hippos (Sussita), east of the Sea of Galilee.

The footprint was discovered during this eighth season of excavation, led by Prof. Arthur Segal from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa in conjunction with archaeologists from the Polish Academy of Sciences and Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

This rare footprint, which is complete and well preserved, hints at who built the walls, how and when,” said Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute at the University of Haifa.

The print, made by a hobnailed sandal called caliga, the sandal worn by Roman soldiers, is one of the only finds of this type. The discovery of the print in the cement led archaeologists to presume that legionnaires participated in construction of the walls.

The full article may be read in Science Daily here.

High places of the Gate

Standing stones (high places, bamah) are often found at the gate of Biblical cities. The photo below shows some standing stones from the gate of Tel Dan.  The informational sign immediately to the left of the standing stones includes a quotation from 2 Kings 23:8. The text describes the reforms of King Josiah of Judah (641/40–609 B.C.).

He brought all the priests from the cities of Judah and ruined the high places where the priests had offered sacrifices, from Geba to Beer Sheba. He tore down the high place of the goat idols situated at the entrance of the gate of Joshua, the city official, on the left side of the city gate. (2 Kings 23:8 NET)

[On “goat idols” see Leviticus 17:7 and 2 Chronicles 11:15]

Standing stones at the gate of Tel Dan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Standing stones at the gate of Tel Dan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Here is a closer view showing the standing stones. The placement of these stones at the gate of the city allowed everyone who came into the city to make obeisance to whatever god was represented.

Standing stones at the gate of Tel Dan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bamah at the gate of Tel Dan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

See the previous post (here) for more information about the standing stones.

Cultic complex at Hazor

Hazor was one was the most important Canaanite cities when the Israelites entered the land.

And Joshua turned back at that time and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword, for Hazor formerly was the head of all those kingdoms. (Joshua 11:10 ESV)

Stone stelae are commonly found during the excavation of Biblical cities. Archaeologists and Biblical scholars refer to an area of this type as a cultic center or complex. The word cult is used in several ways in modern writing and conversation, but it has a specialized meaning when we think of the archaeological context. The Hypertext Bible Commentary – Amos defines cultic as it is used in this context.

To do with organized religion and public worship, so “Israel’s cult” refers to the organized public religion of the kingdom of Israel. The word, when used in biblical studies, implies nothing (either way) about how theologically correct such worship or practice might be. It simply means public religion rather than private.

The photo below shows a cultic center found at Hazor from the Middle Bronze Age II (c. 1800-1550 B.C.). Sharon Zucherman, co-director of the Hazor excavations, refers to an area like this as “a ceremonial religious precinct” and “a cultic and ceremonial precinct” (BAR March/April 2006). An area like this is sometimes called a high place (Hebrew bamah).

Then I said to them, “What is the high place to which you go?’ So its name is called Bamah to this day.” (Ezekiel 20:29 NAU)

The crudely chiseled stones are designated by the Hebrew word massebah (plural masseboth). Some English translations use the phrase “standing stones” to translate massebah. Others use “sacred pillars” (NAU, NKJ, CSB) or “sacred stones” (NIV). The New Jerusalem Bible uses the phrase “cultic stones.”

The Israelites were instructed by the Lord to destroy these religious centers.

You will not bow down to their gods or worship them or observe their rites, but throw them down and smash their cultic stones. (Exodus 23:24 NJB)

In the left foreground of the area below there is a round basin. Perhaps for a libation?

Middle Bronze Age cultic complex at Hazor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Middle Bronze Age cultic complex at Hazor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Earthquake felt in Galilee

Haaretz reports a minor quake in the Galilean town of Carmiel (Karmiel). Carmiel is located west of the Sea of Galilee about half way to the Mediterranean town of Acco (Acre).

Residents near the northern town of Carmiel reported late-night vibrations which seismologists later confirmed as a minor quake measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale. No damage or injuries were caused.

In 2008 Israel was hit by a 4.1-magnitude quake with its epicenter in Lebanon, which caused damage across the country, ripping open a large hole in the Temple Mount plaza outside the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and bringing down a house in the West Bank.

Israel also suffered four successive jolts in a four-week period in 2007.

The last major earthquake to strike the area was in 1927, measuring more than 6.0 Richter scale and killing 500 people.

Israeli experts say that because of population growth and high-rise construction, an earthquake of the same magnitude today would kill more than 18,000.

Read the complete article here.

Our photo was made looking east from the traditional Mount of Beatitudes.

View east across the Sea of Galilee from Mount of Beatitudes. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View east across the Sea of Galilee from Mount of Beatitudes. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We have written about earthquakes in the Bible World several times. Check here, and use the Search box for the other posts.