Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Fountain of Peirene at Corinth

Food, Water, and the ability to defend, were the most important features in ancient cities. Corinth’s most important reservoir, the Fountain of Peirene, was fed from subterranean springs. It had a capacity of over 81,000 gallons.

Take a look at the horizon in the photo below. That was the level of the earth more than a century ago before archaeological excavations began at Ancient Corinth. The entire structure that we know as the Fountain of Peirene was covered with debris. This structure was built along the Lechaion Road which led from the Agora (Marketplace) to the Gulf of Corinth on the west side of the city.

The fountain is no longer in use, but if you walk close to the arches you can hear water flowing underneath the city.

Fountain of Peirene at Ancient Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Fountain of Peirene at Ancient Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Paul visited Corinth on his second journey (A.D. 50-53). In spite of obstacles that brought fear to the heart of Paul, the Lord assured him that He had many people in the city (Acts 18:10).

And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Act 18:11 ESV)

A new Bible atlas

For the past three weeks I have had the opportunity to consult The New Moody Atlas of the Bible by Barry J. Beitzel.
The New Moody Atlas of the Bible
This work is a revision of The Moody Atlas of the Bible, published in 1985. This edition is a worldwide co-edition organized and produced by Lion Hudson in Oxford, England. You surely have seen some of their beautiful work in other publications. The USA edition is published by Moody Publishers. Many high quality books today are printed in the Orient. This one was printed in China. Amazing, isn’t it.
I don’t intend this as a review, but I am impressed with the clarity with which Beitzel discusses controversial material. In “The Route of the Exodus” he clearly discusses the historical background, the geographical setting, searching for Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia/South Jordan, searching for Mt Sinai in the northern Sinai peninsula, and searching for Mt. Sinai in southern Sinai. Pros and cons of the various positions are briefly set forth. No, I won’t tell!
This atlas sells for $49.99. I wish the publisher would sell it for $50. Does that one cent difference make anyone think they are getting a bargain? Amazon currently has the book for $31.49 (there we go again) from this link: The New Moody Atlas of the Bible.
Beitzel, with degrees from Dropsie, Fuller, and the University of Pennsylvania, is professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Ancient Egypt in Pictures

Ancient Egypt in Pictures is the title of a slide-show collection of 47 nice photos on the Fox News web site here. Archaeology is alive and well in Egypt these days.

Egypt is an important travel destination for students of ancient history and archaeology, as well as for those interested in background studies for the Bible.

Nile River at Cairo. El Borg tower across river. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nile River at Cairo. El Borg tower across the river. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: David Padfield

The fish of ancient Egypt and Ashkenazi Jews

A human interest story by Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg draws a connection between the fish eaten by the Israelites in ancient Egypt and the fish eaten by Ashkenazi Jews today during Passover (Pesach). The Ashkenazi Jews of Israel and America are those who descended from Jews living along the Rhine River in Germany. Because of their movement to other areas, we think of them as having come from central and eastern Europe. Non-Ashkenazi Jews are known as Sephardic Jews. We typically think of them as having lived in the Iberian peninsula and Yemin, among other places.

Rosenberg paints a fascinating history of the gefilte fish which is eaten on the Passover and as the Sabbath (Shabbat) afternoon meal. He cites the work of the late George Freudenstein of Riverdale, New York. He calls Freudenstein “an eminent nutritional scientist and Hebrew scholar.  Freudenstein was chief chemist of the Jewish food giant Rokeach for 50 years and also an ardent talmudist.”

IN ANCIENT Egypt fish was a staple diet for the workers, and that included the Hebrew slaves. Not satisfied with the manna, they complained to Moses, “We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt for nothing” (Numbers 11:5) and the Egyptian sources confirm that Rameses II, perhaps the pharaoh of the Exodus, gave his workers a free allowance of 10 kilos of salted fish each month. Under his descendent Rameses III, around 1150 BCE, it is recorded that the grave diggers requested an increase in this generous amount to compensate them for their heavy and unpleasant work.

In spite of the hot climate, Nile fish could be preserved by drying and salting, as evidenced by the discovery of a warehouse of dried fish at the Sun Temple of El-Amarna, in central Egypt.

Freudenstein quotes a German Egyptologist, who claims that the composition of the fish in the Nile Delta has hardly changed over the last five millennia and that there are 30 species still active from ancient times. These include carp, pike and mullet, and the species of Nile mullet is exactly the one that is in use for today’s gefilte fish, at least as produced by Rokeach.

Let it be noted that we do not concur that Rameses II was the Pharaoh of the Exodus, but that is for another time. Rosenberg’s fascinating article, “In praise of gefilte fish,”  may be read in its entirety here in the Jerusalem Post. We learn that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “is engaged in diplomatic moves” to resolve a USA export/Israel import issue dealing with the gefilte.

We noted that the ancient Israelites longed for the fish of Egypt (Numbers 11:5). After the return from exile in Babylon, Nehemiah informs us that the men of Tyre sold imported fish in Jerusalem.

The people from Tyre who lived there were bringing fish and all kinds of merchandise and were selling it on the Sabbath to the people of Judah– and in Jerusalem, of all places! (Nehemiah 13:16 NET)

Our photo today shows the Nile River immediately south of Cairo where it divides to go around the islands, such as Roda Island, in the river. Fishermen get ready to go out for the day’s catch.

The Nile River near Cairo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Nile River near Cairo where the river goes around the islands that are visible in the city. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Joesph I. Lauer

Pastoral scenes from Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day

We are taking a little break from the usual Bible World photos to enjoy a couple of pastoral scenes from the beautiful Emerald Isle.

Glendalough, Ireland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Glendalough, Ireland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pastoral scene at Glendalough, Ireland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pastoral scene at Glendalough, Ireland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jarmuth – a city of the Shephelah

Jarmuth (or Yarmuth) is located about 1 1/4 miles north of  the Valley of Elah, and 5 miles south of Beth-shemesh and the Sorek Valley. The site is mentioned 6 times in the book of Joshua (10:3, 5, 23; 12:11; 15:35), and in Nehemiah 11:29). The name is used in Joshua 21:29, but the Jarmuth mentioned there seems to be a town in the territory of Issachar.

Jarmuth was a Canaanite city conquered by the Israelites in the days of Joshua. It became part of the kingdom of Judah.

Michael Avi-Yonah says,

It has been identified with Khirbat al-Yarmūk (Eusebius calls it Iermochus), a large and prominent mound east of Kafr Zakariyya where surveys have revealed a large city surrounded by a massive stone wall from the Early Bronze Age and a smaller but higher mound containing pottery ranging from the Late Bronze to Byzantine periods. (Encyclopaedia Judaica)

Some excavations were conducted in the 1980s by Pierre De Miroschedji. The excavator says,

Given its size and the density of its construction, the EB III [about 2300 B.C.] city of Jarmuth may have had a population of about 3,000, engaged mainly in agriculture (cereals, vegetables, grapes, and especially olives) and animal husbandry (mostly sheep and goats, cattle and donkeys being used for traction and transport). (The Anchor Bible Dictionary 3:646)

The photo below was taken from Khirbet Qeiyafa, 1 1/4 miles south of Jarmuth.

Jarmuth from Khirbet Qeiyafa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jarmuth from Khirbet Qeiyafa (above the Valley of Elah). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

More on Paul’s shipwreck on Malta

Gordon Franz has written a critique on his Life and Land blog (here) of the CBN 700 Club’s program about Robert Cornuke’s “amazing Biblical discovery” on Malta. Previously we have called attention to Gordon’s blog and writings, and especially to his series on “Cracked Pot Archaeology” here.

The CBN video includes some nice footage and is, for that reason, worth viewing. If you have interest in this subject, I suggest you go to Life and Land and take a look at the video and read the critique.

Our photo below shows one of the small pleasure harbors around St. Paul’s Harbor on Malta.

St. Paul's Harbor at Malta. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

St. Paul's Harbor at Malta. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

You may read our account of visiting Malta here and here. This is a significant topic because of the account of Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 28.

After we had safely reached shore, we learned that the island was called Malta. (Acts 28:1 NET)

Dead Sea rises 8 centimeters

Haaretz reports that the water level of the Dead Sea rose 8 centimeters (3.15 inches) last year. This brings to mind the saying, “Every little bit helps.” Especially after the sea plummeted by more than 45 feet in the past 13 years. Read the report here.

The Salt Sea of the Bible (Genesis 14:3). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Bible Places Blog.

New Bible software map program

Scott Richardson, of Impressive Image Impressions, has released the third is his Discovering … series of Bible software. The first two are Discovering… Churches of the New Testament and Discovering… Kings of the Divided Monarchy. The new one is entitled Discovering… Lands and Places of the Bible (usable in both Windows and Mac). Maps cover all periods of the Bible in PDF and PNG format. These are suitable for use in presentations or printing for class.

The program includes a “Build-a-Map” feature for those who wish to edit maps for special purposes.

For detailed study involving the terrain these maps are lacking. With that said, I suspect that most preachers or teachers who use Bible maps in their presentations will find these adequate.

A Quicktime video shows the features of each program. The online store is temporarily down, but you may contact Scott by calling 1-800-762-4843.

The sacred standing stone at Shechem

Robert J. Bull, in a 1960 article in Biblical Archaeologist, tells the story of the earlier discovery of the sacred standing stone that still stands in the courtyard of the temple of Baal-Berith at Shechem.

“Sellin records that the altar base, when uncovered in 1926, was 2.20 meters long and 1.65 meters wide. Today there remain only a few stones arranged in an irregular pattern roughly 1 by 1 1/2 meters in extent. A large hollowed-out stone base and a broken piece of hard white limestone were uncovered by Sellin just southeast of the altar. The hollow in the base was 40 centimeters deep, and measured 45 cms. in width and 1.65 meters in length, while the limestone slab was 1.45 meters by 40 cms., and stood 1.65 meters in height. Since the limestone slab would fit into the base neatly; Sellin concluded he had found the main standing-stone or maṣṣebah of the city. A story which I am not able to confirm relates that Dr. Aage Schmidt, visiting the tell during a temporary absence of Sellin, came upon one of the workmen breaking up the limestone slab with a maul and prevailed upon him to cease until Sellin could be summoned!

Thus it was that some portion of the maṣṣebah was saved. In 1956, the Drew-McCormick Expedition found the socket and slab cast down from the bank of altar fill into the palace area some 6 meters below. One end of the base had been broken off, so that only an open ended niche remained, four-fifths of the original length. Of the maṣṣebah, only 1.45 meters of its original height remained on one side and only 62 cms. on the other. With great effort, a team of workers tugged and hauled these massively heavy stones back up onto the forecourt of the temple, securing the standing stone in its original base with cement. Once again the maṣṣebah dominates the area from a point where it probably stood originally, at least from what we can learn from the drawings and photographs in the Sellin and Welter reports” (Robert J. Bull, Biblical Archaeologist : Vol. 23 1-4, electronic ed. (American Schools of Oriental Research, 2001, c1960).

The broken sacred standing stone (massebah) stands in the courtyard in front of the entrance to the Temple of Baal-Berith. The near-barren Mount Ebal, where the curses of the law were read (Deuteronomy 27); Joshua 8:30-33), is visible to the north.

The sacred standing stone at Shechem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The sacred standing stone at Shechem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dr. Bryant Wood says,

Since the temple existed in Joshua’s day, it is possible this was the “large stone” he set up “under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord” at Shechem (Josh. 24:26). The stela is undoubtedly the “pillar” where Abimelech was made king (v. 6)” (Bryant Wood. “From Ramesses to Shiloh.” Giving the Sense. Kregel, 2003).