Monthly Archives: May 2010

Remembering the Dead

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. (Memorial Day History)

When I was a kid, growing up in the American South, the day we now call Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. Families went to the local cemeteries to clean up the grave sites of relatives and leave fresh flowers. If it was known that there were no family members left in the community, those graves also were cleaned. I don’t recall when I first began to hear, or think, that the day was intended to honor those fallen in war.

Like many holidays, the original purpose has changed. Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Christmas, Easter, and other holidays, have become times for picnics, trips, vacations, and assorted non-related practices. Every holiday has become a time for stores to have sales.

I like the idea of Memorial Day. I am pleased to join in the remembrance of troops fallen in battle, and all of the dead who have played a significant role in my life.

Honoring the Fallen from Alabama at Gettysburg. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Honoring the Fallen from Alabama at Gettysburg. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Our header today is a photo I made at Normandy a few years ago.

For Christians, every Lord’s Day is a special day of remembrance. We gather to remember the death of the Lord Jesus for our sins.

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NAU)

Fires damages Gamla Nature Reserve

The nature reserve at Gamla has been severely damaged, according to a Haaretz report here.

Israel’s nature and parks authority believed the blaze was started by a military tank, whose metal tracks gave off sparks when moving over rocks.

Gamla is an impressive fortress east of the Sea of Galilee. It is not mentioned in the New Testament, but Jewish zealots were defeated here by the Roman army about A.D. 66. Josephus describes the site in vivid terms:

for it was located upon a rough ridge of a high mountain, with a kind of neck in the middle: where it begins to ascend, it lengthens itself, and declines as much downward before as behind, insomuch that it is like a camel in figure, from where it is so named, although the people of the country do not pronounce it accurately. Both on the side and the face there are abrupt parts divided from the rest, and ending in vast deep valleys; yet are the parts behind, where they are joined to the mountain, something easier of ascent than the other; but then the people belonging to the place have cut an oblique ditch there, and made that hard to be ascended also. On its slope, which is straight, houses are built, and those very thick and close to one another. The city also hangs so strangely, that it looks as if it would fall down upon itself, so sharp is it at the top. (Wars of the Jews 4:5-7)

A view of the site while reading the description by Josephus will probably be helpful.

Gamla. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Gamla. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo below shows a canyon near the ancient site. From this concrete lookout tourists look for soaring eagles which are common in the reserve.

Viewing Gamla in 2008. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Looking for Eagles in 2008.

The photo below from Haaretz shows the same concrete observation building after the fire. Be sure to check the article to see more photos of the damage caused by the fire.

Gamla Nature Reserve Fire. Haaretz. May 27, 2010. Yaron Kaminsky.

Gamla Nature Reserve Fire. Photo: Haaretz, Yaron Kaminsky.

This photo will give you a good view of the area as we saw it from the lookout near the end of August, 2008.

Gamla Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, Aug. 30, 2008.

Gamla Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, Aug. 30, 2008.

HT: Bible Places Blog.

Back it up or lose it

Several years ago a friend who knew far more about computers than I did said to me, “It’s not if your hard drive will crash, it is when.” I have had at least two crashes, and my wife recently had one. As much as we depend on computers, we must realize that they are not eternal.

For the past few years I have been using Mozy as a backup provider. I suggest you take a look. You can start with a free 2 GB, or sign up for the unlimited home plan for $4.95 a month. This is a cheap price to pay for even one significant file. Click on the image below to learn more. I will make a small commission if you click from here or on the image.

I also use Dropbox, a service which allows me to synchronize files between computers. The Public folder, which allows the easy sharing of photos and other files, is also useful. A friend tells me that he has Dropbox on three computers (office, home, and laptop) so that all files stay up to date. By clicking from here you will get 2 GB free and a 250 MG bonus.

DropboxYou have been warned!

Useful photo and information sites

Because I maintain the Biblical Studies Info Page, I don’t list a lot of links on this page. I suggest you check the Scholarly page, and then click on the Blogs and Photos. Here are a few sites dealing with archaeology and the Bible World that should be of special interest to readers of this blog. I am not listing the better known sites such as Bible Places Blog, Bible Places, and Holy Land Photos.

  • Through the Land of Israel III. Laju Paul is publishing hundreds of photos from all over Israel.
  • Photographs of Bible Lands. David Padfield, a friend who has traveled with me several times, has a great collection of photos available for download.
  • Leon’s Message Board. Leon Mauldin, a friend who has traveled with me several times, is posting good photos of the Seven Churches of the Book of Revelation and other places he has visited.
  • Bible Walks. Rotem, a young lady who lives in lower Galilee, has posted more than 2500 photos with maps, historical, and biblical information.
  • See the Holy Land. This site, the retirement work of a journalist in New Zealand, intends to serve as a guide to visitors of the Holy Places. (HT: Bible Places Blog)
  • Sacred Destinations. Religious and cultural sites around the world.
A camel along the road from Beersheba to Arad. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A camel along the road from Beersheba to Arad. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

And for her sake he [Pharaoh] dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. (Genesis 12:16 ESV)

Israel Museum set to open in two months

The Bible Places Blog reports here that the Israel Museum, after a lengthy and expensive renovation, is scheduled to reopen July 26. Twice, during the recent trip to Israel, I visited the grounds of the Israel Museum. The last visit to the Second Temple Model was ten days ago. At that time I made a few photos of the work going on outside the museum.

Construction at the Israel Museum - May 17, 2010. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Construction at the Israel Museum - May 17, 2010. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

From the outside the Museum looks much the same as before, especially the long, uphill walk to get to the entrance.

Reading the Blueprint at the Israel Museum - May 17, 2010. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Reading the Blueprint at the Israel Museum - May 17, 2010. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The already impressive location of the Museum campus with the Shrine of the Book, the Second Temple Model and the nearby Israeli Knesset building is sure to be even more impressive.

I look forward to my next visit to Jerusalem when I may again see the wonderful exhibits inside the Museum. The great museums of the world with biblical collections, the British Museum, the Louvre, the Metropolitan in New York, the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, the National Museum in Athens, and the Pergamum Museum in Berlin, allow photographs of their exhibits. It would be great to see the Israel Museum follow the practice of these outstanding museums. Then, only the museums in Amman, Cairo, and Damascus would be out of step.

HT: Bible Places Blog

Pictures of Ancient Egypt

A slide show of nearly photos of Ancient Egypt in Pictures is maintained at Fox News here. I have called attention to this before, but continue to receive the link from readers. In about two months the number of photos has increased from 47 to 58. I assume it may continue to grow as new discoveries are made.

This gives me an opportunity to share a photo I made at Luxor in 2009.

Rameses at floodlight. Luxor Temple. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Rameses by floodlight. Luxor Temple. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Luxor was known as Thebes in Old Testament times. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied the Lord’s judgment of the city. Jeremiah says,

The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says, ‘Behold, I am going to punish Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh, and Egypt along with her gods and her kings, even Pharaoh and those who trust in him’” (Jeremiah 46:25; see also Ezekiel 30:14-16).

A visit to the ruined and unoccupied temples of Karnak and Luxor, where Amon (or Amun) was worshipped as a great god, certainly convinces us of the fulfillment of this prophecy. Shortly after the time of Jeremiah (about 586 B.C.), Egypt and Thebes began to decline as a world power.

HT: David Padfield (has 3 collections of Egypt photographs online); Brooks Cochran

Beth-shemesh from another vantage point

The weather changes every few days (or hours?) in Israel. One day may be hot and hazy, and another day may be cool and clear. The day our group went to the Sorek Valley and Beth-shemesh the sky was thick with haze. Two days later it was clear. Elizabeth and I went back to try to get a few photos to share with our group. We drove into the village (kibbutz) of Yishi to locate a good vantage point for the photo.

It’s true that there are a lot of rooftops in the foreground, but it still gives us a nice view of the mound.

Beth-shemesh from the west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Beth-shemesh from the west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Israelites took the ark of the covenant from the tabernacle at Shiloh to the battle field at Ebenezer when they were fighting with the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). The ark was captured by the Philistines and taken to Ashdod, then to Gath, and finally to Ekron before they decided to get rid of it. The ark was returned to Beth-shemesh (Beth Shemesh, Bethshemesh; 1 Samuel 4-6).

Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they raised their eyes and saw the ark and were glad to see it. The cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stood there where there was a large stone; and they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. (1 Samuel 6:13-14 NAU)

There is a small grain field between the row of trees and the first buildings of the kibbutz. This makes it easy enough to visualize the biblical event.

Samson and the Sorek Valley

Samson is often described as a man of great physical strength, but one lacking in moral character. After outwitting the Gazites and taking away the door of the gate of the city he became involved with a Philistine woman named Delilah.

After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. (Judges 16:4 ESV)

The Sorek River flows east from the mountains of Judea through the Sorek Valley, past Beth-shemesh and Timnah. Today the brook is polluted, as you may be able to detect in the photo. At this point, near Beth-shemesh, there is a terrible odor associated with the area around the river. I think it comes from the chicken or turkey farms in the valley.

No longer a nice place to take a date.

The Sorek River in the Sorek Valley near Beth-shemesh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sorek River in the Sorek Valley near Beth-shemesh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman altar excavated at Ashkelon

It happens with regularity in Israel. Someone is building. The builder encounter ancient ruins. The Israel Antiquities Authority is called. (I wonder how many times they are not called.) Construction is halted while an emergency excavation is conducted. Amazing discoveries are often uncovered.

This time it happened at Ashkelon during construction of an Emergency Room at the Barzilai Hospital. Here is the account provided by the IAA.

The development work for the construction of a fortified emergency room at Barzilai Hospital, which is being conducted by a contractor carefully supervised by the Israel Antiquities Authority, has unearthed a new and impressive find: a magnificent pagan altar dating to the Roman period (first-second centuries CE) made of granite and adorned with bulls’ heads and a laurel wreaths. The altar stood in the middle of the ancient burial field.

According to Dr. Yigal Israel, Ashkelon District Archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The discovery further corroborates the assertion that we are dealing with a pagan cemetery. It is an impressive find that has survived 2,000 years. The altar is c. 60 centimeters [24 inches] tall and it is decorated with bulls’ heads, from which dangle laurels wreaths. There is a strap in the middle of each floral wreath and bull’s head. The laurel wreaths are decorated with grape clusters and leaves. This kind of altar is known as an “incense altar”. Such altars usually stood in Roman temples and visitors to the temple used to burn incense in them, particularly myrrh and frankincense, while praying to their idols. We can still see the burnt marks on the altar that remain from the fire. The altar was probably donated by one of the families who brought it to the cemetery from the city of Ashkelon”.

Roman altar discovered at Ashkelon. Photo: IAA.

Roman altar discovered at Ashkelon. Photo: IAA.

More information is available from the IAA here.

The motif on this altar is common in the Greco-Roman world. The photo below shows a similar bull’s head on what appears to be part of an architectural frieze in the Augustan Imperial Sanctuary at Pisidian Antioch.

From Augustan Imperial Sanctuary at Pisidian Antioch. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

From Augustan Imperial Sanctuary at Pisidian Antioch. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Archaeological Museum in Thessalonica exhibits an altar from the Roman Imperial age (35 B.C.) that, according to the inscription on it, was reused as a pedestal in the temple of Isis in the 2nd century A.D.

Roman Imperial Altar. Thessalonica, Greece, Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman Imperial Altar. Thessalonica Museum. Photo: Ferrell Jenkins.

These stones showing garlanded animals remind me of what happened to Paul and Barnabas at Lystra in Lycaonia.

And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. (Acts 14:13 ESV)

HT: Joseph Lauer and numerous blogs. Note especially the comments on the current religious/political comments by Jim West and Aren Maeir about the Ashkelon altar at Zwinglius Redivivus.

Back in the USA

Our flight from Tel Aviv to Atlanta on Delta was on time. The flight was routed over Turkey, Europe, and the UK. It was exactly 13 hours in length.

Soon we will board the final leg of our journey that began April 28. Now we get back home and tend to the yard, leaking pipes, sorting photos, etc. Life is an exciting adventure.