Monthly Archives: May 2010

Pentecost morning at Nebi Samwil

Last evening at sundown the Jews began to celebrate their modern interpretation of  Pentecost (Shavu’ot). Christians know this from the Old Testament scriptures as the feast of weeks (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9).

The church had it beginning with the preaching of the gospel in its fullness on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2).

When we noticed that the sky was clear with a few nice clouds, we decided to go to Nebi Samwil (Prophet Samuel), a site suggested as the location of Mizpah by some scholars. Others suggest Tell en-Nasbeh, a mound located at Al Bira in the West Bank. I will have to postpone commenting further due to the fact that my flight will soon be called.

Samuel, the last judge of Israel, called all of the people of Israel to Mizpah and judged them (1 Samuel 7:5-6). Samuel also anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel at Mizpah (1 Samuel 10:1). Mizpah became the headquarters of Gedaliah as governor of Judah after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem  (2 Kings 25:23).

Back to Pentecost. Pentecost is celebrated in much the same way as a sabbath. I said all of that to say, there was very little traffic this morning as we made our way to Nebi Samwil. This distant photo shows how clear the view was on the southern side of the ridge where Nebi Samwil sits. The view on the north side of the territory of Benjamin was not quite as clear, but it was still nice.

Nebi Samwil on the Ridge. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nebi Samwil on the Ridge. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

The lady in the photo below is my lovely wife of more than 55 years. She has been with me on numerous tours to Israel, but she has made two trips when it was just the two of us. I must say that she is not that much into tells. A day or two ago I took her to Tell Jerusalem Mall, and that made up for a lot. 🙂  We have had a great time these past 9 days since our group returned home.

Elizabeth at Nebi Samwil. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Elizabeth at Nebi Samwil. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Thanks for sharing this trip with us. Please continue to read the travel blog on a regular basis. If there is some particular photo you would like to see let me know by leaving a comment.

A view of Capernaum

Looking back over the photos I have taken in the past three weeks, I noted this unusual one of Capernaum from the hill above, up toward the Mount of Beatitudes. This photos shows the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee with a portion of the plain of Bethsaida visible.

Capernaum became the Galilean center for the ministry of Jesus.

And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, (Matthew 4:13 ESV)

Capernaum from the Hill Above. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Capernaum from the Hill Above. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

On this afternoon, May 15, the sky was fairly clear. The eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee is visible. Those are dried thistles in the foreground of the photo.

Tomorrow is our last day in Jerusalem. Perhaps we will be able to post something late in the day before departing for home.

Models can be valuable teaching aids

Model reconstructions can be helpful in teaching when the original is not available. Such is true of the temple of biblical times. Herod’s temple was a magnificent building, according to the disciples of Jesus.

And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (Mark 13:1 ESV)

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. (Matthew 24:1 ESV)

Using the hints from the New Testament, Josephus, and other Jewish sources, some scholars have made a model of the Second Temple (Herod’s Temple). For many years this model was located on the grounds of the Holyland Hotel, but recently has been moved to the grounds of the Israel Museum. Click for a larger image.

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

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

Watchtowers were used in vineyards (Isaiah 5:2; Luke 14:28; see here), and as lookout posts.

Then he who saw cried out: “Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, and at my post I am stationed whole nights. (Isaiah 21:8 ESV)

The concept is used figuratively of the LORD’S care for His people.

for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. (Psalm 61:3 ESV)

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10 ESV)

Yesterday afternoon we stopped by Yad Hashmona in the Judean Hills near Abu Ghosh (Kiriath-jearim) to visit the Biblical Village. Yad Hashmona operates a guest house and guiding center. Some readers will recognize it as the site of the campus of Master’s College IBEX program.

The Biblical Village provides a wonderful site for teaching, and photos of the reconstructions should be helpful too.

Watchtower, Biblical Garden, Yad Hashmona. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Watchtower, Biblical Village, Yad Hashmona. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Actually I wrote about this to provide Todd his regular fix of Israel while he is in exile in Texas. 🙂

Acco, Akko, Acre, Tell el Fukhar

Saterday afternoon we drove from Tiberias to Akko. On my previous tour I failed to get any photos of the ancient tel of Acco (also spelled Akko and Acre). The mound is known as Tell el Fukhar (hill of clay pottery) in Arabic.

Excavations by Prof. Moshe Dothan between 1973-1985 demonstrated that the site was first inhabited in the Early Bronze Age (about 3000 B.C.).

Tel Akko (Acco, Acre). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tel Akko (Acco, Acre). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Acco is mentioned only once in the Bible. The city is within the territory originally allotted to the tribe of Asher, but the tribe was unable to conquer it.

Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon or of Ahlab or of Achzib or of Helbah or of Aphik or of Rehob, (Judges 1:31 ESV)

After about 100 B.C. the coastal city was known as Ptolemais (Acts 21:7). Paul spent one day with the brethren here on the return from his third journey.

The Cove of the Sower

A few times before I have tried to get some good photos of the cove of the sower, and wrote about it in August, 2008. Saturday I put forth some extra effort to make a good photo at the spot on the north end of the Sea of Galilee called the Cove of the Sower. Some have suggested that this would have been the place where Jesus could speak to large numbers who assembled to hear Him.

Read the full account given by Mark in 4:1-20. Here is the way it begins:

He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land.  And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching,  “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow. (Mark 4:1-3)

Read the parallel accounts in Matthew 14:1-15 and Luke 8:4-10.

B. Cobbey Crisler conducted some experiments at places where the Bible records that large crowds gathered. The attempt was to see if the large number were able to hear a speaker without the aid of modern sound equipment. The places were Kadesh-barnea, Shiloh,  and The Cove of the Sower in Galilee. I suggest you read the entire article (“The Accoustics and Crowd Capacity of Natural Theaters in Palestine.” Biblical Archaeologist, 1976. Vol. 39. Num. 4.

The study indicated that the Cove of the Sower would allow between 5000 and 7000 people to hear.

Over the years different crops have been planted in the area, and this makes it difficult to compare older and more recent photos. The highway runs just above the level of the top of the olive trees. This photo is made looking west.

Cove of the Sower by Ferrell Jenkins

Cove of the Sower. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

A couple of weeks ago I made the following photo from a boat a short distance south of the shore.

Cove of the Sower From the Sea of Galilee by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cove of the Sower From the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The following sketch from Crisler’s article in Biblical Archaeologist may help you to understand this better.

Cove of Sower sketch from Crisler's article in BA.

Cove of Sower sketch from Crisler's article in Biblical Archaeologist.

The terrain and the crops have changed since Crisler wrote.

Friday in lower Galilee

Today we drove from Tiberias past the Horns of Hattin, a site where the Crusaders thought Jesus spoke the beatitudes, through the Bet Netofa Valley to Sepphoris.

Sepphoris is an interesting site with a history dating from the Iron Age to modern times. The site has seen a considerable amount of archaeological excavation. Much of the work has been under the direction of my Temple Terrace neighbor, Dr. James Strange of the University of South Florida.

When I asked Elizabeth to select today’s photo, she picked the one I made of the Bet Netofa valley from atop the fortress at Sepphoris. This valley served as a main travel route from Nazareth, Sepphoris, Yodfat, and Cana to the cities around the Sea of Galilee. We think that Jesus must have used this route as he traveled from Nazareth to Capernaum.

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee.  (Luke 4:31a ESV)

Across the valley to the north is the location of Yodfat, the home of Josephus, and Khirbet Kanna, thought to be the site of Cana of Galilee (John 2). Click on the photo for a larger image.

View of the Bet Notofa Valley north of Zepphoris. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of the Bet Netofa Valley north of Zepphoris. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We also visited Bethlehem of Galilee, a McDonald’s, and made some photos of Tel Megiddo before returning to our hotel on the shore of the Sea of Gailiee.

After dinner we sat for a while on the deck overlooking the sea. The Sea of Galilee is located in a rift nearly 700 feet below sea level. The heat can be oppressive during the day in this basin. In the evening a pleasant breeze flows in the area; it can even feel cool. I thought of the Biblical text that speaks of Jesus healing the sick and oppressed after sunset.

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. (Mark 1:32 ESV)

The Scriptures are amazing, aren’t they. The Book and the Land blend together to reveal a wonderful harmony and a magnificent Savior.

The acacia tree

Today we drove along the entire length of the Dead Sea on the western shore. Even places like the terrain of the wilderness of Judea and the Dead Sea have a beauty all their own.

The acacia is one of the few trees seen along the shore of the Dead Sea and in the wilderness of Judea, and in the Sinai.

A lone acacia tree on the shore of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A lone acacia tree on the shore of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

You doubtless recall that the tabernacle was constructed while Israel dwelt in the Sinai wilderness. Many of the pieces of furniture, including the ark of the covenant, were made of acacia wood.

Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half was its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. And he overlaid it with pure gold inside and outside, and made a molding of gold around it. (Exodus 37:1-2 ESV)

Tonight we are on the shore of the Sea of Galilee on the north side of Tiberias.

From Jerusalem to the Dead Sea

We got a late start this morning from Jerusalem. Our evening destination was the southern end of the Dead Sea (near Sodom) at En Boqeq. We took the long way to get here by traveling south around Bethlehem, then west to the Elah Valley, Bethshemesh, and Gath. Eventually we got on Highway 6, a wonderful toll road named in honor of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The road runs south ending a few miles north of Beersheba. From there we went down past Arad to the Dead Sea.

We saw numerous camels along the way. This is the region known in the Bible as the Negeb (Negev, South).

And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb. Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. (Gen 12:9-10 ESV)

There are nice vineyards a few miles southwest of Bethlehem that remind me of Isaiah 5 and Matthew 21:33-46.

Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. (Isaiah 5:1-3 ESV)

Vineyard with a Watchtower SW of Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Vineyard with a Watchtower SW of Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The sun was low as we approached the Dead Sea. This is the view from the Sodom-Arad Road. The rugged bad lands (the wilderness of Judea) begins a few miles north of Jericho and continues south until it finally blends with the Sinai peninsula.

The Dead Sea from the Sodom-Arad Road

The Dead Sea from the Sodom-Arad Road. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ketef Hinnom excavation

In order to reach the Ketef Hinnom excavation one must enter through the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. Jewish Ideas Daily reported May 6th about the neglect of the excavation.

Interestingly, the Heritage Center also hosts an actual biblical site: Ketef Hinnom, or the “Shoulder of Hinnom.” This is a chain of Jewish burial chambers that were carved out of the rock in the 7th century B.C.E.  In 1979, a dig conducted by the archaeologist Gabriel Barkay yielded one of the most significant finds in Israel’s history: tiny rolled-up silver scrolls on whose inner surface is inscribed the Priestly Blessing—”The Lord bless you and keep you . . .” (Numbers 6:24-26)—in ancient Hebrew. These are the oldest surviving texts of the Bible—older than the Dead Sea Scrolls by roughly a half-millennium. Barkay speculates that the scrolls were originally worn “as amulets to give their wearers protection against evil.”

Ketef Hinnom is thus one of the most important sites in the history of biblical archeology. Yet it suffers from serious neglect. The burial chambers lie hidden behind the Heritage Center’s courtyard; you won’t even find a sign pointing you in the right direction. More troublingly, the site is completely exposed to the elements, and in winter months some of the chambers are filled with standing rainwater. Trash is strewn between the graves; unattended foliage grows over the stone.

Read the article in its entirety here.

This morning I went to the Begin Heritage Center to visit the Ketef Hinnom excavation. It is true that no signs direct one to the site. In December, and again today, the receptionist pointed me in the right direction.

Ketef Hinnom Iron Age Tomb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ketef Hinnom Iron Age Tomb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The site was somewhat as described by the Jewish Ideas Daily article.  This photo shows standing water, a rusty drum, and trash only feet from the area shown in the previous photo.

Trash in the Ketef Hinnom Excavation. May 11, 2010. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Trash in the Ketef Hinnom Excavation. May 11, 2010. Photo by F. Jenkins.

HT: PaleoJudaica

The long way home

Members of our group are reporting a safe, long trip home. Olen says,

Went north of Iceland, and I’m sure north of the Arctic Circle. Interesting, but dark.

Dan says,

The flight home was a little long but we flew far enough north that we were able to see the sun coming over the north side of the earth. this gave some wonderful views of ice and the mountains around Greenland.

James says,

We are back “after a scenic trip around the Arctic Circle.”

Nice to get a little something extra from the airline, isn’t it?