Monthly Archives: August 2010

The chariot city of Megiddo

For years it has been pointed out that there is at least some evidence for stables at Megiddo. The biggest dispute has been over who built and used the stables.

On my last visit to Megiddo I noticed some new sculptures had been placed at the site. The view is to the north across the Jezreel Valley toward Lower Galilee. This sort of decoration has become common at parks in Israel.

Horse and chariot sculpture at Megiddo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Chariot and horses sculpture at Megiddo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There are several reference in the Bible connecting Megiddo with chariots. Because Megiddo was located on the main trunk road between Egypt and the empires of the north (Hittites and Syria) and those of the east (Assyria, Babylon, and Persia), we should not find this surprising.

Solomon is said to have built the house of the LORD, his own house, the Millo and the Wall of Jerusalem, and the cities of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer (1 Kings 9:15). The same context makes reference to chariot cities built by Solomon:

and all the store cities that Solomon had, and the cities for his chariots, and the cities for his horsemen, and whatever Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion. (1 Kings 9:19 ESV)

The drawing below comes from 1,000 Bible Images (Logos) with this note:

The picture shows two chariots and some foot soldiers, each carrying a curved ax, made of ivory (from Megiddo).
Read a little about this publication here. I do not recall having seen this piece in any museum. Does any reader know where it may be? There is a similar piece in the Oriental Institute.
Chariots and foot soldiers made of ivory. From Megiddo.

Chariots and foot soldiers made of ivory. 1,000 Bible Images.

Shalmaneser III (858-859 B.C.) informs us that Ahab, the Israelite, provided 2,000 chariots and 10,000 foot soldiers to the coalition that fought against the Assyrian king at Qarqar (Stone Monolith from Kurkh, now in the British Museum). Sounds as if Ahab had an impressive army.

3,500 or 35? Galilee bracelet in question

We included the announcement of the discovery of a 3,500 year old bronze bracelet discovered in northern Galilee in a post August 5 (here). We quoted the news release from the Israel Antiquities Authority and included a photo of the bracelet.

Yesterday afternoon a reader posted this comment:

Antiquities dealer Robert Deutsch has called this artifact a fake, suggesting it can be purchased anywhere in the Old City for $10 – $20. The excavator has resisted this accusation, but Deutsch is standing his ground.

Further communication brought to light a photo of a similar looking bracelet, said to be a “Bedouine brass bracelet, ca. 50-80 years old” on sale from an antiquities dealer for $10. See here, if interested. I also received a page from Treasures From An Ancient Land: The Art of Jordan, edited by Piotr Bienkowski, showing photos of similar bracelets dating to the late 19th and early 20th century (p. 164).

The link I posted to the IAA news release was broken last evening. This morning it leads to a different report.

As I browsed the news and various blogs I noted that Robert Deutsch had posted an article at The Bible and Interpretation here. His bottom line is:

The fact is the excavators found a modern 20thcentury Bedouin bracelet and not a Canaanite bracelet.

I will leave it there unless we learn something significant.

Be warned that the conclusions held at the end of one day, archaeological season, year, decade, or century, often are changed the next.

Thanks to our vigilant reader.

Friday variety

Israel Photos. J P vd Giessen has been posting photos from a trip to Israel over the past few weeks at his Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel [Notes on the Bible] blog. You will find photos of Megiddo, Caesarea Maritima, Capernaum, Gamla and other places. Start here. I know, the blog is in Dutch. I follow the blog regularly. When I see something that is of special interest I go to Google Translate and paste in the article for a translation. It is not ideal, but it helps.

Turkey Photos. Ben Witherington III is posting photos of a recent trip to Greece and Turkey at his Bible and Culture blog. You will find photos of Corinth (Acts 18), Sagalassos, Assos (Acts 20:13-14), Alexandria Troas (Acts 16:8), Patara (Acts 21:1), Myra in Lycia (Acts 27:5), Cappadocia (Acts 2:9; 1 Pet. 1:1), and others. The site is not very user friendly, but you may find something of interest. Start here and then use the search box.

Tell es-Safi/Gath. Prof. Aren Maeir has posted several aerial photos of Tell es-Safi/Gath made at the end of the 2010 archaeological excavation season. If you look soon you may just scroll back through the photos here.

Our photo was made just below Tell es-Safi/Gath just after crossing the Elah brook. This shows the beginning of the coastal plain.

Sheep and goats at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sheep and goats at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Greek, anyone? Rod Decker, a professor of Greek and New Testament, calls attention to some classic essays on using Greek in ministry. Perhaps some readers might find this helpful. Click here.

Ptolemaic gold coin found at Tel Kedesh

Announcement was made today that the excavation at Tel Kedesh has uncovered a gold coin dating to 191 B.C. The coin was minted in Alexandria by Ptolemy V and bears the name of the wife of Ptolemy II, Arsinoë Philadelphus (II).

According to Dr. Donald T. Ariel, head of the Coin Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This is an amazing numismatic find. The coin is beautiful and in excellent preservation. It is the heaviest gold coin with the highest contemporary value of any coin ever found in an excavation in Israel. The coin weighs almost one ounce (27.71 grams), while most ancient gold coins weighed 4.5 grams. In Ariel’s words, “This extraordinary coin was apparently not in popular or commercial use, but had a symbolic function. The coin may have had a ceremonial function related to a festival in honor of Queen Arsinoë, who was deified in her lifetime. The denomination is called a mnaieion, meaning a one-mina coin, and is equivalent to 100 silver drachms, or a mina of silver.

The obverse (‘head’) of the coin depicts Arsinoë II Philadelphus. The reverse (‘tail’) depicts two overlapping cornucopias (horns-of-plenty) decorated with fillets. The meaning of the word Philadelphus is brotherly love. Arsinoë II, daughter of Ptolemy I Soter, was married at age 15 to one of Alexander the Great’s generals, Lysimachus, king of Thrace. After Lysimachus’ death she married her brother, Ptolemy II, who established a cult in her honor. This mnaieion from Tel Kedesh attests to the staying power of the cult, since the coin was minted a full 80 years after the queen’s death.

The Israel Antiquities Authority press release is currently available here.

Gold coin of Arsinoë Philadephus (II). Discovered at Tel Kedesh.

Gold coin of Arsinoë Philadelphus (II) discovered at Tel Kedesh. Photo by Sue Webb, courtesy IAA.

The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago displays a statue base with the same name as that on the coin. The top of the statue has the name incised in hieroglyphs and the front shows the name in Greek.

Statue base showing name of Arsinoë Philadelphus. OIUC.

Statue base showing the name of Arsinoë Philadelphus. OIUC. Photo: Ferrell Jenkins.

Tel Kedesh, in Upper Galilee, is near the Lebanon border. This Kedesh was located in the territory of the Israelite tribe of Naphtali (Joshua 19:37). It is probably best known as one of the six cities of refuge assigned to the tribe of Levi (Joshua 20:7; 21:32).

So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. (Joshua 20:7 ESV)

Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh, where he called out the men of Zebulun and Naphtali to go with him to fight Jabin’s army (Judges 4). The Assyrians captured Kedesh about 732 B.C. (2 Kings 15:29).

The excavations at Tel Kedesh are being conducted by the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota. Some miscellaneous information about the excavation is available at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology Dig Diaries here.

Tel Kedesh in northern Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View to the NE of Tel Kedesh in northern Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

The Valley of Beracah

The Bible may be understood on many levels. Folks with little technical knowledge often understand the fundamental lesson of a biblical account. Others, with an understanding of the historical setting of an event will have a better understanding. Some knowledge of the original biblical languages will add more insight. We have emphasized repeatedly that an understanding of the land of the event will provide an even richer understanding. We are hopeful that the photos we use, and the comments we include, will assist in this way.

During the reign of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah (870/69–848 B.C.), a coalition of Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites came up against Judah. The enemies came from the east, across the [Salt] sea and camped at Hazazon-tamar (that is, Engedi or En Gedi). Engedi would be an ideal place for such an encampment. See photo and info here.

Jehoshaphat understood the potential danger that camped a day’s march away. I am not suggesting that he failed to prepare for the battle, but the most important thing is that he sought the LORD, who he recognized as the ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations. I suggest you read the entire account in 2 Chronicles 20.

The Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel and he instructed Jehoshaphat:

And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. (2 Chronicles 20:15-16 ESV)

From Engedi the ascent of Ziz goes up to the wilderness of Jeruel (v. 16), which may be the same as the wilderness of Tekoa (v. 20).

Meanwhile, Ammon and Moab turned against Mt. Seir (Edom) and this led to a civil war ending in disaster for the coalition. When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness (v. 24) they saw the terrible slaughter. They spent three days gathering the spoil. On the fourth day Judah assembled at the Valley of Beracah.

On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the LORD. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. (2 Chronicles 20:26 ESV)

Our photo shows the valley we think is described in the text.  The view is to the east toward the Salt Sea and Moab/Edom.

The Valley of Beracah near Tekoah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Valley of Beracah near Tekoah. View to the East. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The men of Judah, with Jehoshaphat at their head, returned to Jerusalem with joy and there praised the LORD at the temple.

Help! Appearance changed

Suddenly the appearance of Ferrell’s Travel Blog has been changed. I was using Cutline by Chris Pearson. Now, all of my widgets are missing. Anyone else had a problem like this?

Update: I think WordPress removed the theme I was using and replaced it with one of their own. I had some problems with it, so am changing to Pressrow. I trust this style and text will be readable to each one who comes our way.

Israel Museum now open

The Israel Museum has been closed to the public while undergoing a complete renovation. We have noted this with construction photos here.

The museum is once again open. Here are links to a couple of reports about the refurbished museum.

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 anticipate my next visit.

The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Shrine of the Book and the Second Temple Model has been open during the museum renovation.

David … saw from the roof a beautiful woman bathing

Well, I suppose everyone who reads this blog knows the story. It is the story of David and Bathsheba. Perhaps some wonder how this could be possible. The terrain of Jerusalem tells the story. This photo shows the location of the City of David where the railing is at the top. One can easily envision King David looking down from his roof to houses below.

City of David from below. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The City of David from below. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. (2 Samuel 11:1-2 ESV)

Read the full account in 2 Samuel 11. A hi-res image is available by clicking on the photo.

Artist Balage Balogh has illustrated this biblical story for us in the image below. Take a look at his work at Archaeology Illustrated.

King David on his balcony. Illustration by Balage Balogh.

King David on his balcony. Illustration by Balage Balogh.

3,500 year old bracelet found in upper Galilee

A bronze bracelet dating to the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1550–1200 BC) has been found during an excavation at Ramat Razim in the vicinity of Zefat (Tsefat, Safad). Karen Covello-Paran, director of the excavation, says,

“We discovered a wide rare bracelet made of bronze. The ancient bracelet, which is extraordinarily well preserved, is decorated with engravings and the top of it is adorned with a horned structure. At that time horns were the symbol of the storm-god and they represented power, fertility and law. The person who could afford such a bracelet was apparently very well off financially, and it probably belonged to the village ruler. It is interesting to note that in the artwork of neighboring lands gods and rulers were depicted wearing horned crowns; however, such a bracelet, and from an archaeological excavation at that, has never been found here.”

Rare bronze 3,500 year old bracelet. Photo: Clara Amit, courtesty IAA.

Rare bronze 3,500 year old bracelet. Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Large Canaanite cities, such as Megiddo and Hazor, have been excavated, but this is the first time a village of the Late Bronze Age has been excavated in the north of Israel. This site, Ramat Razim, is located southeast of Zefat, and is thought to have “constituted part of the periphery of Tel Hazor,” according to Covello-Paran.

The Late Bronze Age is the period of Moses, the Exodus, and the Conquest in biblical history.

The IAA news release may be read in its entirety here. A hi-res image is available here.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Video about Gath earthquake

Prof. Aren Maeir has posted a short video clip describing the evidence for the earthquake in Area F at Gath. View it here. We wrote about it earlier here.

Our photo shows Area F near the summit of the tell with the area he describes in the video. A larger image is available here.

Where the earthquake evidence was found in Area F. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Where the earthquake evidence was found in Area F. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Thanks to Prof. Maeir for identifying the location on my photo.