View east from the Herodium

During the past few months we have had considerable interest in our aerial photos of Herodium. Today I will share a photo showing the area east of the Herodium. This area is part of the Wilderness of Judea.

Aerial view east from over the Herodium. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view east from over the Herodium. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

John the Baptist preached in the wilderness of Judea (Matthew 3:3), and Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1). This activity was likely in a region to the north of the area shown in this photo.

Jesus spoke to the crowds about John this way:

What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (Luke 7:24 ESV)

Bauer describes the wilderness (Greek eremos) of Judea this way:

Of the Judean wilderness, the stony, barren eastern declivity of the Judean mountains toward the Dead Sea and lower Jordan Valley. (BDAG)

The Hebrew word for this wilderness is midbar. Charles F. Pfeiffer said the wilderness of Judea,

is the region of rugged gorges and bad lands in the eastern part of Judah where the land slopes off toward the Jordan Valley. In ancient times this area was infested with wild animals. Except for a brief time during the spring rains the wilderness is arid. (Baker’s Bible Atlas, 201)

Recently I was in a class covering the section of Scripture dealing with the conflict between Saul and David (1 Samuel 23-25).

  • The wilderness of Maon in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon (1 Samuel 23:24). Jeshimon is another word used to describe the wilderness.
  • The strongholds and wilderness of Engedi (1 Samuel 23:29; 24:1).
  • The stronghold (possibly the area we know as Masada) (1 Samuel 22:4; 25:2).24:22).
  • Ziph, Horesh, Carmel (1 Samuel 23:14-15;

Some of that activity took place within this view, and some took place further to the south. The terrain is much the same. I note that Rainey uses the phrase “steppe land” in several of these references (Sacred Bridge, 148).

Many people who read the Bible in English, without checking into the matter, think of the wilderness as being a place filled with wild growth and underbrush. Jesus’ question to the crowds indicates that no reeds are to be found in the wilderness. In this case a picture really is worth a thousand words.

The map from includes the region that we photographed.

Map to show area east of the Herodium. BibleMapper image from

Map to show area east of the Herodium. BibleMapper image from

5 responses to “View east from the Herodium

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