Monthly Archives: January 2011

Traveling across the Sinai Peninsula

Over the past two days my wife and I have traveled through the Sinai Peninsula. We left Cairo Tuesday morning and traveled somewhat along the traditional route of the Israelites in the wilderness to Jebel Musa (Mount Sinai/Horeb).

Tuesday night we stayed at the Morganland Hotel near Saint Catherine’s Monastery. This photo was made Wednesday morning from the hotel grounds.

View of the granite mountains of Sinai. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I am reminded of the stanza in Deborah’s song:

The mountains trembled before the LORD, the God of Sinai; before the LORD God of Israel. (Judges 5:5 NET)

After visiting Saint Catherine’s Monastery, we continued east to the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat to Tabah, Egypt. Then, moving north, we crossed into Israel at Eilat. We were traveling in a van. The trip from Sinai to Tabah took more than 2 and 1/2 hours, but by the time we cleared all of the customs things in Egypt and Israel it took a total of 4 hours.

We enjoyed the two weeks in Egypt, but delighted to be in Israel again.

Sunset on the Suez Canal and Lake Timsah

Our photo today was made from the Asia side of the Suez Canal. The view is west toward Africa. At this point the Suez Canal cuts through Lake Timsah.

Sunset over Lake Timsah and the Suez Canal. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sunset over Lake Timsah and the Suez Canal. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Some scholars have suggested that the crossing by the Israelites as they left Egypt may have been in the area around Lake Timsah (through, south or north of it). Other suggestions include a site in the vicinity of Lake Ballah or the Great Bitter Lake for the crossing.

Read the biblical account in Exodus 13.

The Step Pyramid of Zoser at Saqqara

Yesterday afternoon our group visited Memphis and Saqqara. Saqqara is significant because it is the location of of the oldest freestanding stone building in the world. The architect of this structure was the vizier and physician Imhotep. Zoser reigned about 2600 B.C.

Hachette World Guide on Cairo, Alexandria and Environs, describes the pyramid in these terms:

The Step Pyramid is formed of six unequal sections and is not, in the strict sense, a pyramid tat all. The plan is not square, but oblong in the S-W sense, and the summit is formed by a terrace (also oblong) and not by a Pyramidion. The dimensions of the base are approximately 397 feet by 357 feet. The present height of the Pyramid is 193 feet. It would originally have been some 196 feet. The verticle slope of the steps is on an average of some 16°, the horizontal [slope is] 22°.

Many of the structures of ancient Egypt are in need of repair, and many are being repaired. I noticed scaffolding on all sides of the pyramid.

Step Pyramid of Zoser at Saqqara. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Step Pyramid of Zoser at Saqqara. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This pyramid, as well as the great pyramids of Giza, was built long before the time of the  biblical characters who visited Egypt — Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, et al.

Traveling in the land of Goshen

We spent the entire day traveling in Egypt’s eastern delta region, known in the Bible as the land of Goshen. The photo below shows a typical scene of flat, fertile, black land with lush vegetation, cattle, some sheep, and canals.

Typical scene in the land of Goshen.

Typical scene in the land of Goshen. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

This is the land where Joseph placed his family when they came to Egypt for food.

You will live in the land of Goshen, and you will be near me– you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and everything you have. I will provide you with food there because there will be five more years of famine. Otherwise you would become poor– you, your household, and everyone who belongs to you.”‘ (Genesis 45:10-11 NET)

Measuring the river and your taxes

We have often heard the adaptation of Herodotus’ statement that Egypt is the gift of the Nile. The flooding of the Nile in ancient times was the key to the prosperity of the Nile Valley.

All along the Nile there are still examples of the Nile-o-meters that were used to measure the flooding. The higher the flood water, the more taxes that would be paid into the temple coffers.

In the photo below we see the meter on the Nile at Elephantine Island at Aswan. At a later time I will try to put together a short presentation of a few of the approximately 80 photos I made here yesterday.

Nile-o-meter on Elephantine-Island from the Nile

Nile-o-meter on Elephantine-Island from the Nile. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Free book about the James ossuary trial

Herschel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, reminds us that the trial brought by the Israel Antiquities Authority against Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch is about to come to an end.

If you are interested in this subject you should click here and sign up for the book entitled James, Brother of Jesus: Forged Antiquities and the Trial of Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch.

The book is described this way.

After five years, the “forgery trial of the century” has concluded in a Jerusalem courtroom. Defendants Oded Golan and Robert Deutsch await the judge’s verdict, and so does the rest of the world. Even if the verdict is “not guilty,” the question of authenticity of several ancient artifacts will still remain. In this free e-book, Hershel Shanks explains why he believes the now-famous “James Ossuary” inscription is authentic. Plus, he provides behind-the-scenes analysis of the trial and its key players.

Herschel also promises an English translation of the trial verdict as soon as it is released.

Understand that this is likely a book to be downloaded, and that in signing up for it you indicate that you wish to receive the BAR Companion newsletter. Not a bad trade-off in my judgment.

The one with the fringe on the top

One of our stops today along the Nile River was the site of Edfu. There is a large ancient temple from the period of the Ptolemies about 200 B.C.
From the cruise boat to the temple we took the local carriages. The carriage parking lot looked like our shopping mall parking lots on the day after Thanksgiving.

Horses and carriages at Edfu. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Horses and carriages in the crowded parking lot at Edfu. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I would like to be posting more info on some of the sites we are visiting, but time and conditions for working on the photos and using the Internet is not permitting. More soon, hopefully. Thanks for stopping by.