Monthly Archives: March 2011

Lead books or lead balloons?

In the past 24 hours I have received a couple of Emails about the “new” “ancient” lead codices. The best photos I have seen are in the Mail Online here. The account from Yahoo News is here. Put a few words in Yahoo or Google and you will have numerous links.

First Impressions. My first impression, based on the limited information, is that this may be another of those spectacular claims with no substance. I was busy with appointments earlier today and was delighted when I had time to check the blogs to see that Todd Bolen had written a good summary of information at the Bible Places Blog here. There is no reason for me to try to rehash this material. I urge you to take a look at Todd’s summary. He says, “Personally I am inclined to believe that this find is genuine.” My first inclination leans the other way. I know it is not much of a argument, but this report lacks the “ring of truth.” I remember that F. F. Bruce said that second thoughts are best. With more information my thoughts may change. Let’s be patient.

The Sealed Book in Revelation. There is no reason at this point to  link these lead books with the sealed book of Revelation 5-7. Revelation is an apocalyptic book of symbols. Other ancient sealed books have been found in modern times. Examples: some of the Elephantine papyri, a papyrus document from Wadi Daliyeh near Jericho had seven seals still in place (Jenkins, Studies in the Book of Revelation, 18).

Jim Davila has posted numerous notes about the lead codices at Paleojudaica over the past few weeks. Follow all of Todd Bolen’s links and you will know about as much as can be known for the moment.

Libya and the Bible — more than you think

UNESCO: respect historical sites in Libya

According to an article in M & C here, UNESCO has called for Libyan and allied forces to protect six specified historical sites in Libya.

Libya’s sites on the World Heritage List include the archaeological site of Cyrene, which was established as a Roman province in 74 BC; and the site of Leptis Magna, which was founded in the first millennium BC.

Cyrene is located near Al Bayda in eastern Libya.

The Biblical Connection

When Jesus was being led to the place of crucifixion, Simon of Cyrene was compelled to bear his cross. He was the father of Alexander and Rufus, to people apparently known to Mark’s audience (Mark 15:21).

As they were going out, they found a man from Cyrene named Simon, whom they forced to carry his cross. (Matthew 27:32 NET)

The fifth station of the cross along the traditional Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem marks the spot where Simon took up the cross. Photos of the Catholic chapel at the spot may be viewed at Holy Land Photos here. Just search for Cyrene. Or check the photos at Bible Walks here.

  • Jews from the district of Libya around Cyrene were present in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:10).
  • Some men from Cyprus and Cyrene were responsible for the first preaching to Gentiles at Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:20).
  • Lucius of Cyrene was one of the prophets or teachers at Antioch (Acts 13:1).

Galen Frysinger has a collection of older photos of Cyrene on his website here.

Ioannis Logiotatidis has some of the best photos I have found for Cyrene. He has kindly granted permission for me to share a couple of these with our readers. Both of are the Temple of Zeus. This temple was built originally in the 5th century B.C., but has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries.

Temple of Zeus at Cyrene, Libya. Photo by Ioannis Logiotatidis.

Temple of Zeus at Cyrene, Libya. Photo by Ioannis Logiotatidis.

Check out more of Ioannis’ newer artistic photographs at his web site here.

Temple of Zeus at Cyrene, Libya. Photo by Ioannis Logiotatidis.

Temple of Zeus at Cyrene, Libya. Photo by Ioannis Logiotatidis.

You may notice a strong resemblance between this temple and the Temple of Apollo at Corinth.

The Alexander (son of Simon) Ossuary

Sukenik and Avigad discovered an ossuary in 1941 bearing the inscription “Alexander (son) of Simon.”

Tom Powers, a guide in Israel, has written two articles about the ossuary for BAR. You may access them here. He concludes in the second article that this ossuary could be the ossuary of both Alexander and Simon.

Another article about ossuaries and Jesus contains photographs and a brief mention of the Alexander-Simon ossuary. Click here.

Paul’s Shipwreck on the Voyage to Rome

Libya is not mentioned, but the Syrtis is mentioned in the account of Paul’s voyage to Rome.

Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. (Acts 27:16-17 ESV)

You will notice that the Syrtis Major and the Syrtis Minor are located on the Mediterranean coast of Libya. This was a dangerous place for a ship in a storm.

Gordon Franz recently posted an article asking “Why were the sailors afraid of the Syrtis Sands?” here.

In the map below you will note the location of Cyrene. Simon had a long trip to Jerusalem. Notice also the location of the Syrtis Major in relation to the suggested route of Paul’s ship. Click on the map for a clearer image. (I am still struggling to learn the Bible Mapper program and how to export maps.)

Paul's Voyage to Rome. Map by BibleMapper.

Paul's Voyage to Rome. Map by BibleMapper.

The pot may be calling the kettle black

KLY Website - Dutch society for Old Testament Studies.The Dutch society for Old Testament study (OTW), after ten years of planning and work, has put online a research project to “elucidate the names of utensils in biblical Hebrew making methodical use of partially new approaches.”

The new web site, KLY, is written in the Dutch language, but there is an introduction in English. Here is a portion of it:

The problem with identifying utensils in the Hebrew Bible is that their common everyday use made it superfluous to provide detailed descriptions of the vessels or implements in written form. Everyone knew from experience what was meant. As a result dictionaries of biblical Hebrew often have to content themselves with non-descript generalizations like “bowl”, “jar”, “pot”, “knife”. Mostly the shape and purpose of a given utensil can not be established on the basis of context alone because the number of occurrences is too low. Archaeology has brought to light large quantities of pottery and implements, but in many cases we do not know which word in ancient Hebrew was used for the object unearthed.

Meanwhile the possibilities for resolving such problems have increased dramatically. Not only archaeology, but also comparative linguistics, iconography, anthropology, improved understanding of the ancient versions of the Bible have enhanced our chances to come closer to the precise nature of the objects.

Some knowledge of Hebrew will be helpful, but English-only readers will be able to go to the KLY database, click on a Hebrew letter, and see the terms considered with the English usage. From there you can move to the dictionary entry on the term. The entries are in Hebrew and English. Distribution of each term in the Torah (Law), Nebiim (Nevi’im, prophets), and Ketubim (Writings) is given.

As a future project, an English Index could make this an extremely valuable  project for many more readers.

MB2 Pottery from Jericho. Vatican Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

MB2 Pottery from Jericho. Vatican Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It would be possible for an energetic person to download all of the PDF entries and compile them into one document. This would make for easy searching.

If our Dutch friends and colleagues miss the English idiom used as a title for this blog, the definition is given here.

Idiom Meaning — Accusing a person of a misdemeanour whilst the accuser is guilty of the same thing.

I am using the title to suggest we may be using the wrong term for certain biblical pots and pans. The KLY Database of Utensils in the Hebrew Bible will help us not to make the mistake again.

Thanks for the help.

: J.P. van de Geissen, Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel

Follow-up on fake tomb stones

The following comment by Carl Rasmussen is being elevated to a more prominent place here.

The “tombs” above the pool of Siloam are now labeled as “Children’s Cemetary!” Yes, something “fishy” is going on!

Leen Ritmeyer followed up on the subject here, and with several photos taken less than a month ago by his son Nathaniel here. It seems clear from some of the photos that the stones are not attached to any tomb. In fact there are no typical tombs at the site above the Pool of Siloam.

The final photo was taken 29 May 2009 when no tombs were visible.

A grave matter

Ancient burial places create serious problems for archaeologists. Ultra-Orthodox Jews often create a scene at digs when they know or suspect that there may be Jewish tombs in the area.

The cemeteries of the Holy Land have become a ground for religious and political skirmishes. Leen Ritmeyer reported on fake Arab tombs near the Temple Mount here.

Muslim tombs have been on the eastern wall of the Old City for a long time. This photo was made looking south from outside the Lion’s Gate (or St. Stephens’ Gate). Perhaps every reader knows that this is across the Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives which we mentioned in the previous post.

Muslim Cemetery along the East Wall of the Old City near Lion's Gate. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Muslim Cemetery along the Eastern Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem near Lion's Gate. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In early February I noticed a large number of new tombstones with Arabic inscriptions in a small plot above the Pool of Siloam. Suspicious, to say the least.

New Tombstones above the Pool of Siloam. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

New Tombstones above the Pool of Siloam. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Later, if not sooner, all of these matters will become obvious.

“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29 NAU)

Cemetery on the Mount of Olives

The Washington Post reports here on US and Israeli efforts to end the desecration of Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives. Both religious and political considerations are mentioned.

It is amazing to view the Mount of Olives and see how much of the mountain is now covered with graves. This aerial view may help you to visualize the situation.The cemetery under discussion is shown in the lower right quarter of this photo.

Jerusalem - the Old City and the Mount of Olives. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jerusalem - the Old City and the Mount of Olives. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sometimes when we look at the big picture we miss some important details. The next photo puts a human face and emotion on the situation.

Cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

At the time of Absalom’s rebellion, David crossed the Mount of Olives as he fled Jerusalem.

But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. (2 Samuel 15:30 ESV)

HT: Paleojudaica.

Ancient lands and thousand of years of history

U.S. Army Colonel Doug Wheelock has been posting fabulous photos from space on his Twitter account under the name Astro_Wheels. You must begin a Twitter account in order to see all of the high resolution photos. Several of the photos could be helpful in teaching and understanding the Bible world.

NASA says that Whitlock,

flew aboard the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft to serve as an Expedition 24 flight engineer and commander of Expedition 25 on the International Space Station. In 2007, Wheelock visited the station as an STS-120 mission specialist and conducted three spacewalks.

The photo below was made over the Shaara Desert. For the high resolution photo click here.

Over the Sahara Desert from space. Doug Wheelock. NASA.

Over the Sahara Desert from space. Doug Wheelock. NASA.

Here is the description of the photo given by Wheelock on Twitpic:

Over the Sahara Desert approaching ancient lands and thousands of years of history. The Nile River flowing through Egypt past the pyramids of Giza up to Cairo in the delta; the Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula, Dead Sea; Jordan River; and the Sea of Galilee are visible, as are the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea and Greece coming over the horizon.

It is difficult to see the Sea of Galilee in the small photo, but you can see it if you look at the largest resolution available at the Twitpic site.

Many of Wheelock’s photos are available on various web sties that have taken the time to download and post them. Just search Google for something like “Wheelock space photos.”

Might as well enjoy these photos. If you are a USA citizen you helped pay for them.

HT: John Gresham

Banias — easternmost source of the River Jordan

The Nahr (River) Banias is the easternmost source of the River Jordan. The source of the Banias is located at a site we know as Caesarea Philippi in the New Testament. It is well known to those who study the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 16:13-19).

Banias is located on the eastern side of the Beka or Hula Valley.  The valley is called the Beka in Lebanon, and a little further south the Hula Valley. The elevation is about 1150 feet above sea level in the foothills of Mount Hermon.

The photo below shows the place where the water emerges from the earth. Perhaps you are reminded of the text from the prophet Jeremiah:

for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13 ESV)

Getting a drink at the source. River Banias, Caesarea Philippi.

Getting a drink at the source. River Banias, Caesarea Philippi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Other posts about this site are listed below. Check them all.

Three other rivers we have recently mention, Flea River, the Senir, and the Dan, join with the Banias to form the River Jordan.

Speaking in North Georgia

The Mountain View Church of Christ, Cumming, Georgia, has invited me to speak on Bible History and Archaeology at the North Georgia Bible Forum in Cumming, Georgia, March 20-25. Stop by if you happen to be in the area. Full details are available here.

Nahal Dan — strongest source of the Jordan

Israel National Parks and Nature Reserves, by Azaria Alon, is a must book for those who plan to visit more than the popular few of the parks and reserves in Israel.  It is published by Carta (Jerusalem), and distributed by Eisenbraun’s in the USA. Click on the link here to go directly to the description and order info.

Here is Alon’s description of the Nahal Dan (Nahr el-Leddan; River Dan):

Nahal Dan is situated in the heart of an area known as “the land of streams and rivers,” and indeed, in the Nahal and along its margins, water and vegetation are present in abundance. The Nahal has a single principal source but it is also fed by dozens of smaller springs. Walking in this environment one has the feeling of springs emerging everywhere. All this water has its origin from the winter snows on Mt. Hermon. The snow melts slowly, seeps into the sponge-like earth of the mountain, and emerges in the foothills. The water flows quietly from the springs, but it continues down an ever-increasing slope, turning into a torrent and generating standing waves and foam. When the stream emerges from the nature reserve, it splits into several rivulets which rejoin when it encounters Nahal Hermon to form the Jordan River.

Nahal Hermon is more commonly known as the Nahr Banias which begins at the site of Caesarea Philippi.

Here is a view of the Nahal Dan within the Tel Dan Nature Reserve.

Nahal Dan in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nahal Dan in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

And here is one of the springs. This one is located immediately below the northwest corner of Tel Dan.

A spring in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A spring in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dan is Israel’s northernmost city (Judges 18:29).