Monthly Archives: June 2011

A new tomb at Nazareth Village

Nazareth Village has become a necessary stop on my tours to Israel. The eyes of ministers and Bible class teachers are opened quickly to the reality of Bible stories. Some of the “exhibits” change with the season; others remain constant.

There was something new at Nazareth Village this year — a tomb cut out of the rock with a rolling stone.

New tomb with rolling stone at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

New tomb with rolling stone at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This new tomb “where no one had yet been buried” is a good reminder of the type of tomb in which Jesus was buried (John 19:41 NET).

After Joseph bought a linen cloth and took down the body, he wrapped it in the linen and placed it in a tomb cut out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone across the entrance of the tomb.  (Mark 15:46 NET)

An image suitable for use in teaching is available by clicking on the photo above.

Herodium and the tomb of Herod the Great

Shmuel Browns has an article in Popular Archaeology on “Netzer’s Legacy: The Wonders of Herodium” here. One of the comments by Browns caught my attention as being especially important for all of us who use photos in our teaching.

When visiting an archaeological site, one often cannot see the artifacts that were discovered there as they have been removed and are displayed at a museum.

Browns gives an illustration of part of the Roman bath from the lower city at Herodium. I often think about how important it is to be at an archaeological site at just the right time. When I visited the Herodium in January, and again in May, this is what I saw at the place of Netzer’s most recent work.

Herodium - Place of Herod's Mausoleum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Herodium - Place of Herod's Mausoleum. View to the East. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

How disappointing. My thought is that some day the Antiquities department will have this site prepared for visitors. Until then…

Herod's Tomb. Shmuel Browns.

Herod's Tomb. View to NW. Shmuel Browns.

Browns has a couple of nice photos of the Mausoleum as it looks under the tin roof. I am including a thumbnail of one of his photos to encourage you to go to the article. A site begins to look different after the winter rains. Unless it is continually cleaned (which requires money), it deteriorates quickly.

Herod the Great is known in Scripture as the wicked king who inquired about the birth of Jesus in order to eliminate any opposition to the throne.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem  saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him.  After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. (Matthew 2:1-4 NET)

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus did not stop to see the tomb of Herod on their return from Egypt.

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. After being warned in a dream, he went to the regions of Galilee.  He came to a town called Nazareth and lived there. (Matthew 2:22-23a NET)

Chris McKinny recently posted a paper on “The Growth of Herod’s Kingdom” at Seeking a Homeland here. The well-documented paper includes maps and charts.

Tom Powers reported in February that the Israel Post has issued a series of stamps featuring Herod’s building projects. Click here for photos of the beautiful stamps.

HT: Bible Places Blog.

Where at Caesarea did Herod Agrippa die?

In response to our recent post on the theater at Caesarea Maritima (here), a friend asks, “I was wondering, do you put any stock in Todd Bolen’s contention that the Agrippa I death event happened in the sea side amphitheater, rather than in the theater?”

Boy, am I embarrassed. It is great to have knowledgeable friends, though. I read Todd’s insightful article at The Bible and Interpretation site in July 2010. I was impressed with the article and intended to call attention to it on this blog. For a variety of reasons I failed to get to it, and then let it slip my mind.

The Bolen article challenges Josephus’s location for the place of Herod Agrippa’s death. Here is the synopsis of the argument.

The death of Herod Agrippa I occurred in Caesarea according to both Josephus and the book of Acts. Josephus writes that the king was in the theater when the crowd hailed him as a god and he was struck down. Details in Josephus’s account, however, indicate that the episode occurred in the city amphitheater next door to the temple where the emperor was worshipped.

The article is already too concise and well documented for me to recount the arguments. Bolen believes “that Josephus’s designation of the location was inaccurate. Analysis of his account indicates that the amphitheater, rather than the theater, was the setting for Herod’s public address.” There are four indications showing the Josephus was inaccurate.

  1. The time of day.
  2. The occasion of Agrippa’s death.
  3. An encounter between Pilate and a large crowd a decade earlier.
  4. Josephus’s imprecise use of terms designating buildings of entertainment.

The article may be read in its entirety here. Several informed comments have been added by readers. There are several nice aerial photos with identifications.

The photo below shows the amphitheater (commonly called the hippodrome) running parallel with the coastline. I note that Murphy-O’Connor refers to this as the “Herodian amphitheatre.” At the right (south) bottom of the photo you will see the upper level of what he calls the “Palace of the Procurators.” The Roman theater, which is pictured in our previous post, is to the right of this scene.

Caesarea amphitheater (hippodrome). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Caesarea amphitheater (hippodrome). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Along the top of the photo, under the wing of the plane, is the later amphitheater (or hippodrome) dating to the late Roman period. A line of trees provides a good outline of the structure.

Here in 306 the emperor Maximinus had Christian martyrs executed before him. Its stones were robbed out when Christianity suppressed such bloody and brutal entertainment. (Murphy-O’Connor, The Holy Land, 5th ed., 248)

The Herodian harbor is located to the left (north) of this photo.

The Nimrud ivories

Ray Moseley writes an article for Al-Arabiya about the Nimrud Ivories in the British Museum. The exquisite ivories date to the time of the Assyrian empire.

The British Museum in London has recently saved for the nation a horde of the so-called Nimrud ivories—1,000 intact pieces, 5,000 fragments—after a public fund-raising campaign that netted £1.17 million. That was about a third of the value of the ivories, and another third of the collection was donated by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq. The remaining third is expected to be returned to Iraq.…

The first group of ivories, dating from the 9th and 8th centuries BC, was excavated by the archaeologist Austin Henry Layard in 1845 at Nimrud, just south of Mosul on the Tigris River. They came from the ruins of the palace of Shalmaneser III, who ruled from 859 to 824 B.C., and more came to light a few years later.

The complete article may be read here. Some readers will enjoy the connection with archaeologist Max Mallowan and his wife, crime-novelist Agatha Christie, who used a knitting needle and cold cream to clean some of the ivories.

“Oh what a beautiful spot it was,” the novelist wrote. “The Tigris just a mile away, and on the great mound of the Acropolis, big stone Assyrian heads poked out of the soil. In one place there was the enormous wing of a great genie.”

The earliest ivories belong to the reign of Ashurnasirpal, but the largest number came from Fort Shalmaneser, a palace/fort built by Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.). He is the Assyrian king who brags about defeating “Ahab the Israelite” at the battle of Qarqar in 853 B.C. (Monolith from Kurkh), and of taking tribute from the Israelite king Jehu (Black Obelisk). The writers of the Bible had no reason to include either of these facts in their writings.

Our photo shows a relief in ivory of a lioness devouring a man with negroid features (a Nubian boy) in a thicket of stylized lotus and papyrus plants. This piece belongs to the Nimrud ivories displayed in the British Museum.

Assyrian Nimrud Ivory in British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Assyrian Nimrud Ivory in British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Moseley’s says the British Museum “recently put some of it’s collection on permanent display and intends to make other available for traveling exhibitions.”

Samaria Ivory. British Museum. Photo: Ferrell Jenkins.

Samaria Ivory. British Museum. Photo: Ferrell Jenkins.

Bible writers spoke of Ahab’s ivory house at Samaria (1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15; 6:3-4). Both the British Museum and the Israel Museum display some of the ivories excavated at Samaria that follow the same general motif as those from Nimrud. The Israelites may have sent workers to learn from the Assyrians, Phoenicians, and Egyptians, or they may have hired foreign craftsmen to do their work, or imported the ivory pieces. The piece in the photo to the right is exhibited in the British Museum.

HT: Joseph Lauer

The theater at Caesarea Maritima

The theater at Caesarea Maritima was built originally by Herod the Great but was added to and modified in later centuries. The seating capacity in its final stage was about 4,000.

The first aerial photo shows the position of the theater (facing west) in relation to the Mediterranean Sea.

The theater at Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The theater at Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo is an aerial closeup. Most of the seating has been restored since the excavation in the early 1960s.

The theater at Caesarea Maritima. View is South (bottom) to North (top). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of the theater South (bottom) to North (top). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When we look at the theater from above it appears as a small piece of a model. Musical concerts are held in the restored theater.

King Herod Agrippa I (A.D. 37-44), the grandson of Herod the Great, visited Caesarea. In a dispute with the people of Tyre and Sidon, he put on his royal apparel and addressed them.

On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”  And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:21-23 NAU)

Josephus informs us that this speech took place in the theater (Ant. 19.344). The NET Bible study notes are helpful in explaining the differences between Luke’s account and that of Josephus. (Scroll down to Acts 12:23 for these notes.)

Josephus, Ant. 19.8.2 (19.343-352), states that Herod Agrippa I died at Caesarea in A.D. 44. The account by Josephus, while not identical to Luke’s account, is similar in many respects: On the second day of a festival, Herod Agrippa appeared in the theater with a robe made of silver. When it sparkled in the sun, the people cried out flatteries and declared him to be a god. The king, carried away by the flattery, saw an owl (an omen of death) sitting on a nearby rope, and immediately was struck with severe stomach pains. He was carried off to his house and died five days later. The two accounts can be reconciled without difficulty, since while Luke states that Herod was immediately struck down by an angel, his death could have come several days later. The mention of worms with death adds a humiliating note to the scene. The formerly powerful ruler had been thoroughly reduced to nothing (cf. Jdt 16:17 ; 2 Macc 9:9; cf. also Josephus, Ant. 17.6.5 [17.168–170], which details the sickness which led to Herod the Great’s death).

We have included two larger images suitable for use in teaching. Just click on the image.

Protecting Israel’s coastline

Last December we reported on damage to Israel’s Mediterranean coastline here (Ashkelon) and here (Caesarea). Now we learn, in an article by Karin Kloosterman, that Israel is spending lots of money to protect the eroding coastline.

A new government initiative worth $135 million will turn about 10 miles of stretches of the Israeli coast into a series of reinforcements and public parks to be enjoyed by locals and tourists. Some of the parks will run through archeological sites of interest.

Kloosterman’s article features the work of geological archaeologist Dr. Beverly Goodman, University of Haifa. Goodman explains the importance of the coastline.

“What we are looking at in Caesarea, on the coastal cliffs, is that we have areas where the coastline has changed so much – and we actually have antiquities that are being eroded into the sea.”

The article says,

Goodman had just finished recording details about the seafloor and archeological remains. After the storm, she returned to her underwater lab to find that some 80 percent of what she’d surveyed had been destroyed or washed away.

You may find a few humorous things in Kloostermann article.

Historically, Israel’s coastal area is important not only for today’s population. According to the Christian Gospels, the Apostle Peter was imprisoned in Caesarea after being arrested in Jerusalem, and an inscription bearing the Christian scriptural name Pontius Pilate was found here.

Our readers will know that it was Peter who first preached the gospel at Caesarea (Acts 10-11), but that it was Paul who was imprisoned at Caesarea (Acts 23-26).

Reporters do have deadlines! Otherwise, the article is fascinating and may be read here.

Our aerial photo, made May 11, shows the main part of Caesarea. The Herodian harbor is on the left. The hippodrome is in the upper center of the photo, and the Roman theater is to the extreme upper right.

Aerial view of Caesarea Maritima. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of Caesarea Maritima. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo, made April 28, shows some of the damage done to one of the old buildings at the ancient harbor.

Caesarea storm damage from December 2010. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Caesarea storm damage from December 2010. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Friday’s findings

Looking for Joshua’s Ai. Gary Byers, administrative director of the Khirbet el-Maqatir excavation, has already posted info on six days of the dig. Because I assume this series will continue, I suggest you begin with Day One here. The expedition has posted photos on Facebook here. This will give prospective diggers some idea what goes on during a dig. Information about the purpose of the dig, a project of the Associates for Biblical Research, is posted here. Dr. Bryant Wood, and others associated with this dig, are looking for an alternative site for Ai.

Hidden Pyramids. Dr. Zahi Hawass has called in question the BBC program about the work of Dr. Sarah Parcak using satellite imagery to discover 17 new pyramids and other structures.

Although satellite imaging is useful for discovering new sites and monuments, interpretation of the images is not straightforward. No one can say with certainty that the features displayed under the sand are actually pyramids. Such anomalies could be houses, tombs, temples, pyramids, buried cities or even geological features. The only way we can definitely identify what is there is by excavating it – by investigating it physically. This was not made clear in the article.

Read the complete article here. See our earlier report here.

Corinth Matters. David Pettegrew, assistant Professor of History at Messiah College near Harrisburg, PA., has started a blog called Corinth Matters. Pettegrew completed a dissertation on Corinth on the Isthmus. The new blog deals with the ancient city of Corinth, the Isthmus, the Diolkos, and other things Corinthian. You will find readings lists, links to conferences, info on excavations, maps and images relating to Corinth and the Corinthian correspondence.

Dr. Pettegrew currently is traveling in Albania, the location of ancient Illyricum, visiting Corinthian colonies from the pre-Christian period. Paul made reference to preaching as far as Illyricum.

by the power of miraculous signs and wonders, and by the power of God’s Spirit. As a result, I have fully proclaimed the good news about the Messiah from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum. (Romans 15:19 CSB)

Corinth Canal - Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A ship is towed through the Corinth Canal. View west toward the Gulf of Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Having taught the Corinthian correspondence for several year, I find this blog especially interesting.

The rocks of the wild goats (Ibex)

Wild goats (Hebrew ya’el) are mentioned in a few Old Testament passages (1 Samuel 24:2; Job 39:1; Psalm 104:18; Prov. 5:19). This animal is often identified with the Ibex.

The ibex, a type of wild goat, is still found in Southern Palestine, Sinai, Egypt and Arabia; it was known also in ancient times, as is evident from rock carvings. (Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 46).

The wild goats are associated with En Gedi on the shore of the Dead Sea.

Now when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. (1 Samuel 24:1-2 NAU)

Our photo below was made at En Gedi.

Ibex at En Gedi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ibex at En Gedi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Psalmist says the high mountains are for the wild goats.

The high mountains are for the wild goats; The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim. (Psalm 104:18 NAU)

SourceFlix has put together a nice video showing the Wild Goats (Ibex) at En Gedi.

The Crags of the Wild Goats from SourceFlix on Vimeo.

HT: Dr. Claude Mariottini

Update: Yesterday worked on this post, with the intention of completing it this morning. Early today I had to go to the airport to take a loved one. When I returned I continued working on the post and published it. Just now I decided to check some other blogs. To my surprise, I see that Todd Bolen has posted some fascinating videos of the Ibex fighting. Check it here.

What is that expression about great minds?

Contemplating the power of a single grain

Last Sunday evening I heard a good sermon based on John 12:24-26.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24 ESV)

This simple statement by Jesus is followed by a difficult lesson.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:25-26 ESV)

A grain of wheat must fall into the earth and die before it can produce fruit. Depending on the circumstances the grain can produce thirty-, sixty-, or a hundredfold (Matthew 13:8).

Wheat ready for harvest at En Dor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Wheat ready for harvest at En Dor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A single grain of wheat must die in order to produce much fruit. Jesus spoke of the necessity of His own death, and taught the tough lesson of giving up one’s life to serve Him.

Note the comment by William Hendriksen.

The illustration was very clear, especially at the moment when it was spoken, not more than a few days before the (religious and) harvest feast of Passover. The kernels or seeds had been entrusted to the soil. As seeds they had died. But by means of this very process of dissolution they had brought forth an abundant harvest. If a seed is not sown, it remains alone, producing no fruit. So also if Jesus does not die, he will remain alone, without spiritual fruit (souls saved for eternity). His death, however, will result in a rich, spiritual harvest. (New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to John).

We have included a larger image suitable for use in teaching. It is available by clicking on the image above.