Monthly Archives: September 2012

Peter confesses Jesus to be “the Christ” at Caesarea Philippi

The major sites we visited today included Hazor, Dan, Caesarea Philippi, the Golan Heights, and the Jordan River. Here is a new photo I made at Caesarea Philippi. In the foreground there are broken columns discovered in the excavations at the site. The Banias (or Hermon) River, a major source of the Jordan River,  is hidden by the plants in this photo.

Caesarea Philippi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Caesarea Philippi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Caesarea Philippi of the ministry of Jesus is also known as Banias (Matthew 16:13-19).

Caesarea Philippi 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.

Matthew uses the term district or region to describe the area Jesus visited with His disciples (Matthew 16:13). The King James Version coasts is misleading. Mark’s term is villages (Mark 8:27). It was not far from here that Jesus was confessed as the Christ by Peter.

Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?”  They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:27-29 NASB; also read Matthew’s account)

First Temple Public Water Reservoir Exposed in Jerusalem

We have enjoyed a good day visiting in Israel, but I want to share word of this amazing discovery announced today by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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A Public Water Reservoir Dating to the First Temple Period has been Exposed for the First Time next to the Western Wall

According to Eli Shukron, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “It is now absolutely clear that the Jerusalem’s water consumption during the First Temple period was not solely based on the output of the Gihon Spring, but that it also relied on public reservoirs”

The find will be presented to the public today (Thursday) in the “City of David Studies” conference that will be held in Jerusalem

Massive reservoir discovered near Western Wall in Jerusalem.. Photo by IAA.

Massive reservoir discovered near Western Wall in Jerusalem.. Photo by IAA.

A large rock-hewn water reservoir dating to the First Temple period was discovered in the archaeological excavations that are being conducted in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden at the foot of Robinson’s Arch. The excavations at the site are being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority, underwritten by the ʽIr David Foundation and in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority.

The impressive reservoir will be presented today (Thursday) together with other finds from this past year at the 13th annual conference on the “City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem” to be held in Jerusalem.

The excavation, during the course of which the reservoir was discovered, is part of an archaeological project whereby the entire drainage channel of Jerusalem dating to the Second Temple period is being exposed. The channel runs north along the City of David spur, from the Siloam Pool to a point beneath Robinson’s Arch. The route of the channel was fixed in the center of the main valley that extends from north to south the length of the ancient city, parallel to the Temple Mount. In his description of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period, Josephus refers to the valley by its Greek name “Tyropoeon”, which scholars believe means “Valley of the Cheese-makers”. Another interpretation identifies the valley with the “Valley of the Decision”, mentioned in the Book of Joel.

It became apparent while excavating the channel that during the construction of this enormous engineering enterprise its builders had to remove earlier structures that were situated along the route of the channel and “pass through” existing rock-hewn installations that were located along it. An extraordinary installation that was exposed in recent weeks is a large water reservoir treated with several layers of plaster, which probably dates to the First Temple period.

The reservoir has an approximate capacity of 250 cubic meters [66,043 U.S. gallons] and is therefore one of the largest water reservoirs from the First Temple period to be discovered so far in Jerusalem, and this was presumably a reservoir that was used by the general public.

According to Eli Shukron, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “While excavating beneath the floor of the drainage channel a small breach in the bedrock was revealed that led us to the large water reservoir. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time that a water reservoir of this kind has been exposed in an archaeological excavation. The exposure of the current reservoir, as well as smaller cisterns that were revealed along the Tyropoeon Valley, unequivocally indicates that Jerusalem’s water consumption in the First Temple period was not solely based on the output of the Gihon Spring water works, but also on more available water resources such as the one we have just discovered.

According to Dr. Tvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist of the Nature and Parks Authority and an expert on ancient water systems, “The large water reservoir that was exposed, with two other cisterns nearby, is similar in its general shape and in the kind of plaster to the light yellow plaster that characterized the First Temple period and resembles the ancient water system that was previously exposed at Bet Shemesh. In addition, we can see the hand prints of the plasters left behind when they were adding the finishing touches to the plaster walls, just like in the water reservoirs of Tel Be’er Sheva, Tel Arad and Tel Bet Shemesh, which also date to the First Temple period”. Dr. Tsuk says, “Presumably the large water reservoir, which is situated near the Temple Mount, was used for the everyday activities of the Temple Mount itself and also by the pilgrims who went up to the Temple and required water for bathing and drinking”.

The exposure of the impressive water reservoir that lies below Robinson’s Arch joins a series of finds that were uncovered during recent excavations in this region of the city, indicating the existence of a densely built-up quarter that extended across the area west of the Temple Mount and predating the expansion of the Temple Mount. It seems that with the expansion of the Temple Mount compound to the west and the construction of the public buildings and the streets around the Temple Mount at the end of the Second Temple period, the buildings from the First Temple period and early Second Temple period were dismantled in this region and all that remains of them is a series of rock-cut installations, among them the hewn water reservoir.

According to Dr. Yuval Baruch, archaeologist in charge of the Jerusalem Region of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Upon completion of the excavations along the route of the drainage channel, the IAA will examine possibilities of incorporating the impressive water reservoir in the planned visitors’ path”.

Click here to download high resolution photographs of the reservoir.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Traveling in Israel

This afternoon we arrived in Israel. My first tour was in 1967, a few weeks before the Six-Day War when Jerusalem was in Jordan. The traditional site of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist was easily accessible.  That changed after the War, and we had no access to the River until Jordan opened a site thought to be the location of Bethany Beyond the Jordan (John 1:28). By 2006 we were able to visit the site.

Last year (2011) Israel opened access to the river, by special permission, on the west side. I understand the site is now open to anyone who wishes to visit.

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;  and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17 ESV)

The River Jordan at the Israel-Jordan border north of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jordan River at the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This will be my eightieth foreign tour to direct in these past 46 years. Not all of these have been to Israel, but I’ve led tours to the land so central in the Biblical story almost annually except for those years when political conditions made it impossible. Occasionally there was a second tour the same year. I have made numerous personal study trips in addition to the tours I lead. I’m still learning, and still making efforts to see places I have not yet visited. Last year I spent about six weeks in the country.

Through this blog I have tried to share a little bit of information and a few of the photos I have accumulated. Over the next two or three weeks I hope to share a bit of the excitement of this tour.

Tell your friends about the blog.

At least three blogs are being written about the tour. You might enjoy them, especially if you know someone traveling with us.

Steven Braman — Braman’s Wanderings

Barry Britnell — Exploring Bible Lands

Trent and Rebekah Dutton

Our flight from New York was delayed due to bad weather in New York and connecting cities. We were too late to visit Joppa today. Trent and Rebekah Dutton arrived in Israel yesterday. I see they have already posted some information about Joppa.

Tonight all 39 tour members are settled on the Mediterranean coast at Netanya, Israel. Looking forward to a great day of learning tomorrow.

Historical Reliability of Acts

Apologetics 315 recently called attention to a PDF document by James Hickey on The Historical Reliability of Acts: Support from Extra-Biblical Primary Sources. I thought this document might be helpful, along with our photo illustrations, to those studying the Book of Acts.

You may download the document here, or from Apologetics 315 (above).

Logos Book of the Month — Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts

Pick up almost any book of hymns and you will note several songs by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), a native of Southhampton, England. The Dictionary of the Christian Church says,

Watts deservedly holds a very high place among English hymn-writers. His hymns reflect his strong and serene faith and did much to make hymn-singing a powerful devotional force, especially in Nonconformity… [especially nonconformity to the Church of England at the time, but used of nonconformity to any Established Church]

Logos is offering The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts free to Logos users for the month of September. See details here.

A 1775 edition of a book by Isaac Watts. U. of Otago.

I have Logos Bible Software 4 open now to a hymn based on Galatians 6:14. The title is “Crucifixion to the world by the cross of Christ.” We probably know this song by the first words, “When I survey the wondrous cross.”

Crucifixion to the world by the cross of Christ.
(Gal. 6:14)

 When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown!

[His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er his body on the tree:
Then am I dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.]

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Watts, I. (1998). The Psalms and hymns of Isaac Watts. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Don’t expect modern shaped notes. And if you know nothing of the Meters that were used in Watts’ time, you may simply use the book for devotional readings.

Notice the vivid fourth stanza describing the dying Christ which is often left out of modern hymn books.

Acts 12 — Photo Illustrations

In presenting some photo illustrations for the book of Acts, I see that I skipped Acts 12.

“Herod the king” of Acts 12 is Herod Agrippa I who ruled as king of Judea (A.D. 37-44). He was the son of Aristobulus and grandson of Herod the Great. After the death of Agrippa, Roman procurators began to rule in Judea. Three of Agrippa’s children are mentioned later in Acts: Herod Agrippa II and Bernice (25:13), and Drusilla, who married Felix the procurator of Judea (24:24). The events recorded in Acts 12 took place shortly before the death of Herod in A.D. 44.

I invite your attention to a previous article about the death of Herod Agrippa I at Caesarea here.

In addition, I will provide a new aerial photo. On the left (north) you will see a portion of the amphitheater (hippodrome). At the end of the amphitheater is the partially reconstructed promontory palace of Herod the Great. On the right (south) is the theater which was built originally by Herod the Great.

Aerial view of Caesarea Maritima. From Left to Right: hippodrome, palace of Herod, theater.

Aerial view of Caesarea Maritima. From Left to Right: amphitheater (hippodrome), promontory palace of Herod the Great, theater. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.