Monthly Archives: January 2013

Xanathos in Lycia

The photo I am sharing today was made at ancient Xanthos, a city of Lycia, now in southwestern Turkey. The city is situated in the Lycian mountains a few miles from the Mediterranean coast and the ancient city of Patara (Acts 21:1). The small town of Kinik lies in the valley below Xanthos.

Roman Emperor Vespasian

Emperor Vespasian. BM. Photo by F. Jenkins

A road runs up the hill through the ancient ruins. One of the first monuments we come to is a Roman arch dedicated to the emperor Vespasian  (A.D. 69-79) by the Council and People of Xanthos. George E. Bean says,

The pavement which survives in part belongs to an ancient road which led up from Patara and the Letoum. – Lycian Turkey, 60.

Our view is made from above the arch. To the left you can see the narrow modern road leading to the parking lot at Xanthos.

Arch built by Vespasian partially below modern road level. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Arch built by Vespasian partially below modern road level. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo illustrates the build up of debris over the centuries.

Writers such as Bean tell of the time when the Persians conquered western Asia about 540 B.C. Rather than surrender, the fighting men of Xanathos placed their women, children, slaves, and property on the acropolis and set fire to it. These men then went forth and fought to the death.  This account reminds us of the one recorded by Josephus about the fall of Masada during the Jewish Wars against the Romans (The Jewish War 7.8.6).

For more information about Xanathos, and Lycia in general, see the nice Lycian Turkey website here.

Monument from Xanathos now in British Museum

The ancient Greek city of Xanthos (Xanthus) is mentioned in the Iliad as the greatest of the cities of Lycia. The site is located near Letoon, and a few miles north of Patara, the port where the Apostle Paul changed ships on the return from the Third Journey (Acts 21:1-2).

Our visit to Xanathos was limited due to the lateness of the day, but we took time to get a few photos of some significant ruins. Our first stop was what the Blue Guide Turkey calls “the few sad remains of the Nereid Monument.”


The site of the Nereid Monument at Xanathos. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Charles Fellows took statues and friezes from the Monument to the British Museum in 1841-42, where they have been reconstructed.

Nereid Monument in British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Nereid Monument in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The sign at the original site (visible in the first photo) says,

This famous classical era monument was removed in its entirety to the British Museum in the last century [an old sign] and all that remains are a few rows of stones from the foundations and podium. This 4 by 6 columns Ionic temple style monument is embellished with reliefs and statues [sic]. The statues of twelve females between the columns are those of water spirits known as Nereids.

The Monument dates as early as 390 B.C.

The new Satellite Bible Atlas

Todd Bolen announced Monday the publication of the Satellite Bible Atlas. This new work is by Bill Schlegel, Associate Professor of the Bible at IBEX in Israel. Bill has lived and taught in Israel since 1984. He taught at the Jerusalem University College (formerly the Institute of Holy Land Studies) before joining The Master’s College IBEX program in 1995.

According to Bolen,

This resource is ready for personal use, classroom use, and field trip use. The author, Bill Schlegel, has been teaching college and seminary students in Israel for 25 years. Everything in the Satellite Bible Atlas is field-tested by a professor who knows God’s land and loves God’s Word.

He continues to give 7 additional reasons why he loves the Satellite Bible Atlas. I will leave it for you to read more details at the Bible Places Blog here.


I have had the opportunity for several days to see the various materials associated with the Satellite Bible Atlas, but late Monday I received my beautiful copy and have found it to be an amazing production.

After 17 pages of beautiful satellite maps, the additional maps are printed on one page with a brief, numbered, commentary on the opposite page. For example, looking at map 5-1, Samuel’s Ministry, we see a marked map of the portion of the land where Samson was born, and the places of his activity. Map 9-4 shows Jesus’ Move from Nazareth to Capernaum. Map 10-1 shows Acts of the Apostles in Israel. While the emphasis is on the Promised Land and the history of Israel, Jesus and the Early Church, there are maps showing the Journeys of Paul, The First Revolt Against Rome (c. 66-73 AD), the Bar Kochva Revolt, Jerusalem, the modern Middle East, etc. Eighty-five maps in all.

This beautiful book is published in Israel. I am surprised that the book is available for $30 plus tax and $3 shipping (in the U.S.). You will also be granted access to download the maps.

More information and ordering instructions are available here. Sample Maps, Commentary, Study Questions, and an Index to Sites, are available for download. There are also some Teaching Videos, and more are expected from time to time.

“Every man under his vine” again

A few days ago I wrote here about a biblical way of describing a time of peace and prosperity.

And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon. (1 Kings 4:25 ESV)

I mentioned that it is not uncommon in the Middle East to see a vine running up the side of a house to cover a porch on the roof. Since the last post I located one of my photos showing this practice. This photo was made at El Jib, the site believed to be Gibeon (Joshua 9; 2 Samuel 2).

A vine growing up the side of a house to provide shade on the roof. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins at Gibeon.

A vine growing up the side of a house to provide shade on the roof. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins at Gibeon (El Jib).

The Watchtower

The watchtower was sometimes used as a lookout for the enemy (2 Chronicles 20:24; Isaiah 21:8; 32:14).

Watchtowers, or just towers, were also built in the fields. They might provide a place for a watchman to keep watch over the field (Isaiah 5:2; Matthew 21:33). Stones were picked up out of the fields to make the tower which also served as a place for workmen to go for shade in the heat of the day.

The only place we see watchtowers today is in the West Bank, and these are usually off the main roads. During the past few years I have photographed several of these old watchtowers. So far as I know they are no longer in use. I am sure that I have shown some watchtowers before, but I thought you might enjoy some of these new photos.

A watchtower in an olive orchard in the West Bank. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A watchtower in an olive orchard in the West Bank. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

“Every man under his vine…”

A biblical way of describing a time of peace and prosperity is expressed in the following passage describing the time of King Solomon.

And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon. (1 Kings 4:25 ESV)

It is not uncommon in the middle east to see vines used as a shade. Sometime the vine runs up the side of a house and covers a porch on the roof. When I saw this single vine by itself in front of the theater at Miletus I could not help but think of the biblical saying. I asked my traveling buddy, Leon Mauldin, to make a picture of me sitting under my vine.

I can imagine a person sitting under the vine in the late summer and enjoying the fresh grapes from the vine.


Sitting under the vine at the theater of Miletus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Miletus is the city where the Apostle Paul met with the elders from the church at Ephesus as he returned to Jerusalem at the end of his third journey (Acts 20).

The prophet Micah used the same illustration to describe the nature of the Messiah’s kingdom.

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2 and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; 4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. (Micah 4:1-4 ESV)

New biography of C. S. Lewis by Allister McGrath

Allister McGrath, a native of Belfast, Ireland, and currently a professor of theology and apologetics at Kings College, London, announces that his  biography of C. S. Lewis is to be published this year.

In this video, McGrath speaks about the biography from the study of C. S. Lewis at the Kilns.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit Lewis sites in and around Oxford, England. The photo below shows the Kilns, former home of C. S. Lewis and his older brother Warnie. The house was not open for visitors at that time, but I understand it is now open at certain times.

The Kilns, Oxford, home of C. S. Lewis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Kilns, former home of C. S. Lewis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If you have an interest in Lewis and his writing, you will probably enjoy looking at some of the other photos I made. Click here.

Herod the Great in the news

Herod is well known to students of the Bible. He is known especially as the king who was so frightened of losing his power that he ordered the death of the one who was born king of the Jews (Matthew 2).

Herod is also known from other historical records such as the Antiquities of the Jews and Wars of the Jews by Josephus.

We have learned much about Herod from the archaeological excavations at sites he is known to have built. We think of the Temple in Jerusalem with its platform and enclosure, the temples dedicated to Emperor Augustus at Caesarea Maritima, Samaria, and Caesarea Philippi (or Omrit), and the fortresses in several parts of the country, and the building at the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron.

The Herodium has received much attention in recent years as a result of the archaeological excavation conducted by the late Prof. Ehud Netzer in his search for Herod’s tomb.

Aerial view of the Herodium with the area of Netzer's excavation visible.  Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of the Herodium with the area of Netzer’s excavation visible. All of this was covered by earth just a few years ago. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Now we are informed that the tomb of Herod at the Herodium is to be rebuilt.

The glory of King Herod, the Judean king famous for renovating the Temple Mount and building Masada, will rise again — or at least his tomb will — Israel announced Monday. As part of a new plan, a replica of his tomb at Herodium, situated outside the West Bank city of Bethlehem, will tower to 83 feet and will be visible from Jerusalem.

Herodium, an impressive feat of ancient engineering, is a conical artificial mound built between 23 and 15 BCE that housed a fortified royal palace and tomb. Its walls rose over 200 feet high and it contained elegant courtyards and baths. It was the only one of Herod’s many famed construction projects that bore his name, and was destroyed in 70 CE during the Great Revolt against Rome.

To read this report from the Times of Israel in its entirety, click here.

It must be the year of Herod. The Israel Museum is reconstructing the tomb of Herod in the museum for an exhibition opening February 12, 2013. I am definitely looking forward to seeing this. Read more about it here.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Being there is best

Reading and studying about the Bible lands is good, but being there is best. Last September as we traveled around at the end of the long dry season, even though I thought I had made it perfectly clear, one of the tour members asked, “Is it always this dry?” I tried to explain it again.

For a few tips on the rainy season in Israel, see here. For more information about what happens during the winter rains in Israel, see Rivers in the Desert here.

Somewhere I read a comment by a photographer that the best photo is the one when you have your camera. Lots of truth to that. But another idea is that the best photo is when you have your camera and something significant happens.

Brook of Elah after 3 days of rain. Photo: Carl Rasmussen.

Brook of Elah after 3 days of rain Jan. 9, 2013. Photo: Carl Rasmussen.

Well, Prof. Carl Rasmussen had his camera on January 9, and something significant had happened. He was in the Valley of Elah after three days of rain. The usually dry brook (nahal or wadi; 1 Samuel 17), of Elah was flowing with water. His photo shows Tel Azekah and the brook as it runs below it.

If you would like to see this beautiful photo in a large resolution, see here.

Here is a photo I made in August, 2008, showing the book  [brook] from the same position – dry as a bone. [see comments]

Brook of Elah below Azekah, August, 2008. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Brook of Elah below Azekah, August, 2008. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The land east of the Sea of Galilee

The land of Bashan is located east of the Sea of Galilee and the Hula Valley along the strip of land north of the Yarmuk River as far north as Mount Hermon. Bashan is mentioned no less than 60 times in the Hebrew Bible.

Og is designated as the king of Bashan about 20 times. Bashan is territory given to half of the Israelite tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17:1). One of the cities of refuge was Golan in Bashan (Joshua 21:27).

Bashan was noted for its cattle, especially bulls (Psalm 22:12; Ezekiel 39:18). The prophet Amos calls the women of Samaria “cows of Bashan” (Amos 4:1). For sure, he was not a very popular prophet.

In recent history Bashan (Golan) was controlled by Syria, but was annexed by Israel in 1981.

The photo below was made one afternoon as I approached the Sea of Galilee from the north. The view is to the southeast. The visible plateau on the east side of the Sea of Galilee is the southern part of the Golan Heights, the ancient land of Bashan.

The Sea of Galilee from the north. View toward Bashan in the east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Sea of Galilee from the north. View toward Bashan in the east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In New Testament times the same territory, immediately east of the Sea of Galileee, and possibly a little south, was known as the land of the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26,37, KJV, NKJV), or the land of the Gergesenes in most modern English versions. These texts record the episode of the healing by Jesus of a man possessed with an unclean spirit. The unclean spirits entered into a herd of swine (pigs) and ran down the steep cliffs, visible in our photo, into the sea (Mark 5:11-13).