Monthly Archives: April 2013

Temple Mount, Pools, Jericho, Jordan River

Today was a great day for travel in and around Jerusalem. We started the day by visiting the Temple Mount. This is a place filled with Bible history relating to Abraham, David, Solomon, Jesus, and Peter (as well as all of the apostle). It is a place destroyed by the Babylonians (586 B.C.) and the Romans (A.D. 70).

The site has been under Islamic control since the 7th century.

We visited the Pools of Bethesda (John 5) and the Pool of Siloam (John 9).

Yesterday, by the time we visited Masada, Qumran, and Jericho, it was too late to visit the baptismal site on the Jordan River, a site known as Qasr el-Yahud. This site on the Israel side is across from the Jordanian site identified as Bethany beyond the Jordan (John 1:28).

We stopped in Jericho for lunch at the Temptations Restaurant. The restaurant is located on the south end of Tell es-Sultan, identified with Biblical Jericho (Joshua 3-6).

The restaurant has lots of parking space for tour buses and good food. That’s a good combination in the tourist industry. As I was leaving I noticed a sign with the wording “View of Jericho”, and thought I should check it out. It took a climb of 11 flights of stairs to reach the roof. It was worth it for the view which was exceptionally good in all directions.

The view to the north is of Tel es-Sultan. See below. You may notice some wires (cables) across the photo. These are for the cable car that goes up to the traditional Mount of Temptation (Matthew 4).

Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) from the south. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) from the south. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Afterwards we visited the Jordan River. On the way back to Jerusalem we stopped by the St. George Monastery in the wilderness of Judea. The monastery building appear to hang on the side of a cliff overlooking the Wadi Qilt. Quite a sight.

We stopped at the Inn of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) which now houses many mosaic floors from Jewish synagogues, Samaritan Synagogues, and Byzantine Churches, as well as a few other interesting artifacts.

It was a great day.

The 2013 group in Jerusalem

It is traditional for groups to have a photo made on the Mount of Olives with a view of Jerusalem in the background. I like the tradition, so I try to do that each time I bring a group to Israel.

Here is the photo we made this morning. You may click on the photo for a larger image.

Jenkins Bible Land Group - Jerusalem - April 22, 2013.

Jenkins Bible Land Group – Jerusalem – April 22, 2013.

In addition to the Mount of Olives, we visited the Garden of Gethsemane on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. After that we made our way to the Christian Quarter of the Old City to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. A local lunch was enjoyed in the Old City.

In the early afternoon we went to the Israel Museum. There were three major things to see there:

  1. The Second Temple Model of Jerusalem.
  2. The Shrine of the Book.
  3. The Israel Museum. We visited the Herod the Great: the kings final journey exhibit as well as the archaeology section of the Museum.

There was time enough to go to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity, and to do some shopping at the Kando shop.

Everyone in our group seems to be staying well. For this, we are thankful.

A pleasant stop in Samaria

It was still raining quite a bit in the north of the country yesterday, but we enjoyed some good visits. The morning was clear for the visit to Beth Shean (Beth-shan). We approached the overlook of the Jezreel Valley from Jezreel in a light drizzle.

From that spot one gets a view of Jezreel Valley, Mount Gilboa, the Hill of Moreh, and the spring below Jezreel. We discussed Gideon and the Midianites, the Ahab and Jezebel and their deaths, Naboth’s Vineyard, Elijah and the prophets of Baal, the coming of Jehu. What a great visual backdrop this provided!

We were able to travel along the central mountain range through Samaria. This is not always possible when traveling in the country. The road up to the Hill of Samaria is in bad repair (what a shame), but our driver was able to negotiate the ruts and get us to the top.

I have eaten several times before at the Samaria Restaurant in Sebastia. It is located across from the Roman agora of ancient Samaria. The owner, Mahmud Ghazal is a pleasant person. He studied at the University of Alabama, with a degree from UAB. If you are able to go to Samaria I suggest you try this restaurant, and then visit his shop.

There is a nice wall exhibit in the restaurant showing some of the antiques from the area – from the not too distant past. Take a look.

Antiques at the Samaria Restaurant, Sebastia, Palestine. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Antiques at the Samaria Restaurant, Sebastia, Palestine. Most of these have to do with agricultural practices. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Most of these antiques have to do with agricultural practices that were common in Bible times. On the right you have a wooden plow with a metal plow point. On the left is a threshing sledge. On the right you see two winnowing forks and a sickle. I don’t have the time to list biblical references for all of these items. Many of them we have discussed before on this blog.

The rain let up long enough for us to have a good visit of the archaeological ruins of ancient Samaria.

We also stopped at Jacob’s Well, drove up on Mount Gerizim for a view of the area below. Then we continued to our hotel in Jerusalem.

Rain was forecast for Jerusalem today, so we went through the Wilderness of Judea and drove along the Dead Sea to Masada. There were large crowds at Masada. Some of them probably had the same idea we did and changed their plan to be in a dry place for the day.

Hopefully the skies will be clear tomorrow. We are having a great learning experience, and a great time, anyway.

Rainy days in Galilee

We visited the area north of the Sea of Galilee today. Gentle rain was still falling when I first looked out at the Sea of Galilee this morning. By the time we reached Hazor the weather had cleared and we had a bright and sunny visit. A light rain fell at Dan, but at Caesarea Philippi there was a downpour like I have never seen during one of my tours.

After lunch there was clearing and we returned to the site for a more complete visit.

The right amount of rain is a wonderful blessing from the LORD. He promised His people that he would send the early rains and the late rain. The late rain comes about this time of year, and we are expecting more the next two days.

“It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. “He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.  (Deuteronomy 11:13-15 NAU)

The rain is a good thing to help correct a long-term drought that has afflicted Israel in recent years. Nowhere have we seen this more clearly than at the Sea of Galilee.

Here is a photo I made yesterday at Nof Ginosaur in the Biblical Gennesaret (Matthew 14:34). I walked out to the end of the pier that has been built to allow boats to drop off passengers.

Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosaur, April 18, 2913. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosaur, April 18, 2913. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

And here is the same area in September, 2012.

The Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosar, September, 2012. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosar, September, 2012. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Kinneret Bot reports for April 18 that the Sea of Galilee is –209.94 meters below sea level. Americans typically translate that as –688.78 feet. A year ago the level was –693.44 feet (211.36 meters) bsl.

Touring Israel again

We completed our second full day of study in Israel today. The photo below shows our guide explaining the geographical/topographical features of the area around a site northeast of the Sea of Galilee. The site is known as et-Tell, and is identified by some as the New Testament site of Bethsaida, and perhaps the Old Testament site of Geshur.

Bethsaida is listed in the New Testament as the home of Andrew, Peter, and Philip (John 1:44; 12:21).

The land of Geshur was located in this same area. David married Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur (2 Samuel 3:3). Absalom, the son of David and Maacah, spent three years in Geshur after he killed his half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:30-38; cf. 14:23, 32).

Tour group at "Bethsaida". Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tour group at et-Tell. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

While traveling I do not have time to elaborate on the arguments about the identity of this site with Bethsaida.

Don’t mess around with nature

Shmuel Browns has a nice article here on Agamon (Hula) Lake in northern Israel. Perhaps we all know that Lake Hula (Hulah; Huleh) is the small body of water about 10 miles north of the Sea of Galilee.

Browns tells how the lake came to be drained a few decades back, and the reason for its reclamation. I was especially impressed with the number of “creatures” found in the area around the lake. And also of the number of species lost as a result of the draining of the lake.

Josephus refers to Lake Hula by the Roman name of Lake Semechonitis (Ant. 5.199; Jewish Wars 3:515; 4:3).

My earliest association for the site (about 60 years ago) was to identify it as the Waters of Merom (Joshua 11), because this is what Hurlbut suggested in A Bible Atlas. This identification is doubtful, and many modern atlases pass over the issue.

In the new Satellite Bible Atlas, Bill Schlegel says the Canaanites gathered at

…  the Waters of Merom, of uncertain location. The name is preserved at a spring and mountain in Upper Galilee. If this is its location, the Canaanite gathering there is the only significant event described in the Bible that occurred in Upper Galilee. (Map 3-7).

Shmuel shows you some good land photos, and I will show you an aerial photo I made of the reclaimed lake now known as Agamon (Hula) Lake.

Reclamation of Lake Hula. Aerial photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Reclamation of Lake Hula. Aerial photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the late 1960s, I saw the former location of Lake Hula. By that time there was a line of trees standing where the shore had once been.

Fort Babylon in Old Cairo

Daily News Egypt carried a brief article about the Roman ruins in Old Cairo here. The article says,

The fort was built on the southern end of the old Pharaonic town Per-Hapi-On, or ‘The river house of On’. According to some historians the mispronunciation of the name by the Romans led to the name Fort Babylon but others claim it was named after a number of captives brought there from Babylonia during the time of Sesostris.

Roman Emperor Diocletian built the fort in 300 C.E. as the stronghold of three legions in charge of securing Egypt. The garrison of Fort Babylon vowed to secure ships on the Nile and a canal that passed through the town connecting the Nile with the Red Sea. This canal was first established by the Pharaohs, and was restored and enlarged by the Roman Emperor Trajan. The fort was renovated and fortified by the Roman Emperor Arcadius.

Our photo shows ruins of the Roman fort that was known as Fort Babylon in Roman times. At that time the Nile River flowed beside the Fort, but has since changed its course. New building of Old Cairo dwarf the old structure.

Roman Tower (Fort Babylon in Old Cairo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman Tower (Fort Babylon in Old Cairo). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The sign in front of the structure says that it was constructed by Diocletian (c. A.D. 300) to fortify the Roman harbor of Old Cairo built by Trajan (c. A.D. 110).

HT: Agade List