Monthly Archives: May 2013

The priest’s servant used a three-pronged fork

When the tabernacle (the temple of the LORD, 1 Samuel 1:9; the house of the LORD, 1 Samuel 1:24) was at Shiloh, the priests became corrupt. First Samuel 2 recounts the practices of the wicked sons of Eli.

The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, 14 and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.  (1 Samuel 2:13-14 ESV)

Three-pronged forks, like the one mentioned in this text have been found at a number of archaeological sites where sacrifices were offered by the Canaanites to their gods. The trident pictured here is from Akko (Acco), and is said to date to the 14th-13th century B.C. It appears to have had a wooden handle that would fit into it.

Trident and tongs from Akko (14th-13th Century B.C. Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bronze trident and tongs from Akko (14th-13th Century B.C. Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For more information about Shiloh and the biblical events that took place there, see here.

The “wild goats” of the Old Testament

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)

The Ibex may also be seen at En (Ein) Avdat (Avedat) and Mitzpe Ramon in Israel. The photo below shows one of the young Ibex on the run at En Avdat

Young Ibex on the run at En Avdat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Young Ibex on the run at En Avdat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo illustrates how well the Ibex blend in with the terrain in which they live.

Ibex at Avdat in the Wilderness of Zin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ibex at En Avdat in the Wilderness of Zin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The last photo shows the sure-footed Ibex seeking out the high places.

Ibex in the wilderness of Zin near En Avdat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ibex in the wilderness of Zin near En Avdat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The reference to the hind or deer (Hebrew ayyalah) in Psalm 18:33 (Hebrew 18:34) indicates a different species, but the analogy is the same. Both Hebrew terms are used in Job 39;1.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me upon my high places. (Psalm 18:33 NAU)

He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain. (Psalm 18:33 NET)

If you would like to see another photo of the Ibex at En Gedi, click here.

Personal Note: A few friends who have missed the blog have contacted me to see if I had returned home and was doing o.k. The answer is yes, and yes. After being away for three weeks I needed some time to recoup, tend to personal matters, and get my photos organized. The subscription price remains the same. Thanks for your concern.

Rivers in the Desert – Wadi Zin

Rivers in the Desert is the title of Nelson Glueck’s 1959 history of the Negev. These rivers also may be seen in the Judean wilderness and in the Sinai. Thomas Levy followed up on some of Glueck’s research in a Biblical Archaeology Review article in 1990.

If one travels in the desert during the summer months he will see a dry, desolate bad land with only an isolated tamarisk tree or shrub where the last water of the winter rain flowed. In the winter it can be different. Israel has two dominant seasons: winter and summer. The summer is dry and the winter is wet. The early rains begin about mid-October and continue till the late rains of early April. See Deuteronomy 11:14 and Joel 2:23.

Levy reminds us that “Nahal, incidentally, is Hebrew for a dry river bed or valley that flows at most a few times a year. In Arabic, the word is wadi. The two words are used interchangeably in Israel today.” The wadi is similar to the arroyo of the American southwest.

While traveling south of Beersheba, yesterday and today, we crossed the Wadi Zin (Joshua 13:21ff.) at least three times in each direction we traveled.

Here is what the Wadi looks like when it is dry.

Wadi Zin near Avedat in the Negev of Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Wadi Zin near Avedat in the Negev of Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

And this marker on the highway shows travelers the depth of the water when the wadi is flooded. The person in the photo is six feet tall. The marker goes to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet), and the pole is higher.

Marker to let travelers know the depth of the water in the Wadi Zin.

Marker to let travelers know the depth of the water in the Wadi Zin. Photo by Dan Kingsley.

For more pictures, including rivers in the desert during the rain season, see here.

Meet the Camel Family at Abel-meholah

This morning we drove south from Tiberias through the Jordan Valley. At Abel-meholah, possibly the home of Elisha the prophet (1 Kings 19:16), we saw about a dozen or more camels on the hillside. I was impressed with this group of seven that stayed together apart from the others.

Camels at Meholah in the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Camels at Abel-meholah in the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Camels are first mentioned in the Bible in the time of Abraham (Genesis 12:16).

Tonight we are at Mitzpe Ramon, a little town that overlooks the Maktesh Ramon. This Maktesh, the largest on the face of the earth, is located about 50 miles south of Beersheba in the Negev wilderness of Israel.

Here and there in Lower Galilee

This morning we set out from Tiberias to reach Khirbet Kana, the likely site of the Cana of Galilee mentioned in John 2. The site along the highway from Nazareth to Tiberias that many tourists visit is the traditional site known as Kafr Kana. Jesus attended a marriage at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11), and met the royal official (John 4:46-54).

Traveling as we are, and being extremely tired at night, I have neither the materials or the inclination to go into detail about the matter. Here is a view of the rocky hill located on the north side of the Bet Netofa Valley. The ancient road ran in the valley below the city.

View of Khirbet Kana from the SE. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of Khirbet Kana from the SE. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This is not the sort of visit one may take lightly. It probably took us 45 minutes in from the main road, and 45 minutes out. (We should have had a Jeep-type vehicle. We spent about an hour walking up one side of the hill and down another. (I hope no one will ask directions!).

Later we made a short stop at Hannathon (Joshua 19:41), and then through Nazareth and Megiddo Junction to see again the Rolling Stone tomb on the south side of the Jezreel Valley. This tomb can no longer be photographed easily by tourists in a bus. There is no room for the bus to stop. Our little car could pull off the road, and we could get close enough to avoid the new railing that has been installed. This is what it looks like and how close the cars, buses, and trucks, come to it.

Rolling Stone tomb near Jezreel Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Rolling Stone tomb near Jezreel Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We were able to get photos similar to the one you see here.

Another brief stop allowed us to take a photo of Tell Jokneam (Joshua 12:22; 19:11; 21:34). On the way back to our home at the Ron Beach Hotel in Tiberias we visited the possible site of En Dor (En-Dor; 1 Samuel 28:7), where Saul visited the medium of En Dor. Our last stop was at the modern town of En Dor where we visited the En Dor Archaeology Museum. It is a great little museum. More about it later.