Monthly Archives: January 2015

“You shall not steal…You shall not covet”

“You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:15-17 ESV; cf. Romans 13:9)

The Ten Commandments, given to the nation of Israel, were clear about the attitude one should take toward the property belonging to others. Coveting causes one to desire the wife, or the property, of another man.

The reason the donkey and ox of another was not to be coveted or stolen was because these were the man’s means of income. How could he work without his donkey or ox?

A loaded donkey at Seleucia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A loaded donkey at Seleucia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It may be that none of my readers own a donkey or an ox, but the principle is clear. You shall not take that which belongs to another person. When I was teaching I had to deal with this issue a few times. I am confident that it happened other times, but I did not know about it at the time.

When a student turns in a report or paper that was written by another student he/she is stealing the work of another and pretending that it is his own. Occasionally a student will look over and take an answer that another person has given to a question. That is stealing.

Oxen hitched to a small wagon near Mount Ararat in Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Oxen hitched to a small wagon near Mount Ararat in Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is such a thing as intellectual property. The government of the United Kingdom describes intellectual property as “the words you’ve written.” It includes “things you write, make or produce.” Like photos, for example.

A student once told me that there was a student on campus who would make a CD of ten of your favorite songs for $1 for each song.  What if a person spends literally several thousand of dollars to purchase equipment, travel a long distance and make photos. Would it be o.k. to take that property and treat it as one’s own.

Several years ago I had a young person to copy some of my posts without permission and post them on his own web site. He cropped the photos to cut off the copyright notice. He said he didn’t know. His web site was closed down.

Recently someone living in a fashionable neighborhood in another country registered a internet site using my name. (I could post a photo of his house from Google earth!) He had this entire web site posted on his new domain, but he made it impossible for readers to reach me. All Email was directed to him (or her?).

There are strict laws governing this sort of thing. In the USA we have the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). I have learned that some (perhaps most or all) of the hosting companies take this seriously. The DMCA “implements the 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)” (Wikipedia, here), to which most of the nations in the United Nations subscribe. Once I got to the correct company, the offending web site was closed very quickly.

Even the Code of Hammurabi (ruled 1728-1686 B.C., according to Pritchard) contained numerous laws containing the penalties for stealing. Law 8 says,

If a seignior stole either an ox or a sheep or an ass or a pig or a boat, if it belonged to the church (or) if it belonged to the state, he shall make thirtyfold restitution; if it belonged to a private citizen, he shall make good tenfold. If the thief does not have sufficient to make restitution, he shall be put to death. (ANET).

I think that most of us are pleased when someone finds our material useful and even wants to share it with others. But stealing one’s property is another matter.

Our PHOTO PERMISSION page is liberal regarding private and classroom non-commercial use of our photos as long as credit is given.

Thanks for reading this blog. I hope you find it helpful in your own study and teaching.

The Other Bethlehem – Part 2

The unique buildings we now see in the little village of Beit Lehem HaGlilit (Galilean Bethlehem) were erected in the 1930s by a group of German nationals. A 2008 article by Lydia Aisenberg in the Jerusalem Post explains the origin and dispersion of the group. Aisenberg says that Beit Lehem HaGlilit and the nearby town of Waldheim (now Alonei Abba)…

…were built by the Templars [or Templers], a German-Christian sect and Nazi sympathizers who were rounded up by the British in 1939 and deported out of Mandate Palestine. Some chose to return to Germany, but the majority of the Templar community’s members emigrated to Melbourne, Australia.

The sect originated in southern Germany and carried a holy mission known as the Tempel Gemeinde, or Tempelgesellschaft. The sect’s name was later shortened to just “Templars,” often confused with another group, the Crusader-era Templer Knights.

The Templars arrived in the Ottoman controlled Holy Land in mid-l880 and began to build communities in different parts of the country: Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Sarona (Tel Aviv), as well as the two communities Beit Lehem HaGlilit and Waldheim in the Jezreel Valley.

After World War I, the British sent the Templars packing, but members of the sect were later allowed to return. They were banished for a second and final time when their Nazi connections were discovered in the late 1930s.

Templar youth from Palestine had been sent to attend “educational” youth activities and family visits in Germany, where they met with top Nazi officials. Photographs on display at the Beit Lehem HaGlilit home of the Fleischman family depict Templar sect members wearing swastika armbands and congregating in one of the large courtyards between the two-story buildings and outhouses.

The Templars of Beit Lehem HaGlilit (Galilean Bethlehem) and neighboring Waldheim (meaning “Forest Home” in German) were eventually rounded up by the British and sent to detention camps until their deportation, after which British Mandate soldiers and police were billeted in the Templars’ former homes.

When Jewish refugee families later moved into the Templar houses in Beit Lehem HaGlilit and Alonei Abba, they discovered hidden Templar belongings that attested the sect’s support of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. Items discovered in the community’s homes included Nazi party pennants, badges, banners, pamphlets and flags, in addition to photographs.

The stone house below, built by the Templars, served as a community house for the German nationals who lived in Galilean Bethlehem in the 1930s.

The Community House at Beit Lehem HaGilit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Community House at Beit Lehem HaGilit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo is of the Holocaust memorial erected by the residents of the town in 2007. Aisenberg explains the significance of the monument.

Its six large marble slabs lean forward, as if struggling to keep their pride and stay erect under the heaviest of loads.

Engraved on the memorial are the names of Jews snatched from their homes, transported and murdered by the Nazis. The names of the European towns and villages in which they had lived for generations are also etched deep in the stones, which seem to strain under the weight of memorializing so many thousands of murdered Jews and their annihilated communities.

The victims whose memories are honored on the six marble blocks, unveiled last year, are extended family members of today’s residents of the pleasant, upscale community of Beit Lehem HaGlilit.

A smaller block of marble at the side of the memorial boasts an inscription reading: “Erected by the community of Beit Lehem HaGlilit, second generation since the Holocaust, in recognition of our parents who survived the Holocaust, made aliya to Eretz Israel, participated in the founding of the state and amongst the founders of Beit Lehem HaGlilit, our home and in memory of our family members who were murdered by the Nazis in Europe during the years of 1939-1945.”

Monument to Holocaust Victims at Beit Lehem HaGelit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Monument to Holocaust Victims at Beit Lehem HaGelit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The complete article by Lydia Aisenberg may be read here.

After Part 1 was posted, Erik Wold left a comment and link that is pertinent at this point. The Dec. 26, 2014 issue of the London Mirror carried an article entitled “Is this secret Nazi enclave the REAL Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born?” here.

The authors of the article claim that the settlement in Galilean Bethlehem was an effort by Hitler and Himmler “to show that Jesus was born an Aryan, not a Jew.”

This is home to a secret Nazi sect waiting for the Second Coming in the heart of the Holy Land.

And behind it all is an anti-Semetic [Semitic] fantasy dreamed up by Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler to show that Jesus was born an Aryan, not a Jew.

It may seem stranger than fiction but it all really happened in Bethlehem of Galilee, nine miles west of Nazareth.

The article also advances the theory of Dr Aviram Oshri that Jesus was born in Galilean Bethlehem, while acknowledging that the Israel Antiquities Authority “dismiss his claim as ‘worse than a joke.'”

As a result of something I read in the Mirror article I was led to Heidemarie Wawrzyn’s Nazis in the Holy Land 1933-1948. She says that the German colonies were used to aid Arab rebels. All of this came to a head about 1938 and resulted in the expulsion of the settlers.

I do not claim much knowledge about the Templars or the German settlement at Bethlehem, but I do find all of this intriguing as a prelude to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

Added Note: See the comment below by Tom Powers. Here is a copy of the photo he mentions. Use Tom’s link for the original at the Library of Congress.

Photo taken on Coronation Day of King George VI in 1937. The Fast Hotel, on lower Jaffa Road, was owned by a Templer family.

Photo taken on the Coronation Day of King George VI in 1937. The Fast Hotel, on lower Jaffa Road, was owned by a Templer family. Notice both Nazi Flags and the Union Jack.

The Other Bethlehem – Part 1

Everyone who has studied the earthly ministry of Christ knows that He was born in Bethlehem, the city of David, about six miles south of the ancient city of Jerusalem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-8; Luke 2:4,15). This village is designated as Bethlehem of Judea or Bethlehem Ephrath.

So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), (Genesis 35:19 ESV)

The only reference to Bethlehem in the New Testament apart from the birth account in Matthew and Luke calls Bethlehem a village (kome; John 7:42) and ties it with the prophecy of Micah 5:2.

The other Bethlehem is located in the tribal territory of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15), about 7 miles northwest of Nazareth. For a list of the twelve cities of Zebulun see Joshua 19:10-15.

After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (A.D. 70) Bethlehem of Zebulun,

was known under the name of Bethlehem Zoriah — Bethlehem of Tyre — and was the seat of the priestly order of the family of Malchiah. Identified with Beit Lahm in Lower Galilee. (Avraham Negev, ed. The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, rev. ed., p. 58.

Galilean Bethlehem is now a small Jewish moshav, a cooperative agricultural settlement. The photo below shows the entrance to the moshav.

Entrance to the moshav of Beit Lehem HaGelit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Entrance to the moshav of Beit Lehem HaGelilit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The small map below shows the location of Galilean Bethlehem.

Map showing Galilean Bethlehem. BibleAtlas.org

Map showing Galilean Bethlehem. New Testament Nazareth would be located at the far right of the map under the “h” in Japh. Credit: Biblos.com.

Could Jesus have been born here? Primarily because of the proximity of Galilean Bethlehem to Nazareth, some scholars have suggested that this was the birthplace of Jesus. National Geographic writer Marisa Larson raises this question in a Feb. 11, 2008, followup to the Dec., 2007, feature “Bethlehem 2007 A.D.”

Larson cites Aviram Oshri, a senior archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, as someone who thinks that it was more likely that the historical Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Galilee rather than the Bethlehem of Judea.

“If the historical Jesus were truly born in Bethlehem,” Oshri adds, “it was most likely the Bethlehem of Galilee, not that in Judaea. The archaeological evidence certainly seems to favor the former, a busy center [of Jewish life] a few miles from the home of Joseph and Mary, as opposed to an unpopulated spot almost a hundred miles from home.” In this Bethlehem, Oshri and his team have uncovered the remains of a later monastery and the largest Byzantine church in Israel, which raises the question of why such a huge house of Christian worship was built in the heart of a Jewish area. The Israeli archaeologist believes that it’s because early Christians revered Bethlehem of Galilee as the birthplace of Jesus. “There is no doubt in my mind that these are impressive and important evidence of a strong Christian community established in Bethlehem [of Galilee] a short time after Jesus’ death,” he says. (copied from here, 12/27/14).

Oshri also expressed his views in Archaeology 58:6 (Nov.-Dec. 2005). He says that there is evidence of “a strong Christian community established in Bethlehem [of Galilee] a short time after Jesus’ death.” In fact, the first archaeological evidence is of a sixth century church [building].

Even if Christians of Galilee “revered Bethlehem of Galilee as the birthplace of Jesus” it does not negate the clear historical records of Matthew and Luke regarding the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea and the reason for the couple from Nazareth returning to the ancestral home in Judea.

If the Bible were written by men unaided by the Holy Spirit I think it would be reasonable to place the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Galilee and his upbringing in nearby Nazareth. There is an amazing undesigned coincidence here.

  • The Messiah was to be from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), and of the family of David (2 Samuel 7:11).
  • The birth of the Messiah was prophesied to be in Bethlehem Ephrath (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:6). This was the Bethlehem of Judea.
  • The couple living in Nazareth were both of the family of David (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:27,32,69). The legal line is traced through Joseph, and the blood line is traced through Mary in Luke’s account.
  • Joseph and Mary responded to the decree of the emperor Augustus that they return to their ancestral home for registration (Luke 2:1-5).

If Jesus had been born in Galilean Bethlehem, and if the Gospels had been written much later, as most critics claim, then they would have recorded a different story.

The ease with which writers could mix up the two Bethlehems, but did not, provides an  illustration of the amazing accuracy of the Bible.

Beit Lehem HaGelilit is situated on the north side of the western end of the Jezreel Valley.

Valley from Beit Lehem HaGelit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View SE to the Jezreel Valley from Beit Lehem HaGelilit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

On the hills of lower Galilee, to the east and north of Galilean Bethlehem, there are Olive orchards, and cows grazing among the oaks.

Cows graze among the Allon Oak trees at Galilean Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cows graze among the Oaks at Galilean Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bethlehem of Galilee may be mentioned one other time in the Bible as the home and burial place of Ibzan the judge (Judges 12:8). The context in which he is mentioned is dealing with various judges of the tribes of Zebulun and Ephraim.

In  a post to follow I plan to share some of the recent history of Galilean Bethlehem.

Bock Responds to the Newsweek attack

Newsweek on The Bible

Newsweek on The Bible

It almost always happens around Christmas and Easter. The print and film media launches a critical attack on the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity. This time it is Newsweek, in an article called “The Bible So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” (here) by Kurt Eichenwald.

Dr. Darrell L. Bock, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, is writing a response to Newsweek’s take on the Bible. Part I deals with the Base Biblical Text, answering the question “Do we really know what we have?”

This response is available on bock’s blog here. Pass this along to your friends.

HT: Brooks Cochran