Monthly Archives: July 2016

Philistine cemetery uncovered at Ashkelon

Friends Trent and Rebekah Dutton alerted me last evening that there would be a significant press release today about the excavation of a Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon over the past three years. All of this information has been kept secret until today with an announcement to coincide with the opening of a permanent Ashkelon exhibit at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. Trent and Rebekah have been working with the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon during this time in connection with others from Wheaton College, Harvard, and other educational institutions. They both have earned the Master’s degree in Archaeology from Wheaton.

Sign at Ashkelon reminding visitors that the Philistines once lived here.

Sign at Ashkelon reminding visitors that the Philistines once lived here.

Certain news outlets have been given an advance notice of this discovery and have already broken the news. I am directing you to some of the better reports thus far. What you learn may surprise you.

Trust you will enjoy some of these reports this afternoon.

Sunset on the Nile

In this photo we catch a sunset on the Nile River a short distance from Luxor.

Sunset on the Nile River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sunset on the Nile River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Some repair photos at the Holy Sepulcher

In the last post we mentioned the long-needed repair of the shrine (edicule) in the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of the tomb in which Jesus was placed after the crucifixion.

One of my traveling friends, Steven Braman, just returned from the excavation at Lachish. He offered to send some photos he made within the Holy Sepulcher on June 24th. I am sharing two of these with our readers.

Shrine of the Holy Sepulcher under repair June 24, 2016.

Shrine of the Holy Sepulcher under repair June 24, 2016.

Repair of the shrine of the Holy Sepulcher, June 24, 2016.

Repair of the shrine of the Holy Sepulcher, June 24, 2016.

Tim Blamer, one of our readers, left this comment.

I was there last week. The scaffolding and construction is quite extensive now. Any peace and tranquility that was in the church is now overwhelmed by the sound of construction and heavy equipment moving around. People could still go in to view the tomb, but it’s clear something major is being done.

Thanks to Steven and Tim. I never observed much “peace and tranquility” in the church.

Repair of the Shrine in the Holy Sepulcher

The dome of the Holy Sepulcher (Sepulchre) is easily recognizable to all visitors of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the larger of two gray domes seen in the photo below. The smaller dome marks the traditional site of Calvary, the place where Jesus was crucified. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built by the Roman Emperor Constantine after his mother Helena visited Jerusalem. Murphy-O’Connor dates the dedication of the building to September 17, 335.

The gray domes of the Holy Sepulchre (left) and the site of Calvary (right) from the roof of the Citadel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The gray domes of the Holy Sepulcher (left) and the site of Calvary (right) from the roof of the Citadel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

An edicule or small building within the church is said to cover the tomb in which Jesus was laid after the crucifixion, that is, the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60). The photo below shows some of the metal used to secure the structure in recent years.

For years it was known that the structure needed to be repaired. Finally, someone donated $1.3 million dollars to be sure the work could begin. Widespread reports indicate the work in now underway to remove the structure and then replace it.

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

At this time the original tomb is covered by stone. The Franciscan Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem has a model to show what the original tomb looked like.

Model of the tomb at the Holy Sepulchre. Franciscian Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cross section model of the tomb at the Holy Sepulchre in the Franciscan Museum, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor asks the question, “Is this the place where Christ died and was buried?” He answers, “Yes, very probably.”

But Murphy-O’Connor also describes vividly the situation one finds today.

One expects the central shrine of Christendom to stand out in majestic isolation, but anonymous buildings cling to it like barnacles. One looks for numinous light, but it is dark and cramped. One hopes for peace, but the ear is assailed by a cacophony of warring chants. One desires holiness, only to encounter a jealous possessiveness: the six groups of occupants—Latin Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Syrians, Copts, Ethiopians—watch one another suspiciously for any infringement of rights. The frailty of humanity is nowhere more apparent than here; it epitomizes the human condition. The empty who come to be filled will leave desolate, those who permit the church to question them may begin to understand why hundreds of thousands thought it worthwhile to risk death or slavery in order to pray here. (The Holy Land, 5th Ed., p. 49).

Whether most of us will ever see the remains of the actual tomb is unknown. Our faith in the resurrected Christ does not depend on the actual tomb in which He was placed after being taken down from the cross. It depends rather on the testimony of those reliable witnesses who saw Him after the resurrection. Luke reports that eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1-4). Here is what he says the women who went to the tomb on the first day of the week were told when they found the empty tomb.

He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (Lukw 24:6-7 ESV)

When Todd Bolen reported (here) the plans to dismantle and rebuilt the shrine he said,

Maybe one of these days they’ll get around to moving the ladder.

This ladder is said by some to have been leaning against the facade above the entry to the church since the 18th century because the various religious groups can not agree who should remove it. The ladder has become a symbol of division. An interesting article about the Immovable Ladder may be found in Wikipedia here.

The ladder above the entrance to the church of the Holy Sepulcher. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The immovable ladder above the entrance to the church of the Holy Sepulcher. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The harbor at Joppa (Jaffa, Yafo)

The harbor at Joppa/Jaffa/Yafo was once a much more significant harbor, but never an adequate one. Only a small leisure harbor remains today. Our late afternoon photo shows the lighthouse rising above some of the buildings of the city.

The leisure harbor at Joppa/Jaffa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The leisure harbor at Joppa/Jaffa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Joppa is located in the Plain of Sharon and served as the seaport for Jerusalem which is about 35 miles away. The city is now called Jaffa, or Yafo. Joppa was a walled town as early as the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1490-1435 B.C.) who mentions Joppa in his town lists.

Here are a few of the biblical highlights for Joppa.

  • Joppa was assigned to the tribe of Dan, but was not controlled by the Israelites till the time of David (Joshua 19:46).
  • Hiram of Tyre floated cedar from Lebanon to Joppa for Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 2:16).
  • Jonah sought a ship for Tarshish at Joppa to avoid going to Nineveh (Jonah 1:3).
  • Cedars from Lebanon again were floated to Joppa for the rebuilding of the temple (520-516 B.C.; Ezra 3:7). The port of the city is behind St. Peter’s Church.
  • Tabitha (Dorcas) lived in Joppa. When she died the disciples sent for Peter who was a Lydda. He came to Joppa and raised Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42). (Acts 10:6).
  • Peter stayed many days in Joppa with Simon the tanner (Acts 9:43). His house was by the sea (Acts 10:6). A house near the port is shown as the house of Simon, but there is no way to know this with certainty.
  • Peter received the housetop vision and learned that he was to go to Caesarea to preach the gospel to the Gentiles at the house of the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10:23).
The traditional house of Simon the Tanner at Joppa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The traditional house of Simon the Tanner at Joppa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.