Category Archives: Books

The Arabah (introduction)

Recently I was doing some reading in the late Denis Baly’s Geographical Companion to the Bible (1963) and decided to share his description of the Arabah (Arava in Israel).

The southern section of the Rift Valley is normally known as the Arabah, and it is, to the surprise of many people, almost as long as the section of the valley between the south end of the Dead Sea and the Lake of Galilee. A north-east-south-west upfold running across it raises the central part of the Arabah to 1,000 feet above sea-level, and then it sinks southwards again towards the Red Sea. Everywhere it is desert, save where occasional springs provide a welcome supply of water. However, historically it has had a double importance: as a trade route to the Red Sea and as a source of cooper. This is found in the dark-red Nubian sandstone which outcrops particularly on the eastern, or Edomite, side of the rift. The most important of these copper mines was at Punon (the modern Feinan), almost certainly the place where Moses raised the serpent in the wilderness (Num. 21:4-10; 33:42-43). On the western side the copper-bearing rock outcrops only in the extreme south, and is being mined today at Timna, where also it was obtained in ancient times. This is the place known to the modern tourist as “King Solomon’s Mines” (Deut. 8:9). (p. 57).

I propose in a series of posts to discuss briefly Lot’s Wife, views of the Arabah, the excavations at Tamar, Keturah, Timnah, and Eilat.

A short distance south of the southern end of the Dead Sea is a formation called Lot’s wife. While there is no historical reality to the formation being Lot’s wife it is an interesting natural formation that promotes the memory of Lot and his family. In the biblical description of the overthrow of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah we are told,

But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26 ESV)

Lot's Wife, a natural formation south of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Lot’s Wife, a natural formation south of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Lot’s wife stands as a perfect illustration of those who turn back from doing the will of the Lord. Even Jesus called attention to this Old Testament event.

Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:32 ESV)

In the next post we plan to show you some of the arid terrain as we continue south in the Arabah.

Sadly, I see that neither Logos nor Accordance have Denis Baly’s The Geography of the Bible or The Geographical Companion of the Bible available.

Some recommended resources

Sale Deadline on The Book of Ruth collection

If you received the BiblePlaces Newsletter for April  a few days ago you already know about the new volume in the Photo Companion of the Bible series. This one is on The Book of Ruth. I received a complimentary advance copy and found some of this material to be helpful on the recent study trip to Jordan. I am confident that anyone studying or teaching the book of Ruth will find the material helpful. You can download the recent BiblePlaces Newsletter filled with much helpful information here.

Available through April 22 for $20.

There are 350 images in PowerPoint to illustrate the four chapters of the Book of Ruth. The collection is on sale until midnight April 22 for $20. Bolen says, “Shipping is free in the US and satisfaction is guaranteed.” Go here for ordering information. Take a look at the four volume set on the Gospels.

Appian Media Producing New Series

Our friends at Appian Media have already produced a wonderful set of high-quality videos entitled Following the Messiah. They will soon be returning to Israel to film a new series dealing what many of us call the Biblical period of the United Kingdom. The series will be called Searching for a King.

Appian Media Searching for a King

Filming for this series begins very soon.

Appian Media provides membership access to their material, and they are seeking donations to assist in the work. See details here. Some videos are available for viewing on the website.

A New Video on Lachish

Lachish: The Epic Unearthed, a 48 minute video about the history and excavations of the biblical city of Lachish has been produced by Dr. Robert Henry and Rachel Martin. Henry summarizes the film:

This documentary brings you into the exciting world of Biblical Archaeology as it reveals the history of one of the largest Old Testament cities and tells the story of the volunteers who dig it up. This epic story reveals the turbulent warfare of the first temple period of Biblical history, the discoveries that expand the Biblical narrative and the impact this experience had on the people who came to Israel to dig. Watch as these determined volunteers unearth a Biblical land mark that hasn’t been touched in over two thousand five hundred years.

The video features comments by Prof. Yosef Garfinkle and Prof. Michael Hasel, directors of the fourth excavation at Lachish, as well as interviews with some of those working on the dig including my friend Luke Chandler.

Some viewers will be unfamiliar with the pronunciation of such sites as Lachish and Azekah. Instead of Lake-ish and ah-ZECK-ah, you will hear LAH-KISH and AZ-e-kah, pronunciations more common in Israel.

I am thankful to have provided a few of my aerial photographs for the video. Henry and Martin encourage you to use this video in your teaching and for personal study free of charge.

Walking the Bible Lands with Dr. Wayne Stiles

Wayne Stiles, whose web site we have mentioned several times, is now developing a video series called Walking the Bible Lands. This is old hat for Wayne who had been traveling to the Bible lands, teaching and writing about them for many years.

Wayne’s new material is available on a membership arrangement. Detailed information is available at his Walking the Bible Lands website here. You will find some samples there.

New books from Carta Jerusalem – # 2

The Twice Told Tale parallel study of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and more.

The Twice Told Tale parallel study of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and more.

The Twice-Told Tale. This hardback book of 284 (6½” x 9½”) pages is written by Abba Bendavid, with an introduction by Mordechai Cogan. ($64). Cogan says,

It is well-known that readers of the Bible generally skip over the Book of Chronicles [1-2 Chronicles], the last book of the Hebrew Bible [chronologically]. All too often Chronicles is seen as merely a recap and summary of the historical books that preceded it….

This book includes an index to biblical citations. It will be extremely helpful to those studying Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.

Israel Biblical Archaeology touring map.

Israel Biblical Archaeology touring map.

Israel Biblical Archaeology (A Carta Touring Map) $14.95. Carta Jerusalem describes this folding map:

 The first major comprehensive map of  archaeological sites in the Holy Land, together with over a dozen annotated historical vignette maps of major sites and events throughout the land that provide an insightful overview of all archaeological sites related to the Bible and later historical periods.

This 24 × 35½ in. map folds to 5¼×9¼ in. For those interested in locating archaeological sites this can be a very helpful resource. On the back side of the map there are numerous smaller maps and diagrams helpful in study and travel. My preference would be to have this material in spiral bound atlas format, but I expect to use the map in planning and during my next personal study trip.

Sacred Flowers, Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns by Ami Tamir is a new book published this year. The Introduction explains,

This book tells the stories of fifty plants connected to Christian tradition which can be found, in season, by the Christian pilgrim visiting the land of Israel. Illustrations that enable the pilgrim to identify the less-recognizable plants are included, and encourage the study of the rich botanical variety he/she will find on footpaths between pilgrimage sites, churches and archaeological remains.

“The encounter with the plants brings to life the wondrous tales of the Holy Family: here they acquire a deeper religious significance. That is the magic secret: to touch the matter, the rocks, the clumps of earth, and the flowers growing on them.” (From the Introduction)

Sacred Flowers Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns.

Sacred Flowers, Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns.

My personal interests are not as much attuned to the traditions and legends that have grown up around certain plants, but more to the various plants and thorns mentioned in the Bible. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful little book and one that many visitors to Israel will find helpful.

This 8″ x 5½” paperback book of 176 pages belongs to the Carta Guide Book series. It is lavishly illustrated and sells for $25.00.

Check the Carta online catalog to learn more about each book. The books also are available from Hendrickson, Amazon, and some other publishers. The books mentioned here were sent to me by Carta Jerusalem, but the comments are my own opinion.

New books from Carta Jerusalem

Carta Jerusalem, publisher of some wonderful resources about the Bible, Biblical History, and the Bible Land, recently sent me several new books. I will make brief mention of these books in hope that you will check the Carta online catalog to learn more. The books also are available from Amazon and some other publishers.

Understanding Hezekiah of Judah (Rebel King and Reformer) by Mordechai Cogan. This full-color paperback is 9″ x 11¾”, 40 pages. The book is based on the Bible and extra-biblical sources including archaeological discoveries. $14.95.

Carta Jerusalem's new Understanding Hezekiah of Judah.

Carta Jerusalem’s new Understanding Hezekiah of Judah.

Understanding the Holy Temple Jesus Knew (The Background to Key Gospel Events) by Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer. This full-color paperback is 9″ x 11¾”, 48 pages. $14.95. We have frequently mentioned the superb work of the Ritmeyer’s on the temple that Jesus knew.

Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer's Understanding the Holy Temple Jesus Knew.

Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer’s Understanding the Holy Temple Jesus Knew.

Understanding the Israelite-Samaritans (From Ancient to Modern) by BenyamimTsedaka. This full-color paperback is 9″ x 11¾”, 40 pages. The author is an Elder of the Samaritan community living in Israel. Having visited the Samaritan community on Mount Gerizim, I found this work to be extremely interesting. $14.95.

Understanding the Israelite-Samaritans by Carta Jerusalem.

Understanding the Israelite-Samaritans by Carta Jerusalem.

The Carta books mentioned above are lavishly illustrated with photos, drawings, and maps.

In a future post or two I will mention a few more of the new books supplied by Carta Jerusalem.

The solar eclipse of June 15, 763 B.C.

I watched the solar eclipse on TV. Now you might enjoy going to the link I mention below.

Carl Rasmussen has posted an interesting article on his HolyLandPhotos’Blog here about “A Solar Eclipse and Old Testament Chronology.” He says,

But did you know that the solar eclipse of June 15, 763 B.C. holds the key to the chronology of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)?

He continues to explain how we are able to know the date for certain Old Testament kings and events. We are all dependent on the work of scholars such as the late Edwin R. Thiele (1895-1986) and his The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings.

How are we to convert the relative dates given in the Bible (e.g., “in the fourth year of…”) to absolute dates (e.g., 966 B.C.)?

The Assyrians kept records of their kings and various officials on these stone documents called limmus, but in one of them they recorded the eclipse of the sun that occurred June 15, 763 B.C. according to astronomical computation.

Limmu stelae from Asshur. Museum of the Ancient Orient, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Limmu stelae from Asshur. Museum of the Ancient Orient, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I confess to having made the above photo of the limmu stelae from Asshur, displayed in the Museum of the Ancient Orient in Istanbul, Turkey, but failing to photograph the identifying sign.

Carl’s post and photo was enlightening to me. He explains about the limmu stelae and how Thiele used this material to develop a widely accepted Biblical Chronology. I urge you to read his article, and perhaps Thiele’s book. The book is available from Amazon and other sources.

Special offer on Carta Jerusalem resources

Yesterday I received a review copy of Jerusalem • Biblical Archaeology from Carta. This is a wonderful resource for anyone traveling to Jerusalem, or anyone interested in the archaeology of the Holy City.

The map of the Biblical Archaeological Sites of Jerusalem are printed on one side of this 2 ft. by 3 ft. map. Half of the other side is an enlargement of the archaeological sites in the Old City. The other half contains helpful information about sites on both sides of the map.

This map was prepared by Carta Jerusalem with the assistance of Yuval Baruch PhD, in collaboration with The Israel Antiquities Authority.

This is exactly the type map I like to use when rambling through Jerusalem.

And here is a special offer from Carta.

carta-jer-arch-map

This offer allows 20% off the list price of…

  • Leen Ritmeyer, The Quest (list price $60.00; sale price $48.00).
  • Dan Bahat, The Carta Jerusalem Atlas (list price $60.00; sale price $48.00).
  • Josephus, The Jewish War (list price $60.00; sale price $48.00). See Todd Bolen’s review of the book here.

These are all great books. And you get the map free when you buy one of them. Use the Search box for Jerusalem Archaeological Sites to locate the map.

This offer is good until January 31st ONLY! Use Voucher Code: 20-off

You can check the Carta Jerusalem website here for details of this special offer.

New Book: The World’s Oldest Alphabet

Carta Jerusalem is sending me a review copy of this book when it is published next month. It is somewhat technical, but there are readers of our blog who have an interest in the subject.

The World’s Oldest Alphabet

Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-Consonantal Script
By Douglas Petrovich

From the Introduction by Eugene H. Merrill,
Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies (Emeritus)
Dallas Theological Seminary:

“. . . The breakthrough as to the question of the origins of the alphabet represented in this volume is the fruit of the author’s intensive and extensive research and fastidious attention to detail. His acclaimed expertise in epigraphy, paleography, lexicography, and comparative linguistics and literature has led him to the conviction that of all options one can currently advance as to the ultimate origins of the alphabet, the identification of proto-Hebrew is the very best candidate. . . .”

New book Douglas Petrovich.

Carta is offering 25% off until January 31st only.

For about 150 years, scholars have attempted to identify the language of the world’s first alphabetic script, and to translate some of the inscriptions that use it. Until now, their attempts have accomplished little more than identifying most of the pictographic letters and translating a few of the Semitic words. With the publication of The World’s Oldest Alphabet, a new day has dawned. All of the disputed letters have been resolved, while the language has been identified conclusively as Hebrew, allowing for the translation of 16 inscriptions that date from 1842 to 1446 BC. It is the author’s reading that these inscriptions expressly name three biblical figures (Asenath, Ahisamach, and Moses) and greatly illuminate the earliest Israelite history in a way that no other book has achieved, apart from the Bible.

 About the Author:

Douglas Petrovich (Ph.D., M.A., Th.M., M.Div.) teaches Ancient Egypt at Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Canada). He formerly was the academic dean and a professor at Novosibirsk Biblical-Theological Seminary (Russia), as well as at Shepherds Theological Seminary (U.S.A.), where he taught all levels of biblical Hebrew. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, with a major in Syro-Palestinian archaeology, a first minor in ancient Egyptian language, and a second minor in ancient Near Eastern religions. His research interests include biblical history and exegesis, Egyptology, and ancient Near Eastern history (including archaeology, epigraphy, chronology, and iconography).

Petrovich has done extensive work in the area pertaining to the exodus and conquest. I have heard him speak on this subject at the annual meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society, and now I look forward to studying the book.

Click here for sample pages

Carta is offering 25% OFF UNTIL JANUARY 31st ONLY when you order from their online store. Use Vocher Code: 25-off
Order now and guarantee your copy