Category Archives: Culture

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 28 – Moses as Shepherd

Shepherds were highly significant in the ancient near eastern culture. It is no wonder that many of the outstanding characters of the Old Testament are called shepherds.

The LORD frequently chose shepherds to be the leaders of His people. Consider David (Psalm 78:70-72) and Moses (Exodus 3:1) as examples. Moses understood that there should be someone to lead Israel after his death. He made a recommendation to the LORD, saying,

Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” (Numbers 27:16-17 ESV)

The LORD chose Joshua the son of Nun to fill that role.

Previously I have mentioned that Leon Mauldin and I spent a week visiting biblical and other historical sites in Jordan in 2018. One day as we were returning to our hotel from our travel we went past Mount Nebo, a site we had visited a day or two earlier. A short distance from Mount Nebo, the place from which Moses viewed the promised land, we came upon an impressive scene. There was a shepherd standing near the road while his sheep were eating whatever available grass there was on the rocky hillside. Leon was driving. I said, “Slow down; there’s Moses.” Obviously I knew better but you can have a look for yourself.

A shepherd watches his sheep near Mount Nebo in Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

One nice thing about traveling in the Middle East today is that most photos do not have to be staged. You are welcome to use this image in your teaching if you wish. It is sized to fit a PowerPoint presentation.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 27 – Living in Tents

When I see tents in the Middle East I do not think of going camping. I think of the biblical patriarchs who moved about from place to place taking their tents with them.

Sheperd's tent near Heshbon, Jordan. ferrelljenkins.blog.

A shepherd’s tent near Heshbon, Jordan, at dusk. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The book of Genesis recounts the movement of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as they traveled in Mesopotamia and the Levant. Notice these references:

From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb. (Genesis 12:8-9 ESV)

The Book of Hebrews recounts events in the life of those who lived by faith.

By faith he [Abraham] went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:9-10 ESV)

Our photo above was made at dusk when the shepherds were gathering their sheep into the sheepfold. I noticed this nicely decorated tent nearby. I see the lady of the tent sitting on the ground. There is a little child dressed in red partially visible in the tent. Notice to the right of the woman there is a screen covering for the bed. Luxury accommodations compared to some.

While viewing this photo read Genesis 18, the account of the announcement that Sarah would have a child, and see if it doesn’t become more real to you.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 26 – Shepherds by Night

Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus mentions the shepherds “out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (Luke 2:7-8 ESV)

I have made many photos of shepherds and sheep over the years, but not many at night. However, in 2006 I visited with some shepherds at Heshbon, Jordan, one afternoon. I inquired about what they did with the sheep at night and decided to return about sundown to make some photos. The photo shown here has been lightened some to allow you to see the sheep in the sheepfold.

A shepherd watches his flock by night at Heshbon. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A shepherd watches his flock by night at Heshbon. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Just to the right of the center of the photo you should be able to see one of the shepherds with his back to the sheepfold. Click on the photo for a larger image suitable for use in teaching.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #25

Recently @BiblePlaces has been posting some pictures of winnowing and threshing on Twitter. I realized that one of my old slides was a favorite foto of the practice of winnowing. John the Baptist used this illustration to describe the work of Jesus.

His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12 ESV)

The Psalmist describes the wicked as being “like chaff that the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:4).

Winnowing grain at ancient Shechem. ferrelljenkins.blog.

This photo of winnowing grain was made at biblical Shechem (within modern Nablus). Scanned slide by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo shows a threshing sledge between the adults and the children. While the adults are throwing grain into the air so the chaff can be blown away by the wind the children are enjoying playing in the grain. You can see the effect of the wind on the grain being thrown into the air by the man.

This should make a nice photo for your next lesson mentioning winnowing of grain. Click on the photo for an image sized for PowerPoint.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #23

Even if we did not remember the exact day, all of us have heard that today is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Our family had moved to Florida the previous December. School was not in session. What a great opportunity to take the boys to Cape Canaveral to see the “moon shot.”

Ferrell Jenkins family views Apollo 11.

The Jenkins family views the launch of Apollo 11, July 16, 1969. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

You may notice what appears to be a scratch on the slide running from the ground up into the water. That is the antenna to an little battery-operated TV. Afterwards we had a great picnic lunch mom had prepared.

A few days later we went out for dinner with Louis and Margie Garrett and Melvin and Shirley Curry, all associated with Florida College. We returned to our house and watched the moon landing on the sort of little TVs that were popular in those days.

Olive installation at Neot Kedumim

For millennia olives have been so important in Israel and the West Bank that we see ancient crushing installations at various places we visit. Some of the presses are in small museums. I was impressed with the installation in the park at Neot Kedumim. At a distance it had an idyllic look.

Olive tree, crushing stone, and press at Neot Kedumim. Photo: ferrellJenkins.blog.

Olive tree, crushing stone, and press at Neot Kedumim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is possible that some families had their own setup for producing olive oil. First, there was an olive tree, certainly large enough to produce a lot of olives, then a crushing stone that could be rolled over the olives by a person or pulled by an animal. It was also essential that they have a press. In this case the press was of the screw type. The crushed olives were placed in bags and then pressed.

Lucas P. Grimsley explains the importance of various agricultural products, including olive oil, produced in Palestine.

By NT times, Palestine was a part of the Greco-Roman world, and it played an important role in Rome’s trade network in the east. Ancient records indicate that Palestine primarily imported luxury goods (wine from Italy, beer from Media, baskets from Egypt, sandals from Laodicea), in addition to natural resources such as wood and metal. Exports continued to be primarily agricultural (olive oil, wheat, honey, figs). Despite the difference in goods, the trade balance was generally in favor of Palestine.
Specific references to trade are limited in the NT, but they attest to the fact that trade was a part of  everyday life. (Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity, Vol. IV: 299-300).

Below is a photo of the same type olive press. It is one of several types of presses displayed at the Ein Dor Museum of Archaeology.

Olive Press at Ein Dor Archaeological Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

An olive press displayed at Ein Dor Museum of Archaeology. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

While browsing the recent Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity I came across this survey of the olive and its importance in Bible times.

The olive is one of the first trees mentioned in the Bible ( Gen 8: 1 1 ), in the passage in which the dove returns to Noah with an olive branch. The olive (Heb. zayit; Olea europaea) is the best-known and one of the most important trees of the Mediterranean Basin and Middle East. Olives were highly valued, and the harvesting and pressing out of olives was a significant part of the life of rural families. The pulp contains about 40 percent oil, which was used for lamps, cooking, and medicinal purposes, as well as
anointing in religious ceremonies. The psalmist proclaims that he is like an olive tree because he trusts in God’s unfailing love (Ps 52:8). (GCT, Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity, Vol. 4, p. 309.)

Over the years we have posted several times about olives and the olive trees. Check our index page on the subject here.

A Cedar of Lebanon Grows in Israel

My first visit to Neot Kedumim was with Leon Mauldin about 14 years ago. Neot Kedumim is a Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel, located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in the vicinity of Modin. One can spend several hours following one of the several trails on this 625 acres of hills and valleys. For more details visit the website here.

A few years ago I was doing some reading about the animals in the Haibar Reserve north of Eilat in the Arabah when I ran across a reference a cedar of Lebanon growing in Neot Kedumim. The article written by Helen Frenkley provides the explanation:

One of the most striking garden areas at Neot Kedumim is the Garden of Wisdom Literature, where cedars of Lebanon grow alongside clumps of hyssop bushes. Transplanting fifteen 40-year-old cedars of Lebanon to Neot Kedumim was quite an undertaking. In 1976, the trees were purchased from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s botanical garden on Mt. Scopus. Those cedars of Lebanon had been brought as cones from Lebanon in 1936 by Dr. Ephraim and Mrs. Hannah Hareuveni and their 12-year-old son, Nogah, after an extended botanical field trip to that country. The seeds that germinated were planted on Mt. Scopus not far from the Museum of Biblical and Talmudic Botany established by the Hareuvenis at the university in 1925. Carefully tended, these trees thrived and new seedlings were added as the years went by.

Ephraim and Hannah Hareuveni died in the 1950s without seeing the Biblical Landscape Reserve they had dreamed of creating. Mt. Scopus was cut off from western Jerusalem by Jordanian forces during the 1948 War of Independence and was inaccessible to Israelis, except for a small caretaker police force, between 1948 and 1967. In the Six Day War of 1967, Mt. Scopus became part of Israel. Nogah Hareuveni was one of the first people who returned to see how the cedars of Lebanon had weathered the near siege conditions of those 19 years. Because of the lack of drinking water on Mt. Scopus, it had been impossible to irrigate the cedars, which consequently suffered greatly.

Nine years later, however, 15 of those cedar trees were boxed. When, after eight more months, the side roots grew, confined within the four-sided slats, the tap roots were cut and the trees trucked down to Neot Kedumim. Pits with rich soil had been prepared and a water tanker stood by for immediate irrigation. Neot Kedumim is 2,000 feet lower in elevation than Mt. Scopus, but much to everyone’s surprise and delight, the diligent care paid off. The cedars survived and flourished. Several scores of saplings of various ages have now been added, so that a grove of some 50 cedars of different sizes thrives in the Garden of Wisdom Literature at Neot Kedumim.

You can find the complete article in Frenkley, Helen. “The Search for Roots—Israel’s Biblical Landscape Reserve.” Biblical Archaeology Review. Sept/Oct. 1986.

When I purchased my ticket to visit Neot Kedumim in early April I asked about the cedars. The person on duty called the office to inquire. A very nice lady came  to provide the answers I needed. This time I took a trail different from the one Leon and I had taken in ’05.

It took a while, and I began to wonder if I would ever see a cedar. Eventually I came to an area where several small trees were visible.

Cedars of Lebanon in Israel. FerrellJenkins.blog.

Small Cedars of Lebanon growing at Neo Kedumim in the lowlands of Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After a while I came to what I think is the oldest of the Cedars. This plant is identified as a Cedrus Libani (cedar of Lebanon).

Cedar of Lebanon growing in Neot Kedumim. ferrelljenkinsl.blog.

Likely the largest Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus Libani) growing in Neot Kedumim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Not very long back we presented several articles on the Cedar of Lebanon. Begin here. If you do not easily locate others in the series, just use the Search Box and insert cedars.

I can highly recommend visits to Neot Kedumim) for travelers who have the time to visit. This year Luke Chandler traveled with me, but he had to return home a few days early. When he reads this he will be sorry!