Category Archives: Culture

A sarcophagus from the Tomb of the Kings

One of the things we must learn when studying antiquities is that names (designations) may not be correct. To illustrate:

  • The Tomb of the Kings is not the tomb of the kings David and Solomon or any other of the kings of Israel.
  • The pools of Solomon were built long after the time of Solomon.
  • The pool of Hezekiah was not built by Hezekiah. (Be sure to see Tom Powers comment below. I will not go against Tom’s reasoning on this).

The tomb of the kings in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, near the American Colony Hotel and other newer hotels such as the Grand Court and the Olive Tree, belonged to Queen Mother Helena of Adiabene.

Here is how the facade of the tomb looked in 2008. The tomb was not open to the public but I made arrangements for our tour operator for my group to make a visit.

Tomb of the Kings, Jerusalem

The Tomb of the Kings at it appeared in 2008. The tomb has been closed most of the time since then. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A few photos have appeared in newspapers from various cities. Compare this one with the photo I made in 2008 and you will see some significant repairs. The indication is that this is now open to the public (when Covid-19 conditions permit).

Repaired Tomb of the Kings reopened in 2019.

Daily Hayom reports the reopening of the Tomb of the Kings. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The tomb belonged to Queen Mother Helena of Adiabene. She came to Jerusalem with her son, King Izates, as a convert to Judaism in A.D. 46. Adiabene was located in northern Mesopotamia east of the Tigris River. During the famine in Judea, mentioned in Acts 11:28-30, the queen sent to Egypt for grain and to Cyprus for dried figs (Josephus, Ant. 20.51). For more from Josephus check this post.

A large burial complex was dug north of Jerusalem for the burial of the Queen and her family. This is the tomb referred to in modern times as the Tomb of the Kings. It is a good place to see a rolling stone and a tomb hewn from solid rock. The property is under French control and was closed for many years in need of repairs to the facade.

The tomb was reopened in 2019 but I have not been able to visit since that time. When the tomb was originally excavated by Louis Felicien de Saulcy various artifacts including sarcophagi were taken back to Paris and are now displayed in the Louvre.

The following sarcophagus was identified by Saulcey as a princess of the lineage of David, the Queen Helena of Adiabene.

Possible sarcophagus of Queen Helena of Adiabene. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

This sarcophagus, now displayed in the Louvre, was thought by Saulcey to belong to Queen Helena of Adiabene. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Gaza in the 1960s – postcards and phone calls

Over the years we have had an opportunity to read about Gaza many times. Currently there is concern by Israel over how to respond if the Corona virus outbreak becomes serious there.

Last August I read an interesting, well illustrated article about Gaza. It was published by PNR with the title “Here’s What Tourists Might See If They Were Allowed To Visit Gaza.” You may be able to access the article here.

One of the images was the reproduction of a vintage post card published by the Israeli publisher Phalpot.

Vintage postcard of sites in Gaza. Published in 1967 by Phalpot in Israel.

Vintage postcard of sites in Gaza. Published in 1967 by Phalpot in Israel.

What impressed me about this postcard from 1967 is how similar the lower right photo was to a photo I made in 1968.

Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea in May, 1968. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For more information about Gaza I suggest you read my longer article about “The Significance of Gaza” here.

I have been close to the border of the Gaza Strip a few times but that was my only visit to Gaza. When I told my guide that I wanted to take the group to Gaza he insisted that there was not much to see. I told him that we would be happy to see the sand and the sea. We did.

Long before digital cameras and cell phones tourists bought postcards similar to the one above and wrote home to tell their friends what a great tour they were enjoying. It took about a week for a card to make it back to the United States. Sometimes we made it back before the cards arrived. Phone calls were so expensive that most folks did not make a call. I would usually call my wife from the first stop just to quickly say that we had arrived safely. And the tours were longer in those days–usually about two weeks in length.

Those were in “good old days.”

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 36 – Egyptian brick making

Normally I make multiple photos of any scene when possible, especially if there is a good chance I will not get a second opportunity. Our photo today is literally one of a kind. It is from the tomb of Rekhmire in the Valley of the Nobles in Egypt. While my group visited the Valley of the Kings our guide arranged transportation for me to visit this unique tomb which shows the process of brick-making in ancient Egypt.

A guard at the tomb allowed me to enter and make ONE photo. I gave him a tip of $5.00. I asked to make another photo, but he showed no interest in a second payment. This is my only photo and I was pleased with it.

Brick Making from the Tomb of Rekhmire in the Valley of the Nobles. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Brick-making scene in the tomb of Rekhmire, Valley of the Nobles in lower Egypt..

In preparation for my tour I had enjoyed studying the Fall 2004 issue of Bible and Spade (Vol. 17 No. 4). Gary A. Byers wrote an article titled “The Bible According to Karnak.” I had become acquainted with Gary at the annual Near East Archaeological Society meetings and appreciated his work. Notice this paragraph which includes a mention of the scene above.

Also on the Nile’s west bank were the tombs of the nobles. Not being royally. they could not be buried within the Valley of Kings, the resting place of the Pharaohs they served. Within these tombs are colorful paintings of significant events in their lives. From Mena’s tomb (ca. 1385 RC) was a grain harvest scene that helps us imagine the seven years of plenty from Joseph’s time (Gn 41:47-49). The Tomb of Userhat (ca. 1280 BC) shows barbers cutting hair, also reminiscent of the Joseph story (Gn 4 1:14). From the Tomb of the Vizier Rekhmire (ca. 1470- 1445 BC) is a brickmaking and building scene depicting Asiatics from the actual period of the Israelites bondage (Ex 1:11 – 14; 5:7- 19).

We are not saying that these are Israelites, but that they are Asiatics from the same period that, according to the Bible, made brick and did other slave labor in Egypt.

These additional photos show more examples of brick making in Egypt.

Egyptian Brick Makers Model in the British Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Model of brick making in ancient Egypt now displayed in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The text mentioned in Byers’ article says,

11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.
12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.
13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves
14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. (Exodus 1:11-14 ESV)

Exodus 5:7-19 specifically says that the Israelites were using straw to make brick. Our photo below, also from the British Museum, shows a brick with straw in it.

Brick with straw from ancient Egypt. British Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

This brick from ancient Egypt was made with straw. Displayed in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Bible and Spade article may be located online here. There you will find a drawing showing the brick making scene as well as other types of labor.

Bible and Spade is published four times a year by Associates for Biblical Research.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 34 – “I will make your enemies your footstool”

A monarch with his foot on the neck of a subdued enemy is a common motif in the ancient near east. An illustration such as this helps us visualize certain Biblical texts.

Here I wish to use an illustration from the Roman world shortly after New Testament times. In the statue below we see the Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-138) with his foot on the neck of a subdued enemy.

Roman Emperor Hadrian with foot on an enemy. Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian with his foot on an enemy. Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

This statue is displayed in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. It is made of marble and is said to have come from Hierapitna, Crete.

The photo below is a closeup of the captive with the Emperor’s foot on his neck.

Closeup of an enemy with the foot of Hadrian on his back. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian has his foot on the back of an enemy that has been subdued. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

In the New Testament, Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 to show that Jesus is now seated on the throne of David at the right hand of God (Acts 2:35).

The apostle Paul understood this. He said of Jesus,

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25 ESV)

The last enemy is death (1 Corinthians 15:26).

The illustrations here and in other posts are suitable for use in PowerPoint presentations for sermons and Bible classes. We only ask that you leave our credit line intact so others will know how to reach our material.

For examples from the Old Testament see here.

The six water jugs at Cana of Galilee

A friend recently sent me a small photo and a few questions about the water jugs at Cana of Galilee (John 2).

Attached is a photo of a reproduction of what I suppose is a wine jug. It is about 30” tall and 20” handle tip to tip. I bought it a couple of months ago at an estate sale. The seller told us tongue in cheek that it may be the very one from which Jesus turned water into wine. I told him that, in spite of how old I might look and the fact that I had not attended the wedding, I could assure him it was NOT the same one!

An old jug

Is this like the jugs that held water at Cana of Galilee?

“My questions for you, Ferrell, are…

  • Is this a similar appearance and size of those of the First Century?
  • Is this type of jug sold in Israel as a souvenir?
  • I paid $30 for the jug and, of course, had no shipping. Did I get a bargain? I’m going to use it as a feature in my garden.”

The Gospel text says,

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. (John 2:6 ESV)

The fact that the text says each jug would hold between twenty and thirty gallons indicate a larger jar than the one my friend bought. I have visited many museums, large and small, in Israel, as well as numerous antiquities shops, and do not recall seeing a jug like the one she bought.

Fortunately some of the jugs of the type mentioned in John 2 have been found in Jerusalem, Qumran, and other places. Notice the photo below from the Israel Museum. These are the jugs found in what we now call the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. Replicas are displayed in the Wohl Archaeological Museum at the place called the Herodian Mansion where they were found.

Large jars for water of purification in the Israel Museum.

These stone jars, along with stone tables, now displayed in the Israel Museum come from the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem from the Herodian Period. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A replica of one of these jars is displayed in the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa. The sign explains the purpose of the jars and the way they were made.

Sign explaning the large stone jars used for purification. Hecht Museum.

This sign explains the type of jars we are showing here. Hecht Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Hecht Museum is a great teaching museum. In the model house shown below you will see several of the stone jars used for the water of purification. This model reminds me a bit of the Burnt House in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.

Model house from first century displayed at Hecht Museum, University of Haifa, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The third question should have been asked prior to purchase. I have dealt with this question many times during my tours. Individuals come to me and say, “He is asking $___ for this item. Is that a good price?” I learned to say to tour members prior to visiting the first few shops that I will not be able to answer that question in the shop. If they purchased and then asked me if they got a good deal here is how I answered. If you like it and can afford it and are happy with it you got a good deal.

One other point should be made. The type of jar used for shipping and storing wine is known as an amphora. Imported jars such as this were also excavated in the Jewish Quarter.

An amphora fromthe Hellenistic Period. This one is displayed at the Hecht Museum, University of Haifa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

An amphora from the Hellenistic period displayed at the Hecht Museum, University of Haifa ,Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The pointed bottoms were placed in sand to hold them erect for filling and transportation. Many pictures and drawings of amphora can be found here.

Addendum: Leon Mauldin sent the photo below showing the author standing beside the model and a replica of one of the water jars.

Ferrell Jenkins at the Hecht Museum, Haifa, Israel.

Ferrell Jenkins standing beside the model and one of the water jar replicas. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Todd Bolen tells the backstory of BiblePlaces Photos

This morning I was pleased to receive the BiblePlaces Newsletter (Vol 19, #1). In it Todd Bolen reminds us that “twenty years ago this month, BiblePlaces.com was born.” He provides us with a brief history of the development of his Photo Collections.

The Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

The Pictorial Library of Bible Lands – 18 volumes.

If you have ever used the images in The Pictorial Library of Bible Lands (now 18 volumes), The Photo Companion to the Bible, or one of the other resources developed under Bolen’s leadership, you know how valuable the material can be in teaching the Bible.

Bolen observes that he bought one of the set of 100 slides that used to be hawked by the guides on tours of Israel. My experience was much the same. Indeed, even if the photos were good but the quality of the duplication was not good.

I trust I have said enough to prompt you to read the current BiblePlaces Newletter here.

No free lunch, but a Free Powerpoint Presentation of Galilee: Then and Now is available (link at bottom of the Newsletter). Better than a lunch, I would say. I have traveled to Israel for the past 53 years and am aware of the numerous changes that have taken place in that time. In this slide presentation you will see changes back further with photos from the Historic Views of the Holy Land.

Thank you  Todd Bolen for this wonderful service you have provided to all teachers and preachers of the Bible.

Check our Index on Bethlehem & Birth of Jesus

We have a few indexes prepared of topics that have been covered widely on this blog. One is an Index of article on Bethlehem and the Birth of Jesus here. It also includes some articles about the origin of Santa Claus at Myra, Turkey. We encourage you to take a look at these articles.

Our photo was made from the Franciscian Shepherd’s field in Bethlehem and this is the first time we have used it. I call it Shepherd’s Field by Day.

 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (Luke 2:8 ESV)

Shepher's Field by Day. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Shepherd’s Field by Day. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is not possible to post as often at this time as I did in years past, but I want to encourage you to use this site often in your Bible study. Use the Search box to locate posts about Bible places, people and customs. I think will enhance your study of the Bible.

Thanks for telling others about the blog.