Category Archives: Culture

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!

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #20

Today’s foto has not been a favorite very long. Just this afternoon at the close of a wonderful day along the Dead Sea and the Jordan River. The story below.

Ewe and lamp grazing on the side of a cliff on Highway 1. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Ewe and lamb grazing along the side of Route 1 from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. This area is just a few miles east of Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I have been traveling privately on what I call a personal study tour. I have invited numerous people to join me from time to time. They are always knowledgeable, having traveled at least a few times before. This year I invited Luke Chandler to join me. Luke made his first trip to Israel on one of my tours. He is now an accomplished leader, and he has brought people to participate in excavations at various sites. We are neighbors. We both have a genuine interest in Israel as it pertains to the Bible. Luke left for home last Friday and I plan to leave Wednesday.

Now here is the story behind today’s photograph.

I spent much of the day traveling and stopping for fotos along the Dead Sea today. I visited the ancient synagogue at En Gedi, and then went to Kasser Al-Yahud, the traditional place where John baptized Jesus (Matthew 3). If we were  in Jordan, and we were only yards away, we would call it Bethany Beyond the Jordan (John 1:28).

On my way back to Jerusalem I noticed sheep along the STEEP hillside on the north side of Highway 1 that runs from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I was surprised to see a wide lane along the highway for cars with problems to park. There were long periods between groups of cars. I pulled over and made this photo from the car. Then I got out and made more of the flock.

So this foto is a favorite because of the subject and because of the unusual situation. Yes, the side of the road is close to a 90 degree angle.

I thought about parents and children. The lamb seems to have no fear of being on the hillside. The lesson we can learn is that children often learn fear or calmness from what they see in their parents.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 15

This may be the least attractive photo I have published in this series. Why post it, you may think? It is a picture of Inscription No. 124 found at Corinth in 1898. Lacking one letter we have a reference to a MACELLV [macellum]. I knew of this inscription from my earliest tours and always showed it to my group when we visited the museum at ancient Corinth. But one year I went to the place where the inscription had been displayed and it was not there. The metal hooks which held it to the wall were still there, but not the inscription. Afterwards for several tours I asked my guide to inquire of the inscription which she also recalled seeing. At first we were told they did not know where the artifact was. On my visit in 2012 I was told that the inscription was in storage and they could not show it to me. That is the last I have heard of it. Perhaps by now it is again on display.

Macellum Inscription - Corinth, No. 124. Photo: FerrellJenkins.blog..

Macellum Inscription – Corinth, No. 124. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins in 1971.

Perhaps you wonder if I am losing my mind. In fact, Henry J. Cadbury wrote about “The Macellum of Corinth” in the Journal of Biblical Literature in 1934. Putting aside 2 Timothy 4:13, which uses the word membranas (parchment), as a genuine Pauline reference, Cadbury says there are only two Latin words in Paul: praetorium (Philippians 1:18) and macellum (1 Corinthians 10:25).

Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. (1 Cor. 10:25 ESV).

We also have an inscription from Corinth mentioning the meat market built by the family of the Cornelli and another mentioning Lucius butcher. All of these inscriptions date to the Roman period. Paul was describing things that really existed during his stay at Corinth.

Not the most beautiful photo, but I am fond of it because I happened to be at Corinth at an opportune time to capture this inscription on film.

Ferrell’s Favorite Fotos # 8

Traveling in the Wadi Farah (or Faria) in 1982 with the late Jimmy Cravens of Tampa, Florida, we came upon a shepherd moving his sheep from one side of the road to the other. This scene calls to mind Psalm 23.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. (23:1-2 ESV)

Sheep beside still water in Wadi Farah. FerrellJenkins.blog.

Sheep in green pastures, beside still water, in Wadi Farah. Scanned from slide made by Ferrell Jenkins in March, 1982.

This scene is located in a region often called the West Bank, part of the Palestinian Authority. The Wadi Farah leads from near Tirzah to the Jordan Valley.

Biblical characters such as Abraham and Jacob likely used this route to travel from the Jordan Valley to Shechem.

Ferrell’s Favorite Fotos #7

The apostle Paul speaks of pressing on toward the goal.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philipians 3:12-14 ESV)

Many writers take this as an analogy based on runners in a race. Since reading the comments by classicist E. M. Blaiklock in Cities of the New Testament, I am inclined to think that Paul is speaking of the chariot races that were common in the Roman empire. Read more here.

The chariot race, part of the Roman Army and Chariot Experience at Jerash, Jordan. FerrellJenkins.blog.

The chariot race, part of the Roman Army Chariot Experience at Jerash, Jordan. Jerash was one of the cities of the Decapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ferrell’s Favorite Fotos #2

Hasankef in southeastern Turkey is an old town to be flooded by the Tigris River. Hasankef is located about 37 km. [23 miles] south of Batman, Turkey, and about 300 km. [187 miles] north of Mosul, Iraq, site of ancient Nineveh. National Geographic, Nov. 2018, describes what is happening here in an article entitled “Flooding History.”

The northern portion of the two photos. The citizens can be relocated, but the history will be flooded. FerrellJenkins.blog.

The northern portion of the two photos. The citizens of Hasankef, Turkey, can be relocated, but the history will be flooded. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It takes two photos to make this a favorite.

The Tigris River at Hasankef, Turkey. FerrellJenkins.blog.

The southern portion of Hasankef, Turkey. This town will be flooded by the Tigris River as a result of the building of dams on the river. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Tigris River is mention only twice in the Bible.

  • Named as the third river flowing out of Eden (Genesis 2:14). Raises interesting questions about the location of Eden.
  • Associated with a vision seen by Daniel further south in ancient Babylon (Daniel 10:4).