Category Archives: humor

How would Bet Guvrin look during a pandemic?

After the Parthians destroyed Maresha (40 B.C.), the city moved to a nearby village known as Bet (or Beth, or Beit) Guvrin. In A.D. 200, the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus established a Roman city and named it Eleutheropolis (A. Kloner, The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, I:195). Murphy-O’Connor says, “The prosperity of the city at this period is underlined by an oval amphitheatre.”

Aerial view of Bet Guvrin (Eleutheropolis). The amphitheater is located at the bottom of the left top corner of the photo. Highway 35 is on the right. Some ruins of Eleutheropolis can be seen on the south side (right) of the highway. If you have traveled in this area you may have stopped at the small gas station for a snack or a bite of lunch. The small road in the upper right corner leads to the entry to Maresha and the caves. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins in April, 2016.

Stemius Severus, Roman Emperor, AD 193-211. Photo:

Marble bust of Emperor Septimius Severus (A.D. 193-211) displayed in Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Before I move to the idea of a pandemic I should say that I really enjoy the artwork used in so many of Israel’s national parks. I even use one from the city of Avedat as the header for this blog.

There were plagues in the Roman Empire. The popular article by Caroline Wazer in The Atlantic discusses “The Plagues That Might Have Brought Down the Roman Empire” (March 16, 2016).

When Leon Mauldin and I visited the excavated ruins at Bet Guvrin in 2017 we enjoyed seeing many of the cutout figures adorning the ancient ruins. There were leaders from the Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, and the Mamluk period welcoming us.

Loosen your mind and let it fly as we enter this Israeli National Park, imagining there is a pandemic. I wanted to be friendly. At first I thought the soldier was welcoming me, but I think now that he may have been saying “stay two meters” from me. If we can’t control this thing we may have to begin wearing masks. None of us want that.”

Ferrell Jenkins greeted by Roman soldier at Bet Guvrin. Photo by Leon Mauldin/Ferrell Jenkins.

Ferrell Jenkins with a Roman Soldier at Bet Guvrin. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

As we approach the Roman amphitheater we observe that those still willing to gather in public are social distancing as they approach the entry.

The amphitheater at Bet Guvrin. Photo:

The Amphitheater at Bet Guvrin has been decorated to remind us of the Roman period. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Some fans can not resist giving their opinion to the others around them.

Glatiatorial fans approach the entrance. Photo:

One fan turns to the other and asks if the monkey has been tested. The man behind wonders if he has been washed. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The amphitheater has been reconstructed with seating for various modern performances.

Inside the amphitheater we noticed that almost everyone was social distancing. We felt better about deciding to attend. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The gladiators are fighting viciously but still keeping their distance.

Gladiators at Bet Guvrin keep their distance from each other. Photo:

Even the gladiators keep their distance. Getting the virus could be worse than the sword or trident. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In a future post I plan to show you how the pandemic is affecting the archaeological work at the site.

When we are once again allowed to travel to Israel I think you may want to visit Bet Guvrin.

A funny thing happened on the way to Samsun

Pardon the delay, but I have had a couple of grandson days since the last post. Not much else gets done.

In the last post I spoke of the mountainous road east of Sinop, and of the rare opportunity to pull off the two lane highway. The first time we found a place to safely pull off the road we stopped to make some photos. I walked a few yards away from the car to find a clearing for a photo.

After a minute or two we heard a roaring sound. My first thought was that there might be a military air base in the vicinity. The sound came from jets taking off, I thought. To my surprise I saw a group of motorcyclists coming around the bend. One of the riders in the front of the group had a helmet with horns. Further back was another rider with the same kind of helmet. I didn’t know if these guys were a rogue motorcycle club or a bunch of “Wild Hogs.”

When the entire group of about 15 cyclists pulled in around our car which was up the hill a short distance from where I was, I thought of the old joke about the tourist group that got lost in cannibal territory. The cannibal leader told the group, “You take the bus and leave the driver for us.” I was able to snap a photo of Leon making a fast get away from the group. But the car is totally hidden from view by the cyclists.

Group of cyclists on the mountanious road east of Sinop. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cyclists on the mountainous road east of Sinop. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After conferring, Leon and I decided we should get to the car while there was opportunity. As we approached the cycles I noticed that most of the tags, and some of the leather jackets, bore the designation Estonia. When we spoke in English, several of the riders tried to communicate. The best English speaker in the group was from Russia. He told us that they were riding around the Black Sea.

An Estonian proudly showed me his shirt with a screen print showing the Black Sea and the names of the major places they were visiting. I think his smile tells how our encounter turned out. The Black Sea is slightly visible far below us.

Cyclist from Estonia making a circuit of the Black Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cyclist from Estonia making a circuit of the Black Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Uneasiness past, we said good-bye and went on our way to Samsun. It was a nice experience; the sort that we often encounter in foreign travel.

Italy seeks sponsors for Colosseum repair

The news sources are reporting that Italian officials are seeking $32 million in funds to repair the crumbling Colosseum. This is in exchange for advertising rights. I have been trying to envision how it might look.

Thinking about how it would look with advertising.

This is how the Colosseum might look with advertising. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Reverse Reading?

Overnight we lost 3380 hits. Long ago I put a simple counter, supplied by WordPress, on this page. There is also a stats chart that I can see when I login. The chart was based on some time zone other than the one in which I live. So, each morning when I am home I write down my own daily stats. When I opened the page to do that this morning I noted that I had 3380 hits less than yesterday morning.

What happened to all of my readers? Maybe you had been reading and decided to take it back! I don’t know what happened, but I see that WordPress has changed the stats chart to match my time zone. I don’t know how that could have messed up the total number. Anyway, deep in my heart I know you have been here. The count this morning should have been about 170,685 +/-. I was looking forward to a big 200,000-hit party and inviting each of you to come read and see. Don’t know what I will do now.

More importantly, my ranking at Alexa has continued to improve significantly. Thanks for coming my way.

Visiting the Ptolemaic Temple at Edfu

At Edfu, 64 miles south of Luxor, we visited the temple of the sun god Horus who is represented by the falcon. Begun by Ptolemy III in 237 B.C. and completed by 57 B.C., it is the finest example of the ancient Egyptian temples that I have seen. At Luxor we saw Alexander the Great represented as a Pharaoh. His successors, the Ptolemies, brought this practice to an extreme in the temple at Edfu. Ptolemy is pictured repeatedly on the limestone walls standing before Horus; Horus is always the taller figure. Idolatry was not something new to the Greeks, of course (Acts 17; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6).

There is a scene inside the temple showing 12 priests carrying an ark on poles. This box on a boat contained the important books pertaining to the temple and the religion of Horus. I think it dates to the time of Pharaoh Neco (late seventh century BC). Neco was the Pharaoh who killed Josiah, the king of Judah, at Megiddo. He continued to Carchemish where he met defeat at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. A replica of the ark is on display in the most holy place in the temple.

The ark at Edfu. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The ark at Edfu. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A visit to Edfu demonstrates that, in the Ptolemaic period, we are no longer observing an Egypt ruled by Egyptians but one ruled by foreigners. The prophecy of Ezekiel had been fulfilled.

Thus says the Lord GOD, “I will also destroy the idols And make the images cease from Memphis. And there will no longer be a prince in the land of Egypt; And I will put fear in the land of Egypt. (Ezekiel 30:13).

Descendants of Ham no longer controlled the land, but it was dominated by foreigners who were descendants of Japheth. In the 7th century A.D. the country came under the control of Arab rulers who were descendants of Shem. This same rule by foreigners now continues in the present Egyptian government headed in recent time by presidents Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak. The modern Egyptians are simply caretakers of the ruins of ancient Egypt.

We do a lot of studying and learning on the tour, but we also have fun. Of our 42 person on the tour, about 15 have attended Florida College. Two board members are among the group. The college mascot for the sport teams is the Falcon. We posed with Horus, the falcon god, for a photo.

Note: I left the boat at Aswan to come to a nice Internet Cafe. It seems that I failed to include the photo referenced above on my flash drive. I will try to get it on later.

Note: We are back in Cairo. Here is the photo.

Florida College Falcon fans at Edfu, Egypt. Photo by Sharon Cobb.

Florida College Falcon fans at Edfu, Egypt. Photo by Sharon Cobb.

Travel is fun

One of the perils of travel is dealing with the hawkers. There is the guy who approaches a person with a Nikon Digital SLR trying to sell him postcards of the monument he just photographed. I remember a boy in Damascus in 1967 hawking those little inlaid boxes for “Just one lousy American dollar.” We were on a boat taking the canal tour in Bangkok when suddenly a boy comes up out of the dirty water into the moving boat.

Egypt is probably the worst place for hawkers. One thing is for sure. If you ever take an item in your hand it will be difficult to get rid of it. You may say, “I don’t need that.” He say, “Why you no need this?”

I like this refreshing sign in a shop at Ephesus. No doubt here!

Genuine fake watches in a shot at Ephesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Genuine fake watches in a shop at Ephesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ask in the next village

Once while visiting the site of Lystra our group enjoyed some time with local farmers who were working the fields below the tell (huyuk, in Turkey). I asked our guide to ask the men if they had heard of the apostle Paul. When he asked them, a puzzled look came over the face of the farmer who was doing most of the talking. He said, “No, but you might ask in the next village.”

The farmer said, "Ask in the next village." Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The farmer said, "Ask in the next village." Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Paul visited Lystra on his first journey (Acts 14). On the second journey he came through Lystra where Timothy lived. From that point on Timothy remained a faithful companion and co-worker with Paul in the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire.

Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek,  2 and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.  3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.  (Acts 16:1-3 NASB)

Is the Apostle Paul known in your village? I mean, is the teaching of Christ and Him crucified known there? (1 Corinthians 2:2).

An archaeology joke

Claude Mariottini calls attention to a funny archaeology joke. At least he thinks it is funny, and I agree.

An archaeologist was digging in the Negev desert in Israel and came upon a casket containing a mummy. After examining it, he called the curator of a prestigious natural history museum.

“I’ve just discovered a 3,000 year old mummy of a man who died of heart failure!” the excited explorer exclaimed.

The curator replied, “Bring him in. We will check it out and see if your calculations are correct.”

A week later, the amazed curator called the archaeologist. “I don’t know how you guessed so accurately, but you were right on target about the mummy’s age and cause of death. How in the world did you know?”

Like Dr. Mariottini did, I will send you here for the punch line.

Athens – Intellectual capital of the ancient world

We arrived at the port of Athens early yesterday morning and was met by our tour operator and guide. Morning sightseeing included highlight of the ancient and modern capital of Greece. This included the Royal Palace, the Stadium and Temple of Zeus, the Theater of Dionysius, Mars Hill (the Areopagus), the Acropolis with the famous Parthenon, the Agora (mar­ket place) and Socrates’ prison (Acts 17:15-34).

Both Athens and Corinth are in biblical Achaia.

I always find the visit to the National Archaeological Museum enjoyable. I have prepared several photos to upload, but have decided to so with the one below.

When speaking about archaeology, I am asked often about how people in the ancient world built those marvelous structures that now amaze us. I think I have finally figured out the answer for the Parthenon which was constructed about 2500 years ago. This photo might help you to understand. You have heard the saying, “Pictures don’t lie.” This photo is not retouched.

Titus was left in Crete

Paul left Titus in Crete to set in order what was lacking in the churches, and appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5). This indicates that Paul visited Crete with Titus and left Titus there. It is difficult to fit this into the information we know about Paul’s life, but likely came after the first Roman imprisonment. Tradition has it that Titus was the first bishop of Gortyn. There we saw the ruins of the Basilica of St. Titus (4th to 8th centuries). Here is one of the photos from this site was was on the main road from Heraklion to Fair Havens.

The back of the basilica of Titus at Gortyna, Crete. Roman statue in foreground. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The back of the basilica of Titus at Gortyna, Crete. Roman statue in foreground. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo shows the back of the basilica because the front was in the shadows. One of our tour members was looking at the photo. I said, “We could say that this Roman statue is of Titus.” She said, “It looks as if he has a splitting headache.”