Category Archives: Israel

David leaves 200 men at the Brook Besor

In addition to the tours I led between 1967 and 2016 I have made numerous personal study trips with a variety of friends beginning as early as 1984. The largest number of those trips have been made with Leon Mauldin. On these trips we visit places that are difficult to reach by bus or take an unusual amount of time to reach — too time consuming for a group looking to see all they can in a typical 10-12 day tour.

In September, 2011, Leon and I spent some time in the south of Israel. One of the fascinating places we visited was the Brook Besor. Israelis call it Nahal Besor. Various English versions of the Bible use the terms Brook, brook or Wadi to describe the stream. For anyone who might wish to visit the area I will explain how we got there.

Using the modern maps at your disposal locate Beersheba (Be’er Sheva), then take highway 25 NW to highway 241 and turn left. Our first photo was made on the north side of highway 241 after we crossed the Besor.

Brook Besor on the north side of highway 241. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

The Brook Besor on the north side of highway 241. Notice the typical dry terrain of the Negev in the background. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Water is flowing somewhere among these reeds and during the winter rains we may be sure that the water is visible. Notice the dry terrain in the distance.

A short distance from the location of this photo, on the south side of the highway we saw this impressive mound. It is easy to reach, at least in dry weather, using the road across the fields.

Tel Sharuhen on the banks of Nahal Besor. ferrelljenkins.blog.

Tel Sharuhen on the banks of Nahal Besor. Most of the reeds like those we have shown in the photo above are on the opposite side of the tel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Arab name for this archaeological mound is Tell el-Farah (South) to distinguish it from Tell el-Farah (North), the site of biblical Tirza near Shechem (1 Kings 15:33).

The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (1990) entry begins with this description of the Tell el-Farah (South).

The site is some 14 miles south of Gaza and 16 miles west of Beer-Sheba, near the ancient Via Maris (Roads) connecting Egypt and Mesopotamia. W.M.F. Petrie identified Tell el-Farah with Beth-Pelet (Josh. 15:27; Authorized Version: ‘Beth-Palet’), but W.F. Albright’s identification with Sharuhen (Josh. 19:6) is now accepted by most scholars. Apart from the biblical reference, Sharuhen appears three times in Egyptian sources of the New Empire: in the description of the Hyksos expulsion from Egypt, when Amosi besieged the Hyksos for three years at Sharuhen; in the records of the first campaign of Tuthmosis III; and in those of the campaign of Pharaoh Sheshonq.

Sharuhen is mentioned only once in the Bible as a city of the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:1-8; see especially verse 6).

This area looks rather hidden from society, but it was on two major international highways in biblical times.

Leon and I were looking for the possible site where David left 200 men who were too exhausted to make the trek to chase those who had burned Ziklag and taken several captives including two wives of David (1 Samuel 30; see especially verses 9, 10, and 21). I can easily envision this area being the place of the crossing of the Besor.

Ferrell Jenkins at Tel Sharuhen. ferrelljenkins.blog.

Brook Besor on the north side of Tel Sharuhen. This picture including Ferrell Jenkins was apparently made by Leon Mauldin. You have a nice view of the Brook Besor. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

From the south side of the tel we took the steps (lower left corner of the photo) to the top.

Approach to Tel Shuarhen from the south. View of Brook Besor. Photo ferrelljenkins.blog.

Approach to Tel Sharuhen from the south. View of Brook Besor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The following signs in Hebrew and English identify the site as Tel Sharuhen.

Sign identifying Tel Sharuhen. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

A nice sign identifying the tel as Tel Sharuhen. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I was delighted when I saw these signs were  new.

Sign identifying Tel Sharuhen. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Sign in Hebrew and English identifying the mound as Tel Sharuhen. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There are also signs at the site identifying Tel Sharuhen as part of the ANZAC Trail. This trail was made famous in 1917 when a light horse brigade of mostly Australian and New Zealand aboriginals defeated the Germans in the region.

The Anzac Trail of 1917. Tel Sharuhen is marked as number 6.

For those with further interest in the historic battle of 1917 I suggest two links. This link in the Times of Israel tells about the centennial retracing the route of the battle by descendants of the Aboriginal ANZAC soldiers in 2017.

More general information about the ANZAC Trail, including directions and a PDF of the map above, may be read here.

The seven photos in this post are sized suitable for use in a PowerPoint presentation for teaching.

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 #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.

Agreement of Book and Land – # 1

The Scripture and photo below of a perennial stream from En Prat illustrates perfectly the person described in Psalm 1.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3 ESV)

Trees planted by the river. ferrelljenkins.blog.

En Prat where Wadi Kelt begins to flow down past Jericho and to the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #24

Gibeon, modern El Jib, is mentioned more that three dozen times in the Old Testament. This is where the Lord appeared to Solomon, the newly appointed king of Israel, and told him to “Ask what I shall give you.” Solomon asked for wisdom.

And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:7-9 ESV)

The photo below was made looking north from Nebi Samwil. It shows Tel Jib, believed to be the site of Biblical Gibeon, and the Benjamin plateau. Archaeological excavations have been carried out on the eastern (right) side of the mound. It is currently difficult to visit the site because it in the the Palestinian territory and the route is difficult to navigate. This view is quite beautiful and I happened to catch the weather just right.

Gibeon and the Benjamin Plateau.. Photo: ferrelljenkin.blog.

View north from Nebi Samwil of Gibeon and the Benjamin plateau. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For information on the pool of Gibeon which is mentioned twice in the Bible go here.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto #22

This unusual photo of Capernaum was made from the hill above, up toward the Mount of Beatitudes. The photo shows the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee with the Golan Heights visible.

Capernaum became the Galilean center for the ministry of Jesus.

And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, (Matthew 4:13 ESV)

Capernaum from above the location on the Sea of Galilee. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

View to the east of Capernaum from above the site. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo was made May 15, 2010. The sky was fairly clear and the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee is visible with perhaps a portion of the Plain of Bethsaida. Those are dried thistles in the foreground of the photo.

Not Ziklag, says other archaeologists

Did you read the press release published yesterday about the locating of Ziklag at Tel al-Rai? Perhaps you did not read down to my closing comments. I said,

Certainly there will be much discussion among scholars, some of whom will suggest other possible locations …

Before I continue I think I should say that Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University did not start out trying to locate Ziklag, but he and the others working with him began to see that the evidence they were uncovering seemed to suggest the location of Ziklag.

I first met Garfinkel through Luke Chandler, a former student and friend, who had worked with him in the excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Tel Lachish, and now Tel al-Rai. Professor Garfinkel has presented two lectures at Florida College where I taught for 25 years. Luke and I made a personal study trip to Israel in March/April this year and visited Yossi, as he is affectionately called by friends. He took us down to Dr. Eilat Mazar’s office and introduced us to her, showed us around the archaeology lab at Hebrew University, took us to lunch at the faculty lounge, and visited the campus of HU and the botanical garden with us. I have provided aerial photos to Yosi for his lectures on Lachish. Our visit at HU was educational and pleasant.

Luke Chandler, Yosef Garfinkel, Eilat Mazar and Ferrell Jenkins in the archaeology lab at Hebrew University. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Luke Chandler, Yosef Garfinkel, Eilat Mazar and Ferrell Jenkins in the archaeology lab at Hebrew University. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Well, today’s newspaper gives attention to the views of Prof. Aren Maeir, and Prof. Israel Finkelstein in response. Maeir, of Bar-Ilan University,  has been directing the excavations at Tel es-Safi/Gath for more than two decades, and Finkelstein, a professor at Tel Aviv University, is known as one of the most outspoken proponents of the so-called “minimalist” school. He is known for his work at various archaeological sites.

I refer you to the well-written article of Amanda Borschel-Dan in today’s The Times of Israel for that story.

My article today is neither to defend nor dismiss Tel al-Rai = Ziklag. I have known for years that there have been numerous suggestions for the identity of Ziklag. In fact, back in 2009 Leon Mauldin and I visited Tel Halif, north and slightly east of Beersheba,  and Tel Sera, northwest of Beersheba, because we knew they had been suggested as Ziklag.

The late Professor Anson F. Rainey held that Ziklag should be identified with Tell esh-Shariah, now known as Tel Sera. His four pages (147-150) in The Sacred Bridge would be equivalent to 12 or more pages in many publications.

Leon and I spent a long time driving through fields along the banks of Nahal Gerar till we located Tel Sera.

Tel Sera, identified as Ziklag by Anson Rainey. Photo: FerrellJenkins.blog.

Tel Sera, identified as Ziklag by Anson Rainey. This late afternoon view is to the north. Nahal Gerar, or one of its tributaries, is hidden between the field and the tel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Archaeologists work with a hypothesis as long as they think it can be sustained, but when new information comes along they move with it.

We may never know the exact location of Ziklag, but I know enough about the Bible to believe that the account of David at Gath, Ziklag, and Jerusalem is one I can hold to.