Category Archives: Israel

Learning from the Wildflowers of the Field

Thanks to a number of new followers we are only 25 shy of 3000. Thanks to those who shared my note about this. Here is the post I promised about the flowers of the field.

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In the spring of the year many beautiful flowers adorn the fields in Israel. After a winter of heavy rains, I think the flowers I saw in late March and early April this year were the most abundant. Jesus spoke of the flowers of the field.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, (Matthew 6:28 ESV)

Louw-Nida Lexicon says the Greek word krinon, which is often translated lilies, is “any one of several types of flowers, usually uncultivated – ‘wild flower.'” After listing several possibilities, BAGD says, “Perhaps Jesus had no definite flower in mind, but was thinking of all the wonderful blooms that adorn the fields of Galilee.

Here are a couple of English versions that reflect the understanding of the lexicons.

Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. (Matthew 6:28 NET)

And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. (Matthew 6:28 CSB)

Without much comment I will show you a few of the flowers I saw at Neot Kedumim. For a larger image suitable for use in teaching just click on each photo.

Flowers of the field at Neot Kedumim. ferrelljenkins.blog.

Beautiful yellow flowers adorn the hillsides at Neot Kedumim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Look closely and you will see a butterfly enjoying the flowers.

Flowers at Neot Kedumim.

Butterflies enjoy the wildflowers of the field at Neot Kedumim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pink is a nice color, too.

Wildflowers of the Field. ferrelljenkins.blog.

Pink flowers of the field at Neot Kedumim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is common to associate the Anemone with the “lily” of the field Jesus mentioned.

Flowers of the field. ferrelljenkins.blog.

The Anemones were scattered here and there along the trail at Neot Kedumim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Now, notice how Jesus used the flowers of the field to teach about worry and over concern about the things of this life.

Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?
28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!
30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you– you of little faith?
31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ‘ or ‘What will we drink? ‘ or ‘What will we wear?’
32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:27-34 CSB)

The next time you see beautiful flowers think about this.

Cedar and Hyssop

At Neot Kedumim the sign identifying the Cedar also mentions Hyssop which is growing among the trees.

You may click on the image for a larger one. Here is a copy of the text:

Cedar and Hyssop

The Cedrus Libani (cedar of Lebanon) is an impressive tree towering to great heights. It is the symbol of pride and prestige in Scripture. In contrast, the hyssop is a symbol of modesty and humility for it requires little water and soil and grows even in the smallest cracks in stone. Yet it has much to offer: food, spice, medicine and even kindling.

In Leviticus 14:4 we are told that a person cured of Leprosy must hold a ceremony in which he brings the High Priest cedar and hyssop.

This act is explained as follows: the leper was proud like the cedar and God humbled him like the hyssop that is crushed by all [for spice] (Midrash Hagadol Metzora 14:4). A common Hebrew proverb describing leadership problems in another example: “If fire consumes the cedars what shall avail the hyssop that grows on the rock?” (Babylonian Talmud Moed Katan 25b).

This hyssop is identified as Majorana syriaca or Organum syriacum. Frenkley says it is “a grayish shrub with thin woody branches” (see previous article here for the reference). She says,

It can survive with very little soil and water, sometimes growing out of the smallest cracks in stone, as though literally “out of the rock.” The hyssop is one of the most important edible plants of the Middle East, highly valued for its fragrance and flavor. It is used as a spice, as food, as a medicinal plant, and its dry branches make excellent kindling. Unassuming in size and color, useful in so many ways, the hyssop came to symbolize modesty and humility—in direct contrast to the haughty and glamorous cedar of Lebanon.

Hyssop at Neot Kedumim. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Hyssop growing near Cedar trees at Neot Kedumim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hyssop is mentioned 12 times in the Bible and no less than seven of these times in association with cedar wood.

  • The Israelites in Egypt were to use hyssop branches dipped in blood to place it on the lentil and doorposts of their houses (Exodus 12:22).
  • The Mosaic law commanded that the offering for the cleansed leper included two clean birds, cedar wood and scarlet yarn and hyssop” (Leviticus 14: 1-9).
  • King Solomon  spoke of both the cedar of Lebanon and the hyssop that grows in the wall (1 Kings 4:33).
  • Solomon imported cedar for his building projects in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2:7-10). He also planted cedars in abundance in Jerusalem (1 Kings 10:27). Cedar was a symbol of power; something kings could be proud of (Jeremiah 22:15).

At Neot Kedumim Hyssop is planted among the rocks and under the cedar trees. The tall, stately cedars stand in stark contrast to the lowly hyssop growing in the rocks.

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 Fotos #19

Riblah served as a base of operation for the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho and the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The city is located on a broad plain about 50 miles south of Hamath (modern Hama in Syria), on the main road between Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Orontes River flows past the site on the west side. On a modern map you will locate Riblah in Syria immediately north of the border with Lebanon.

There is little more than a “country store” at the village today, but the name Riblah is preserved as Ribleh, Syria.

  • Pharaoh Necho imprisoned Jehoahaz, king of Judah, at Riblah. He later took him to Egypt where he died. The date was about 609 B.C. (2 Kings 23:31-34).
  • Zedekiah, puppet king of Judah, tried to escape capture by the Babylonians. He fled Jerusalem but was captured on the plains of Jericho and brought to Riblah. There Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him. His sons were slaughtered in his sight and he was bound with brass fetters and taken to Babylon. The date was 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:5-7; see also Jeremiah 39:5-6; 52:9-10).
  • The officials of Zedekiah were taken to Riblah where they were put to death (2 Kings 25:19-21; see also Jeremiah 52:26-27).

In 2002 David McClister, a colleague at Florida College, and I spent several days visiting sites in Syria. Riblah was the most difficult to locate. Most folks, after seeing the site, would probably say, “What’s the big deal?”  Even though Riblah is mentioned only these few times in the Old Testament, it’s location makes it important in all movement between the south (Egypt and Israel) and Mesopotamia.

The ancient mount of Riblah, once headquarters of Babyonian king Nebuchadnezzar. FerrellJenkins.blog.

The ancient mount of Riblah, once headquarters of Babyonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Slide scan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins in 2002.

This post is a repeat, but I thought the favorite photo needed more explanation than most of the images I am using.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 17

The Dead Sea is called the Salt Sea in the Bible (Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:3,12). The four kings of the east “joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea)” to fight against the five kings of the local region (Genesis 14:3 ESV).

Salt deposits on rocks along the shore of the Dead Sea. Photo: FerrellJenkins.blog..

Salt deposits on rocks along the shore of the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is an extraordinary evaporation in the sea. After evaporation, the remaining water contains about 25% of solid substances with chloride of sodium (common salt) contributing 7%. It has a bitter and nauseous taste, due to the chloride of magnesium. The chloride of calcium makes it smooth and oily to the touch.

Josephus knew the Dead Sea as Lake Asphaltites in Roman times (Ant. 1.174; 15:168).

Great Resource for Teaching Acts

The new Photo Companion to the Bible, produced by Todd Bolen and BiblePlaces.com, is a wonderful resource for those who teach the Bible. The first set in this series of material was on the book of Ruth. Next came the Gospels. And now we have the book of Acts.

There are more than 4000 images in this set on Acts. The images for each of the 28 chapters are included in a PowerPoint presentation with annotations explaining the image selection and background.

I could say much more about the value of this collection of material, but I suggest you go immediately to the detailed information here. You will see samples of the work and ordering information. For a limited time you can get this material at a special sale price.