Category Archives: Israel

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 35 – Roman Milestone

In the IVP Bible Background Commentary Craig Keener says,

Roman soldiers had the legal right to impress the labor, work animal or substance of local residents (cf. Mk 15:21). Although impressment may not have happened often in Galilee, it happened elsewhere, and the fact that it could happen would be enough to raise the eyebrows of Jesus’ hearers at this example of nonresistance and even loving service to the oppressor. (Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. Print.)

Though the milestone pictured below has been moved to the current location at Bethany Beyond (or across) the Jordan (in Jordan, John 1:28), it provided a beautiful setting. Our picture looks west to the Jordan Valley. The various buildings you see in the left part of the photo are mostly church buildings on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River. On the other side we see the eastern slopes of the Judean Wilderness. Jericho is in that general vicinity.

Milestone at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Roman period milestone at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the sermon recorded in Matthew 5-7 Jesus taught His disciples about the attitude they should have toward the Roman authorities.

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matthew 5:41 ESV)

New Testament writers gave distances in their descriptions of travel from one city to another. Luke says that Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem (Luke 24:13). John says that Bethany [not Beyond the Jordan] was about two miles from Jerusalem (John 11:18).

Milestones were common in Roman times and numerous ones have been found throughout the land of Israel. Most of them have now been moved to some of the small museums found throughout the land. The same is true of some in Jordan.

Most of the Roman roads for which we have remnants were built in the second half of the first century A.D. and in the second century. Certainly in many cases it is reasonable to think that these roads were built over dirt paths that already existed.

For documentation about the Roman Road System in Galilee see James F. Strange, “The Galilean Road System,” in Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods, vol. 1, Life, Culture, and Society (ed. David A. Fiensy and James Riley Strange; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), 263-71 . Maps of the major and minor roads of Galilee are found in the front of the same volume.

David Graves has imposed known Roman roads in the vicinity of Bethany Beyond the Jordan on a Google Earth map here.

See one of our earlier post about Roman Roads and Milestones here.

Megiddo, Har Mageddon, Armageddon?

This morning’s Twitter feed brought a notice from Prof. Carl Rasmussen about a review of Eric Cline’s most recent book, Digging up Archaeology: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon by Andrew Robinson in Nature.

This is an interesting review about an important city in biblical history. I, too, think you will find it helpful, and you might decide you want to read Cline’s book. It is available at Amazon in print and Kindle format.

Here is one of my aerial photographs of Megiddo with a view of the Jezreel Valley and the hills of lower Galilee to the north. Perhaps you can use it in some of your teaching.

Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

View north of Tel Megiddo, the Jezreel Valley, and lower Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We have several posts about Megiddo which you may locate by using the Search box. Perhaps the most general one which includes labeled panoramas of the Jezreel Valley may be found 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.

Agreement of Book and Land: Have you heard of the Atad tree?

At Neot Kedumim most of the trees are identified by name and often with references to biblical events. I enjoyed seeing the Atad tree. The sign at the base of the tree explains an important biblical event which names the atad tree.

The atad tree in the parable of Jotham. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog

This sign explains the biblical reference to the atad tree in the parable of Jotham in Judges 9. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For ease of reading here is the first paragraph of the sign. Some of the spellings have been changed to make the information more easily understood by English readers.

A parable told by Jotham after the death of his father, Judge Gideon, criticizing his brother Abimelech’s rise to power after the latter brutally murdered all 70 of his other brothers “upon one stone” (Judges 9:5). The parable tells of the trees seeking to anoint a king. They ask the olive, fig, and grapevine who each refuse, wishing only to continue to bear their fruit. Eventually the Ziziphus spina-christi (atad), frequently – and misleadingly – mistranslated as a bramble, agrees to assume the role with devastating consequences: “let fire come forth from the atad” (Judges 9:15).

The Hebrew text uses the term atad for the plant. Common English translations include bramble, thronbush, and thorn bush. Some writers think of the atad as a tree, such as the one you see here.

The Atad tree at Neot Kedumim. Photo: ferrell jenkins..blog.

The Atad tree at Neot Kedumim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For other references to the Ziziphus spina-christi see our photos and information here and here (note the last photo in that post).

The next photo shows some of the worthless fruit on the atad tree at Neot Kedumim. In contrast the fruit of the olive, the fig and the grape vine was very useful.

The fruit of the Atad tree of Joshua 9:14-15. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins at Neot Kedumim.

The fruit of the Atad tree of Joshua 9:14-15. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins at Neot Kedumim.

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.

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 33 – Cave of Adullam

In 2011 Leon Mauldin and I make arrangements to visit Tel Adullam and the Cave of Adullam. I had gathered some information from Prof. Carl Rasmussen and Gordan Franz about locating the site. We secured the services of a guide from the small town of Aderet, a moshav on the north side of Adullam. She took us to the site in a four-wheel drive vehicle and explained what we were seeing.

Tel Adullam is near the Valley of Elah where David had met and defeated Goliath (1 Samuel 17).

View from Tel Adullam. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Daphna, our guide, and Leon look east from Tel Adullam. Notice the central mountain range in the distance. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Once we reached the forested mound we enjoyed a wonderful view to the east, and south. Our guide, Daphna, inquired first about our interest in the site. How did we even know about the site, she wondered. She is a Sabre, a native-born Israeli, who lives at Aderet.

There is a large cave at Adullam. Is it the cave where David stayed while fleeing from Saul? Can’t say, but if it was not this one it had to be another one near by. The next photo was made from inside the cave.

Inside the Cave of Adullam. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Inside the Cave of Adullam where David and his men stayed while fleeing from Saul. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Adullam is significant in several biblical accounts. Here are a few.

Judah stayed with an Adullamite man named Hirah. He married the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua.

At that time Judah left his brothers and stayed with an Adullamite man named Hirah. There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. Judah acquired her as a wife and had marital relations with her. (Genesis 38:1-2 NET)

The episode of Onan and his failure to fulfill his responsibility to bring up children to his deceased brother (the Levirate marriage; Genesis 38:3-10).

Joshua defeated the king of Adullam during the Conquest (Joshua 12:15), and became one of the Shephelah (lowland or hill country) cities of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:35).

The cave of Adullam is associated with David. When he left Gath he went to Adullam before sending his parents to Moab for safety.

So David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and the rest of his father’s family learned about it, they went down there to him. (1 Samuel 22:1 NET)

In fact, David spent much time at Adullam. I suggest you read the entire account in 2 Samuel 23:13ff.

When the prophet Micah warned Judah about the coming Assyrian invasion he said,

…the leaders of Israel shall flee to Adullam (Micah 1:15 NET)

Just as David did about three centuries earlier.

One more point. Jesus was a descendant of David and Judah, both of whom had an association with Adullam (Revelation 5:5).

What a wonderful experience.

Note: if you wish to locate the Adullam cave on Google Earth Pro, search for Aderet, Israel, and then look for the cave. Or use these coordinates: 31°39’02.33 N, 35°00’08.53 E.

Which photo is today’s favorite? Take your pick.