Category Archives: Jordan

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 # 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 #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.

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.

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.

2000 in the bag

It is not an earth-shattering achievement, but I am pleased to have been blessed to visit most of the Bible World over the past 50 years. The only major country that eluded me is Iran. At one time I knew a couple working for an American corporation in Iran. The wife was visiting family near me and brought me eight historical and travel books about the country which are still on a top shelf in my study. She encouraged me to bring a group to the country. Not long afterwards there were many political changes in Iran and the tour never materialized.

But I have been greatly blessed to travel and to share my experiences with many others. In 2007 I began a little blog on WordPress to keep family and friends of those on my tour updated to our activities. This is now the 2000th post on ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com and ferrelljenkins.blog. The last 100 or so have been slow in coming, but finally we have reached that milestone.

Post number 2000 for ferrelljenkins.blog.

Post number 2000 for ferrelljenkins.blog. This photo, without the 2000, was made at Avedat in the Negev of Israel.

Some of our blog posts have been tour reports, others have been more significant, and hopefully helpful, posts for all Bible students. A few posts have been repeats with updated information or photos.

Almost every post has included one or more photographs. The greater number of them have been photos from my collection. Over the years I have learned a lot about preparing the photos for publication (in print and on the web). We now have nearly 2700 followers who receive every post we write. According to WordPress we have reached two and a half million hits. I thank each of you for your interest. I still have former students and church friends to ask me what I have written lately! And some who see one photo and a few lines from a post mentioned on social media never click through to read the entire post. Sigh…

My hope is that you think of this blog as a sort of (incomplete) Bible Lands and Customs Dictionary. Use our indexes and the search box to locate places and customs you may be studying.

I wanted to share a few beautiful photos as a sort of celebration of the 2000th post.

Spring flowers among the ruins at Pergamum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Spring flowers among the ruins at Pergamum, site of one of the seven churches of the book of Revelation (2:12-17). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In addition to my 50 years of tours in the Bible World and other parts of the world, I have made numerous extended trips with just another person, or up to three others. On these excursions we have been able to visit some places not easily accessible to a group with a bus. Beginning in about 1980 I have made these excursion with Melvin Curry, Phil Roberts, Harold Tabor, Jim Hodges, Raymond Harris, Curtis and Kyle Pope, David Padfield, Gene Taylor, Lowell Sallee, David McClister, Larry Haverstock, Dan Kingsley, and my lovely wife Elizabeth. Leon Mauldin has joined me on more of these personal trips than anyone else; no less than ten. Just as soon as I publish I will surely think of someone else.

One way I sometimes describe my travels, and these are included on the blog, is by a biblical timeline – from Ararat to Patmos (or Genesis to Revelation). We have discussed the possibility other sites for the biblical account of Noah and the Flood, but here is one photo of Greater Ararat in northeast Turkey.

Greater Mount Ararat, in the land of Ararat, near the Iranian border. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Greater Mount Ararat, in the land of Ararat, near the Iranian border. This is the traditional site of the landing of Noah’s ark. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

And here is a photo of the little Greek island where John was exiled in the later years of the first century A.D.

A view of the harbor on the island of Patmos, the place where the apostle John received, and possibly wrote the Book of Revelation. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view of the harbor on the island of Patmos, the place where the apostle John received, and possibly wrote the Book of Revelation. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This next photo was made May 13, 1970 long before we started this blog. I wanted to use this and another photo to further illustrate the extent of our travels. These photos cover the earliest period of biblical history to the close of the New Testament epistles and the Apocalypse. I only made one tour to Iraq, but we traveled from Ur, the traditional home of Abraham, to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrians. Our scanned photo shows a reconstructed ziggurat. I always described the ziggurats to my students as a staged, or stepped, temple tower. Steve Barabas describes this ziggurat,

The ziggurat at Ur was 200 feet (63 m.) long, 150 feet (47 m.) wide, and some 70 feet (22 m.) high. The inside was made of unbaked brick; the outside consisted of about 8 feet (2.5 m.) of baked brick set in bitumen. The Stele of Ur-Nammu is a contemporary record of the building of this ziggurat. The tower of Babel was a ziggurat (Gen 11:1–9). (Douglas, J. D., and Merrill Chapin Tenney. New International Bible Dictionary 1987 : 1088. Print.)

The ziggurat at Ur, Iraq. The remaining ruins can be seen above the reconstructed brick work. The reconstruction is about four stories high. Photo made by Ferrell Jenkins, May 13, 1970.

The ziggurat at Ur, Iraq. The remaining ruins can be seen above the reconstructed brick work. The reconstruction is about four stories high.
Photo made by Ferrell Jenkins, May 13, 1970.

If we follow the New Testament epistles to the west we come to Rome, the city where both Paul and Peter are said to have given their lives for the cause of Christ. The statue of Emperor Augustus reminds us of the power of Rome from the birth of Jesus to the close of the New Testament.

Replica of a statue of the Emperor Augustus in Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Replica of a statue of the Emperor Augustus in Rome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I have made numerous friends as a result of the blog. My first knowledge of Todd Bolen came through his Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, and we corresponded on a few items before we met. We first met in November, 2005, in Jerusalem. He frequently mentions my posts on his weekly roundup at BiblePlaces Blog. I am pleased that he now licenses my photos to publishers who wish to use them.

Other bloggers who have encouraged me include Carl Rasmussen (HolyLandPhotos blog), Charles Savelle, Wayne Stiles, and  Steve Wolfgang for his frequent re-blogging of my posts. Tom Powers has helped me correct or avoid a mistake more than once. And a host of friends who have encouraged me by letting me know they read and use our photos and learn from our comments. Without a count, I am confident that Joseph Lauer has more Hat Tips (HT) than anyone else. Many thanks for all the helpful updates he has provided.

I should add three of my former students and travelers who are now leading tours. Barry Britnell, Luke Chandler, and Leon Mauldin all have high recommendations from those who travel with them.

If you have enjoyed and profited by following this blog will you please tell at least one friend about it? Many thanks.

A drive through Wadi Shu’ayb in Jordan

Leaving Bethany Beyond the Jordan in the Jordan Valley we drove northeast on highway 437 toward Salt. We wanted to bypass Amman on our way to Jerash, the second largest city of the Decapolis after Damascus. This road took us through Wadi Shu’ayb.

Does Wadi Shu’ayb have anything to do with the Bible? Maybe so.

Shu’ayb is the Arabic name for Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses (Exodus 3:1). It you have traveled around the Sea of Galilee in Israel you have doubtless seen the Horns of Hattin. You can see our photo-filled post about it here. Below Hattin, on the edge of the Arbel Pass, there is a building believed by the Druze to be the burial site of Nebi Shu’ayb (or Shu’eib). The Druze gather at the site every spring for a festival.

Back to Jordan and the Wadi Shu’ayb or Valley of Jethro. The Moslem belief in the area is that Shu’ayb (or Jethro) is buried here. I have observed that it is not uncommon in the Moslem world to find multiple burial sites for various Old Testament greats. Our aim was to get to Jerash in time for the morning Roman Army and Chariot Experience so we only took time to make a few photos in the valley.

The first photo looks back toward the Jordan Valley. It is interesting to note the barrenness on the west side of the valley and the vegetation on the east side. I have read in a few sources that the water runs perpetually, but I don’t think that is the case now. I enlarged some of the original photos and found places where the stream bed is dry. There were some dark areas where I can not rule out a few pools of water. In many cases the water that once flowed in these streams is now diverted for use by the burgeoning population for their agriculture.

Wadi Shu'ayb, looking toward the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view of Wadi Shu’ayb looking toward the Jordan Valley.
Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

As we continued to drive northeasterly we stopped for another photo of the hillsides with nice houses and orchards.

Wadi Shu'ayb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Continuing in Wadi Shu’ayb we saw nice houses and orchards.
Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Is the legend about Jethro the only connection between Wadi Shu’ayb and the Bible? Definitely not.

Two sources that I have enjoyed studying in preparation for this post remind us that Jazer was one of the towns allotted to the Gaddites, and associated with the territory of Gilead. Burton MacDonald finds the site of Jazer, one of the Levitical cities, in this area.

Jazer (Num 21.32; 32.3, 35; Josh 13.25; 21.39; 2 Sam 24.5; 1 Chr 6.81; 26.31; Isa 16.8, 9; Jer 48.32; 1 Macc 5.8): According to Num 21.32, Jazer was a possession of the Amorites that the Israelites captured, while Num 32.3 identifies it as a place the Reubenites and Gadites desired. Jazer was among the towns that Moses is said to have allotted to the Gadites, who rebuilt it (Num 32.35). It is listed as Gadite territory (Josh 13.25) and as a Levitical city (Josh 21.39; 1 Chr 6.81); and it is cited as one of the
places where Joab took the census in Transjordan (2 Sam 24.5). David found men of great ability in Jazer in Gilead (1 Chr 26.31), thus associating the site with the district of Gilead (see Chapter 10). Jazer appears in the oracles of both Isaiah (16.8, 9) and Jeremiah (48.32) against Moab, and so it would appear to be a Moabite possession. Finally, Judas Maccabeus is said to have crossed the Jordan and taken Jazer and its villages (1 Macc 5.8). (“East of the Jordan,” p. 106)

MacDonald concludes,

Based on the available evidence, there seems to be little doubt that Khirbat Jazzir is the best candidate for the site of biblical Jazer. It matches the biblical and extra-biblical literary information, it is toponymically viable, and there is archaeological evidence of settlement during the Iron Age. (108).

David Z. Moster, in a 2017 Ph.D. Thesis at Bar-Illan University, discusses Wadi Shu’ayb as it relates to the land of Gilead. He thinks that the land of Gilead was divided so that we may think of the two “halves” of Gilead, something already mentioned by Moses in Deuteronomy 3:12-13, and Joshua 12:2, 5; 13:31. The two “halves” are divided along the Jabbok River (Joshua 12:2).

The northern portion roughly corresponds to what is today called the Ajloun (Arab. عجلون ) and the southern portion roughly corresponds to what is today called the Balqa (Arab. البلقاء ). There were two “lands” within this general territory that were not considered Gilead proper, namely the land of Jazer (Num 32:1; Josh 13:25; cf. 1 Chr 26:31), which was probably located along Wadi Shu’ayb until es-Salt (perhaps at Khirbet Jazzir), and the land of Ammon (e.g., Deut 3:16; Josh 12:2; 13:25; Judg 11:29), which was located along the Zarqa River until Ammon itself, contemporary Amman. (Moster, David Z. The Tribe of Manasseh and the Jordan River: Geography, Society, History, and Biblical Memory. Diss. Bar Illan U. 2017.) p. 169.

Traveling in the Bible lands and studying the geography of those lands provides the background for understanding what we read in the Bible. I trust that this little article will help you better understand this area when you read about it in the Bible.