Category Archives: Jordan

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.

Arabah – Is Eilat the Ezion-Geber of the Bible?

Arriving at Eilat, Leon and I had traveled from the foothills of Mount Hermon to the eastern arm of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Eilat (or Aqabah, depending on whether we are in Israel or Jordan).

Eilat is a popular resort town today, and it has grown tremendously since my first visit in 1973.

The resort hotels of Eilat are brightly lit at night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The resort hotels of Eilat are brightly lit at night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Is Eilat the Ezion-Geber of the Bible? Ezion-geber is said to be near Eloth (Elat, Elath, in some English versions). This area is significant in biblical history.

  • Israel camped at Ezion-geber. They journeyed from Ezion-geber and camped in the wilderness of  Zin at Kadesh (Numbers 33:35-36).
  • Ezion-geber and Elath (or Eloth) are linked together in some references (Deuteronomy 2:8; 1 Kings 9:26).
  • King Solomon built a fleet of ships in Ezion-geber. The Bible says it is near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. (1 Kings 9:26)

In 1938, Nelson Glueck, reported that he had found a copper-refining plant at Tell el-Kheleifeh, which he identified as Ezion-geber, on the north shore of the Gulf of Eilat/Aqabah. This site is now within Jordanian territory. Glueck identified the copper-refining plant as King Solomon’s copper mines, and explained that the apertures in the buildings served as flue holes. Through them, he thought, “the strong winds from the north-northwest entered into the furnace rooms of this structure,” which he called a “smelter, to furnish a natural draft to fan the flames.”

It is true that copper smelting was done in the Arabah in the time of Solomon, but Glueck later changed his mind about the building he had formerly identified as the refining plant. In 1962 Beno Rothenberg demonstrated that the installation at Tell el-Kheleifeh could not have been for copper smelting. Glueck was convinced by his findings that the apertures in the building “resulted from the decay and or burning of wooden beams laid across the width of the walls for bonding or anchoring purposes.” This does not affect any statement of the Bible, but it does mean that the old argument about the copper refining plant found in the Arabah is no longer valid. Glueck’s identification of Tell el-Kheleifeh with Ezion-geber is no longer accepted.

Eilat and Aqabah could be one town in better political times, but today they are separated by an almost invisible line drawn in the sand. I have never been as far south in Jordan as Aqabah, but on a clear day we can see it from Eilat, as the late afternoon photo illustrates.

The north end of the Gulf of Eilat/Aqabah. The view is to the east and the city of Aqabah, Jordan. Tell el-Kheleifeh is only a short distance north of the shore in Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The north end of the Gulf of Eilat/Aqabah. The view is to the east and the city of Aqabah, Jordan. Tell el-Kheleifeh is only a short distance north of the shore in Jordan. This photo was made in January, 2011, at a time when Aqabah could be more clearly seen than late March when we recently visited. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Alexander Flinder says the coastline at Tell el-Kheleifeh is a “sandy beach, with shallow water – totally unsuitable for small craft, let alone for a substantial merchant fleet” (“Is This Solomon’s Seaport?” BAR, July/August 1989, p. 38). Flinder has suggested that Ezion-geber may have been on a small island in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqabah called Jezirat Faraun (Pharaoh’s Island). It is located about seven miles south of modern Eilat, but now under Egyptian control. Flinder’s study shows that there has been an artificial harbor at this location in several historical periods and that it was characteristic of other known Phoenician ports. See the complete article for more details and photos.

Pharaoh’s Island in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqabah from the west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pharaoh’s Island in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqabah from the west. The island is currently under Egyptian control.Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Meir Lubetski, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, says,

Unique were the underwater archaeological findings which established the existence of an artificial enclosed harbor bordering a sizable natural anchorage, with jetties built out into the water to influence currents opposite the island on the shore of the mainland.

I can only point to a suggestion regarding the identity of Ezion-geber with Eloth (Elath). Kenneth A. Kitchen (New Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed., 1996, p. 305). says the two places were,

  • Separate stations during the Israelite wandering (Numbers 33:35-36; Deuteronomy 2:8).
  • Ezion-geber appears to be mentioned alone in the 10th-9th centuries, and is the point from which Solomon sent ships.
  • Jehoshaphat’s planned expedition from Ezion-geber was wrecked (1 King 22:48; 2 Chronicles 20:36-37).
  • King Uzziah of Judah captured Elath/Eloth from Edom and rebuilt it in the 8th century (2 Kings 14:22).
  • Ahaz lost the port to the Edomites (2 Kings 16:6).

The map at BibleAtlas.org shows the places we have discussed in this post. Notice the location of Ezion-geber is indicating, with a question mark, the location of Pharaoh’s Island.

Map of Ezion-geber, Elath, and Timnah, and a portion of the Arabah. Biblos.com.

Map of Ezion-geber, Elath, and Timnah, and a portion of the Arabah. BibleAtlas.com.

We plan next to visit Timna and learn about the copper mining in the area.

The Arabah: Has Tamar, Solomon’s desert fortress, been located?

The Tamar Biblical Park is located about 20 miles south of the southern end of the Dead Sea. We can suggest several reasons why the site was settled in many biblical periods. The spring at the site made it immediately attractive to travelers, and in fact the site was “the central gateway from Edom and Arabia enroute to Beershebe and Ashkelon for incense and copper trade” (Bowman, Biblical Tamar, Bible and Interpretation).

Road sign on Hwy 90 at the junction with Hwy 227. The site is at Hazeva. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Road sign on Hwy 90 at the junction with Hwy 227. The Biblical Tamar Park is at En (spring) Hazeva. In earlier years there was a now-defunct kibbutz named Ir Ovat because the founders thought this was the site of biblical Oboth, one of the places the Israelites camped when they wandered in the wilderness (Numbers 21:10). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I have a Promote GPS device which I sometimes use with my camera. If I am patient and take time for it to connect to satellites I can usually be assured of about one out of four shots showing the location as well as the elevation. The elevation here is 137 meters (about 450 feet) below sea level.

The GPS location of Tamar Biblical Park.

The GPS location of Tamar Biblical Park.The red pointer is at the Iron Age gate. Enter 29 58.0659’N, 35 3.599 9’E in Google Earth.

The Biblical Tamar Park is curated by a private Christian group called Blossoming Rose, but excavations were carried out under the direction of the Israel Antiquities Authority. A source tells me that the IAA did not show much interest in the site even though they acknowledge the importance of the discoveries. One can understand why a site like this which is not on the main tourist routes would be of less interest than those that are.

The Blossoming Rose organization has placed nice signs to identify the various periods under consideration. Instead of just referring to the Bronze Age or the Iron Age, Blossoming Rose mentions the seven historic periods that are identifiable here. (1) Abrahamic Period; (2) Moses Period; (3) Israelite Period; (4) Roman-Christian Period; (5) Islamic Period; (6) British Period; (7) Israeli Period.

The Bible says that Solomon built Tamar in the wilderness.

so Solomon rebuilt Gezer) and Lower Beth-horonand Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land of Judah, (1 Kings 9:17-18 ESV)

Could this be that site? It is possible. I must be selective in the photos I present. Here goes. The first one is of a Roman period wall. There is also a large cistern dating to this period. And, yes, the Romans built a bath at Tamar.

A Roman Wall at Tamar Biblical Park. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Portion of a Roman wall at Tamar. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo shows the ruins of what is called the Hazeva Fort, a structure said to date to the 10th century B.C., the time of King Solomon.

An Iron Age fortress at Tamar. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fortress dating to the time of King Solomon at Tamar. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This sign shows the footprint of the fortress during various periods as well a drawing of an Edomite stone seal from the first Temple Period with Edomite writing and an incense burning scene.

Sign at Tamar showing layout of the Iron Age fortress. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sign at Tamar showing layout of the Iron Age fortress and some artifacts belonging to the Edomites. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

On the right side of the sign above there is a drawing of “an incense burning utensil.” The Edomite shrine is displayed in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The Chronicles of the Land: Archaeology in The Israel Museum Jerusalem says,

Tangible evidence for foreign cults has been revealed at Hazeva in the Arava, where a pit containing ritual objects from an Edomite shrine was discovered. The objects, offerings brought to the shrine, had been deliberately smashed after they could no longer be used and buried in the pit. Among them were human shaped ritual stands, which may have represented the worshipers themselves. These objects highlight one of the sharp contrasts between Edomite and Judahite public worship, the latter avoiding the human image. (p.77)

Many see this destruction in the light of the reforms of King Josiah of Judah (2 Kings 23).

The ritual stands found here date to the late 7th – early 6th century B.C. Our next photo shows the display in the Israel Museum.

Edomite shrine assemblage from Hazeva (Tamar) in the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Edomite shrine assemblage from Hazeva (Tamar) in the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo may show the prize of Tamar, a four chamber gate which is labeled as the Israelite Fortress Gate.

Iron Age gate, possibly Solomonic, at Tamar. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Iron Age gate, possibly Solomonic, at Tamar. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I was impressed with the four-room house. Avraham Faust describes the four-room house.

The term four-room house is a generic term which refers to a new type of house which became extremely popular and dominant during the Iron Age. The “ideal type” of this structure is a long house with four main spaces or areas: a broad room at the back, and three long spaces stemming forward from it. These long rooms were typically (though not always) divided by a combination of stone pillars and walls. The entrance was usually located in the central (long) room. Not all houses, however, follow precisely this “ideal” plan, and there is some variation, mainly in the number of long rooms. One can therefore refer to three-, four-, and five-room houses (though all subtypes are usually referred to by the name “four-room house”). Variation also exists in the form of inner division(s) of the rooms, due probably to the lifecycle of the family. Apart from this, the basic plan is quite rigid and easy to identify. (Encyclopedia of the Bible, p. 564).

Four room house at Tamar. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Four room house at Tamar. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Next to water, shade is one of the most important things for settlers and travelers. There is a large Jujube tree, better known by  it’s technical name Ziziphus spina-christi, Christ’s thorn Jujube. Ami Tamir includes a photo and description of this tree in his Sacred Flowers: Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns (pp. 89-92). We reviewed this Carta Guide Book here. Tamir explains how the thorns develop on the tree.

A Jujube tree at Tamar, said by some to be the oldest tree in Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A Jujube tree (Ziziphus spina christi) at Tamar, said by some to be the oldest tree in Israel. The popular name for this tree is Thorn of the Messiah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Pictorial Library of the Bible Lands includes several good photos of Tamar in the volume on Negev and the Wilderness. See details here.

BibleWalks.com includes several good drone aerial photos in their discussion of Tamar.

I trust you have enjoyed our lengthy visit to Tamar Biblical Park. Our next stop is planned for Keturah where we will see the ancient palm named Methuselah.

Along the Great Rift

As I began to think about a series of articles on the Arabah (or Aravah) in Israel I realized that I should begin with a general discussion of the rift valley or, as it is sometimes called, the Great Rift.

View south from the Amanus mountains in modern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View south from the Amanus mountains in modern Turkey. In this general area Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If we begin in the north, the great rift begins south of the Amanus Mountains in southern Turkey, near modern Antakya (biblical Antioch of Syria, Acts 11). Antioch was built on the Orontes River, a river that flows north from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley finally turning west and flowing into the Mediterranean. As it flows northward from its source into Syria it passes the site of Riblah (2 Kings 23:33; 25:6, et al.), and through Lebo-hamath (or the entrance of Hamath, as many English version read; 2 Kings 14:25). Hamath is located at the site of modern Hama, Syria. From there the Orontes flows north in the rift valley of Syria till it approaches the Amanus Mountains.

Going back to the Bekaa Valley between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains, we look to the south. The rift enters Israel near Dan. Abel-beth-Maacah  (1 Kings 15) overlooks the rift from the west. Those who have traveled north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel likely have some idea about the great depression or rift in that region.

This aerial view of the Jordan valley north of the Sea of Galilee illustrates perfectly the Great Rift. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This aerial view of the Jordan valley north of the Sea of Galilee illustrates perfectly the Great Rift. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Running south from Israel’s northern border with Lebanon continues to the Hulah Valley, then through the Sea of Galilee where it is about 700 feet below sea level. From there it continues south in the Jordan Valley until it reaches the Dead Sea at  more than 1300 feet below sea level.

I plan to begin a series of articles dealing with the portion of the Great Rift that runs from the south end of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Eilat (or Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan). In Israel, the rift runs from Dan to Eilat (or Elath). From Eilat the depression continues south through the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba to the Red Sea and into eastern Africa. On our recent study trip Leon Mauldin and I traveled the entire length of the rift from Dan to Eilat.

One can easily find articles and maps explaining the great rift on the Internet, as well as explanations in many good Bible atlases. Describing the Rift Valley in Israel, Carl Rasmussen says,

This depression is part of the Rift Valley system that extends for 3,700 miles from southern Turkey into Africa. North of Israel the system continues in a northeasterly direction into the Lebanese Beqa; to the south it runs through the Red Sea and down into Africa.

In Israel proper, this depression runs from Dan in the north to the southern tip of the Dead Sea, a distance of 150 miles, and then continues south-southwest as far as Elath, a distance of 110 miles. The various sections of the Rift Valley are diverse in character; a considerable amount of rain falls in the northern section (24 in. at Dan), whereas in the south the rainfall is negligible (2 in. at the south end of the Dead Sea). The valley receives runoff water from the mountains to the west and east along its entire length. (Rasmussen, Carl G. Zondervan Atlas of the Bible. Revised Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010. Print.)

The Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba enters the Red Sea proper at Sharm el Shekh near the tip of the Sinai. Back when the Sinai was under Israeli control I had the opportunity to visit the site. At the time Sharm el Shekh was only a place with a few cabins and a place for the adventurous to park their small trailers. It later became a popular Egyptian resort with expensive hotels. In recent years tourism has suffered due to terrorism in the vicinity.

Rusted-out gun left from the Israeli-Egyptian war in 1967. Photo made in 1973 by Ferrell Jenkins.

Rusted-out gun left from the Egyptian closure of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping in 1967. Tiran island can be seen about three or four miles to the east. Photo made in 1973 by Ferrell Jenkins.

In 1967 Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to ships delivering goods to Israel. This is generally thought to be the act that precipitated the June War of 1967.

As I began to study about the Great Rift  for the past several days I realized that I have visited all of the major area from north to south along this rift from the Amanus Mountains of Turkey through Syria, Lebanon, and Israel until it reaches the Red Sea at the tip of the Sinai peninsula.

An understanding of this rift helps the Bible student better understand many events of the Scripture.

Some recommended resources

Sale Deadline on The Book of Ruth collection

If you received the BiblePlaces Newsletter for April  a few days ago you already know about the new volume in the Photo Companion of the Bible series. This one is on The Book of Ruth. I received a complimentary advance copy and found some of this material to be helpful on the recent study trip to Jordan. I am confident that anyone studying or teaching the book of Ruth will find the material helpful. You can download the recent BiblePlaces Newsletter filled with much helpful information here.

Available through April 22 for $20.

There are 350 images in PowerPoint to illustrate the four chapters of the Book of Ruth. The collection is on sale until midnight April 22 for $20. Bolen says, “Shipping is free in the US and satisfaction is guaranteed.” Go here for ordering information. Take a look at the four volume set on the Gospels.

Appian Media Producing New Series

Our friends at Appian Media have already produced a wonderful set of high-quality videos entitled Following the Messiah. They will soon be returning to Israel to film a new series dealing what many of us call the Biblical period of the United Kingdom. The series will be called Searching for a King.

Appian Media Searching for a King

Filming for this series begins very soon.

Appian Media provides membership access to their material, and they are seeking donations to assist in the work. See details here. Some videos are available for viewing on the website.

A New Video on Lachish

Lachish: The Epic Unearthed, a 48 minute video about the history and excavations of the biblical city of Lachish has been produced by Dr. Robert Henry and Rachel Martin. Henry summarizes the film:

This documentary brings you into the exciting world of Biblical Archaeology as it reveals the history of one of the largest Old Testament cities and tells the story of the volunteers who dig it up. This epic story reveals the turbulent warfare of the first temple period of Biblical history, the discoveries that expand the Biblical narrative and the impact this experience had on the people who came to Israel to dig. Watch as these determined volunteers unearth a Biblical land mark that hasn’t been touched in over two thousand five hundred years.

The video features comments by Prof. Yosef Garfinkle and Prof. Michael Hasel, directors of the fourth excavation at Lachish, as well as interviews with some of those working on the dig including my friend Luke Chandler.

Some viewers will be unfamiliar with the pronunciation of such sites as Lachish and Azekah. Instead of Lake-ish and ah-ZECK-ah, you will hear LAH-KISH and AZ-e-kah, pronunciations more common in Israel.

I am thankful to have provided a few of my aerial photographs for the video. Henry and Martin encourage you to use this video in your teaching and for personal study free of charge.

Walking the Bible Lands with Dr. Wayne Stiles

Wayne Stiles, whose web site we have mentioned several times, is now developing a video series called Walking the Bible Lands. This is old hat for Wayne who had been traveling to the Bible lands, teaching and writing about them for many years.

Wayne’s new material is available on a membership arrangement. Detailed information is available at his Walking the Bible Lands website here. You will find some samples there.

Traveling through the Wilderness of Zin

Yesterday we traveled from Eilat to Jerusalem with stops at Mitzpe Ramon, Avedat, and Ein Avedat.

The ancient Israelites wandered in the wilderness of Zin (Numbers 33:36), an area that included Kadesh Barnea and was the southern boundary for the tribe of Judah.

The land allotted to the tribe of Judah by its clans reached to the border of Edom, to the Wilderness of Zin in the Negev far to the south. (Joshua 15:1 NET)

We enjoyed a burger at the McDonald’s at Avedat, an important town along the Nabatean spice route between Petra and Gaza. Having been at Petra a few days earlier made this stop especially interesting.

We walked to the cold water pool at Ein Avedat. As we drove to that area we stopped to make some photos of the wadi. Most wadis have less greenery, but this one receives some water from the spring. During the rainy season water would be rushing through it in abundance.

This photo shows a wadi in the wilderness of Zin at Ein Avedat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo shows a wadi in the wilderness of Zin at Ein Avedat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Scenes such as this must have been especially refreshing to the ancient Israelites.