Category Archives: Old Testament

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.

Need Illustrations for teaching Daniel and Esther?

BiblePlaces.com has just published their 9th and 10th volumes in the new Photo Companion to the Bible. I have recommended the earlier volumes, but in some ways the two current volumes on Daniel and Esther may be the best. Each of the books lend themselves to the use of historical and cultural illustrations. Each of the books have a historical setting relating to Persia. The new photos made by Todd Bolen in modern Iran (ancient Persia) within the past year enhance these volumes. And there are numerous illustrations relating to the Babylonian, Greecian, and Roman empires too.

If you have followed this blog very long you already know that I highly recommend the material published by BiblePlaces.com. I suggest you go here for detailed info on the Daniel volume. That volume of more than 1,000 images is PowerPoint ready and is on sale today for $39, a saving of $30. Scroll to the bottom of the page and take a look at sample photos from several volumes.

Photo Companion to the Bible: Esther

Now to the volume on Esther. In teaching this book you will now have excellent photos made in Persia within the year. This volume of more than 700 images is also on sale today for $39. To see more information and see sample photos, along with ordering info, go here.

Each volume in the Photo Companion to the Bible includes a DVD with all of the images and the PowerPoint presentations. This makes it easy to select the illustrations you wish to use in your own presentation. You are also allowed to download the images to your personal computer.

All of the materials published by BiblePlaces.com may be purchased with secure checkout. Get these volumes before the price goes up. Satisfaction is guaranteed.

In the title I ask, do you “Need Illustrations for teaching Daniel and Esther?” If you answered “no” you probably should not be teaching! I hear many lessons that could be improved through the use of appropriate illustrations from the Bible lands. Sometimes I have wondered if the reason some do not use appropriate historical or cultural illustrations is because to do so require much study to use them well. Do the study, use the images, and more folks will be letting you know they enjoyed and appreciated the lesson. End of sermon.

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).

Ferrell’s Favorite Foto # 16

In April, 1986, arrangements were made for my travel group to leave Israel from Eilat and travel to Mount Sinai for an overnight stay. Opportunity was given for those who wished to climb the traditional mountain where Moses was given the Law (Exodus 20-24). Only four of the group chose to do so.

The peak known as Jebel Musa (Mount Moses) is thought by many to be the Mount Sinai of the Bible. Beginning at Saint Catherine’s monastery it takes about two hours and thirty minutes to climb to the top where the elevation is more than 7,500 feet. We began at 3:05 a.m. and made it to the top in time to see the sunrise. After thirty minutes of rest and meditation we made it back to the monastery in about two hours.

Tourmembers who climbed Mount Sinai with me in 1986. FerrellJenkins.blog.

Three tour members who climbed the traditional Mount Sinai with me April 10, 1986. Tour members left to right: Mark Dunagan (Oregon), Lillian Price (Indiana), Gloria Spurgeon [Land] (Texas). Samir Kamel (in gray behind Gloria) is the Egyptian escort for the Nawas Travel Company who came from Cairo to meet us, climbed the mountain with us.He was later appointed the general manager of the Cairo office. Slide photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The chapel in the background is identified here.

On the summit is an Orthodox Chapel of the Holy Trinity, built in 1934 on ruins of a 4th-century Byzantine church. It is said to have been built over the rock from which God took the tablets of stone and its interior is decorated with frescoes of the life of Moses.

For more information about Mount Sinai see our Index: Route of the Exodus and the Location of Mount Sinai here.

Ferrell’s Favorite Fotos # 13

This view of Jerusalem is a favorite of many pilgrims and travelers. It is made from Mount Olivet with a view to the west across the Kidron Valley (John 18:1). It shows the full length of the eastern wall of the Old City. The area where you see the gold Dome of the Rock, now a Muslim shrine, is where the temples of Solomon and Herod once stood from about 966 B.C. to A.D. 70.

A view of Jerusalem from Mount Olivet. Photo: FerrellJenkins.blog.

A view of Jerusalem from Mount Olivet. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Israeli city of Jerusalem is partially visible beyond the Old City. One thing that makes this morning photo beautiful is that the sun is shining from the east on the Old City. In the background the heavy clouds float in from the Mediterranean  to bring the early and later rains at the appropriate season (Deuteronomy 11:14; James 5:7). Click on the photo for a larger image suitable for use in teaching.

Videos, Surveys, and Favorite Fotos

Some of my friends are producing exciting videos to help Christians and other students of the Bible World to a fuller and more rewarding understanding of the region.

Appian Media

Barry Britnell and Jeremy Dehut, along with the crew at Appian Media are producing some nice videos in Israel. These videos can be helpful to the person preparing for a trip, or for those who will never be able to go but want a deeper understanding of the Bible.

Their first series was Following the Messiah, and now they are releasing Searching for a King (the period of the United Kingdom). I suggest you take a look at the new release here.

Wayne Stiles’ Survey

If you have traveled with me over the past 50+ years (I am not the only one still alive from the first tour!), you might like to help Wayne Stiles with his survey on how best to prepare and make the most of your tour.

My friend, Wayne Stiles, has been helping people learn about the Bible World for a long time. He has a helpful blog – Wayne Stiles: Connecting the Bible and its Lands to Life. Several years back Wayne wrote a doctoral dissertation on the benefits of understanding and experiencing the historical geography of Israel. I found it most helpful in my own travels and the preparation of my travelers. He has also written some helpful books. On several occasions he has helped me with information I needed. Wayne is now making personal trips to Israel and producing videos year round. You can learn about his material at Walking the Bible Lands.

Wayne is putting together a video series to help pilgrims better prepare for a Holy Land tour. If you have been to Israel before, will you give your advice by answering a few quick questions? Thanks in advance for your help! Click here: http://bit.ly/israel-tour-questions.

And, if you promise to look at both of these sites (Appian Media and Walking the Bible Lands) I will give you one of my favorite photographs.

A breakfast honey comb at the Ron Beach Hotel on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Israel. FerrellJenkins.blog..

A breakfast honey comb at the Ron Beach Hotel on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.