Tag Archives: Animals of the Bible

Jesus rides a donkey from Bethphage to Jerusalem

Bethphage is mentioned in the New Testament in only one incident from the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 21:1, Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29).

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.  When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples,   saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.'”  So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them.  And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”  And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”  And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. (Luke 19:28-35 ESV)

John records the event but does not mention Bethphage (John 12:12ff.).

The exact site of Bethphage is not known, but it certainly was not far from Kefr et Tur, the place of Byzantine traditions. The present Franciscan chapel was built there in 1883.

Franciscan chapel at Bethphage. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Franciscan chapel at Bethphage. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Roman road from Jericho to Jerusalem went over the Mount of Olives between Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives. Before reaching the top of the mountain a spur or bypass turned south to Bethphage and Bethany.

A colt at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A colt at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In a 1975 article in Biblical Archaeologist (Vol. 38, No. 1), John Wilkinson wrote about “The Way from Jerusalem to Jericho.” He and his party tried to trace out known remnants of the old Roman road between the two cities. This 12½ mile trip from Jericho up to Jerusalem took 7 hours and forty-nine minutes.

“You shall not steal…You shall not covet”

“You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:15-17 ESV; cf. Romans 13:9)

The Ten Commandments, given to the nation of Israel, were clear about the attitude one should take toward the property belonging to others. Coveting causes one to desire the wife, or the property, of another man.

The reason the donkey and ox of another was not to be coveted or stolen was because these were the man’s means of income. How could he work without his donkey or ox?

A loaded donkey at Seleucia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A loaded donkey at Seleucia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It may be that none of my readers own a donkey or an ox, but the principle is clear. You shall not take that which belongs to another person. When I was teaching I had to deal with this issue a few times. I am confident that it happened other times, but I did not know about it at the time.

When a student turns in a report or paper that was written by another student he/she is stealing the work of another and pretending that it is his own. Occasionally a student will look over and take an answer that another person has given to a question. That is stealing.

Oxen hitched to a small wagon near Mount Ararat in Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Oxen hitched to a small wagon near Mount Ararat in Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is such a thing as intellectual property. The government of the United Kingdom describes intellectual property as “the words you’ve written.” It includes “things you write, make or produce.” Like photos, for example.

A student once told me that there was a student on campus who would make a CD of ten of your favorite songs for $1 for each song.  What if a person spends literally several thousand of dollars to purchase equipment, travel a long distance and make photos. Would it be o.k. to take that property and treat it as one’s own.

Several years ago I had a young person to copy some of my posts without permission and post them on his own web site. He cropped the photos to cut off the copyright notice. He said he didn’t know. His web site was closed down.

Recently someone living in a fashionable neighborhood in another country registered a internet site using my name. (I could post a photo of his house from Google earth!) He had this entire web site posted on his new domain, but he made it impossible for readers to reach me. All Email was directed to him (or her?).

There are strict laws governing this sort of thing. In the USA we have the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). I have learned that some (perhaps most or all) of the hosting companies take this seriously. The DMCA “implements the 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)” (Wikipedia, here), to which most of the nations in the United Nations subscribe. Once I got to the correct company, the offending web site was closed very quickly.

Even the Code of Hammurabi (ruled 1728-1686 B.C., according to Pritchard) contained numerous laws containing the penalties for stealing. Law 8 says,

If a seignior stole either an ox or a sheep or an ass or a pig or a boat, if it belonged to the church (or) if it belonged to the state, he shall make thirtyfold restitution; if it belonged to a private citizen, he shall make good tenfold. If the thief does not have sufficient to make restitution, he shall be put to death. (ANET).

I think that most of us are pleased when someone finds our material useful and even wants to share it with others. But stealing one’s property is another matter.

Our PHOTO PERMISSION page is liberal regarding private and classroom non-commercial use of our photos as long as credit is given.

Thanks for reading this blog. I hope you find it helpful in your own study and teaching.

Isaiah 13: jackals & hyenas in the palaces of Babylon

Babylon would not become the dominant power of the ancient near east until about 626 B.C. (The Assyrian capital of Nineveh fell in 612 B.C., and Assyria was finished at the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C.). But Isaiah looks ahead to the overthrow of Babylon, an event which would occur in 539 B.C. at the hands of the Medes and Persians.

It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there. But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance. Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged. (Isaiah 13:20-22 ESV)

Persian interest in Babylon declined by the end of the 5th century B.C. With capitals already at Susa and Persepolis why did they need a third? Alexander the Great first came to Babylon in 331 B.C. intending to make Babylon the capital of a new commercial empire. The great conqueror died in Babylon in June, 323 B.C. His successor in the region, Antiochus I, built a new capital at Seleucia on the Tigris River. This is the region near modern Baghdad.

The palaces where once the leaders of Babylon strolled past the windows were to be occupied by the wild animals of the area.

Jackal at Haibar Wildlife Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jackal at Hai-Bar Wildlife Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The second photo is of a hyena, another of the wild animals that would inhabit the empty palaces and towers of Babylon.

A hyena at Hai Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A hyena at Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A series of articles on the major kings of Babylon are available at the following links.

The “wild goats” of the Old Testament

Wild goats (Hebrew ya’el) are mentioned in a few Old Testament passages (1 Samuel 24:2; Job 39:1; Psalm 104:18; Prov. 5:19). This animal is often identified with the Ibex.

The ibex, a type of wild goat, is still found in Southern Palestine, Sinai, Egypt and Arabia; it was known also in ancient times, as is evident from rock carvings. (Fauna and Flora of the Bible, 46).

The wild goats are associated with En Gedi on the shore of the Dead Sea.

Now when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. (1 Samuel 24:1-2 NAU)

The Ibex may also be seen at En (Ein) Avdat (Avedat) and Mitzpe Ramon in Israel. The photo below shows one of the young Ibex on the run at En Avdat

Young Ibex on the run at En Avdat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Young Ibex on the run at En Avdat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo illustrates how well the Ibex blend in with the terrain in which they live.

Ibex at Avdat in the Wilderness of Zin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ibex at En Avdat in the Wilderness of Zin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The last photo shows the sure-footed Ibex seeking out the high places.

Ibex in the wilderness of Zin near En Avdat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ibex in the wilderness of Zin near En Avdat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The reference to the hind or deer (Hebrew ayyalah) in Psalm 18:33 (Hebrew 18:34) indicates a different species, but the analogy is the same. Both Hebrew terms are used in Job 39;1.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me upon my high places. (Psalm 18:33 NAU)

He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain. (Psalm 18:33 NET)

If you would like to see another photo of the Ibex at En Gedi, click here.

Personal Note: A few friends who have missed the blog have contacted me to see if I had returned home and was doing o.k. The answer is yes, and yes. After being away for three weeks I needed some time to recoup, tend to personal matters, and get my photos organized. The subscription price remains the same. Thanks for your concern.

The early rain damages Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve

According to The Jerusalem Post’s Sharon Udasin, heavy rains caused damage to the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve located in the Arabah (Arava) north of Eilat.

The heavy rains that drenched the Eilat mountains and southern Arava region on Sunday night led to the flooding of the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) said on Monday.

Over the course of the night, park workers evacuated animals that were in danger of drowning, and others worked all night to rebuild fences that had collapsed during the flood.

By Tuesday, the nature reserve will be open as usual to visitors, an INPA statement said.

Despite the damage caused to the nature reserve, the rains brought with them “many blessings” as they watered the acacia trees – which are “a source of life in the desert” – and created a “rare, breathtaking site,” according to the INPA.

“The desert is now beautiful and gleaming, and this is the best time to hike in it and to enjoy the rich and spectacular landscape it has to offer,” said Doron Nissim, the Eilat district manager at the INPA.

More information about the weather expectations for this year is available here.

The photo below shows the Arabian Oryx, thought to be the reem of the Hebrew Bible. English versions typically translate this word with “wild ox” (Numbers 23:22; 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17, et al. The King James Version uses the word unicorn.

Arabian Oryx at Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Arabian Oryx at Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If one travels in the desert during the summer months he will see a dry, desolate bad land with only an isolated acacia or tamarisk tree or a shrub where the last water of the winter rain flowed. In the winter it can be different. Israel has two dominant seasons: winter and summer. The summer is dry and the winter is wet. The early rains begin about mid-October and continue till the late rains of early April. See Deuteronomy 11:14; Psalm 84:6; Joel 2:23; James 5:7.

 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,  he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.  And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. (Deuteronomy 11:13-15 ESV)

You might enjoy reading our earlier post about “Rivers in the Desert” here.

HT: Todd Bolen, Bible Places Blog. This Wednesday Roundup is especially full of helpful information.