Tag Archives: Egypt

Russian archaeologists say enclosure wall uncovered at Memphis, Egypt

Not much is left at the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis. This is not surprising to those who believe the Bible includes prophecy about various ancient nations.
The prophet Ezekiel has this to say about Memphis.

This is what the sovereign LORD says: I will destroy the idols, and put an end to the gods of Memphis. There will no longer be a prince from the land of Egypt; so I will make the land of Egypt fearful.  (Ezekiel 30:13)

The alabaster sphinx of Rameses II  (13th century B.C.) is one of the nicest pieces on display at the open air museum. It is also one of the few artifacts to be seen. The prophecy has surely come to pass.

Alabaster sphinx of Rameses II at Memphis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Alabaster sphinx of Rameses II at Memphis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A recent article in The Cairo Post here reports that an archaeology team of the Russian Institute of Egyptology has uncovered ruins of the enclosure wall that surrounded Memphis about 3200 B.C.

The article includes a note saying the new Grand Egyptian Museum, being built near the Giza Pyramids, is scheduled to open in 2018. The uprising in Egypt that occurred in 2011 has caused the delayed opening of the Museum.

HT: Agade List

Dust storms afflict Egypt, Palestine, and Israel

Almost four years ago I wrote a post about the strong East winds of the Middle East, also calling attention to the winds from the south. Several bloggers have called attention to a recent occurrence of the winds affecting Egypt, Palestine, and Israel in particular. I thought it would be appropriate to reprint some of that earlier material here with an update.

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Almost everyone who has visited Israel has learned of the West winds that make their way through the depressions around the Sea of Galilee and create storms on the Sea. Unless you travel in the “transitional season” or in the (dry) summer season you may not have learned about the East wind. This wind is called the sirocco. In Egypt it is known as the khamsin, and in Israel as the sharav.

Denis Baly, The Geography of the Bible (1974 ed., pp. 51-53), explains these winds. He says they occur in the transitional seasons from early April to mid-June, and from mid-September to the end of October. Baly says,

It is this intense dryness and the fine dust in the air which are so exhausting, for other hot days, though troublesome, do not have the same effect. People with a heart condition, nervous complaints, or sinus trouble are particularly affected, but even the mildest-tempered person is apt to become irritable and to snap at other people for no apparent reason. Tourists find the sirocco especially frustrating, for not only does travel become fatiguing, but the fine yellowish dust which fills the air drains it of all color, blots out all but the immediate vicinity, and makes photography a mockery.

Here is how Larry Haverstock described his day walking the Jesus Trail in an Email to me.

No blog last night because of the storm. I woke to high winds from the east which dusted up the air so badly that photos were mostly useless. Worst part was that it was directly against me and really HOT. Pushing against 20+ mph winds really took the steam out of me. By the end of the day I was utterly exhausted.  Drank my full 3 litres and had good dinners and breakfasts, but energy levels are still very low.

The photo below is one of the aerial shots Larry and I made a week earlier. It was made while flying over the west shore of the Sea of Galilee, with the view to the west. You can see Mount Arbel and the Wadi Hamam below. The Via Maris runs in this valley which is also called the Valley of the Doves. You will notice two lines of mountains further west.

I am rather sure that this is the route Larry was walking. Larry lived in Washington state for many years. I think he is not bothered by the sudden rains, but the intense heat and strong wind from the east may be another matter. I want you to think about the fact that all of the biblical characters from the Patriarchs to Jesus and His disciples encountered conditions similar to these (and worse).

Aerial view of Arbel, Wadi Hamam, and the Via Maris. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of Arbel, Wadi Hamam, and the Via Maris. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Baly cites several biblical references to the east and south winds that bring in the hot air and the dust storms. He says, “Where the mountains come close to the sea a strong sirocco pours down the slopes like a flood, at 60 miles an hour or more, stirring the sea into a fury.”

By the east wind you shattered the ships of Tarshish. (Psalm 48:7 ESV)

In the prophecy against Tyre, Ezekiel says,

“Your rowers have brought you out into the high seas. The east wind has wrecked you in the heart of the seas. (Ezekiel 27:26 ESV)

Notice Elihu’s comments to Job about the south wind.

Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,  you whose garments are hot when the earth is still because of the south wind?  (Job 37:16-17 ESV)

Jesus also observed the effect of the south wind:

And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. (Luke 12:55 ESV)

Do you remember Jonah’s problems after enjoying the shade of his plant?

When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:8 ESV)

Baly calls attention to the effect of the spring siroccos on the crops.

The spring siroccos destroy the winter grass and may damage the crops if they come too soon, and hence they appear constantly in the Bible as a symbol of the impermanence of riches or of human life.

Note these additional references in your own study: Psalm 103:16; Isaiah 40:6-8; Hosea 13:15; Ezekiel 17:10; James 1:11. In a recent post Barry Britnell (Exploring Bible Lands) add Deuteronomy 28:15-24 here.

Larry Haverstock’s own description which he later wrote here in his blog is included here. (There are some great pictures of his descent from Mount Arbel.)

It was while making this first effort of the morning that I encountered my nemesis for the rest of the day.  It was only 10 o’clock but already a hot wind was blowing in my face.  What I couldn’t know at that moment was that as I climbed the western slope the mountain was acting as a shield so that I wouldn’t feel the brunt of this wind until I summited.  As soon as I stepped out upon the actual heights of Arbel I knew I was in for an unusual day.

The view was phenomenal and despite the dust in the air I got the following shot of the Plain of Gennesaret.  This is the Northwest corner of the Sea.  Just out of sight on the waterfront to the right are the ruins of ancient Magdala from whence one very famous Mary came.  All the rest of the shoreline is the area in which Jesus spent a tremendous amount of time, preached some of His very most famous sermons, worked many miracles, and made His home in Capernaum which is along the shore as it turns the corner and heads off to the right in the distance.  Much food for thought when you stand in this place.

Unfortunately, the wind was howling and dangerous here.  I don’t have a weather report, but guess it was in the vicinity of 40 miles an hour since I was actually being pushed off balance and forced to take a step now and then to keep from falling over.  It did give me pause, but I was determined to take the shorter, harder, steeper trail down, so I spent about 20 minutes re-rigging my equipment.  Fearing the monopod “sword” might jam itself on the rocks somehow I removed it from the under arm position and strapped it vertically to the back of the pack.  Then, using the extra leather chin strap rope I’d brought along for emergency, I took off my hat and lashed it on the back of the pack too.  This hat had a very wide and stiff brim which had helped shield my face from the gale on the way up, but was now a liability, capable of catching the wind and pulling me off balance, so I stowed it.  Then I took the pack’s belly straps and lengthened them so that rather than directly clutching my stomach, they came out and over the front pack so that I could tightly restrain it from swinging.  Having thus reduced my exposure to the wind I started down.

It was now man against mountain, rather than nonchalant tourist with a camera time.…

Shortly afterwards I called attention to the comparative photos that Dr. Carl G. Rasmussen has included in his Zondervan Atlas of the Bible, and on his Holy Land Photos website here. These photos provide a vivid contrast that the dust storms make.

In today’s Weekend Roundup at Bible Places Blog, Todd Bolen calls attention to the current article in The Jerusalem Post here, and the 25 or so outstanding large photos from Egypt, Palestine, and Israel in London’s Daily Mail here. Be sure to look at these photos.

I have experienced a delayed flight in Egypt due to the sand storms, and the scorching hot wind with dust in Israel, but nothing like these photos reveal.

Visualizing Isaiah 30: not a shard to take fire from the hearth, or to dip water out of the cistern

There were those in Israel who wanted to rely on Assyria and others who wanted to rely on Egypt. The prophet Isaiah urged that the LORD’S people wait on Him.

Trust in Egypt would be like dependence on a wall that was ready to collapse. The destruction would be as complete as “that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.”

Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.” (Isaiah 30:12-14 ESV)

The Believer’s Bible Commentary has this comment on our text:

Let it be recorded for posterity that the treaty with Egypt (and all such misplaced trust) is a blatant rejection of the law of the Lord through His prophets. Judah will see that Egypt is a poor wall of defense. In fact the high wall will bulge and crash. It will be smashed as completely as an earthenware vessel, with no fragments big enough to use in minor chores.

During archaeological excavations thousands of broken pottery shards are recovered. The destruction (judgment) of the LORD would be so complete that there would not even be a piece large enough to use to move coals of fire from a hearth, or large enough to dip water from a cistern.

In the photo below, made at Ramat Rachel between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, we see part of a pile of pottery shards recovered during the excavation of the site.

Broken pottery shards at Ramat Rachel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Broken pottery shards at Ramat Rachel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If enough large pieces of a pot or jar are found they may be restored. This can be seen in the photo below that was taken at the En-Dor archaeological museum.

Restored pottery at the En-Dor archaeological museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Restored pottery at the En-Dor archaeological museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jeremiah used a similar illustration during the Babylonian period (19:10-11).

Visualizing Isaiah 19: “the idols of Egypt will tremble”

Isaiah 19 is a continuation of the announcement of the LORD’S judgment upon Egypt.

An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. (Isaiah 19:1 ESV)

All over Egypt we see evidence of the ancient fallen power. This fallen statue of Ramses II at Memphis illustrates what happened.

Fallen colossal statue of Ramses II at Memphis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fallen colossal statue of Ramses II at Memphis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The princes (leaders) of Zoan, and other places in Egypt, are likened to pillars that were to be crushed. Columns, pillars, and statues are scattered over the ruins of ancient Zoan (Tanis) in the land of Goshen. In the photo below we see columns stacked up.

Fallen stonework piled together at Zoan (Tanis) in the Land of Goshen. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fallen stonework piled together at Zoan (Tanis) in Goshen. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Those who are the pillars of the land will be crushed, and all who work for pay will be grieved. The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish; the wisest counselors of Pharaoh give stupid counsel. How can you say to Pharaoh, “I am a son of the wise, a son of ancient kings”? Where then are your wise men? Let them tell you that they might know what the LORD of hosts has purposed against Egypt. The princes of Zoan have become fools, and the princes of Memphis are deluded; those who are the cornerstones of her tribes have made Egypt stagger. (Isaiah 19:10-13 ESV)

Egypt and the Bible

The land of Egypt is an important part of the Bible world, and the country played an important role in biblical history. Egypt is mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible. One may add to this numerous reference to the various cities, such as Alexandria, On, and Pi-beseth, that are mentioned where the word Egypt is not used.

Cairo on the Nile River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cairo on the Nile River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A number of significant Bible stories take their setting in Egypt. Abraham sojourned there (Genesis 12:10). During Joseph’s stay in Egypt he went throughout the land storing grain (Genesis 41:46-48). Moses was born there, adopted by the daughter of a Pharaoh, and trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:20-22).

We have every reason to think that these men would have seen the pyramids and other “antiquities” of their time. The Step Pyramid of Djoser, located at Saqqara, was built about 2640 B.C. Shortly thereafter in the twenty-sixth century B.C. came the famous Giza pyramids. Modern man stands in awe of these ancient tombs. This was during the Old Kingdom period of Egyptian history (2800 to 2250 B.C.).

Neither Abraham, Joseph, nor any of the Israelites had anything to do with the building of the pyramids. The pyramids of Giza had been standing more than 500 years when Abraham visited Egypt.

Except for Danny and Sara, who came a day earlier, everyone in our group was tired from the long flight and the loss of seven or more hours. We still made good use of the time by visiting the Citadel and the Mohammed Ali Mosque. Then we went to Old Cairo to visit a Coptic church and the Ben Ezra Synagogue. These churches are built within what has been called Fort Babylon. Hopefully we will get back to visit the church associated with Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, and the Coptic Museum.

See the earlier post about the Ben Ezra Synagogue.

This photo shows a portion of what is marked as a Roman Fort. In the past there have been signs with the phrase Fort Babylon. This ruin (on the right of the photo) is part of the Roman fort that was known as Fort Babylon in Roman times. At that time the Nile River flowed beside the Fort, but has since changed its course. The buildings to the left are part of the newly restored Coptic Museum.

Roman Tower (Fort Babylon, on right) and the Coptic Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman Tower (Fort Babylon, on right) and the Coptic Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Where are the copper mines?

Eilat, on the north shore of the Gulf of Eilat (or Aqaba), has been our base for a couple of days. 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 Kings9:26)

Last evening I made this photo looking east from my hotel balcony. We face the marina; the gulf is to the right (south) of this photo. The lights, behind the large hotels, are in Jordan.

East view from Eilat to Aqaba. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

East view from Eilat to Aqaba. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The “promised land” was described to the Israelites as “a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper” (Deuteronomy 8:9). Copper was mined in the Negev (called the south in older English translations) as far back as the time of Solomon. Copper is still mined at Timna about 17 miles north of Eilat. Some years ago Belgian engineers made a survey proving the presence of 100,000 tons of metallic copper. Iron ore has been found in the Negev and in eastern Upper Galilee (Vilnay, The Israel Guide, 17).

The Bible does not say that Solomon had copper mines at Ezion-geber, but the presence of mining facilities dating to the time before Solomon indicates that this may have been one of the reasons why the King built a port and had a navy stationed there (1 Kings 9:26-28). Ezion-geber was more than 220 miles from Jerusalem. The copper provided a good medium of exchange for gold, spices, and other items that Israel needed.

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 Aqaba (the Israelis call it the Gulf of Eilat).  The hotel in which we are staying in Eilat, Israel, is very near the border. Glueck identified Tell el-Kheleifeh as King Solomon’s copper mines, and explained that the apertures in the buildings served as flueholes. 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.”

There is no question that copper smelting was done in the Negev in the time of Solomon, but Glueck later changed his mind about the building he had formerly identified as the refining plant. He later stated 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 word of God, 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.

The tendency now is to identify Tell el-Kheleifeh with Elath (Eloth). Pharaoh’s Island (Jezirat Faraun) or Coral Island is suggested as the location of Ezion-geber. This island is located about 8 miles south of Eilat. It is now in Egyptian control so I was unable to see it on this trip, but I saw it a few
years ago.

It may be that our comfortable hotel is located on a spot where Israelites once camped.

This morning we visited Timna Park which is located 17 miles north of Eilat. The Egyptians mined and smelted copper here in the 13th-12th centuries B.C. We saw the excavations conducted by Beno Rothenberg that provided evidence of the copper smelting. I don’t have enough time tonight to give a full explanation, and I have already written a lot for one day.

Timna Park is filled with beautiful, colorful, desert landscapes. One of the formations is known as Solomon’s Pillars. Of course, it has nothing to do with Solomon, but the name is nice.

The so-called Solomon's Pillars at Timna. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The so-called Solomon's Pillars at Timna. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tutankhamum and the World of the Pharaohs

The premier exhibition of Tutankhamum and the World of the Pharaohs is current open in Vienna. Maybe you will not be able to get to Vienna, but there are some wonderful photos on line. The exhibit web page is here.

To get to the photos click on the English (UK) flag at the top of the page. (Pay attention. This will not work on the German page.) Then click on Press and Media. The photo here shows the top of one of the canopic jars in the the King Tut tomb. This jar, made of alabaster, was used to store one of the major organs of the body. Click on the photo for a larger image.

The top of a canopic jar from the tomb of Tutanhkamum. Photo by Sandro Vannini.

The top of a canopic jar from the tomb of Tutanhkamum. Photo by Sandro Vannini.

Howard Carter discovered the intact tomb of King Tut in 1922. Tut lived between 1341 and 1323 B.C. This is about a century after Moses was in Egypt if we depend on the dates given in certain Old Testament references like 1 Kings 6:1.

Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.

The fourth year of Solomon’s reign would have been about 966 B.C.

When one sees the wealth represented in the tomb of King Tut he must be impressed with the statement made by the writer of Hebrews regarding the treasures of Egypt.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26 NASB)

Sinaitic Manuscript now online (with some problems)

The AP news release about the Sinaitic Manuscript can be read here [now broken]. The release correctly points out that the manuscript from the fourth century is the oldest complete New Testament. Of course, we have manuscripts of portions of the New Testament from the early second century.

The British Library says the full text of the Codex Sinaiticus will be available to Web users by next July, digitally reconnecting parts that are held in Britain, Russia, Germany and a monastery in Egypt’s Sinai Desert.

It is significant that all parties owning portions of the manuscript have agreed to work together to make the material available online. In the past I have made a few photos of the open pages of the manuscript in the British Museum. But with the glare of the glass it was always difficult to get a good photo. More recently the British Museum manuscript has been displayed in the new British Library, but in a dimly lit room.

Now you eventually will be able to read the manuscript online. The manuscript includes some portions of the Old Testament, too. To illustrate the high quality of the manuscript I am posting a photo of the first few lines of the Lamentation of Jeremiah over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. This is from a manuscript in Leipzig.

Notice that the words for Israel and Jerusalem are abbreviated. They are the words with the line over them. The name of Jeremiah is seen in the last line.

The first release of the Codex Sinaiticus Project went online a few minutes ago here. The only New Testament book in the present collection is Mark. At the moment the page is not behaving correctly, but I think that will be corrected in time. I am unable to see the image of the MS, but the transcription shows up fine. Take a look, and be patient. You will find some valuable information about the manuscript and the project.

I think I am getting a message saying the system is out of memory. Try later after the crowd leaves home!

Saint Catherine’s Monastery

The Monastery of St. Catherine is located at an altitude of about 4925 feet in the Wadi el-Deir at the foot of Gebel Musa. Tradition identifies this as the site where Moses tended the flocks of Jethro and saw the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17). The Monastery was built near the middle of the sixth century A.D. during the reign of the emperor Justinian. It is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria and is the oldest continuously inhabited convent in the Christian world. Through the centuries many monks have lived there; today it houses fewer than a dozen Greek Orthodox monks.

The monastery became a great center of over 3000 old manuscripts and over 2000 icons. Only the Vatican library has more manuscripts. The Sinaitic Manuscript (Aleph) of the Bible was discovered by Constantine Tischendorff in 1844. The Sinaitic is the oldest surviving complete manuscript of the New Testament (about 350 A.D.). In 1975 the monks at the monastery found a large number of previously unknown documents. (One interesting recent book dealing with the monastery and its manuscripts is Secrets of Mount Sinai by James Bentley.)The bedouin who work at the Monastery are called Jabaliye (Arabic for People of the Mountain).

“According to their tradition they are descendants of Christian slaves who were brought here by Emperor Justinian from Wallachia, today Rumania, as builders of the monastery and later its guards. In the course of time, when Sinai came under strict Moslem rule they were compelled to embrace Islam” (Vilnay, The Guide to Israel, 564).

There is a mosque within the monastery walls.

I have had an opportunity to visit the area of Gebel Musa a few fimes, and to visit the monastery a couple of times. Here is a photo of the monastery that I made on my last visit to the area in 2005.

Saint Catherine's Monastery

Enjoying the local customs

One of the joys of travel is learning about the customs of the local people. Of course, I have a special interest in finding customs that remind us of customs in Bible times. In many places the local entrepreneurs realize that tourist enjoy this so they make it possible for you to see and participate in the customs. This woman at a restaurant near Memphis, Egypt, is baking bread as it has been done for centuries in Egypt. Yes, the bread was delicious.

Perhaps you can recall the episode in Genesis 40 about “the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt.”