Tag Archives: Isaiah

Egyptian culture evident in discovery near Tel Halif

TTel Halif is located between Hebron and Beersheba in the Negev (Negeb, Negev region, South land or South country).

Abram continually journeyed by stages down to the Negev. (Genesis 12:9 NET)

Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. (Genesis 24:62 ESV)

Tel Halif (= Arabic, Tell el-Khuweifeh). In an article about the Biblical identity of Tel Halif, Oded Borowski points out that this was territory allotted “to the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:1-9) and later to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:20-32).” He discusses various efforts to equate the site with a site named in the Bible. Borowski narrows his discussion to four main candidates: Sharuhen, Hormah, Ziklag, and Rimmon. He think Rimmon (= En-Rimmon) is the correct choice (Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 51, Issue 1). Rimmon is mentioned five times in the Bible (Joshua 19:7; 1 Chronicles 4:32; Joshua 15:32; Nehemiah 11:29; Zechariah 14:10). I am not in a position to venture even a guess.

The photo below shows the terrain near Tel Halif, north of Beersheba.

Sheep in the Negev near Tel Halif. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sheep in the Negev near Tel Halif. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced today the discovery of artifacts excavated from a cave near Tel Halif, in the region of Kibbutz Lahav, in the south of Israel.

The artifacts included “seals, seal rings, figurines and amulets in the image of gods sacred to the Egyptian culture.” The archaeologists say,

The collection indicates “the presence of an administrative center that existed in the region.”

Other artifacts discovered included seal rings made of faience and a wealth of figurines and amulets in the image of gods sacred to the Egyptian culture.

A collection of artifacts with characteristics of the Egyptian culture, which were discovered in the excavation. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A collection of artifacts with characteristics of the Egyptian culture, which were discovered in the excavation. Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Items dating as late as the Iron Age were also found during the excavation conducted by the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery of the IAA. The excavation followed the discovery that the cave had been plundered.

An oil lamp and a ceramic jar that date to the Iron Age, which were discovered in the cave. Photographic credit: the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

An oil lamp and a ceramic jar that date to the Iron Age, which were discovered in the cave. Photographic credit: the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to Dr. Daphna Ben-Tor, curator of Egyptian archaeology at the Israel Museum,

“Most of the scarab seals found in the excavation date to the fifteenth–fourteenth centuries BCE. During this period Canaan was ruled by Egypt”. Dr. Ben-Tor adds, “The names of kings appeared on some of the seals. Among other things, we can identify a sphinx lying opposite the name of the pharaoh Thutmose who reigned from about 1504–1450 BCE. Another scarab seal bears the name of Amenhotep who reigned from about 1386–1349 BCE. Still another scarab depicts Ptah, the principal god of the city of Memphis.”

The Biblical record indicates Egyptian influence in Israel as late as the Iron Age.

 (Pharaoh, king of Egypt, had attacked and captured Gezer. He burned it and killed the Canaanites who lived in the city. He gave it as a wedding present to his daughter, who had married Solomon.) (1 Kings 9:16 NET)

The prophet Isaiah warned about reliance on Egypt in the 8th century B.C. (Isaiah 30:1-5).

HT: Joseph Lauer

 

 

 

 

Regarding the Visualizing Isaiah series

The response to the Visualizing Isaiah series has been good by my estimation. Numerous readers have written that they enjoyed/profited by the series. Several bloggers have linked to the series and a few have re-blogged almost all of them to their readers.

This was an ambitious project. First, there was the responsibility to understand Isaiah well enough to make appropriate comments. Second, the selection of good photos was quite a task. I often looked through photos from various Bible sites and/or several museums with Ancient Near Eastern collections to locate what I thought was the right image. Some chapters offered numerous possibilities; others were a bit more difficult.

Hopefully I will be able to continue the series later. At this time I must take a break because I will be traveling in the Bible world most of May. I do plan to post something most days to indicate where I am traveling.

I trust that the Isaiah series has illustrated how you can enhance your study and teaching with visuals. You may say, “but I haven’t been to all of those places.” But you can search this blog for illustrations. Some time back we provided illustrations for the entire book of Acts. You can go to your Pictorial Library of Bible Lands collection and find the photos you need. Or, search the Bible Places Blog, or the Holy Land Photos’ Blog, or the vast collection at Holy Land Photos, or David Padfield’s collection here.

For my next series, I plan to select a shorter book such as Philemon or Jude.

Just in case some of you are looking ahead to Isaiah 41, I will include an image to help with verses 15-16.

Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff; you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.  (Isaiah 41:15-16 ESV)

Winnowing at Shechem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Winnowing at Shechem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Visualizing Isaiah 40: He will tend His flock like a shepherd

The LORD comforts His people. Isaiah 40 is a beautiful chapter showing the care the LORD has for His people, even when they go astray.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11 ESV)

The photo below is just one of hundreds that I have made of shepherds with their sheep. Notice that there are two separate flocks and two shepherds.

Shepherds tending their flocks at Socoh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Shepherds tending their flocks at Socoh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Socoh is identified with the tel on the left of the photo. It is located on the south side of the Elah valley. Socoh was a city of Judah where the Philistines gathered to fight with Saul and the men of Israel (1 Samuel 17).

Shepherds frequently take the lambs in their arms. The Photo below was made near Heshbon in Jordan.

A shepherd and a lamb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A shepherd and a lamb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Visualizing Isaiah 39: Hezekiah showed all his treasures

It seems to be a common human failing to reveal too much about ourselves, even to people we do not know very well. This is a mistake made by King Hezekiah when he was visited by Merodach-baladan, king of Babylon.

And Hezekiah had very great riches and honor, and he made for himself treasuries for silver, for gold, for precious stones, for spices, for shields, and for all kinds of costly vessels; storehouses also for the yield of grain, wine, and oil; and stalls for all kinds of cattle, and sheepfolds. He likewise provided cities for himself, and flocks and herds in abundance, for God had given him very great possessions. (2 Chronicles 32:27-29 ESV)

I would think that Hezekiah would have shown the Babylonian monarch his gold and silver treasures, but he may have shown him some of the storehouses where various significant goods were stored. We know that Lachish was a place for the storage of wheat and oil.

Three contiguous storehouse units to the right of the gate were excavated by archaeologists under the direction of Prof. Yohanan Aharoni at Beersheba. Aharoni says,

At Beer-sheba one found many storage vessels in every one of the two side chambers of each storehouse and also a Hebrew ostracon recording the shipment of quantities of a certain commodity (wine?) from two places near Beersheba, (El)tolad and (Beth-)Jamam (Joshua 15:26, 30; 19:4; 1 Chron. 4:29. (The Archaeology of the Land of Israel, p. 223)

These storehouses are dated to the 8th century B.C., the time of Isaiah and Hezekiah.

Storehouses at Beersheba. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Storehouses at Beersheba. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Visualizing Isaiah 38: a cake of figs for medication

King Hezekiah was at the point of death, but the LORD heard his prayer and extended his life by 15 years. There are several visual illustrations in this chapter. I have selected the one in verse 21.

Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” Hezekiah also had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?” (Isaiah 38:21-22 ESV)

The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament offers this comment on the use of fig cakes at 2 Kings 20:7:

Fig cakes may have been used as condiments and for medicinal purposes at Ugarit. Both later rabbinical Jewish and classical sources (e.g., Pliny the Elder) shared the belief that dried figs had medicinal value. Poultices were sometimes used for diagnosis rather than for medication. A day or two after the poultice was applied, it would be checked for either the skin’s reaction to the poultice or the poultice’s reaction to the skin. One medical text from Emar prescribes the use of figs and raisins for such a process. They helped determine how the patient should be treated and whether or not he would recover.

The photo below shows a freshly cut fig from Shechem.

A fresh fall fig from Shechem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A fresh fall fig from Shechem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo shows dried figs from Jericho.

Dried figs from Jericho. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dried figs from Jericho. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

 

Visualizing Isaiah 37: Sennacherib’s assassins escape to the land of Ararat

After the LORD struck down 185,000 of the Assyrians who were camped outside Jerusalem, Sennacherib returned home and lived at Nineveh. In the final verse of this chapter we are told that his sons killed him and fled to the land of Ararat.

Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place. (Isaiah 37:37-38 ESV; see also 2 Kings 19:37)

The Biblical land of Ararat (Urartu) is located in modern eastern Turkey. We might think of the land of Urartu being centered in Lake Van. From Nineveh to Van is an air distance of about 150 miles. The map below is from the Wikipedia entry on the Urartu-Assyria War. Click the map to enlarge. Lake Van is 5737 feet above sea level.

Wikimedia Commons.

Map of the Urartu-Assyrian war in 743 B.C. Wikimedia Commons.

The entirety of the land of Urartu is mountainous. Our photo below shows the region between Van and Batman in Turkey. Note the snow-covered slopes in the distance.

A house in Turkey between Van and Batman. In ancient times the area was known as Urartu (Biblical Ararat). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A house in Turkey between Van and Batman. In ancient times the area was known as Urartu (Biblical Ararat). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Use our search box to look for more entries dealing with Urartu. Remember that the ark built by Noah came to rest on the “mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4).

The photo below was taken in the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara, Turkey. It shows (the metal legs of) some Urartian furniture. In the left bottom corner you should see some of the ivory pieces that decorated walls and furniture.

Urartian furniture displayed in the Anatolian Civilization Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Urartian furniture displayed in the Anatolian Civilization Museum. Photo: F. Jenkins.

 

 

Visualizing Isaiah 36: Hezekiah and Sennacherib

Two significant historical characters are mentioned together in Isaiah 36. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria from 704–681 B.C., claims to have taken 46 cities of Judah in the days of Hezekiah. The biblical account says,

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. (2 Kings 18:13 ESV)

There are three known clay prisms in which Sennacherib mentions Hezekiah, king of Judah.

  1. The Taylor Prism, in the British Museum
  2. The Oriental Institute Prism in Chicago
  3. The Jerusalem Prism, in the Israel Museum

Sennacherib admits in the prism-account that Hezekiah did not submit to his yoke, but was “shut up in Jerusalem” like a caged bird.

The Jerusalem Prism, now displayed in the Israel Museum, is perhaps the least well-known of the three documents. Our photo shows that document displayed under the replica of the relief of the siege of Lachish.

The Jerusalem Prism mentioning Hezekiah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Jerusalem Prism mentioning Hezekiah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The account in Isaiah 36 is rooted in history.

 

 

 

Visualizing Isaiah 35: the desert shall rejoice

Isaiah prophesies the return of the redeemed to Zion, a promise that would be fulfilled with the return from the Babylonian exile. The illustration is one that would be vivid to those who lived on the ridge above the wilderness of Judah.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2 ESV)

Our aerial view  was made toward the east from a location a few miles south of Jerusalem. In the distance you will see the Dead Sea and the Transjordan plateau. At this point it is the Biblical land of Moab.

Aerial view east across the wilderness of Judah and the Dead Sea to the Transjordan Plateau. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view east across the wilderness of Judah and the Dead Sea to the Transjordan Plateau. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For illustrations of the streams in the desert, see here (Isaiah 35:5-7).

Saffron Crocus. The Illustrated Bible Treasury.

Saffron Crocus. The Illustrated Bible Treasury.

When I first began to travel, during the early days of the State of Israel, it was rather common for tour operators to include a phrase such as “See the desert blossom as a rose” in the tour brochure. The word rose came from the King James Version of Isaiah 35:1. The Hebrew term here is chabatstseleth. BDB defines it as a “meadow-saffron or crocus.”

Identifying plants and animals of Bible times is not easy. One common mistake is to find a plant of a certain name in our local language and identify it with one we read about in the Bible.

The point is rather simple. Places that were dry and barren would become watered and beautiful with the return of the redeemed.

 

Visualizing Isaiah 34: Judgment upon Edom

The judgment upon Edom is mentioned prominently in chapter 34 (verses 5, 6, 9; cf. the city of Bozrah, v. 6).

The most prominent place today within the ancient territory of Edom is Petra. Most people visit Petra to see the sculpted structures of the Nabateans. But the Nabateans came much later. The area was originally settled by the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob (Israel).

Our first photo, showing the desolate nature of the area, was made from a higher spot where several tourist hotels are located. To the right of center you will be able to see the parking lot and some of the buildings associated with the operation of the national park of Petra.

Petra is located within this ancient territory of Edom. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Petra is located within this ancient territory of Edom. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Our next photo was made inside Petra, but our attention is drawn to the large, high, steep-sided, flattop mountain named Umm el-Biyarah. From this vantage the ancient Edomites felt impregnable.

Umm el-Biyarah, the ancient stronghold of Esau. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Umm el-Biyarah, the ancient stronghold of Esau. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For those who wish to see a more comprehensive discussion about Edom, I call your attention to the succinct discussion by J. Alec Motyer in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries.

Edom is presented as a case in point. Even though Esau himself had no capacity for sustained animosity (Gen. 33:4–16), it was with him that relations with Jacob were soured (Gen. 27:41) and by the time of Numbers 20:14–21 hostility had become an established pattern. Saul made war on Edom (1 Sam. 14:47). David became the only king to subdue and annex Edom (2 Sam. 8:14; cf. 1 Kgs 11:15–16). Edom rebelled against Solomon (1 Kgs 11:1–17, 23–25) and was still rebelling a century later (2 Kgs 8:20). Fifty years further on, there was still fighting (2 Kgs 14:7, 10), and at the fall of Jerusalem the bitter hostility of Edom became notorious (Ps. 137:7; Obad. 10–14). Consequently Amos’ accusation (1:11) of perpetual hatred is well founded. Jeremiah 49:7–22 shows that, even prior to Edom’s behaviour at Jerusalem’s fall, the idea of judgment on Edom was part of the prophetic worldview. Obadiah saw Edom as both a place and a symbol: meriting judgment in its own right but also picturing the judgment which would mark the Day of the Lord. He was not innovating: in Psalms 60:8; 83:6, Edom had already a symbolic place in the theme of hostility to Zion. Two factors make Edom specially fit to stand as a motif for the whole world in the final judgment: first, its ceaseless hostility to the Lord’s people, and secondly the fact that it was only to David that it ever really succumbed. Thus Ezekiel, foreseeing the coming David (34:23), moves immediately to the conquest of Edom (35:1–15). Isaiah stands in this same tradition by following his forecast of the King (ch. 33) with the rout of Edom in the final judgment (cf. 11:14; 63:1–6). Recollecting 29:22 and the establishing of the family of Jacob, the overthrow of Edom/Esau makes the End the exact fulfilment of the beginning (Gen. 25:23). The purposes of God according to election stand.

Visualizing Isaiah 33: Lebanon, Sharon, Bashan and Golan

The fruitful land, the Lebanon range, the plain of Sharon, and the regions of Bashan and Carmel are used by Isaiah to describe what happens in Israel due to the Assyrian invasion.

Behold, their heroes cry in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly. The highways lie waste; the traveler ceases. Covenants are broken; cities are despised; there is no regard for man. The land mourns and languishes; Lebanon is confounded and withers away; Sharon is like a desert, and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves. (Isaiah 33:7-9 ESV; see similar language in 2:13)

Oaks in Bashan (Golan Heights). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Oaks in Bashan (Golan Heights). There is a nice stand of oaks east of Highway 98, south of Mas’ada near the border with Syria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Homer Hailey comments on this text,

The language is figurative, suggesting that the land reflects the spirit of the people whom the invaders are overrunning and devastating. Four ordinarily flourishing sections of the country are described: Lebanon, the mountain range to the north, noted for its majestic beauty and mighty cedar and fir trees, is confounded and withereth away; Sharon, the verdant and flower-rich plain extending south from Carmel until it melts into the Shephelah of western Judea, is like a desert; and Bashan, extending northwest from the Sea of Galilee, noted for its oak groves and rich grazing land, and Carmel, the verdant mountains or hill that juts into the Mediterranean Sea, shake off their leaves, so that the trees are bare. The picture is one of dejection, of both people and land (A Commentary on Isaiah With Emphasis on the Messianic Hope, 280).

When the redeemed return to Zion these once glorious and verdant regions shall once again be majestic.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2 ESV)

Mount Carmel near Murakah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Mount Carmel near Murakah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For our most recent comments on the Cedars of Lebanon, see here.