Tag Archives: Lebanon

Catching up on the news

For the past few weeks I have been marking items to mention on this blog, but I have gotten behind due to a speaking engagement all last week and some other things. Take a look at those that interest you.

Excavation Reports

James Tabor reports on the 2013 Mt. Zion dig season. The team thinks they may have uncovered a Second Temple period priestly mansion. They found a bathroom with a tub adjecent to a “large below-ground ritual cleansing pool (mikveh) — only the fourth bathroom to be found in Israel from the Second Temple period, with two of the others found in palaces of Herod the Great at Jericho and Masada.” To read more click here.

DK sent me a link to an article in The Huffington Post here. The headline is typical media: “Bathtub Unearthed In Jerusalem May Have Belonged To One Of Jesus’ Enemies.” (Or not!) The first line of the story asks, “Have researchers uncovered the bathtub of one of Jesus’ persecutors?” At least wait until they build a structure over the excavation and begin charging admission. There are several nice photos at the bottom of the article.

Abel Beth Maacah (Abel-Beth-Maacah) is in the north of Israel nearly to the border with Lebanon. Excavations under the direction of Robert Mullins and Nava Panitz-Cohen. The team is looking for Abel’s Aramean (Syrian) connection, and to Phoenician connections. The report reminiscences,

A modern illustration of the proximity of Tel Abel Beth Maacah to the Phoenician coast can be found in an exhibit in the local museum at nearby Metulla. An advertisement from the 1930’s invites one to spend their summer vacation in lovely, cool Metulla. According to the ad, the easiest way to get there from Tel Aviv is to take a boat to Tyre and then a carriage from there to Metulla, 35 kilometers away! We dream of the day when we too can take such a ride.

For our previous posts on Abel Beth Maacah, along with Biblical references, see here, here, and here. The brief excavation report, with numerous photos, is in the The Ancient Near East Today here.

North end of Tell Abel-Beth-Maacah with Mount Hermon to the east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

North end of Tell Abel-Beth-Maacah with Mount Hermon in the background to the east across the Beqa Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The first excavations ever have begun at the ancient city of Derbe. Derbe was visited by Paul and Barnabas on the first preaching journey (Acts 14:20-21). Paul returned with Silas on the second journey (Acts 16:1). We look forward to future reports from Derbe.

See the announcement in Hurriyet Daily News here. HT: HolyLandPhotos Blog.

And More…

The American School of Oriental Research (ASOR Blog) publishes a monthly publication called The Ancient Near East Today. You may sign up for this (currently) free newsletter. In addition to the report on Abel Beth Maacah, I found the illustrated article about “Digging through Data at the Oriental Institute” extremely fascinating. Take a look at the photo of Dr. James H. Breasted breaking ground for the Oriental Institue, and the iconic photo from about 1975 of the famous card catalog and research area. My late friend Dr. James Hodges worked here for several years while completing his doctorate. The article goes on to show the changes wrought by the digital age.

Oriental Institute Research Area about 1975.

Oriental Institute Research Area about 1975.

Leon Mauldin has a good article on “Physical Features of the Land of Israel” here. A helpful map is included with the article. After discussing the geographical features of the land, Leon reminds us,

These factors helped determine where people lived, what crops could be grown where, and what land was good for cattle, etc. No place on earth has as much variety as the Bible land.

Following the news in the Bible World

Beginning with the Six Day War (June 5-10, 1967) I have tried to keep alert to the situation in the countries that are often called the Bible lands or the Bible World. This phrase is given to the countries of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Greece, et al. where the events of the Bible transpired. Over the past 47 years I have traveled in all of these countries, some extensively, except Iran.

The current news coming out of Egypt is not good, and it is sad to see the conditions there. I wish for peace and justice for the people of Egypt, and the other countries mentioned above. I wish it also for those who would like to travel to these ancient lands to better learn the history, both secular and biblical.

A scene on the Nile River in Upper Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A scene on the Nile River in Upper Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo above was made from the Nile River in Upper Egypt, near the ancient town of Edfu. When I look at it I am reminded of the Genesis account of the seven lean cows and seven plump cows that Joseph saw coming up out of the Nile (Genesis 41).

Acts 21 # 2 — Photo Illustrations – Tyre

Luke records the journey from Patara to Tyre in these words:

 2 and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail.  3 When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo.  4 After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem.  5 When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another.  6 Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again.  7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting the brethren, we stayed with them for a day.  (Acts 21:2-7 NAU)

Tyre was well known to the Old Testament writers, especially the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 26-28 you will find a proclamation against Tyre, a prophetic lamentation over the fall of the city, and a proclamation against the king of Tyre.

The ministry of Jesus took Him to the district of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21).

The disciples, with wives and children, escorted Paul and his companions out of the city. The group kneeled and prayed on the beach before saying farewell to one another.

Tyre was once an important Phoenician city, but is now a small town known as Sur in Lebanon. It has a small fishing port that you see in the photograph below.

A fisherman works with his nets in the small harbor of Tyre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A fisherman works with his nets in the small harbor of Tyre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Acts 20–21 — Paul’s Travel Itinerary with Photo Illustrations

The precision and chronological exactitude with which this journey is recounted is amazing. F. F. Bruce says,

The description of this critical journey of Paul and his disciples to Jerusalem is given in considerable detail; some have compared the detailed description in the Third Gospel of Jesus’ critical journey to Jerusalem with His disciples. But the kind of details is different; the chronological exactitude of this second “we” narrative of acts is due mainly to the fact that Luke was one of the party and kept a log-book. (The Book of Acts in the NICNT, 407).

Acts 20:6    —    Paul left Philippi “after the days of Unleavened Bread”(Passover). He was hurrying to be in Jerusalem “on the day of Pentecost” (20:16). This would be 50 days after Passover. He had been in Ephesus on Pentecost one year earlier (1 Cor. 16:8).
Acts 20:6    —    Paul came to Troas within 5 days. Tarried 7 days. A “door” had been opened for Paul at Troas less than a year earlier, but he was not able to enter it (2 Cor. 2:12).
Acts 20:7    —    On the first day of week — gathered together with the disciples to break bread.
Acts 20:11    —    Monday (or ? Sunday) — Paul departed. This depends on whether they followed the Jewish practice of sundown beginning the new day, or the Roman practice of mid-night to mid-night.
Acts 20:13-14    —    Assos. Paul’s companions went by boat from Troas to Assos. Paul traveled overland.
Acts 20:14    —    Mitylene (on the island of Lesbos).
Acts 20:15    —    Following day — opposite Chios.
Acts 20:15    —    Next day — Samos.

The photo below was made from a ship after it passed from north to south through the narrow strait between Samos (on the left) and the Turkish coast (on the right).  The ancient site of Trogyllium is located on the small peninsula extending into the Aegean Sea.

Samos-Turkey Strait. View North. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View north of the Samos-Turkey Strait. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Acts 20:15    —    Tarried at Trogyllium. (Appears in Western and Byzantine texts and in the KJV and NKJV.) The omission of the name in most manuscripts is explained by Bruce M. Metzger:

“Chiefly because of superior external attestation, a majority of the Committee preferred the shorter text” (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 478).

Ramsay points out that the information is,

“in itself highly probable, for the promontory of Trogyllian or Trogylia projects far out between Samos and Miletus, and the little coasting vessel would naturally touch there, perhaps becalmed, or for some other reason” (The Church in the Roman Empire, 155).

Acts 20:15    —    The day following — Miletus.

This photo shows some standing water in the Lion Harbor of Miletus.

Ruins of the Lion Harbor at Miletus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ruins of the Lion Harbor at Miletus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Acts 20:16    —    Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus — to be in Jerusalem on Pentecost (fifty days after leaving Philippi).

From Miletus Paul sent for the Ephesian elders. Consider the distance. How long would it take the courier to go to them and for them to come to him at Miletus? The distance was 63 miles by land or 38 if they went across the gulf of Latmos. This gulf is now silted up, leaving only a small inland lake.

The photo shows the site of the Gulf of Latmos which is now silted up. Turkish farmers grow rice in the area. The Meander River flows to the left of this photograph.

Site of Lake Latmos, now silted up, within two miles of Miletus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Site of the Gulf of Latmos, now silted up, within 2 miles of Miletus. Photo: F. Jenkins.

Acts 21:1    —    Set sail on a straight course to Cos.

  •  Next day to Rhodes. Tradition identifies this stop at St. Paul’s Bay at Lindos.
  • Patara.
  • Patara to Tyre. According to Chrysostom this trip took five days (Homily XLV.2; cf. Bruce, The Book of Acts in NICNT  421). They were always at the mercy of the wind. When they came within sight of Cyprus they sailed past to the south of the island as they headed to Syria (21:3).

Acts 21:4    —    Tyre — Paul tarried 7 days (note 20:6-7).
Acts 21:7    —    Ptolemais [modern Acre in Israel] — stayed one day.
Acts 21:8    —    Caesarea. They arrived the next day. The text does not say whether they went by boat or land. At Caesarea they stayed with Philip for “many days” (21:10).

Acts 21:15-17    —    Up to Jerusalem of Judea (cf. 21:10).

Acts 21:18    —    The following day Paul and the others visited James and the elders.

If our study of the Book or Acts, or any book of the Bible, is only a cursory one without attention to details, we miss much of what was intended for us.

Note: Use the Search Box to locate posts about Philippi, Assos and Mitylene, Ephesus, Miletus, Rhodes, Tyre, Ptolemais, and Caesarea.

Thomson’s “The Land and the Book” on Logos community pricing

William Thomson’s 3-volume set, The Land and the Book, is now on community pricing at Logos.


Thomson - The Land and the Book

The Land and the Book

This set of books was published by Harper & Brothers between 1880 and 1886.

Thomson spend many years living in Beirut and traveling throughout the region. This is one of the excellent books telling of travel in those days, and of the then-current understanding of the location of various sites.

I am delighted that this book is now on community pricing for $18. If enough people place a bid the price could be lower. Place your bid today.

HT: Brooks Cochran

Acco, Achziv, and Rosh Hanikra in the Plain of Acco

The Plain of Acco runs along the Mediterranean coast from Haifa to Rosh Hanikra and the Ladder of Tyre. The northern portion of the plain is visible in our photo today.

On the right side of the photo you will see the Crusader wall at Acco (Akko, Acre, Ptolemais). Continue along the coast to the north for about 6 miles and you will see a populated area known as Nahariya. Immediately north of Nahariya is the location of Tel Achziv (Achzib, Joshua 19:29; Judges 1:31).

On the left of the photo you see a mountain ridge with a white tip protruding into the sea. That is the Ladder of Tyre and the site of Rosh Hanikra. The Israel/Lebanon border runs along the mountain ridge (West-East).

Click on the photo for a larger image that will allow you to see the features of the plain more clearly.

Aerial View of Plain of Acco (north): from Acco to Achziv to Rosh Hanikra. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Plain of Acco (north): from Acco to Achziv to Rosh Hanikra. Photo by F. Jenkins.

In ancient times a major international road ran along this coast.

See our previous post about Achziv (here) and the links there to earlier posts about the Plain of Acco.

The 2012 Exploratory Excavation at Tel Achziv “aims to lay the foundation for the understanding of the maritime activity in the site, concentrating on three foci of excavation:”

  1. Excavation of a Roman monumental structure on the coast, connected with an elaborate fish pond (piscina), possibly the remains of a Villa Maritima
  2. An exploration of the possible harbor area, in the vicinity of an artificial rock-cut channel, looking for additional harbor installations
  3. Excavation of the Middle Bronze Age rampart.

Details about the excavation directed by Dr. Gwyn Davies of Florida International University and Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa is available here.

Monday meandering — August 29

Looking for a beautiful photo of the Cedars of Lebanon. Try one of these by Mark Connolly, posted by Carl Rasmussen on the HolyLandPhotos’Blog here. I understand that the oldest of the cedars are located at an elevation of about 6,500 feet above sea level at the village of Bchareé  in Mount Lebanon. The cedars are beautiful at any time of the year, but these snow photos are especially beautiful. I have seen them twice, but only with a little bit of snow. Note just two of the significant references to the cedars in the Bible.

  • Hiram of Tyre floated cedar from Lebanon to Joppa for Solomon’s Temple (966 B.C.; 2 Chronicles 2:16).
  • Cedars were floated to Joppa for the rebuilding of the temple (520-516 B.C.; Ezra 3:7).

Gordon Franz sent me an advance notice of an article you may read on his Life and Land blog. He is coining a new phrase be included in his Cracked Pot Archaeology category. It is a sub discipline of pseudo-archaeology called “Apostolic” Archaeology.

The practitioners of this discipline are usually adventurers, sometimes treasure hunters, and generally with neither field training in archaeological methodology nor academic credentials in Near East archaeology, but perhaps a superficial knowledge of the Bible. They claim to have discovered objects or places of great Biblical importance and declare it to be whatever they want it to be. They usually try to justify their pronouncements with a Bible verse. Their declarations are made as if they were speaking ex cathedra (i.e., with authority).

Read more here. We will be on the alert for more of Gordon’s exposés.

Dr. Claude Mariottini writes about what it is like to go back to teaching after the summer break. He comments on the plague of Email here.

In addition, with the advent of computers, we also had the birth of emails, that modern plague that invades one’s life day and night.  With the growth of technology, now one can check emails at the office or at home.  In addition, email follows you on your iPad and on your smart phone.  Emails are everywhere.

Last month my wife and I went on a vacation.  When I returned to the office, I had to process hundreds of emails.  I have an email at school, one at home, and another for the blog.  Just to process all the emails that had accumulated over a two-week period, it took me almost two days.  Maybe, some of us are luddites at heart, yearning for the good old days that never existed.

There is more good stuff there. I suggest you read it.

Which reminds me. I get more questions by Email, comments, and messages on FB, than I am able to answer. I want to answer most of them, but it is difficult to get to them. Hope you understand.