Tag Archives: tourism

Visualizing Isaiah 13:19-22 – Babylon, never inhabited

Edward Chiera, of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, excavated at Nuzi in 1927 and at Khorsabad in 1928, 29. On one of his visits in Mesopotamia he wrote a letter to his wife in which he described Babylon. This letter is included in his book They Wrote on Clay, xi-xv. The following excerpts describe vividly the fulfillment of the prophecies.

“On all sides is desert…. The large network of canals…is now represented by a series of small mounds of dirt, running in all directions. Even the Euphrates has abandoned this land by changing its course… The sun has just now disappeared and a purple sky smiles, unmindful of this scene of desolation…

“A dead city. I have visited Pompeii and Ostia, and I have taken walks along the empty corridors of the Palatine. But those cities are not dead; they are only temporarily abandoned… Here only is real death. Not a column or an arch still stands to demonstrate the permanency of human work. Everything has crumbled into dust…

“Under my feet are some holes which have been burrowed by foxes and jackals… It is beginning to be really dark, and the plaintive song of the Arab has ceased. Nothing breaks the deathly silence…”

Now read the prophecy of Isaiah regarding Babylon.

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. 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 13:19-22 ESV)

In 1970, eight years before Saddam Hussein began his rule, I had the opportunity to take a group of Christians to Iraq. The photo below is my favorite one of the mound of ancient Babylon. I sometimes show it with a caption from Jeremiah 51:27 – “Babylon shall become a heap of ruins.”

The mound of ancient Babylon in 1970. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The mound of ancient Babylon in 1970. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

As a little flash from the past I thought I would share this 1970 photo made in front of a small Ishtar gate replica that served as the entry to the ruins of Babylon.

Ferrell Jenkins and Ferrell Jenkins, Jr. at the entry to ancient Babylon.

Ferrell Jenkins and Ferrell Jenkins, Jr. at the entry to ancient Babylon.

Notice that the tour was 21 days long. We visited Rome, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, London, and Lisbon. The cost from New York, including all meals was — drum roll — $1,198!

Maintaining control of a tour group

Occasionally I am asked if I ever have any trouble with individual tour members during a tour. The same might be asked about students in a class. After 45 years of directing tours I would have to say that there have been a few people who have given some problems for me or other tour participants. If they give trouble to others, that becomes a problem for me.

Mark, one of my friends, showed up on the first full day of touring with a T-shirt that I suppose he thought might help.

Dealing with trouble during a tour.

One tour member wanted everyone to improve their behavior. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Really, the serious problems have been few and far between. I have become friends with some wonderful people through the years.

The advice of wisdom always works.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1 ESV)

Flag faux pas

We have been flying our flag since a few days before Memorial Day.

When traveling outside the United States it is fairly common to see the flag of the USA displayed in front of hotels that cater to citizens of the USA. Dozens of boats carry tourists across the Sea of Galilee from one port to another. This is an important part of our tours to give the travelers some sense of the elevation of the sea, and of the quietness of its water.

Tourist boat on Sea of Galilee. View to East. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tourist boat on Sea of Galilee. View to East. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is fairly typical of these boats to hoist a flag of the country from which its passengers come. In 2006 the boat we were on had inadvertently hoisted the USA flag upside down. The rules of etiquette for the display of the flag say that the flag should be flown upside down only as a distress signal. Fortunately we did not have a storm like the one mentioned in the gospels. Such storms still occur when the strong winds come down upon the sea from the surrounding mountains. In that case I suppose a distress signal might have been helpful.

But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. (Luke 8:23-24 NAU)

United States flag upside down on Israeli boat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

United States flag upside down on Israeli boat. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Happy fourth of July to my USA friends. Fly your flag proudly, but don’t turn it upside down!

“Our IAA which art in Israel”

Tourist confesses to taking a stone from an Israel Antiquities Excavation 12 years ago.

Twelve years after a stone disappeared from an Israel Antiquities Authority Excavation south of the Temple Mount, a tourist from New York confessed: “I Took It. My Conscience Bothers Me and I Am Asking for Forgiveness” The stone, which weighs 21 kilo, was returned to Jerusalem this week.

Here is part of the account released by the IAA in Jerusalem.

In 1997, a twenty one kilogram fragment of a marble column disappeared from one of the excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority was conducting south of the Temple Mount.

Several weeks ago, the IAA received an unexpected e-mail from a clergyman in the state of New York: “I am requesting forgiveness for a member of my congregation”, he writes. “The fellow confessed to me that twelve years ago he took a stone from Jerusalem and his conscience has bothered him ever since. I wish to return the stone to Israel and hope that you will forgive the man for his transgression”.
A letter from the fellow was attached to the heavy stone fragment, which arrived in Jerusalem in a wooden crate that was specially constructed for the flight back to Israel. “I came to Israel on an organized trip. As a student of archaeology, I was very excited when we visited an excavation south of the Temple Mount. I asked how I can purchase a stone from the excavation because I wanted a souvenir with which to pray for Jerusalem and was told it was not possible. On the last day of the trip our Israeli tour guide approached me and took the stone fragment from inside his coat. ‘Take it’, he said. ‘It’s a present from me’. I asked him how he obtained the stone and he replied, ‘It’s okay; don’t worry’. I was very happy and took the stone with me on my flight back to New York. Only later did I realize that he probably took the stone from the excavation without permission. For the past twelve years since then, rather than remind me of the prayer for Jerusalem, I am reminded of the mistake I made when I removed the stone from its proper place in Israel. I am asking for your forgiveness”.

Shay Bar Tura displays the package and the returned stone. Photo by IAA.

Shay Bar Tura displays the package and the returned stone. Photo by IAA.

Shay Bar Tura, Deputy Director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the IAA, stated,

It should be emphasized that any activity conducted at an antiquity site requires permission from the IAA. Taking archaeological artifacts from antiquities sites constitutes a severe criminal offense which is punishable by law with imprisonment”.

Who was the tour guide?

HT: Joe Lauer