Monthly Archives: December 2010

BiblePlaces List of Top Stories of 2010

Over the past few weeks I have been busy with numerous things other than blogging that I considered important. In the meantime I have followed several blogs to keep up with what’s going on in those areas in which I have interest. I always check Todd Bolen’s BiblePlaces Blog, because it covers the specific areas that we try to cover here.

As the year 2010 comes to an end, Todd has listed what he considered the Top Discoveries of 2010, the Top Technology-Related Stories of 2010, and Losses (deaths). He promises to post other related lists tomorrow.

I suggest you take a look at the lists. We have commented on several of these same stories because we considered them important in assisting Bible students.

Ancient Yarkon fortress with Greek and Assyrian connections?

The American Friends of Tel Aviv University have announced that Tel Aviv University researchers have connected Tel Qadadi, at the mouth of the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv, with the Greek island of Lesbos.

Tel Qudadi, an ancient fortress located in the heart of Tel Aviv at the mouth of the Yarkon River, was first excavated more than 70 years ago — but the final results of neither the excavations nor the finds were ever published. Now, research on Tel Qudadi by archaeologists at Tel Aviv University has unpeeled a new layer of history, indicating that there is much more to learn from the site, including evidence that links ancient Israel to the Greek island of Lesbos.

“The secrets of this ancient fortress are only beginning to be revealed,” Dr. Alexander Fantalkin and Dr. Oren Tal of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology say. Their new research was recently published in the Palestine Exploration Quarterly and BABESH: Annual Papers on Mediterranean Archaeology.

The release points out that it was thought in the past that the Tel Qadadi fortress was established in the 10th century B.C. by King Solomon.

The establishment of the fortress at Tel Qudadi was understood later as evidence of the existence of a developed maritime policy in the days of the United Monarchy in ancient Israel.

Another view was that the fortress belonged to the 9th century B.C. and should be attributed to the Kingdom of Israel. An amphora from the Greek island of Lesbos in the Aegean is said to provide evidence that the site should now be dated to the late 8th/early 7th century fortress “serving the Assyrian interests in the Levantine coast rather than part of the Israelite Kingdom.”

One could not possibly have anything dating to the time of Solomon within a potsherd’s throw of Tel Aviv University!

Read the entire news release here.

The AFTAU release included a small photo by my friend and co-traveler Leon Mauldin.  Leon has given me permission to post his photo here. It shows the mouth of the Yarkon River as it flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The river begins a few miles inland at the Old Testament site of Aphek (1 Samuel 4:1), known in Roman times as Antipatris (Acts 23:31). Click on the photo for a larger image.

Aerial view of mouth of the Yarkon River at Tel Aviv. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Aerial view of mouth of the Yarkon River at Tel Aviv. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The arrow points to the little tel on the north bank of the Yarkon.

There is another lesson in this press release. Scholars, including archaeologist, do not agree and they often change their minds. It is a mistake for one to build an “infallible” case on a fallible premise. We must work with the evidence we have at any given time.

You may see more of Leon’s photos at Leon’s Message Board.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Here and there — Tuesday 12/28/2010

Roman Soldier Photos. We have used a few photos by J. P. vd Giessen of the Roman Festival, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Jan Pieter informs me that he is  now making these photos available for everyone to view. He has a total of 480 images available here. In fact, all of the photos that have appeared on his blog are available in the Gallery. Check his Dutch language Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel blog.

Bible Reading Schedule. Mark Roberts is making his 2011 Five Day Bible Reading Schedule available free in PDF for individuals and churches who wish to use it. This program allows the reading of the entire Bible or just the New Testament during the year. Details available as the Bible Class Materials web site here. Notice the Quick Links on the right. Check the other available materials while you are there.

Other Bible Reading Plans. The ESV online site displays the ESV text, the study notes, maps, charts, and other resources. Look to the right top of the page at the word DEVOTIONS. There you will see a pull down menu with Reading Plans. There about a dozen, including a Chronological plan. Your chosen plan may be downloaded for printing. You may use one of the plans with your own version of choice.

Searching for Sodom — in the sea and on the land

The search for the city of Sodom has become as elusive and controversial as the search for Noah’s ark. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible calls attention to the city of Sodom. It is first mentioned in Genesis 10:19; the last reference is in Revelation 11:8. The wickedness and destruction of the city became a symbol of final destruction throughout the Bible. Isaiah spoke concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:9 ESV)

The apostle Paul picks us the same theme in Romans 9:29.

The emphasis on Sodom, and the inability to visit a specific site only heightens the curiosity.

Dr. Steven Collins, Dean, College of Archaeology, Trinity Southwest University, thinks that Tall el-Hammam is the site of Sodom. Info about the excavation project may be located here. Other scholars suggest that Tall el-Hammam is the site of Abel-shittim (Numbers 33:49; Shittim, Numbers 25:1), in the plains of Moab. See Rainey and Notley, The Sacred Bridge, 125. The Israelite spies went out from here to view the promised land, especially Jericho (Joshua 2:1).

Tall el-Hammam in the Jordan Valley of Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tall el-Hammam in the Jordan Valley of Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Earlier in the month the media reported (here, for example) that a Russian team was planning to begin an underwater exploration of the northeast portion of the Dead Sea — that is, on the Jordan side of the Dead Sea.

In the past it has been common for scholars to suggest that Sodom were located in (or at) the southern end of the Dead Sea at Bab edh-Dhra.

The excavation at Tall el-Hammam is now in progress. Dr. David Graves has been working there for several years. He has also been looking for the Roman site of Livius. I wish to call attention to several things Graves has mentioned recently on his Deus Artefacta blog.

  • A video of Dr. Collins setting forth his argument for the location of Sodom and Gomorrah at Tall el-Hammam. Click here.
  • The front team for the current season of excavation. Click here.
  • Someone from the Russian team was to visit Tall el-Hammam.
  • Season Six Begins at Tall el-Hammam video. Click here.
  • Gary Byers, Assistant Dig Director, on December 23 reported more details about the Russian proposal. Read the entire report here. It appears that the Russian team is making claims greater than the reality.

The site marked Abel-Shittim on the map below is known today as Tall el-Hammam. You may see a larger map at BibleAtlas.org.

Site of Abel-Shittim in the Jordan Valley. BibleAtlas.org.

Site of Abel-Shittim in the Jordan Valley. BibleAtlas.org.

I’m not convinced yet, but I’ll continue to watch.

Bethlehem — home of David and Jesus

A little more than two years ago we wrote about Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus here. We will follow the example of Paul, Peter and Jude to remind our readers of some things we already know (Romans 15;15; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Peter 1:12; Jude 1:5; et al.).

  • During the Patriarchal period the town we know as Bethlehem was called Ephrath (Genesis 48:7; 35:9-27).
  • Later, as part of the territory allotted to the tribe of Judah, it was the home of Ruth and Boaz and became the birthplace and early home of David (1 Samuel 17:12, 15).
  • The town was sometimes called the “city of David” (Luke 2:4, 11), but is most famous as the birthplace of Jesus (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4-15; Matthew 2:1-16).

When one visits the Bible lands today he must realize that 2,000 years of history, involving both repeated building and the destruction of what has been built, has left nothing to remind one of the original place where Jesus was born. Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 160) said Joseph “took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village.” Origen (mid-third century) said the cave where Jesus was born was being shown and even the enemies of the faith were talking of it. Jerome, a resident of Bethlehem (A.D. 386-420), tells how the birthplace of Jesus and other places associated with the ministry of Jesus were defiled from the time of Hadrian to the reign of Constantine. The Church of the Nativity now stands at this spot.

This photo shows the exterior of the Church of the Nativity.

Exterior of the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Exterior of the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

My wife saved a portion of our local paper for me last Sunday. The headline says, “Peace swells Bethlehem tourism.” All of the town’s hotel rooms are booked solid for Christmas. Last year 70,000 visited Bethlehem for Christmas, but the number is expected to be “up strongly” this year.

If you have more interest in learning about the origin of the celebration of Christ, take a look here. A more detailed study of the historical aspects of the celebration is available in PDF here.

Time for family and manatees

Monday and Tuesday we spent the time with our grandson. Last February we took him to the Manatee Viewing Center on Tampa Bay. Monday we went north of Tampa to Crystal River and the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. My former student and friend, Michael Lusk, is the Refuge Manager. He took us into some areas not normally accessible to the public.

We started our visit at the Visitor’s Center, where we learned about the manatees and others animals that visit the refuge center or make it their home.

Visitors Center Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge

Visitors Center at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.

Because the water was at low tide it appears that the manatees are resting on the bottom of the inlet. People are allowed to swim with the manatees, but not in the roped off area.

Manatees at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Manatees at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

From another point we have a clearer view of the manatees.

Manatees at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge

Manatees at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We wrote about the manatees here, and called attention to the claim that they are related to the elephant and the hydrax.

“The closest animal relative to the manatee is the elephant and the hydrax (a small gopher-size mammal).”

The hydrax or Rock Badger is mentioned in the book of Proverbs among things that are small, but exceedingly wise. There is a great lesson here. Even though they are not mighty, they build their homes in secure places. This is similar to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 7:24-25. Notice the reading of  Proverbs 30:26 in a few of the English translations:

The shephanim are not mighty people, Yet they make their houses in the rocks; (NAU)

rock badgers are creatures with little power, but they make their homes in the crags; (NET)

the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; (ESV)

hyraxes are not a mighty people, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; (CSB)

Rock Badger at En Gedi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Rock Badger at En Gedi. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Opportunity to win Pictorial Library

We have repeatedly recommended the Pictorial Library of the Bible Lands. Todd Bolen is giving away two 10-volume sets of this valuable resource. You have until Sunday at 5 p.m. to enter the drawing.

The Pictorial Library is being offered at a 20% discount for the first time. This offer extends through Sunday.

Full details are available at the Bible Places Blog here.