Monthly Archives: April 2011

Living springs of water

Today we traveled north from Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee to Hazor. About the time our bus stopped the rain began. We waited a while, but left the bus as soon as the rain let up. This gave an opportunity to visit the gate, the Canaanite palace, and a few other areas before the rain started again. Finally we left and went on to Dan. There we were able to visit the site with only sprinkles.

By this time of the year I had come to expect that major rains (the latter rains, Joel 2:23) would be over, but still delighted to see the rains coming to a land that has suffered drought for a few years.

From Dan we continued to Banias, the site of New Testament Caesarea Philippi. This is the area where Peter confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and where Jesus made the promise to build His church.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.  “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”  Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20 NAU)

It was still raining some, but I was much impressed with the force of the water today. I have been here on probably every tour since the site has been under Israeli control. I don’t recall ever seeing so much water surging from the earth. This is a good sign, I think.

Here is a photo made looking north toward the source of the River Banias, the easternmost source of the Jordan River.

Looking to the source of the Banias River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Looking to the source of the Banias River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo below shows the same area from the north. Here we are immediately above the outlet of the powerful springs.

River Banias, a source of the Jordan, from the North. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

River Banias, a source of the Jordan, from the North. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We got only an occasional glimpse of Mount Hermon to see the patches of snow on it.

A beautiful day in Galilee and at Megiddo

This morning we took our group on the usual boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. We left Tiberias and sailed to near the Cove of the Sower and then turn west to Nof Ginosaur on the western coast of the Sea. Ginosaur is the English Gennesaret.

Boat approaches the region of Genesaret. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Boat approaches the region of Genesaret. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and anchored there.  As they got out of the boat, people immediately recognized Jesus.  They ran through that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever he was rumored to be. And wherever he would go– into villages, towns, or countryside– they would place the sick in the marketplaces, and would ask him if they could just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it re healed.  (Mark 6:53-56 NET)

I noticed to significant things about the Sea of Galilee today.

  1. It appeared to be higher than the three or four previous times I saw it.
  2. Fishing boats were missing when I looked from my room to the Sea this morning. We have come to expect many fishing boats plying the quiet waters, but this has changed since the fishing ban was put into effect.

Indeed, the Sea level is higher. We reported December 11, 2009, that the level was 703,12 feet below Mediterranean sea level. In October , 2010, the level had risen to 701.71 feet below sea level.

Sea of Galilee guage, April 29, 2011. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sea of Galilee gauge, April 29, 2011 shows -212.42. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After we returned to the hotel at Tiberias, I walked down to the pier to see the current measurement. The Sea was 212.42 meters below sea level (= 696.916 feet). The rise of the water is significant. The all time low is about 704 feet below sea level. The maximum former level is about 686 feet below sea level. Look carefully and you will see jets of water streaming through the Sea gauge.

Yesterday we stopped at Megiddo to look at the model of the city, but due to the rain we decided not to visit the tel. This afternoon we returned. The view of the Jezreel Valley was good.

And, there was more…

The missing luggage for our two wayward tour members was at the hotel when we returned.

We have several tour members from Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Various ones were getting more reports of severe damage in their area back home, but none reported personal injury. For this we are thankful. The prayers of all spiritual persons is appreciated.

Difficult to make Internet connection tonight

Everyone in our group is well, and our two delayed tour members arrived early this morning. I am having difficulty with my air card this evening in Tiberias. We had some light rain off and on today. Tonight we are in Tiberias.

Regret to hear about the terrible devastation and loss in the southern USA, including some we know personally.

Jonah sailed from Joppa

Our group arrived in Israel today except for two persons who were delayed due to a bad weather connection in Detroit. Just learned a few minutes ago that they are on their way via Paris.

We had time to visit Joppa (Yafo) before proceeding to Netanya, along the Mediterranean coast, for overnight.

Joppa is located in the Plain of Sharon and served as the seaport for Jerusalem which is about 35 miles away. The city is now called Jaffa, or Yafo. Joppa was a walled town as early as the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1490-1435 B.C.) who mentions Joppa in his town lists.

Here are a few of the biblical highlights for Joppa.

  • Joppa was assigned to the tribe of Dan, but was not controlled by the Israelites till the time of David (Joshua 19:46).
  • Hiram of Tyre floated cedar from Lebanon to Joppa for Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 2:16).
  • Jonah sought a ship for Tarshish at Joppa to avoid going to Nineveh (Jonah 1:3).
  • Cedars from Lebanon again were floated to Joppa for the rebuilding of the temple (520-516 B.C.; Ezra 3:7). The port of the city is behind St. Peter’s Church.
  • Tabitha (Dorcas) lived in Joppa. When she died the disciples sent for Peter who was a Lydda. He came to Joppa and raised Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42). (Acts 10:6).
  • Peter stayed many days in Joppa with Simon the tanner (Acts 9:43). His house was by the sea (Acts 10:6). A house near the port is shown as the house of Simon, but there is no way to know this with certainty.
  • Peter received the housetop vision and learned that he was to go to Caesarea to preach the gospel to the Gentiles at the house of the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10:23).

The photo below shows the view of modern Tel Aviv from Joppa. The minaret in the foreground dates to the Turkish period.

View of modern Tel Aviv from Joppa. Photg by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of modern Tel Aviv from Joppa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Peter: “God raised him on the third day”

In the first gospel sermon preached to Gentiles at the house of Cornelius, Peter said,

39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree,
40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear,
41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:39-43 ESV)

Last year we wrote about The Empty Tomb here, and used a photo of a tomb with a rolling stone. Our photo today is of the same tomb, but it is a different photo which we thought might be useful to those teaching on the resurrection of Christ. This tomb was uncovered during road work at the foot of Mount Carmel near the Jezreel Valley.

Tomb with rolling stone near Jezreel Valley in Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman period tomb with a rolling stone. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A larger image, suitable for use in teaching presentations, is available by clicking on the photo above.

Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified

About 1968 I was speaking in Lethbridge, Alberta (Canada), on Christian Evidences (or Apologetics). At the close of the lessons one of the attendees said, “I would believe, except for all of the contradictions in the Bible.” Already I had learned that “all of the contradictions” were too big for me to handle at one time. I said, “Name two.” He said, “There is no record of Pontius Pilate outside the New Testament.”

Pilate is mentioned no less than 56 times in the New Testament. Most of the references are in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). There are four references in Acts (3:13; 4:27; 13:28), and one in 1 Timothy 6:13.

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, (1 Timothy 6:13 NAU)

Except for Luke 3:1 and 13:1, the references in the Gospels are clustered in the final chapters of each book, the section dealing with the crucifixion of Jesus (Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18-19).

I have no idea why one would think that having no external reference to a person named in the Bible would mean that the Bible was not true.

In fact, there are many literary references to Pilate outside the New Testament. A quick computer check shows at least 21 references to Pilate in Josephus (Antiquites and Jewish Wars).

Note this brief paragraph by Gary R. Habermas from The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, page 221.

After suffering persecution (Gospel of Truth) and as a result of his teachings (Lucian), Jesus was put to death (Gospel of Thomas, Treatise on Resurrection). He died at the hands of Roman procurator Pontius Pilate (Tacitus), who crucified him (Josephus, Talmud, Lucian, Gospel of Truth, Acts of Pilate) during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (Tacitus, Phlegon).

And there is much more in Habermas’ book about Pilate, as well as in other secondary sources that point to the primary sources.

Pilate is well attested on Roman coins. Many coins were minted during the reign of Pontius Pilate as Prefect of Judea under the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Check Jean Philippi Fontanille’s Menorah Coin Project here. Scroll down to Pilate, click on one of the coin images and you will be able to spend as much time as you can afford in one day learning about the coins of Pilate. Fontanille is author of The Coins of Pontius Pilate (Marco Polo Monographs series)

I was able to say to the skeptic in Lethbridge that an inscription bearing the name of Pilate had been found at Caesarea Maritima in 1961. The photo below shows a replica of the inscription which was found in the excavation of the Roman theater. The original is in the Israel Museum. A large copy suitable for use in teaching presentations is available by clicking on the image.

Pilate Inscription (Replica) at Caesarea Maritima. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pilate Inscription (Replica) at Caesarea Maritima. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In an earlier post I mentioned that this inscription was found June 15, 1961. A reader who is doing research on Pilate asked about the specific date. As I began to look at various books dealing with archaeology, I noted that all I have looked at only mention the year 1961. In 1976 I self-published a book called The Book and the Land (now OP) primarily for use by persons joining my tours to the Bible Lands. Since that time I have thoroughly and continuously updated the material in connection with various tours. In those works, beginning in 1976, I cited The Israel Digest, a publication that I received for several years. I usually clipped the pages I was interested in and filed them. I spent several hours recently going through a multitude of folders without locating that particular page. However, I have had some success.

Israel Digest snippet mentioned Pilate Inscription.

Israel Digest, 1961.

A snippet view of a volume containing The Israel Digest for 1966 is available at Google Books here. Fortunately it contains a snippet showing the date that the Italian Expedition, headed by Prof. Antonio Frova, discovered the inscription. Click on the 1961 book and then search for Pilate. The digitized original is said to be from Indiana University.

Well, I know that most readers do not have this kind of curiosity, but I can’t avoid it. I like to know precisely where a writer or speaker got his info when he makes an unusual claim. We owe it to our readers and listeners.

Perhaps someday, if I live long enough, I will find the folder with the complete article.

Oh, and by the way, the guy in Lethbridge never mentioned the second “contradiction.”

The last week in the Gospel of John

If we consider the Gospel of John a sort of “Day Planner” for Jesus, we have nearly complete activity recorded for two weeks of the earthly ministry of Jesus. The first is in John 1:19—2:11 where activity for six of the seven days is recorded. I think the omitted day is the sabbath.

The next nearly complete week is the last week, leading up to the resurrection. John gives more attention to the last week than any other Gospel. Even here we have activities for only six of eight days. This section begins in John 12:1 and continues into John 20. Here is the way I have reconstructed it. Where John does not record the activity I have omitted the scripture reference.

  • Sunday — The King enters Jerusalem — 12:12-19
  • Monday — Cleansing the Temple —
  • Tuesday — Visit of the Greeks — 12:20-36
  • Tuesday — Jewish rejection — 12:37-50
  • Wednesday — No events recorded in the Gospels
  • Thursday Evening — Passover Meal, including Washing Disciples Feet (only in John) — 13:1-38
  • Thur. Eve — Farewell discourses — 14—16
  • Thur. Eve — Prayer — 17
  • Thur. Eve — Annas (only in John) — 18:12-14
  • Thur. Eve — Caiaphas — 18:24-28
  • Friday — Pilate — 18:28—19:16
  • Friday — Crucifixion — 19:16-42
  • Sabbath —
  • First Day — Resurrection — 20

It should be noted that the appearance before Annas and Caiaphas were the Jewish (Religious) trials. The appearance before Pilate [and Herod Antipas] were the Roman (Civil) trials.

John does not record the pronouncement of woes on the religious leaders, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and the account of the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

With this sparse attention given to two weeks, no wonder John says,

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25 ESV)

There is a medieval wood carving of the last week of Jesus in Notre Dame (Paris). In this photo you see the representation of the last supper, the washing of the disciples’ feet, and the agony in Gethsemane. (Sorry, this was made nearly a decade ago and I don’t have a hi-res photo.)

Wood carving of Last Week of Jesus in Notre Dame. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Wood carving of Last Week of Jesus in Notre Dame. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.