S. H. Horn describes the biblical significance of Heshbon.
A city of Transjordan strategically located at the main north-south road, called the King’s Highway in the Bible, some 15 mi. (c. 24 km.) southwest of “Amman (Palestine Under Joshua and the Judges). The Israelites captured it from Sihon, an Amorite king, who had taken it from the Moabites and made it his capital (Num 21:25–30). The city was given to the Reubenites and rebuilt by them (Num 21:34; 32:37; Jos 13:17). However, since it lay on the border between Reuben and Gad, the latter tribe seems eventually to have occupied it (Jos 13:26). It was later assigned, as a town of Gad, to the Levites (Jos 21:39; 1 Chr 6:81). The Moabites reconquered the city in the period of the divided kingdom and occupied it in the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah (Is 15:4; 16:8, 9; Jer 48:2, 33, 34). However, during Jeremiah’s lifetime it seems to have changed hands again, since he refers to it as an Ammonite city in one of his later oracles (Jer 49:2, 3). The Ammonites seem to have taken it during an invasion of the Moabite territory referred to in Ezekiel (ch 25:9, 10). It was in the possession of Alexander Jannaeus in the time of the Maccabees, and was later ruled by Herod the Great (Jos. Ant. xiii. 15. 4; xv. 8. 5), who fortified it and made it into a garrison city called Esbus. Later it became a Christian city and seat of a bishop. Several bishops of Heshbon are known by name. In 614 the city suffered greatly during the Persian invasion, when its 3 churches—so far excavated—were destroyed. The Arabs who some 20 years later occupied the country made the city, then called Ḥesbân, the capital of the district. After the 13th cent. the city is never mentioned again.
Excavations were conducted at Tell Ḥesbân under the direction of Siegfried Horn and Larry Gerarty from 1968 to 1976. A large open-air reservoir dating to the Iron Age, the period of the Israelite kings was uncovered. The pool measured about 50 ft. x 50 ft., and was 18 ft. deep. It was large enough to hold 300,000 gallons of water.
The Iron Age Plastered Reservoir at Heshbon. View West. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Horn says this was “probably a pool to which Song 7:4 refers.”
Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,
by the gate of Bath-rabbim.
Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,
which looks toward Damascus. (Song of Solomon 7:4)
I have followed the information by S. H. Horn in The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary. In a post to come I hope to explain why Tell Ḥesbân may not be biblical Heshbon.
Elealeh (pronounced EL e A lah) is one of those little known cities from Bible times. It is now identified as Tell (or Tall) Al-Elealeh. The mound is located about two miles northeast of Heshbon.
When we first encounter the city of Elealeh it belongs to the Moabites. After the Israelites occupied the area the city was given to the tribe of Reuben as part of their territory (Numbers 32:3, 37).
Map showing Elealeh in Moab. BibleAtlas.org.
The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary gives this brief information about the city.
A town which the Israelites took from the Amorite king of Heshbon, and which the Reubenites rebuilt (Num 32:3, 37). Later, when the Moabites extended their territory to the north, they reoccupied it (Is 15:4; 16:9; Jer 48:34). It is now el–‘Al, a ruin on top of a hill, 3,082 ft. (940 m.) above sea level, about 2 mi. (c. 3 km.) northeast of Heshbon (Palestine Under Joshua and the Judges). Archeological soundings were conducted at el–‘Al by W. L. Reed in 1962. The excavated evidence indicated that the ancient city had existed from the 3d millennium B.C. down to the Middle Ages with a possible gap in occupation from 1600–1200 B.C. since no Late Bronze Age remains were found. (Horn, Siegfried H. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary 1979 : 318.)
The site of ancient Elealeh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
When I was a kid in North Alabama I found Indian arrowheads in the cotton fields when we hoed and picked cotton. (Yes, I really did!) The only Indian I ever heard of (on the radio) was Tonto.
In Israel, ancient ruins are discovered as foundations are dug for new buildings or roads are being widened. It happened recently along Highway 38 at Eshtaol, the area where Samson grew up (physically) (Judges 13:24-25). Eshtaol is located about 10 miles west of Jerusalem as one approaches the Sorek Valley and Beth Shemesh. I have stopped several times for gas and water at the station on the left side of the highway.
An aerial view of the large excavation along Highway 38. Photograph: Sky View Company, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Archaeologists working on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority exposed a site belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. Buildings belonging to the end of the Chalcolithic period exposed a large standing stone (massebah) 51 inches high. The archaeologists said,
“The standing stone was smoothed and worked on all six of its sides, and was erected with one of its sides facing east. This unique find alludes to the presence of a cultic temple at the site”. … “In the past numerous manifestations have been found of the cultic practice that existed in the Chalcolithic period; however, from the research we know of only a few temples at ‘En Gedi and at Teleilat Ghassul in Transjordan”.
A Chalcolithic period building and the standing stone (massebah) positioned at the end of it. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy IAA.
The IAA news release is available here. The photos we have used here, and four others, are available here. Several Israeli papers have articles about the find, including the one in Arutz Sheva here.
Todd Bolen discussed the identification of Eshtaol here.
Tel Kabri is a Canaanite site located a few miles east of Nahariya in the Plain of Akko in northern Israel. Excavations have been conducted at the site for several years under the direction of Prof. Eric H. Cline of Washington University and scholars from the University of Haifa, Israel.
A total of forty clay jars were discovered. Each have a capacity of 13 gallons. You may read more about the discovery here and here.
Wine jars at Tel Kabri. Credit: Prof. Eric H. Cline and the Tel Kabri Excavation.
The photo below shows a room in the Canaanite palace at Tel Kbri. The excavators date this structure to 1700 B.C.
Wine cellar at Tel Kabri. Credit: Prof. Eric H. Cline and the Tel Kabri Excavation.
This discovery reminds us of the wine cellars discovered at El-Jib (Gibeon) by James Pritchard in 1959. Sixty-three cellars with a possible capacity of 25,000 gallons were excavated (Pritchard, Gibeon, 79-99).
HT: Joseph Lauer
The French archaeologist André Parrot (1901-1980) carried out several excavations at Mari between 1933 and 1960. Having read about recent damage to the ancient buildings of Mari, I wanted to share a couple of photos of artifacts from the site.
The first statue is of the Iku-Shamagan, King of Mari. It dates to about 2650 B.C. and is from the temple of Ishtar in Mari. The statue is about 47 inches high and was displayed in the Damascus Museum in 2002 when I made this photograph.
Iku-Shamagan, King of Mari, praying. Statue in Damascus Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 2002.
The small (about 20 inches high) statue of Ebih-II, the superintendent of Mari, was discovered in the temple of Ishtar. It dates to the period of about 2900-2750 B.C. and is made of gypsum, with eyes of shells and lapis lazuil. This artifact, along with several others, is displayed in the Louvre.
Statue of Ebih II superintendent of Mari. Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Mari is located far east in Syria near the Euphrates River. The city was located on the main route between Assyria and Babylon. If Abraham first lived in south Mesopotamia then he might have passed this way on the trip to Haran (Genesis 11:27 – 12:5).
Project Syrian Archaeology has some photos of poor quality showing damage to historical sites at their Facebook page here.
A few columns of the Palace of the Procurators have been restored at Caesarea. The late Jerome Murphy-O’Connor describes the lower level of the Palace.
From the west colonnade one can look down to the sea shore at a point where its dominant feature is a rectangular rock-cut pool (35 x 18). There are channels to the sea on both sides. A square statue base can be discerned in the middle. The colonnaded pool was originally the centerpiece of a two-storey building (83 x 51 m) which surrounded it on all sides. Presumably it was here that the Roman procurators lived. Wave action and the activities of stone robbers have ensured that virtually nothing remains. A staircase in the north-east corner gave access to the upper level. (The Holy Land, Fifth Edition, p. 243)
Our photo below shows this area. In the foreground you will see portions of some mosaics.
The lower level of the Place of the Procurators. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
This was not a bad place for the Roman procurators to live a luxurious life while the Apostle Paul was held in custody nearby (Acts 23:23 – 26:32).
Procurators associated with Caesarea in the New Testament include…
- Pilate (A.D. 26-26) – John 18, et al.
- Felix (A.D. 52-59) – Acts 23-25
- Festus (A.D. 59-61) – Acts 24-26
The Jewish rulers associated with Caesarea include…
- Herod the king [Agrippa I] (A.D. 37-44) – Acts 12
- Herod Agrippa II (lived A.D. 27-100) – Acts 25-26
Elie, my friend and guide in Israel, sent me a photo just a few minutes ago that he made Sunday at the pool of Siloam.
Water in the pool of Siloam due to a clogged channel. Photo: Eliemelech Ben-Meir
Here is the explanation Elie gave:
Thought you might enjoy this shot of the pool. We couldn’t get in because of a clog in the channel that caused the pool to fill up and flood! We had to walk around and come in from the top past Ibrahim Siams antiquities shop and walk down the wooden stairs!
Herod the Great built a hippodrome along the Mediterranean coast at Caesarea Maritima in 10 B.C. to celebrate the opening of the city. In the second century A.D. the south end of the hippodrome was reconstructed as an amphitheater to be used for gladiatorial contests.
The seaside Hippodrome at Caesarea Maritima. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
The apostle Paul was in prison at Caesarea for two years between A.D. 58 and 60 (Acts 23:23 – 26:32).
We discussed Paul’s possible use of the charioteer in Philippians 3:12-14 here.
The École Biblique et Archéologique in Jerusalem announced Monday the death of Jerome Murphy-O’Connor (1935-2013).
Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P., passed away peacefully on Monday, November 11, 2013. He was 78 years old.
Fr. Murphy-O’Connor taught for more than four decades at the École Biblique et Archéologique. He was a world-renowned biblical scholar and author of numerous books on St. Paul and the Holy Land. Many throughout the world counted him their friend.
The writings of Murphy-O’Connor have been helpful to me. I have especially enjoyed The Holy Land An Oxford Archaeological Guide which is now in its 5th edition. In my recommendations of books for those traveling to Israel I have annotated this book with the words “Excellent. The Best.” I am pleased to say that I have seen several tour members using their copy of the book. I see the book is now available for the Kindle.
St. Paul’s Corinth: Texts and Archaeology (Good News Studies, Vol. 6) has been helpful in studying about Corinth. His article about traveling conditions in the first century in the second issue of (the now defunct) Bible Review has been extremely helpful in studying Paul’s journeys. (Murphy-O’Connor. “On the Road and on the Sea with St. Paul.” Bible Review 1:2 (1985).
HT: Jack Sasson; Bible Places Blog.
Posted in Archaeology, Bible Lands, Bible Places, Bible Study, Biblical Studies, Book of Acts, Book Review, Books, Israel, New Testament, Photography, Travel
Tagged Apostle Paul
Caesarea Maritima was a first century Roman capital and seaport. The gospel was first preached to the Gentiles here when Peter came from Joppa to Caesarea to tell Cornelius words by which he could be saved (Acts 10, 11).
Herod the Great built a city on the site of Strato’s Tower and named it Caesarea in honor of Caesar Augustus. It became a center of Roman provincial government in Judea. The city had a harbor and was located on the main caravan route between Tyre and Egypt. This city is called Caesarea Maritima (on the sea) to distinguish it from Caesarea Philippi.
The setting of the city on the Mediterranean is beautiful. The photo below shows the south end of the excavated hippodrome and the palace of the procurators.
Palace of the Procurators and the south end of the Hippodrome. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
An inscription with the name of Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, was found during the reconstruction of the theater June 15, 1961.
The Apostle Paul used the harbor at Caesarea several times. He was imprisoned here for two years before departing for Rome (Acts 24:27; 27:1), perhaps in the palace of the procurators.