Category Archives: Bible Places

Book on the resurrection available free today

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective. As a former atheist he rejected the claims of the resurrection, but after examination of the evidence he came to believe.

This book is available free in Kindle format today. Click on the book image for the link to the book.

HT: Brooks Cochran

Visualizing Isaiah 33: Lebanon, Sharon, Bashan and Golan

The fruitful land, the Lebanon range, the plain of Sharon, and the regions of Bashan and Carmel are used by Isaiah to describe what happens in Israel due to the Assyrian invasion.

Behold, their heroes cry in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly. The highways lie waste; the traveler ceases. Covenants are broken; cities are despised; there is no regard for man. The land mourns and languishes; Lebanon is confounded and withers away; Sharon is like a desert, and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves. (Isaiah 33:7-9 ESV; see similar language in 2:13)

Oaks in Bashan (Golan Heights). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Oaks in Bashan (Golan Heights). There is a nice stand of oaks east of Highway 98, south of Mas’ada near the border with Syria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Homer Hailey comments on this text,

The language is figurative, suggesting that the land reflects the spirit of the people whom the invaders are overrunning and devastating. Four ordinarily flourishing sections of the country are described: Lebanon, the mountain range to the north, noted for its majestic beauty and mighty cedar and fir trees, is confounded and withereth away; Sharon, the verdant and flower-rich plain extending south from Carmel until it melts into the Shephelah of western Judea, is like a desert; and Bashan, extending northwest from the Sea of Galilee, noted for its oak groves and rich grazing land, and Carmel, the verdant mountains or hill that juts into the Mediterranean Sea, shake off their leaves, so that the trees are bare. The picture is one of dejection, of both people and land (A Commentary on Isaiah With Emphasis on the Messianic Hope, 280).

When the redeemed return to Zion these once glorious and verdant regions shall once again be majestic.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2 ESV)

Mount Carmel near Murakah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Mount Carmel near Murakah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For our most recent comments on the Cedars of Lebanon, see here.

Wealthy Canaanite coffin discovered in Jezreel Valley

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced today the discovery of a “3,300 year old coffin” at Tel Shadud on the north side of the Jezreel Valley.

Part of a burial site dating to the Late Bronze Age (thirteenth century BCE) was exposed in an excavation at the foot of Tel Shadud. According to the excavation directors, Dr. Edwin van den Brink, Dan Kirzner and Dr. Ron Be’eri of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “During the excavation we discovered a unique and rare find: a cylindrical clay coffin with an anthropoidal lid (a cover fashioned in the image of a person) surrounded by a variety of pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cultic vessels and animal bones. As was the custom, it seems these were used as offerings for the gods, and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife.” The skeleton of an adult was found inside the clay coffin and next to it were buried pottery, a bronze dagger, bronze bowl and hammered pieces of bronze. “Since the vessels interred with the individual were produced locally”, the researchers say, “We assume the deceased was an official of Canaanite origin who was engaged in the service of the Egyptian government”. Another possibility is that the coffin belonged to a wealthy individual who imitated Egyptian funerary customs. The researchers add that so far only several anthropoidal coffins have been uncovered in the country. The last ones discovered were found at Deir el-Balah some fifty years ago. According to the archaeologists, “An ordinary person could not afford the purchase of such a coffin. It is obvious the deceased was a member of the local elite”.

Coffin lid from Tel Shadud. Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Anthropoid coffin lid from Tel Shadud. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The graves of two men and two women who may have been members of his family were also located near the coffin. The discovery of the coffin at Tel Shadud is evidence of Egyptian control of the Jezreel Valley in the Late Bronze Age (thirteenth century BCE). During the period when the pharaohs governed the country, Egyptian culture greatly influenced the local Canaanite upper class. Signs of Egyptian influence are occasionally discovered in different regions and this time they were revealed at Tel Shadud and in the special tomb of the wealthy Canaanite. A rare artifact that was found next to the skeleton is an Egyptian scarab seal, encased in gold and affixed to a ring. The scarab was used to seal documents and objects. The name of the crown of Pharaoh Seti I, who ruled ancient Egypt in the thirteenth century BCE, appears on the seal. Seti I was the father of Ramses II, identified by some scholars as the pharaoh mentioned in the biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.§ Already in the first year of his reign (1294 BCE) a revolt broke out against Seti I in the Bet Shean Valley. Seti conquered that region and established Egyptian rule in Canaan. Seti’s name on the seal symbolizes power and protection, or the strength of the god Ra – the Sun God – one of the most important deities in the Egyptian pantheon. The winged Uraeus (cobra), protector of the pharaoh’s name or of the sovereign himself, is clearly visible on the seal. The reference to the pharaoh Seti on the scarab found in the coffin aided the archaeologists in dating the time of the burial to the thirteenth century BCE – similar to the burials that were exposed at Deir el-Balah and Bet She‘an, which were Egyptian administrative centers.

§ Other scholars date the exodus from Egypt about two centuries earlier than Ramses II.

Gold Scarab of Egyptian Pharaoh Seti I. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Gold Scarab of Egyptian Pharaoh Seti I. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Tel Shadud, often called Tel Sarid, is identified with the Biblical site of Sarid included within the territory of Zebulun.

The third lot came up for the people of Zebulun, according to their clans. And the territory of their inheritance reached as far as Sarid. Then their boundary goes up westward and on to Mareal and touches Dabbesheth, then the brook that is east of Jokneam. From Sarid it goes in the other direction eastward toward the sunrise to the boundary of Chisloth-tabor. From there it goes to Daberath, then up to Japhia. (Joshua 19:10-12 ESV)

The offspring of Abraham were given the land of the Canaanite.

You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous. (Nehemiah 9:8 ESV)

The IAA news release, with more photos, is currently available here. See the report in Arutz Sheva, the Israel National News, here.

HT: Joseph Lauer, traveling in Israel.

 

 

Visualizing Isaiah 32: like the shade of a great rock in a weary land

Isaiah again looks beyond the exile and the return to the time of the Messiah. In the kingdom of righteousness every person who wishes will be able to find a hiding place or shelter. This speaks of the spiritual blessings available.

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land. (Isaiah 32:1-2 ESV)

We have shown several instances of streams in the desert (begin here). Our photo below shows a “great rock” in the weary land of the wilderness (or desert) of Paran. These gigantic sandstone pillars are located in the Timna Valley about 15 miles north of Eilat. Ruins of an Egyptian temple and evidence of copper mining have been found in the area. I can tell you from personal experience that one feels very small standing among these vast pillars.

Solomon's Pillars at Timna in the desert of Paran. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Solomon’s Pillars at Timna in the desert of Paran. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The rest and protection provided between these pillars reminds us of the wonderful Christian hymn “Rock of Ages.”

Visualizing Isaiah 31: Egypt relies on horses and chariots

A woe is announced on those who go to Egypt for help in the form of horses and chariots.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD! (Isaiah 31:1 ESV)

The prophet explains that this would be a mistake for Israel.

The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. (Isaiah 31:3 ESV)

The temple walls throughout Egypt are replete with reliefs of the Pharaohs riding in their chariots pulled by powerful horses. Their enemies are portrayed as tiny and trodden down. The photo below is on one of the large interior walls of the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor. Various conquered enemies are portrayed on the walls of the temple.

Relief from the mortuary temple of Ramses III. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Relief from the mortuary temple of Ramses III. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Solomon had made this mistake earlier, but Israel failed to learn from it (1 Kings 10:26). Moses prohibited the kings of Israel from returning to Egypt to acquire horses.

“Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’(Deuteronomy 17:16 NAU)

 

Visualizing Isaiah 30: not a shard to take fire from the hearth, or to dip water out of the cistern

There were those in Israel who wanted to rely on Assyria and others who wanted to rely on Egypt. The prophet Isaiah urged that the LORD’S people wait on Him.

Trust in Egypt would be like dependence on a wall that was ready to collapse. The destruction would be as complete as “that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.”

Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.” (Isaiah 30:12-14 ESV)

The Believer’s Bible Commentary has this comment on our text:

Let it be recorded for posterity that the treaty with Egypt (and all such misplaced trust) is a blatant rejection of the law of the Lord through His prophets. Judah will see that Egypt is a poor wall of defense. In fact the high wall will bulge and crash. It will be smashed as completely as an earthenware vessel, with no fragments big enough to use in minor chores.

During archaeological excavations thousands of broken pottery shards are recovered. The destruction (judgment) of the LORD would be so complete that there would not even be a piece large enough to use to move coals of fire from a hearth, or large enough to dip water from a cistern.

In the photo below, made at Ramat Rachel between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, we see part of a pile of pottery shards recovered during the excavation of the site.

Broken pottery shards at Ramat Rachel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Broken pottery shards at Ramat Rachel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If enough large pieces of a pot or jar are found they may be restored. This can be seen in the photo below that was taken at the En-Dor archaeological museum.

Restored pottery at the En-Dor archaeological museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Restored pottery at the En-Dor archaeological museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jeremiah used a similar illustration during the Babylonian period (19:10-11).

Visualizing Isaiah 28: the threshing sledge

Toward the end of Isaiah 28 several agricultural illustrations are used. Notice the references to the threshing sledge in verses 27 and 28.

Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin, but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cumin with a rod. Does one crush grain for bread? No, he does not thresh it forever; when he drives his cart wheel over it with his horses, he does not crush it. (Isaiah 28:27-28 ESV)

A threshing sledge was made of wood with sharp stones placed in the bottom. The sledge was pulled around and around over stalks of wheat or barley to cut the stalks into small pieces. The sledge was pulled by oxen or another animal. A young man, with perhaps some weights would be placed on top of the sledge to make it more efficient. The photo below shows an antique threshing sledge at Aphrodisias, Turkey.

Threshing sledge with most of cutting stones gone. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Threshing sledge with most of cutting stones gone. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo shows another sledge with many of the stones still in place. Every time the sledge went over the grain the pieces became smaller.

A threshing sledge with most of the cutting stones gone. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A threshing sledge with many of the cutting stones in place. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The entire process of threshing, winnowing, and sifting, is shown in the art by Balage at Archaeology Illustrated.

Araunah's threshing floor. Art by Balage, Archaeology Illustrated.

Araunah’s threshing floor. Art by Balage, Archaeology Illustrated.

 

Visualizing Isaiah 27: women make a fire of dry boughs

The judgment upon Israel will become severe before the redemption comes. Here is one illustration of the bad conditions.

For the fortified city is solitary, a habitation deserted and forsaken, like the wilderness; there the calf grazes; there it lies down and strips its branches. When its boughs are dry, they are broken; women come and make a fire of them. For this is a people without discernment; therefore he who made them will not have compassion on them; he who formed them will show them no favor. (Isaiah 27:10-11 ESV)

Our photos were made at Haran, the home of Abraham and his family before they departed for the promised land (Genesis 11:31 – 12:5). Haran is a few miles north of the Syrian border in Southeastern Turkey. The beehive mud houses have been in use here for several hundred years. The first photo shows a woman bringing in dry branches to her house to use for building fires.

Woman carrying dry boughs at Haran. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Woman carrying dry boughs at Haran. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

And the photo here shows a large supply of dried boughs and a large stack of dung cakes which will be used to make fires for cooking and heating.

Dry boughs gathered for fire at Haran. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dry boughs gathered for fire at Haran. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

 

Visualizing Isaiah 26: strong city, walls, bulwarks, gates

Isaiah’s readers should find consolation in the fact that the city that was to be devastated by the Babylonians would eventually be rebuilt.

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. (Isaiah 26:1-2 ESV)

A remnant of Judeans returned from Babylonian exile in 536 B.C., with a second group returning in 458 B.C. (Isaiah 10:21-22; 2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1; 9:13-15). Nehemiah came to Jerusalem in 444 B.C. to lead in the rebuilding of the walls of the city.

The photo below shows the foundation of a large wall thought to be the “Broad Wall” of Nehemiah 3:8 (see 12:38). The wall, excavated after 1967, was originally about 25 feet high.

Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. (Neh 3:8 ESV)

The "Broad Wall" in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The “Broad Wall” in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Prof. Eilat Mazar believes she has discovered a wall dating to the time of Nehemiah (Persian Period) in the City of David excavations. If so, this would mean we have portions of the wall on the west and on the east side of the ancient city.

Possible portion of wall from time of Nehemiah in the City of David. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Possible portion of wall (right) from time of Nehemiah in the City of David. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

 

Visualizing Isaiah 25: “on this mountain”

Isaiah continues the apocalyptic description of the judgment of the LORD and the return from captivity. The city that will be destroyed by the Babylonians will become a place of great feasting for all nations.

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.(Isaiah 25:6 ESV)

Early in the book Isaiah has informed us that “the mountain of the LORD” would become a place for blessing all men through the word which would go forth from Jerusalem.

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2-3 ESV)

Jerusalem is not directly on the top of the central mountain range that runs from the north to the south in the land of Canaan/Israel. It is situated on the eastern slope of the mountain ridge. Even then there are mountains that are higher. In the photo below you see the Old City of Jerusalem, where the Temple of Solomon once stood. But you see that Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives are higher than Jerusalem. In God’s plan Jerusalem would become the highest of all. We see the fulfillment of this in Acts 2.

Notice Jerusalem in the mountains. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Notice Jerusalem in the mountains. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo above was taken from the Haas Promenade south of Jerusalem. Click on the photo for a larger image and a better view of the city.