Category Archives: Bible Study

Books for self and others # 2 – four from Carta Jerusalem

Recently I received two packages of books from Shay Hausman, president & CEO of Carta Jerusalem. Each package included two books I needed or wanted. Far back I have called attention to some of the excellent Carta publications. I will make a list to those posts at the bottom of this one.

R. Steven Notley wrote the New Testament portion of The Sacred Bridge, an excellent book too comprehensive and expensive for the average non-trained Bible student. The material was published in an abridged edition without all of the scholarly notes in a work entitled Carta’s New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible.

Now Carta has published some of the New Testament material is a new format. This book by R. Steven Notley is entitled In the Master’s Steps: The Gospels in the Land (The Carta New Testament Atlas). The book of 9 chapters plus preface and index covers the ministry of Jesus from His Birth to the Resurrection and Ascension. It has lavish drawings, photos, and maps to assist the Bible student. And it has print large enough for older readers to enjoy. (Just ask me!) Those who have visited the proposed site of Bethsaida may already know that Notley has taken exception to the identification of the site of et-Tell with the home of Peter, Andrew, and Philip (John 1:44). In this new work you will be able to examine his evidence and draw your own conclusions.  I am pleased to recommend this excellent paperback.

Notley, In the Master's Steps.

Notley, In the Master’s Steps: The Gospels in the Land.

The second new book by R. Steven Notley is Jerusalem: City of the Great King. This book of 112 pages has 10 chapters. The work begins with the Pre-Herodian History and develops the history of the city with the greater portion of the material being devoted to Jerusalem at the time of Christ. A short section that caught my attention deals with “The Myth of an Essene Quarter.”

I saw Prof. Notley browsing the book exhibits at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Atlanta a few weeks ago. Having met him at a previous annual meeting I spoke. He pulled a copy of this next book from his briefcase and showed it to me. When I asked if this was mostly the content of the larger atlas he said that they were criticized for not including enough material on Jerusalem. This book, he said, was to remedy that situation. He stated that there are more books to come.

This book is a good one for most anyone studying portions of the Bible with their setting in Jerusalem. It is especially helpful for those studying the ministry of Jesus.

Notely, Jerusalem City of the Great King

Notely, Jerusalem City of the Great King

The next book is smaller, being only 40 pages. Understanding the Boat from the Time of Jesus: Galilean Seafaring is written by Shelley Wachsmann. Those who have seen the Roman-era boat uncovered from the Sea of Galilee in 1986 will revel in the story told by Wachsmann who directed the excavation of the 2000 year old fishing boat. The story of this discovery, the excavation, and preparation of this boat for display at Nof Ginnosar is a fascinating one.

Understanding the Boat from the Time of Jesus

Understanding the Boat from the Time of Jesus

Understanding the Alphabet

Understanding the Alphabet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final of these four books is Understanding the Alphabet of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Ada Yardeni. This is a valuable book for those interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Hebrew Bible, and the Hebrew language. It occurs to me that anyone involved in calligraphy might find the book interesting. The book is filled with illustrations showing how to draw the alphabet of various scrolls and inscriptions.

Earlier references to Carta Jerusalem books.

Ritmeyer, The Temple Mount – a Carta Guide Book

Carta’s New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible

The links I have provided go to Amazon. The books are not as easily located in the United States as some other books, but you may be able to locate them elsewhere.

Anson Rainey, Ferrell Jenkins, and R. Steven Notley at SBL in 2006.

Anson Rainey (1930-2011), Ferrell Jenkins, and R. Steven Notley at SBL in 2006.

As mentioned above, these books were sent to me by the publisher. The comments represent my own opinion. Books purchased from Amazon through these links will net me a few cents per book. Nothing I think of as substantial. Happy reading.

Books for self and others — # 1

When you read good books and when you give good books to others, especially those who teach the Bible, you are doing a favor for several persons at one time.

During the past six months I have received several good books sent to me by authors or publishers who would like you to know about their publication. Normally I might have gotten to these publications much sooner, but due to two episodes of major disruptions to our home life I have gotten behind. One was the flooding of the house from a water line break resulting in disruption for three months. The other was due to a large fallen Laurel Oak limb that did considerable damage. We had two huge dying trees that had to be taken out. Add to that some family health issues and you will know my excuse for this delay.

Rather than writing a long review of each book I will list each with a few comments.

Make your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong

The first book is Brad Gray’s Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong. Gray is a teaching pastor in Holland, Michigan, who has lived in Israel and traveled extensively in the Bible lands. I met him in Jerusalem back in May. This paperback of 194 pages deals with the four chapter of Judges (13-16) telling the story of Samson. Everyone who goes to Bible classes and church knows about Samson, but you will get a new understanding and appreciation of the episodes recorded here when you let Brad Gray explain the setting of the events.

Brad Gray, Make Your Mark.

Brad Gray, Make Your Mark.

The author’s acquaintance with the Bible lands, the relevant archaeological discoveries, and his engaging writing will help bring this section of Scripture to life.

Samson got a lot of things wrong, but author Gray says you can avoid his mistakes and get these things right in your life. This book is recommended for anyone teaching the book of Judges or anyone grappling with the serious issues of life.

Make Your Mark is published by Faith Words, which seems to be a division of Hachette (New York, Boston, Nashville), and is available in print and Kindle format.

This book was sent to be by the publisher at the request of the author. The comments here are my own.

Jesus in Jerusalem during Hanukkah

The Gospel of John records more visits to Jerusalem by Jesus than any other of the Gospels. John is the only one to record the visit during the Feast of Dedication.

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter,  and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. (John 10:22-23 ESV)

BDAG translates the Greek term egkainia as “festival of rededication.” The feast is also known as Hanukkah and the Feast of Lights.

What is the Feast of Dedication? This feast, observed on the 25th of Kislev (roughly our December), had its origin in the period between the testaments. The desecration of the temple by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes took place in 168 B.C. The climax of the Maccabean revolt was the removal of all evidences of pagan worship from the temple. An eight-day feast of dedication was observed in 165 B.C., and continued to be observed annually by the Jews.

"Antiokhos IV" by Jniemenmaa (talk) 08:46, 20 July 2009 (UTC), own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antiokhos_IV.jpg#/media/File:Antiokhos_IV.jpg

“Antiokhos IV” by Jniemenmaa (talk) 08:46, 20 July 2009 (UTC), own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antiokhos_IV.jpg#/media/File:Antiokhos_IV.jpg

At Modin, a village north-west of Jerusalem, on the way from Jerusalem to Lod, the Syrians tried to force an old priest by the name of Mattathias to offer a pagan sacrifice. The priest refused but another Jew volunteered to offer the sacrifice. Mattathias killed his fellow Jew and the Syrian officer. As word spread, Mattathias became a national hero. He was of the family of Hasmon (or Asmoneus). Thus began the Hasmoneans.

Archaeologists working  with the Israel Antiquities Authority have been searching for the tomb of the Maccabeans at Modin in recent years. See the report here.

Seal impression of King Hezekiah discovered in Jerusalem

First seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king ever exposed in situ in a scientific archaeological excavation

Bulla (seal impression) of King Hezekiah, king of Judah, discovered at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount.

Bulla (seal impression) of King Hezekiah, king of Judah, discovered at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount. (Courtesy of Dr. Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor)

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem released this highly significant information today.

Discovery brings to life the Biblical narratives about King Hezekiah and the activity conducted during his lifetime in Jerusalem’s 1st Temple Period Royal Quarter

Jerusalem, December 2, 2015 — The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology under the direction of Dr. Eilat Mazar, have unearthed an impression of the royal seal of King Hezekiah (727–698 BCE).

Measuring 9.7 X 8.6 mm, the oval impression was imprinted on a 3 mm thick soft bulla (piece of inscribed clay) measuring 13 X 12 mm. Around the impression is the depression left by the frame of the ring in which the seal was set.

The impression bears an inscription in ancient Hebrew script:

“לחזקיהו [בן] אחז מלך יהדה”

“Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah”

and a two-winged sun, with wings turned downward,
flanked by two ankh symbols symbolizing life.

The bulla originally sealed a document written on a papyrus rolled and tied with thin cords, which left their mark on the reverse of the bulla. This bulla came to light, together with many pottery sherds and other finds such as figurines and seals, in Area A of the excavations (2009 season), supervised by Hagai Cohen-Klonymus.

The bulla was discovered in a refuse dump dated to the time of King Hezekiah or shortly after, and originated in the Royal Building that stood next to it and appears to have been used to store foodstuffs. This building, one of a series of structures that also included a gatehouse and towers, was constructed in the second half of the 10th century BCE (the time of King Solomon) as part of the fortifications of the Ophel — the new governmental quarter that was built in the area that connects the City of David with the Temple Mount.

The bulla was found together with 33 additional bullae imprinted from other seals, some bearing Hebrew names, their reverse showing marks of coarse fabric and thick cords that probably sealed sacks containing foodstuffs.

Dr.  Eilat Mazar said: “Although seal impressions bearing King Hezekiah’s name have already been known from the antiquities market since the middle of the 1990s, some with a winged scarab (dung beetle) symbol and others with a winged sun, this is the first time that a seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king has ever come to light in a scientific archaeological excavation.”

A third-generation archaeologist working at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Mazar directs excavations on the City of David’s summit and in the Ophel to the south of the Temple Mount’s southern wall. Among her many archaeological finds over the years, in 2013 she revealed to the world an ancient golden treasure discovered at the Ophel (see http://new.huji.ac.il/en/article/18251).

A video about this discovery is available online at http://www.keytodavidscity.com.

The renewed Ophel excavations (2009-2013), and the processing of the finds as well as the preservation and preparation of the excavated area for tourists by the Israel Antiquities Authority were made possible through funding provided by Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman (New York).The excavation site is situated within the Ophel Archaeological Park, which is part of the National Park Around the Walls of Jerusalem under the auspices of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

The seal impression was found during the wet-sifting of earth layers from the excavation in the Emek-Zurim wet-sifting facility, directed by Dr. Gabriel Barkai and Zachi Dvira, under the auspices of the Nature and Parks Authority and the Ir David Foundation. The bulla was discovered by Efrat Greenwald, a member of the Ophel expedition, who supervised the wet-sifting of the excavation material. Reut Ben-Aryeh, who prepared the Hebrew bullae from the Ophel excavations for publication, was the first to identify it as a seal impression of King Hezekiah. Students and alumni of Herbert W. Armstrong College from Edmond, Oklahoma participated in the excavation.

King Hezekiah is described favorably in the Bible (2 Kings, Isaiah, 2 Chronicles) as well as in the chronicles of the Assyrian kings— Sargon II and his son Sennacherib—who ruled during his time. Hezekiah is depicted as both a resourceful and daring king, who centralized power in his hands. Although he was an Assyrian vassal, he successfully maintained the independent standing of the Judean Kingdom and its capital Jerusalem, which he enhanced economically, religiously, and diplomatically.

The Bible relates of Hezekiah that “there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those before him” (2 Kings 18:5).

The symbols on the seal impression from the Ophel suggest that they were made late in his life, when both the Royal administrative authority and the King’s personal symbols changed from the winged scarab (dung beetle)—the symbol of power and rule that had been familiar throughout the Ancient Near East, to that of the winged sun—a motif that proclaimed God’s protection, which gave the regime its legitimacy and power, also widespread throughout the Ancient Near East and used by the Assyrian Kings.

This change most likely reflected both the Assyrian influence and Hezekiah’s desire to emphasize his political sovereignty, and Hezekiah’s own profound awareness of the powerful patronage given his reign by the God of Israel. While the changed Royal administrative symbol imprinted on the King’s jars used the motif of a sun with wings extended to the sides, Hezekiah’s personal changed symbol had a sun with sheltering wings turned down and a life-symbol at the end of each wing. This special addition of the symbol of life may support the assumption that the change on the King’s personal seal was made after Hezekiah had recovered from the life-threatening illness of shehin (II Kings 20:1-8), when the life-symbol became especially significant for him (ca. 704 BCE).

The discovery of King Hezekiah’s Royal Seal impression in the Ophel excavations vividly brings to life the Biblical narratives about King Hezekiah and the activity conducted during his lifetime in Jerusalem’s Royal Quarter.

The full research about King Hezekiah’s bulla is included in the first volume of the Ophel Excavations 2009–2013 Final Reports, published today with the support of the David Berg Foundation.

The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology under the direction of Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Shiva)

The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology under the direction of Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Shiva)

The Institute of Archaeology, the birthplace of Israeli archaeology, is an independent research and teaching unit within the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Humanities. Academic programs include studies for B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in prehistoric, biblical, and classical archaeology, Civilizations of the Ancient Near East and Computerized Archaeology. In addition to its role as a teaching and training institution, the Institute is involved in major archaeological endeavors and interdisciplinary research programs. Its excavations at major prehistoric and historic sites have shaped many of the current paradigms in Israeli archaeology and contributed to a better understanding of past human behavior. For more information, visit http://archaeology.huji.ac.il.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s leading academic and research institution, producing one-third of all civilian research in Israel. For more information, visit http://new.huji.ac.il/en.

Thanks to Dov Smith, Assistant Spokesman–International, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

You may read entire the Press Release here.

Sunset from the eastern shore of Galilee

Over the past years I have posted several sunrise photos made from the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, but only a few sunsets from the eastern shore. I want to share this beautiful sunset view from En Gev.

Sunset from En Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sunset from En Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If you look carefully you may see the Horns of Hattin and Mount Arbel on the western side. The sea is a little rough in this photo due to the afternoon wind that  comes in from the northwest.

Another mosaic uncovered at Lod

In the Old Testament Lod is listed as a town of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 8:12), but it seems significant only after the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile (Nehemiah 11:25; Ezra 2:33).

In the New Testament the town is known as Lydda and the place where the Apostle Peter preached and healed a paralytic named Aeneas (Acts 9:31-35).

In modern times Lod is the location of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

You might enjoy this account by the Israel Antiquities Authority about the discovery of another impressive mosaic in Lod.

While building the visitor center for the Lod Mosaic, which was exposed in the past and is considered one of the most spectacular in the country, another impressive mosaic was discovered at the site

This week the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Lod municipality, invites the public for a unique opportunity to come see the new mosaic

An impressive mosaic revealed in archaeological excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority in Lod will be open for the first time this week, specifically for visits by the public, in cooperation with the Lod municipality.

In June–November 2014 a team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority directed a large excavation in the Neve Yerek neighborhood of Lod, in an area where a breathtaking mosaic that served as the living room floor in a villa some 1,700 years ago was previously exposed. The aim of the excavation was to prepare the ground for construction of a visitor center, to which the beautiful mosaic will be returned when it completes a series of exhibitions in museums around the world. Important artifacts were discovered in the new excavation, the most notable of which is another colorful mosaic (11 × 13 m) that was the courtyard pavement of the magnificent villa that had the famous mosaic in its living room.

A portion of the newly discovered Lod mosaic showing fish. Photo by Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority.

A portion of the newly discovered Lod mosaic showing fish. Photo by Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority

According to Dr. Amir Gorzalczany, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The villa we found was part of a neighborhood of affluent houses that stood here during the Roman and Byzantine periods. At that time Lod was called Diospolis and was the district capital, until it was replaced by Ramla after the Muslim conquest. The building was used for a very long time”.

The northern part of the complex, where the “Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center” will be constructed, was exposed when the Israel Antiquities Authority was inspecting development work being carried out in the early 1990s prior to the construction of Highway 90. The mosaic, which was discovered and excavated at that time by the late Miriam Avissar, is among the most beautiful in the country, and has been exhibited in recent years in some of the world’s leading museums, including the Metropolitan, the Louvre and the State Hermitage etc. It is currently on display at the Cini Gallery in Venice, Italy, and in the future it will be housed in the main building to be erected in Lod.

A portion of the newly discovered Lod mosaic showing fanimals. Photo by Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority

A portion of the newly discovered Lod mosaic showing fanimals. Photo by Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority

The southern part of the complex was exposed in the current excavations. Among other things, it includes a large magnificent courtyard that is paved with a mosaic and surrounded by porticos (stoas–covered galleries open to the courtyard) whose ceiling was supported by columns. According to Dr. Gorzalczany, “The eastern part of the complex could not be completely exposed because it extends beneath modern buildings in the neighborhood”. The scenes in this mosaic depict hunting and hunted animals, fish, flowers in baskets, vases and birds. Dr. Gorzalczany added, “The quality of the images portrayed in the mosaic indicates a highly developed artistic ability”. Numerous fragments of frescoes (wall paintings prepared on wet plaster) reflect the decoration and the meticulous and luxurious design, which are in the best tradition of the well-born of the period. In light of the new discoveries, this part of the villa will also be incorporated in the visitor center.

Archaeologists Hagit Torgë, Uzi ‘Ad, Eriola Jakoel and Yossi Elisha of the Israel Antiquities Authority participated in the excavation.

According to the press release: “Visiting hours: Tuesday–Wednesday, November 17–18: 8:00 to 16:00. Friday, November 20: 8:00 to 13:00. Driving directions: Come to Ha-Halutz Street in Lod, by way of Ginnaton Junction.”

HT: Joseph Lauer

The French and archaeology

Media commentators have spoken of the long relationship between France and the United States of America. We may disagree vigorously with various French policies, but in times like this we join in deep concern for the attack on freedom and human life that Paris has recently experienced.

Notre Dame and the River Seine. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Notre Dame and the River Seine. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I have visited France on several occasions. When I have that opportunity I always try to visit the Louvre Museum at least twice during my stay. French archaeologists have worked throughout the Middle East and brought many of the artifacts to Paris for display.

When I first became aware of those little books on Biblical archaeology by Prof. André Parrot, I purchased used copies of everyone I could locate. Parrot was for a time Curator-in-Chief of the French National Museums, Professor at the Ecole du Louvre, and director of the Mari Archaeology Expedition. Mari is in Syria.

The Louvre displays numerous items from Syria. How many of you have traveled in Syria and visited the archaeological sites and the wonderful museums? Not so many, I suppose. But many have visited the Louvre in Paris and seen some of the greatest discoveries of the ancient world.

The photo below shows the display from Ugarit (Ras Shamra), a city on the Mediterranean coast of Syria a few miles north of Latakia. The excavations were conducted by French archaeologists Claude F. A. Schaeffer. Baal is portrayed as the Canaanite god of grain, weather, and war. This, and the Ugaritic documents displayed in the Louvre, provided much background information for those who study the Bible.

Stele of Baal from Ugarit (Ras Shamra). Displayed in Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Stele of Baal from Ugarit (Ras Shamra). Displayed in Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The great archaeological work by the French is much appreciated. Time would fail me to tell of all of the French archaeologists who have contributed to our knowledge.