Category Archives: Family

An Irish Memory

We have enjoyed several tours to Ireland. Some were in combination with the British Isles and others were limited to Ireland. The key words were lush, green, and beautiful.

Ferrell Jenkins Tour Group along the Ring of Kerry in 2010.

Ferrell Jenkins Tour Group along the Ring of Kerry in 2010.

Most, if not all, tour groups stop at the Kerry Bog Village on the Ring of Kerry. This village is a reminder of the great Irish Famine (1845–1852) during which one million people died as a direct result of the famine. The web page says,

It is estimated that a further one million immigrated to countries such as Canada, U.S.A, U.K & Australia. Sadly not all passengers made it to their final destination alive.

Bog Ponies at the Kerry Bog Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bog Ponies at the Kerry Bog Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Colonel Matthew Lyon (Revolutionary War) was one of the forebears of my maternal grandmother. He was born in Wicklow County Ireland, in 1746 and came to America in 1755. His portrait hangs in the Vermont State House.

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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.

What’s under your living room? Unique find in Ein Karem

Tradition has it that John the Baptist was born in En Karem (or Ain Karim; Ein Kerem) in the hill country of Judea. According to Shimon Gibson, the earliest document linking John to En Karem is a legendary account dated to A.D. 385-395 (The Cave of John the Baptist, 30). In that account En Karem is said to be “in the mountain” and with a “spring of water” (31). From the sixth to the eighth centuries the traditions multiply.

Ein Karem is about 5 miles west of Jerusalem. This photo shows a general view of the hill country of Judea. En Karem is in the valley below.

The vicinity of En Karem in the hill country of Judea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

The vicinity of En Karem in the hill country of Judea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

The Israel Antiquities Authority  announced today that a family in En Karem discovered a ritual bath under the floor of their house dating to the Second Temple period (meaning Herod’s Temple).

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An ancient ritual bath (miqwe) found during renovations in a living room in ‘En Kerem reinforces the hypothesis there was a Jewish settlement located in the vicinity during the Second Temple period
An ancient, two thousand year old ritual bath (miqwe) was discovered below a living room floor during renovations carried out in a private house in the picturesque neighborhood of ‘Ein Kerem in Jerusalem. Archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority were amazed to discover that a pair of wooden doors beneath a stylized rug in the middle of a pleasant family’s living room concealed an ancient ritual bath.

The ritual bath is in this corner below the rug.Photo Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The ritual bath is in this corner below the rug. Photo Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Wednesday the owners of the place were awarded a certificate of appreciation by the Israel Antiquities Authority for exhibiting good citizenship in that they reported the discovery of the miqwe and thereby contributed to the study of the Land of Israel.

The miqwe, which is complete and quite large (length 3.5 m, width 2.4 m, depth 1.8 m), is rock-hewn and meticulously plastered according to the laws of purity appearing in the halacha. A staircase leads to the bottom of the immersion pool. Pottery vessels dating to the time of the Second Temple (first century CE) and traces of fire that might constitute evidence of the destruction of 66-70 CE were discovered inside the bath. In addition, fragments of stone vessels were found which were common during the Second Temple period because stone cannot be contaminated and remains pure.

The ritual bath is in this corner below the rug.Photo Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Steps leading into the ritual bath..Photo Assaf Peretz, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to Amit Re’em, Jerusalem District Archaeologist, “Such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel and Jerusalem in particular. Beyond the excitement and the unusual story of the discovery of the miqwe, its exposure is of archaeological importance. ‘Ein Kerem is considered a place sacred to Christianity in light of its identification with “a city of Judah” – the place where according to the New Testament [See Above], John the Baptist was born and where his pregnant mother Elisabeth met with Mary, mother of Jesus. Despite these identifications, the archaeological remains in ‘Ein Kerem and the surrounding area, which are related to the time when these events transpired (the Second Temple period), are few and fragmented. The discovery of the ritual bath reinforces the hypothesis there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today ‘Ein Kerem.”

The owners of the place said, “Initially, we were uncertain regarding the importance of the find revealed below our house and we hesitated contacting the Israel Antiquities Authority because of the consequences we believed would be involved in doing so. At the same time, we had a strong feeling that what was situated beneath the floor of our house is a find of historical value and our sense of civic and public duty clinched it for us. We felt that this find deserves to be seen and properly documented. We contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority at our own initiative in order that they would complete the excavation and the task of documenting the discovery. Representatives of the IAA arrived and together we cleaned the miqwe. To our joy and indeed to our surprise, we found them to be worthy partners in this fascinating journey. The IAA archaeologists demonstrated great professionalism, interest and pleasantness. They were solely concerned with preserving and investigating the finds.

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The issue of purification was a live one during the ministry of John the Baptist.

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. (John 3:25 ESV)

See also Luke 2:22 and John 2:6.

For more information about Ein Karem see this post.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Where have we been? An explanation

My blogging has been sparse for the past month and I feel I should make some explanation. I was leading a tour of the Alpine region of Europe during the first half of May. After that my wife and I went to Israel for 11 days. We were joined by David Padfield, a long-time friend who has traveled with us several times, to visit some old and new places in Israel.

While in Israel we learned from our neighbor-friend who was looking in on our property that the water line to the refrigerator had burst. This caused the house to be flooded. The hardwood floor in three rooms was damaged and some of it was immediately taken up. The kitchen cabinets were also damaged and will have to be replaced. Not something good to come home to, but then we thought about our fellow-citizens who have lost much more in the terrible flooding and storms in states such as Texas and Oklahoma.

It will take several weeks to get all of the repairs made, but we do have a bedroom and a study without damage. I worked all last week on two lessons I presented Sunday.

When I downloaded the Email at home it totaled almost 1000 messages. At least four or five of those should be answered. Please pardon if we have not answered yours yet.

Hopefully we can get back on schedule soon. We do have a lot of new material to share with those who wish to read.

Ferrell & Elizabeth Jenkins at Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. David Padfield made the photo for us.

Ferrell and Elizabeth Jenkins at Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. David Padfield made the photo for us.

Jesus visited His hometown

Early in His ministry Jesus left Nazareth and made Capernaum his base of operation. From there He went all over Galilee and as far away as Tyre and Sidon and the Decapolis.

In the course of time Jesus returned to His hometown. Here is the  account of the events associated with that visit as recorded in the Gospel of Mark.

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.  (Mark 6:1-6)

We often hear the expression, “You can never go home again.” We see this played out in many ways. The college student who has enjoyed the freedom of being away from home seldom feels comfortable back in the family basement.

Jesus’ expression is also  commonly repeated.  “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”

The familiarity with Jesus in His pre-ministry years, knowledge of his work as a carpenter, and his family, caused the residents of Nazareth to reject Him.

Our photo shows the interior of the synagogue at Nazareth Village. Perhaps the synagogue of Jesus’ time looked somewhat like this.

The Synagogue at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Synagogue at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

While we may not be able to return to the place where we grew up, we are always welcomed into the presence of the heavenly father.

Thinking better of Mary Magdalene

A group of Christian women recently convened at the ancient site of Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee “to honor International Women’s Day and discuss women’s empowerment.”

Advocates spoke of the issue of legal prostitution in Israel and the struggles of the over 15,000 Israeli women who are drawn into the industry, often against their will. (The Jerusalem Post Newsletter, March 11, 2015).

The meeting at Magdala seemed to discuss some important issues, but the characterization of Mary Magdalene is inaccurate to say the least.

Each speaker related the issues of feminism and women empowerment to the lessons of Mary Magdalene, speaking about how the healing process for women who have suffered such abuse. Consecrated woman, Jennifer Ristine, spoke of how Mary Magdalene inspires hope and healing for victims of abuse.

“Through the transforming experience of love, Mary Magdalene’s dignity was affirmed and she becomes a leader among leaders, inspiring hope and  reconciliation,” Ristine said. “Do we have anything in common with this woman? When a woman is deeply convinced of the truth that she is unconditionally loved, she is set free to be what she is called to be for others. She becomes a catalyst for reconciliation.”

An entire “cult” has risen around Mary Magdalene over the years to the point that some have suggested that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, and that she “carried the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ” (The DaVinci Code, p. 244, 249).

Some writers assume that Mary Magdalene is to be identified with the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50. The comments by William Hendriksen are helpful in correcting this misunderstanding.

First among the women here mentioned is Mary called Magdalene; that is, Mary of Magdala (meaning The Tower) located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee and south of Capernaum. She figures very prominently in all the four Passion accounts. She was one of the women who later: (a) watched the crucifixion (Matt. 27:55, 56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25); (b) saw where Christ’s body was laid (Matt. 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55); and (c) very early Sunday morning started out from their homes in order to anoint the body of the Lord (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10). Besides, she was going to be the first person to whom the Risen Christ would appear (John 20:1–18; see also Mark’s disputed ending, 16:9).

The item about the seven demons that had been expelled from Mary Magdalene has led to the wholly unjustifiable conclusion that she was at one time a very bad woman, a terribly immoral person. But there is not even an inkling of proof for the supposition that demon-possession and immorality go hand in hand. Weird and pitiable mental and/or physical behavior are, indeed, often associated with demon-possession (Luke 4:33, 34; 8:27–29; 9:37–43, and parallels), not immorality. (Hendriksen, Baker New Testament Commentary: Luke, comments on Luke 8:2-3)

Our aerial photo was made in 2011. The area of ancient Magdala is seen on the left 40% of the photo along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. On the right side you will see the Plain of Genessaret. Mount Arbel and the Via Maris are seen in the background. The mountains of Upper Galilee are visible in the distance. Click on the photo for an image suitable for use in presentations.

Aerial view of Magdala and the Plain of Genessaret. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of Magdala and the Plain of Genessaret. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is wonderful that any variety of sin can be forgiven, but let’s not turn Mary Magdalene into something she was not. The words of Paul, the apostle of Christ Jesus, are encouraging.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11 ESV)

Choosing a guide; Losing a guide and friend

During my first two or three tours I remember guides asking if I had been “here” before. Actually I have had guides that made up answers to things they did not know, but I did not use them again. Finding and keeping a good guide became an important part of planning a good tour. In the comments to follow I will limit myself to Israel.

My first tour was a few weeks prior to the Six-Day War in 1967. The Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank were still part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We crossed from Jordan into Israel through the Mandelbaum Gate. Today the Grand Court and Olive Tree hotels stand nearby. After the war I continued to use Arab guides, all of whom would designate themselves as Christian (usually Lutheran or Greek Orthodox). My two favorite guides for many years were John and Anise. Both were knowledgeable in the events of Scripture and the places of these events. And both of them were good in handling a group. As these men reached the time of their retirement I had to scurry to locate other guides. One year all of the young Arab guides were called in for training by the Israelis. I had a Jewish young lady who had led only two tours prior to mine. I had to do a lot to help her with the group and the information.

In the mid-80s I began to listen in on other guides when visiting various sites. I looked for someone who was knowledgeable in the Bible and the history of the sites. I wanted someone whose English would be understandable to visitors from the United States. I would introduce myself to guides I though might be good with my groups, and we would exchange cards. I needed someone who knew the land and the book, and who was informed in archaeological matters.

In looking through old group photos I find two guides that begin to dominate. Eliemelech Ben Meir was my guide in 1994, but I see Yehuda Guy in some of the photos as late as 1998. I liked both men, and we worked together well I thought. They were both willing for me to make additional comments and explanations for the benefit of the group.

In looking through old group photos, the first photo I find with Elie Ben Meir is a tour twenty years ago in May, 1994. Elie is helping me hold the tour banner. I see that Yehuda continued to guide some groups for a few years. Some years I had two tours to Israel. Eventually it was also Elie guiding some tours. Elie told me that he was introduced to me by my Arab guide Anise whose health was failing.

Ferrell Jenkins 1994 group with Elie Ben Meir.

1994 Group with Elie Ben Meir.

Over the past twenty year period Elie and I became good friends. In addition to the group tours I have made several personal study tours to Israel. Almost always I would be in touch with Elie. He brought his wife Maxine and the young daughters Adi and Danya to have dinner with the group in 2000. From year to year I would see them grow into beautiful young ladies. (I have a few digital photos made on a Sony camera that used a 3½ inch floppy drive, but the quality is too poor to use.)

Elie was not what we might call a “religious” Jew. He told me that on his first visit to Israel he stayed at a “religious kibbutz,” but by the time that stay ended he decided he would not be “religious.” Elie and Maxine wanted their girls to learn the Jewish customs, but bacon from the Armenian butcher would not be uncommon on a weekend morning. Some of the members of my groups would ask me how could Elie know the Bible so well and not be a Christian.

Elie’s family lived mostly in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. When he visited his mother or sister he would give me a call and talk a while. During the mid-2000s I told Elie about my mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Then the time came when Elie wanted to talk with me about a similar condition his mother was enduring. His trips to the USA became more frequent to assist his siblings in the care for her. I ferried items that Elie or his family needed from the USA to Israel − some special hair-care product for the girls or some beef jerky for the family. Even when I stayed over to visit sites I had not yet been to, Elie and one or both girls would come to the hotel and eat with me.

Elie enjoyed Bluegrass Music. Sometimes, as we drove away from the Tel Aviv airport at the beginning of a new tour he would ask, “Does anyone in the group play Bluegrass?” He kept his guitar in the storage area under the bus so he could pick a little in the evening at the hotel.

On Elie’s last trip to the USA he went to Cleveland to visit family. He left me a call on May 7, but I was already in Turkey by that time and did not receive the call until May 30. On the same day he sent me an Email with this heading and message.

Adi Meyerson, bass | Spring ’14 Ensemble & Recital Series | New School Jazz – New York City – The New School.
Hey Ferrell!
In case you happen to be in NY City!
Hope you and Elizabeth are well!
Sincerely,
Elie
http://events.newschool.edu/event/adi_meyerson_bass_spring_14_ensemble_recital_series_new_school_jazz#.U2rftO29Kc2

Elie was really on his way to NYC to hear his daughter perform. He had sent me other clippings about her.

By May 14 Barry Britnell was forwarding Emails that he received from Maxine because Elie was to be Barry’s guide in early June. She wrote,

There has been a tragedy and Elie had a serious stroke on Sunday night and is now in hospital in Cleveland in critical condition.

I was also receiving updates from Susan who was in touch with Elie’s sister Lynne in Cleveland. Elie had been having headaches for a few days when Lynne took him to the hospital. At some point he had a stroke. By May 18 the outlook did not seem good. Maxine sent Barry, John Barnett (I have not met John, but Elie always spoke highly of him), and me the following Email on May 24th.

So sorry to have to bring you the sad news that Elie passed away on Friday night 11:30pm. He died peacefully with all his siblings, daughters and myself by his side. Much love to all
Maxine

The complete obituary from the Cleveland Plain Dealer reads as follows:

MEYERSON ELIE MELECH BEN MEIR (MALCOLM MEYERSON), beloved husband of Maxine (nee Rabinowitz). Loving father of Adi and Danya. Dear brother of Jay (Jacquie) Meyerson, David (Honey) Meir-Levi, Lynne (Jacob) Meckler. Cherished son of Evelynne and the late Bernard Meyerson. Graveside services will be held Sunday, May 25 at 11:30 a.m. at the Mt. Sinai Cemetery, (SOM Center and White Rd.), Mayfield Village, OH. Family will receive friends at the residence of Jacquie and Aaron Meyerson,… SUNDAY FOLLOWING SERVICES UNTIL 8 P.M.

Elie had a number of qualities that were admirable. He was always ready to recommend the businesses of Moslems and Christians that he thought were honorable people. He warned his groups about those he thought were less than honorable. He always insisted on Fawzy (of Bethany) as the driver for my tours. Fawzy is an excellent driver whom I have known since the days of working with Anise. Elie knew woodworking. He spent time at that during those hard years of 2001-2005 when practically no tourists visited Israel. He did the electrical work for Yigael Shiloh in the City of David excavation. Elie had on his phone the personal numbers of acquaintances such as Sam Wolff (Gezer) and Eilat Mazar (City of David).

On my tour in 2013, Elie and Fawzy invited me to eat with them at Jericho. Here is the photo I made of them. You can see that Elie was a young man. I remember talking with him about his age and retirement, but I will not try to depend on my memory for that.

Elie and Fawzy in Jericho. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Elie and Fawzy in Jericho. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I extend my deepest sympathy to Maxine, Adi, and Danya, whom I have met, and to other family members whom I have not met. I think the hundreds of persons who have spent about 10 days listening to Elie help turn the Bible places from black and white to color, one of his favorite expressions, will share my sentiment.