Category Archives: Old Testament

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.

Sheepfolds are still in use in the Bible World

Recently we had a request from a person publishing a Bible class book for a photo of a sheepfold. We did not have exactly what the person requested but we did satisfy their need. At the time I commented that I had seen sheepfolds of all sorts in various parts of the Bible World. Tonight I was looking through some photos made in the Tarus mountains of Turkey. The location is a few miles south of Karaman, Turkey. These shepherds move about from place to place in order to find food for their animals.

The sheepfold in this photo is on the left side of the valley.

Shepherds and sheepfold near Karaman, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Shepherds and sheepfold near Karaman, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A short distance away is a different sheepfold. If you click on the photo, in the larger image you will see at least two dogs keeping watch and a woman milking a sheep.

A sheepfold near Karaman, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A sheepfold near Karaman, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Scenes such as these remind us of the Biblical patriarchs who moved about from place to place with their flocks. Abraham and Lot provide an example.

And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, (Genesis 13:5 ESV)

There are several biblical references to the sheepfold, or the fold of the sheep (Jeremiah 50:6; Micah 2:12; John 10:1, 16). Jesus used an illustration involving the sheepfold:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. (John 10:1-2 ESV)

The Jordan River

Bible students enjoy visiting the Jordan River for several reasons.

  • The ancient Israelites crossed the Jordan to enter the land that had been promised to the seed of Abraham (Joshua 3).
  • Elijah and Elisha crossed the river (2 Kings 2).
  • John baptized in the Jordan (Matthew 3:6ff.; Mark 1:5-9; John 1:28; 10:40).
  • Jesus was baptized in the Jordan (Matthew 3:13).
  • Naaman, the Aramean [Syrian] military commander, dipped in the Jordan at a site further north (2 Kings 5).

This photo of the Jordan River was made from Bethany Beyond the Jordan, in Jordan, May, 2010.

The Jordan River at Bethan Beyond the Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Jordan River at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

At this point the river is about 405 meters (1330 feet) below sea level.

Plans to excavate Tel Shimron

Tel Shimron is located in the ancient territory of the Israelite tribe of Zebulun. There are only two references to the site in the Bible, both in the book of Joshua.

  • When Jabin, king of Hazor, heard of the successes of Joshua in the south of Canaan he sent word to the kings of the region to form an alliance. The king of Shimron was included in the group (Joshua 11:1).
  • The other reference lists Shimron as one of the cities of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15).

Location. Shimron is located about five miles due east of Nazareth at the intersection of highway 7626 with the main east-west highway 75. This is the NW side of the Jezreel Valley. The tel is 2.4 miles SE of Beit Lehem HaGelilit (Bethlehem of Galilee) which is also within the territory of Zebulun. See here and here.

Tel Shimron. Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher, Pikiwiki Iserael.

Tel Shimron. Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher, Pikiwiki Israel [CC BY 2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons.

Word comes, through a combination of sources, that the Museum of the Bible (scheduled to open in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2017), the Israel Antiquities Authority, Wheaton College, and perhaps the Albright Institute, will be working together on this project. See the Museum of the Bible announcement here.

Wheaton College will still be working at Ashkelon in 2016, but will conduct an archaeological survey and a Ground Penetrating Radar (GRP) survey of Tel Shimron in 2016, with plans to begin an excavation in 2017. The program leaders are Dr. Daniel Master and Dr. Adam Miglio. More information here.

A brief YouTube video (here) featuring Cary Summers, president of the Bible Museum, with Matthew J. Adams, Dorot Director of the W. F. Albright Institute, talking about the significance of Tel Shimron at the site.

I have been close, but never to Tel Shimron. The Pictorial Library of Bible Lands has one photo of the mound in the disc on Galilee and the North. has a nice collection of photos as well as maps and historical information here.

HT: Trent and Rebekah Dutton

Sheaves in the field

Joseph had a dream in which he was elevated above his brothers. It involved something common in an agrarian society — binding sheaves in the field.

Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. (Genesis 37:5-8 ESV)

The following photos were made in the region of Samaria, and near the ancient city of Samaria. The first shows sheaves that have been gathered in the field.

Sheaves in the field near Samaria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sheaves in the field near Samaria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo is a cropped closeup in which you can see the strings binding some of the sheaves.

Closeup to show the string around the sheaf of grain. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Closeup to show the string around some of the sheaves. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Possibly the best known instance of sheaves in the Bible is the story of the young Moabite woman named Ruth. She requested permission to pick up what was left after the reapers went through the field of Boaz.

She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.
(Ruth 2:7-8 ESV)

And that’s how the story of King David begins…

Entrepreneurs take advantage of the Biblical stories. This store, which I did not visit, is located in the vicinity of the traditional Shepherd’s fields near Bethlehem. The salesmen are just waiting for the next bus load of tourists.

Boaz Field store in Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Boaz Field souvenir store near Bethlehem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Since childhood I have loved to sing Knowles Shaw’s spiritual song, “Bringing in the Sheaves.” By the time of my childhood we already had a mechanized way of baling the hay, but the lesson was easy to understand.

Watch out for camels

This post is not intended as a summary of information about camels in the Bible. It is just calling attention to the terrain and kind of signs one sees in Israel’s Negev (Negeb). The NKJV uses the directional term South.

Abraham and Isaac lived in the Negev. When Abraham was old he sent his most trusted servant back to Padan Aram, where Abraham had lived before coming to Canaan, to get a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24). After arrangements were made for Rebekah to return with the servant to Canaan, the Biblical account reads as follows,

Then Rebekah and her young women arose and rode on the camels and followed the man. Thus the servant took Rebekah and went his way. Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. (Genesis 24:61-67 ESV)

Camel warning sign in the Negeb (Negev). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Camel warning sign in the Negeb (Negev). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.