Category Archives: Old Testament

Was this pillar intended for the Temple?

In the Jerusalem area we have evidence of numerous quarries from which stones and pillars (columns) were taken for the Biblical Temple and other buildings. Much of the area now covered by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, including Golgotha, was once a quarry. In a series of post we discussed the so-called Solomon’s Quarries here and here.

It is also known that an area now referred to as the Russian Compound was a quarry in Biblical times. This is the location of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, the central police station and the law courts.

The area lies on the northwest corner of the Old City of Jerusalem, and us bounded on the south by Jaffa Road and the Street of the Prophets on the north. It is often referred to as the area of the Assyrian Camp, referencing the occasion when Sennacherib, king of Assyria from 704 to 681 B.C., sent two of his commanders with “a great army from Lachish to Jerusalem” (2 Kings 18:17).

The Taylor Prism reports that Hezekiah was shut up in Jerusalem like a caged bird. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Taylor Prism reports that Hezekiah was shut up in Jerusalem like a caged bird. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Taylor Prism, found at Nineveh, and now displayed in the British Museum, claims that Hezekiah did not submit to his y0ke, but was “shut up in Jerusalem” like a caged bird.

Only one column remains visible in the quarry of the Russian Compound. It is 12.15 meters (almost 40  feet) long and has a mean diameter of about 1.75 meters (5.74 feet). It is greater at the base than at the head.

Pillar left in the quarry at the Russian Compound, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pillar left in the quarry at the Russian Compound. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Blue Guide Jerusalem says,

[The 19th century French scholar] Clermont-Ganneau suggested that the size agreed with that of the columns of the Royal Portico of the Temple of Herod the Great (1 C BC), and may have been one of the engaged columns placed adjacent to the wall.

Our photo below shows a model of the Temple precinct built by Herod the Great with work continuing for many years (John 2:20) . The view is from the northeast. The three people viewing the model are standing at the southwest corner of the Temple precinct. The Royal Stoa is to their right on the south side of the model. They appear to be standing at the location of Robinson’s Arch, the stairway that provided entrance to the Royal Stoa.

The Herodian Temple in the Second Temple Model at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Herodian Temple in the Second Temple Model at the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Though we have here a pillar or column rather than a stone, I think we have a nice reminder of the prophecy of Psalm 118:22.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. (Psalm 118:22 ESV)

Jesus made reference to this text in His teaching (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17). The Apostle Peter cited the same text and applied it to Jesus.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. (Acts 4:11 ESV).

See also his extended discussion in 1 Peter 2:4-10, and think seriously about the consequences of rejecting the LORD’S chosen stone.

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The shepherd goes before his flock

People of the biblical world understood the illustrations used by their leaders, but many today, especially young people, do not understand these illustration without explanation.

Moses had led the people of God through the wilderness, but was soon to die after viewing the promised land from Mount Nebo. He then appealed to the LORD to provide a shepherd for Israel.

15 Moses spoke to the LORD, saying,
16 “Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation
17 who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” (Numbers 27:15-17 ESV)

Joshua was to be raised up as a leader — a leader like a shepherd.

A shepherd leads his flock in the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A shepherd leads his flock in the Jordan Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jesus used a similar illustration.

4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:4-5 ESV)

Our photo provides a good illustration for those who do not have personal knowledge about shepherds and sheep.

Jerusalem from the west

Earlier this week I was browsing through some of my aerial photos of Jerusalem and came across this one that I thought would be informative to good Bible students.

The photo is made while flying over the new (western) city of Jerusalem, some of which is shown in the bottom half of the photo. About mid-way of the photo (from bottom to top) you can see the entire Old (walled) City of Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock, where the biblical Temple once stood, is almost in the center of the photo (sightly left of center).

The Kidron valley is lost at this angle and the new tombs on the Mount of Olive seem to touch the Old City.

Aerial view of Jerusalem from the west. This photo shows the new (west) city of Jerusalem, the Old City, the Mount of Olives, the wilderness of Judea, the Dead Sea, and the mountains of Moab (Transjordan plateau). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of Jerusalem from the west. This photo shows the new (west) city of Jerusalem, the Old City, the Mount of Olives, the wilderness of Judea, the Dead Sea, and the mountains of Moab (Transjordan plateau). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Continuing east you will see a portion of the Wilderness of Judea, then the Dead Sea. At the extreme left of the Dead Sea a portion of the Jordan Valley is visible.

Beyond the Dead Sea the mountains of Moab are visible in the Transjordan Plateau.

The same photo labeled to identify the places discussed.

The same photo labeled to identify the places discussed.

— Postscript —

Leon Mauldin and I have made numerous personal study trips to the Bible Lands in addition to the tours we have led. We have included flights to photograph these places from the air. I think you will enjoy Leon’s blog. It was a coincident that just as I finished my article showing Jerusalem to Moab, I received Leon’s blog showing the rooftops of the Old City and the Mount of Olives.

A Psalm for thanksgiving

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100 ESV)

The psalmist reminds his readers why they should praise the LORD. It is because He is God, the one who made them, and the one to whom they belong.

“We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Perhaps a few photos will help us visualize this Psalm.

A shepherd with his sheep near Heshbon in Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A shepherd with his sheep near Heshbon in Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The ancient Israelites were urged to “enter his gates with thanksgiving. Give thanks to him; bless his name!”

This photo of the second temple model at the Israel Museum shows the south side of the temple precinct. We see gates that led to the temple. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo of the second temple model at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem shows the south side of the temple mount.. We see steps and gates that led to the temple. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Enter “his courts with praise!”

In this photo of the temple model we see various courts that were part of the temple precinct. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In this photo of the temple model we see various courts that were part of the temple precinct. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

“For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

U.S.A. helping restore the Pools of Solomon

A sub-headline in The Times of Israel here about tell the whole story.

US Consulate funds $750,000 restoration of 2,000-year-old Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem with hopes of making it a tourist site.

These pools have nothing to do with Solomon, but much to do with Jerusalem’s water supply in New Testament times. I recommend you read my earlier post about this here. I am re-posting some photos of the three pools that I made in 2014.

The western pool. View to east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The western pool. View to east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The middle pool is shown here with a view to the northwest. You can see the higher hills in the break between the trees.

The middle pool with a view to the northwest. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The middle pool with a view to the northwest. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The third pool (easternmost) is shown below with a view toward the west.

The third pool (eastern) is shown with a view toward the west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The third pool (eastern) is shown with a view toward the west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the previous article I have several links to more detailed information about these pools and the aqueduct system that carried the water to Jerusalem.

In the earliest days of my tours we were able to visit Solomon’s Pools as we traveled between Bethlehem and Hebron. In recent years it has been more difficult to visit the pools, and we have pointed out before that they are in need of restoration.

Looking forward to the completion of this project that I am helping pay for (if you get my drift).

HT: ABR Newsletter, @go2Carl, Bible Places Blog.

Barclay’s Gate in the Western Wall

In this post we wish to follow-up on the work of Dr. James Turner Barclay, medical missionary to Jerusalem in 1851-1854 and 1858-1861, which we have written about here (with other links).

Perhaps Turner’s best known discovery was a gate in the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, now known as Barclay’s Gate. Lewis describes briefly the account given by Barclay in The City of the Great King.

While surveying the Haram precinct [which Christians and Jews call the Temple Mount], Barclay noticed a blocked-up entrance, located 82 meters from the area’s southwest corner. The lintel of this gate is below the Maghrabi gate, which tourists use today to enter the Haram from the west. It is above the women’s area of the western wall, just over the stairway that leads into a room on its south side. Only a part of the lintel is still visible. Some time after the gate was filled in, the corridor into which it led was made into a cistern.

Lewis states that Barclay’s discovery was confirmed by Charles W. Wilson, and later by George Adam Smith. He says,

Barclay considered it to have been one of the four gates mentioned by Josephus in his description of the western wall (Jewish Antiquities, book 15, chapter 11, paragraph 5; see Marcus and Wikgren 1963: 199). Benjamin Mazar has identified Barclay’s Gate as the Kiphonos [Coponius] Gate of the Mishnah (Middoth, chapter 1, mishnah 3; see Danby 1933: 590):

Its tremendous single-stone sill, twenty-five feet long and over seven feet high (7.5 x 2.1 meters), rests on the master course of the Western Wall, that is, at the level of the thresholds of several of its gates. The gateway (opening) is 28.7 feet (8.75 meters) high, but the threshold is missing.… Inside the gate, there was once a vestibule which is now blocked by a wall. Behind the wall a passage leads through one or two ancient cisterns with vaulted roofs which are situated under the Haram platform. Before they were converted into reservoirs, they were stone hallways and formed an underground ramp leading in a southerly direction from the Kiphonos Gate to the upper courts of the Temple area (Mazar [The Mountain of the Lord] 1975: 133–34).

I am hopeful that our photographs will make clear the location of Barclay’s Gate for those who wish to get a glimpse of it on their next trip to Jerusalem. The first photo shows the Mughrabi Bridge entrance.

Mughrabi Bridge. Tourists usually enter from Dung Gate and take the bridge up to the only entrance to the platform where the temple once stood allowed for non-Muslims. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Mughrabi Bridge. Tourists usually enter from Dung Gate and take the bridge up to the only entrance to the platform where the temple once stood allowed for non-Muslims. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Notice where it appears that the bridge reaches the Western Wall. In fact, it makes a right turn to the south, and then a left turn to the east where it reaches the gate. That gate is at the level of the platform where the Temple of Solomon, and Herod’s Temple once stood.

This photo shows the structure covering most of the lintel of Barclay's Gate. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo shows the bridge and the structure covering most of the lintel of Barclay’s Gate. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo was made from the Mughrabi bridge and shows the left side (north end) of the lintel of Barclay’s gate marked in yellow.

Photo made from Mugrabhi gate bridge with the north end of the lintel identified. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Photo made from Mugrabhi gate bridge with the north end of the lintel identified. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo was made from ground level over the dividing screen that separates the women’s section of the prayer wall from that of the men. The visible portion of the lentel looks smaller here than in the previous photo. Two ladies are standing on the steps at the entrance into the small room where more of the lentel can be seen.

Ground level view of the southern end of the lentil showing. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ground level view with the northern end of the lentel showing. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Leen Ritmeyer has provided numerous drawing of Barclay’s Gate in his books and blog. I recommend that you go there for a better understanding of the gate structure.

  • Ritmeyer Archaeological Design. See the post on “Barclay’s Gate in the Western Wall of the Temple Mount” here. This post includes a photo of the central part of the lintel over Barclay’s Gate.
  • Ritneyer, Leen & Kathleen. Jerusalem: The Temple Mount. See our notice here.
  • Ritmeyer, Leen. The Quest, Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, pp. 26, 28.
  • Ritmeyer, Leen. Understanding the Holy Temple Jesus Knew, pp. 22-23. The drawings and photos in this book are very nice. See our notice here.

Two books that caught my attention are,

  • Ben-Dov, Meir. In the Shadow of the Temple, pp. 140-143. Ben-Dov includes a full-page drawing of the gate showing the present level, the Omayyad level, and the Second Temple level. He shows eight layers of Herodian stones below the present level. This work incorrectly identifies Barclay as “an American consul in Jerusalem at the end of the nineteenth century and one of the first scholars of Jerusalem.” Barclay was a medical missionary who lived in Jerusalem on two occasions (1851-1854 and 1858-1861).
  • Mazar, Benjamin. The Mountain of the Lord, pp. 133-134. Mazar mistakenly identified Barclay as a “British architect.”

Initially I began with a reference to the following works.

  • Lewis, Jack P. “James Turner Barclay: Explorer of Nineteenth-Century Jerusalem.” Biblical Archaeologist 51 (1988).
  • Lewis, Jack P. Explorers of Bible Lands. Abilene Christian University Press, 2013. This work includes the essay on Barclay and other biographical portraits by Lewis.

Lewis discusses some of the other discoveries made by Turner.

Barclay’s book is not to be forgotten. The City of the Great King; or, Jerusalem As It Was, As It Is, and As It Is To Be is available in Logos format. It seems to be available only in a 10-volume collection of Archaeological and Theological Studies of Jerusalem. It is also available free at Google Books. I note that a cover of the book shows a drawing of the Temple area, including the “Wailing Place” and nearby an “Old Gateway.”

Added Notes – Sept. 29, 2017

The comment below by Outremer [Tom Powers] was held up by WordPress for my approval, and by some appointments I had. When Tom writes I listen. He always adds something of value. I want you to read the comments in full, but I am including the photos here. I knew that one of them was in Ritmeyer’s blog and for that reason did not include it. And I thought of Todd Bolen’s Historic Views of the Holy Land. One of these photos is in the 8-volume set, “The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection.” Details here.

Here is the first photo Tom mentions.

The "al-Buraq" Mosque "built into the vaulted internal gate passage of Barclay's Gate." Eric Matson Photo.

The “al-Buraq” Mosque “built into the vaulted internal gate passage of Barclay’s Gate.” The dark line on the far wall (left of the photo) is “apparently the top of the lintel” (Powers). Eric Matson Photo, 1940s.

The second photo is shown here.

The "al-Buraq" Mosque "named for the winged beast of Moahmmed's legendary Night Journey -- is built into the valulted internal gate passage of Barclay's Gate" (Powers). Photo by Eric Matson.

The “al-Buraq” Mosque, “named for the winged beast of Moahmmed’s legendary Night Journey, is built into the vaulted internal gate passage of Barclay’s Gate” (Powers). Photo by Eric Matson in the 1940s.

Shofar announces the Jewish new year

Our Jewish friends are currently celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. The ram’s horn is blown leading up to the celebration.

The ram’s horn was important in the history of Israel. One of the words often used for the horn is shofar (or shophar).

  • A long blast on the ram’s horn was used to alert the Israelites when they could approach Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:13).
  • The ram’s horn was sounded at the beginning of important feast days (Leviticus 25:9). On the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar trumpets were to be blown (Numbers 29:1). This festival was known as the Feast of Trumpets.
  • After Israel marched around Jericho they would hear a long blast on the ram’s horn (Joshua 6:5). The word horn in this verse is qeren, but the word shofar is translated trumpet.

Sometimes in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem one of the shopkeepers will demonstrate the sounding of the shofar in hopes of attracting customers. That beautiful horn was a little above my budget. I do not know the animal from which it came. It may be a Yemenite shofar made from the horn of an African kudu.

Shofar sounded by a shopkeeper in the Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 1993.

Shofar being sounded by a shopkeeper in the Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 1993.

Silver trumpets were also to be blown on certain occasions (Numbers 10:1).

I have observed that shepherds are proud of the ram of the flock. This photo was made in northern Jordan not very far from Ramoth in Gilead and the border with Syria.

Ram with large horns. Photo made in northern Jordan near ancient Ramoth Gilead, near the Syrian border. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ram with large horns. Photo made in northern Jordan near ancient Ramoth Gilead, near the Syrian border. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Christians of the Apostolic period, even Gentiles, studied the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) as a book like 1 Corinthians illustrates. Paul tells the Corinthians that the sound of a trumpet will signal the coming of the Lord and the resurrection.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 ESV)

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV)