Category Archives: Photography

A nostalgic remembrance

In May, 1984 I directed at tour to Israel, Egypt, and Rome. With the group ready to return from Rome to the USA, I went to Athens to meet two of my Florida College colleagues, Melvin Curry and Phil Roberts. The next day we took a flight to Samos, Greece and a ferry to Kusadasi, Turkey. There we picked up a car and visited the sites of the seven churches of Revelation, and other biblical-related places, in western (or Aegean) Turkey.

The photo below was made at Colossae. It was difficult to get to Colossae in those days, but we had come a long way and did not want to be denied. I had read an article by Dr. Harold Mare about a visit to the site and the wish that an excavation could be undertaken. We followed the dirt road to the bank of the Lycus River where this photo was made. Beyond the tell (huyuk, in Turkish) of Colossae is the snow covered Mount Cadmus. The city of Honaz is hidden from view by the mound.

Melvin Curry and Ferrell Jenkins at Colossae. Photo by Phil Roberts.Melvin Curry and Ferrell Jenkins at Colossae in 1984. Photo by Phil Roberts.

After our visit in Turkey we took a variety of boats to Samos, Patmos, Rhodes, and Crete. From there we took a flight back to Athens to complete our tour together.

Melvin served as chair of Biblical Studies at Florida College prior to my stint. We see each other occasionally and enjoy a short visit now and then. Phil succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the young age of 57 in 2005.

After Phil’s passing, Marty Pickup, a younger teacher at Florida College, and I prepared brief tributes to him. I am posting, for the first time, a link to these tributes at here. Former students and friends might enjoy reading these after a 10 year lapse. Marty died suddenly at the age of 53 in 2013.

Three cities of the Lycus River valley are significant to New Testament studies. The saints at Colossae were the recipients of one of Paul’s epistles (Colossians 1:1-2). Hierapolis is mentioned in Colossians 4:13. Laodicea is mentioned in Colossians (2:1; 4:13-16), and was the recipient of one of the letters of the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:11; 3:14).

Cities of the Lycus River Valley.

Cities of the Lycus River Valley. Made with Bible Mapper.

That was a wonderful trip, and one of many such personal study trips I have been blessed to make in the Bible World.

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.

In search of the Tombs of the Maccabees

Much attention has been given to speculation about the location of the graves of the Maccabees. The search is important to Jews because it is an important part of their history, leading to the overthrow of the Seleucid oppressors, and the cleansing of the temple. It is also important to the rest of us who study the Bible and understand the part the Maccabees played in the history of Israel.

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.

Sign marking location of the possible Maccabean Graves at Modin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Location of the possible Maccabean Graves at Modin, 2005. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The discovery of a burial cave at Modin thought to have been used by the Maccabees and/or their descendants was reported in November, 1995. There are Israeli scholars who have argued that this is not the true grave of the Maccabees. They say that it is the location of graves belonging to Christians and others during the Byzantine Period. An article in Haaretz back in 2011 quotes one of the Israeli archaeologists.

Amit Re’em, an archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority says all the evidence points to the fact that these graves are of Christians and pagans and that this burial site actually belongs to an ancient monastery.

A news release issued Tuesday by the Israel Antiquities Authority, quoting the same scholar, states that these tombs may be the Tomb of the Maccabees, or at least tombs thought to be such by the Byzantine Christians.

According to Amit Re’em and Dan Shahar, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “There is no doubt that the structure that was uncovered is unusual. The descriptions from 150 years ago were revealed right here in front of our eyes, and we discovered the magnificent burial vaults, enormous pillars that apparently supported a second story, a forecourt that led to the tomb and other associated buildings. To our disappointment, the building seen by our predecessors had been robbed, and its stones were taken to construct settlements in the vicinity; nevertheless, the appearance of the place is impressive and stimulates the imagination. The archaeological evidence currently at hand is still insufficient to establish that this is the burial place of the Maccabees. If what we uncovered is not the Tomb of the Maccabees itself, then there is a high probability that this is the site that early Christianity identified as the royal funerary enclosure, and therefore, perhaps, erected the structure. Evidently one cannot rule out the assumptions of the past, but an excavation and a lot of hard work are still required in order to confirm that assumption unequivocally, and the riddle remains unsolved–the search for the elusive Tomb of the Maccabees continues”.

Archaeologists ponder whether these tombs actually belong to the Maccabeans. Photo by Israel Antiquities Authority.

Archaeologists ponder whether these tombs actually belong to the Maccabeans. Photo by Israel Antiquities Authority.

Of Interest to Christians. 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.

The current IAA news release may be read here.

David at the cave of Adullam

Adullam is significant in several biblical accounts. Here are a few.

Judah stayed with an Adullamite man named Hirah. He married the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua.

At that time Judah left his brothers and stayed with an Adullamite man named Hirah. There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. Judah acquired her as a wife and had marital relations with her. (Genesis 38:1-2 NET)

The episode of Onan and his failure to fulfill his responsibility to bring up children to his deceased brother (the Levirate marriage; Genesis 38:3-10).

One of the entrances to the cave of Adullam with a view of the area to the southeast. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

One of the entrances to the cave of Adullam (in the foreground) with a view of the area to the east toward the central mountain range. Without detailed maps it is difficult to show this location, but the border road would lead generally to the Jaba border crossing on Highway 367. This road, after many twists and turns, leads to Highway 60 south of Bethlehem near the modern Israeli settlement of Efrat (or Efrata). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Joshua defeated the king of Adullam during the Conquest (Joshua 12:15), and became one of the Shephelah (lowland) cities of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:35).

The cave of Adullam may be best know because of its association with David. When he left Gath he went to Adullam before sending his parents to Moab for safety.

So David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and the rest of his father’s family learned about it, they went down there to him. (1 Samuel 22:1 NET)

In fact, David spent much time at Adullam. I suggest you read the entire account in 2 Samuel 23:13ff.

Interior of the cave of Adullam. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Interior of the cave of Adullam. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When the prophet Micah warned Judah about the coming Assyrian invasion he said,

…the leaders of Israel shall flee to Adullam (Micah 1:15 NET)

Just like David did about three centuries earlier.

Interior of the cave of Adullam lighted by flash. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Interior of the cave of Adullam lighted by flash. During more recent time the cave was used for a olive press installation. One of the crushing stones is visible in the center foreground. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

One more point. Jesus was a descendant of David and Judah, both of whom had an association with Adullam (Revelation 5:5).

Note: if you wish to locate the Adullam cave on Google Earth, search for Aderet, Israel, and then look for the cave. A photo of the cave is identified at 31°39’02.33 N, 35°00’08.53 E.

An earlier post, with two different photos, may be read here.

I hope that our material will make this part of the life of David a bit more real for you as you study the Bible.

Life in Memphis, Egypt

Memphis is said to have been founded as early as 3000 B.C. At times it was among the greatest cities of the world. The prophet Ezekiel foretold the fall of Memphis and of Egypt as a world power.

This is what the sovereign LORD says: I will destroy the idols, and put an end to the gods of Memphis. There will no longer be a prince from the land of Egypt; so I will make the land of Egypt fearful. (Ezekiel 30:13 NET)

I wish to share a typical picture of native life in Memphis today.

A typical scene from Memphis, Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A typical scene from Memphis, Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

David stayed at Mahanaim when he fled from Absalom

The name Mahanaim is found 13 times in the Old Testament. The site is where Jacob and Laban met and made a covenant. Mahanaim seems to mean “two camps” (Genesis 32:2). This is where Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with a man (angel, Hosea 12:4). When morning came, Israel crossed over Penuel (Genesis 32:31).

Two large tells face each other and the Jabbok River flows in an S-curve between them. The tells are now named Tall adh-Dhahab East and Tall adh-Dhahab West. These tells are located a few miles east of the Plains of the Jordan and Tell Deir Allah (likely the site of biblical Succoth). Some scholars identify Dhahab West as Mahanaim and Dhahab East as Penuel. Other scholars reverse the identifications.

The Jabbok River near Mahanaim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Jabbok River near Mahanaim. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When Transjordan was divided among the tribes, Mahanaim was located in the territory of Gad on the boundary with East Manasseh (Joshua 13:26, 30). It was one of the cities allotted to the Levites (Joshua 21:38; 1 Chronicles 6:80).

Ishbosheth made king over Israel from Mahanaim

After the death of Saul, Abner made Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, king over all Israel from Mahanaim (2 Samuel 2:8, 12, 29).

David fled to Mahanaim

When David fled from his rebellious son Absalom he fled across the Jordan to Mahanaim (2 Samuel 17:24, 27; cf. 2 Kings 2:8). Absalom met his death in a nearby forest.

A Gileadite by the name of Barzillai took care of King David while he stayed at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 19:32). The city became one of Solomon’s administrative centers (1 Kings 4:14).

Song 6:13 describes gazing upon the Shulammite girl to be like looking on “the dance of the two camps” or “dance of two companies” (CSB, JPS, NAU, NKJ). Other translations use the expression “the dance of Mahanaim” (ASV, NIV, NJPS, TNIV) or “dance of the Mahanaim” (NET).

Recent excavations at Dhahab West, conducted by a German team, have revealed what they believe to be part of a monumental building of Herod the Great. They think this was the Hellenistic and Roman site described by Josephus as Amathus.

Tall adh-Dhahab East (left) and Tall adh-Dhahab West (right). These are thought to be the sites of Mahanaim and Penuel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tall adh-Dhahab East (left) and Tall adh-Dhahab West (right). These are thought to be the sites of Mahanaim and Penuel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Our photo shows both tells. (Tall adh-Dhahab East is on the left. Tall adh-Dhahab West is on the right.) There is a pumping station on the Jabbok to provide agricultural irrigation. The Jabbok continues in the valley separating the two hills and tells.

Click on the photo for an image suitable for use in teaching presentations.

Ram’s horn announces Rosh Hashanah

Jews will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, for two days beginning at sunset September 13. Leading up to the celebration the ram’s horn is blown.

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.

I have observed that shepherds are proud of the ram of the flock. This photo was made in April, 2008, in northern Jordan not very far from Ramoth in Gilead and the border with Syria.

Ram with large horns. Photo taken in northern Jordan near ancient Ramoth Gilead, near the Syrian border in 2008. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ram with large horns. Photo taken in northern Jordan near ancient Ramoth Gilead, near the Syrian border in 2008. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

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. If a reader knows for sure, your comment would be appreciated.

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

Shofar being sounded by a shop owner or clerk in the Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem, in 1993. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

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

For Christians, 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,
52 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)