Category Archives: Photography

Some repair photos at the Holy Sepulcher

In the last post we mentioned the long-needed repair of the shrine (edicule) in the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of the tomb in which Jesus was placed after the crucifixion.

One of my traveling friends, Steven Braman, just returned from the excavation at Lachish. He offered to send some photos he made within the Holy Sepulcher on June 24th. I am sharing two of these with our readers.

Shrine of the Holy Sepulcher under repair June 24, 2016.

Shrine of the Holy Sepulcher under repair June 24, 2016.

Repair of the shrine of the Holy Sepulcher, June 24, 2016.

Repair of the shrine of the Holy Sepulcher, June 24, 2016.

Tim Blamer, one of our readers, left this comment.

I was there last week. The scaffolding and construction is quite extensive now. Any peace and tranquility that was in the church is now overwhelmed by the sound of construction and heavy equipment moving around. People could still go in to view the tomb, but it’s clear something major is being done.

Thanks to Steven and Tim. I never observed much “peace and tranquility” in the church.

Repair of the Shrine in the Holy Sepulcher

The dome of the Holy Sepulcher (Sepulchre) is easily recognizable to all visitors of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the larger of two gray domes seen in the photo below. The smaller dome marks the traditional site of Calvary, the place where Jesus was crucified. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built by the Roman Emperor Constantine after his mother Helena visited Jerusalem. Murphy-O’Connor dates the dedication of the building to September 17, 335.

The gray domes of the Holy Sepulchre (left) and the site of Calvary (right) from the roof of the Citadel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The gray domes of the Holy Sepulcher (left) and the site of Calvary (right) from the roof of the Citadel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

An edicule or small building within the church is said to cover the tomb in which Jesus was laid after the crucifixion, that is, the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60). The photo below shows some of the metal used to secure the structure in recent years.

For years it was known that the structure needed to be repaired. Finally, someone donated $1.3 million dollars to be sure the work could begin. Widespread reports indicate the work in now underway to remove the structure and then replace it.

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

At this time the original tomb is covered by stone. The Franciscan Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem has a model to show what the original tomb looked like.

Model of the tomb at the Holy Sepulchre. Franciscian Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cross section model of the tomb at the Holy Sepulchre in the Franciscan Museum, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor asks the question, “Is this the place where Christ died and was buried?” He answers, “Yes, very probably.”

But Murphy-O’Connor also describes vividly the situation one finds today.

One expects the central shrine of Christendom to stand out in majestic isolation, but anonymous buildings cling to it like barnacles. One looks for numinous light, but it is dark and cramped. One hopes for peace, but the ear is assailed by a cacophony of warring chants. One desires holiness, only to encounter a jealous possessiveness: the six groups of occupants—Latin Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Syrians, Copts, Ethiopians—watch one another suspiciously for any infringement of rights. The frailty of humanity is nowhere more apparent than here; it epitomizes the human condition. The empty who come to be filled will leave desolate, those who permit the church to question them may begin to understand why hundreds of thousands thought it worthwhile to risk death or slavery in order to pray here. (The Holy Land, 5th Ed., p. 49).

Whether most of us will ever see the remains of the actual tomb is unknown. Our faith in the resurrected Christ does not depend on the actual tomb in which He was placed after being taken down from the cross. It depends rather on the testimony of those reliable witnesses who saw Him after the resurrection. Luke reports that eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1-4). Here is what he says the women who went to the tomb on the first day of the week were told when they found the empty tomb.

He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (Lukw 24:6-7 ESV)

When Todd Bolen reported (here) the plans to dismantle and rebuilt the shrine he said,

Maybe one of these days they’ll get around to moving the ladder.

This ladder is said by some to have been leaning against the facade above the entry to the church since the 18th century because the various religious groups can not agree who should remove it. The ladder has become a symbol of division. An interesting article about the Immovable Ladder may be found in Wikipedia here.

The ladder above the entrance to the church of the Holy Sepulcher. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The immovable ladder above the entrance to the church of the Holy Sepulcher. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The harbor at Joppa (Jaffa, Yafo)

The harbor at Joppa/Jaffa/Yafo was once a much more significant harbor, but never an adequate one. Only a small leisure harbor remains today. Our late afternoon photo shows the lighthouse rising above some of the buildings of the city.

The leisure harbor at Joppa/Jaffa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The leisure harbor at Joppa/Jaffa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Joppa is located in the Plain of Sharon and served as the seaport for Jerusalem which is about 35 miles away. The city is now called Jaffa, or Yafo. Joppa was a walled town as early as the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1490-1435 B.C.) who mentions Joppa in his town lists.

Here are a few of the biblical highlights for Joppa.

  • Joppa was assigned to the tribe of Dan, but was not controlled by the Israelites till the time of David (Joshua 19:46).
  • Hiram of Tyre floated cedar from Lebanon to Joppa for Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 2:16).
  • Jonah sought a ship for Tarshish at Joppa to avoid going to Nineveh (Jonah 1:3).
  • Cedars from Lebanon again were floated to Joppa for the rebuilding of the temple (520-516 B.C.; Ezra 3:7). The port of the city is behind St. Peter’s Church.
  • Tabitha (Dorcas) lived in Joppa. When she died the disciples sent for Peter who was a Lydda. He came to Joppa and raised Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42). (Acts 10:6).
  • Peter stayed many days in Joppa with Simon the tanner (Acts 9:43). His house was by the sea (Acts 10:6). A house near the port is shown as the house of Simon, but there is no way to know this with certainty.
  • Peter received the housetop vision and learned that he was to go to Caesarea to preach the gospel to the Gentiles at the house of the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10:23).
The traditional house of Simon the Tanner at Joppa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The traditional house of Simon the Tanner at Joppa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Galilee from Mount Arbel at dusk

The photo below is one I made from Mount Arbel shortly after sundown on a December day a few years ago. Haze often covers the Sea of Galilee, but my experience is that it tends to clear in the late afternoon.

View from Mount Arbel showing the northern end of the Sea of Galilee shortly after sunset. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View from Mount Arbel showing the northern end of the Sea of Galilee shortly after sunset. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

From Mount Arbel we see the Plain of Genessaret below to the north (left). On the north end of the Sea of Galilee we have the sites of Tabgha and Capernaum, with the Mount of Beatitudes on the hill above the lake. Chorazin is a few miles up the hill. Magdala is below Mount Arbel about where the large shrub is showing on the right. Tiberias is further to the south (right). Across the lake we have the Plain of Bethsaida and the Golan Heights.

Much of the earthly ministry of Jesus took place in this vicinity, and He often worked at this time of day when it was cooler.

When it was evening, many demon-possessed people were brought to him. He drove out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. In this way what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled: “He took our weaknesses and carried our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17 NET)

Biblical History Center – LaGrange, Georgia

The Explorations in Antiquity Center, in LaGrange, Georgia, now in its tenth year, has changed the name to Biblical History Center. The new website with detailed information is available here.

New Logo for the Biblical History Center, LaGrange, Georgia.

New Logo for the Biblical History Center, LaGrange, Georgia.

The Biblical History Center is the brainchild of Dr. James (Jim) Fleming, well-known for his teaching in Israel.

Dr. Fleming established Biblical Resources in 1975, for the purpose of producing educational materials and aids for teaching the historical, geographical, and archaeological background of the Bible.

It was wonderful to have these resources together at one place in Israel, but it is beneficial to many more to have the resources available in the Southeastern United States.

We have mentioned the Center prominently here, here, and here.

My wife and I had the opportunity to stop by the Biblical History Center last November. Several significant changes have taken places since our earlier reports. The BHC now has a Biblical Life Artifacts Gallery displaying 250 artifacts from the National Treasures of Israel. Instead of having these items displayed in cases with a sign telling what they are, they are exhibited in life-like settings.

Genuine artifacts from a shipwreck off the coast of Israel displayed in a life-like setting. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Genuine artifacts from a shipwreck off the coast of Israel displayed in a life-like setting. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The new Biblical Life Artifacts Gallery is housed underneath the seating of the Roman theater.

Roman theater at Biblical History Center.

Roman theater at the Biblical History Center. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Of course, there are other important things at BHC. The photo below might remind one of the Middle Bronze Age gate at Tel Dan, and the canopy to the left of the gate recalls the Iron Age gate at the same city. This is where the king or judge sat in the gate to receive the people (2 Samuel 19:8). Other features of housing from biblical times are also shown in this structure.

The gate at the Biblical History Center. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The gate at the Biblical History Center. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Other artifact pertains to farming, shepherding, fishing, the process of dying and weaving cloth, storage, glass production, coins, foods, games – to name a few.

The Biblical History Center is a family place with guided tours. They even have a place where kids can participate in an archaeological dig. And you can arrange for a biblical meal and learn what it means to “recline at table” (Matthew 26:7).

Kids learning about archaeology at the Biblical History Center.

Kids learning about archaeology at the Biblical History Center.

Check the BHC web site for complete information about the various exhibits and hours of operation. If you live close enough, this is a wonderful place to take an entire Bible class or church group. The teachers of the children’s Bible classes at one church I know about went as a group to learn more about Bible times and customs.

Want to see the types of altars mentioned in the Bible? What about crosses or tombs, wine presses or threshing floors? It’s all there.

When I walked into the BHC ticket office I handed my card to Mrs. Crenshaw. She said, “You have written about our Center.” I explained that I had recommended the Center because I knew of the work of Dr. Fleming in Israel. I had met him there and at Professional meetings, but had never been to the Center. In the earlier reviews I used photos made by David Padfield and Jane Britnell. She sold me a ticket for my wife and said, “There will be no charge for you.” Later we had an opportunity to speak with Jim Fleming for a few minutes.

This is a great facility that I highly recommend.

Tristram’s Grackle and other Grackles

Today’s The New York Times has an article in the Science section about “The Grackle’s Secret to Success” here, including a short video of the experiments. It seems that many parts of earth have their own variety of Grackle. And some of them are causing lots of problems for cattle and dairy farms.  The particular bird causing problems for the USA is the great-tailed bird, native to Central America.

Over the past century or so the bird has spread north and its range is still expanding, particularly in the West, where it haunts cattle feed lots and big dairy farms.

Looks like we need a bird wall. Anyway, the article says the birds look smart, but the experiments that were conducted with the birds seemed to prove otherwise.

In the desert areas of Israel and Jordan the Grackle is known as Tristram’s Grackle, named for Henry B. Tristram who wrote The Natural History of the Bible in 1868, and numerous other books about the Bible Lands. I am intrigued by the bird every time I visit Masada, along the shore of the Dead Sea. This black bird with some distinctive orange feathers is known as Tristram’s Grackle, or Tristram’s Starling, and is easy to photograph. They like to pose.

Tristram's Grackle at Masada. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tristram’s Grackle at Masada. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Other photos of the bird may be seen here and here. The photo in the last entry reminds me of the experiments mentioned in the NYTimes article.

“It is the Land of Honey” – Tel Rehov discoveries on display at Eretz Israel Museum

Tel Rehov is located about three miles south of Beth-Shean (Beth-Shan) on the east side of Highway 90. Rehov is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but it is known from Pharaoh Shishak’s city list on the wall of the temple of Amun in the Karnak Temple at Luxor, Egypt. This campaign is also mentioned in the pages of the Bible (1 Kings 14:25-28; 2 Chronicles 12:2-9).

Tel Rehov was occupied during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. The city may be one of those not captured by Israel when they entered the Land under the leadership of Joshua.

The men of Manasseh did not conquer Beth Shan, Taanach, or their surrounding towns. Nor did they conquer the people living in Dor, Ibleam, Megiddo or their surrounding towns. The Canaanites managed to remain in those areas. Whenever Israel was strong militarily, they forced the Canaanites to do hard labor, but they never totally conquered them. (Judges 1:27-28 NET; cf. Joshua 17:12)

The city was destroyed by the Assyrians in the eighth century B.C. as they made their steady trek south.

Archaeological excavations were conducted at Tel Rehov from 1997 to 2012 under the direction of Prof. Amihai Mazar and Dr. Nava Panitz-Cohen of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For information and photos see the excavation website here.

View east of Tel Rehov in the Beth Shean Valley. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tel Rehov in the Beth-Shean Valley to the east of Highway 90. The mountains of Gilead are visible in the distance. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next view takes us to the top of the mound. From there we see the Jordan Valley and a nice view of the Gilead mountains in modern Jordan.

View east from atop Tel Rehov. We see the Jordan Valley and the Gilead mountains. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View east from atop the north end of Tel Rehov. We see the Jordan Valley and the Gilead mountains in the distance. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Many artifacts, including numerous household and cult objects, were uncovered at Tel Rehov. Perhaps the most unusual find was an industrial apiary. The small photo below from the excavation web site shows some of the beehives made of clay.

 Apiary at Tel Rehov, the eastern row of hives © Copyright - The Beth-Valley Archaeological Project, Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

Apiary at Tel Rehov, the eastern row of hives. © Copyright – The Beth-Shean Valley Archaeological Project, Hebrew University of Jerusalem,

From January 12 to October 31, 2016, items from Tel Rehov are exhibited at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv under the title It Is the Land of Honey. I had the opportunity to visit this exhibition in April. The Museum website provides detailed information about the exhibition and a few small photos here.

The houses at Tel Rehov during Iron Age IIA differed from the typical houses found in known Israelite cities. According to the Museum website,

A salient feature of the Iron Age IIA city was the exclusive use of mudbrick to construct all buildings, incorporating wooden beams in walls and floors. Each building was unique in its architectural plan, and did not resemble any of the common blueprints of the Iron Age II, such as four-room houses or pillared buildings.

The photo below shows one of the clay beehives. A reconstruction of a honeycomb is visible on the right. Some of the bees found in the hives were determined to be from Anatolia, modern central Turkey. This adds one more piece of evidence showing how interconnected the nations of the ancient Middle East were. Some of the bees found in charred honeycombs are in the petri dishes in the front right of the photo. The lid of the beehive, with a hole in the center, is to the left of the hive. Click on the photo for a larger image.

One of the beehives from the Tel Rehov apiary. Eretz Israel exhibit. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

One of the beehives from the Tel Rehov apiary. Eretz Israel exhibition. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The exhibition includes a large display of items from Tel Rehov. I will list just a few.

  • Several four horned altars made of clay.
  • A wide variety of household pottery, including an oven of the period.
  • One of the mud bricks of which the houses were constructed.
  • A reconstructed loom with weights found during the dig. Several others items from the “House of Elisha” are on display. The ostracon with the name of Elisha written on it in red ink is not displayed, but there is information about it in the exhibition book. There were several altars in this house.
  • A storage jar had the name Nimshi inscribed on it – the name identical to that of King Jehu’s grandfather (1 Kings 19:16; 2 Kings 9:2).
  • Some iron blades, arrow heads, and possibly a sickle.
  • Some typical Canaanite clay fertility goddesses.
  • Stamped jar handles unique to Tel Rehov.
Horned altar and chalices from Tel Rehov. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tower shaped horned altar and chalices from Tel Rehov found in the area of the apiary. This altar is listed as being on loan from the Israel Museum in the exhibition book. If you miss the exhibition in Tel Aviv, perhaps you can see it later in the Israel Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Museum has produced a nice 256-page book in Hebrew and English about Tel Rehov and the exhibition. I don’t see it listed at Amazon, but if you visit the exhibition you will probably wish to purchase a copy at the Museum shop.

Mazar and Panitz-Cohen published a brief article, with several photos of Tel Rehov artifacts, under the title “To What God? Altars and a House Shrine from Tel Rehov Puzzle Archaeologists” in the July/August 2008 Biblical Archaeology Review.