Category Archives: Photography

Arson suspected at Tabgha, Church of Multiplication

Haaretz reports (here, premium edition) this morning the suspected arson at the Church of the Multiplication on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee at Heptapegon (= Tabgha). A storage room and offices were damaged in the fire.

The church is claimed by Catholics to be the site of the miracle of the feeding of the multitudes by Jesus (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6). Egeria described the site in her fourth century travel diary and claimed it to be the site of the feeding of the multitudes. Some also claim that this is the site of Dalmanutha (Mark 8:10).

I am among those who are uncertain that the area of Tabgha is the site of Dalmanutha, and rather certain that this is not the site of the feeding of the Five Thousand. It is, however, a beautiful location where one can study and meditate about the Biblical miracle.

Our photo shows the location of the property associated with the Church of the Multiplication. Perhaps even more significant is the clarity of this view as it shows the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights.

A view of the area of Tabgha from the west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view of the area of Tabgha from the west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There are many ancient mosaics in the floor of the church. The most famous one is the mosaic of the loaves and fishes.

The mosaic of the loaves and fishes at Tabgha. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The mosaic of the loaves and fishes at Tabgha. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Archaeological Store Rooms Damaged. In a related matter, two days ago The Times of Israel reports (here) the arson of storerooms containing 4,000 year-old artifacts from an emergency excavation at Tel Kishon near Mount Tabor.

Bronze age tools and artifacts damaged in the fire. Photo: Israel Antiquites Authority

Bronze age tools and artifacts damaged in the fire. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority.

When we destroy that of which we are ignorant we reflect lack of appreciation of any history. It happens all over the world. If we destroy that with which we disagree, what will happen when someone disagrees with us?

Jesus spoke about that when Simon Peter tried to defend Him with a sword.

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:52 ESV)

The new look at Magdala

Magdala was high on my list of places to revisit to see the changes taking place.

The town of Magdala is not mentioned in the Bible, but Mary Magdalene is mentioned a total of 12 times in the four gospels. This place may have been her birthplace or her home. A few late manuscripts mention Magdala (Matthew 15:39 KJV), but earlier manuscripts read Magadan. Magdala is located about 4 miles north of Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Josephus had his headquarters at Magdala during the first Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 66-70). He was able to get a group of at least 230 boats to go from Magdala to Tiberias (Jewish Wars 2.635-637). Vespasian attacked the town from the sea and destroyed it.

We first learned of the new excavation planned for Magdala in early 2008 (here). Then in September, 2009, we were able to report the discovery of a Second Temple period synagogue (here). For several years the area was not open to the public. Since that time great improvements have been made and the site is now open without an admission charge (but this may change).

A view west toward Mount Arbel. The synagogue is immediately to the right (north) in this photo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view west toward Mount Arbel. The synagogue is immediately to the right (north) of this photo. Travelers going from Nazareth to Capernaum on the Via Maris would pass, or even stop at, Magdala. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo shows the synagogue reading room.

The Migdal synagogue reading room with the (suggested) reading table. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Migdal synagogue reading room with the (suggested) reading table. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

An IAA report on the excavation (which we cited here) reports,

The main hall of synagogue is c. 120 square meters in area and its stone benches, which served as seats for the worshippers, were built up against the walls of the hall. Its floor was made of mosaic and its walls were treated with colored plaster (frescos).

An example of the reading room fresco. Photo Ferrell Jenkins.

An example of the reading room fresco. Photo Ferrell Jenkins.

The IAA report continues,

A square stone, the top and four sides of which are adorned with reliefs, was discovered in the hall. The stone is engraved with a seven-branched menorah set atop a pedestal with a triangular base, which is flanked on either side by an amphora (jars).

The Migdal synagogue reading table. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A replica of the Migdal synagogue reading table. There are two replicas at the site and another at the Notre Dame Hotel in Jerusalem. I have been told that the original is now in the Rockefeller Museum, but I do not know if it is on display. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Did Jesus visit this synagogue? At this point we can not say for sure, but it is possible.

Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23 NET)

I think Magdala will become one of the most popular stops for Bible Study groups as they visit the Galilee area.

Alpine Europe tour group photo

We had a wonderful group of tour members on our recent Alpine Europe tour of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland (and we stopped in tiny Lichtenstein, too). Most of these individuals had traveled with us before to a wide variety of places. For one lady it was her 13th tour, and I think for one couple it was their 15th tour with us.

Aside from having all tour details per-arranged, the thing that makes a tour like this special is the association with new and former friends. We have been truly blessed to travel with folks like this for the past 49 years. Most of our tours have been to what we call the Bible Lands – Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. On some of the earlier tours we visited Crete, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. But we have made tours to many other parts of the world, including one tour around the world.

On each tour we usually locate a photographer who makes and prints photos and sells them to the group. On this tour we made our own photo. I am sure that friends of these tour members will enjoy seeing it.

We gathered on the steps of the Wieskirche along the Romantic Road between Oberammergau and Neuschwanstein in Germany.

Alpine Europe Group Photo at Wieskirche along the Romantic Road.

Alpine Europe Group Photo at Wieskirche along the Romantic Road.

Our tour included persons from AL, CA, FL, IA, IN, KS, NM, SC, and TX.

For those who understand, this was a tour of men and angells.

Click on the photo for a larger image.

Capernaum has a new look

On our recent visit to Israel we visited some places we have been many times because of changes we expected to see. Capernaum was beginning to undergo some renovations when we were there in 2013.

If first impressions are important, then Capernaum is now making a good first impression with the new entrance sign. You will observe that the ticket booth also has a new look. Since this is a private site, owned by the Franciscans, there is a small entry fee.

Capernaum (Capharnaum). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The new entrance to Capernaum (Capharnaum). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Instead of immediately moving into a crowded area to look at some of the architectural fragments excavated at the site, you have this beautiful plaza facing the Sea of Galilee. My photo can not do justice to the beauty of this site.

The new plaza at Capernaum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The new plaza at Capernaum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There were numerous bus loads of tourist visiting the site. I just waited for a larger group to move before making the picture. I did not see many American groups but the hotels were full of Asians, Africans, Hispanics, and some Australians, British, and Canadians.

The architectural fragments uncovered in excavations have been moved to the north of the entrance (and the plaza). Rails have been installed to allow ease of access, and yet to protect the objects. This makes it easy to get nice closeups of certain artifacts.

Display of architectural fragments and other artifacts. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Display of architectural fragments and other artifacts. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Photos of the reconstructed synagogue at Capernaum were recently posted here.

Capernaum was located on the frontier between the territory of Herod Antipas and that of Herod Philip. The city became important in the earthly ministry of Jesus. Notice just a few events that make it so significant.

  • Jesus settled here, making Capernaum His “own city” (Mark 1:232-34).
  • Many of the miracles of Jesus were performed here (Mark 1:21-28).
  • Matthew worked as a tax collector at Capernaum (Matthew 9:9).
  • Peter lived here (Matthew 8:14).

Capernaum was one of three cities of the area denounced by Jesus  on account of their failure to believe.

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.  “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. (Matthew 11:20-22 ESV)

Response about Pentecost Post

It has happened twice that I have been in Jerusalem during Pentecost. I wrote a little note here about the experience of being in Jerusalem as a non-Jew during Pentecost. It was similar to one I had written several years earlier here.

A couple of Israeli readers took exception to some of the things I wrote and made their views known in the comments. I am compelled to make a response to some of the questions and issues raised. You will need to read the comments in order to understand my response.

Modern Interpretation of Pentecost. I have been in Jerusalem twice on Pentecost and I have never seen anyone doing what Leviticus 23:15-22 describes.

15 “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering.
16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD.
17 You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the LORD.
18 And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.
19 And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings.
20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
21 And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.
22 “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 23:15-22 ESV).

Does it need to be said that these offerings were to be made at the tabernacle, or later the temple? Anything short of that has to be a new interpretation.

Count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath [of Passover week]. The seventh Sabbath is the 49th day. The 50th day is the first day of the week, known in the New Testament as the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10).

Neither in Leviticus 23 nor Deuteronomy 16:9-12 is there anything about the Feast of Weeks “celebrating the gift of the Torah.”

Sabbath + Pentecost “amounts to a two-day holiday.” My USA readers probably had no problem with this. When a national holiday comes on Monday, those who do not work on Saturday frequently say they have a three-day holiday. We know that each day is separate and only one is the national holiday. Sorry that I did not make this clearer for other readers. I know that I did not have any hot food at the hotel for two days.

“What you call the Lord’s Supper” was taken once a year. I do my best to speak where the Bible speaks (1 Peter 4:11). The terms/phrases used in the New Testament to describe this meal are Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20), Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 10:211), Communion (1 Corinthians 10:16), and Breaking of bread (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16). There is no evidence that the early Christians observed this meal only once a year. The Lord’s Supper was observed on the Lord’s Day. Did ancient Jews only keep the Sabbath once a year?

The earliest Christians were Jews. Full agreement. The book of Acts makes this abundantly clear. They were slow to recognize Gentiles as children of God. We see this discussed in some detail in Acts 15, and the books of Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews.

Law of Moses or Apostolic Doctrine? Those Jews who accepted the gospel of Christ on that Pentecost when it was first preached in its fullness did not continue in the teaching of Moses. The biblical text says,

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

Interesting, isn’t it? That these Jews from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5) should come to Jerusalem following the teaching of Moses, and that about 3,000 of them would begin following the teaching of the Apostles, is one of the most surprising things in Scripture.

My statement, “It would be wonderful to see the gospel freely preached again in this city as it was on that first Pentecost after the death and resurrection of Jesus nearly two thousand years ago” has nothing to do with censorship. I understand that the preaching on Pentecost was in fulfillment of Isaiah 2.

2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it,
3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2-3 ESV)

The early Christians gradually drifted away from the original teaching of the New Testament. As a Christian who seeks to follow the teaching of Christ and His apostles, I can, and do, make this statement in my own hometown.

Lack of knowledge and anti-Semitism. It is popular these days to accuse one with whom we disagree of being racist, sexist, homophobic, intolerant, or anti-Semitic. While I grant that I may have a lack of knowledge on this subject, the charge of anti-Semitism is absurd.

I have devoted my entire adult life to serving and teaching the message of Jesus Christ. Here are just a few things I believe regarding Him.

  • He is the Divine Word who was made flesh, the son of David, the son of Abraham (John 1:1-14; Matthew 1:1).
  • This same one who was descended from David according to the flesh “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4)
  • He said, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).
  • This very people “crucified and killed” him by the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15).

Paul, who called himself “a Hebrew of Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5), used the illustration of the olive tree to say that some of the natural branches have been broken off and that the Gentiles have been grafted in (Romans 11:17). He also said:

And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. (Romans 11:23)

A little church in Nazareth has a beautiful olive tree with a couple of grafts on it in their front yard. I think this may have been intentional on their part to recognize their place in the Lord’s great plan of salvation.

An olive tree in Nazareth with a graft. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

An olive tree in Nazareth with a graft. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If believing these things makes me anti-Semitic, then I suppose I must acknowledge it, but I think it teaches that some of the Jews accepted Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), and that others did not.

Simon Peter’s sermon to Jews on Pentecost, and his sermon at the house of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, illustrate that the Lord’s requirements for salvation are now the same (Acts 2; Acts 10-11).

One final word. This does not mean that the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) is cast aside. I understand the Old Testament to be foundational for a proper understanding of the New Testament (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). These inspired texts say that the Old Testament is for our learning, not for our law. The New Testament is the complete and final revelation of God to man (Ephesians 3:1-5).

It may come as a surprise to some non-Christians that the churches with whom I am associated generally have more classes, for both children and adults, in the Old Testament than in the New Testament at any given class period.

It is comforting to me to understand that in Christ Jesus I am a seed of Abraham and an heir of the great promise of Genesis 12:

… I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3 ESV)

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:29 ESV)

Other posts about the importance of Pentecost may be found at the following links.

We don’t like losing readers, but this work is a labor of love and available free of charge to any who wish to read it.

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.

Pentecost in Jerusalem

Last evening at sundown the Jews began to celebrate their modern interpretation of  Pentecost (Shavu’ot). Christians know this from the Old Testament scriptures as the feast of weeks (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9). Last evening we saw many Jews heading for the Western Wall through the Damascus Gate when we were there. The Orthodox Jews were the easiest to detect because of their distinctive dress.

Pentecost comes 50 days after Passover. It follows a sabbath and amounts to a two-day holiday here in Jerusalem. Those who are not religious may be seen at recreational places enjoying the time off as many persons in America do on any holiday. Some of the religious take the family to a hotel and allow non-Jews to serve them the food they wish. The hotel has a Shabbat elevator. You only make the mistake of getting on it once. It requires no work (= pushing the button for your floor), but it takes a long time to get where you are going. The elevator is programmed to stop at each floor. I don’t recall seeing anyone using the one in our hotel.

Back to more important issues. The church had its beginning with the preaching of the gospel in its fullness on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2).

Model of Herod's Temple now displayed on the grounds of the Israel Museum. It was in this large area where the gospel of Christ was first preached in its fullness by Peter and the other Apostles on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Model of Herod’s Temple now displayed on the grounds of the Israel Museum. It was in this large area where the gospel of Christ was first preached in its fullness by Peter and the other Apostles on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Apostle Paul, through his teaching and example, taught the early Christians to take their collection and to observe the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Acts 20:7). On the return from his third preaching journey he hurried to be at Jerusalem for Pentecost.

For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 20:16 ESV)

I did not specifically pick the time of Pentecost to be in Jerusalem; it just happened to coincide with my travel schedule. It would be wonderful to see the gospel freely preached again in this city as it was on that first Pentecost after the death and resurrection of Jesus nearly two thousand years ago.