Jesus rides a donkey from Bethphage to Jerusalem

Bethphage is mentioned in the New Testament in only one incident from the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 21:1, Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29).

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.  When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples,   saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.'”  So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them.  And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”  And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”  And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. (Luke 19:28-35 ESV)

John records the event but does not mention Bethphage (John 12:12ff.).

The exact site of Bethphage is not known, but it certainly was not far from Kefr et Tur, the place of Byzantine traditions. The present Franciscan chapel was built there in 1883.

Franciscan chapel at Bethphage. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Franciscan chapel at Bethphage. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Roman road from Jericho to Jerusalem went over the Mount of Olives between Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives. Before reaching the top of the mountain a spur or bypass turned south to Bethphage and Bethany.

A colt at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A colt at Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In a 1975 article in Biblical Archaeologist (Vol. 38, No. 1), John Wilkinson wrote about “The Way from Jerusalem to Jericho.” He and his party tried to trace out known remnants of the old Roman road between the two cities. This 12½ mile trip from Jericho up to Jerusalem took 7 hours and forty-nine minutes.

Fishing all night and the Galilee sunrise

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret; Sea of Tiberias) evokes many memories of the ministry of Jesus and His disciples. No matter how many photos one takes, each one is unique.

I usually make these sunrise photos with two cameras, using multiple settings. The photo today is one that I especially like because I was able to catch the fisherman heading to harbor after a night of fishing.

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee, May 17, 2015, 5:54 a.m. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee, May 17, 2015, 5:54 a.m. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Notice this text detailing the third appearance Jesus made to His disciples after the resurrection.

 1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.
2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.
3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.”  (John 21:1-5 ESV)

Read the rest of the story and the miraculous catch of fish in John 21:6-14.

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.

Index of articles about Peter’s Epistles

Pontus and Peter’s Epistles. [Amasus, Amisos, Samsun, Black Sea coast]

Persecution of Christians in Pontus. [Pliny, Sinope, Sinop, Pontus, Bithynia, Pontus]

Black Sea coastal town of Sinop.

Sinop is the northernmost city of Asia Minor (now Turkey).

Some famous Sinopeans. [Diogenes the Cynic, Serapis]

More famous Sinopeans. [Aquila (2nd century), Marcion, Phocas (Phokas), Sinop Gospels]

The Halys (Kizilirmak) River.

The delivery of Peter’s Epistles.

The Samsun Archaeological Museum.

Hidden treasure. [Samsun, Turkey]

Visiting the Black Sea coast of Turkey. [Samsun, Sinop, Pontus, Aquila]

The Bosphorus – “a liquid line”.

Selected Related Posts Pertaining to Peter’s Epistles

Cappadocia was home to early Christians.

Cappadocian sunrise.

The Bosphorus. [Bythinia]

Elaborate hairstyles in New Testament times.

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.