Tag Archives: Aerial photography

Locating the Hadrian statue at Caesarea

There has been one inquiry about the specific location of the Hadrian statue and the Byzantine street. I am rather certain that in the months/years to come there will be other who will want to know how to location these things.

One interesting website (here) calls this Statues Square, and has links to some photos of the area.

Then it occurred to me that I might have an aerial photo that includes Statues Square. The location is marked in the bottom right corner of this photo.

Aerial view of the Crusader Fortress at Caesarea. The Byzantine Street is marked in the lower right corner. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of the Crusader Fortress at Caesarea. The Byzantine Street is marked in the lower right corner. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Byzantine street, with the statues, was displayed on the first unpaved parking area parallel to the street when I first saw it years ago.

This cropped photo from the aerial shot shows the Statues Square.

Aerial view of the Byzantine and the earlier statues. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of the Byzantine and the earlier statues. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Carole Madge has several web locations dealing with Hadrian. You will find photos of Caesarea here, and links to many other locations.

Having recently spent two weeks wandering about in Israel, visiting places I had never been, and places with recent changes, I noted that many of them were lacking in signs to help locate the site. Just saying …

The Valley of Aijalon (Ayalon) and Joshua’s Long Day

The events of Joshua 9 and 10 are likely well-known to all readers of this page. After the Israelites entered Canaan and captured Jericho and Ai, the inhabitants of Gibeon acted craftily to deceive the Israelites into making an alliance with them. Even though Israel had been deceived they kept their end of the bargain when the Gibeonites were threatened. Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, headed up a group of Amorite kings to fight against Gibeon.

The LORD helped Israel by sending large hailstones upon the enemy. Joshua spoke to the LORD in the presence of Israel: “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon” (Joshua 10:12). Gibeon sits on the central mountain range about 6 miles north, and slightly west, of Jerusalem. As one makes the descent from Gibeon westward toward the coastal plain he goes through the valley of Aijalon.

When we travel on the modern highway from Jerusalem down to the Ben Gurion Airport we cross over the valley of Aijalon. Our photo of the valley is made below traditional Emmaus (Nicopolis) looking northwest. The terrain shows the Shephelah, or as many English versions indicate, the lowland. To the right is the way up to Gibeon. To the left one continues past the towns of Aijalon and Gezer down to the coastal plain.

Aijalon Valley from the Latrun Interchange on Highway 1. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aijalon Valley from the Latrun Interchange on Highway 1. 2005 Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In April I flew over the Aijalon Valley in approximately the same area. This perspective provides a better view of the valley. We were avoiding the afternoon storm clouds on our way from Jerusalem to the Sde Dov Airport at Tel Aviv.

Aerial view of Aijalon (Ayalon) Valley. The view is to the north. The bridge is for the yet-to-open Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of Aijalon (Ayalon) Valley. The view is to the north. The bridge is for the yet-to-open Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

Three east-west valleys divide the Shephelah and provide access between the plain and the mountains. To the north is the valley of Aijalon. Further south is the valley of Sorek, and then the valley of Elah. Significant battles took place in the valley of Aijalon and the valley of Elah.

The town of Aijalon which overlooks the valley was allotted to the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:42), but Dan moved to the northern part of the country and Aijalon was considered one of the cities of Judah and Benjamin (2 Chronicles 11:5-12). In the days of King Ahaz the city had fallen under Philistine control (2 Chronicles 28:16-20).

Have scientists discovered Joshua’s long day?

In 1969 an article began to be circulated in church bulletins, and later by Email, claiming that scientists had found evidence of the missing day of Joshua 10. Harry Rimmer had reported a similar story in The Harmony of Science and Scripture in 1936. There is no truth to this claim. I have an article written in response to it available at BibleWorld.com. An article by Dr. Bryant Wood is available at the ABR web site here.

This article is a revised reprint from 2009

Jerusalem from above

Today I am sharing an aerial photo of Jerusalem that shows the entirety of the Old City. The 16th century Ottoman walls can be seen along the south and west of the city.

Jerusalem from the air. View north and east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jerusalem from the air. View north and east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The view is toward the north and east. You can see that the Judean wilderness is near the city of Jerusalem. Notice that the city is reflected on the wing of the plane. If you look carefully you can see the reflection of the Dome of the Rock and a portion of the Temple Mount. Click on the photo for a larger image. The image is large enough to use in presentations for teaching for those who are willing to spend some time studying the location of various Bible events.

Thinking better of Mary Magdalene

A group of Christian women recently convened at the ancient site of Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee “to honor International Women’s Day and discuss women’s empowerment.”

Advocates spoke of the issue of legal prostitution in Israel and the struggles of the over 15,000 Israeli women who are drawn into the industry, often against their will. (The Jerusalem Post Newsletter, March 11, 2015).

The meeting at Magdala seemed to discuss some important issues, but the characterization of Mary Magdalene is inaccurate to say the least.

Each speaker related the issues of feminism and women empowerment to the lessons of Mary Magdalene, speaking about how the healing process for women who have suffered such abuse. Consecrated woman, Jennifer Ristine, spoke of how Mary Magdalene inspires hope and healing for victims of abuse.

“Through the transforming experience of love, Mary Magdalene’s dignity was affirmed and she becomes a leader among leaders, inspiring hope and  reconciliation,” Ristine said. “Do we have anything in common with this woman? When a woman is deeply convinced of the truth that she is unconditionally loved, she is set free to be what she is called to be for others. She becomes a catalyst for reconciliation.”

An entire “cult” has risen around Mary Magdalene over the years to the point that some have suggested that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, and that she “carried the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ” (The DaVinci Code, p. 244, 249).

Some writers assume that Mary Magdalene is to be identified with the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50. The comments by William Hendriksen are helpful in correcting this misunderstanding.

First among the women here mentioned is Mary called Magdalene; that is, Mary of Magdala (meaning The Tower) located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee and south of Capernaum. She figures very prominently in all the four Passion accounts. She was one of the women who later: (a) watched the crucifixion (Matt. 27:55, 56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25); (b) saw where Christ’s body was laid (Matt. 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55); and (c) very early Sunday morning started out from their homes in order to anoint the body of the Lord (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10). Besides, she was going to be the first person to whom the Risen Christ would appear (John 20:1–18; see also Mark’s disputed ending, 16:9).

The item about the seven demons that had been expelled from Mary Magdalene has led to the wholly unjustifiable conclusion that she was at one time a very bad woman, a terribly immoral person. But there is not even an inkling of proof for the supposition that demon-possession and immorality go hand in hand. Weird and pitiable mental and/or physical behavior are, indeed, often associated with demon-possession (Luke 4:33, 34; 8:27–29; 9:37–43, and parallels), not immorality. (Hendriksen, Baker New Testament Commentary: Luke, comments on Luke 8:2-3)

Our aerial photo was made in 2011. The area of ancient Magdala is seen on the left 40% of the photo along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. On the right side you will see the Plain of Genessaret. Mount Arbel and the Via Maris are seen in the background. The mountains of Upper Galilee are visible in the distance. Click on the photo for an image suitable for use in presentations.

Aerial view of Magdala and the Plain of Genessaret. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of Magdala and the Plain of Genessaret. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is wonderful that any variety of sin can be forgiven, but let’s not turn Mary Magdalene into something she was not. The words of Paul, the apostle of Christ Jesus, are encouraging.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11 ESV)

Flying over Beit She’an, Bethshan, Beth-shan

The Israelis call it Beit She’an, but English Bible readers will know it as Bethshan. The town is mentioned only a few times in the Old Testament. The English Standard Version uses both Beth-shan and Beth-shean to identify this town. Other English versions use a variety of spellings including Bethshan.

From atop the ancient tell, called Tell el-Husn or Tel Beth She’an, one has an impressive view of the area. Occupational levels date back at least to 3000 B.C. Artifacts from Canaan, Egypt, Anatolia, north Syria, and Mesopotamia have been uncovered from the mound.

The photo below was made from the air with a view northeast. A small portion of the Harrod Valley, with some fish ponds, is visible in the top of the photo. The River Harod flows to the east of the tel hidden by the line of trees.

Tel Husn (Bethshan) is visible in the bottom of the image. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tel Husn (Bethshan) is visible in the bottom of the image. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For many Bible students the first event that comes to mind is the defeat of King Saul at the hands of the Philistines. After his death on nearby Mount Gilboa, Saul’s body was taken to Beth-shean and fastened to the wall of the city (1 Samuel 31).

During the Greek period the city was named Scythopolis (city of the Scythians) and expanded to the foot of the tell.

In 63 B.C. the Romans, under the general Pompey, made the city part of the Decapolis (a league of ten cities; Matthew 4:25; Mark 5:20; 7:21). This was the only city of the Decapolis west of the Jordan River. The city was populated by gentiles, Jews and Samaritans.

The main street of the Byzantine city. The tel of ancient Bethshan is visible at the end of the street. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The main street of the Byzantine city. The tel of ancient Bethshan is visible at the end of the columned street. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The city grew to its largest size during the Byzantine period as a “Christian” city. It came under Muslim control in A.D. 636, and was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 749.

Some of the earthquake damage at Bethshan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Some of the earthquake damage at Bethshan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The destroyed Byzantine city lies between the theater and the mound. That’s a lot of history in one small place.

The other Aphek – of Asher

The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary follows William F. Albright in listing five towns named Aphek.

  1. Aphek of Asher (Joshua 19:29-30).
  2. Aphek of Aram (1 Kings 20:26-30).
  3. Aphek in Lebanon (Joshua 13:4).
  4. Aphek in Sharon (Joshua 12:18; 1 Samuel 4:1; 1 Samuel 29).
  5. Aphekah in Judah (Joshua 15:33).

In the previous post we discussed Aphek in Sharon where the Philistines were encamped while the Israelites were about two miles away at Ebenezer.

There was also a town named Aphek (Afek) located within the territory of the tribe of Asher.

Then the boundary turns to Ramah, reaching to the fortified city of Tyre. Then the boundary turns to Hosah, and it ends at the sea; Mahalab, Achzib, Ummah, Aphek and Rehob– twenty-two cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Asher according to their clans– these cities with their villages. (Joshua 19:29-31 ESV)

The aerial photo below shows Aphek of Asher in the Plain of Akko (Acco, Acre). The city of Haifa and the western end of Mount Carmel can be seen jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea.

Aphek of Asher. View southwest toward the Bay of Haifa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aphek of Asher. View southwest toward the Bay of Haifa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In this photo we see the tel in the foreground with Mount Carmel to the south. the Ladder of Tyre in the distance to the north.

Aphek of Asher. View south toward Mount Carmel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aphek of Asher. View south toward Mount Carmel north-northeast toward the Ladder of Tyre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Various sites with the same name can be confusing, but a little investigation helps to distinguish them.

Note: Thanks to the keen eye of A.D. Riddle for catching my mistake above. I did not recall circling the tel while we were flying. I had never been to Afek, so when the pilot pointed it out I began shooting continuously. I appreciate A.D. correcting this.

The photo below stretches all the way from Akko (Acre) to the Ladder of Tyre. You should be able to make out a white mark stretching into the sea in the distance.

The Mediterranean coast from Akko (Acre) north to the Ladder of Tyre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Mediterranean coast from Akko (Acre) north to the Ladder of Tyre. Photo: Jenkins.

For additional information about this stretch of land, see our earlier post here.

Cove of the Sower – from land, sea, and air

Over the past few years I have tried to get some good photos of the Cove of the Sower (also called the Cove of the Parables) and have written about it twice before. Some have suggested that this place on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee would have been the place where Jesus spoke in parables to large numbers who assembled to hear Him.

Read the full account given by Mark in 4:1-20. Here is the way it begins:

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. (Mark 4:1-3 ESV)

Parallel accounts may be read in Matthew 13:1-15 and Luke 8:4-10.

B. Cobbey Crisler conducted some experiments at places where the Bible records that large crowds gathered. The attempt was to see if the large number were able to hear a speaker without the aid of modern sound equipment. The places were Kadesh-barnea, Shiloh,  and The Cove of the Sower in Galilee (“The Accoustics and Crowd Capacity of Natural Theaters in Palestine.” Biblical Archaeologist, 1976. Vol. 39. Num. 4).

The study indicated that the Cove of the Sower would allow between 5000 and 7000 people to hear.

Over the years different crops have been planted in the area, and this makes it difficult to compare older and more recent photos. The highway runs just above the level of the top of the trees seen on the right (north). This photo is made looking west.

The Cove of Sower from top of area. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Cove of Sower from top of area. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo below was made from a boat a short distance south of the shore. You can see the extension of the natural theater stretching up the hill above the trees. Hidden in the clump of trees on the top of the hill, and to the left is the traditional Mount of Beatitudes. This would be a good candidate for the place of the Sermon on the Mount.

Cove of the Sower From the Sea of Galilee by Ferrell Jenkins.

The following sketch from Crisler’s article in Biblical Archaeologist may help you to understand more clearly about the cove.

Cove of Sower sketch from Crisler's article in BA.

The terrain and the crops have changed since Crisler wrote. For those who may be curious, the covered areas are where bananas grow today. Both bananas and citrus trees have been brought to the country since the time of Jesus.

More recently I have been able to make a few aerial photos of the area. The first one was made from above the modern paved road looking down on the cove.

The Cove of the Sower from the air, looking south. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Cove of the Sower from the air, looking south. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next aerial view shows the cove and the hill above it from the south.

Aerial View of the Cove of the Sower looking north. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial View of the Cove of the Sower looking north. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I trust that this information and these photos will enhance your understanding of the portions of Scripture mentioned above.