An Interesting New Testament Exegetical Blog

Recently I have stumbled upon the blog of Philip J. Long Reading Acts.  I thought it would be the book of Acts 24/7, but right now he seems to be progressing through the gospels.  It looks like he has written A LOT over the past five or so years (sorry I missed it!#@!) beginning in Acts but has moved through the whole New Testament.  (I still to do a lot of keyword searching to find out all the goodies that are hidden in his site)

I have found his posts scholarly and accessible and it has been “fun” to think about the interesting exegetical and critical topics that he brings up!  He has 2, 281 followers—I’m impressed, given the topics that he discusses.

You may be interested in checking out his blog—he may stimulate your thinking (or as my Professor/Colleague Anson Rainey used to say: “let me enrich you with some new uncertainties”).

A Very Important Building that No Longer Exists

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View of one of the 6 vaulted rooms in the basement of an Assyrian Palace at Tell Jemmeh (probably ancient Yurza)—click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

View of the interior of one of the buildings that date to the Assyrian Period (7th century B.C.) that was found at Tell Jemmeh—about 8 mi. south of Gaza.  Note the mud–brick walls that were covered with a mud coating.  The doorway is about 5 ft. high (at the most).  Note especially, in the upper left of the image, the beginning of the mud–brick voussoirs of the very early mud–brick vault!  The excavator believes that these 6 rooms were actually the basement of a large Assyrian Palace that sat on top of them—thus the vaulted rooms supported the palace above.  If this is so, then the great Assyrian ruler, Esarhaddon may have actually stayed in this palace (2 Kings 19:37; Ezra 4:2; Isa 37:38)!

The Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land states that this

“. . . is one of the most remarkable structures ever found in Israel because it preserves vaulted mud-brick ceilings that were erected with keystone-shaped bricks, or voussoirs, marking the earliest known use of voussoirs in world architecture” (p. 670).

Unfortunately the protective sheet–metal roof was ripped off, by winds, and all of these structures have been destroyed as they have been exposed to the rains.

Tell Jemmeh (also called Tel Re’im and T. Gamma) is often identified with ancient Yurza.  It is a large mound on the southern bank of the Nahal Besor (Wadi Ghazzeh).  It was excavated in the 1920′s by two expeditions including one led by Sir Flinders Petrie. In addition it was excavated in the 1970′s by the late G. W. Van Beek.  Numerous archaeological periods are represented at the site but there were outstanding finds from the late Iron Age and Hellenistic Period.

JemmehTell Jemmeh  is located about 8 mi. south of Gaza and served as a transit point heading into and out of Egypt to the west-southwest.   It is very possible that the Assyrians mustered their troops here prior to their invasions of Egypt during the days of Esarhaddon (7th century B.C.).

Jewish Presence in Asia Minor — Andriace Part 2

In a previous post I emphasized the importance of the synagogue that was found at Andriace (a port visited by Paul).  In the remains of the synagogue a number of marble plaques were found.  The excavator believes that the synagogue was located in the upper floor of the building and that the inscriptions/plaques fell from that floor to where they were found (commentary/data from the museum in Antalya).

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One of the placques found in the Synagogue at Andriace
Note the Menora, the tripod on which it stands, the “lulav” and the “shophar”
Click on the image to Enlarge/Download

This is one of several inscriptions/plaques that were found in the synagogue.  It measures 2.9 x 1.4 ft. (87 x 44 cm.).  Note in the main panel the seven branch candelabrum (menorah) that is standing upon a tripod (two legs are visible)—these are typical symbols of Judaism during this period (compare the capital found at Capernaum in Israel).  On the lower right is a shofar (ram’s horn) and to the lower left an etrog and a lulav (symbols associated with the feast of Succoth [tabernacles]) are visible.  Some have suggested that the two “curls” just below where the seven branches join the xxx are Torah Scrolls. The excavators believe they have discovered a mate to this plaque (with a completion of this inscription, but only partially preserved in its upper portion; see Çevik et al. below).

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Detail of the Inscription (in Greek!)
Note the Menorah to the left of the inscription
(its tripod, shofar [to the right], and the lulav [to its left]
For a translation, see below. Click on the image to Enlarge/Download

Note the second, smaller, menorah (seven branch candelabrum), on a tripod and a shofar (ram’s horn) and a lulav (associated with the feast of Succoth) in this upper portion of the larger plaque.  The excavators believe that a similar, partially preserved, plaque was placed next to this one, and on this mate, this inscription is completed.

The excavators suggest a translation of the combination of both plaques follows:

‘Offering of Makedonios, son of Roman[os], and his [Makedonios'] wife
Prokle and their parents Romanos and Theodote.
(May there be) pea[ce] onto all Israel! Amen! Shalom.’  [Çevik, p. 346]
[Bracket] = estimated missing text and underline portions are from the second plaque/panel (pictured in the article noted below, p. 363).

Nevzat Çevik, Özgü Çomezoglu, Hüseyin Sami Öztürk, and Inci Türkoglu, “A Unique Discovery in Lycia: The Ancient Synagogue at Andriake, Port of Myra.”  Adalya XIII (2010), 335–66.

All images were photographed in the Museum in Antalya
(within their photographic guidelines).

To view additional images of Andriace Click Here.

Jewish Presence In Asia Minor: Andriace

AndriakeMap031009Andriace (also Andriake) is a port city located on the southern coast of Turkey in an area known in ancient times as Lycia.  Andriace served as the port of Myra that is located 3 mi. [5 km.] to the northeast.  It evidently was a major point for the trans–shipment  grain.

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Granary of Hadrian at Andriace—the Port of Myra
Grain was stored in this facility for shipment to Rome
Paul’s ship stopped here on his way to Rome (Acts 27:5-6)
Click on image to Enlarge/Download

The grain came from the plain near Myra, and possibly from cargo ships, bringing it from Egypt.  From Andriace it was shipped to Rome or to other parts of the Roman Empire.

Although not mentioned specifically in the Bible, the apostle Paul probably changed ships in Andriace in A.D. 60 on his way to Rome after he had appealed to have his case tried before Caesar.  Acts 27:5–6 describes this portion of his trip from Caesarea to Rome in this way:  “when we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia.  There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board.”  Much of this must have transpired in Andriace, the port of Myra.

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View looking south at the apse of the Synagogue discovered at Andriace
Click on image to Enlarge/Download

View looking south at the recently (2009) discovered “synagogue” at Andriace.  On the left (east) side of the image, behind the people, Hadrian’s granary is visible.

The “apse” of the synagogue appears to be facing south—approximately towards Jerusalem—which is southeast of Andriace.  The proximity of this structure to the granary is also interesting.

Fifteen images of Andriace are available by Clicking Here.

A report on the excavations and inscriptions at Andriace can be found in Nevzat Çevik, Özgü Çomezoglu, Hüseyin Sami Öztürk, and Inci Türkoglu, “A Unique Discovery in Lycia: The Ancient Synagogue at Andriake, Port of Myra.”  Adalya XIII (2010), 335–66.

Jacob’s Well — Then and Now

SycharMap01Just to the northeast of the modern city of Nablus is the small suburb of Askar (New Testament Sychar).  It was in the vicinity of Sychar that Jesus met the Samaritan Woman at “Jacob’s Well” (John 4 and especially 4:12).

In 1860 the Greek Orthodox purchased the property and restored the crypt that included the famous 75 ft. deep well.  Although the foundation and walls of a church were begun in the 20th century, the church was not completed until 2007.

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View of the uncompleted interior of the Greek Orthodox Church in the 1970/s. The “outhouse-looking” structures are the entrance and exit to the subterranean well.

The image below is the current beautiful interior of the Greek Orthodox Church.

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Interior of the Greek Orthodox Church — 21st Century — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

In the image above note the iconostasis and especially the two staircases down to the well.  Compare the current state of the church with its prior status pictured above!

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View of the grotto and the well head that is located under the altar area of the Greek Orthodox Church (ca. 1934). — This picture is from the Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress, call number LC-M32-A[P&P].

 Tradition has it, that this is the spot where Jesus, at mid-day, met the Samaritan woman who had come to draw water (John 4).

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View looking down from Mt. Gerizim, where the Samaritan Temple was built, at the Greek Orthodox Church built over the site of “Jacob’s Well” (see John 4).

 

David and Jerusalem

After being crowned King of Judah and then eventually of Israel (the northern tribes) in Hebron, David moved to conquer Jerusalem.  Evidently it was his “general” Joab who with his men who surprised the Jebusites inside of the city by gaining access via the sinnor—usually translated “water system” (2 Samuel 5:1-12 and 1 Chronicles 11:4–9).  Previously I described this system and included pictures of the recently (ca. January of 2014) opened to the public system that dated back to the 18th century B.C.

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The “step–stone structure” is located on the eastern slope of the City of David. It evidently dates back to ca. 1100 B.C. and many believe on top of it was a Jebusite fort and/or palace. It is about 80ft. high! — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

 

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Hebron is the “natural” capital of the south (Judah) while “Shechem” is the “natural” capital of the northern tribes. Note the “neutral” position of Jerusalem.

By moving his capital from Hebron (in Judah) to Jerusalem David accomplished a number of things.

  1. Because he captured it, Jerusalem became his personal possession (not that of any particular tribe).
  2. Because Jerusalem was located between the northern and southern tribes it was in a sense a “neutral” city.  If the capital had remained in Hebron the northern tribes might of accused him of favoring the Judeans (his own tribe) and if he moved the capital to Shechem his own tribe of Judah would have been offended.
  3. By capturing Jebus, a pagan city and population that was located in the heartland of Israel was eliminated.
  4. By bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13) he began the process that led to its becoming the religious capital of Israel.
  5. And finally, its position in the Hill Country, not on the Coastal Plain to the west, meant that his capital was not on the normal military route through the Land of Canaan.

The topography of the “Old Ancient Core” of Jerusalem (ca. 15 acres in size) is that of a “bump in the bottom of a bowl.”

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The “City of David” a.k.a. “the Old Ancient Core” is in the center/bottom of the photo. The Kidron Valley is on the right (east) of it. Note how the Mount of Olives is higher to the east, how Mount Scopus is higher behind it (to the north), and how the western hill rises to the left. This picture was taken from a higher hill to the south.

In light of the above, note:

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”
Psalm 125:2 (NIV)

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? [not the princes of Judah or Israel]  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1–2 (NIV)

See also Psalms 2, 46, 48,  87, 122, 132 among many others!

Next Monday—Solomon builds the Temple.

Accordance Electronic Zondervan Atlas of the Bible on Sale

The beautiful Accordance version of my  Zondervan Atlas of the Bible is temporarily on sale for $27.90 (save $12.00).

Click Here for this deal and a nice review—expires Oct 20, 11:59 PM EDT.  For a screen shot, see here.