Temple A at Laodicea (turned into a “library”?) — Part 1 of 2 Parts

Rev. 3:14–17 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: . . . 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (NIV)

When we first visited the site of Laodicea in 1999 for all practical purposes the site had not been excavated and information about it was “sketchy.”  Since 2003 very large scale excavations have been taking place under the direction of Professor Celal Şimşek.

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Celal Şimşek (center, excavator of Laodicea), Tulu Gokkadar (left, guide), Carl Rasmussen (right, content provider to http://www.HolyLandPhotos.org) in front of Temple A.

One, of the many(!), outstanding finds is “Temple A.”

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View looking north at the reconstructed entrance to Temple A at Laodicea. Notice the steps leading up to the entrance, the four spiral columns on plinth, and the composite capitals (a combination of the Ionic and Corinthian orders)—all signs that this is a Late Roman phase of the Temple) — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

According to the excavator, Celal Şimşek (on site verbal communication 2014; but see below), Temple A was established in the first century A.D. and was dedicated to Apollo (not to Zeus as some previously speculated). Soon the sister of Apollo, Artemis, was worshiped here and eventually Imperial Cult worship was also added (very early fourth century A.D.—during the reign of Diocletian).

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View (2008) of the vaulted substructure of Temple A not too long after its excavation. Note the arch and the springs of the arch (on both sides of the image) of the vaulting (typically Roman construction) — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Previously there was some speculation that Temple A was dedicated to Zeus partially because of analogies with the Temple of Zeus at Aizanoi.

Carl Rasmussen Copyright and Contact

The temple of Zeus at Aizanoi has a special subterranean temple below the main temple, as does Temple A at Laodicea — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

At Aizanoi Zeus was worshiped at the above ground temple while Cybele (mother goddess) was worshiped in the subterranean chamber (above).

More next time on some evidence as to the Apollo and Artemis connections at Laodicea.


According to an undated glossy brochure distributed at the site, Temple A was:

“. . . built in the Antonine period (second century CE) . . . [and] was heavily renovated in the reign of the Emperor Diocletian (284–305 CE)”

“[The] Temple was used as [a] religious archive of the Ladoicea Church when Christianity was accepted as [the] official religion in the 4th century CE . . . and [the] temple was destroyed after the earthquake in 494 CE”

Steven Fine has noted that the Church at Laodicea was evidently anti-Jewish—as evidenced by the anti-Jewish Council of Laodicea that was held at Laodicea soon after the death of Julian the Apostate in A.D. 363.  See a previous post on a menorah and cross.

Jason’s Tomb (2nd Temple Period)

Jason’s tomb is a beautiful funeral monument from the late Hellenistic – early Roman period. It was the tomb of a high priestly family that was forced out of Jerusalem in 172 B.C. (2 Maccabees 5:5-10) by their rival, Menelaus. It was constructed in the second century B.C. and was in use until A.D. 30 (about the time of the crucifixion of Jesus).  This tomb was discovered in 1956 and is located in west Jerusalem—in Rehavia. It consists of several courtyards and a “pyramid-shaped” roof.

Entrance to Jason’s Tomb

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MoM — Genesis 9:27 — God Promises to “dwell” in the Tents Shem

Because of their sin, humans were expelled from the Garden of Eden and would no longer be able to live their lives in the Presence of God—worshiping and obeying Him.

Because of extreme sinfulness humanity was punished by God with the flood.  Noah, his sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), and their spouses survived.  Afterward God graciously promises a number of things but the part that I like to emphasize on the Mount of Olives is found in Genesis 9:25–27:

Gen. 9:25 So he said,
“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brothers.”
Gen. 9:26 He also said,
“Blessed be the LORD,
The God of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.
Gen. 9:27     “May God enlarge Japheth,
And let him dwell in the tents of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.” (NASB)

The question that I am interested in is, in v. 27, to whom does “him” refer?  It should be noted that the Hebrew text really has “him” at this point—NOT Japheth.  The NIV and some other translations insert an interpretative “Japheth” but Japheth is not actually in the original Hebrew text!   In fact, it is difficult to have the “him” refer back to Japheth in the previous line, for there Japheth is the object of the verb and this grammatical construction would be rare.

It is much more natural to have “him” refer back to the previous subject, namely God! And thus the verse should be read:

Gen. 9:27     “God will enlarge Japheth,
But He [= God] will dwell in the tents of Shem;
Let Canaan be a slave to him.” (Kaiser, p. 82)

If this interpretation is correct, then God is promising that He intends to reverse the “unnatural” situation that the humans find themselves in because of their sin—living their lives apart from Him.  It is God’s intention to again reside with humanity—so that they can live their lives in His presence in worshipful obedience.

It is of course noteworthy that a distant descendent of Shem is Terah, and that Terah is the father of Abram (Abraham), who is the father of . . .!  (Genesis 11:10–27)

More next Monday on God dwelling in the tents of Shem via Abraham and his descendants.  [BTW — future posts will not have as much Hebrew grammar as these first posts have had!]


Walter Kaiser first drew my attention this interpretation of Genesis 9:27.

Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. Toward an Old Testament Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978, p. 82.

Update! The Possibility of Great Treasures from 300 B.C. — from Amphipolis

In a report dated 21 August Discovery News reports that the bodies of two sphinxes, 4.8 ft. high(!) have been found in connection with this tomb (10 times larger than the spectacular tomb of Philip II at Vergina!!).  The report also states that this is the LARGEST tomb ever uncovered in Greece.

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Two Sphinxes from Large Macedonian Tomb in Northern Greece (Amphipolis), each 4.8 feet high! — Image from Discovery News

Katerina Peristeri, the archaeologist in charge of the dig hopes to “. . . fully explore the burial by the end of the month to decide who was laid to rest there.”  Speculation: high military official of Alexander the Great?  Or possibly Alexander’s wife Roxana and/or his son Alexander IV who were killed at Amphipolis in 311 B.C. on the orders of King Cassander?  FWIW – the tomb is 3 miles from the famous lion statue (picture below).


Original blog from 13 August, 2014 follows.

A tomb has been discovered near the ancient city of Amphipolis in northern Greece—ancient Macedonia from whence Alexander the Great was from.  The circular mound is about 1,630 ft in circumference.  [for samples of treasures that might be found and why I am excited about this site—see below].  According to the press release a famous marble lion is located near the burial mound and may have actually topped the mound.

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The Lion of Amphipolis — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

View of the funerary monument, possibly that of Laomedon, a naval officer of Alexander the Great, that is dated to the late fourth century B.C. Although destroyed, it was rebuilt from fragments found in the area in the first half of the 20th century.   It is sited close to the large ancient city of Amphipolis — on the east bank of the Strymon River.

Amphipolis was situated on the Via Egnatia on which Paul traveled several times. This monument would have been 350 years old by the time Paul would have seen it.

For news stories on this find click Here and Here.

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View of the lower portion of the tomb — note the encircling wall — Photo: Alexandros Michailidis/AP

If this burial mound is undisturbed, it could contain magnificent treasures—like those from the tomb of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great.

The following are samples of items found in the area of Amphipolis — who knows what this mound (tumulus) may contain?!!

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View of a Golden Oak Wreath from a tomb near Amphipolis. Note the delicate metal work and even the acorn just left of center. Date: probably around 300 B.C.

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View of a detail of a gold necklace found in a tomb near Amphipolis. Note the fine delicate craftsmanship. Date: probably around 300 B.C.

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View of a box that probably contained the ashes of the cremated person and a golden wreath above it. This type of box is called a larynx. Date: probably around 300 B.C.

 

Locked Luggage? — Just for “fun”!

Hey travelers (a lot of your are)!  Do you “lock” your luggage?  Consider this!

So . . . . keep all your valuables in your carry on luggage and use “twisties”—yes like on a loaf of bread—to “secure” your luggage.

The Temple of Aphrodite and the Upper Peirene Spring on the Acrocorinth at Corinth

The moral problems among the “saints” of the church of Corinth are well-known.  Writing of days prior to Paul, Strabo said that the Temple of Aphrodite owned one thousand temple–slaves and prostitutes!

Foundational Remains of the Temple of Aphrodite on the Summit of the Acrocorinth

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MoM Genesis 2:15 — Why are We Here? — Part 2 of 2

Previously I note that God purposefully placed humanity in a context where they could live their lives in His Presence.  But Genesis 2:15 also tells about His purpose for humanity:

Gen. 2:15     The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (NIV)

But a Better Translation of this verse is ( see below for details):

The LORD God took the man and purposefully put him in the Garden of Eden so that he could live his life in His presence to worship and obey.

John Sailhamer and William Dumbrell  initially drew my attention to the reasons for the above translation (see references below).

Sailhamer noted that in the following

“. . . in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

the two pronouns “it” refer back to the word “Garden.”  This of course is expected, but what is also expected is that the pronominal suffixes (in the original Hebrew) should agree with what they refer to in gender and number.  In fact the pronominal suffixes, “it,” are singular FEMININE while the noun that they refer to, “Garden,” is MASCULINE singular.  To solve this problem, Sailhamer proposed that in the Hebrew the final pronominal suffixes were just part of the verbal forms and that the “it”s were not in the text.  But he also noted the following.

The Hebrew word translated “to work” is also used as “to serve (God)” (= to worship)—as in the tabernacle and/or the temple (like Priests or Levites).

Ex. 3:12     And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

2 Kings 21:3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.

In addition, the Hebrew word “take care of” is also used of “guarding” and “observing/keeping.”

Both words are used together with reference to duties in the Tabernacle in Numbers 3:7–8 and 8:25–26 (Dumbrell below).

Thus humankind was placed in the Garden to live their lives in the Presence of God, with the expressed purposes of worshiping Him and obeying His commands.  This was/is the destiny of humans and is a big part of the answer to the age old question: “why are we here?”

For some of the technical details of this argument, including the Hebrew words and syntax Click Here.


John H. Sailhamer,   “Genesis.” Pages 1–284 in volume 1 of Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Edited by Gaebelein, F. E. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984, pp. 44-45.

Dumbrell, William J. The Faith of Israel: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament. Second ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002, pp. 21–22.