Category Archives: Jerusalem

Amazing “Open House” in Jerusalem

On Sept 18 and 19 there were 119 difficult-to-get-into places in Jerusalem that opened their doors to the public.

Just reading the descriptions of these places is very fascinating!

Under the Western Wall (Hasmonean)
The Kishle (just inside Jaffa Gate — Palace of Herod)
Beneath the Jaffa Gate
The Jerusalem Train Tunnel
and over 100+

The listing of openings can be found here:  Jerusalem Open House

Monday on the Mount — Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 12

Although Jerusalem is not actually mentioned in the first five books of the Bible, there are certainly strong hints of “things to come.”  For example, after crossing the Reed Sea, Moses and all Israel celebrated the Lord’s work by singing a song that included the following:

Exodus 15:11  “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD?
Who is like you—majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory, working wonders?  . . .
13 “In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling . . .
17  You will bring them in and plant them
on the mountain of your inheritance
the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established.  18  The LORD will reign
for ever and ever.”

From this passage it is clear that the Lord is leading His people to the Land of Canaan, to the mountain of His inheritance, His dwelling, His sanctuary!  Ultimately this will be the Temple on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem—but some 400 years later!  Note that the destination is the “Land of Canaan”—that had been promised to the descendants of the Patriarchs.

After 40 years in the wilderness, just before entering the Land of Canaan, in/near the Plains of Moab, Moses preached his last sermons.  This seems to be in anticipation of crossing the Jordan River into Canaan, the occupation of Jerusalem, and the building of the Temple in Jerusalem.  In conjunction with describing that the Israelites should not worship at just “any” sanctuary but only the place where the Lord chooses to place His Name, the instructions include:

Deuteronomy 12:2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods.  . . .   5 But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;  6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices . . .  7 There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you.
. . .   9 since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the LORD your God is giving you.  10 But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety.  11 Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD.  12 And there rejoice before the LORD your God . . .  13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please.  14 Offer them only at the place the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you. . .
17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts.
18 Instead, you are to eat them [offerings] in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God will choose . . . and you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to.  19 Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.
20  When the LORD your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you . . .  21 If the place where the LORD your God chooses to put his Name is too far away from you, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the LORD has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want.

Next Monday: Crossing the Jordan, entering Canaan, settling in the land.


INHVHZTC01

An example of a Canaanite Worship Center found by Yadin at Hazor — Note the basalt standing stones, the seated man, the crouched lion, and the slab to receive offerings — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

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

Continue reading

MoM — Introduction (MoM = Monday on the Mount)

One of my favorite passages about Jerusalem is found in Psalm 132:

For the LORD has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling:
“This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it—
I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor will I satisfy with food.
I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her saints will ever sing for joy.

“Here I will make a horn grow for David
and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
I will clothe his enemies with shame,
but the crown on his head will be resplendent.” (NIV)

For the ancient Israelite/Judean this passage must have given them much comfort in the face of ancient enemies who confronted them.  But how is a “modern,” especially a Christian who takes the word of God seriously, to interpret such a passage.  In this series we will explore the theological significance of passages such as this both to the ancients and to moderns.


Each Monday I would like to mention those authors who have helped me along the way—especially in regard to biblical theology.

Especially important was Walter C. Kaiser Jr. who was teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the late 1960’s  and early 1970’s when I was there.  His early work, Toward an Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978) that treats the “promise theme,” has had a great influence on the thinking of many, including myself —the revised version is called The Promise-Plan of God.  I will return to his work in many places, but especially with regard to the “Patriarchal Promise” (Genesis 12:1-3; etc.).


Next week I will treat Genesis 2:15.

 

Mondays on the Mount of Olives

Since 1973 I have been working with academic groups in Israel.  Often the first 4 or 5 days in Israel are spent in and around the city of Jerusalem visiting sites associated with biblical events and the whole gamut of the history of Jerusalem and its surroundings.  At the end of this sequence I like to visit the top of the Mount of Olives—early, before the tourist buses arrive.  This gives us a chance to sit and enjoy the early sunlight as it illumines “Jerusalem of Gold.”  At this time the students review and identify what they know about Jerusalem and its surrounds—sweeping from Nebi Samwil in the northwest, south through the Old City to Har Gilo in the southwest (see partially the photo in the header above!).  Pride of place certainly goes to the walls of the Old City, the Temple Mount (Haram esh-Sharif), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and now(!) the Hurva Synagogue—not to mention the Dormition Abbey and Mount Zion.

After reviewing the “stones” and the history of Jerusalem I like to take about 20(!) minutes to reflect on the “theology of Jerusalem” as it is presented in the Bible (my favorite deaf mute vendor patiently waits until I am finished—and I promote his wares!).  I begin in Genesis 2:15 and end in Revelation 22—yes, all of it 2o minutes!  This reflection is based upon a summary of a class that I taught to university students for 15+ years entitled “Jerusalem: Earthly City Heavenly Symbol.”  It was one of the most popular classes that I taught.  I have been amazed at how much of the Bible can be tied into the City of Jerusalem!

At one point I had hoped to write a book on this topic but I have never had the time to do all of the relevant scholarly research for such a project.  And indeed over the years others have approached this topic in somewhat similar but different ways.

Because of the importance of a “a biblical theology of Jerusalem,” and its usefulness to those I have shared it with in the past, I invite you to join me every Monday for “Mondays on the Mount of Olives.”

The Tomb of the High Priest Annas? Part 2 of 2 — The Interior

In Part I of this post I presented images of the exterior of the tomb of Annas—a very influential High Priest (AD 6–15) whose sons, and later son-in-law, Caiaphas, succeeded him in that office.  Annas is mentioned in the New Testament in Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 24;  and Acts 4:6.  Today I present some images of the interior of this tomb that is actually much better preserved than its exterior.  Click on the images to view  high-resolution versions—and save if you wish.

The Western Wall of the Interior of the Tomb of Annas
Unfortunately the locals were not too interested in the preservation of this tomb
I’m sure you have noticed the collection of trash!#$@!

In the lower portion of the image there are three openings that lead into long chambers into which bodies of the deceased were placed (loculi; singular loculus).  The Ritmeyers have suggested that Annas the High Priest was actually buried in the central chamber!  Above the central chamber please notice the carvings in the rock representing doorposts, a lintel, a gabled (triangular shaped) roof.

At the very top of the image note the finely carved rosette pattern!!  There are 32 petals in this magnificently carved rosette.  This rosette is unique except for a smaller one in the back room of the so-called Tomb of Absalom AND a very large one in the Double Gate that leads into the Temple Mount Complex!!

View of the upper portion of the southern wall of the Tomb of Annas

Notice the fine details carved into the stone wall:  the gabled roof pediment, lintel, the door posts, the acroterion(!), and the molding.

At the very top of the image note a small portion of the finely carved rosette pattern!!  AND, in the upper left portion of the ceiling the outline of a large carved acanthus leaf (there was one in each of the corners of the ceiling within this tomb.  In the lower right quadrant, where the two walls meet, note the vertical carved pilasters and also the molding on the walls where they meet the ceiling.

Deeply carved, 32 petal rosette ceiling in the Tomb of Annas.

There are 32 deeply carved petals in this rosette.  This rosette is unique except for a smaller one in the back room of the so-called Tomb of Absalom AND the larger one in the Double Gate that leads into the Temple Mount Complex!!

Near the center of the image is a circle from which the 32 rosette petals emanate.  The circle is actually a whorl rosette with faint petals.

To view additional images of both the interior and exterior of this tomb Click Here.

For a detailed description of this, and other tombs in the area, as well as the logic that this is the tomb of Annas please seen the article by Leen and Kathleen  Ritmeyer, “Akeldama: Potter’s Field or High Priest’s Tomb?” Biblical Archaeology Review 20 (1994): 23-35, 76, 78.

The Tomb of the High Priest Annas? Part 1 of 2 — The Exterior

One of the most richly decorated tombs from the Second Temple Period is located on the southern slope of the junction of the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys.

Junction of the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys with the Tomb of Annas

This is the area that some have called “Akeldama” or the “field of blood” that is associated with events surrounding the death of Judas.  In 1994 Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer published an article suggesting that this special tomb may have been that of one of the High Priests mentioned in the New Testament and elsewhere.

Exterior of the “Tomb of Annas”
Badly defaced by later quarrying

Entrance to the “Tomb of Annas”

The above images show a view looking south at the exterior of the tomb.  On the right (west) side of the image notice the two semi-circular niches (for mourners/visitors?).  The entrance to the tomb has been heavily quarried/destroyed.  Notice the decorative partial shell conch over the now-almost-destroyed entrance to the tomb.

Detail of west side of tomb with an engaged column (pilaster) and the mourner niches.
When this photo was taken the tomb and forecourt were being used as a cattle pen!

West side of the tomb

In the image above, remnants of an engaged column (pilaster) are visible as are two apses—possibly used by mourners and/or visitors.

Annas was a very influential High Priest (AD 6–15) whose sons, and later son-in-law, Caiaphas, succeeded him in that office.  Annas is mentioned in the New Testament in Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 24;  and Acts 4:6.

Standing in front of this tomb, looking north, one has a clear view of the Temple Mount—were Annas and his descendents had served.

For a detailed description of this, and other tombs in the area, as well as the logic that this is the tomb of Annas please seen the article by Leen and Kathleen  Ritmeyer, “Akeldama: Potter’s Field or High Priest’s Tomb?” Biblical Archaeology Review 20 (1994): 23-35, 76, 78.

In the next post — images of the magnificent interior of this tomb!