Category Archives: Modern Middle East

Israel – Gaza and the Iron Dome – Inspired by a Toy Car?

I usually don’t comment on modern Middle Eastern themes, but some of the readers of this blog are also interested in recent developments between the Hamas of Gaza and Israel.  It is widely reported that the “Iron Dome” missile defense system that Israel has deployed has been very effective (90% success rate) in dealing with significant missile threats from Gaza.

Israel 21ci has posted an interesting article entitled “15 things you didn’t now about the Iron Dome.”

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Among them are tidbits such as:

  • “A toy car sold by Toys R Us inspired developers . . . .”
  • The Iron Dome . . . only intercepts . . .a rocket if it is deemed a critical threat.”

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Go figure.

 

The Thrill of Discovery—in a Museum!

The Museum of the Ancient Orient in Istanbul contains a number of “world class” objects that were gathered by the rulers of the late Ottoman Empire from all over the Middle East—including glazed tiles from the Ishtar Gate in ancient Babylon and a copy of the Treaty of Kadesh (between the Egyptians and the Hittite—late 13th century B.C.).

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“I am happy to meet you Mr. Lion!”
See below for the ferocious lion that this child is making friends with!
Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

Often times people tire quickly when visiting museums, but this January we observed one young visitor who was in the process of making friends with a ferocious looking lion that once guarded the approach to an 8th century Hittite Palace at Zincirli (ancient Samal).

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One of the pair of basalt lions that guarded the entrance
to the 8th century Hittite Palace at Zincirli
Note the detail of the mane and whiskers
Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

Oh to see the world through a child’s eyes.  The joy of discovery/encounter!

Yom Kippur War – 1973 – Declassified Documents

This coming Yom Kippur will be the one 40 years after the Yom Kippur War in 1973.  At that time I had recently arrived in Jerusalem with my wife Mary and my 11 month old son John to assume the position of Dean at the then Institute of Holy Land Studies (now the Jerusalem University College).

Today (September 12, 2013) the Israelis have released many documents concerning the commission that investigated the decisions of the Israeli leadership that led up to that war—in which the Israelis were ultimately successful, but initially was catastrophic for the Jewish state.

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Israeli Knesset from the Israel Museum

For this new information I suggest a recent edition of The Times of Israel:

Golda Meir: ‘My heart was drawn to a preemptive strike, but I was scared’.
Account of King Hussein’s 1973 war warning still deemed too harmful to release.
Three years too late, Golda Meir understood how war could have been avoided.

On that fateful Yom Kippur our family was out strolling below the Knesset with Continue reading

Kfar Bir’im

BaramIn the 19th century Kfar Bir’im (ancient Bar’am) was occupied and settled by Maronite Christians.  During Israel’s war of Independence (known as “the catastrophe” to the Arabs) the inhabitants were forced out of their village by the Israeli military forces with the promise that they could return after the fighting ceased.  The displaced inhabitants settled in nearby Gush Halav and other villages.

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View of the occasionally used Maronite Christian Church in Kfar Bir’im
that is located to the south of the synagogue at Baram.
Click on Image to Enlarge

The request/demand to return by these Arab Christians was tied up in the Israeli court system for years, but ultimately the court ruled against allowing them to return.  Today the site is a National Park and boasts the best preserved ancient synagogue in the country.

Continue reading

Ancient Capital on Temple Mount?

Life on the Haram esh–Sharif (Temple Mount in Jerusalem) is not static but dynamic!  Over the years the Muslims have been refurbishing older structures and completely remodeling others.  In the process much debris has been discarded, some of which was from ancient structures—possibly even from the Second Temple Period.

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A well-carved ancient capital that was on the debris pile
of the Haram esh–Sharif/Temple Mount
June 2011
Click on image to Enlarge (or download if you wish)

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Debris pile on the Haram esh–Sharif/Temple Mount
located east of the Dome of the Rock — July 2009
Click on image to Enlarge (or download if you wish)

For additional images of “Life on the Haram esh–Sharif/Temple Mount”
Click Here.

Ancient Timber on Temple Mount?

In recent years there have been several articles and news items that argue that some of the timbers that were discarded after the remodeling of the el-Aqsa Mosque on the Haram esh-Sharif in Jerusalem are quite ancient—possibly even from the Temple that Herod built (the Second Temple) around 15 B.C.

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Wooden debris—including timbers—stored just west of the Golden Gate on the Haram esh–Sharif/Temple Mount
Photo June 2009 — Click on image to enlarge and/or download

I thought I would share one of my pictures of such debris from a pile that was located just west of the interior of Golden Gate (to view exterior Click Here).  Note especially the notched  beams on the far side of the pile.

On of the more recent articles is that of Peretz Reuven, “Wooden Beams from Herod’s Temple Mount: Do They Still Exist?”Biblical Archaeological Review 39, no. 3 (May/June 2013): 40–47.

Saint Peter’s Church — Under Repair/Closed in Antioch

In April I revisited Antioch on the Orontes (= Syrian Antioch) as part of a personal tour in the area.  Not many tour groups visit the area but when they do one of the “must see” places is “Saint Peter’s Church” — where Christians have worshiped since the fourth or fifth centuries A.D.

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St. Peter’s Church in Antioch on the Orontes
Click on Image to Enlarge

While there, people usually reflect on the fact that there followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:19–26) and from there famine relief was sent to Jerusalem (Acts 11:27–30).  Paul began all three of his missionary journeys from Antioch (Acts 13; 15:35–41; 18:22–23).

I knew that the church was under repair but I drove up to it any way in order to get a fresh/clear image of Antioch from that vantage point.  Well, the “repair” is under way and the church, and even the approach to it, is closed—and rocks Continue reading

Flooding at Miletus in Turkey (Acts 20:38)

Mark Wilson of the Asia Minor Research Center in Antalya Turkey comments that due to heavy rains the site of Miletus, including the grounds of the new museum and the 600 year old Ilyasbey Islamic Complex.  This is due to the flooding of the Büyük Menderes River (the ancient Meander River).

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The flooding of the South Agora
On the right (south) is the Ionic Stoa

The apostle Paul visited Miletus, modern Balat, at the end of his third missionary journey – about A.D. 57 (Acts 20:38).  From there he summoned the elders from the church at Ephesus, 28 mi. [45 km.] distant (as the crow flies), and after speaking to them – this is the major speech recorded on his third journey – they had a tearful parting as Paul headed for Jerusalem where he would be taken prisoner.  Miletus is also mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:20.

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Ilyas Bey Islamic Complex = Mosque
At Miletus — Constructed 1404

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Lion from the Bath of Faustina displayed on the grounds of the Museum at Miletus

To view, and/or download, 31 high resolution images of Miletus Click Here.
These images are for personal use and there is no cost
and no registration is necessary.

The Kishon River to Live Again

The Kishon River is well-known to readers of the Bible in conjunction with the stories of the prophets Deborah (Judges 5:21) and Elijah (1 Kings 18:40).

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Due to pollution that began during the British Mandate and continued up until recent times, the Kishon River became so polluted that it was declared “dead.”  Israel 21c has an interesting article (“Kishon River: From poison to pristine“) on how the river is already making a “come back” and that more restoration is in store for the future.

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View looking north, from Mount Carmel, down on the Kishon River, Helkath (?), the western end of the Jezreel Valley and the western end of Lower Galilee

Israel Defense Forces Web Site

Some of the readers (stumblers–on–to) of this “blog” might be interested in the Israeli Defense Forces web site.  It has some very interesting information on the current activities of the Israeli military.

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