Dogs Eating the Crumbs – Matt 15:27 and Mark 7:28

In Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-31 there is the story of a “Canaanite woman” from the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon who said:

“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”  . . .  The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
Matt 15:22–25 and compare Mark 7:26ff.

It seems that Jesus’ response was somewhat “off-putting” for the subsequent “conversation” went as follows:

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”   Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
(Matt 15:26-28)

Dogs are not highly thought of in some of the Middle Eastern Cultures today but evidently in New Testament times they were kept as household pets.

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Note the dog under the couch “feasting” on the crumbs that have fallen on the floor (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28) — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The above is a votive relief (5th century BC.) found in the Asclepion of Piraeus (port of Athens).  It represents a funerary banquet.  The heroized dead person reclines on a couch with a seated woman on the right and a naked youth on the left side of the image—drawing wine from a large krater.  Note especially the dog under the couch feasting on the food that has dropped on the floor (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28).

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Note the dog under the couch “feasting” on the food that has fallen on the floor (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28) — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The above votive relief  also represents a funerary banquet.  The heroized dead person reclines on a couch with a seated woman on the left and a naked youth on the far left side of the image—drawing wine from a large krater.  Note especially the dog under the couch feasting on the food that has dropped on the floor (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28).

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Note the dog under the couch waiting for crumbs from the meal — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The above is a votive relief (4th century BC.) found at Argos in southern Greece.  The god or hero is reclining on a couch with a woman on the left holding a tray with food.  On the far left is a nude boy drawing wine from a large krater.  Note the dog under the couch, waiting for crumbs!

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.

 

Methuselah – The Palm Tree

View of “Methuselah” the Judean Date Palm tree on the grounds of Kibbutz Ketura in the Rift Valley of Israel—about 30 mi. [50 km.] north of Eilat.

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“Methuselah” the Date Palm — sprouted from a 2,000 year old seed that was found in the excavations of Masada — Photo: March 2014 — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Methuselah sprouted in 2005 from a 2,000 seed that was found in the excavations of Masada.  It was transplanted to the earth in 2008.  This picture was taken in March 2014 and it seems to be doing well.

To view an interesting 8 minute video on this Judean Palm Tree that was sprouted from a 2,000 year old date pit found by Yigal Yadin at Masada Click Here.

Yishai Fleisher interviews, on site, Dr. Elaine Solowey, who supervised the sprouting of the pit and the nurturing of the seedling back to life.  Up until “Methuselah” sprouted and grew, the Judean Palm Trees were extinct!  Good content and good pictures!

Modern Palm Trees growing at the oasis of En Gedi on the western shore of the Dead/Salt Sea

Thanks to Dr. John Monson for the “heads up!”

The Farmer Sarcophagus — How Could a Farmer Afford This?

In the magnificent museum in Antalya Turkey there are many beautiful artifacts from sites such as Perge, Aspendos, Side, and others.  Among them are many beautiful sarcophagi such as the following:

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Sarcophagus from Perga in the Antalya Archaeological Museum — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Note the husband and wife on the lid of the sarcophagus and especially the erotic figures carefully carved on its side!  Many of the sarcophagi are intricately carved like this one!  While waiting to board our bus, I noticed a very plain sarcophagus near the parking lot.

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Note the farmer plowing with two oxen — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

I have seen a lot of sarcophagi in our travels but never one with this theme on it!  Note the farmer plowing with two oxen and two roundels with (evidently) a husband and wife in each of them.  Note especially the detail of the plow and the “ox goad” (1 Sam 13:21; Eccl 12:11; Acts 26:14) in the hand of the plower!  It is almost refreshing to see such a mundane and common activity represented on a sarcophagus—but it is surprising, for how did a FARMER afford having a stone sarcophagus made??

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Palestinian farmer plowing his vineyard — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

This Palestinian farmer is plowing his vineyard with a plow very similar to the one on the sarcophagus above!  This farmer is plowing in January to prevent weeds from growing.  Also note the vines lying just above the ground.

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A student learning how to plow at Neot Kedummim in Israel — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Athens: Acropolis Maidens Glow Anew

On Tuesday, July 7, The New York Times published an article entitled “Acropolis Maidens Glow Anew — Caryatid Statues, Restored Are Stars at Athens Museum.”  A “caryatid” is a column in the shape of a female and there were six of them that supported the roof of a porch on the Erechtheion.

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View of 5 of the 6 Caryatids on the southern porch of the Erechtheion — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The Times article has brief videos showing how the “maidens” were cleaned—hint, laser like technology.  It also describes that history of the Erechtheion and the Caryatids in particular.

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One of the Caryatids when it was on display in the “old” Acropolis Museum — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

A caryatid is a sculpted draped female figure that serves as a column that supports an entablature (beam for the roof). The, less frequently found, male counterpart is an “atlante.” Note the draped garment and the flexed inside leg — lending lightness and grace to the figures.

Five of the Caryatids have now been cleaned and are on display in the new “Acropolis Museum”—that is located south of the acropolis.

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View from the acropolis of Athens looking down on the new “Acropolis Museum” where artifacts found on the acropolis are on magnificent display — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

One of the caryatids was taken to England by Lord Elgin (see the Times article for a description of the context.

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The Caryatid the Lord Elgin brought to England and that is it now in the British Museum — It is said that she weeps to be with her 5 “sisters” in Athens — Hmm — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

For a brief description of the Erechtheion Click Here.

Thermopylae

On a recent trip to Greece we had a chance to revisit the site of Thermopylae where 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians slowed the advance of the Persian army towards Athens (see below for description and map).  Thermopylae actually means “hot gateway”  and for the first time we actually visited the hot springs still exist in the area!

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The Hot Water Springs of Thermopylae (“hot gateway”) — Note the modern aqueduct that diverts water to this area — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

In ancient times Thermopylae guarded a narrow, sea level, “pass” between mountains on the southwest and the sea on the northeast.

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View from top of Kolonos Hill—where the Spartans and Thespians made their last stand—looking northwest towards the area of the hot water springs — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Here in 480 B.C., 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians (temporarily) held off about 300,000 invading Persians led by Xerxes.  The stalled Persians eventually sent a force of men around Leonidas’ forces, through the mountains to the west of the pass thus encircling the Spartans from in front and behind in the pass.

The Spartans and Thespians fought valiantly, but eventually all, save two, were killed in battle.  The Persians continued their advance on Athens and burned the city.  But in pursuit of the Athenians, by land and by sea, they were defeated that year off the island of Salamis.  Their final defeat came the next year at the battle of Plataea and the (brief) era of peace that followed ushered in the classical period of Greek history.

Modern monument honoring Leonidas and his three hundred warriors — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Modern monument honoring Leonidas and his three hundred warriors — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

To View 11 High Resolution Images of Thermopylae Click Here

Actually, because of its strategic location a number of battles have been fought at Thermopylae, but the above was the “signature” event.

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Thermopylae is located 85 mi. northwest of Athens

Lycian League — A Model for the Founding “Fathers” of the USA

QUICK — what was the Lycian League?  Not many of us know, but Alexander Hamilton and James Madison knew!  Yes, the “Lycian Confederation” is mentioned four times in the Federalist Papers that were produced between 1787–1788 (#9, 16, 45).  Over 2,000 years ago it met in Patara—the same place where Paul and Luke changed ships on their way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1-3).

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View of the exterior of the reconstructed Council Chamber (Bouleuterion) at Patara
January 2014 — Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

So what was the Lycian Confederation/League?  First, Lycia was/is a geopolitical region located along the Mediterranean Coast of modern Turkey, often called the Turquoise Coast­ because of its beauty! (see map below) The 23 cities that made up the Confederation/League were located along the Mediterranean coast or in the nearby rugged Taurus Mountains (but the number of cities varied from time to time).

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View of the interior of the Council House at Patara
See the next image for the same area prior to excavation/reconstruction
Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

The Lycian Confederation is the first known democratic union in history!  One of the features of this Confederation is that they committed themselves to be governed by a central assembly (Greek: synedrion) that they themselves elected.  However, in fairness, the larger cities were allotted more representatives than the smaller ones.  Large cities such as Xanthos, Patara, Myra, Pinara, Tlos, and Olympos were allotted three representatives each (the maximum allowed).

The Lycian Confederation met at Patara—almost certainly in the Bouleuterion pictured above.  It was thus here (at the out-of-the-way site of Patara) that proportional representative government first got its start.  And, it was not until the founding of the United States (2,000 years later!!) that this concept was revived in the US House of Representatives (note the semi-circular seating arrangement of its chamber)!!

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The Rugged Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Coast of Lycia
The cities of the Lycian Confederation were located along the coast or in the mountains
Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The league itself may go back to around 205 B.C.  This early form of the league would have had the power to decide questions of war, peace, and alliances.   In 168 B.C., while still under Roman control, the Romans allowed these cities to still assemble together to govern themselves as a unit—but the power to decide questions of war, peace, and alliances were now Rome’s prerogative.

This body elected persons who administered the Lycian League for a year at a time.  The council elected judges.  Voted proportional taxes.  A league court decided disputes between the cities.

189_PataraMapI have posted 5 photos of this historic meeting place on my web site,
both before and after it was excavated/reconstructed.

For a great summary article on the Lycian League and Patara see the article in Saudi Aramco World 2007.

Photos of the following cities of the Confederation are available:  Patara, Xanthos, Myra, and Phaselis.