Mt. Tabor and En Dor

Mount Tabor is one of the most distinctive hills/mountains in Israel, yet many tour groups will only see it from Megiddo (but only on  a very clear day) or from a crowded moving bus and will try to get photographs of it through the bus’ windows!#$@!  Mount Tabor deserves better treatment than that!

t View north towards Mount Tabor, with En Dor on the left (west) side of the image

One terrific way of viewing Mount Tabor is after visiting Tel Jezreel (see last week’s tip) head east southeast towards Beit Shean on route 71, BUT turn north on route 716 (it is a good paved road, but not traveled too often by tour buses).   After crossing the watershed, and just north of the Tamra junction, there is a bus stop.  I suggest stopping there and walking with your group 20 yards north for a great unobstructed view of Mount Tabor from the south.

View north to En Dor — Home of the Medium that Saul Consulted — Note the distinctive palm trees

But not only is Mount Tabor visible in all its glory, below you, clearly visible with its distinctive palms trees, is the possible site of En Dor.

From this vantage point the tour leader/guide can talk about:

  1. The praise of Tabor found in the Bible (Psalm 89:12).
  2. Tabor as a marker of Tribal Boundaries (Joshua 19:12, 22, 34).
  3. Deborah and Barak — the battle and the retreat of Sisera and the deed of Yael (Judges 4 and 5; Psalm 83:10 [En Dor]).
  4. Saul’s visit to the medium at En Dor (you may have just left Jezreel where he mustered his troops! 1 Samuel 28, especially v.7).
  5. At least a mention of Jesus’ raising of the son of the widow at Nain (Luke 7:11–15; almost visible to the west).
  6. And Mount Tabor as a possible (IMHO not probable) site of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8; the transfiguration probably occurred closer to Caesarea Philippi/Mount Hermon).

When stopping at this not-too-well-known place in the late afternoon, the lighting is perfect, the view is spectacular, and there is ample time to digest very important biblical and extra biblical material!

To view additional images of En Dor Click Here.

For additional information see Jerome Murphy–O’Connor, The Holy Land, 5th edition, pp. 412–415 and Peter Walker, In the Steps of Jesus, pp. 96–97.

Jacob’s Sheep Arrive in Israel

After a few thousand years absence, “Jacob’s Sheep” have returned to Israel—from Canada!

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Jacob‘s sheep in quarantine in southern Israel on December 5, 2016. (courtesy The Friends of Jacob Sheep)

From The Times of Israel: ” Biblical sheep in Israel for first time in millennia”

The breed received the name “Jacob sheep” based on Genesis Chapter 30, where Jacob talks about leaving his father-in-law Laban’s home and taking part of the flock as his payment for years of service. “I will pass through all thy flock today, removing from thence every speckled and spotted one, and every dark one among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and of such shall be my hire,” he is quoted as saying in Genesis 30:32.

After three years of high-level negotiations between the Israeli and Canadian governments, 119 heritage sheep, which trace their lineage back 5,000 years to the Middle East, began arriving in Israel on November 30. It is the first time that the breed, called Jacob’s sheep, has been represented in Israel since biblical times.

Genetic markings for the breed date back at least a few thousand years to the Middle East. The journey for the sheep began in ancient Syria (also the biblical home of Laban) and passed through North Africa. Moorish invaders brought the breed to Spain, and then to England, where the animal was something of a trophy sheep. A number were brought to North America, originally for zoos and then later for commercial use.

According to the Lewinskys, the sheep has not been found in Israel for thousands of years.

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While sheep generally have two horns, Jacob sheep usually have four to six horns, including large horns that frame their face, like Solomon, a member of the Lewinsky flock. (courtesy Gil Lewinsky/Mustard Seed Imaging)

The REAL Saint Nicholas! December 6

On December 6 the feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated and so I thought I would bring back this oldie but goodie.

On the outskirts of the Turkish town of Demre is a church that is associated with Saint Nicholas—Father Christmas, a.k.a. in northern Europe as Santa Claus!

Saint Nicholas StatueSt. Nicholas was born in nearby Patara about A.D. 300 and served as the bishop of Myra later in his life.  A number of miracles are attributed to this revered bishop, including his providing a dowry to the three daughters of a local baker.  Thus he is associated with “gift giving!”  He was also the patron saint of sailors and was prayed to for protection at sea—note that Myra is very near the Mediterranean Sea.  He died about A.D. 345.

It is said that he was buried in this church, but that his relics (bones) were taken to Bari, Italy, about A.D. 1088, although other claims are made that the Venetians took them.

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View looking down at the altar area from the top of the synthronon
Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Every 6 December, the feast day of St. Nicholas, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christians celebrate the Divine Liturgy here.

To view (or download) additional images of the Church of Saint Nicholas Click Here.

Model of Second Temple Jerusalem

The model of Jerusalem on a 1 to 50 scale that depicts Jerusalem as it would have appeared just prior to the First Revolt (began ca. 66 CE) is justly famous.  Professor Michael Avi–Yonah was the original consultant and the model has been updated on a number of occasions—based upon new archaeological discoveries.

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I thought some might find the following labeled image useful.

modelgeneral01View looking north northeast at the model of Second Temple Jerusalem.  On the left (west) side of the image is the higher “western hill.”  This is where the elite of Jerusalem lived (see Wohl Museum).  Note the placement of the “theater.”  However, no archaeological evidence of the structure of theater has been found.

Note the bridge that connects the Western Hill with the Temple Mount (see Wilson’s Arch) and the platform and staircase to the south of it (see Robinson’s Arch).

In the center, and right (east) of center, is the Herodian Temple platform with the Temple clearly visible.  On the south end of the platform the long red–roofed building is the Royal Portico (stoa).  Below it are the two Double Gates that led up into the Temple Mount.  Note the staircases that lead up to them.  The large open space to the south of the Mount is where originally a “stadium” was placed.  However, in spite of excavations, no evidence of it has been found and thus it was removed from the model.

On the northwestern corner of the Temple Platform is the Antonia Fortress.

This model was originally built on the grounds of the Holy Land Hotel but has been moved to the Israel Museum.

Life in Bethlehem — Wedding Preparation

Sometimes when visiting the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem we encounter some pleasant surprises.  On occasions the Church of Saint Catherine’s is prepared for a wedding ceremony.

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“I am so excited to be going to the wedding!” In the courtyard of St. Catherine’s Church

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“Ooops, I think I need to practice a bit more!”

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“See! I am ready!!”

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Saint Catherine’s Church Prepared for a Wedding.

 

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).

 

Antandros — Was the ship that Paul traveled on to Rome constructed here?

AntandrosAntandros is a Greco- Roman City located on the north side of the Gulf of Adramytium in Turkey about 19 mi. east of Assos and 19 mi. west of Adramytium (modern Edremit).  On his voyage to Rome Paul boardered a ship from nearby Adramyttium:

Acts 27:1    When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.  2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea.

Because of the nearby forests, Antandros was famous throughout antiquity for shipbuilding.  It is very probable that the shipbuilders at nearby Adramyttium secured their timber from Mount Ida via Antandros.

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Mosaic from the floor of the Terrace House at Antandros — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Antandros has been under excavation since the early 21st century by Turkish archaeologists. One of the more significant finds is that of a Roman Villa, called the “Terrace House,” that was built in the fourth century AD and continued in use through the sixth or seventh century AD.

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One of the Frescos on the Wall of the Terrace House at Antandros — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The “Terrace House” at Antandros is somewhat similar to the more famous Terrace Houses of Ephesus!

For the history and/or legends surrounding Antandros see the excavation website and conveniently Wikipedia.

To view additional free images of Antandros Click Here.