Feeding trough found at Megiddo on the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley
The gospel of Luke contains specific details regarding Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem of Judea. One of the things mentioned in this narrative is that he was placed in a “manger” (Luke 2:7, 12, and 16).
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, … and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds … find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger … found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
The Greek word φαντη that is used here typically refers to a stone type trough that was used for feeding of animals—sometimes in the stalls within a dwelling.
This word is used once more in the Gospels (Luke 13:15) where it refers to a “stall” (NIV), actually a feeding trough, for a donkey—and it is clear from the context that this was within a house (Luke 13:10–17).
Reconstructed Feeding Trough and Pillars from OT Megiddo
The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall (φαντη; “manger“) and lead it out to give it water?
It appears that after the birth of Jesus, that he was actually placed in a feeding trough somewhat similar to the ones presented here if not ones that were carved into the stone floor of the “stable”—a far cry from the rickety wooden “mangers” of Christmas pageants.
For details on this topic see Kenneth E. Bailey Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes — Cultural Studies in the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008, pp. 28–32 as well at the various Greek lexicons.
As Christmas approaches, I thought I would repost a few “blogs” that are related to the celebration.
From The Times of Israel: After heavy rains, the whole “Jacob’s Sheep” project is in danger as one sheep has died and 40+ are sick!
After a few thousand years absence, “Jacob’s Sheep” have returned to Israel—from Canada!
Jacob‘s sheep in quarantine in southern Israel on December 5, 2016. (courtesy The Friends of Jacob Sheep)
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.
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)
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.
“I am so excited to be going to the wedding!” In the courtyard of St. Catherine’s Church
“Ooops, I think I need to practice a bit more!”
“See! I am ready!!”
Saint Catherine’s Church Prepared for a Wedding.
Just 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.
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.
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!
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
One of the least visited places in Jerusalem is the portion of the village of Silwan that is located on the lower western slope of the Mount of Olives—opposite the “City of David.”
The village itself is built over 50 tombs from the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. This necropolis – “city of the dead” – was investigated by David Ussishkin and Gabriel Barkay between 1968 and 1971. Travel to this area is very difficult (= impossible) for the inhabitants of Silwan are normally very hostile to outsiders.
The two most famous tombs from this necropolis are “the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter” and the “Tomb of the Royal Steward.”
Tomb of the “Royal Steward” located in the Village of Silwan
The two inscriptions have been carved out and taken to the British Museum
Note the door on the left — this important tomb was used as a storage room at the time that this picture was taken
Unfortunately the second most important tomb from the First Temple Period is located in this village. This tomb was discovered by Clermont-Ganneau in 1870. It had two Hebrew inscriptions – one above the door and the other to the right of it. Both were carved out and sent to the British Museum where they are still housed. The largest inscription was over the door (note the large “gash” there).
Nahman Avigad translated the larger inscription as “This is [the sepulcher of . . . ] yahu who is over the house. There is no silver and no gold here but [his bones] and the bones of his amah with him. Cursed be the man who will open this!”
In the text the phrase “who is over the house” refers to a very important personage in the Judean government (about second to the king). His name, according to the inscription, was “. . . yahu.” Unfortunately the first part of his name is missing but many believe that the person who was buried here was none other than Shebna [yahu], the Royal Steward, whom Isaiah condemned for ‘hewing a tomb for himself on high’ – SEE Isaiah 22:15-17!
The amah (a female) mentioned in the inscription may also have been a very high functionary in the Judean government.
For a popular description of this necropolis see: Shanks, Hershel. “The Tombs of Silwan.” Biblical Archaeology Review, vol. 20, no. 3 (May/June, 1994):38-51
You also may be interested in viewing the First Temple Tombs found on the grounds of the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem – Click Here.
Posted in Archaeology, Daily Life, Inscriptions, Jerusalem, Museums, Places in Israel, Tomb, Tombs
Tagged Gabriel Barkay, hebrew inscriptions, Isaiah, necropolis city, Royal Steward
Recent events have led to confusing attitudes towards Turkey. Our experiences have been typically positive. A few years ago Mary and I were traveling in a rented car trying to find Zincirli in “eastern” Turkey near the Syrian border. As we were heading south on a back road in a broad valley I spotted what I thought was wool from recently sheared sheep “airing” on the roof of a house in a small Turkish village. I thought that this might make an interesting “cultural” shot, so I doubled back, parked the car and got out with my camera to take a few pictures.
Drying/Airing What? — On the Roof Top
Note the Two Women and the Man — who where shouting at us
Click on Image to Enlarge
Before I could shoot more than three or four photos, the women on the roof of the house began shouting at me and I thought—oops, I am now in trouble (poor cultural sensitivity?!—usually I am able to stay in the background)! To top it off, a man came bursting out of the door running at me!
Well, my Turkish is very close to non-existent, and his English was not-existent. But through some frantic gestures, he indicated they wanted us to come in. I was not sure why—and a bit fearful. Well, he kept insisting so Mary and I followed him through the doorway into the lower level of the structure—basically a small stable. After we ascended the stair case we burst out on to the open air roof where three women, and several children greeted us with big smiles!
Part of a Turkish Family in a Village Near Zincirli
Turkish Hospitality at Its Best
Click on Image to Enlarge
We found out that what they had hanging on the roof was the interior (stuffing) of their bedding. After the long winter they were airing it out and fluffing it up!
They wanted to serve us a full meal, which we declined, but of course they insisted we stay for çay (tea)! We had a great time smiling and gesturing. We showed them pictures of our children and they showed us pictures of theirs (on their mobile phone)!
What can I say, but these folk were just so friendly and so nice—to two strange strangers! And they sent us off with proper directions to Zincirli (that was not marked to well on the map that we had!#$%@!
To view photos of Zincirli and very important artifacts from there, Click Here (without obligation or cost)—including the very important Kulamuwa Inscription written in North Phoenician.