Category Archives: Jerusalem

Dust Storms in Israel (Hamsin, Sirocco, Sharav)

Since Israel has been experiencing sharav conditions recently I thought the following might be of interest to readers.

In the lands the southeastern end of the Mediterranean Sea the period from early–May to mid–June is a transitional season from the wet winter months to the dry summer ones. At times the wind blows in from the desert (from the east), and not from the Mediterranean Sea (from the west—which is normal). At those times the humidity drops drastically and a fine dust that permeates everything fills the air. These dry dusty events are called a hamsin, a sirocco, or a sharav.

Jerusalem — Hamsin/Dust Storm — 10:30 AM 11 May 2007

Under these conditions the green grass rapidly turns brown and the wild flowers die.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:7–8 (NIV)

The positive effect of these winds is that the hot dry weather aids the ripening of the grains by “setting” them before the harvest. It is during this season that first the barley and then the wheat harvest take place.
The Zondervan Atlas of the Bible, pp. 30–31

Jerusalem — “Normal Conditions” — 10:30 AM 14 May 2007

All the camera settings and filters were the same.

A similar transition takes place in September/October, but this is from the dry summer months to the wet winter months.

For more free, high–resolution images of a hamsin click Click Here.

Why is the Hen Gathering Her Chicks? (Matt 23:37; Luke 13:34)

As Jesus leaves the Temple area in Jerusalem he is quoted as having said:

Matt. 23:37  ¶  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.  (NIV)

This saying is also found in Luke 13:34 as Jesus is progressing towards Jerusalem.  This idea of protection and tender concern is also found in passages such as Psalms 17:8, 36:7, and 91:4.

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A modern mosaic of a mother hen protecting her chicks—on the altar of Dominus Flevit Church on the Mount of Olives (Matt 23:37; Luke 13:34) — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

 

In glancing at a number of commentaries on the Matthew 23 and Luke 13 passages, all I found were general statements about “protection” and “tenderness.”  However, I once heard a lecture by N. T. Wright where he seemed to suggest that what was involved here was a “barn yard fire,” where the mother hen gathered her chicks under her wings.  After the fire swept though the barn yard the mother hen had been incinerated, but the chicks under her wings were still alive—the hen sacrificing her life for her chicks.

This interpretation never struck me as too plausible and after lecturing to an adult group one of the participants came up to me and described a much more plausible explanation:

He said that he had grown up on a farm and that a hen has a variety of informative “clucks.”  For example a certain clucking sound would call her chicks to eat.  He also said that as a prank, he would cut out a cardboard eagle or hawk, affix it to a long stick, and would then maneuver it so that the shadow of the bird of prey would fall within the vision of the hen.  Upon seeing [the shadow of the fake] bird of prey she would utter a special clucking sound that called her chicks to gather under her wings for protection from the danger!  This of course is what she would do when a real bird of prey was threatening her or her chicks.  (my paraphrase)

Again, the hen sacrificing her life for her chicks.  I had not heard such an informative comment on this passage before—but then I am not a farmer, nor the son of a farmer!

The altar on which the above mosaic is found is located in the Roman Catholic Church Dominus Flevit that commemorates Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41) as he entered the city from the east.

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View looking west over the Old City of Jerusalem from within Dominus Flevit. The “golden” Dome of the Rock is visible beyond the cross, and to the right of the Dome the grey Domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are visible. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

You can view/download 10 images of Dominus Flevit  Here.

 

Underground the Temple Mount (Haram esh-Sharif) Very Unique Photos

In his recent blog Leen Ritmeyer, THE expert on the history/archaeology of the Temple Mount, has shared some very very unique photos including an underground tunnel that leads from cistern #10 to a Byzantine building.

Temple Mount Cisterns

Note Cistern #10 in the lower portion of the diagram.

Also included is a rarely seen photo of the “Cradle of Jesus” that is/was located at the southeastern corner of the Temple Mound (evidently in the so-called “Solomon’s Stables”).

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The “Cradle of Jesus” in the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount (in the so-called “Solomon’s Stables” — Please see the link to Ritmeyer’s blog for the complete article

For the complete article Click Here (a 5 minute read with 5 wonderful photos and an informative diagram).

PS — The Temple Mount may not have been devoid of structures as previously thought!!  See his article.

 

Aside

Leen Ritmeyer has done more for our understanding of the Temple Mount (Haram esh-Sharif) than anyone else. So far he has published 8 different studies including informative diagrams that describe the development of the Temple Mount through history:  Mount Moriah, … Continue reading

David and Jerusalem

After being crowned King of Judah and then eventually of Israel (the northern tribes) in Hebron, David moved to conquer Jerusalem.  Evidently it was his “general” Joab who with his men who surprised the Jebusites inside of the city by gaining access via the sinnor—usually translated “water system” (2 Samuel 5:1-12 and 1 Chronicles 11:4–9).  Previously I described this system and included pictures of the recently (ca. January of 2014) opened to the public system that dated back to the 18th century B.C.

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The “step–stone structure” is located on the eastern slope of the City of David. It evidently dates back to ca. 1100 B.C. and many believe on top of it was a Jebusite fort and/or palace. It is about 80ft. high! — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

 

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Hebron is the “natural” capital of the south (Judah) while “Shechem” is the “natural” capital of the northern tribes. Note the “neutral” position of Jerusalem.

By moving his capital from Hebron (in Judah) to Jerusalem David accomplished a number of things.

  1. Because he captured it, Jerusalem became his personal possession (not that of any particular tribe).
  2. Because Jerusalem was located between the northern and southern tribes it was in a sense a “neutral” city.  If the capital had remained in Hebron the northern tribes might of accused him of favoring the Judeans (his own tribe) and if he moved the capital to Shechem his own tribe of Judah would have been offended.
  3. By capturing Jebus, a pagan city and population that was located in the heartland of Israel was eliminated.
  4. By bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13) he began the process that led to its becoming the religious capital of Israel.
  5. And finally, its position in the Hill Country, not on the Coastal Plain to the west, meant that his capital was not on the normal military route through the Land of Canaan.

The topography of the “Old Ancient Core” of Jerusalem (ca. 15 acres in size) is that of a “bump in the bottom of a bowl.”

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The “City of David” a.k.a. “the Old Ancient Core” is in the center/bottom of the photo. The Kidron Valley is on the right (east) of it. Note how the Mount of Olives is higher to the east, how Mount Scopus is higher behind it (to the north), and how the western hill rises to the left. This picture was taken from a higher hill to the south.

In light of the above, note:

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”
Psalm 125:2 (NIV)

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? [not the princes of Judah or Israel]  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1–2 (NIV)

See also Psalms 2, 46, 48,  87, 122, 132 among many others!

Next Monday—Solomon builds the Temple.

Monday on the Mount — Entering and Settling the Land of Canaan

DLRLTB10_400The books of Joshua and Judges describe Israel’s entrance into and settlement in the Land of Canaan.  As Israel, led by priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant, crossed into the Land of Canaan, they were entering the Land promised to their ancestors and to which the Lord was guiding them:

13 “In your unfailing love you [the Lord] 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.”

This movement was more than a group of people merely moving into a land and conquering it, as often happened in the ancient world.  These were God’s people moving into The Land the He had promised them.  I previously wrote that part of the “Patriarchal Promise” was

that the descendants of Abraham would occupy the Land of Canaan.  See Genesis 12:7; 13:15–17; 15:18; 17:8—about 12 times in Genesis and especially Numbers 34.  From a earlier post.

This was the land where God would place His Name (= His Presence; Deuteronomy 12), the land where they would gather around His sanctuary, and potentially where they could live their lives in “worshipful obedience” in His Presence.  In a very real way, this could potentially be considered a movement back to Edenic conditions where humanity had been purposefully placed (by God)  in the Garden of Eden to live their lives in His Presence in “worshipful obedience”  (Genesis 3:15).

540_ShilohAs part of Israel’s movement into, and settlement in, the Land of Canaan Jerusalem was conquered (Joshua 12:10; Judges 1:7-8, 21; 19:10), but not settled by them—that would not happen until the days of David.  Instead, the Tabernacle was set up at Shiloh, 20 mi. to the north of Jerusalem, on the way to Shechem, and it was to there that the tribes went up to worship—remember Eli the priest, Elkanah the father of Samuel the prophet (1 Samuel 1:3), etc

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View looking north from the summit of Shiloh down on to a rectangular open area (about the size of the courtyard of the Tabernacle) where many believe the Tabernacle was actually set up (under excavation at the time the photo was taken — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Next Monday — David Conquers 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