Category Archives: Places in Israel

Back to Samaria/Sebaste

On recent trips to Israel, we have been able to visit the OT Samaria that was the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and was founded by Omri (ruled 885–874 BC).  His son Ahab, husband of Jezebel, and other Israelite kings developed it.  It is mentioned 109 times in the OT.  The Assyrians captured the city in 723 BC, thus ending the northern Israelite Kingdom.  Afterward, the district around the city became known as Samaria and its inhabitants as “Samaritans.”

Temple Dedicated to the Roman Emperor Augustus

Beginning in the days of Alexander the Great (ca. 332 BC) it became more and more Greco-Roman in outlook.  The city was renamed “Sebaste” in honor of the Roman Emperor during the days of Herod the Great (37–4 BC) who built a temple to honor the emperor there.

West Gate of Sebaste — Hellenistic and Roman Periods

Samaria/Sebaste is located about 7 mi. [11 km.] west-northwest of Nablus (ancient Shechem).

To view 20 more images of Samaria/Sebaste, including walls, gates, towers, theater, stadium, basilica and church, Click Here.

16 HD 3-4 Minute Drone Videos of Israel

To date (29 April, 2015) Amir Aloni has posted 16 3-4 minute HD videos of Israel on Vimeo.  These were taken using a drone!  (If you want to see one of the drones in action click here and view at 0:05).  These are amazing!  His 16 titles include:

  1. Qumran Caves
  2. Spring 2015 in the Jordan Valley
  3. Herodion National Park
  4. The Green Desert
  5. A Greek Orthodox Epiphany Ceremony at the Jordan River
  6. Migdal Tseded-Rosh Haayin
  7. 669 Rescue Unit of the Israeli Air force
  8. Shokeda Forest 2015
  9. Eritreans Celebrate Epiphany
  10. Tomb of Samuel the Prophet
  11. Israel Dead Sea Rivers Flood
  12. Southern Negev and Arava
  13. The Dead Sea
  14. Tom-mismeret
  15. Dead Sea & Judean Desert
  16. Megilot Rescue Unit in Judean Desert

Israel’s 67th Birthday — Daily Life In Israel!

As many of you know, I am focused on the relationship of the relationship of geography, archaeology, and culture to the biblical text.

Many think of Israel as totally under siege and filled with terror incidents and wars BUT you are invited to take 5 minutes to flip through 67 spectacular images of the reality of Life in Israel presented by (See upper left of the images for a description of what you are looking at).  A few samples below.

The Best Rolling Stone Tomb in Israel — Khirbet Midras


View Looking East at the Entrance to the First Century A.D. Tomb

View looking east at the entrance to the tomb. The rolling stone was 6 ft. [1.8 m.] in diameter and 1.3 ft [0.4 m.] thick. It was placed between two walls, each built of hewn stone. When discovered, it still rolled in its trough!

The tomb itself was in use during the Roman Period — up until A.D. 135.

In my estimation, it was the best example of a rolling stone tomb in the country of Israel. It seems to illustrate well passages from the Gospels which speak of Jesus’ tomb as being closed by a rolling stone. See especially Matthew 27:57-66; 28:1-2; Mark 15:42–47; 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–2, 10–11; and John 20:1, 11–18.

MidrasMap3Horvat Midras (Hebrew) or Khirbet Durusiya (Arabic) is located 19 mi. [30 km.] southwest of Jerusalem in the Shephelah. The ancient remains are spread over hundreds of dunams in the area. The site dates to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.



View of the Courtyard of the “Rolling Stone Tomb” at Khirbet Midras—prior to its destruction

In 1976 part of the cemetery was excavated. Several tombs were uncovered, including, in my estimation, THE BEST ROLLING STONE TOMB in the country. Unfortunately in the late 1990’s the tomb site was totally destroyed by vandals!#%$@!!

BUT it has been reconstructed and is now visible in the Adullam Park!

To view 3 additional image of the tomb Click Here.

For images of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher see: Calvary and Tomb.

Click to see images of Gordon’s Calvary and the Garden Tomb.

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.


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)


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.

Jonathan and His Armor Bearer — 1 Samuel 14

One of the famous stories surrounding the life of Saul is that of how Saul’s son Jonathan, along with his armor bearer attacked the Philistine garrison at Michmash (1 Samuel 14:1–16)—about 7.5 mi. north northeast of Jerusalem.

In the story it is recounted how from a ridge on the south they descended into a wadi (today the Suweinit) and ascended the slope north of the wadi to attack Michmash.

1Sam. 14:4     On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez, and the other Seneh.  5 One cliff stood to the north toward Michmash, the other to the south toward Geba. (1 Samuel 14:4–5)

Carl Rasmussen Copyright and Contact


View looking east down the Wadi Suweinit in the vicinity of Michmash (modern Mukmas). Note the rugged cliffs on the north (left) and south (right). — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

It is probable that the cliff on the north is “Bozez” and that on the south (right) is “Seneh.”  But this is an area that they probably avoided due to the steepness of the cliffs.  They probably looked for a more gradual slope as they made their way down into (from upper right) and up out of the Wadi bed (upper left).


View looking north from the ridge on the south side of the Wadi Suweinit towards the Palestinian city of Mukmas—biblical “Michmash.”  This is probably in the vicinity of “the pass” mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:4. — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

View looking north from the ridge on the south side of the Wadi Suweinit—from where Jonathan and his armor bearer began their two man attack—towards the Palestinian city of Mukmas—biblical “Michmash.”  Michmash/Mukmas is situated on the hill in the distance.  The bottom of the Wadi Suweinit is (out of view) just beyond the fence and grass in the foreground.

The slope down into and out of the wadi is steep but passable—and this area avoids the cliffs to the north and south of this “pass”—see the image of the Wadi Suweinit above.

Caesarea — No Longer Visible Rooms and Passages


Part of the Labyrinth under the Peristyle Courtyard. Note the stone arch as well as fresco on the walls. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

In a visit to Caesarea Maritima almost all groups will visit the “Promontory Palace” that was evidently constructed by Herod the Great and used by his successors and Roman governors.  A portion of the Palace was built on a promontory that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea and features a rectangular pool that was surrounded by a portico.


View looking northwest at the “Peristyle Courtyard. The rectangular courtyard is outlined by the columns. In the center the green shrubs cover the underground labyrinth. The “Promontory Palace” is not visible but is off the left side of the image.

To the east of the Promontory Palace is a connected Peristyle Courtyard (photo above) in which a copy of the famous “Pilate Inscription” is currently displayed.  To the north of the courtyard are administrative offices and an “audience hall.”   The “audience hall” may indeed have been the place where the Apostle Paul appeared before the governors Felix and Festus and King Herod Agrippa II ca. A.D. 58 (Acts 23–26).

What few people realize is that under the “garden” of the Peristyle Courtyard there is a labyrinth of passage ways and arches.  Below are two additional images of this substructure.  One wonders what these substructures were used for.  Storage?  Servants quarters?  Housing of prisoners?