Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Video: An Introduction to Biblical Jerusalem

Greetings!

I am pleased to announce that Zondervan has released a 13 lesson video Encountering the Holy Land: A Video Introduction to the History and Geography of the Bible.

We filmed this series on-site in the Holy Land, and Zondervan has richly enhanced the series with video footage from Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Italy!

You are invited to view our Introduction to Biblical Jerusalem (6 min 34 sec).

It is an on-location visual overview of the lands of the Bible designed for students, Bible study groups, adult learners, travelers to the lands of the Bible, pastors, teachers, and all lovers of the Bible.  I hope that viewers will develop a deeper appreciation for the Bible by understanding the lands and cultures in which it was written.

The first lesson introduces the “playing board” of biblical history, followed by lessons arranged historically that begin with Eden and trace the historical progression of the Old and New Testaments. The video study provides an engaging, accurate, and faithful companion to God’s Word–illuminating the text with footage filmed in the Holy Land and Egypt. This set of lessons provides an in-depth visual overview that will help viewers experience the geography and history of Scripture with unprecedented immediacy and clarity.

Throughout Encountering the Holy Land, I lead viewers through the Holy Lands to illuminate the geographical and historical context of biblical events. I hope it will become your favorite guide to biblical geography and the history of the Bible.

It is available in multiple formats including DVDs and Streaming.

Todd Bolen has published a Review of the Video that can be viewed Here.

Session Titles and Runtimes:

1 – Introduction to the Middle East (18 min)

2 – Pre-Patriarchal Period, Patriarchs, and the Egyptian Sojourn (16 min)

3 – Exodus and Conquest (22 min)

4 – Settlement in the Land of Canaan (22 min)

5 – Transition to the Monarchy: Samuel and Saul (19 min)

6 – The United Monarchy: David and Solomon (20 min)

7 – The Divided Kingdom and Judah Alone (15 min)

8 – Exile and Return (16 min)

9 – The Arrival of the Greeks, Maccabean Revolt and Hasmonean Dynasty, and Early Roman Rule in Palestine (16 min)

10 – The Life of Christ (24 min)

11 – The Expansion of the Church in Palestine and the Journeys of Paul (25 min)

12 – The Seven Churches of Revelation (13 min)

13 – Jerusalem and the Disciplines of Historical Geography (18 min)

 

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Jason’s Tomb (2nd Temple Period)

Jason’s tomb is a beautiful funeral monument from the late Hellenistic – early Roman period. It was the tomb of a high priestly family that was forced out of Jerusalem in 172 B.C. (2 Maccabees 5:5-10) by their rival, Menelaus. It was constructed in the second century B.C. and was in use until A.D. 30 (about the time of the crucifixion of Jesus).  This tomb was discovered in 1956 and is located in west Jerusalem—in Rehavia. It consists of several courtyards and a “pyramid-shaped” roof.

Entrance to Jason’s Tomb

View looking north into the tomb complex.  On this side of the arch is the first of the two courtyards. Beyond the arch is the second court. Note the (reconstructed) pyramid shaped roof.

Entrance to Inner Court

View looking onto the inner porch of Jason’s Tomb.  Clearly visible is the single Doric (a simple Greek architectural style) column built of stone drums. Beyond the column is the inner porch.  Note the pyramid shaped roof. The reconstruction is based upon fragments found in the excavations.

Jason’s Tomb Interior

View of the northwest corner of the inner (third) courtyard of Jason’s Tomb. The entrance on the left is to the area of 8 shaft graves. On the right of center is the entrance to the chamber in which secondary burials were made.  Note the two blocking stones that were used to close these chambers.

For additional information and images of Jason’s Tomb Click Here.

The Tomb of the High Priest Annas? Part 1 of 2 — The Exterior

Annas was a very influential High Priest (AD 6–15) whose sons, and later son-in-law, Caiaphas, succeeded him in that office.  Annas is mentioned in the New Testament in Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 24;  and Acts 4:6.

One of the most richly decorated tombs from the Second Temple Period is located on the southern slope of the junction of the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys.

Junction of the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys with the Tomb of Annas

This is the area that some have called “Akeldama” or the “field of blood” that is associated with events surrounding the death of Judas.  In 1994 Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer published an article suggesting that this special tomb may have been that of one of the High Priests mentioned in the New Testament and elsewhere.

Exterior of the “Tomb of Annas”
Badly defaced by later quarrying

Entrance to the “Tomb of Annas”

The above images show a view looking south at the exterior of the tomb.  On the right (west) side of the image notice the two semi-circular niches (for mourners/visitors?).  The entrance to the tomb has been heavily quarried/destroyed.  Notice the decorative partial shell conch over the now-almost-destroyed entrance to the tomb.

Detail of west side of tomb with an engaged column (pilaster) and the mourner niches.
When this photo was taken the tomb and forecourt were being used as a cattle pen!

West side of the tomb

In the image above, remnants of an engaged column (pilaster) are visible as are two apses—possibly used by mourners and/or visitors.

Standing in front of this tomb, looking north, one has a clear view of the Temple Mount—were Annas and his descendents had served.

For a detailed description of this, and other tombs in the area, as well as the logic that this is the tomb of Annas please seen the article by Leen and Kathleen  Ritmeyer, “Akeldama: Potter’s Field or High Priest’s Tomb?” Biblical Archaeology Review 20 (1994): 23-35, 76, 78.

In the next post — images of the magnificent interior of this tomb!

Palm Sunday and “Holy Week”

On Sunday, 14 April, Christians will be remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

For those of you who might be looking for High Resolution images related to the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the Last Supper in the “Upper Room,” and the events clustered around the final week in his earthly life I will be posting some useful links in the days ahead.

To view 10 images (with commentary) of a modern procession commemorating this event Click Here.

Use the following links to find High Resolution images related to Gethsemane, the Upper Room, a Rolling Stone Tomb, Gordon’s Calvary, the Garden Tomb, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

A Potter’s Village — A “Potter’s Field?” — Matthew 27 — An Aramaic Inscription from Jerusalem

Recently it was announced that a Potter’s Inscription was found in secondary usage (= spolia) near the International Convention Center in West Jerusalem.  Is it possible that the “Potters’ Field,” mentioned in Matthew 27, was located near here (see end of post)?

The Aramaic inscription reads “Hanania son of Dudolos from Jerusalem.” Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download.

The Aramaic inscription reads “Hanania son of Dudolos from Jerusalem.” It is the first epigraphic evidence to the name “Jerusalem” spelled as Yerushalayim (as it is written Hebrew today), as opposed to Yerushalem or Shalem.

The full “column” that bears the Aramaic Inscription—it is about 2 feet tall.

The column was originally part of a building that stood in a Jewish potters’ village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. “The site was eventually converted by the Tenth Roman Legion into a workshop for ceramic building products [aka “roof tiles”]. The column drum probably came from a workshop or some other structure belonging to Hanania or a public building that he helped finance. Hanania’s father’s name — Dudolos — is based on the name of the mythological Greek artist Daedalos; it may have been a nickname alluding to the father’s artistic abilities. it is interesting to note that although the village was very close to the city, Hanania still found it meaningful to mention his Jerusalem origins.” Source: Israel Museum Label


In a recent edition of Artifax (Autumn 2018, p. 2) the editor notes that it is interesting that the 30 pieces of silvers that Judas returned to the Temple was used to purchase a “Potter’s Field.”  This “potter’s village” is only a few miles west of the site of the Second Temple.

7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

“Perhaps the field that was purchased was located in the vicinity of the potter’s village where this stone inscription was found.” (Artifax p. 2)


“‘Jerusalem’ Inscribed on Column Dating to 100 BC.”  Artifax (Autumn 2018; vol. 33, no. 4), p. 2.  http://www.BibleArtifax.com

The “Fast Train” from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — An Epic Journey ;-) !

Greetings!  I am in between projects here in Israel and Mary and I are spending a week relaxing in Tel Aviv.  I love railroads and today we decided to take the new “fast train” to Jerusalem.  Spoiler alert: this is not a high–speed “bullet train.”

The “fast train” in the Navon Station in Jerusalem. DEEP underground!

The journey is divided into two parts.  The first part is the normal train ride from Tel Aviv (HaShalom Station) to Ben Gurion Airport (15 min. ride).  At Ben Gurion we changed to the “fast train” to Jerusalem.  A lot of travelers with luggage boarded the train with us—it was about 1/2 full.  The cars are very clean and the journey took 25 minutes.  We arrived at the brand new Yitzak Navon deep–underground station.  Most travelers took the elevators to the surface.  But we just got on the return train back to Tel Aviv.  The train from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion was e-m-p-t-y.

My Impressions:  The train is not as “fast” as I thought it would be.  But it is non–stop between Ben Gurion and Jerusalem.  I was expecting some great vistas because for many years we have seen the tressels over the Aijalon Valley (Joshua and sun standing still) and over the deep Soreq Valley system near Jerusalem.  Unfortunately, all the windows were dirty or “cloudy” and so the pictures did not turn out too well.  In addition, at least 1/2 of the journey is in tunnels—so no views at all.  Actually, it was basically ALL long tunnels from the Aijalon Valley up to the Soreq Valley, just outside of Jerusalem—and then we had a 30 second view of the Soreq before entering the last tunnel into Jerusalem.  It was interesting, that as we were ascending to Jerusalem in one of the tunnels we, and the travelers around us, began to feel discomfort in our ears—it soon faded.

The following are some photos I took.  My photo processor is not working on this trip, so the photos are direct from the camera to you—sorry about that.

From a tressel looking east towards Jerusalem. The Soreq Valley is on the far right of the picture.

One of the very few random Hill Country Valleys that are visible on the train ride.

My conclusions:  I was fun to do this!  1) If you are traveling with a group, the bus pickup at Ben Gurion is the way to go.  2) If you are alone, if you take the train, then you will need to take a Taxi from the Navon Station in Jerusalem to your hotel.  3) If you have friends from Jerusalem that are picking you up, you can save them a lot of time by not going to Ben Gurion to pick you up.  Just have them pick you up at the Navon Station in Jerusalem.  The reverse will work slick as well.  BTW — I don’t think the train operates all night, you will have to check.

Also, 4) if you are traveling to Tel Aviv or points north, I think the “regular train,” that seems to operate every half hour, will take you to, for example, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa, and Nahariya—this would be slick!

So there you go!  I hope the comments are helpful.  We enjoyed the journey and are very glad we had the chance to do it.

Next project: the train from Haifa to Beth Shean.  Hmm . . . we’ll see!

PS — the whole round trip cost for each of us was 13.50 NIS, about = $3.80.  I am not sure if we missed paying for extra tickets somwhere along the way, but hey . . . .

A Jerusalem Synagogue Building from Jesus’ Time?

In 1913 Raymond Weill excavated in the “City of David” and found a large limestone block—ca. 30 in. x 16 in.—that contained a clear 10 line Greek inscription.

TheodotosInscription

“Theodotus Synagogue Inscription” found in Jerusalem. Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download.

The inscription reads:

“Theodotos, son of Vettenos, priest and head of the synagogue, son of the head of the synagogue, who was also the son of the head of the synagogue, built the synagogue for the reading of the Law and for the study of the precepts, as well as the hospice [inn or temporary residence] and the chambers and the bathing–establishment, for lodging those who need them, from abroad; it (the synagogue) was founded by his ancestors and the elders and the Simonides.” (Translation from a sign in Israel Museum where the object is on display)

Most scholars date the inscription to prior to AD 70—that is before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.  If this dating is correct, then this inscription provides clear contemporary evidence of at least one synagogue building in Jerusalem even while the Temple was still standing!

The term “synagogue” is used 43 times in the Gospels in association with the ministry of Jesus.  In one instance, Luke 7:1–8, there is a clear reference to a building—not merely a “gathering.”  But archaeologically, not many first century AD synagogue buildings have been found—thus the importance of a synagogue building being mentioned in this first century inscription.

According to this inscription it is also clear that the Torah was read and the “precepts” were studied (= teaching of the commandments) in the synagogue.

Note, that there is no mention of prayers and/or singing!  Note too that neither praying nor singing are mentioned in Jesus’ experience in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16–30), nor in Paul’s experience in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch, ca. AD 37 (Acts 13:14ff).

In addition there was an “inn” with auxiliary rooms and installations near the Jerusalem synagogue.  This was for the use of Jewish pilgrims from “abroad”—note the 15 different people groups that were in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:7–12).


For an accessible discussion of this inscription see:   Fant, Clyde E., and Mitchell G. Reddish, “Theodotus Synagogue Inscription,” pp. 358–60.   Lost Treasures of the Bible — Understanding the Bible Through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.  They also have provided a translation of the inscription on page 358.

For a detailed discussion of this inscription see:  Kloppenborg, John S.     “The Theodotos Synagogue Inscription and the Problem of First –Century Synagogue Buildings.” Pages 236–82 in Jesus and Archaeology. Edited by James H. Charlesworth. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006.