6-Chambered Gate at Gezer

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One of the markers of the 10th century in Israel is the presence of 6-chambered gates and their attached casemate walls.  They can be found primarily at three important sites: Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer.  These at Gezer are a beautiful example, with the city’s main drainage channel—which would have run under the street—exposed.

Naftali Mountain Range in Galilee and the Huleh Basin

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This photo was taken in the Naftali Mountain Range where it looks out toward the Huleh Basin.  While the region’s forests are still recovering from the devastating fires of the 2006 Lebanon War, one can imagine the difficulty of crossing these heavily forested hills with a caravan or army.  This makes passes, such as the Huleh Valley invaluable to both travels and empires alike.

Shepherd and his Sheep

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The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23

Yossi Garfinkel Podcast

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Last fall, Florida College (with the help of Luke Chandler) arranged for archaeologist Yossi Garfinkel to speak in their Life Enrichment Series. The audio podcast of this event has recently been released on Florida College’s Special Events podcast. Mr. Garfinkel discusses the recently concluded dig at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site overlooking the Elah Valley in the Shephelah. His wisdom and wit come through as he discusses their findings and how it relates to the United Kingdom during the time of King David.

While you can not see the slides that he is presenting, a listener should not have any problem following the discussion. This is especially true if you have a fundamental understanding of the location of Khirbet Qeiyafa as well as basic archaeology. I encourage you to listen to this wonderful presentation.

Mesha Stela Replica

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The Mesha Stela, also called the Moabite Stone, was recovered from Dibon, Jordan, the ancient capital of the Moabite state, and was written in Phoenician script the 9th century BC. Mesha of Moab boasts of his victory against the son of Omri, as well as for having drug captured vessels of Yahweh before Chemosh. There is also a possibility that it mentions the defeat of the House of David, but this is debated.

Podcast #6 – The Hill of Moreh

If you could sit in one place and watch the events of Biblical history go by, where would you sit? An obvious choice would be on the top of the Mount of Olives. But, there is another place that I would choose. I would choose to sit on top of the Hill of Moreh. Why? Well, that is what we will be discussing on today’s program.

NOTE: If you are reading this from an email, you will need to go to the Podcast page on the Exploring Bible Lands website to listen to the podcast.

Walking the Via Dolorosa

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Last June, when our tour group was in Israel, we spent an entire day within the Old City. We started the day with a visit to the Temple Mount. Upon exiting the Temple Mount near the Lions Gate, we visited the ancient Pool of Bethesda.

Before leaving the area of the pool, I gathered our group together and explained to them that we were about to walk the Via Dolorosa. But, before we did that I wanted them to understand three things:

1) The Via Dolorosa makes the assumption that the Praetorium (John 18:28) was located in the Antonia Fortress, just outside the Temple Mount on the northwest corner. It also makes the assumption that Golgotha was located in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulture.
2) Even if those two assumptions are true, keep in mind that the original, first century Roman roads were located several feet under the current roads.
3) My current belief is that Golgotha was probably located in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulture. However, I was not as convinced in the location of the Praetorium being at the Antonia Fortress.

After giving them this information, I encouraged them to enjoy the walk through the Old City, consider the things that they are seeing and to study the matter for themselves.

This week, PBS released a short video about the Via Dolorosa. Recent archaeological findings are casting additional doubt on the current path that it follows. I encourage you to watch it. I tend to agree with the path that it proposes.

There is one other thing that I told my tour group last June. I told them that, in reality, our ability to walk the exact path that Jesus walked isn’t really that important. What is really important was that Jesus walked it for all of us.

New Geography Book

book32-1024x804As I have mentioned a number of times in this blog, I love good maps. Along with that, I love good drawings and illustrations that aid others in learning about the Bible.

Therefore, I was thrilled when I received Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer’s latest book “Jerusalem – The Temple Mount” in the mail this past week. I learned about the book six months ago, when the publisher put a temporary hold on it. However, due to many factors including the response from avid fans who wanted the book published, the hold was recently lifted. I ordered it immediately and it arrived last week. (Full Disclosure: I was one of those avid fans!)

Readers of Leen Ritmeyer’s blog will recognize the amount of interest and knowledge that he has for the area of the Temple Mount. His posts and drawings of that area are fantastic. Visitors to that area now are often confused by what they see and by what they can no longer see. This book helps cut through all of the confusion and creates accurate representations of that famous hill throughout history.

The book contains three primary chapters entitled “A Brief History of the Temple Mount”, “A Walk Around the Temple Mount Walls” and “A Tour of the Temple Mount Platform”. Each chapter is well illustrated and are easy reads for even those that are not well-versed in the area. I would love to take this book with me the next time I am there and use it as a personal guide as I walk around. (NOTE: Using it on the Temple Mount platform could prove difficult. Outside of the Koran, very few, if any, books are allowed there.)

For those of you who are looking for a great, hand-held book on this area, I highly recommend adding this to your library. My cost was $31, which included shipping from Israel to the United States.

To Leen & Kathleen Ritmeyer: Well done. Thank you for taking the time to do this.