BiblePlaces Newsletter
Vol 3, #5 - October 13, 2004


Still in the making is Part 2 of "Electronic Maps for Bible Teaching." Completion of that review has been slowed by final work on the new "Historic Views of the Holy Land" CD series due out in November.  In this issue, I've decided to give you a peek at some of the "new" stuff. 

The Historic Views of the Holy Land series is a companion collection to the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.  The latter series shows the biblical sites as they are today.  Unfortunately, that is not always very similar to the way things were in antiquity.  The changes in the last 100 years have been major.  For this reason, drawings, maps, photographs from long ago can be quite helpful in more accurately illustrating biblical times and life.

One of the CDs in the new series is a collection of photographs from biblical sites in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and Greece from the 1890s. These images capture scenes that do not exist today.  This newsletter includes some of those photographs, together with the authors' explanations of the scene.  I think you'll find the captions interesting, but many of the photos can be used to illustrate more than what the caption describes.  Next month, the complete collection of 400 high-resolution photographs and their captions will be available for purchase, together with some other gems I've been working on for the last couple of years.

Todd Bolen
Assoc. Professor, The Master's College
Israel Bible Extension (IBEX), Judean Hills, Israel



There have been a number of interesting news stories related to biblical sites and artifacts in the last month.  These include:

The Silver Amulets: A New Report - The NY Times reports on a new study of the earliest Scripture verses ever found.

The Temple Mount: Another Warning of Collapse - Ramadan begins in a few days and Israeli officials that recent construction could cause  the area of "Solomon's Stables" to collapse when hundreds of thousands of Muslims come to pray.

The James Ossuary - more thoughts on its authenticity by Hershel Shanks and Ada Yardeni

A bit more dated are the stories about the dump on the Temple Mount and the discovery of the Cave of John the Baptist.  But if you haven't already, you might be interested in some photos of the dump and a few of my thoughts on the cave.

What are the best sites for the latest news on the biblical world?  The Bible and Interpretation and are my two favorite. 




Free High-Resolution Photos

The following photographs and captions are from a book published in 1894 entitled, "Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee."  I chose the following photographs as representative of various places in the life of Christ.  Though black and white, I think you'll agree that some of these photographs are more powerful in communicating than color photos available today.  The captions are from the original work, but have been abbreviated here.  Each photograph is linked to a higher-resolution version and may be used freely for personal and educational purposes.


Click picture for higher-resolution version.

Family Traveling in Galilee

As we made our way through Galilee, we met on the road a family as you see in the picture. A box is strapped on each side of the mule; a woman holding an umbrella is in one box and two bright-faced little children are in the other. The husband rides sidewise upon a donkey, holding to the mule by a line made up of chain and rope. This family probably belongs to the higher classes among the peasantry of the country. It was in the days of Christ that families journeyed in this way from one end of the land to the other.


Camels Feeding at Nazareth

The Bedouins live by cattle breeding, and possess immense herds of sheep and camels. The little town of Nazareth is often harrassed by the quarrels of the Arab chiefs and the predatory attacks of the Bedouins. Their herds feed upon the grassy slopes, the camels seeking the sunshine, or loaded with tents and the multifarious furniture of the camp, go roaming abroad "for fresh fields and pastures green." To the stranger the slow-paced camel with his soft-cushioned feet, his noiseless solemn tread, imperturbable patience imprinted upon his dun colored face, seems a picturesque and amiable animal, but to one who knows him well he is cross, discontented and often treacherous.

Click picture for higher-resolution version.


Click picture for higher-resolution version.

View of Jerusalem

A high battlemented wall, in some places nearly eighty feet high, encompasses the city. The red rays of the setting sun shed a halo round the Castle of David, and tips with gold each "tapering minaret" and gilds each dome of mosque and church. The Mosque of Omar, the most splendid mosque in the world, encrusted with encaustic tiles of gorgeous colors, and surmounted by its graceful dome, the dazzling whiteness of its pavements and fountains, and, most of all, its sacred associations, make it one of the most interesting and charming spots on earth. The architectural features of the scene are wholly changed since the boy from Nazareth looked on Jerusalem. But the hills, the valleys and the sky are the same. Here He walked and wondered, the simple lad from Galilee.


Jewish Wailing Place

The pinnacles have fallen, the temple has been destroyed; almost every mark of the old Jewish occupancy of this sacred site has been removed, but against the southwestern wall of the temple area a paved spice is given to the Jews, where they may pray and read from their prophets and wail out their woe under the very shadow of the area on which once stood the pride of this nation, the temple of God.  On Friday afternoon, March 13, 1863, the writer visited this sacred spot.  Here he found between one and two hundred Jews of both sexes and of all ages, standing or sitting, and bowing as they read, chanted and recited, moving themselves backward and forward, the tears rolling down many a face; they kissed the walls and wrote sentences in Hebrew upon them.

Click picture for higher-resolution version.


Click picture for higher-resolution version.

Stables of Solomon

The view which we present represents the vaults under the temple area. They are called Solomon's stables. Just why, nobody knows. A traveler mentions them as capable of holding two thousand horses. It is probable that they were used in the time of the Crusaders as stables. The floor of this vault is a little over thirty-eight feet below the level of the pavement above. The semicircular arches are eleven feet five inches in span and five feet nine inches in height. The aisles open from the south to the north. While these vaults are not supposed to date earlier than the Byzantine period, the stones of which they are constructed evidently belonged to buildings of an earlier period-- as far back as Herod, and perhaps Solomon.


Crossing the Jordan

In passing from Peraea on the east of the Jordan to Jerusalem Jesus crossed the Jordan. We do not know what his route was, but he probably went as far south as to a point opposite Jericho, because from the ford over against Jericho there is a road to Bethany and Jerusalem. There are but two old bridges spanning the Jordan. Dangerous as the river is, it offers an extraordinary number of fords. To cross a ford of the Jordan is a common occurrence still. Dr. Thomson says: "Just there it is broad and not more than four feet deep, so that the villagers were continually fording it; men, women, children, returning home from their fields to the east of the Jordan; a rural scene curious as rare. Sheep, goats and even donkeys had to swim, and it required the constant care of the shepherds to prevent their being carried down the stream together. Cattle and horses came boldly across and so did the men, but the women and children needed the help of the men, who brought them safe to shore."

Click picture for higher-resolution version.


Click picture for higher-resolution version.

Plowing in Plains of Jezreel

Passing through the vast Plain of Esdraelon, which extends across Central Palestine from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, Joseph and Mary would see the great battle field of Syria. In this plain Deborah and Barak conquered the army of Jabin under Sisera. Here also, on the southern edge of the plain near Megiddo, Josiah, King of Judah, was defeated and slain by Pharaoh Necho, King of Egypt, on his way to the Euphrates. In the picture we look westward, facing Carmel and the Mediterranean. We were here on the 4th of May, in 1894. Our dragoman asked the people, whom in the picture we see plowing, if they would stop long enough for us to take a photograph. For the usual "Baksheesh " they granted his request.


Ruins of Capernaum

As the Dead Sea is girdled by an almost constant hedge of driftwood, so the Sea of Galilee is girdled by a scarcely less continuous belt of ruins--the drift of her ancient towns.  In the time of our Lord she must have mirrored within the outline of her guardian hills little else than city walls, castles and synagogues.  Here in this centre of life and influence Jesus laid the foundations of his spiritual kingdom, based upon love-- upon love to himself as the manifestation of God.  "Lovest thou me?"  And when Peter confessed his love Jesus commissioned him to "feed" his "lambs," to "tend" and to "feed" his "sheep."  What a lovely frame for this divine picture is the Sea of Galilee with its placid waters, with the Gadarene hills beyond, and the blue sky overhead!

Click picture for higher-resolution version.



Click picture for higher-resolution version.

Grotto of Jeremiah

Since the visit of the Empress Helena to Jerusalem in the fourth century the tomb of Christ has been claimed by many to be in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  Others insist that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was inside the walls of Jerusalem at the crucifixion, but that Christ was crucified outside of the wall-- many believing the tragedy to have taken place west of the hill known as Jeremiah's Grotto.  The site is strikingly appropriate.  From the walls of the city and from the temple area the terrible scene on Calvary could have been witnessed.  In the sight of the great city and the hills about He was "lifted up"-- the Lamb of God slain for the salvation of the race.  There is no doubt but that a growing number of people accept the Grotto of Jeremiah as the place of our Lord's burial.





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