Vol 5, #2 - May 15, 2006
This newsletter has been on somewhat of an unexpected hiatus during
the spring. I cannot deny that I resisted the urge to write a
newsletter, but failed to resist the urge to travel and photograph.
If forced to choose, I'd rather see the sites, especially in the
springtime. The results are good, including the featured
photographs in today's newsletter, all of which were taken a few days
For more frequent updates, check out the
BiblePlaces Blog. The
intent there is to be more than a news reel, but to add a touch of humor
(occasionally) and a touch of color (always).
The new website Life in
the Holy Land is getting better all
the time, with dozens of new pages added in the last couple of weeks.
See below for a continuation of the free CD offer.
This month's featured photographs may open your eyes to just how much
there is to see in Israel. On a typical tour,
Jericho will be one
of many stops of the day (if they even stop at all!). There is so
much more, and we have some suggestions to keep you exploring the city
all day long.
Assoc. Professor, The Master's College
Bible Extension (IBEX), Judean
News from Israel
Go Under to Tour Herod's Harbor
A new underwater archaeological park is now open at
Caesarea. Visitors can tour one of three routes with diving
equipment or a fourth with snorkeling gear. The supplied
waterproof maps locate 36 stops for the divers to view. On display
are remains of Herod's engineering genius, including statue pedestals
and the foundations of a lighthouse, promenade, and breakwater. In
addition, a Roman shipwreck and anchors are visible. For more
information, see the
Times Online, the
Middle East Times, or
Will Masada Fall Again?
The Iranian president recently
that Israel "will
vanish," and now Israeli engineers are suggesting that the nation's
monument of Jewish resistance may not be able to withstand the effects
of earthquakes and erosion. Scientists from the Ben Gurion
University of the Negev and the University of California at Berkeley are
beginning a four-year study to measure the effects of seismic tremors,
temperature, humidity, and tidal pull on the mountain. Meanwhile,
restoration of the northern palace continues, with plans to put the
original wall paintings in a special display offsite. A full
report is in the
From the BiblePlaces Blog...
A quiz - what do you know about
Did Jesus have cold feet?
Including a great photo of "Jesus"
walking on the water....
Flash floods in the Judean wilderness with spectacular photos by
An update on the Israel Museum and its
new Jerusalem model...
My attempt at an
April Fool's joke...
Some of my
Special Offer: Free CD
I'm still looking for links to the new website,
Life in the Holy Land. "No links" means "no visitors" which means
our work has been in vain. Since the last newsletter, we've added dozens
of new pages, including
Jordan River, Jaffa,
the Karnak Temple,
Cornelius, and the
Ceremony. If you have a website (or blog) and add a link to
Life in the Holy Land, we'll
send you a free CD. Or ask your friend, school, or church to add a link
to their site. If you do, send
me 1) the website where the link has been added; 2) your choice of CD; 3)
your mailing address. And if you don't add a link, take a look around
the site anyway - there's some great stuff to explore!
Featured BiblePlaces Photos:
A Day in Jericho
Those tourists lucky enough to visit Jericho at all usually stop only
at the tell with
ruins from the Old Testament period. Those willing to brave the heat
might even climb up the tell and view the Neolithic tower, evidence that
Jericho is "the world's oldest city." And then, perhaps they'll read the
story of Joshua's conquest of the city before jumping on the bus and
heading off. But there is more. Much more.
Jericho is similar to Jerusalem in that people have always been
attracted to it. The warm climate and the abundant springs have made it
a place of nearly continuous inhabitation from 8,000 B.C. until today.
Canaanites, Israelites, Jewish people in the time of Jesus, the Umayyad
rulers, Crusaders, and the Arabs of today not only called it home but
left behind marvelous remains. Perhaps in the future, you'll have more
than the typical hour to visit Jericho and you'll be able to see just
how large and impressive the city was. Until then, here is a glimpse…
Each photo is linked to a higher-resolution
version which may be used freely for personal and educational purposes.
Commercial use requires separate permission. These photos, plus a
bonus, are also
available for download in a
(2.1 MB). For more
high-quality, high-resolution photographs and illustrations of biblical
sites, purchase the
Pictorial Library of
Bible Lands or the
Historic Views of
the Holy Land series.
Click picture for higher-resolution version.
Like most other ancient cities in the Levant, Jericho
was built and destroyed numerous times on the same site, creating a
large earthen mound. One of the earliest explorers, Charles Warren,
did not understand the nature of tells and concluded that this tell
was the ruin of an ancient castle. One of his excavation shafts in
1868 missed revealing the Neolithic tower by just 3 feet (1 m).
Since his time, the tell has been studied by numerous
archaeologists, resulting in various controversies over their
for higher-resolution version.
Though Jericho was cursed by Joshua and
its reoccupation forbidden, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt the city in the days
of Ahab (1 Kings 16:34). Following the exile in Babylon, returning Jews
settled here and established a center of Jewish life that apparently
endured for more than a thousand years. The Hasmonean kings erected
palaces here in the 1st century B.C., and Herod the Great expanded the
royal compound significantly. In addition to his multiple palaces,
sunken garden, swimming pools, and bathhouse, Herod built a large
hippodrome. Josephus tells of Herod gathering the leading men of his
kingdom at the hippodrome, to be slaughtered upon his death to ensure
that there would be mourning throughout the land. This racecourse is
unique in the ancient world because it was joined to a theater at one
|Monastery of Temptation
for higher-resolution version.
|Jesus passed through the city of Jericho
on numerous occasions as he traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem. Jewish
inhabitants of the city included Bartimaeus and Zaccheus, and Jesus'
recorded healings here were not only physical but also spiritual.
Tradition has associated Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River with a place
near Jericho, and with that has grown up the tradition that Jesus'
temptation occurred in this area. But Scripture does not give a location
more specific than "the wilderness," and it's hardly likely that Jesus
would have been so near a population center like Jericho in his time of
Second Temple Period Cemetery
for higher-resolution version.
You might deduce from the Zaccheus story (Luke 19) that the
city of Jericho had some wealthy inhabitants in the 1st century A.D.
Archaeologists have studied the cemetery from that time and found
impressive remains. They surveyed and excavated more than 100 tombs, with
remains of wooden sarcophagi and stone ossuaries. There were inscriptions
in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and one family apparently was nicknamed
"Goliath." In the above tomb, I counted at least 19 burial shafts (loculi,
or kokhim) in a single chamber.
The Ancient Synagogue
Click picture for
About a year ago, it was
that the ancient synagogue in Jericho had been destroyed by Arab vandals.
In my recent visit, there was no evidence of harm to the ancient remains,
and the synagogue appeared to be well-protected by the Palestinian
authorities. The beautiful mosaic floor includes an Aramaic dedicatory
inscription, a depiction of the Ark of the Law, a seven-branched menorah, a
lulav, and a shofar. In addition, the centerpiece (shown above) has a
Hebrew inscription, shalom al yisrael, "peace upon Israel." This
synagogue was in use from the 6th to the 8th centuries A.D.
Click picture for
Ironically, the period of Jerusalem's (and Jericho's)
greatness under Muslim rule was during a time when the rulers of the Holy
Land did not control the sites of Mecca and Medina. Instead, therefore,
much attention and investment was given by the Umayyad Dynasty to Jerusalem
and Jericho. They constructed the Dome of the Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque,
and numerous palaces. During the reign of el-Hisham (724-743), either he or
his successor el-Walid built an elaborate palace about one mile northeast
of the tell of Jericho. Known popularly as "Hisham's Palace," the complex
includes a bath, a mosque, and a residence. The bathhouse is paved with
beautiful mosaics, the most stunning of which is in the reception hall (diwan).
The complex was apparently never completed because of the assassination of
el-Walid in 744; a few years later, the site was destroyed by a massive
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All contents (c) 2006 Todd Bolen. Text and
photographs may be used for personal and educational use.
Commercial use requires written permission.