BiblePlaces Newsletter

Vol 19, #4 - August 18, 2020

Some years ago, when I was first asked to teach an adult Bible class at church, the book I started with was 1 Samuel. My reason was simple: I felt that I could communicate this exciting book in a way that would engage everyone and thereby give me a little bit of “job security.” The class went well, and we continued on to studies in Isaiah and Daniel, but as I look back I marvel at the fact that I taught the class without ever showing photos.

One factor was that our meeting room didn’t yet have a projector, but even if it had, it would have been quite difficult for me, in that stage of life (working on a doctorate), to have had the time to pull together all the photos, week after week. Unlike some Bible teachers, I actually had the photos, but the time involved to find the right photos and create an attractive presentation is not insignficant. I was spending what time I had studying the text and reading the commentaries.

Fast forward about a decade and I had the chance to teach through 1 Samuel again. This time, I had a team of friends working with me to create an extensive collection of images for every passage and story in the book. With that work already done, I could quickly grab, in a matter of 10 minutes or less, the 20-30 photos I wanted to share to help the group understand the setting and details of each chapter. I loved it, and they loved it.

Available now as DVD+download or download-only.
$49 today with free shipping.

Now our team has completed the writing of detailed notes and put on the finishing touches so that 1 Samuel is ready to share with you. We have endeavored to create a resource that is easy to use, attractive to the eye, and accurate in all of its details. Our launch price is only $49, and for that you will receive more than 3,000 slides that will help you understand and teach 1 Samuel unlike perhaps any other resource available. As you keep reading this month’s newsletter, you’ll get a sense for the special value of photos for 1 Samuel.

Todd Bolen
Photographer, BiblePlaces.com
Professor of Biblical Studies, The Master’s University

What Others Say...

“Today’s students need visual-based instruction like never before, and this remarkable set of photographs for 1 Samuel is just what we need. The notes embedded in the slides are up-to-date, and helpful in every respect. Students and teachers alike will love this Photo Companion like few other resources for Bible instruction.

—Bill T. Arnold, Paul S. Amos Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Asbury Theological Seminary, and author of 1-2 Samuel (NIV Application Commentary)

“The photos and slides provided in this volume were a stunning addition to our verse by verse teaching on 1 Samuel last year. [Ed. note: We provided him with the collection piecemeal as we created it.] The slides were organized by chapter, making them easy to insert them into weekly presentations. The quality of the photographs were stunning and really brought the audience into the biblical narrative and actual historic locations. This added not only color and cultural relevance to each presentation and message, but also reminded people that the Bible is rooted in archaeological and historic facts. I would highly recommend this resource.”

—Chad Hovind, Lead Pastor, Horizon Community Church, Cincinnati, Ohio

“I work as an attorney by day, but I teach the Bible verse-by-verse. After I graduated from seminary, God opened the door for me to lead a Bible study in City Hall for the past 8 years. We alternate Books of the Bible (Ge-Mt-Ex-Mk, etc.). We are now in Joshua; we’ll study Judges and Ruth; and then Romans. So, your recent volumes of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Romans were produced in perfect timing.

“I’ve been astounded at the quality of your PowerPoints. I’ve read your blog, so I know the hardships you’ve endured in personally capturing these marvelous photographs. But it’s not just the photographic quality. It’s also the detailed captions, which are rich in information. The bonus is the emphasis on archaeology. I also appreciate your attribution of all primary sources.

“I’ve traveled to the Holy Land and to Turkey and Egypt and Jordan. But pilgrims can’t take the quality of photographs that you have. We’re usually trapped with hundreds of other tourists at these sites, with very limited time. Also, pilgrims don’t visit the more out-of-the-way sites. You have. And we are so blessed that you’ve captured the essence of these places.

My Bible study members who are visually oriented have expressed gratitude time and again for your photographs. May God bless you, your family, your ministry and your team richly. BiblePlaces.com is a cherished resource and essential to teaching the Word.”

—Andrew K. Wong, Esq.

A Photo Every Day

Every weekday I choose an interesting photo from the biblical world and post it on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. In the last few weeks, I have shared photos of favorite hikes in Israel, highlights of Petra, and images related to Jesus’s feeding of the 5,000. Follow us to see our latest photos as well as some classics.

Featured BiblePlaces Photos:
1 Samuel

The featured photos this month focus on the book of 1 Samuel, an exciting account of the prophet Samuel, King Saul, and and the rising David. For more photos, download the 1 Samuel 4 PowerPoint (89 slides). These and more than 3,000 photos are included in the new 1 Samuel volume in the Photo Companion to the Bible.

1 Samuel 3: Samuel in the Tabernacle

The tabernacle was located in Shiloh during the time of the Judges, including the years when Samuel was growing up there. Samuel apparently slept within the tabernacle so that he could care for the lampstand (menorah). One night the Lord called to Samuel and gave him a message, beginning his ministry as a prophet. This photo shows the view from the outer entrance of the tabernacle toward the sacrificial altar and the holy place. This tabernacle model is located in Timna Park in southern Israel.

1 Samuel 4: The Ark Captured

After the Israelites lost in battle to the Philistines, they decided that they could force God to help them by bringing the ark of the covenant to the battle lines. This was certainly much easier than obeying the Lord’s commands so that the Lord would fight for his people (Deut 11:22-25). The Israelites were encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. This photo of Aphek shows its strategic location on the coastal plain; whoever controlled this funnel between the mountains and the Yarkon River controlled the coastal highway. Not surprisingly, the Israelites’ efforts to manipulate the Lord failed, and the Philistines captured the ark.

1 Samuel 10: Saul Anointed King

Unwilling to submit to the Lord’s rule, the Israelites demanded a human king. The Lord provided Saul, a tall man who was impressive in his outward appearance. At the Lord’s direction, the prophet Samuel anointed Saul as king by taking a flask of oil and pouring it on his head. He likely used a juglet similar to the one pictured here, which dates to this same time period. The juglet is made of black clay and has been hand burnished, a technique where the clay was allowed to dry until it was leathery, then rubbed with a smooth stick or pebble. The handle on this juglet is meant to be pinched between two fingers; it is too small for the insertion of a finger (other than by a child). The bowl under the juglet gives an idea of the relative size of the juglet. This flask was photographed at the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East.

1 Samuel 17: David’s Battle with Goliath

The famous story of David and Goliath took place in the Elah Valley, shown in this photo which was taken at Socoh looking toward Azekah. In this valley, the Philistine giant taunted the Israelites and their God day after day. The Israelites were encamped on the opposite ridge, but their giant—King Saul—cowered in his tent instead of leading God’s people in faith. When David felled Goliath with a stone, he demonstrated that he was more qualified to be Israel’s king than Saul was. The Philistines then fled past Azekah on the way to their cities of Gath and Ekron.

1 Samuel 23: David’s Flight from Saul

David’s flight from Saul took him to the periphery of Judah’s territory. I recently wrote an article in a forthcoming volume in the Lexham Geographic Commentary series detailing the various places that David traveled in his fugitive years, and our new Photo Companion volume provides many photos showing these sites, wildernesses, and wadis, from Gath and Adullam to Ziph and En Gedi. This photo shows the Nahal Tekoa east of Maon, providing a sense for the difficult terrain where David sought refuge from Saul. These scenes are also helpful in understanding the background to some of the psalms that David wrote.

1 Samuel 25: Nabal and Abigail

The story of Nabal and Abigail features a rich scoundrel who had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats. This may seem like an exaggeration, but in 1874, Conder and Kitchener found that the nearby village of Yatta, not far from Nabal’s town of Carmel, had “17,000 sheep, besides goats, cows, camels, horses and donkeys.” The days of sheep shearing were a festive time of celebration, but Nabal refused to share his bounty with David’s men. The sheep shearing shown here occurred in the Judean hills west of Jerusalem. The family nature of sheep shearing is reflected in the participation of the two sons with their father.

1 Samuel 31: Saul’s Death

Saul’s life came to an end during a battle with the Philistines near Jezreel. Because of Saul’s disobedience, the Lord did not give him victory over the invaders, and Saul fled up the slopes of Mount Gilboa. This photo gives a nice sense for the heights of Gilboa and its relation to the floor of the Jezreel Valley. Up on the mountain, the defeated Saul fell on his sword, a tragic end for Israel’s first king. But the disgrace only grew worse, as the Philistines beheaded Saul and hung his body on the wall of the nearby city of Beth Shean. If Israel was to enjoy peace and righteousness, they surely needed a king more faithful than this one.

This week you can purchase the 1 Samuel volume at our launch price of $49, including immediate download and free shipping. This unique collection includes more than 3,000 PowerPoint slides illustrating the entire book by chapter and verse. Purchase the collection as a DVD+download or download-only.


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All contents © 2020 Todd Bolen. Text and photographs may be used for personal and educational use with attribution. Commercial use requires written permission.