ESV Study Bible Images

A friend recently wrote to ask if I knew how to get higher resolution digital images of the maps and reconstruction diagrams for the new ESV Study Bible. Upon investigating, I realized that he missed one crucial step (see below). But in the process, I was struck by the wealth of visual resources that are available to all who own a copy of this Bible. With the steps below, registered owners can get (what I’d call) medium-resolution images of everything in the Bible. For instance, you get:

  • The City of Nineveh
  • Jerusalem in the Time of David
  • The Tabernacle (about 6 beautiful reconstructions)
  • Solomon’s Temple
  • Jerusalem in the Time of Solomon
  • The City of Jericho
  • Jerusalem in the Time of Hezekiah
  • Zerubbabel’s Temple
  • Jerusalem in the Time of Nehemiah
  • The City of Babylon
  • The Temple Mount in the Time of Jesus
  • Galilean Fishing Boat
  • Herod’s Temple in the Time of Jesus
  • The Tomb of Jesus
  • Herod’s Temple Complex in the Time of Jesus
  • Plus a couple hundred maps and charts.

All you have to do is select the image and right-click to save.

The drawings seem to be 1200 pixels wide and the maps are approximately 1000 pixels on the long side. That’s excellent for computer or projector use. Here are the steps to access them (for registered users):

1. Go to

2. Select “Maps and Charts” on the top bar.

3. Scroll down and select desired image.

4. Within popup window, click graphic. This opens up the image by itself in a larger size. (If you skip this step, you’ll end up with a much lower-resolution image.)

5. Right-click image; “save image as” (or equivalent in a browser other than Firefox).

Then you can view the image on your screen, drop it into a PowerPoint, or print it for your wall. I checked with the publisher to make sure what I’m telling you is allowed and they stated that you may use these images for personal use (i.e., saved on your computer) or ministry use (i.e., projected for teaching purposes), but not reprinted in other materials or posted onto websites or blogs. (For questions or permissions, email Crossway.)

If you don’t own the Bible, you can see and download some free drawings, a map, and a city plan on their blog, plus a few at Amazon.

So for $32, you not only get a really fat book, you also get electronic access to 40 reconstruction diagrams plus 200 full-color maps. I know the market pretty well in this area and I’d suggest that you’re getting your money’s worth just from the digital images. It’s like the printed Bible is thrown in for free.

I use the printed Bible and the online Bible every week for reasons entirely other than what is listed above. You can see more of what keeps me coming back (print and digital) even though I have two shelves of other Bibles.


Qeiyafa video and Gath website

Archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel discusses his discovery of the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostraca in a 2.5 minute video posted on youtube.  There is a transcript in the right sidebar. 

The website of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project has been thoroughly revised and updated.  You can read about what has been discovered in previous seasons, as well as learn more about how to volunteer for the coming season.  The website also includes a photo gallery and a virtual tour of the tell.  Many of the images link to high-resolution versions.

HT: Paleojudaica and Aren Maeir


Roman Figurine Discovered in Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority has reported the discovery of an ancient marble figurine.  The bearded man may be a Roman boxer and is believed to date to approximately A.D. 200.

The figurine was used as a suspended weight together with a balance scale. This is probably the only find of its kind from excavations in the country.
A figurine (bust) made of marble depicting a miniature image of a bearded man’s head was discovered in the excavations that the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the area of the Givati car park in the City of David, in the Walls around Jerusalem National Park.
According to Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, directors of the excavation at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The high level of finish on the figurine is extraordinary, while meticulously adhering to the tiniest of details. Its short curly beard, as well as the position of its head which is slightly inclined to the right, are indicative of an obviously Greek influence and show that it should be dated to the time of the emperor Hadrian or shortly thereafter (second-third centuries CE). This is one of the periods when the art of Roman sculpture reached its zenith. The pale yellow shade of the marble alludes to the eastern origin of the raw material from which the image was carved, probably from Asia Minor, although this matter still needs to be checked”.

The rest of the press release is here, and three photos may be downloaded in a zip file.  The story is covered by Haaretz and the Associated Press.  Reports of previous discoveries in this same excavation may be read here and here and here and here.

HT: Joe Lauer


Tall el-Hammam: Sodom, Abel Shittim, Abila, or Livias?

Gary Byers of the Associates for Biblical Research has written a new article on the excavations of Tall el-Hammam, a site that has been identified as Sodom by its excavator, Steven Collins.  The essay is a sensible review of the site’s history based on archaeological work and biblical data.  I don’t find the Sodom identification compelling based on the present state of the evidence, but this does not detract from the value of the article.  There is no doubt that Tall el-Hammam was an important site in the ancient world, and continued excavations there will no doubt be useful in revealing more of the region’s history.  The article concludes:

In review, our site was a major city from earliest times. It may be one of the Tell el-Hammam excavations, tb060108194dxo oldest cities mentioned in the Bible, in the Table of Nations (Gn 10).

Maybe it was Sodom from those earliest days up to the time of Abraham, well over 2,500 years. Then, after its destruction in the Middle Bronze Age, and with no evidence of occupation for over 500 years, it may have been known as Abel Shittim (“meadow of the acacia trees”) at the time of Moses. During the Iron Age, a city was built on the upper tall, and it is a reasonable candidate to be the capital of Solomon’s twelfth administrative district, in sight of the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem, Solomon’s capital. In New Testament times, a new city arose around the base of the talls and may have been Abila or even Livias (Julias), the capital of Perea. Finally, our site may be one of the unnamed sites on the Madaba Map.

Whatever our excavations and research may eventually tell us, there is no question that Tall el-Hammam was an important site throughout the Biblical period. During each period of history, it stood as a quiet witness to some of the Bible’s greatest people and events.


Conference on the Philistines

Aren Maeir reported last week on an archaeological meeting in Beersheba that included eight presentations on recent research on the Philistines in Israel.  Reports like this are so helpful in giving the public a sense of the progress being made in the field.  Otherwise individual reports will appear in scattered journals or possibly an (over-priced) collection from a European publisher and be unknown by those with a general interest.  

You can read his summary of the presentations, but I’ll just note here Pirhiya Nahshoni’s excavation of a small Late Bronze fishing village which included “imported Minoan, Mycenaean, Anatolian, Cypriote, Egyptian and other finds.”  That’s quite a rich collection of imports.  Maeir had previously praised the significance of this site:

Meanwhile, what she has published in her MA thesis is of utmost importance! This study has been largely overlooked, but deserved close attention from anyone dealing with the final stages of the LB and the early Iron I periods. For example, the fact that the site is abandoned at the end of the LB and not resettled in the early Iron I, is a nice example of the major changes that occured in the settlement pattern, trade relations, economic structure, etc., between the two periods. It would appear to support the “normative” explanation on the Sea Peoples/Philistine phenomemon, i.e. that it is not a continuation of the LB, but rather, a new, intrusive event(s).

Maeir concludes his post with a description of the rocket attack he experienced while in Beersheba.


Conference: New Light on the Period of King David


In the Fields of Archaeology, Ancient History, and Epigraphy


Ben-Gurion University

‘David’s Victory’ Foundation



In the Fields of Archaeology, Ancient History, and Epigraphy

The conference will take place in the auditorium of the central building in the Industrial Park of Omer (near Beer-Sheva) on Thursday, February 12, 2009.

Program of the Conference:

16:00 – 16:30  Gathering and Light Refreshments

16:30 – 16:40  Greetings and Introductory Remarks:

  • Mr. Aharon Yadlin, Assistant Chairman of the Executive Board of Ben-Gurion University and 
  • Former Minister of Education and Culture of the State of Israel
  • Prof. Vladimir Berginer, President of the ‘David’s Victory’ Foundation
  • Chairman of the Session: Prof. Chaim Cohen, Academic Advisor of the ‘David’s Victory’ 
  • Foundation

– 17:30  Prof. Yosef Garfinkel and Mr. Sa`ar Ganor, The Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew
University: “Sha`arayim – A Judaean City from the Time of King David in the Elah Valley”

17:30 – 18:05  Dr. Eilat Mazar, The Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University: “The Palace 
of David in the City of David”

18:05 – 18:40  Dr. Haggai Misgav, The Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University: “The 
Ostracon (the New Inscription) from Khirbet Qeiyafa”

18:40 – 19:00  Prof. Vladimir Berginer, President of the ‘David’s Victory’ Foundation: “The ‘David’s 
Victory’ Foundation and the Memorial Site Commemorating David’s Victory over Goliath in 
the Elah Valley” [including the screening of a new six-minute film]


Free parking is available alongside the entrance gate to the Industrial Park of Omer, opposite the
Luzzato Building.

The Academic Conferences Organized by the ‘David’s Victory’ Foundation:

2003 – First Academic Conference

2006 – Second Academic Conference

2009 – Third Academic Conference

HT: Agade (via Joe Lauer).


Then and Now: Western Wall Plaza

After the Israelis captured the Old City in June 1967, significant attention was given to the development of the Western Wall area.  During creation of the large prayer plaza that exists today, the ground level was lowered by about six feet (2 m).  Recently when working with the photographs of David Bivin, I came across this photo.

Wailing Wall with Nadir, db6401182012 Western Wall, January 1964

With the distinctive crack in the rock visible behind the young man’s legs, I set about finding a recent photo of the same rock.  The photo below shows the crack behind the man’s right hand.  In 1964, ground level was located at the position of his left hand.

Man putting prayer in Western Wall, tb092603035 Western Wall, September 2003

Note that he is standing on a chair.  This is the best illustration I know of that shows the change in plaza level after 1967.

You can see a photo taken by Amihai Mazar that shows a bulldozer clearing the area in the excellent book by Leen Ritmeyer, The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, page 22.

Some other “Then and Now” photos from the Views That Have Vanished collection are posted here.


That Rope around the High Priest’s Ankle

It’s a myth. Sorry to ruin such a good story for you.

The notion that the high priest would tie a rope around his ankle before entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) so that his body could be pulled out should he Tabernacle high priest, tb022804700be struck down is not found in any ancient source, including the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, the Apocrypha, the Mishnah, the Babylonian Talmud, or the Jerusalem Talmud.

The earliest reference that I know of is in a 13th century A.D. Jewish work, the Zohar:

A knot of rope of gold hangs from his leg, from fear perhaps he would die in the holy of holies, and they would need to pull him out with this rope.

The Zohar says a lot of other things that are not trustworthy. In fact, wearing such a rope would probably be a violation of Leviticus 16:3-4, which gives clear directions on what the high priest is to wear on Yom Kippur:

But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. (ESV)

John Gill cites this story in his Exposition of New Testament, published in 1746-48. Concerning Hebrews 9:7, he cites “Zohar in Lev. fol. 43. 3. & Imre Binah in ib”:

The Jews say, that a cord or thong was bound to the feet of the high-priest when he went into the holy of holies, that if he died there, the rest might be able to draw him out; for it was not lawful for another priest to go in, no, not an high-priest, none besides him on the day of atonement.

There are many websites and other sources that perpetuate this legend (including the NIV Study Bible on Exodus 28:35).

Another webpage that discusses this myth is located at

UPDATE (8/27/09): Rabbi Dr. Ari Z. Zivotofsky has written a lengthy article refuting the claim in the Zohar.


Hurva Synagogue Reconstruction

Until 1948, one of the largest and most important Ashkenazi synagogues in the Old City of Jerusalem was the Hurva Synagogue.  Fighting in May 1948 left the building in ruins, but following the city’s capture by Israel in 1967, plans were discussed to reconstruct the synagogue.  The interested parties could not agree on a solution, and so in 1977 a memorial arch was erected.  In 2000, plans were approved to rebuild the synagogue following its original design, and in 2005, work commenced.

Hurvah Synagogue arch, tb010200207 Memorial Arch, January 2000
Hurvah synagogue under construction, tb051906304ddd Arch removed, May 2006
Hurvah synagogue under reconstruction, tb051508004dxo Reconstruction underway, May 2008
Hurva synagogue in construction, as111808042 November 2008 (Photo courtesy of Alexander Schick)

For more about the Hurva Synagogue, see the Wikipedia article or these Google links.


Hezekiah’s Tunnel Q&A

The Sept/Oct 2008 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review carried an intriguing article that suggested that workers used sound signals from above in determining direction while carving Hezekiah’s Tunnel.  The apparent “consensus” theory that they followed a natural crack always seemed implausible to me, and thus I am interested in learning of other possibilities. 

A number of readers sent questions about the article and one of the scientists of the study responds in an online-only article.  Questions that he answers include:

  • How does Hezekiah’s Tunnel compare with the water tunnels of Megiddo and Hazor?
  • How could sound signals pinpoint direction through more than 100 feet of bedrock?
  • Did water flow uphill from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam?
  • How were the workers supplied with oxygen?
  • Isn’t there really a natural crack that the workers followed?

Ayreh Shimron has some good insights into these and other matters.

Hezekiah's Tunnel, tb110705532 Hezekiah’s Tunnel