The Biblical Archaeology Society has a survey for current subscribers that takes not more than 5 minutes and after which you can supply a mailing address to receive a free Dead Sea Scrolls mug. 

This normally sells for $10.

Unfortunately, they don’t have space for comments. If they did, I’d complain that they sell my address to others. Ironically, in the email requesting subscribers to do the survey, they say, “We will not sell your mailing or email address and nobody will contact you as a result of your responses.” But they do sell your magazine subscription address without asking or telling you.


The alleged discovery of Noah’s Ark in Iran has been discussed on this blog before (“Christians Doubt Cornuke Has Found Noah’s Ark” and “We Sell Hope“), and we wanted to alert our readers to a new critique of Robert Cornuke’s theory by Gordon Franz. The author’s conclusion is appropriate and fair:

With so many theories claiming to discover biblical truth, the evangelical Christian community must be very discerning and follow the model of the Bereans who, after hearing the Apostle Paul himself, “searched the Scriptures to see whether these things are true.” Before swallowing the next claim, our community must do our homework on the history, archaeology, geology and geography of the landing place of Noah’s Ark using primary sources and hard data. If we cannot, then hold off judgment (pro or con) until others are given the opportunity to do so.

At this point the claims made by BASE Institute do not seem to have any merit. For the sake of the truth, however, I encourage the BASE Institute investigators to offer scholars, independent of the BASE Institute, full access to all the data. Let their best evidence come under the tests of scholarly scrutiny. When all the test results are in, the investigation and its claims will either be vindicated or proven false. The church, the witness to an unbelieving world, and truth itself deserve no less.

Yes, it’s true – the Dead Sea’s falling threatens the environment and the roads, and the Dead Sea’s rising threatens the hotels. How one sea can be both rising and falling at the same time is best explained this way: there are two Dead Seas.

Until modern times, the Dead Sea was a 50-mile (78-km) long body of water, with a piece of land sticking out from the eastern side. Because it apparently looked like a tongue, it was called that in Hebrew (lashon) and Arabic (lisan).

With the damming of the Sea of Galilee and the use of water that formerly flowed down the Jordan River into the Dead Sea, the level of the Dead Sea dropped in the 20th century until the tongue reached all the way across the lake. The southern end is shallow and would have completed dried up if not for the channeling of water by the company that extracts minerals from the Dead Sea waters. So the southern end today is essentially an artificial evaporation basin, connected to the northern end only by manmade channels.

Today the northern end continues to drop because the limited inflow of water from the Jordan River. The southern end, however, is rising, because of the activities related to the mining of minerals. The rise of approximately 8 inches a year (20 cm) is now threatening the tourist resort of Ein Bokek and its many hotels.

Hotels of Ein BokekAccording to Haaretz, the Supreme Court of Israel has ordered the government to come up with a plan to solve this problem.

At present, there are three options: building a new lagoon with walls that will prevent flooding of the reservoirs, removing the extra salt from the bottom of the reservoirs or demolishing all hotels on the Dead Sea shore and rebuilding them in alternative locations.

In the meantime, expect the Dead Sea to continue to rise and fall simultaneously.


The stupid article by Ynet News has been mentioned a few places in the blogosphere already (best take: Higgaion), but I want to add my two cents and a photo. I’m assuming that you’ve read the original article and Higgaion’s response.

1. I don’t think archaeologists are to be faulted here. I’d be willing to bet that this entire article is a figment of the author’s imagination, possibly stimulated by some of the local paid workers at the site. The only archaeologist cited is Ronny Reich who rejects the article’s premise. I don’t know any other archaeologists who would claim something so foolish, especially at such an early stage.

2. An aqueduct has been found. In fact, a number of aqueducts have been uncovered in the last few months. The origin(s), destination(s), and date(s) of these water channels are not always clear. Collectively, there’s a lot going on near the Pool of Siloam that archaeologists do not yet understand.

3. There is good reason to believe that there is another ancient pool or two to be found in the area. Pools mentioned in Jerusalem include the Old Pool (Isa 22:11), the Upper Pool (Isa 36:2), the Lower Pool (Isa 22:9), the King’s Pool (Neh 2:14), the Pool of Siloam (Neh 3:15), and the artificial pool (Neh 3:16). It’s quite possible that a pool had multiple names, but it’s clear that these names do not all refer to the same pool. The convergence of the Kidron, Central, and Hinnom Valleys is a natural place to find pools because this is the lowest place topographically in the city.

Does it bother anybody that the article’s author doesn’t even know where the City of David is in reference to the Western Wall (it’s directly south, not west). I confess that when I first read the article, I decided to ignore it because it was clearly worthless. I changed my mind because some people have paid attention to it.

One thing worth remembering: current excavations are uncovering new finds from the Second and First Temple periods that will certainly increase our understanding of Jerusalem’s water systems in the biblical times.

Water channel recently discovered near Pool of Siloam
Photo taken Sept. 13, 2006

Adapted from Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem, 1865


A record number of Jews streamed to the Western Wall this morning for the traditional blessing of the priests during the festival of Sukkot. Police had to close the entrances into the prayer plaza because of the crowds.

Arutz-7 reports:

The ceremony has become a tradition ever since the liberation of the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War in 1967 and is seen as an observance of the Jewish obligation to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Temple three times a year, on Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). During the weeklong Pesach and Sukkot holidays, the ceremony is held on the second of the Hol haMoed (intermediate) days.

Hundreds of kohanim, Jews who trace their lineage to Aaron, the first High Priest, stood closest to the Western Wall to take part in the special blessings. Attending the Western Wall prayers Monday were Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger, as well as Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. Rabbi Rabinovitch told Arutz-7 that Monday’s priestly blessing marked the largest such gathering for prayers at the site since the first Sukkot after the Six Day War.

Police were forced to close the gates leading to the Western Wall Plaza due to its being filled to capacity by worshippers. “The blessing, however, reaches those stuck outside the plaza as well, obviously,” Rabbi Rabinovitch said. He added that many of those packing the plaza were not outwardly observant. “Many secular Jews have adopted the custom of making a pilgrimage to the Western Wall on the holiday,” he said.

The Birkat Kohanim is a part of daily prayers in Israel, but is only recited on holidays in most communities outside Israel. The blessing given appears in Numbers 6:23-27:

And G-d spoke to Moses saying: Speak unto Aaron and his sons, saying, in this manner shall you bless the children of Israel. Say to them:
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord shine His face upon you.
May the Lord lift His countenance upon you, and grant you peace.


Numerous national parks in northern Israel are open to the public for free throughout the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) this week. The Jewish Agency is sponsoring the free admission in order to encourage tourism in the north following this summer’s war.

The sites include:

  • Sepphoris (Zippori) National Park
  • Achziv National Park
  • Horshat Tal National Park
  • Baram National Park
  • Tel Hazor National Park
  • Nahal Iyon (Ayoun) Nature Reserve
  • Nimrod Fortress National Park
  • Kursi (Gergesa) National Park
  • Corazim (Chorazin) National Park
  • Ein Afek (Aphek) Nature Reserve
  • Nahal Amoud Nature Reserve
  • Hamat Tiberias National Park
  • Beit She’arim National Park
  • Beit Alfa Synagogue National Park
  • Kochav Hayarden (Belvoir) National Park
  • Tel Megiddo National Park
  • Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve
  • Majersa (Batiha) Nature Reserve
  • Gamla Nature Reserve
  • Hula Valley Nature Reserve
  • Yehiam Fortress National Park
  • Beit She’an (Beth Shean) National Park
  • Agmon Hahula Yarden Park

Arutz-7 has a list of many other Sukkot activities, including a hike near Hebron, tours of the Temple Mount, concerts and more.

Mosaic floor from Tiberias synagogue featuring a lulav (palm frond) and etrog (citron), now on display at Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv