BiblePlaces Newsletter

Vol 21, #1 - June 6, 2022

It’s not surprising that the new Photo Companion to 1 & 2 Kings breaks the record for the most photos per chapter when you consider all the archaeological discoveries that have been made related to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. In some ways, that makes this photo collection the easiest to create—there is just so much known of the biblical sites, artifacts, and people. In other ways, that massive amount of material makes 1 & 2 Kings the most intimidating—will we ever finish? The happy news is that we have!

This may be the most personal of the photo collections for me, spanning now more than 30 years of study. I was that young college nerd who thought it worthwhile to memorize all the names and dates of the kings of Israel and Judah (and convinced a certain girl to do it with me—so I could spend more time with her!). A few years later, I chose to study Jeroboam II for my master’s thesis (the king who has the most beautiful of all ancient seal impressions). When it came time for my doctoral dissertation, I found myself back in Kings, studying the reign of Jehu. A few years ago, I was even given the chance to write the study notes for 2 Kings for the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible.

This project combines my passion for photography and my passion for the history of ancient Israel, and I am thrilled to see it all come together. On my own, I never could have done it, but Chris McKinny and Kris Udd and a number of other friends worked together over the last few years to create a resource that will be super helpful to all who study and teach these books in the future. And I tested it all out at church last year as I taught through 1 & 2 Kings in my adult class, one chapter at a time.

I encourage you to order your own copy this week. The introductory pricing makes it the best deal for you, and the sale enables us to continue development of the next volumes of the Photo Companion to the Bible. Thank you, and may the Lord bless your study of his Word and all the amazing discoveries that illuminate and confirm it.

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

1 Kings

First Kings begins with Solomon ascending the throne and continues through the reigns of Ahab and Jehoshaphat. Our collection has more than 3,400 slides, and highlights include:

  • Photos of the capital cities of Judah and Israel—Jerusalem, Shechem, Penuel, Tirzah, and Samaria.
  • Models of Solomon’s temple, palace, and the city of Jerusalem.
  • Artifacts illustrating the food, clothing, weapons, vessels, and material culture of the early monarchy.
  • Archaeological remains of the cities fortified by Solomon and the high places of Jeroboam.
  • Cultic objects including altars, standing stones, bulls, and Baal and Asherah figurines from the land of Israel and the ancient Near East.
  • Reliefs and inscriptions of Shishak’s invasion of Judah and Israel.
  • The setting of Elijah’s confrontation with the false prophets on Mount Carmel.
  • Scenes of Jezreel, vineyards, and winepresses reminiscent of Ahab’s encounter with Naboth.
  • Locations of major battles, including Ramah, Mizpah, Gibbethon, Aphek, and Ramoth Gilead.

2 Kings

Second Kings continues with the dynasty of Ahab, celebrates the faithful reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah, and then comes crashing down with the Babylonian conquest. Our collection has nearly 4,000 slides of all kinds of wonderful images, including:

  • Hundreds of reliefs, inscriptions, and seal impressions of various individuals and events, including the Tel Dan Inscription, the Mesha Stele, the Lachish Reliefs, and the Babylonian Chronicles.
  • Numerous aerial photos with labels identifying significant locations.
  • Imagery related to Israel’s and Judah’s wars with the Moabites, Edomites, Arameans, Assyrians, and Babylonians.
  • Setting of events in Elisha’s ministry, including Dothan, Shunem, Jericho, and the Jordan River.
  • Scenes from the reign of Jehu—his wild ride, his assassination of two kings, and his depiction on the Black Obelisk.
  • Archaeological evidence from Hezekiah’s reign, including his religious purges, his administration, his fortifying of Jerusalem, and his famous tunnel.
  • Artifacts and discoveries related to the fall of the northern kingdom and the conquest of Jerusalem.

Purchase today: 1 Kings ($69); 2 Kings ($69); 1 & 2 Kings (best deal: $79)

What Others Say...

“This is a wonderful resource for serious students of the Bible and for all who teach and preach 1 Kings. I wish it had been available decades ago–I would have found it incredibly useful.”

–Iain Provan, Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies, Regent College Vancouver; author of 1 and 2 Kings in the New International Biblical Commentary series

“Travel to Israel and see the Holy Land in this amazing collection of images, each of which is linked to a verse from the book, along with an explanation. Detailed maps, beautiful landscapes, and ancient artifacts will help lovers of Scripture envision the world of David and Solomon, Elijah and Ahab.”

–David T. Lamb, MacRae Professor of Old Testament, Missio Seminary; author of 1 & 2 Kings in The Story of God Bible Commentary series

“To fully experience the Bible, you must do more than just read the text. You must also live the book. This is the beauty of the resources of BiblePlaces.com, for they allow one to live in the biblical text by means of thousands of high-quality photos documenting the widest range of material culture, daily life, and geography. In the case of the Photo Companion of the Bible, one encounters the diversity of biblical life alongside a verse-by-verse account of the text. It’s a perspective-changing experience! As a researcher of the Old Testament and a professor of Biblical Studies, you better believe that I will be using this material and encouraging all my students to be further entrenched in Scripture by living in the world of the Bible.”

–David Schreiner, Associate Dean & Associate Professor of Old Testament, Wesley Biblical Seminary; author of 1 & 2 Kings in the Kerux Commentaries series

“This impressive resource will help people envision the characters, places, and customs in 1-2 Kings. Scholars, pastors, Sunday school teachers, home-school teachers, and general readers will benefit from the authors’ clear explanations of how ancient art and modern photographs illuminate the biblical text. I look forward to using this resource when I read, teach, and preach 1-2 Kings.”

–Paul House, Professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University; author of 1-2 Kings in the New American Commentary series

The Photo Companion to the Bible

Old Testament (10 volumes): JoshuaJudgesRuth1 Samuel2 Samuel1 Kings2 KingsEstherPsalm 23, and Daniel

New Testament (14 volumes): MatthewMarkLukeJohnActsRomans1 Corinthians2 CorinthiansGalatiansEphesiansPhilippiansColossians and Philemon1 & 2 Thessalonians, and 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus

COMPLETE SET (24 volumes): Purchased individually: $1,377;
Set Discount: $569; with coupon ALL24: $499

A Photo Every Day

Every weekday I choose an interesting photo from the biblical world and post it on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Follow us to see our latest photos as well as some classics.

Featured BiblePlaces Photos:
1 & 2 Kings

The featured photos this month come from the Photo Companion to 1 & 2 Kings, an extraordinary collection of images illustrating 400 years of the history of Israel and Judah. For more free photos, download the 1 Kings 9 PowerPoint (200 slides) and the 2 Kings 8 PowerPoint (170 slides). These and more than 7,400 photos are included in the new 1 & 2 Kings volumes in the Photo Companion to the Bible.

Solomon’s Temple

There is a sense in which the story of Kings is the story of the temple. The book begins with Solomon as Israel’s new king constructing the dwelling place for the Lord, and it ends with that same temple being burned to the ground by the Babylonians. Solomon built the temple on the hill north of Jerusalem, but then he built high places for his wives’ false gods on the hill east of Jerusalem. The history largely deteriorates from there, with exceptions in the days of Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah, who are all credited with restoring worship in the temple. This model of Jerusalem in the period of the Divided Monarchy is located at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Solomon’s temple stands prominently in the center.

Jeroboam’s High Place

Following Solomon’s death, two refrains punctuate 1 & 2 Kings. The kings of Judah are regularly condemned for not removing the high places, while the kings of Israel are judged for walking in the ways of Jeroboam–a clear allusion to the idolatrous worship centers he established at Dan and Bethel. Archaeologists have uncovered the shrine at Dan, and this aerial view shows the podium where the golden calf once stood as well as the altar where Israelites brought sacrifices. Various cultic implements from the time of Ahab and Jeroboam II were discovered in the side chambers.

Elijah’s Brook

The book of Kings is filled with prophets, and this is not surprising given God’s desire to restore his people from idolatry. The most famous prophet is Elijah, and his showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel was intended to sway the hearts of Israel to shift their allegiance. In the lead-up to the encounter, Elijah declared that it would not rain until he gave the word. This covenant curse was devastating to the nation, but the Lord provided for Elijah at the Brook Cherith east of the Jordan. The Wadi Yabes shown here is a good candidate for Elijah’s safe space.

Baal’s Lightning

When Elijah declared that it would not rain, he was directly challenging Baal, the Canaanite god of the storm. For three and a half years Baal was a no-show, unable to send rain on the land. Then Elijah called for a contest that would decisively prove who the true God was, and he made it as easy for Baal as could be. If Baal could do anything, he could send fire down from heaven and light the sacrifice on fire. This stele from several centuries earlier shows Baal holding a lightning bolt in his hand. But Baal proved to be more powerful in people’s imaginations than in reality, and the truth finally dawned on the Israelites: “The Lord, he is God!”

Sennacherib’s Siege

But Israel’s repentance was short-lived, and the Lord brought the Assyrians to punish and ultimately to deport the northern tribes. Judah alone remained, and when Hezekiah rebelled, Sennacherib marched with his army against the king in Jerusalem. The Assyrian records reveal much about the Assyrian onslaught, including the devastating siege of Lachish, shown in striking detail on the famous Lachish reliefs in Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh. This panel shows the Assyrian archers and slingers attacking the city, and other panels show the Judeans who were impaled or deported. There is no greater visual representation of ancient Israel or Judah than these reliefs, and much can be gleaned from careful scrutiny of the details.

Babylon’s Conquest

The Lord spared Jerusalem by a miraculous defeat of Sennacherib’s army, but Judah did not remain faithful and so covenant curses fell on the nation. Ultimately, the Lord raised up Babylon to judge his people, and dramatic evidence of Nebuchadnezzar’s attack on Jerusalem in 597 BC was discovered in the Babylonian Chronicle shown here. This inscription gives the date the city fell (Adar 2 = March 16), and Nebuchadnezzar’s replacement of one king (Jehoiachin) with another (Zedekiah). After taking heavy tribute, the Babylonians returned home, but they would be back one more time–to destroy the temple and exile God’s people.

This week you can purchase the 1 & 2 Kings volumes at our launch price of $79, including immediate download and free shipping. Your order enables us to continue creating more volumes in this unique resource. Purchase these volumes as a DVD+download or download-only.


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All contents © 2022 Todd Bolen. Text and photographs may be used for personal and educational use with attribution. Commercial use requires written permission.