BiblePlaces Newsletter
Vol 13, #1 - February 3, 2014

For this month's newsletter, we are featuring a region of the biblical world that we have never covered in the last 12 years of newsletters. Because of political hostilities, many students of the Bible have not been able to visit Lebanon, with the result that few know just how significant the area was in both the Old and New Testaments. In addition to the free photos that you may download in both jpg and PowerPoint formats, we are discounting the Lebanon volume and the entire collection this week.

We've also visited our newsletter archives to recommend five of our favorite resources that you may have missed. All of these are free. And if you haven't taken a look at the BiblePlaces Blog recently, we've highlighted some of the recent articles you may want to check out.

We thank you for reading and supporting our work.

Todd Bolen

News from the BiblePlaces Blog...

Weekend Roundup the latest summary of news from the world of biblical archaeology...

Artifact of the Month: The Merneptah Stela a new series by Michael J. Caba begins with one of the most important discoveries in biblical archaeology...

Picture of the Week: Cenchrea the site of Paul's famous haircut...

Byzantine Basilica Discovered near Kiryat Gat Beautiful mosaics discovered in Israel's southern coastal plain...

Now Available: Edward Robinson's Works on Logos Three volumes of Biblical Researches in Palestine plus five more works...

Old Excavation Photos Sought! A team seeks to preserve photos of archaeological sites taken before 1980...

Royal Water System Excavated in Judean Hills Is this a second Hezekiah's Tunnel?...

And more...

Resources You May Have Missed

Through the years of BiblePlaces Newsletters, we have featured many outstanding resources, valuable tips, and special offers. We thought we would revisit some of our favorites that you may have missed or that may be useful now that were not when you first learned of them. Here are five of our favorites:

1. Paleo-Hebrew Fonts and Ancient Greek Fonts - Kris J. Udd has created several dozen valuable fonts that he shares freely with students of the Bible.

2. Survey of Western Palestine: Free Volumes - This systematic, scientific study of the land of Israel in the 1870s is very expensive to purchase, but many of the volumes are now available online for free. A similar excellent resource is the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement.

3. Free Digital Maps from the New Moody Atlas of the Bible - This secret was discovered in the wastebin.

4. U.S. Museums for Bible Students - Last summer we compiled a list of institutions in the United States with artifacts related to the biblical world.

5. Related Websites - Over the years we have introduced several new websites to serve those who do not read English or who have broader interests. French readers should visit You can point your friends who read Spanish to English readers who love learning more about the history and culture of the world of the Bible should check out Life in the Holy Land.

Featured BiblePlaces Photos:

A few straight lines drawn on a map by a couple of diplomats 100 years ago have had profound effects on the Middle East. One consequence is that students of the Bible are restricted from visiting sites on both sides of the new national borders without significant effort and expense. Before the Israeli-Lebanon border was established, one could drive from Acco to Tyre in less than an hour. As it is today, to travel those 25 miles (40 km), one must go hundreds of miles by airplane through a neutral country with multiple passports.

The political hostilities between Israel and Lebanon have thus far prevented me from visiting the many important historic sites in Lebanon, but my friend A.D. Riddle has traveled throughout the land and created a marvelous collection of photographs that we have included as volume 8 in the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. The featured photos this month are from that collection and reveal in small part just how important the region is for biblical studies.

Those interested in the volume may purchase it this week on sale for only $24. Or you may save $100 on the complete 18-volume set of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, Revised and Expanded edition, if you use this discount link.

All of the photos below, plus a few additional ones, are available in a free PowerPoint presentation. A limited version is also available in pdf format. Readers are welcome to use these images for personal study and teaching. Commercial use requires separate permission.  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 collections.



Click photograph for higher-resolution version. Download the PowerPoint presentation for all of the photos.

Baalbek preserves the most impressive ancient ruins in all of Lebanon. Located in the Beqa plain at the foot of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range, Baalbek was the ancient cult center for the triad of deities Baal, Aliyan, and Anat, later identified by the Romans with Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus. Baalbek became a Roman colony under Augustus in 16 BC and it was at this time that construction began on the famous temple of Jupiter.



Click photograph for higher-resolution version.

A major port city 20 miles (30 km) north of Beirut, Byblos is one of the longest continuously-inhabited cities in the world. Known in the Bible as "Gebal," the site is mentioned in connection with construction workers for Solomon's temple (1 Kgs 5:18) and skilled shipbuilders (Ezek 27:9). Excavations were conducted in Byblos by Maurice Dunand from 1928 until 1975, when work was halted by the Lebanese Civil War.



Click photograph for higher-resolution version.

Buried under modern Saida, the ancient ruins of Sidon covered an area of about 40 acres (16 ha). The photo above shows a view of the coastline from the Sea Castle, a Crusader structure built over the entrance to Sidon's northern harbor. Sidon is well known from ancient sources as well as both the Old and New Testaments. Joshua's conquest extended as far as this area (Josh 11:8), but because Asher failed to drive out the inhabitants, the Israelites later succumbed to worshiping the gods of Sidon (Judg 1:31; 10:6). The city did not fare well in the prophetic writings, for it was condemned by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Joel (Isa 23:2-12; Jer 47:4; Ezek 28:21-22; Joel 3:4). Jesus later visited the area when seeking refuge from Jewish crowds (Matt 15:21). Paul spent a little time here with friends while en route to prison in Rome (Acts 27:3).


Stele at Nahr el-Kalb

Click photograph for higher-resolution version.

Inscriptions spanning more than 3,000 years cover the limestone cliffs along the Nahr el-Kalb, or the Dog River, 5 miles (8 km) north of Beirut. The stelae commemorate military campaigns, construction projects, and significant events in history. The inscriptions represent seven languages and scripts. Of the 22 stelae, the earliest one dates to the reign of Ramses II in 1276 BC. The photo above shows inscriptions from the Assyrian campaigns, Napoleon III (far left), and the British Desert Mountain Corps in World War I (top).


Cedar of Lebanon

Click photograph for higher-resolution version.

Three cedar forests are protected today within the Esh-Shouf Cedar Reserve. The Cedar of Lebanon (cedrus libani) was prized in the ancient world, being imported to Egypt as early as the 4th dynasty (ca. 2600 BC). The Egyptian Tale of Wen-Amun, from the 11th century BC, describes the adventures of an Egyptian diplomat on his quest to Byblos to negotiate for cedar wood. Famous in the Bible for its use in the construction of Solomon's temple and palace (2 Chr 2:3-8), cedar was a symbol of strength and security (Pss 29:5; 92:12). The trees can reach a height of 100 feet (30 m) and a diameter of 6 feet (2 m) and they may live up to 2,0003,000 years.



Click photograph for higher-resolution version.

The widow of Zarephath was prepared to eat her last meal with her son when Elijah appeared and provided bottomless jars of flour and oil (1 Kgs 17:8-24; cf. Luke 4:26). The name of Zarephath is preserved today in the modern Sarafand, located midway between Tyre and Sidon. The view above shows the area of the ancient Phoenician harbor. The nearby tell was excavated by James B. Pritchard on behalf of the University of Pennsylvania in 1969-1972 and 1974.



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All contents 2014 Todd Bolen. Text and photographs may be used for personal and educational use with attribution. Commercial use requires written permission.