Wilderness of Judea

September 12, 2011

Numerous passages make reference to the wilderness of Judea. John the baptizer, the herald who prepared the Jewish people for Jesus coming, preached in the Wilderness of Judah (Matt. 3:1, CSB; “the Desert of Judea,” NIV).

Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (Mt. 4:1).

A frequent reaction when folks see for the first time photos of this area is to say, “That’s not at all what I had imagined it to be.”

I never tire of seeing this portion of the Bible lands; it is fascinating to me. This photo, taken just days ago, shows the wilderness of Judea at sea level.

Wilderness of Judea at Sea Level. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Click image for higher resolution.

Tel Ptolemais/Acco/Acre

September 9, 2011

In our previous post we featured a photo of the waterfront of Ptolemais. Ptolemais (Acts 21:8) was mentioned in the Old Testament (designated Acco) among other cities which Israel failed either to capture or to retain after the conquest: “Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob” (Judges 1:31). Because Acco was a port city, it was a very significant loss to fail to possess this strategic location. Our map below, which shows NW Israel, helps orient us:

Ptolemais/Acco. Bibleatlas.org.

Acco was one of the oldest harbors in existence. In our present photo, we see the remains of the tel itself.

Tel Ptolemais. Photo by Leon Mauldin.


“We Came to Ptolemais”

September 9, 2011

Greetings, friends, now from Dade City, FL. I enjoyed and profited from the trip to Israel, as Ferrel Jenkins & I traveled to numerous biblical sites, many of which we had not seen before. I have held Mr. Jenkins in the highest esteem since my being a student at Florida College (’70-72) and am delighted that we have been able to make numerous trips to Israel and other biblical places. I have learned much from him.

I came back to the states a day earlier than planned in order to attend and participate in the funeral of dear friend & sister in Christ, Sandra Waldron, wife of Bob Waldron. That will be conducted Fri. 2:00 PM here in Dade City.

Our photo displayed in this post was taken at Ptolemais (Hellenistic and Roman times), known as Acco in OT times (Jud. 1:31), and today known as Acre. The ancient tel is Tel-el-Fukhar.

Coast of Ptolemais, mentioned in Acts 21:7. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

As Paul’s 3rd Missionary was concluding, en route to Jerusalem, Acts 21:8 reads, “And when we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day.”

Click image for higher resolution.

More later. 2:30 AM at present!


Hazor, Head of All These Kingdoms

September 5, 2011

As we have mentioned, our purpose on this current trip to Israel is to visits sites we have not seen before, many of which would not be practical to visit with a tour group. We were successful again today in doing so.

One place Ferrell Jenkins and I have seen previously many times is Hazor, but we included that city because recent visits have been either during or immediately following rain. Today it was dry and sunny. It was hot but it was nice not to have to walk in mud.

The signifance of this city which was conquered during Israel’s conquest of Canaan led by Joshua is seen in Josh. 11:10:

Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms.

Later during the days of the United Monarchy of Israel, King Solomon fortified this city.

Now this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the LORD, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer (1 Kings 9:15).

Solomonic City Gate at Hazor. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

All of these cities of this text were fortress cities. Solomon used the same “blueprint” for the gates: the six chambered gate.

Unfortunately, in the process of time, Hazor became a center of cultic worship. Our photo shows the “high place” of Hazor.

High Place at Hazor. Sacrifice to pagan gods occurred here. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Our photo below further shows an area where pagan worship occurred.

Site of pagan worship at Hazor. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The forbidden massebah (sacred pillar) can be seen in foreground of photo. On the right hand corner of the tel you can see what was the base of the watchtower of Hazor.

Remember to click on photos for higher resolution.
On a personal note I regret to report the death of a close personal friend, Sandra Waldron, wife of Bob Waldron. She died Sun. PM as the result of a massive heart attack, following some months of illness. The Waldrons have had a tremendous impact on my life, and I mourn this loss.

Some Fell Among the Thorns

September 4, 2011
When Jesus told the “Parable of the Sower” He told of four different kinds of “soils,” representing people, upon which the seed (the word of God) falls.

Among those soils was the thorny ground. Jesus said, “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants” (Luke 8:7, NIV).  I thought of this parable today as we saw a portion of a Roman road in Galilee at the Golani Junction near Cana.

Thorns in Galilee. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Jesus was asked by the disciples to explain the meaning of the parable. Regarding the thorny ground, He said, “”Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (v.14, NKJV).

Thorns. A fitting word picture for things that choke out the word. Photo by Leon Mauldin

It occurs to me that not all cares or pleasures are wrong. Money is not wrong in and of itself. But when one fails to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33), these things become thorns that choke out the word so that one brings no fruit to the honor of God.

Today our travels have taken us to Nazareth, the city that was Jesus’ home, and to Gath-hepher, home of the prophet Jonah. I am so thankful to God for these good opportunities.

Thanks for following this blog. Be sure to check Ferrell Jenkin’s Travel Blog also. He is on the “blog roll” above and to your right.

Click on images for higher resolution.

He Will Not Break A Bruised Reed

September 3, 2011

Today after leaving Jerusalem when had the opportunity to photograph Gibeah, the home of King Saul, and located in the tribal territory of Benjamin (1 Sam. 10:26).

We stopped at sea level en route to the Jordan, taking some photos of the Wilderness of Judea.

Then we went to Qasr al-Yahud, a recently opened baptismal site on the Jordan. This is likely very near the location where John baptized multitudes of people, including Jesus.

Jordan River at Qasr al-Yahud, newly opened baptismal site. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

There were many reeds along the Jordan at this point. I thought of Matthew 12:20, which quotes from Isaiah 42:3, a text which foretold of Jesus’ ministry and how He would go about His work:

He will not break a bruised reed or extinguish a smoldering wick, until he brings justice to victory (Mt. 12:20 NET Bible).

Bruised Reed at Qasr al-Yahud on Jordan's bank. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

If a reed is bent or bruised, like the one in this photo, it wouldn’t take much to snap it in two. Likewise if the wick is smoldering, that indicates that the oil is running low or the wick needs trimming. Either way, it wouldn’t take much to snuff it out.

But the text is really not talking about reeds or wicks; it is talking about people that are like bruised reeds or smoldering wicks. There is still some interest, there is a spark of life. Jesus would bind and strengthen the bruised reed, and He wants to fan the spark into a flame.

Of course Jesus could rebuke the false teacher or the hypocrite, as is the case in Matt. 23. But not everyone is in those categories; some people are bruised reeds; their strength is small, but someone who is truly a disciple of Christ can take start where they are and strengthen them and help them to get where they need to be.

Well we made other stops en route to Tiberias and are in our room on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Click images for larger view.

Reading From the Scroll

September 2, 2011

Today Ferrell Jenkins and I were able to visit a site we’ve both wanted to see for years, the tel and cave of Adullam. This site is mentioned in the biblical narrative of David’s life, specifically of a time in which he was being pursued by the Philistines (2 Sam. 23:13ff.). We were able to secure the services of a local guide with a 4-wheel drive jeep. A memorable day.

Late in the afternoon we were back in Jerusalem. We visited the Western Wall, and just north of the wall we entered Wilson’s Arch. This area is a reading room and prayer room. Today’s photo shows one of the Jews present reading from a scroll.

Reading a Scroll in Wilson's Arch. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This can be used to illustrate the writing and reading of Scripture in both Old and New Testament times. For example, Luke records a moment Jesus’ Galilean ministry:

16 He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As usual, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written: 18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 20 He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.” (Luke 4:16-21).

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