Hippodrome at Caesarea (cont’d)

October 31, 2013

In regard to our previous post of Herod’s hippodrome, a reader writes, “Intriguing photos!  In the top (“dry”) picture, is the twisted metal in the center of the photo just a modern effort to prevent people from falling into ancient holes?  Do you know the function of the hole(s) (is it a Herodian well or cistern)?  Thanks so much for posting these images!”

Though hard to distinguish in the photo he referenced (See that post here), the metal work is an artistic representation of the horses and chariots that would have been used here in the horse races. Caesarea, Herod’s capital, was a Roman city; the hippodrome with its horse races (and other events) was standard Roman entertainment. This view from the side perhaps helps. This photo I took in 2009.

Horses with chariot at hippodrome at Caesarea. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Horses with chariot at hippodrome at Caesarea. Photo by Leon Mauldin.


The driver would have been standing up in the chariot during the race, urging the horses on in their speed. Here is a close-up:

Horses and chariot close-up. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Horses and chariot close-up. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I think the “holes” asked about were just shadows in the photo.

We welcome reader response.

Click on images for larger view.



Herod’s Hippodrome at Caesarea

October 29, 2013

Herod the Great (reigned 37-4 BC) built a hippodrome at his capital city of Caesarea.

Hippodrome at Caesarea. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Hippodrome at Caesarea. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Herod’s hippodrome would have seated about 10,000 spectators.

The above photo was taken just two weeks ago. When I was here two years (Spring, 2011) ago this area was under water. Much damage along the coast here had been done by storms.

Hippodrome Spring 2011. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Hippodrome Spring 2011. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This photo was taken at the opposite end of the hippodrome.


The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Bible has this info:

Hippodrome. A course for chariot-racing, the prototype of the Roman circus. Like the stadium, it was long, narrow and elliptical, but straight at the end from which the racing started.

The hippodrome of Gerasa was excavated in 1931–3. Situated outside the city at some distance to the south, its inside length is 266yd, with an inside width of 56yd at the north end and just under 55yd at the south end. The date of construction is not clear. Some scholars believe that it was built at the end of the second or beginning of the 3rd century ad and never completely finished, while others prefer a date of about ad 70. The hippodrome of Gerasa is the only one that has been excavated in Palestine and Transjordan. Remains of others were found at Caesarea Kanath, Bostra (Bozrah), Beth-Shean and Gadara. Josephus, (Life, 132, 138) mentions the hippodrome of Taricheae. (See also Magdala.)

Like all other similar public buildings the hippodrome was an offence to pious Jews and most of the cities referred to above had a primarily Hellenistic population. Only Taricheae had a Jewish population, though the upper class was Hellenized. In similar conditions, Herod had a hippodrome constructed in Jerusalem (Josephus, Antiq. xvii, 193), probably in the Tyropoeon valley.

Click images for larger view.

Behold the Sower Went Forth to Sow

October 28, 2013

The setting of the kingdom parables of Mark 4 (parallels in Mt. 13 and Lk. 8) is on the Sea of Galilee.

Northern Sea of Galilee looking east. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Northern Sea of Galilee looking east. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

One of the parables was the “Parable of the Sower:”

And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. 2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 “And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. 5 “Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. 6 “But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. 7 “And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 “But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” 9 And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” 10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. 11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 “so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.’ ” 13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 “The sower sows the word. 15 “And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. 18 “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 “and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 “But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Mark 4:1-20).

Photo at Nazareth Village. A sower sowing seed.

Photo at Nazareth Village. A sower sowing seed.

A photo of a sower sowing seed is featured on the wall inside an orientation room at the Nazareth village.

Things to remember regarding the parable:

The kingdom is the Lord’s. He is the king. The seed of His kingdom is the word of God.

When the seed is sown there are different results. Some people never respond. They are the wayside soil. Others respond enthusiastically, but fall away. These are represented by the rocky soil. Some are preocccupied and distracted and never bear fruit for the Lord. These are portrayed by the thorny ground. Then there are honest and good hearts that hold fast the word and bear fruit. This is the good ground.

Click on image for larger view.

A Dead Man Raised at Nain

October 26, 2013

The next day after Jesus healed a centurion’s servant in Capernaum, Luke narrates how Jesus went to the Galilean city of Nain.

Location of Nain in Galilee. BibleAtlas.org.

Location of Nain in Galilee. BibleAtlas.org.

Luke narrates as follows:

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. 12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. 16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”  (Lk. 7:11-16).

The purpose of Jesus’ miracles was to show who He was/is. The limited occasions recorded when He raised the dead give proof that He is Life, He is the source of Life. He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). And yet such occasions show the very real compassion of Jesus as well. The compassion He had during His ministry on earth He continues to have at this present time.

We had the opportunity to make a quick stop at Nain on the first day of our tour to Israel last week.

Nain in Galilee where Jesus raised the widow's son. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Nain in Galilee where Jesus raised the widow’s son. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The mountain in the background is the Hill of Moreh, mentioned in connection with the account of Gideon and his 300 men (Judges 7).

Sea of Galilee by Moonlight

October 25, 2013

The Sea of Galilee is one of my favorite locations in Israel. I’ve enjoyed taking sunrise and sunset photos. Last week during our boat ride across the sea, I had the opportunity to photograph a full moon, which was reflecting nicely on the surface of the waters.

Full moon reflecting on Sea of Galilee. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Full moon reflecting on Sea of Galilee. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This was a view Jesus and His disciples had countless times during His ministry.

Matthew 4:18: Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

Click image for larger view.

Mikveh at Magdala

October 24, 2013

We’re glad to be back up and running now (our blog, that is).

Yesterday we arrived at ATL on time on our return from Israel. This trip was biblically educational for all: helpful for first-time travelers as well as those returning. It is a fact that you get a lot more out of that 2nd or 3rd trip to Israel; that first visit tends to be overwhelming, there’s so much to take in! I continue to learn on each trip.

Last week I posted on the discovery of the 1st century synagogue at Magdala. Of interest there was the discovery of two mikva’ot (plural of mikveh). A mikveh was used by the Jews for ritual purification (not for bathing; they would bathe first).

A mikveh at Magdala. Two mikva'ot were found at the site. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

A mikveh at Magdala. Two mikva’ot were found at the site. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Archaeologist Ronny Reich, in BAR in an article discussing mikva’ot at Sepphoris says:

. . .we often find mikva’ot in pairs, side by side. We must remember that where the mikveh was not served by a continuously flowing spring (as in the vast majority of cases), the pure water had to last from the end of one rainy season, in around March, until the beginning of the next rainy season, about October. If one of a pair of mikva’ot no longer had enough pure water, the other could be used. What’s more, the waters of a pure mikveh could be used to purify the water in the other. Rabbinic literature describes how a moveable pipe or assemblage of pipes could be used for this purpose (Tosefta mikva’ot, 5.5). Pairs of mikva’ot are frequently found in Jerusalem. At Sepphoris I saw five or six pairs or groups that can easily be identified: numbers 4, 5 and 6; 7 and 9; 14 and 15; 17 and 18; 19 and 20; 21 and 22 on the site map (28:02 Mar/Apr 2002).

The view from Magdala is beautiful.

View from Magdala, looking NW. Photo by Leon Mauldin

View from Magdala, looking NW. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on images for larger view.


Traveling in Israel

October 19, 2013

Yesterday we visited Nazareth. Everyone enjoyed the Nazareth Village, which is a realistic recreation of life in the 1st century. Then on to Beth Shean, Jezreel, and then down the Jordan Valley to Jerusalem. We had planned to go through the hill country of Samaria, but found the gate had closed today at 2:00 PM (due to holiday). Also the Spring of Harod, where Gideon’s army was divinely trimmed down to 300 men to face 135,000 Midianites, was closed. We also had some rain, but still it was a good day. Then we made our way to Jerusalem.

Today we saw the Western Wall, which was very busy due to the Sabbath, then we went south. We visited Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered. Then Masada, the Dead Sea at Engdei, then the Jordan River and finally Jericho before returning to Jerusalem.

Since last night I’ve been unable to upload photos. Hopefully I can resolve this soon!

Synagogue at Magdala

October 17, 2013

There are numerous ongoing excavations in Israel. We were excited to begin our day today with a stop at Magdala. A volunteer told our group about some of the discoveries there.

Volunteer at Magdala informing our group about discoveries there.

Volunteer at Magdala. Photo by Leon Mauldin

I had been to Magdala twice before, but today was the first time I was able to walk around the site and take photos. There were several matters of interest there, but I especially wanted to see the synagogue, as the remains date back to the first century!

1st century Synagogue at Magdala. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

1st century Synagogue at Magdala. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Magdala was the home town of Mary Magdalene. The designation means “Mary of Magdala.” This was a fishing village in the time of Jesus. Fish were salted here and exported to Rome.

We had a good day, packed full with good photo opportunities. Everyone is well so far and for that we are thankful.

Click on images for larger view.

Ahab’s Water Tunnel at Megiddo

October 16, 2013

Today our group enjoyed a profitable start at Caesarea, located on the Mediterranean coast, capital of Judea during New Testament times. There is so much to see there. Leaving there we ascended Mt. Carmel, one of my personal favorites because so many biblical locations can be viewed from there. There was considerable haze in the air, so that did not lend itself to good photos.

We then proceeded to Megiddo, a very strategic city formerly occupied by the Canaanites (among others) located on the international trade route which connected Egypt to Mesopotamia. Solomon made this one of his fortified cities.

Tel Megiddo. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Tel Megiddo. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Megiddo was also an important site during the Divided Kingdom period in the days of Ahab, king of Israel. Ahab accomplished an amazing engineering feat of tunneling through solid rock down to the water supply. Our group walked through the tunnel today.

Ahab's water tunnel at Megiddo. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Ahab’s water tunnel at Megiddo. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We plan to post more tomorrow. Click images for larger view.

In Netanya, Israel

October 15, 2013

Though Netanya is not a biblical city, it is located on the Mediterranean Coast within the biblical Plain of Sharon. As our bus was transporting our group to Netanya, I noticed a sign which said Ha Sharon, (the Sharon). Texts mentioning Sharon include:

Song of Solomon 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon, And the lily of the valleys.

Acts 9:35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him [Aeneas, raised from the dead] and turned to the Lord.

I took this photo just after sunset 2+ hrs. ago.

Natana, located within the biblical Plain of Sharon. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Netanya, within the biblical Plain of Sharon, facing west. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Map shows the Plain of Sharon:

Plain of Sharon. BibleAtlas.org

Plain of Sharon. BibleAtlas.org

Wikipedia has this info re Netanya, and its relation to Sharon:

Netanya (Hebrew: נְתַנְיָה, lit., “gift of God”) is a city in the Northern Central District of Israel, and is the capital of the surrounding Sharon plain. It is located 30 km (18.64 mi) north of Tel Aviv, and 56 km (34.80 mi) south of Haifa, between the ‘Poleg’ stream and Wingate Institute in the south and the ‘Avichail’ stream in the north. Netanya was named in honor of Nathan Straus, a prominent Jewish American merchant and philanthropist in the early twentieth century.

Click on images for larger view.

%d bloggers like this: