Abel-meholah, Elisha’s Home

April 29, 2016

We’re continuing the study of the Divided Kingdom in our local congregation in our auditorium class, using the text of 1 Kings. We have found this period to be one of not only the history of the kings but also there is much emphasis on prophetic activity. This is particularly true of the prophets Elijah and Elisha (the latter in 2 Kings).

During the reign of Ahab (Israel), God told Elijah, “Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place” (1 Kgs. 19:16).

Abel-Meholah is located in the Jordan Valley in Israel.

Abel-meholah. BibleAtlas.com.

Abel-meholah. BibleAtlas.com.

Though I saw Abel-meholah earlier this month, I’m sharing a photo I took in December 2009.

Abel-meholah in the Jordan Valley, proposed site of Elisha's home. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Abel-meholah in the Jordan Valley, proposed site of Elisha’s home. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Such maps and photos provide the setting for the text of 1 Kings 19:16.



Ferrell Jenkins Conducts 50th Anniversary Tour: A Tribute to my Friend

April 27, 2016

The March 28 – April 8, 2016 Israel tour directed by Ferrell Jenkins was advertised as his “50th Anniversary Tour,” thus completing 50 years of Distinctive World Tours, designed and led by Mr. Jenkins. What a remarkable, incredible milestone! These tours, custom-designed with Christians in mind, have literally gone around the world, but the emphasis has been on travel to the lands where the biblical events transpired. That of course includes Israel, but also Turkey, Greece, Italy, Egypt and more; literally from Ararat (where Noah’s ark landed; book of Genesis) to Patmos (where John received the Revelation). All who have traveled with Mr. Jenkins have profited, but it is especially the Bible class teachers (men & women), preachers and elders who have made the greatest use of resources, photos and knowledge gained. In that way also the folks “back home” that do not travel have benefited as well.

His blog, Ferrell’s Travel Blog was started in 2007, to feature not only photos of Bible places but also helpful info, biblical texts and other resources/links. Since then his blog has received more than two million visits. (You will also find biblicalstudies.info to be a very helpful site).

Mr. Jenkins wrote, “I have been preaching and teaching the Word of God since 1952, and I have always loved it. Nothing gives me a greater thrill than teaching at the sites where biblical events occurred. Thanks for the memories. It is my conviction that an understanding of the Bible lands can enhance one’s Bible study and improve understanding of the text. This, in turn, must be converted to action in obedience to the will of the Lord, and in service to Him” (Biblical Insights, Dec. 2009, p.28).

Ferrell Jenkins outside Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Ferrell Jenkins outside Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem (Apr. 14, 2016). Photo by Leon Mauldin.

On my part I wanted to say Thanks! for a job well done, for such an outstanding contribution to the field of biblical studies. It is amazing to look back at those last 50 years and think of the good that has been accomplished. Though retired, Mr. Jenkins continues to study several hours daily, and writes and does some teaching as time permits. He has devoted his life to helping people, especially young people, better understand and be equipped to teach the Bible. All of his work has been done with the loving support of Mrs. Elizabeth Jenkins.

On a personal note, I was able to join this 50th tour on the evening before its final day. Then after the tour group left for home, Mr. Jenkins & I rented a car, and for the next several days visited sites all over Israel, using Tiberius and Jerusalem as our “base,” especially focusing on places we had not seen before. We were also able to do some aerial photography from Joppa to the south as far as Beersheba and east to Jerusalem. I have enjoyed and profited from several personal study trips he & I have made of this nature.

So to my fellow Gospel preacher, former professor, and traveling friend, please accept this small token of my lasting gratitude, and of the high esteem in which you are held, furnished by the occasion of this extraordinary milestone! To God be the glory!


Baal Worship

April 26, 2016

The Ten Commandments began with the words, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth” (Ex. 20:3-4). This prohibition of idolatry, perhaps more than any other single thing, set apart the people of God from other nations.

Baal, displayed at Hecht Museum at Haifa University, Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Baal, displayed at Hecht Museum at Haifa University, Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Note this info from Nelson’s NIBD: 

The pagan peoples who inhabited the land of Canaan before the Israelites arrived also worshiped many gods and goddesses. The Canaanite literature discovered at RAS SHAMRA (on the site of the ancient city of Ugarit) on the Syrian coast provides abundant information about several gods mentioned in the Bible.

The Canaanite god most often referred to is Baal, which means “lord” or “master.” The word could be used as a title for any person who owned something, or any god considered to be a lord or master. But the word Baal soon became identified with various regional gods that were thought to provide fertility for crops and livestock. As a god who symbolized the productive forces of nature, Baal was worshiped with much sensuality (Num. 22:41; Judg. 2:13; 1 Kin. 16:31–32).

Baal appeared in many forms and under many different names. The Bible often makes reference to the Baalim (the plural of Baal, KJV) or to the Baals (NKJV; Judg. 2:11; 1 Kin. 18:18; Jer. 2:23). (Youngblood, Bruce, & Harrison. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

We have previously posted on Baal worship here.

Neither Dew Nor Rain

April 23, 2016

In the days of King Ahab (874-853 BC) of Israel, Elijah the prophet dramatically and suddenly came on the scene with the word of the Lord. He said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word” (1 Kings 17:1). Earlier the text had said of Ahab that he “married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria” (1 Kings 16:31-32).

Baal, the god of rain in Canaanite mythology. Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Baal, the god of rain in Canaanite mythology. Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In Canaanite mythology, which had invaded the land of Israel and had become the state religion, Baal, the storm god, was the giver of rain, crops and fertility. Elijah’s bold declaration was that there would be no rain or dew until YHWH, the LORD, the God of Israel said so. “In contrast to those who were not gods, whose idols Ahab ignorantly worshiped, the living Lord, who was truly Israel’s God, would withhold both dew and rain for the next several years” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 4, p. 138).

Click image for larger view.

Gan Hashlosha (near biblical Beth-shan), Israel

April 12, 2016

Today’s travels took us from the Sea of Galilee down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea area, then west on back to Jerusalem. Along the way we made some interesting stops, including while still in the north, Gan Hashlosha, in the vicinity of Beth-shan. Beth-shan was the city where the bodies of King Saul and three of his sons were fastened after their deaths (1 Sam. 31). Amal Stream, the spring water that emerges in the western part of the park maintains a constant, year-round temperature of 28 degrees Celsius.

Beautiful Gan Hashlosha, Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Beautiful Gan Hashlosha, Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Our real interest in stopping here was the Museum of Regional & Mediterranean Archaeology, which has some unique artifacts from the Beth-shan area, as well as rare finds from the Mediterranean region. The displays feature Canaanite, Israelite, Grecian, Etruscan, Persian and Egyptian collections.

We also drove along the top of Mt. Gilboa, where we had some good views of the Plain of Jezreel, where so many biblical events occurred.

Click image for larger view.

Banias Falls, near Caesarea Philippi

April 11, 2016

Today’s travels in northern Israel took us to Lake Hula (migratory birds pass through here, to and from Africa-Turkey) and then past Abel-beth-maacah (see 1 Kings 15:20) to the border of Lebanon. We also saw the Senir River and Banias River, two of the main sources that converge to form the Jordan River. The Banias Spring emanates at Caesarea Philippi. Downstream from there are the Banias Falls.

Banias Falls near Caesarea Philippi. One of the major sources of the Jordan River.

Banias Falls near Caesarea Philippi. One of the major sources of the Jordan River.

Jesus was in this area during His “Retirement Ministry,” in that time-frame when He was trying to spend more private teaching/training time with the apostles for the great evangelistic work for which He had chosen them. Text–Matthew 16:

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Israel: Up the Jordan Valley and on to Galilee

April 10, 2016

Yesterday we made our way from Jerusalem down to the Jordan Valley and on up to Galilee. Visibility was not the best due to winds from the east and south bringing dust and haze.

We stopped a couple of times along the way to photograph shepherds with their sheep. That is a scene I never tire of. This location was just north of Jericho. We are looking west.

Sheep in Jordan Valley. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sheep in Jordan Valley. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sunrise at the Sea of Galilee this morning consisted of the sun barely peaking through some clouds and dust.

Sunrise at Sea of Galilee April 10, 2016. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sunrise at Sea of Galilee April 10, 2016. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

There is no doubt that during His ministry on earth Jesus and His disciples saw mornings like this on occasion also.

After worship this morning in Nazareth, Ferrell Jenkins and I went on to the Hecht Museum at Haifa University, where we both took several hundred photos. It is a very nice museum of artifacts that covered biblical/historical periods from Chalcolithic on down through Roman. Neither of us had been there before.

So our travels today took us from Tiberias to Nazareth, up the Plain of Jezreel, to the Carmel range and on to Haifa (biblical Acco). We had a good view of the Plain of Acco down to the Mediterranean; then back to Tiberias. It’s been a good day. Our hotel is the Ron Beach Hotel, right on the Sea. My favorite place to stay in the Galilee.

Just for good measure I wanted to share a sunrise photo from Sept, 2011.

Sunrise at Sea of Galilee, Sept. 2011. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sunrise at Sea of Galilee, Sept. 2011. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Biblical Sites in Israel: Gath of the Philistines

April 9, 2016

A visit to the biblical site of Gath, Tel es Safi, on Israel’s coastal plain is worthwhile. Gath was the land of giants (Josh. 11:22). Goliath was from Gath: “Then a champion named Goliath, from Gath, came out from the Philistine camp. He was nine feet, nine inches tall” (1 Sam. 17:4, Holman’s Christian Standard Bible).

It is sad to read how that David (after killing Goliath) had to flee from Saul. He fled to Gath of the Philistines, but there, fearing for his life, pretended to be insane (1 Sam 21:10-15; cf. Psalms 34 and 56). Later David again fled to Gath and was given refuge (1 Sam. 27); the king of Gath gave David and his 600 men the city of Ziklag.

When David was residing when he heard news of the death of King Saul, and his three sons (1 Sam. 31) he composed a song which included the words “Tell it not in Gath, Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon — Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph” (2 Sam. 1:20).

Our photo here gives a view of the large tel.

Tel Gath of the Philistines. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Tel Gath of the Philistines. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We were also able to see some of the excavations of the cities lower wall.

Recent Excavations at Gath. Lower wall of city. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Recent Excavations at Gath. Lower wall of city. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I have previously posted on Gath here (aerial photo).

Dr. Aren Maeir maintains a blog here devoted to news about Gath, Tel es Safi.

Tonight we are at Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee; more photos and info to come. Thanks for following our travels.

Kiriath-jearim and Beth-shemesh in Israel

April 8, 2016

Today Ferrell Jenkins and I visited sites in Jerusalem, but for our post for now I wanted to note a couple of biblical sites we visited yesterday.

One was Kiriath-jearim. This location is of importance because the Ark of the Covenant was there from the days of Samuel (after Eli’s death and the Philistine destruction of Shiloh 1 Sam. 4-5). We read in 1 Samuel 6:21, “So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, ‘The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down and take it up to you.'”

At Kiriath-jearim. Our Lay of the Ark of the Covenant. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

At Kiriath-jearim. Our Lay of the Ark of the Covenant. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Once the ark was returned to Israel by the Philistine enemies, ca. 1100 BC, it would remain there until King David made Jerusalem his capital, ca. 1003 BC, i.e. for 100 years. But first the ark came to Beth-shemesh. The biblical narrative explains how the hand of God was involved as two milk cows, with their calves kept behind, pulled a cart carrying the ark straight from Ekron of the Philistines to the border town of Beth-shemesh of Israel (1 Sam. 6).

Beth Shemesh, where the ark was returned from the Philistines. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Beth-shemesh, where the ark was returned from the Philistines. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Our photo shows the suggested site in Beth-shemesh (in foreground) where the cows pulling the ark were slain as sacrifices. Our view looks toward Philistia in the distance (left from center), the direction from which the ark would have come. As stated above (1 Sam. 6:21), from Beth-shemesh the ark was taken to Kiriath-jearim, where it remained until the days of King David.

We have previously posted here on Kiriath-jearim and here on Beth-shemesh, with aerial photo.

Traveling in Israel: Gibeon and More!

April 7, 2016

Today was a delightful day in Israel. We were able to see biblical sites from Jerusalem westward all the way to the coastal Philistine city of Gath.

Just north of Jerusalem (OT territory of Benjamin) is Gibeon, (Arabic El-Jib). This was formerly the Canaanite city that deceived Joshua and the men of Israel by pretending to be from a great distance, and thus entered into a covenant with Israel during the days of the Conquest (Joshua 9). There are subsequently several biblical references to this site.

Gibeon. Many OT texts refer to this site. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Gibeon at center of photo. Many OT texts refer to this site. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We have previously posted on Gibeon here and here.

Today we also saw Kiriath-Jeariam and  numerous sites in the Shephalah, including the valley of Elah, where David killed Goliath, Lachish, Beth-Shemesh, and the Philistine city of Gath, plus others. More on these later!

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