Zarethan (Tell es Sa’idiyeh) in the Jordan Valley

March 22, 2018

This morning we left  the Dead Sea, made our way to the border crossing at the King Hussein Bridge into Israel, and arrived after dark at Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, with brief stops at Jerusalem and Caesarea on the way. We plan as time permits to share more photos/info from this past week in Jordan, as well as more to come in Israel.

For tonight I wanted to mention Zarethan in the Jordan Valley, of biblical significance in the Old Testament. When Solomon was building the temple and its vessels, some of the metal casting  (bronze) was done in the area of Zarethan.

Zarephan, mentioned in connection with casting bronze for use in Solomon’s temple. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

1 Kings 7:

40 Now Hiram made the basins and the shovels and the bowls. So Hiram finished doing all the work which he performed for King Solomon in the house of the LORD: 41 the two pillars and the two bowls of the capitals which were on the top of the two pillars, and the two networks to cover the two bowls of the capitals which were on the top of the pillars; 42 and the four hundred pomegranates for the two networks, two rows of pomegranates for each network to cover the two bowls of the capitals which were on the tops of the pillars; 43 and the ten stands with the ten basins on the stands; 44 and the one sea and the twelve oxen under the sea; 45 and the pails and the shovels and the bowls; even all these utensils which Hiram made for King Solomon in the house of the LORD were of polished bronze. 46 In the plain of the Jordan the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan. (verses 40-46)

The British Museum website has some interesting info:

Tell es Sa’idiyeh, identified as the biblical city of Zarethan, lies at the heart of the central Jordan Valley. The huge, double occupation mound occupies a key strategic position, commanding the crossroads of two major trade routes, and dominating some of the richest and most fertile agricultural land east of the River Jordan.

Excavations undertaken since 1985, by a British Museum expedition under the direction of Jonathan N. Tubb, have revealed the great antiquity of the site’s occupational history, with settlement phases extending from the Early Islamic period of the seventh century AD, as far back at least as the Early Bronze Age of the third millennium BC. Excavations have shown that by about 2900 BC, Tell es-Sa’idiyeh was a large and prosperous city, with well constructed architecture and evidence for highly developed municipal planning. The most significant finding in this Early Bronze Age phase has been of a large palace complex on the lower tell, with areas set aside for olive oil production and storage, wine-making and textile preparation. All three of these activities were conducted on an industrial scale, clearly designed for international commerce. The pottery and other artifacts recovered from this early city display a level of refinement and sophistication unparalleled elsewhere in the Levant.

Equally remarkable discoveries relate to the city of the twelfth century BC, where excavations have uncovered evidence to suggest that Tell es-Sa’idiyeh, like Beth Shan or Gaza on the other side of the Jordan River, was a major centre for the Egyptian control of Canaan during the final years of its New Kingdom empire. Substantial architecture, including an elaborate water system and Egyptian-style public buildings have been found on the upper mound, and the same strong Egyptian component is also found in the contemporary cemetery which was cut into the long-abandoned and eroded ruins of the Early Bronze Age city on the lower mound. The expedition has excavated, to date, some 450 graves, many of which show unusual Egyptian features, both in terms of the grave-goods and burial customs. (

A couple of days ago I posted a sunset view of the Dead Sea; here is our view of the Dead Sea from the Jordan side looking across to Israel this morning.

Morning view of Dead Sea looking west. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click images for larger view.

Making Friends in the Jordan Valley

March 21, 2018

Ferrell Jenkins & I are continuing to enjoy our present opportunity to visit and photograph biblical/archaeological sites in Jordan and Israel. We also enjoy meeting many friendly people along the way. Today as we were looking for Tell es Sa’idiyeh, identified as the biblical city of Zarethan, we stopped for a bite of lunch in the Jordan Valley, in the biblical region of Perea.

Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The food was good (we each had a 1/2 chicken), but it was also pleasant to meet friendly people.

Thanks for continuing to follow our travels.

Greetings from Jordan

March 20, 2018

Today’s travels/photography included the proposed site of Tel Heshbon (mentioned numerous times, Num. 21:25, etc.) and Madaba, famous for its large Byzantine-era mosaic map of Israel.

Here is today’s sunset view from Jordan, across the Dead Sea looking to Israel. The mountains of Moab are at our back.

Sunset at Dead Sea. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Thanks for following our travels.

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On the Banks of Jordan

March 18, 2018

On the banks of the Jordan River: Ferrell Jenkins and I are enjoying an opportunity to explore biblical sites in Israel/Jordan, currently in Jordan. We have seen Pella and Jerash, which were cities of the Decapolis. The past two nights we stayed at Bethany, within easy walking distance of the Jordan.

On the banks of the Jordan at Bethany, the traditional location of Jesus’ baptism. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Seeing the reeds here along the Jordan reminded me of some biblical references. Jesus asked the people regarding John: “As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?” (Mt. 11:7). John was certainly no reed shaken by the wind!

Today we saw Mt. Nebo, where Moses stood when he looked across to see the Promise Land, then Dibon, where the famous Moabite stone was discovered. We had stunning views of the Arnon gorge, and made our way on the King’s Highway to Petra, arriving after dark.

I’ve previously posted on the Jordan River here, here, and here.

I’ve not posted until now due to internet issues, but plan to be able now to share more photos.

The Jordan River

April 28, 2017

Today after leaving Jerusalem I made a stop at the Jordan before heading up the Rift Valley for the Galilee. This location is thought by many to be the area in the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by John.

Jordan River. Traditional location of Jesus’ baptism. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We had a safe late afternoon arrival at Tiberias, situated on the Sea of Galilee. While having dinner, Zachary Shavin, who is presently directing a tour, came by to visit a while and “talk shop.” Zack served as our guide for my Israel tour in November. His website is

Leon Mauldin and Zachary Shavin.

To view my previous posts about the Jordan River, go up to search box and enter “Jordan.”

Click images for larger view.

Down the Jordan Valley

November 4, 2016

We said “Good-bye” to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee this morning and made our way down (biblically “up” in altitude) to Jerusalem. We made a stop at Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown.

Nazareth in Galilee, Jesus' hometown. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Nazareth in Galilee, Jesus’ hometown. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

We also made a stop at the Spring of Harod,where Gideon’s army was reduced to 300 men, by which God gave Israel victory over the Midianites (Judges 7-8).

Spring of Harod. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Spring of Harod. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Colorful flora at the site:

Flora at the Spring of Harod. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Flora at the Spring of Harod. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

We also saw Beth-Shean, mentioned in 1 Sam. 31 as the site where the victorious Philistines took the bodies of King Saul and his three sons, fastening them to the walls of the city. This was Scythopolis in New Testament times, one of the cities of the Decapolis.

Beth-shean. OT tel in background; Roman ruins in foreground. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Beth-shean. OT tel in background; Roman ruins in foreground. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Good friend and tour member Lynn Clayton.

Lynn at Beth-shean. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Lynn at Beth-shean. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Click photos for larger image. Thanks for following our travels in the Bible lands.


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.

Jordan River

February 17, 2016

In preparing for our mid-week Bible study tonight (Life of Christ) I came across a photo of the River Jordan I took back in Sept. 2011.

Jordan River. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Jordan River. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This is where the Jordan continues its flow just south of the Sea of Galilee.

Some of my other posts and photos of the Jordan River may be seen by clicking here and here.

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The Conquest: Crossing Jordan

February 17, 2014

Joshua 3 records Israel’s crossing Jordan from the eastern side, to set up camp temporarily at Gilgal, and from there to take the city of Jericho. See our map in previous post.

The timing at this point was just prior to Passover (Josh. 5:10), meaning this was the early harvest season.  When Israel was crossing the notation is made, “Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season” (Josh. 3:15, CSB). The text records divine intervention: the priests were carrying the ark, and when their feet touched the Jordan,

. . . the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a mass that extended as far as Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho. The priests carrying the ark of the LORD’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan (Josh. 3:16-17, CSB).

The study note in the Holman Christian Standard Bible states:

At spring flood, after the winter rains and during the barley harvest, the Jordan River could reach a width in excess of 100 feet and a depth of 10 feet. The priests as the leaders of the people were the first to step down into the water. Doing so was a risky activity with the river at flood stage. Carrying the ark could easily have caused them to be swept away by the current unless the promised miracle took place.

Note that the people crossed “opposite Jericho.” Our photo below is at the Jordan at Qasr el-Yahud, opposite and a little south of Jericho. It would be somewhere near here that the crossing of Joshua 3 took place. Our photo looks to the north.

Jordan River at  Qasr el-Yahud. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Jordan River at Qasr el-Yahud. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In their introduction to the book of Joshua, the HCSB Study Bible has an interesting note about the change in volume of the flow of the Jordan:

The Jordan River was at flood stage when God commanded Joshua to lead the people across. Just as when God opened the Red Sea, He provided a dry path through the Jordan when the priests, bearing the ark of the covenant, touched the edge of the river. . . Up until the 1950’s, more than 3 billion cubic feet flowed through the southern Jordan annually. with construction of a number of dams on the Jordan north of the Sea of Galilee and on rivers that feed the Jordan, that volume of water has been reduced to 300 million cubic feet a year (p.338).

Qasr el-Yahud is a site on the Jordan thought by some to be across from the Bethany referenced in John 1:28, where John the Baptist did some of his baptizing. We had the opportunity to visit here in October.

Baptism in the Jordan River. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Baptism in the Jordan River. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click images for larger view.

The Jordan River

May 26, 2011

In his book, J.W. McGarvey Sermons, McGarvey states,

The river Jordan is the most famous river on the earth.  It does not owe its fame, like our own Mississippi, to its great length, or to the rich commerce that flows upon its bosom … It does not owe its fame, like the Nile, to the fact that its overflow every year makes fertile a land which would otherwise be a desert…Neither does it owe its fame, like the Tiber or the Seine or the Thames, to the fact that some great city like Rome or Paris or London has stood on its banks … To what, then, does this most famous of all the rivers of the face of the globe owe its fame? To three considerations: first, to its peculiar physical characteristics; second, to the historic events that are connected with it; and third, to an association of thought connected with it in the minds of believers (pp. 297-298).

I think we would concur that it is especially number reason number two that makes the Jordan famous–the historical, biblical events which occurred there. Jesus was baptized there (Mt. 3:13-17)!  John baptized with his baptism of repentance there (Mt. 3:5,6) in keeping with the counsel of God (Lk. 7:29-30).  Naaman was cleansed from his leprosy by the God of Israel there (2 Kings 5).  Israel crossed this river on dry land at flood stage to receive the promised land of Canaan (Josh. 3:17).

Jordan River, most famous river in the world. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Today’s traveler to Israel is limited to very few sites from which to view the Jordan.  Most of its flow is on the Palestinian side of the border. Our photo above was taken March, 2011.

Two nights remain of our Gospel Meeting in Chipley, FL. Yesterday I took a photo of the local preacher and his family after we had enjoyed a bite of lunch, Mexican style.

Wes & family, local preacher at Chipley, FL.

My wife & I enjoyed taking a few minutes to view the historic district of Chipley.

House in the historic district of Chipley, FL. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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