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. (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/research_projects/tell_es-sa%E2%80%98idiyeh_excavations.aspx).

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.


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 www.landofisraeltours.com

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.


Visiting the Dead Sea in Israel

November 15, 2016

A few days ago our group was able to see the Dead Sea, among other sites to the south of Jerusalem. The Dead Sea is:

a large lake in southern Israel at the lowest point on earth. In the Old Testament it is called the Salt Sea (Gen. 14:3; Josh. 3:16); the Sea of the Arabah (Deut. 3:17); and the Eastern Sea (Ezek. 47:18; Joel 2:20). Josephus, the Jewish historian, referred to this buoyant body as Lake Asphaltitis. The Arabic name is Bahr Lut, meaning, “Sea of Lot.” But from the second Christian century onward, Dead Sea has been the most common name for this unusual body of water.

The topography of the Middle East is dominated by a geologic fault that extends from Syria south through Palestine, all the way to Nyasa Lake in east-central Africa. The Dead Sea is located at the southern end of the Jordan valley at the deepest depression of this geologic fault. With a water level approximately 390 meters (1,300 feet) below sea level, the surface of the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. At the deepest point of the sea, on the northeast corner at the foot of the Moab mountains, the bottom is 390 meters (1,300 feet) deeper still. (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

Dead Sea at Sunset. Looking east to the mountains of Moab. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Dead Sea at Sunset. Looking east to the mountains of Moab. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

 

The Dead Sea is actually a lake into which the river Jordan flows, but once entering the Sea there is no outlet. Because of its high mineral content (25 percent), and the fact that the water is ten times saltier than the ocean, the Dead Sea does not support marine life. These unusual geographical facts became the basis of a thought-provoking song by Lula Zahn (words are now public domain) that makes spiritual application. It has been my experience that this is not the easiest song (musically speaking) for congregational use, but it’s worth the effort to try!

“There is a Sea”

by Lula Klingman Zahn

There is a sea which day by day
Receives the rippling rills
And streams that spring from wells of God
Or fall from cedared hills
But what it thus receives it gives
With glad unsparing hand
A stream more wide, with deeper tide
Flows on to lower land

There is a sea which day by day
Receives a fuller tide
But all its store it keeps, nor gives
To shore nor sea beside
It’s Jordan stream, now turned to brine
Lies heavy as molten lead
It’s dreadful name doth e’er proclaim
That sea is waste and dead

Which shall it be for you and me
Who God’s good gifts obtain?
Shall we accept for self alone
Or take to give again?
For He who once was rich indeed
Laid all His glory down
That by His grace, our ransomed race
Should share His wealth and crown

Click on image 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.

 


Milestones near Beth Shan

May 18, 2016

You’ve heard about “going the second mile.” In His “Sermon on the Mount” in Galilee Jesus said (in a context forbidding retaliation for evil), “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matt. 5:41). In New Testament times a Roman soldier could compel a Jewish citizen (or others) to carry burdens for them. They were authorized by the Roman government to press civilians into service of this nature; such would have to carry the load for the distance of one mile, but no further.

But how would you know when the mile was up? Conveniently, Roman roads had mile markers, such as these below, collected from the Beth Shan area.

Milestones from the Beth Shan area, at Gan Hashlosha National Park. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Milestones from the Beth Shan area, at Gan Hashlosha National Park. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Jesus tells His disciples that instead of complaining about an oppressive government, or bemoaning their victimization, they were to go an extra mile. You see, Jesus’ disciples are different; in the world, but not of the world. Who knows but that from time to time this kind of unusual conduct would cause that soldier to ask, “What makes you different; what do you have that I don’t have?” If so then as Peter said, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Pet. 3:15,16).

I’ve previously written on milestones here.