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Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

Coming upon the story of David and Goliath in our study of 1 and 2nd Samuel, I was reminded of my recent visit to Tel Azeka in Israel.

Tel Azeka gives us a vantage point over the valley of Ela (Elah), the area where the story of 1 Samuel 17 took place. Looking west from the Tel, we can see where the three coastal cities of the Philistines would have been, Ashkelon (to the Southwest), Gath (the inland Capital), and Ashdod (to the Northwest).

The Philistines wanted the mountains in the area surrounding Tel Azeka because they wanted oil–olive oil. The pictures give you a glimpse of the fertile land on the low hills in this area.

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View of Valley of Ela from Tel Azeka

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View of Valley of Ela from Tel Azeka

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View from Tel Azeka

From the photos above, you can view the valley of Ela (Elah) where the armies of Israel met the armies of the Philistines. The open area between the hills is where the armies were faced off.

Being on that Tel, it wasn’t hard to imagine the scene that day. It was probably sunny and bright as it was the day we visited. David would have traveled down from Bethlehem to bring supplies and to get news for his father.

The story opens . . .

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle and were assembled at Socoh, which belongs to Judah; and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together and they camped in the Valley of Elah, and assembled in battle formation to meet the Philistines. The Philistines were standing on the mountain on one side and Israel was standing on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them.  I Samuel 17:1-3.

The rest is, as they say, history.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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Outside of Jerusalem as you travel east, you will find Wadi Qelt. A wadi is a common feature in Israel. It is a ravine or stream bed that dries up until the raining season when it may become a rushing river or a generous stream depending on the rainfall, the run-off and the ravine itself. Wadi Qelt is such a ravine that originates near Jerusalem and extends to the Jordan River near Jericho.

Some have suggested that David may have been thinking of such a ravine when he wrote Psalm 23:4 (CJB), Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me; your rod and staff reassure me.

This very familiar verse reminded me of God’s guidance and correction in my life and how they prove His love for me. Moreover, my love and acceptance of God’s correction speaks of His imprint on me. In that I can see that He has brought me to this point of sanctification. I also know that He will continue to sanctify me until I am made perfect when I see Him face to face.

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Wadi Qelt

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Wadi Qelt

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Wadi Qelt

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Wadi Qelt

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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One of the places that you may visit if you visit Northern Israel is Caesarea Philippi. It is where Jesus asked His disciples the pointed question, “Who do you say that I am? and of course, it is where Peter responded, “You are the Christ!”

But Caesarea Philippi is largely a pagan spot. It is also known as Banias (or Panias).  It was made famous in ancient times for being where the Greek god, Pan, was said to have visited a nearby spring. During those days, Pan worship was prevalent here.

What I enjoy about Caesarea Philippi is the abundance of living water. Water literally comes out of the rocks. The pictures below give you an idea.

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At the time Jesus and His disciples visited Caesarea Philippi it would have been a city filled with temples to a variety of pagan gods including those of the Greeks and Romans. Only the ruins of some of those temples and others built later remain today.  See the photos below of some images of the ruins and the cave of Pan.

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Temple of Pan

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Caesarea Phillip (1)

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Caesarea Philippi (2)

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Caesarea Philippi (3)

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Caesarea Philippi (4)

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Cave of Pan (Caesarea Philippi)

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Have you ever been to the Mediterranean Sea? It is beautiful. The seaport of Caesarea is on the coast of the Mediterranean, and it is spectacular although most of what is left of the man-made harbor and the ancient city is only ruins. The varied blue hues of the sea captivate. I have been to Caesarea on several occasions and most recently when I was there, the sea was rough and tempestuous as compared to earlier visits. Below are some of the photos I have taken on my visits:

 

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Caesarea Maritima

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Caesarea Maritima

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Ruins of Herod’s Port at Caesarea

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Caesarea Maritima

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Caesarea Maritima

The photos below are from my visit in 2020. The sea was very different that day than I had seen it in the past.

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In Caesarea, no natural harbor existed. It was Herod the Great, the master builder, who built a huge man-made harbor here. It was a great feat of design and engineering. Unfortunately, Herod’s structure was no match for the forces of nature.

Caesarea has a new visitor’s center which opened last fall which features a short movie about Herod and provides lots of interesting information about Caesarea.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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Tel Dan

In the north of Israel, almost to the border with Lebanon, is some of the most beautiful landscape in Israel. Here one can find the head waters of the Jordan River, and some very important places in the history of the people of God.

You may not know this, but Dan is the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. When each of the tribes was given its portion of the promised land by lot in the Book of Joshua, the portion given to the tribe of Dan was in the south of the country. A portion of the land given to Dan bordered the coast of the Mediterranean, but unfortunately, to the south of the land given to Dan lived the Philistines, arch enemies of Israel. Because they were unable to defeat the Philistines and ended up in constant conflict with them, the Danites decided to relocate to the north to a city previously known as Laish.

Dan was part of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) when the kingdoms were divided after Solomon died. They worshiped idols including a golden calf which was located at Tel Dan.

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Spring at Tel Dan

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Spring at Tel Dan

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Beautiful greenery and water at Tel Dan

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2020 with the rains, the water flow was tremendous at Tel Dan

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Head waters of the Jordan River

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Snow melt from Mt Hermon (Head waters of the Jordan River)

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Head waters of the Jordan River

The pictures above show you how green it is in the Spring at Tel Dan and the tremendous flow of water. This water will end up flowing in the Jordan River.

Below are photos of the site where the altar was in Dan. It was a pagan altar and not a place sanctioned by God for worship by the Israelites. The northern kingdom was ultimately destroyed by the Assyrians which God clearly stated was because of Israel’s idolatry.

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Altar site at Tel Dan

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Altar Site at Tel Dan

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Altar remains at Tel Dan

Also at the Tel Dan Nature reserve are the remains of the ancient city of Laish and the gate of the city which is sometimes called “Abraham’s Gate” because it is believed that this is the city gate that Abraham would have come through when he was looking for Lot and his family who had been kidnapped. (See Genesis 14) That will be addressed in a future post.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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So you know you have a fabulous tour guide when you get into a site that isn’t open to the public yet.

We were able to get a brief look at the Pilgrim’s Passageway in February of this year. The passageway is being excavated under a street in an Arab neighborhood close to the city of David. There is quite a stir and much excitement among archaeology and Bible history buffs about this discovery.

The Pilgrim’s Passageway leads from the pool of Siloam up to the Temple. Pilgrims coming to give their sacrifices would have made their way along this paved road in the 1st century. It would have been a route that Jesus could have taken when coming into the city and making His way to the Temple.

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Pilgrim’s Passageway Jerusalem

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It is clear in the pictures that the ceiling had to be braced with steel brackets. Above the passageway are homes and a street. In the picture above, you can see the small booths that lined the passageway where vendors sold their goods to pilgrims entering the city.

The project has been slowed recently because a large portion of the passageway was gone and either needs to be restored or other provisions made before the site can be opened to the public. Despite all that is going on in the world today, in Jerusalem and all over Israel, the past is coming to light.

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Magdala was an ancient city on the eastern shore of Lake Kinneret, several miles north of Tiberias. Today, if you visit the area, you will find the ancient city has been excavated and the ruins of the city reveal volumes of information about Jewish life in the first century in this area.

Magdala is in my top 5 favorite spots for New Testament insight. It is one of the few places in Israel where you can say with almost certainty that Jesus was here. In fact, he may have been here many times during his life and ministry. He may have even read and taught in this very synagogue.

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Magdala 1st Century Synagogue

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Magdala 1st Century Synagogue

As the pictures above reflect, the synagogue is largely intact. It was never built over, it appears much as it would have in the 1st century when Jesus of Nazareth would have visited and probably taught there on a Sabbath.

One of the the significant artifacts found at the site was a box (see images above) on which there were carvings of the menorah in the Temple. It was likely that there were members of the priestly family in Magdala who would have served in the Temple and been familiar with the menorah.

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Mosaic on the floor of 1st Century Synagogue in Magdala

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Plaster on walls with decoration from 1st Century Synagogue in Magdala

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Plastering of a pillar from the 1st Century Synagogue in Magdala

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Mosaic from the floor of 1st Century Synagogue in Magdala

 

 

 

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