October 8, 2010
It is not unusual for some to have the impression that today Israel is altogether a dry and rocky land, especially when one has perhaps seen photos of the rugged wilderness of Judea, or other such barren areas.
One of the distinct features of the land of Israel is the amazing variety of the land. At the coast you are at sea level. Thirty-five miles east of Joppa you are 2500 above sea level at Jerusalem. Another fourteen miles NE and you are at Jericho, 800 feet below sea level. South from there you will be at the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the face of the earth, 1300 feet below sea level. But go north to the Golan, and much of the year you will see snow at Mt. Hermon.
Today’s photos were taken in the southern plain going from the Joppa/Tel Aviv area going from west to east, so we are looking to the south in the photos. These aerial shots were taken this past Dec. and you will see greenery and evidence of agriculture. Bear in mind also that during the OT period this area would have been inhabited by the Philistines much of the time.
Southern Coastal Plain. Land of the Philistines. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.
These aerial shots certainly give one a perspective different from ground level!
Aerial Photo of Coastal Plain. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.
Again, this is typical terrain as you make your way toward the Shephelah and then on to the central hill country.
Looking south as we continue eastward. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.
Here is one more. You get the idea. A lot of photosynthesis is taking place here!
Aerial Coastal Plain looking south. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.
Remember to click on images for higher resolution.
October 6, 2010
In the biblical period of the Judges, when Eli was High Priest and judge, God allowed the Philistines to defeat apostate Israel, even allowing the Philistines to capture the ark of the covenant. But as the Philistines gloated over their “prize” they were stricken with plagues. This continued as the ark was moved from city to city; they were getting severely sick, and some died.
The Philistine leaders then decided to try an experiment to determine whether this was some strange coincidence or if in fact they were objects of the wrath of the God of Israel. They took two cows, each of which had a calf, and harnessed the cows to a new cart. They secured the calves in their stalls. The natural inclination of the cows would be to go to their calves. So the Philistine leaders reasoned in this manner:
Take the ark of the LORD and place it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you return to Him as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it away that it may go. Watch, if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth-shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we will know that it was not His hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance (1 Samuel 6:8-9).
Aerial shot of Beth-shemesh. Ark was returned here by Philistines. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.
The Philistines placed the ark on the cart along with offerings to the Lord. The text continues, “And the cows took the straight way in the direction of Beth-shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. And the lords of the Philistines followed them to the border of Beth-shemesh” (v.12).
Can you imagine those cows mooing and crying as they made a bee-line from Philistia to Israelite territory, against their instinct but forced to yield to the hand of a Sovereign God? Our photo above shows the ruins of biblical Beth-shemesh, the site referenced in the text.
From Beth-shemesh the ark was moved to Kiriath Jearim, where it would remain until the reign of David (2 Sam. 7:1).
Click on image for higher resolution.
October 5, 2010
Today’s post features an aerial photo of the Yarkon River, a river on the western side of Israel near Joppa. In a context setting forth the tribal allotment of Dan, Joshua 19:46 includes “Me Jarkon, and Rakkon, with the region near Joppa” (NKJV). The term Me Jarkon means “waters of the Jarkon” (Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary). The Hebrew character for “J” is sounded as “Y,” hence the spelling Yarkon.
You can locate the Yarkon on this map, just north of Joppa: (click image for larger view)
Yarkon River, north of Joppa. BibleAtlas.org.
The Yarkon is the principle stream of the southern Plain of Sharon. The Yarkon’s source is near Aphek, NT Antipatris (see map), and flows west/southwest until it empties in the Mediterranean, as seen in our photo: (click image for higher resolution)
Aerial Photo of Yarkon River as it empties into the Mediterranean. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.
The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land (3rd ed) has the following info re: the Yarkon:
The Yarkon or Me-Yarkon (‘Waters of Yarkon’ in Hebrew) is a river mentioned as being in the territory of Dan (Josh. 19:46); called el-Auja in Arabic, it is a perennial river rising at the foot of Tell Ras el-Ain. The mound referred to most probably contains the remains of the ancient city of Aphek (Josh. 12:18; 1 Sam. 29:1), the Herodian Antipatris. The copious waters of the river made its valley ideal for intensive agriculture. Indeed, along its bank numerous towns and villages sprang up in all periods. It is possible that in ancient times, before the mouth of the river silted, it also served as a safe harbor, and small vessels and rafts could navigate its entire length. Running from the foothills down to the sea the Yarkon River formed a military obstacle. Alexander Jannaeus built a line of fortresses as defense against the Syrians (Josephus, War i,99).
The earlier cited text of Joshua 19:46 is the only text in the Bible which mentions the Yarkon.