Made in China, Repaired in Israel

September 29, 2011

I think there’s something to be said for taking seriously matters of import, while one doesn’t take himself too seriously. That being said, Ferrell Jenkins and I seriously wanted to see the tel of Adullam, as well as the cave (he posted on that earlier this month here).

The biblical narrative of 2 Sam. 23:13-17 has impressed me with the concept of loyalty and devotion. At the cave of Adullam (which David was using as his stronghold) three of David’s men heard him verbalize how he would like a drink of water from the well of his home town Bethlehem. The problem was that the Philistines had a garrison posted there. That did not matter. Those three left the cave and “broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well . . . and took it and brought it to David” (v.16). David was so overcome with emotion and gratitude that he could not drink it, but instead poured it out as an offering to YHVH (vv.16-17).

These men loved David so much that they were willing to risk everything, including their lives, to do what they perceived that David wanted.  I’ve often said that if we loved the Lord just about half as much as they loved David, we’d be well on our way in the right direction.

Those concepts I take seriously. But back to the part about not taking yourself too seriously. Of course I wanted to go inside the cave, which we did. I had on a brand new pair of pants. In the process of bending around and getting in position to take photos from inside the cave I heard an unmistakable ripping sound. It wasn’t a neat rip. It wasn’t even in the seam. It was say from the knee all the way up to the zipper. What do you do in a situation like that? By the way, Adullam was to be our first stop of the day.

Another question, what are the odds of finding a sewing machine at Adullam or nearby?

Emergency Pants Repair at Adullam. "Made in China, Repaired in Israel." Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Our driver/guide we had secured for this excursion which required 4-wheel drive, Daphna (see above reference in Jenkin’s post), helped secure my dignity. Among the equipment possessed by Haelah Desert Tours was indeed a sewing machine, and there was also a very helpful worker who knew how to use it. As I waited inside the (thankfully unoccupied) office, Mr. Jenkins recorded the moment with the above photo.

Things like that give you something to smile about (after it’s over), and also to remember about your visit. I could never forget Adullam, especially not now.

Another BTW, Mr. Jenkins said that for me to be a good steward it would be essential to take those pants back for a refund. I complied. Actually my wife did, but she got a full refund for the pants that were made in China and repaired in Israel.

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On a personal note, I’m glad and thankful to God to be making this post tonight. I’ve had a  two-day hospitalization, due to what turned out to be a very low potassium level and a med that needed changing, but all seems well and progressing at present.

I’m looking forward, the Lord willing, to being with the Southside church of Christ in Pasadena, TX, for a 5-day meeting, Mon-Fri. This will be my Visualized Survey of the Bible, which emphasizes the theme of the Bible, and narrates the record in survey form from Genesis to Revelation. I am thankful for such opportunities. In such lessons we make use of numerous photos of the Bible lands, showing the geographical context for the events of Scripture.

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The Ark of the Covenant After Shiloh

September 26, 2011

In previous posts we have seen Shiloh as the location of the tabernacle in the days of Joshua through the days of the judge and high priest Eli and into the judgeship of Samuel (Josh. 18:1ff; 1 Samuel 1-4).

The Philistines captured the ark at the battle of Aphek, and then the evidence is that they went on to destroy Shiloh. Upon realizing that they were being plagued by God because they were in possession of the ark of the covenant, they allowed it to return to Israel’s territory, specifically the tribe of Judah (1 Sam. 5-6). First the ark when to Beth-shemesh, and then was taken to Kiriath-jearim. It would remain there until the days of David, about 120 years or so.

Kiriath-jerarin, Site of Ark of Covenant for over a century. Photo by Leon Mauldin

Our photo shows Kiriath-jeream, which Todd Bolen notes is

also known as Tel Qiryat Ye’arim, Baalah, Baalah of Judah, Baale-judah, Baale of Judah, Deir el-Azar, Gibeath-Kiriath-Jearim (?), Kirath, Kiriath, Kiriath-arim, Kiriath-jearim, Kiriath Baal, Kiriath-baal, Kirjath, Kirjatharim, Kirjathbaal, Kirjathjearim, Kuryet el-‘Enab, Qaryet el-Enab, Qiryat Yearim.

To which we might also add the designation, Abu Ghosh.

But as they say, “the plot thickens.” Though the ark was at Kiriath-jearim until David 8th year as king (at which time he moved it to Jerusalem), the tabernacle and altar of burnt offering were at Gibeon. We plan to deal with that in upcoming posts.


More on Shiloh

September 23, 2011

At the battle of Aphek the Philistines defeated the Israelites in the days of Eli and Samuel (1 Sam. 4:1-11). Look at map to see Shiloh, where the tabernacle was, and Aphek. Both are in the tribal territory of Ephraim.

Location of Aphek relative to Shiloh, tribal territory of Ephraim. Map by Scott Richardson.

The best evidence is that it was then that the Philistines destroyed Shiloh. Ample traces of this destruction were found in the excavations. Israel Finkelstein wrote,

This complex of buildings [buildings in location designated area C] was destroyed by a violent conflagration whose traces were visible everywhere: charred floors and heaps of fallen bricks, sometimes more than one meter deep (some of the bricks were visibly baked by the fierce fire). Here and there parts of the fallen roof were identifiable. As suggested by Albright following the Danish expedition’s excavations, this may be attributable to the Philistine destruction of the site (mid-eleventh century BCE) (The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, IV.1368).

This photo shows some of the excavations at Shiloh.

Excavations at Shiloh. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Following the destruction of Shiloh, the tabernacle was at Gibeon in the days of David and Solomon, until Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem. We plan to follow-up on that in subsequent posts.

Moving ahead to the Byzantine Period, churches have been found from the fifth and sixth centuries AD. A section of Mosaic floor may be seen in our photo.

Mosaic Floor at Shiloh. Byzantine Period. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

To see the remains of Bible places can be tremendous help in visualizing the biblical text, don’t you agree?

Shiloh Flag. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Remember to click on images for higher resolution.

 


Shiloh, cont’d.

September 22, 2011

Using the early date of the Conquest (1407/6 BC) as the approximate time that the tabernacle would have been erected at Shiloh (Josh. 18:1), and accepting W.F. Albright’s dating of Shiloh’s destruction at 1050 BC, that would mean that the tabernacle stood at that site for about 350 years. As we saw in our previous post, the biblical text makes reference to Shiloh’s destruction as a well-known fact but does so without recording the event itself. Most likely it was the Philistines who followed through with the destruction of the sacred site after the capture of the ark as recorded in 1 Sam. 4.

Later the Psalmist would write,

55 He drove the nations out from before them; he assigned them their tribal allotments and allowed the tribes of Israel to settle down. 56 Yet they challenged and defied the sovereign God, and did not obey his commands. 57 They were unfaithful and acted as treacherously as their ancestors; they were as unreliable as a malfunctioning bow. 58 They made him angry with their pagan shrines, and made him jealous with their idols. 59 God heard and was angry; he completely rejected Israel. 60 He abandoned the sanctuary at Shiloh, the tent where he lived among men. 61 He allowed the symbol of his strong presence to be captured; he gave the symbol of his splendor into the hand of the enemy (Psalm 78:55-61, NET).

In our photo the proposed location of the tabernacle at Shiloh may be seen. Note the small rectangular area in upper center.

Shiloh. Possible location of tabernacle in upper center. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Here is a close up:

Shiloh. Area in shape of rectangle is proposed site of the tabernacle. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Shiloh was central to the nation of Israel for several centuries.

Click on images for higher resolution.


“Go To Shiloh” (Jer. 7:12)

September 20, 2011

The professed people of God of Jeremiah’s day had a serious problem–they weren’t listening to God. They convinced themselves they could do as they pleased and claim allegiance to God, and everything would be OK; after all, they had the temple.

Jeremiah addressed this:

7 If you stop doing these things, I will allow you to continue to live in this land which I gave to your ancestors as a lasting possession. 8 But just look at you! You are putting your confidence in a false belief that will not deliver you. 9 You steal. You murder. You commit adultery. You lie when you swear on oath. You sacrifice to the god Baal. You pay allegiance to other gods whom you have not previously known. 10 Then you come and stand in my presence in this temple I have claimed as my own and say, “We are safe!” You think you are so safe that you go on doing all those hateful sins! 11 Do you think this temple I have claimed as my own is to be a hideout for robbers? You had better take note! I have seen for myself what you have done! says the LORD. 12 So, go to the place in Shiloh where I allowed myself to be worshiped in the early days. See what I did to it because of the wicked things my people Israel did. 13 You also have done all these things, says the LORD, and I have spoken to you over and over again. But you have not listened! You have refused to respond when I called you to repent! 14 So I will destroy this temple which I have claimed as my own, this temple that you are trusting to protect you. I will destroy this place that I gave to you and your ancestors, just like I destroyed Shiloh (Jer. 7:7-14, NET).

The tabernacle had previously been in Shiloh (Josh. 18; 1 Sam. 1-4, etc.), but God had allowed it to be destroyed because of Israel’s disobedience. Jeremiah warned that the same fate was awaiting the temple, for the same reason.

Location of Shiloh. Map courtesy of BibleAtlas.org

We recently had the opportunity to visit Shiloh. Some archaeological excavations were taking place at the time.

Michal Haber, IAA staff member, and Ferrell Jenkins. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Mr. Jenkins mentioned to Michal Haber of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, who was supervising the excavation  that he and I are members of the Society of Biblical Literature, Near East Archaeological Society, etc., and had an interest in what they were doing there at Shiloh. She graciously showed us around. What was being uncovered at this level was Byzantine and Islamic. The older remains (what she called “the good stuff”) were higher up.

There is a covered platform conveniently situated that is helpful in giving a good view of the ruins of Shiloh. Note the upper center in photo below.

 

Ancient Shiloh. At center is a covered platform helpful in viewing the site. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Several biblical texts flooded my mind while here. Early on during the Conquest of Canaan, the tabernacle was pitched here (Josh. 18:1ff). Then I thought of the days of the Judges, and of barren Hannah, praying here silently, when Eli the Judge and High Priest misjudged her to be drunken. She explained that she was praying that God would give her a son, and if He would do so, she would give him back to the Lord. That prayer was honored and Samuel was born (1 Sam. 1).

Then I thought of the day that the Israelites battled the Philistines and were defeated (1 Sam. 4). Word came back to Shiloh that the Philistines had killed both of Eli’s sons (wicked sons, but they were priests). That was bad news, but then when Eli was told that the Philistines had taken the ark of God, he fell off his seat, breaking his neck and dying.

It was at this point also that one of Eli’s daughters-in-law was in childbirth. When she heard that the ark of God was taken, as well as the news of her husband’s death and Eli’s death, with her dying words she said to name the boy Ichabod, which means “no glory.” Indeed, when God cannot dwell among His people because of sinfulness and stubborn rebellion, there is no glory.

These and other texts come into play at this site. In our photo below you can see Shiloh in foreground, and then surroundings in the distance.

Ruins at Shiloh. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on images for higher resolution.


Sabras, It’s What’s For Dinner

September 15, 2011

Sabras is the Hebrew word for the prickly pear cactus. It is commonly seen in Israel in the summer.

Sabras in the Shephelah. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I found a site with some recipes for the Sabra for those who may be interested: http://kosherfood.about.com/od/kosherisraelifood/a/sabras.htm

The following tips are included:

  • Choose sabras with even color that give slightly to pressure.
  • Ripen sabras at room temperature until soft.
  • Store sabras in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Peel sabras carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin.
  • Section sabras and remove seeds
  • Serve sabras cold.

In an article entitled, “Persimmon,  loquat,  fig,  pomegranate  and  prickly  pear in Israel,” A. Blumefeld of the Institute of Horticulture, A.R.O. Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, Israel, writes:

Prickly  pear  is widespread  in  Israel,  mainly  as  a fence  plant  in  Arab  villages  where it  separates  fields.  As such it  is an extensive  non-irrigated  crop.  The  fruit  which  begins to  mature  in early  July  is consumed  locally  and  until  recently,  only  very  small  amounts of fruit  reached  organized  markets.

The main extensively  grown  cultivar is a thorny,  orange  cultivar.  The propagation of  the prickly  pear is vegetative  and  most  of  the  plants are similar.  However,  other types  occur  among  the  plants  which  show  different  types  of  “leaves”  and  fruits.

Growers  have  selected  some  with  a different  appearance,  mainly  for  home  gardens, with  some  for  large-scale  cultivation.  One  of  the  selections  is  almost  thornless;  it has been  named  ‘Offer’  and forms  the  basis  for  modern  cultivation  of  the prickly  pear.

Orchards  of  this  cultivar  are  planted  in rows  4×5 m apart  and  irrigation  and  fertilizers are applied. The  fruit  is brushed  in  packing  houses  and  is sold in fruit  shops  like  any other fruit.

On our recent trip to Israel Ferrell Jenkins did not offer to peel me one of these sabras for a snack. I’m sure it was only because he was too busy taking photos 🙂

Sabra, close-up. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on images for higher resolution.

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A Tribute to Sandra Waldron

September 13, 2011

This past Friday funeral services for Sandra Waldron, wife of evangelist Bob Waldron, were conducted at Dade City, Florida. This morning a memorial service was held in Athens, Alabama. In both services Bob spoke lovingly of his wife of some 48 years, and I paid tribute to a dear friend. The two of them have been of tremendous influence in my life.

My relationship with the Waldrons goes back to about 1969. I knew them before that through visiting the church at Sumiton, Al., where they were located, but it was in ’69 that I began to study with Bob. I knew that I wanted to preach, and I knew I needed the help that comes from studying with an older preacher. I was 16, and Bob was 27; he was my older preacher. Those weekly studies in their living room on Monday evenings were a great help to me. Bob had me memorize hundreds of passages; he taught me how to study, to be sensitive to people, that our purpose was to teach people, to help people that their souls might be saved. Sandra was consistently very supportive of what Bob & I were doing.

What Bob & Sandra were doing was not just giving me some of their time—they invested themselves in me; they gave themselves. What emerged is the kind of relationship that Paul discussed in Phil. 1:3,7,9: They are in my mind, in my heart, in my prayers. That friendship that began back in those early days has continued and deepened through the years to the present time.

I think of Bob and Sandra as a team. Sandra was truly a help that was meet, suitable. They were joint-heirs together in the grace of life, of one heart and one soul. What a team! Their writings (published by Truth Magazine) have influenced thousands already. May thousands more be influenced for good in the future. And  what is the emphasis of their teaching? Not cutesy stuff; not obscuring the text under the guise of “making it relevant.” Rather the underlying basis is that the Bible is already relevant, so we need to know the Bible, that we may know the God of the Bible.

Their work on the History and Geography of the Bible, a 52-lesson book that traces the theme of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, gives the historical and geographical setting of the biblical world, the setting and context of the events of scripture. Their work in this area was a tremendous factor in igniting my own interest in the Bible lands that you see reflected in this blog.

Like all who are saved, Sandra was saved by the grace of God. I’m thankful for the hope that this gives. I’m thankful that she believed in Jesus, she repented of her sins, confessed her faith, and was baptized for the remission of her sins. I’m thankful that she lived in the Lord, and died in the Lord. Oh what a difference the Gospel makes. I’m thankful for the hope and blessed assurance that we have today.

So ultimately this becomes an occasion to praise God, to praise Him from whom all blessings flow. His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. Trust in Him who will not leave you. Heb. 13:5-6. Whosoever believeth upon Him shall not be put to shame.

This photo of Bob and myself was taken this morning following the memorial service.

Leon Mauldin and Bob Waldron

May the God of all comfort sustain my brother Bob, and may He use the memory of Sandra for good.