Temple Inscription Fragment

September 15, 2014

Some biblical texts are especially illuminated by archaeological finds. For example, Acts 21:28 records the false charge against Paul, “He also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place” (v.28). The next verse shows this they “supposed” (NET “assumed). Ephesians 2:14 speaks of Jesus’ death breaking down “the middle wall of separation” between Jews and Gentiles.

Temple Inscription Fragment. Israel Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Temple Inscription Fragment. Israel Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Our photo shows one of the warnings posted marking the boundary within the temple complex beyond which no Gentile could proceed. The inscription read, “NO FOREIGNER IS TO GO BEYOND THE BALUSTRADE AND THE PLAZA OF THE TEMPLE ZONE. WHOEVER IS CAUGHT DOING SO WILL HAVE HIMSELF TO BLAME FOR HIS DEATH WHICH WILL FOLLOW.”

A complete tablet is housed in the Istanbul Museum, and can be seen in a previous post here.

So the Acts 21 text means that Paul was charged with taking a Gentile beyond the balustrade marked off by signs just like this one.

The Ephesians 2 text shows that with Jesus’ death on the cross, reconciliation is made possible between men (Jew and Gentile) and God, and those reconciled unto God are reconciled to each other. The reconciled are in one body (the church, Eph. 1:22-23). That distinction epitomized by the wall of separation, and reflected by these warning signs, has been removed.

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Balance and Caution in Use of Archaeology

September 4, 2014

A question from a friend:

It concerns the crossing of the Red Sea. There is an awful lot of talk about the “traditional” Red Sea crossing maps versus the so-called “archaeological findings” purportedly found at the Gulf of Aqaba.

. . . However, some of our brethren have begun using maps and pictures that show what is believed to be possibly the “real Mt. Sinai” with charred rock covering its cap, a “split rock” in the wilderness, chariot wheels, etc… (I’m not buying it.) All of these things I see look like the work of Ron Wyatt, but all sorts of people have these things on their internet sites.

. . . All of that said, I was wondering if you had any material or resources dealing with the subject head on. I do not plan on making this an issue… nor do I plan on bringing anyone else’s name into the mix. I would just like to be able to give a “ready defense” if I am ever called upon. I’d greatly value your input on the matter. Thank you.
Others more qualified that I have dealt with the claims of Mr. Wyatt. As a starting point I can recommend the following sources: Ferrell Jenkins has an article entitled, “Pharaoh’s Chariot Wheels and Other Things that Won’t Float — Examining the Claims of the Late Ron Wyatt ,” that you can access here, plus another article entitled, “Pseudo Archaeologists”here. These articles have numerous related links for further reading. Additionally I would recommend Gordan Franz’s site, Life and Land, here. Use the search box. He has several entries under “Cracked Pot Archaeology.” The use of caution in using Mr. Wyatt’s material/claims would be prudent.
While no one can be certain of the exact location of Israel’s crossing. the best evidence would be somewhere along the Suez.

From Sinai looking across Suez to Egypt. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I took the above photo in 2003, having crossed the Suez. We are standing on the Sinai side looking back across Egypt.

I personally conclude that the traditional Mt. Sinai (Jebel Musa) best fits the biblical criteria.

The above info was posted Sept. 28, 2013.

See Ferrell Jenkins’ current post, “The Route of the Exodus and the Location of Mt. Sinai,” for a number of links and as well as balanced observations. I recommend it. Click here.

Click photo for larger view.


Follow-up on Bethlehem of Galilee–Reader Response

September 2, 2014

In our previous post (click here) on Bethlehem of Galilee we referenced Ibzan (of Judges 12:8-10) of Bethlehem and observed: “Very likely this is the Bethlehem of Galilee, not the Bethlehem of Judah.” A reader asks, “I’ve learned about the existence of this town sometime ago, but I’ve never found out WHY it is likely that this Bethlehem is Ibzan’s hometown. Which arguments support this assumption?”

That is a good question. First, remember that Joshua 19:15 lists Bethlehem among other cities Zebulun inherited.

Wolf, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary observes, “The Zebulun location is favored because the southern city is usually identified as “Bethlehem in Judah” (17:7-9; 19:1-2, 18)” (Vol. 3, p.459). Note that is the wording repeatedly in each of these verses. It seems consistent that when the southern Bethlehem is intended, it is indicated, for example, Judges 17:7: “Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite; and he was staying there” (NASB). Note the rendering of the KJV: “And there was a young man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there.”

Keil & Delitzsch: “Ibzan sprang from Bethlehem,—hardly, however, the town of that name in the tribe of Judah, as Josephus affirms (Ant. v. 7, 13), for that is generally distinguished either as Bethlehem ‘of Judah’ (Judg. 17:7, 9; Ruth 1:2; 1 Sam. 17:12), or Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:1), but probably Bethlehem in the tribe of Zebulun (Josh. 9:15)” (Vol 2, p. 287). To the Micah passage we could add Gen. 35:19: “So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)” (see also Gen. 48:7).

Pulpit Commentary: “But as Bethlehem of the tribe of Judah is generally called Bethlehem of Judah, or Bethlehem-Ephratah, and as Elon and Abdon were judges in North-East Israel, it is perhaps more probable that Bethlehem of Zebulun is meant” (p. 136). In his comment above, author A.C. Hervey is making two points: the fuller designation (of Judah or Ephratah) is used when Bethlehem of the south is intended, and second, the context of Judges 12:8-10. Verse 11 mentions Judge Elon of Zebulun, and Judge Abdon (vv. 13-15), on the border between Ephraim and Manasseh. While it is not conclusive proof, Ibzan’s placement in the text is in the context of judges to the north. Note in this connection that Butler, in the Word Biblical Commentary observes, “The context appears to point to the northern location. . .” (Vol. 8, p. 297).

Avraham Negev states regarding Bethlehem of Galilee: “A town in the territory of Zebulun, (Josh. 19:15), the birth-place of the judge Ibzan and the place where he was buried (Judg. 12:8–10)” (The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land).

While I do not think that truth is determined by the number of people who advocate a particular position, it is true that the majority of scholars favor Bethlehem of Zebulun of Galilee as best fitting the text and context of Judges 12:8-10.

Bethlehem of Galilee. Further remains from the Templars. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Bethlehem of Galilee. Further remains from the Templars. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click image for larger view.