Asclepian Adjacent to Pool of Bethesda

November 20, 2014

The god Asclepius, the healing god, was widely worshiped in biblical times, especially in Grecian and Roman periods. The Asclepian at Pergamum in Asia Minor was world famous. We’ve previously posted, click here and here on that one.

It may surprise you to know that there was a healing center devoted to this god in Jerusalem, just 100+ yards north of the Herodian temple adjacent to the pool of Bethesda.

Temple to the healing god  Asclepius at Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Temple to the healing god Asclepius at Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This temple dates back to Roman times, but after the ministry of Jesus.

We’ve posted on Bethesda here and here.

Asclepius is also associated with the Egyptian god Serapis (see here and here), Serapis having become one of the most popular deities in the Roman Empire. The yellow placard in photo the above photo in Jerusalem names both identifies this site as “Temple de Serapis” as well as “Asclepian Temple.”

Serapis, Egyptian god of healing, assimilated by Romans. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Metro Museum NY.

Serapis, Egyptian god of healing, assimilated by Romans. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Metro Museum NY.

Paul would write the Corinthians, “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:5-6).

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En Route to the Pool of Bethesda, Lavigerie

November 18, 2014

On the north end of Jerusalem one can see the ruins of the pool(s) of Bethesda, mentioned in John 5 as the location where Jesus healed a lame man. That was one of seven miracles recorded by divine selection in the Gospel of John to provide reasons for believing in Jesus, evidences for faith in Him as the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:30-31).

While my group was visiting Israel last year, I photographed a statue of Lavigerie, located close by the pools.

Lavigerie in Jerusalem, near Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Lavigerie in Jerusalem, near Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I will acknowledge that the name Charles Martial Allemand Lavigerie is not one I was familiar with. But sometimes you shoot (photograph!) first and ask questions later.

The Dictionary of African Christian Biography relates this info regarding Lavigerie (1825-1892):

Cardinal Archbishop of Algiers and Carthage, Primate of Africa, missionary founder and anti-slavery campaigner, was born near Bayonne in the Basque region of southern France. After his schooling, he studied theology at Saint Sulpice in Paris. In 1854, after priestly ordination and further studies, he was appointed professor of church history in the university of the Sorbonne, Paris. In 1860, as director of the work for oriental schools, he travelled to Lebanon and Syria to administer relief to Christians there, following the massacre by the Druses. . .

In 1863 he was appointed Bishop of Nancy, France and was placed in line for the important archiepiscopal see of Lyons. However, he declined this prestigious appointment, and asked instead for the colonial see of Algiers, to which he was appointed archbishop in 1867. Algeria had become a French colony in 1830, and under Napoleon III was designated an “Arab Kingdom.” . . .

From 1878 his missionaries established themselves in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa and, after his death, in the French territories of West Africa. Created a Cardinal in 1882, Lavigerie revived the ancient see of Carthage, with the title Primate of Africa, when the French annexed Tunisia. Throughout 1888 Lavigerie conducted a personal campaign against slavery in the capitals of Europe. In this campaign he made known the heart-rending experiences of slavery witnessed by his missionaries in equatorial Africa. The campaign resulted in the anti-slavery conferences of Brussels and Paris. . .

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Jerusalem’s Eastern Wall

November 17, 2014

In ancient times, city walls were essential for defense and security. An unwalled city was defenseless.

The concept of a city without walls is used metaphorically in Proverbs 25:28: “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.”

Here is a view of Jerusalem’s eastern old city wall, as you look to the south.

Jerusalem's Eastern Wall. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Jerusalem’s Eastern Wall. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

A close up of Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate:

Eastern Gate  in Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Eastern Gate in Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Today a Muslim cemetery is located at the front of the gate.

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Ruth the Moabitess

November 15, 2014

After studying the book of Judges, especially with the material recorded in chapters 17-21, the book of Ruth is so refreshing, like a breath of fresh air! This 4 chapter book tells how Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons left Bethlehem in time of famine for the fields of Moab, sojourning there for ten years. The sons married women of Moab, Ruth and Orpah. Elimelech and both sons died. When Naomi determined to return to Bethlehem, Ruth made the choice to go with her. She said,

Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me (Ruth 1:16-17).

The text narrates how Ruth met and married Boaz, describing Ruth as a hard worker, showing kindness to her mother-in-law, and known throughout the town as a virtuous woman, and depicting Boaz as equally magnanimous, walking in the fear of the LORD. But the real reason Ruth is in the Bible does not become apparent until the closing verses. Starting with Judah’s son Perez as his beginning point, the writer informs us:

Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron. 19 Hezron fathered Ram, who fathered Amminadab.  Amminadab fathered Nahshon, who fathered Salmon. Salmon fathered Boaz, who fathered Obed.  And Obed fathered Jesse, who fathered David (Ruth 4:18-22).

Ruth is thus seen in the lineage of the Messiah! Her story is one link in the chain of God’s Old Testament promise to bring Christ into the world to accomplish His great redemptive work. Matthew begins his gospel record with the genealogy of Christ, including Ruth: “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse” (1:5).

Our photo, taken on the NW shore of the Dead Sea, looks across to the mountains of Moab, Ruth’s home.

View across Dead Sea, mountains of Moab in distance. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

View across Dead Sea, mountains of Moab in distance. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

OT Moab is today the territory of Jordan.

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