Solomon’s Song of Songs

November 19, 2015

At ETS in Atlanta this afternoon I heard Dr. Tremper Longman III, professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, and prolific author (including commentaries on the  Song of Solomon), lecture on the Song of Solomon. His view of the book is that it is an anthology of love poems, rather than a narrative with a plot; a collection of poems that both celebrate sexual love (within marriage) but also give warnings. It was an interesting lecture.

He read from Song of Solomon 4:3, which includes this compliment: “Your lips are like a scarlet thread, And your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate Behind your veil.” You might want to remember this text when you wish to praise your wife for her beauty.

Pomegranate such as that referenced in Song of Solomon 4:3. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Pomegranate such as that referenced in Song of Solomon 4:3. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This pomegranate orchard is located near biblical Lachish.

Pomegranate orchard near Lachish in southern Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Pomegranate orchard near Lachish in southern Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

One of the geographical references in the Song of Solomon is found in 1:14, where the young woman/bride says, “My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms In the vineyards of Engedi.” Pictured here is a beautiful waterfall at Engedi, located on the west side of the Dead Sea.

Waterfall at Engedi. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Waterfall at Engedi. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I have a previous post making a brief reference to the pomegranate here.

Click images for larger view.

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Assos, In the Steps of Paul

November 18, 2015

On Paul’s return trip on his 3rd Missionary Journey, after departing from Troas, he walked on to Assos and rejoined his traveling companions there. Today at noon (ETS meeting, ATL) Dr. Mark Wilson did a very informative presentation on that segment of Paul’s travel.

11 Now when he [Paul] had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. 12 And they brought the young man [Eutychus] in alive, and they were not a little comforted. 13 Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene (Acts 20:11-14).

At the acropolis of Assos there are some well-preserved ruins of the temple of Athena.

Assos, temple of Athena. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Assos, temple of Athena. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Here is a view of the Acropolis:

Acropolis of Assos. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Acropolis of Assos. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

While the distance from Troas to Assos as the crow flies is about 20 miles, Dr. Wilson pointed out that the Roman road on which Paul would have traveled would have been about 31 miles, and would have taken two days.

Map by BibleAtlas.org.

Map by BibleAtlas.org.

Mark said that Assos was one of his top 10 favorite places in Turkey to visit. I have to agree!

I have a previous post on Assos here.


Gezer, Ongoing Excavations

November 17, 2015

 

In ATL, attending meetings of the Near East Archaeological Society. Two of the eight sessions I attended today were on biblical Gezer. A great deal of archaeological work has been done here for the past several seasons, including the ancient tunnel/water system, with more yet scheduled.

There are several Old Testament references to this site. It was one of the cities King Solomon fortified:

Now this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the LORD, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. 16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer and burned it with fire, and killed the Canaanites who lived in the city, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. 17 So Solomon rebuilt Gezer and the lower Beth-horon 18 and Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land of Judah, 19 and all the storage cities which Solomon had, even the cities for his chariots and the cities for his horsemen, and all that it pleased Solomon to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land under his rule. (1 Kings 9:15-19).

Our photo here shows the standing stones at the high place at Gezer.

Standing Stones at Gezer. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Standing Stones at Gezer. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Gezer guarded the entrance into the Shephelah region. It is located approximately thirty kilometers northwest of Jerusalem. Gezer was strategically situated at the junction of the Via Maris, the international coastal highway, and the highway connecting it with Jerusalem through the valley of Ajalon.

I have several previous posts with photos & info here, here, here, here, and here.

Hint: pronounce Gezer with “short” e, not GEEzer (def.: old man).


Damascus Gate in Jerusalem

November 10, 2015

It is fascinating to view the gates of Old Jerusalem!

The Damascus Gate is located on the north side of Jerusalem, so named because this would be the direction going out of Jerusalem to Damascus, ca. 150 miles NNW. The Jews call this gate the Shechem Gate, and the Arabs call it Bab el-Amud.

Damascus Gate Jerusalem. North entrance. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Damascus Gate Jerusalem. North entrance. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This entrance gate

along the present north wall dramatically accents the spot that has been the main north entrance to Jerusalem for almost two millennia. R. W. Hamilton’s sounding here in 1937 and Basil Hennessey’s excavations in the 1960s; have revealed, below the modern entrance, layer upon layer of earlier gateways, reaching back through Arab, Crusader and Byzantine constructions to Roman Age foundations. The earliest certain construction here dates to Aelia Capitolina, the second to fourth-century C.E. city of Hadrian, but both Hamilton and Hennessey felt they found evidence that Hadrian’s gateway was built on foundations that went back to the Second Temple period. BAS Biblical World in Pictures. (2003).

Hadrian had built a triple-arched gateway to serve as entrance here. The eastern arch is well-preserved.

Hadrian Gate, eastern arch. ca. AD 135. North wall, Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Hadrian Gate, eastern arch. ca. AD 135. North wall, Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Latin inscription above the keystone of the arch says, “…according to the decurians [the city council] of Col[onia] Ael[ia] Cap[itolina],” Hadrian’s designation for Jerusalem.

Click images for larger view.