Sepphoris (Zippori), Capital of the Galilee

May 2, 2017

The Tetrarch Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, chose Sepphoris as his capital in Galilee (BC 4). (Later he would build Tiberias and move his capital there, 20 AD).

Much excavation, beginning in 1931, has been done in Sepphoris. In the house of Dionysus several mosaics were found, including this one featuring a woman often referred to as “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.”

The “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.” Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sepphoris is only about an hour’s walk away from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. This was one of the sites I wanted to see on this current trip to Israel.

One of the main streets of Sepphoris. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on images for larger view.

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Fields White unto Harvest

April 30, 2017

Early in Jesus’ ministry, He traveled from Jerusalem to Galilee, and went through Samaria. It was at the well at Sychar (today’s Nablus) that Jesus had a conversation with a woman who had come to the well to draw water. Jesus skillfully led her from a starting point of a request for a drink of water, step by step, to the point of faith in Him as Messiah! (John 4:1-26).

Field of wheat in the Galilee. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

When the disciples returned, having gone into the city to buy food, this interesting conversation took place:

27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?” 28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him. 31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” (John 4:27-38, ESV).

Today I photographed this field of wheat in the Galilee, near the Horns of Hattin. Jesus used the image of fields that were ready for harvest to illustrate lost souls that will be receptive to the call of the Gospel, with its hope and promises!

Click image for larger view.


“Ye Kine of Bashan” (Amos 4:1)

April 29, 2017

The fearless prophet Amos was sent by Yahweh to the northern kingdom of Israel in the days of the Divided Kingdom. He cried out against the idolatry there. In this prosperous (albeit short-lived) time when Jeroboam II reigned (8th century BC), Amos also rebuked the luxury-loving women in Israel who cared nothing about God and His will: “Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.” (Amos 4:1, KJV).

Cattle in Bashan, Israel. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The word kine as used in the KJV is old English; it is archaic plural for “cow.” The ESV renders the text, “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!'”

The women were not left in doubt as to the meaning of the imagery–they were behaving with no more concern for spiritual matters than a bunch of fat cows!

The background for Amos’ reference to cows of Bashan takes us back to Numbers 21, when Israel conquered the land of Og of Bashan, north and east of the Jordan (as well as the land of Sihon, to the south of Bashan). Then Numbers 32 tells how two and one half tribes (Reuben, Gad, and 1/2 tribe of Manasseh) asked that they might settle on the eastern side of the Jordan. That request was granted (conditioned upon the men of war helping with the conquest of Canaan). The reason given for the request: these lands “were ideal for cattle” (v.1, NET).

Land of Bashan, good for cattle. BibleAtlas.org.

The women Amos addressed did not live in Bashan, east of the Jordan. The text refers to their being in Samaria, which was the capital of Israel. But they were acting like cattle in that place which was so noted for its cattle.

Today I was in what was the OT land of Bashan when I photographed these cattle. I was put in mind of our text in Amos.

I do not know how the women in Israel responded to the preaching of Amos. We do know that the nation as a whole did not listen, and God would soon allow the Assyrians to destroy the northern kingdom. One can hope that at least some individuals may have responded appropriately and repented. Though they may have felt insulted, in reality Amos was their friend, their best friend.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16,17).


Nain of Galilee, where Jesus Raised the Dead

March 6, 2017

I love to read the account of the time Jesus went to the Galilean city of Nain, raising a young man from the dead. How the widowed mother must have rejoiced!

Luke narrates as follows:

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. 12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. 16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” (Lk. 7:11-16).

Nain in Galilee. BibleAtlas.com.

Nain in Galilee. BibleAtlas.com.

The purpose of Jesus’ miracles was to show who He was/is. The limited occasions recorded when He raised the dead give proof that He is Life, He is the source of Life. He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). And yet such occasions show the very real compassion of Jesus as well. The compassion He had during His ministry on earth He continues to have at this present time.

We had the opportunity to make a quick stop at Nain during our tour to Israel last November ’16.

Nain, where Jesus raised the dead. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Nain, where Jesus raised the dead. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

By the way, the mountain in the background is the Hill of Moreh, mentioned in connection with the account of Gideon and his 300 men (Judges 7). Click photo for larger view.


Down the Jordan Valley

November 4, 2016

We said “Good-bye” to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee this morning and made our way down (biblically “up” in altitude) to Jerusalem. We made a stop at Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown.

Nazareth in Galilee, Jesus' hometown. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Nazareth in Galilee, Jesus’ hometown. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

We also made a stop at the Spring of Harod,where Gideon’s army was reduced to 300 men, by which God gave Israel victory over the Midianites (Judges 7-8).

Spring of Harod. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Spring of Harod. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Colorful flora at the site:

Flora at the Spring of Harod. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Flora at the Spring of Harod. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

We also saw Beth-Shean, mentioned in 1 Sam. 31 as the site where the victorious Philistines took the bodies of King Saul and his three sons, fastening them to the walls of the city. This was Scythopolis in New Testament times, one of the cities of the Decapolis.

Beth-shean. OT tel in background; Roman ruins in foreground. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Beth-shean. OT tel in background; Roman ruins in foreground. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Good friend and tour member Lynn Clayton.

Lynn at Beth-shean. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Lynn at Beth-shean. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Click photos for larger image. Thanks for following our travels in the Bible lands.

 


In Galilee and Environs

November 3, 2016

I never tire of seeing sunrise on the Sea of Galilee.

Via Maris at Arbel Pass. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sunrise, Sea of Galilee. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

From the Sea we had a view of Mt. Arbel, where the international highway, the Via Maris, passed.

Via Maris at Mt. Arbel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Via Maris at Mt. Arbel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Boats such as these take passengers across the Sea of Galilee.

Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We visited Capernaum (“town of Nahum,” New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p.209),  called “the most important city on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 245). Jesus’ home town was Nazareth, but Capernaum was where He lived during the Galilean ministry. Note the wording of the NET in Matt. 4:13: “While in Galilee, he moved from Nazareth to make his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.” To that compare Mark 2:1: “Now after some days, when he returned to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home,” with its parallel in Mt. 9:1, which says Jesus came “to His own city.”

Here is a view of some of the excavations there.

Excavations at Capernaum, Jesus hometown. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Excavations at Capernaum, Jesus hometown. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Moving north, we saw the Senir, one of the sources of the Jordan River. Some girls were rafting. Tomorrow we are to begin our journey south to Jerusalem. Thanks for following our travels.

Rafting in the Senir River. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Rafting in the Senir River. Photo by Leon Mauldin. 


Sea of Galilee, at Capernaum

June 9, 2016

This past week was a busy week in our local congregation — our annual Vacation Bible School. The theme was “Soaring to Bible Places” and included lessons from three Old Testament and two New Testament texts. Our studies took us to Capernaum, where Jesus healed a Centurion’s servant, and commended the Centurion for his great faith (Jesus marveled!, Matt. 8:5-13). From Capernaum you have a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee.

Sea of Galilee, looking east from Capernaum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sea of Galilee, looking east from Capernaum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I enjoy showing photos such as this to children and adults alike, to help us visualize the setting of the biblical world. It was in this very area that Jesus did so much of His earthly ministry.