Wailing Wall at Jerusalem at Night

February 10, 2017

Jerusalem is defined by three valleys: the Kidron, Tyropean and Hinnom. In the photo below we are standing in the Tyropean Valley. Jews come here to mourn the destruction of the temple, among other reasons. This wall was not part of the temple itself, but was the retaining wall for the temple and the structures on the temple mount. Some of the courses of larger stones starting from bottom are Herodian, and weigh several tons each.

In Jerusalem, "Wailing Wall" at night. This was part of the retaining wall that supported the temple complex. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In Jerusalem, “Wailing Wall” at night. This was part of the retaining wall that supported the temple complex. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I’ve visited this very special location on numerous occasions, but this past November I had the occasion to take some night-time photos.

Click image for larger view.


Crossing the Kidron

February 6, 2017

John 14-16 records Jesus’ Final Discourse with the disciples prior to the events of Gethsemane. At John 14:31 we read, “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.” The discourse continues and then John 17 records Jesus’ high-priestly prayer. Then John 18:1 states, “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered.”

In his classic A Harmony of the Gospels, A.T. Robertson notes on John 14:31, “Apparently they leave the Upper Room” and entitles the section continuing in John 15 and 16, “The Discourse on the Way to Gethsemane,” with the subtitle, “Possibly on the Street.”

Kidron Valley. Jerusalem/temple mount on left and in distance. Jesus crossed the Kidron going from Jerusalem to the Mt. of Olives. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Kidron Valley. Jerusalem/temple mount on left and in distance. Jesus crossed the Kidron going from Jerusalem to the Mt. of Olives. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

It is possible that Jesus and His disciples rose up immediately at John 14:31, and that the continued discourse and prayer of chapters 15-17 occurred en route from the Upper Room on the way to Gethsemane. Others suggest that the short time required for Jesus’ teaching of chapters 15-16 and the prayer of chapter 17 can better fit within that Upper Room setting. That would not be unlike our saying, I [we] need to be going now, and yet a few more minutes of conversation take place before the actual departure.

J.W. McGarvey observes, “Some think that Jesus then left the room, and that the next three chapters of John’s Gospel contain matters spoken on the way to Gethsemane. But it is likely that the words of these chapters were spoken in the upper room after they had risen from the table and prepared to depart, and that John 18:1 marks the leaving of the upper room as well as the crossing of the Kidron”(The Four-Fold Gospel.667).

Lenski goes into a bit more detail in his remarks:

Nevertheless … arise, let us be going hence” ends the Passover feast. No destination is indicated, yet the disciples know that Jesus intends to meet “the world’s ruler” and thus once more do the Father’s ἐντολή. The asyndeton ἐγείρεσθε ἄγωμεν is idiomatic, as is also the combination of the present imperative with the hortative present subjunctive. The action of arising from the couches on which the company had dined is merely preliminary to the action of leaving the place and going elsewhere. Those who regard “Arise,” etc., as a separate sentence incline to the opinion that Jesus left the upper room at this point, spoke the next three chapters somewhere on the way to the Kidron, crossed this at 18:1, and then went on to Gethsemane. When we note that the bidding to arise and to leave is only the conclusion of a longer sentence, that 15:1, etc., indicates no change of place, and that ἐξῆλθεν in 18:1 reads as though Jesus did not leave the upper room until that moment, we are led to conclude that after the company arose from their couches they lingered in the upper room until Jesus finished speaking the next three chapters. This delay consumed only a short time. We cannot think that the next three chapters were spoken while the company was in motion, and John nowhere indicates that they halted at some spot along the way (Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel.1023–1024).

William Hendriksen notes:

Why not assign to these words their most natural meaning, and interpret them as actually amounting to a command that the disciples get up from their couches, coupled with an exhortation meaning, “And let us go away from here, that is, from this Upper Room; hence, from this house”? That still would not imply that the little company now immediately rushes out of the house! How often does it not happen even among us Westerners that between the exhortation, “Now let us be going,” and the actual departure there is a period of ten minutes? During that ten minutes a great deal can be said. Now, the following must be borne in mind:
a. In this very context Jesus clearly implies that there are still certain things which he wishes to say to the disciples (14:30).
b. Speaking calmly and deliberately, without any attempt to rush himself, Jesus may have uttered the contents of chapters 15, 16, and 17 within a period of ten minutes! When a company has been together for several hours, what is ten minutes? . . .

Accordingly, we shall proceed upon the assumption that the contents of chapters 14–17 comprise a unit, and that all of this was spoken that night in the Upper Room (Exposition of the Gospel According to John, Vol. 2.290–291).

In 2012 I posted an aerial photo of the Kidron here.


The Garden of Gethsemane

February 1, 2017

“When Jesus had spoken these words [Farewell Discourse/Prayer, John 14-18], He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples” (John 18:1, NASB). Matthew’s record states, “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.'”

Ancient olive trees on the Mt. of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane was in this area. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Ancient olive trees on the Mt. of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane was in this area. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The meaning of Gethsemane is “olive press,” and therefore not a “garden” in the ordinary sense of the word, but rather an olive grove that contained an olive press. Though we cannot know the exact spot where Jesus went for prayer that awful night before His crucifixion, it would be situated on the Mount of Olives just east of Jerusalem and across the Kidron Valley.

It would be here that Jesus went with His disciples (minus Judas; see John 13:30) to pray. “They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here until I have prayed.'” (Mark 14:32, NASB). We get somewhat of a glimpse of the horrible terror of that night as Luke writes, “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (22:44, NASB). He submitted willingly to the Father’s will, because there was no other way that God could be both Just and our Justifier (Romans 3:21-26).

So it was then at the site of Gethsemane that Jesus was betrayed by His disciple Judas, was arrested and from there led away to a series of trials before the Jews and the Romans, and then crucified. But then on the third day “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 1:4, NASB). Hallelujah, What a Savior!

 


Palm Branches in Jerusalem

January 31, 2017

When Jesus began the Final Week of His ministry, He rode on a donkey (fulfilling Zechariah 9:9) from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem. It was on a Sunday. The text reads, “Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road” (Matt. 21:8, NASB). John’s record tells us the large crowd “took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel” (John 12:13, NASB). While in Jerusalem in November (2016) I made this photograph.

Palm tree in Jerusalem. Photo©Leon Mauldin.

Palm tree in Jerusalem. Photo©Leon Mauldin.

This is why that Sunday prior to Jesus’ crucifixion is today commonly known as “Palm Sunday.”

Click image for larger view.

 


The Threshing Sledge

January 24, 2017

I am currently enjoying teaching 1 Chronicles in our Bible class in our local congregation. The record of David’s ill-advised census and its terrible consequences is found in 1 Chron. 21. An angel and a prophet were used by God to instruct David: “Now the angel of the LORD had commanded Gad to say to David that David should go up and raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite” (v.18, ESV). David purchased the threshing floor at the “full price” from Ornan, “And David built there an altar to the LORD and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering” (v.26, ESV).

Ornan had made this offer: “See, I give the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for the wood and the wheat for a grain offering; I give it all,” but David insisted that he pay “the full price” (v.24); David would not offer to the Lord “that which costs me nothing.”

Note that reference is made to the “threshing sledges for the wood.” The threshing sledge was pulled across the grain to separate the kernel from the chaff. In Aphrodisias, Turkey, I had the opportunity to photograph several threshing sledges.  This helps us to visualize what David used for wood for the burnt offerings in our Chronicles text.

Threshing Sledge at Aphrodisias, Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Threshing Sledge at Aphrodisias, Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Though the text is challenging, it seems that its placement in Chronicles is to show the usage God made of the event. The property David purchased for offering for atonement for sin would become the site for Solomon’s building the temple! “Then David said, ‘Here shall be the house of the LORD God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel'” (22:1).

Click photo for larger view.


Pools Around the Temple

November 17, 2016

On our recent trip to Israel, while we were in the area of the Antonia Fortress, our guide Zack showed us some artwork that I found to be a helpful illustration of the area north of the temple in Jerusalem.

Pools of Jerusalem. Shows area north of temple mount. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Pools of Jerusalem. Shows area north of temple mount. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This is useful for showing the location of the Antonia Fortress, which would have housed the Roman soldiers stationed in Jerusalem to keep peace (to the chagrin of the Jewish nation). While many believe that it would have been here that Jesus was put on trial before Pilate, it is more likely that Pilate would have been at Herod’s palace there in Jerusalem. For more on this, see the excellent post by Ferrell Jenkins here.

The Antonia Fortress would have been the location of the barracks where Paul was taken when some Jews in Jerusalem were enraged to the point of seeking to kill him: “the commanding officer ordered Paul to be brought back into the barracks. He told them to interrogate Paul by beating him with a lash so that he could find out the reason the crowd was shouting at Paul in this way (Acts 22:24, NET).

This illustration is also helpful in visualizing the setting of John 5, where Jesus healed the man who had been paralyzed thirty-eight years: “Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches” (v.2). Here you can see the location of the sheep gate, as well as the twin pools of Bethesda.

Excavations at the Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Excavations at the Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

My previous posts on Bethesda can be seen by clicking here, here, here and here.

When you study the Bible, you are studying real events, real places, real people!


Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem

November 7, 2016

Today was a walking tour of Jerusalem. One of my favorite sites (among others) is the pool of Siloam, referenced in John 9. This site was excavated in late 2004. Jesus anointed with clay the eyes of the man born blind, and told him to go to this pool to wash his eyes. He did so, and he went away seeing. This miracle was evidence to validate Jesus’ claim that He was the light of the world (John 9:5).

At the pool of Siloam, where the blind man received his sight (John 9). Photo by Zachary Shavin.

At the pool of Siloam, where the blind man received his sight (John 9). Photo by Zachary Shavin.

Note the text of John 9:1-7:

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 7 And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.

This was one of seven miracles recorded in the Gospel of John. John’s stated purpose:

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)

We have previously posted on Siloam here and here.

Click on image for larger view. Thanks for following our travels.