November 15, 2016
A few days ago our group was able to see the Dead Sea, among other sites to the south of Jerusalem. The Dead Sea is:
a large lake in southern Israel at the lowest point on earth. In the Old Testament it is called the Salt Sea (Gen. 14:3; Josh. 3:16); the Sea of the Arabah (Deut. 3:17); and the Eastern Sea (Ezek. 47:18; Joel 2:20). Josephus, the Jewish historian, referred to this buoyant body as Lake Asphaltitis. The Arabic name is Bahr Lut, meaning, “Sea of Lot.” But from the second Christian century onward, Dead Sea has been the most common name for this unusual body of water.
The topography of the Middle East is dominated by a geologic fault that extends from Syria south through Palestine, all the way to Nyasa Lake in east-central Africa. The Dead Sea is located at the southern end of the Jordan valley at the deepest depression of this geologic fault. With a water level approximately 390 meters (1,300 feet) below sea level, the surface of the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. At the deepest point of the sea, on the northeast corner at the foot of the Moab mountains, the bottom is 390 meters (1,300 feet) deeper still. (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary).
Dead Sea at Sunset. Looking east to the mountains of Moab. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
The Dead Sea is actually a lake into which the river Jordan flows, but once entering the Sea there is no outlet. Because of its high mineral content (25 percent), and the fact that the water is ten times saltier than the ocean, the Dead Sea does not support marine life. These unusual geographical facts became the basis of a thought-provoking song by Lula Zahn (words are now public domain) that makes spiritual application. It has been my experience that this is not the easiest song (musically speaking) for congregational use, but it’s worth the effort to try!
“There is a Sea”
by Lula Klingman Zahn
There is a sea which day by day
Receives the rippling rills
And streams that spring from wells of God
Or fall from cedared hills
But what it thus receives it gives
With glad unsparing hand
A stream more wide, with deeper tide
Flows on to lower land
There is a sea which day by day
Receives a fuller tide
But all its store it keeps, nor gives
To shore nor sea beside
It’s Jordan stream, now turned to brine
Lies heavy as molten lead
It’s dreadful name doth e’er proclaim
That sea is waste and dead
Which shall it be for you and me
Who God’s good gifts obtain?
Shall we accept for self alone
Or take to give again?
For He who once was rich indeed
Laid all His glory down
That by His grace, our ransomed race
Should share His wealth and crown
Click on image for larger view.
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.
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.
Colorful flora at the site:
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.
Good friend and tour member Lynn Clayton.
Lynn at Beth-shean. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.
Click photos for larger image. Thanks for following our travels in the Bible lands.
May 18, 2016
You’ve heard about “going the second mile.” In His “Sermon on the Mount” in Galilee Jesus said (in a context forbidding retaliation for evil), “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matt. 5:41). In New Testament times a Roman soldier could compel a Jewish citizen (or others) to carry burdens for them. They were authorized by the Roman government to press civilians into service of this nature; such would have to carry the load for the distance of one mile, but no further.
But how would you know when the mile was up? Conveniently, Roman roads had mile markers, such as these below, collected from the Beth Shan area.
Milestones from the Beth Shan area, at Gan Hashlosha National Park. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
Jesus tells His disciples that instead of complaining about an oppressive government, or bemoaning their victimization, they were to go an extra mile. You see, Jesus’ disciples are different; in the world, but not of the world. Who knows but that from time to time this kind of unusual conduct would cause that soldier to ask, “What makes you different; what do you have that I don’t have?” If so then as Peter said, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (1 Pet. 3:15,16).
I’ve previously written on milestones here.
April 29, 2016
We’re continuing the study of the Divided Kingdom in our local congregation in our auditorium class, using the text of 1 Kings. We have found this period to be one of not only the history of the kings but also there is much emphasis on prophetic activity. This is particularly true of the prophets Elijah and Elisha (the latter in 2 Kings).
During the reign of Ahab (Israel), God told Elijah, “Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place” (1 Kgs. 19:16).
Abel-Meholah is located in the Jordan Valley in Israel.
Though I saw Abel-meholah earlier this month, I’m sharing a photo I took in December 2009.
Abel-meholah in the Jordan Valley, proposed site of Elisha’s home. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
Such maps and photos provide the setting for the text of 1 Kings 19:16.
April 12, 2016
Today’s travels took us from the Sea of Galilee down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea area, then west on back to Jerusalem. Along the way we made some interesting stops, including while still in the north, Gan Hashlosha, in the vicinity of Beth-shan. Beth-shan was the city where the bodies of King Saul and three of his sons were fastened after their deaths (1 Sam. 31). Amal Stream, the spring water that emerges in the western part of the park maintains a constant, year-round temperature of 28 degrees Celsius.
Beautiful Gan Hashlosha, Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
Our real interest in stopping here was the Museum of Regional & Mediterranean Archaeology, which has some unique artifacts from the Beth-shan area, as well as rare finds from the Mediterranean region. The displays feature Canaanite, Israelite, Grecian, Etruscan, Persian and Egyptian collections.
We also drove along the top of Mt. Gilboa, where we had some good views of the Plain of Jezreel, where so many biblical events occurred.
Click image for larger view.
April 10, 2016
Yesterday we made our way from Jerusalem down to the Jordan Valley and on up to Galilee. Visibility was not the best due to winds from the east and south bringing dust and haze.
We stopped a couple of times along the way to photograph shepherds with their sheep. That is a scene I never tire of. This location was just north of Jericho. We are looking west.
Sheep in Jordan Valley. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
Sunrise at the Sea of Galilee this morning consisted of the sun barely peaking through some clouds and dust.
Sunrise at Sea of Galilee April 10, 2016. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
There is no doubt that during His ministry on earth Jesus and His disciples saw mornings like this on occasion also.
After worship this morning in Nazareth, Ferrell Jenkins and I went on to the Hecht Museum at Haifa University, where we both took several hundred photos. It is a very nice museum of artifacts that covered biblical/historical periods from Chalcolithic on down through Roman. Neither of us had been there before.
So our travels today took us from Tiberias to Nazareth, up the Plain of Jezreel, to the Carmel range and on to Haifa (biblical Acco). We had a good view of the Plain of Acco down to the Mediterranean; then back to Tiberias. It’s been a good day. Our hotel is the Ron Beach Hotel, right on the Sea. My favorite place to stay in the Galilee.
Just for good measure I wanted to share a sunrise photo from Sept, 2011.
Sunrise at Sea of Galilee, Sept. 2011. Photo by Leon Mauldin.