Fauna, etc., in Israel

November 6, 2016

Today we made a trip to Masada, the site of the Jewish zealots last stand (AD 73) after the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem. Tristram’s Starling, also called Tristram’s Grackle, were in abundance.

Tristram's Starling at Masada. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Tristram’s Starling at Masada. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

This species is named after Henry Baker Tristram.

The males have glossy iridescent black plumage with orange patches on the outer wing, which are particularly noticeable in flight. The bill and legs are black. Females and young birds are similar but duller and with a greyish head, lacking the plumage gloss.
It is gregarious and noisy, with a call that resembles a wolf whistle. They are omnivorous, feeding on fruit and invertebrates, and can also be observed grooming Nubian ibex and domestic livestock for parasites. (Wikipedia)

We also saw En Gedi, the site where David hid from King Saul, who was pursuing David with the intention of killing him (1 Sam. 23:29ff.). Here we photographed an ibex, the biblical “wild goat”of Psa. 104:18: “The high hills are for the wild goats; The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.”

Ibex at En Gedi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Ibex at En Gedi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Tour member Mike Eison shared this photo he took this past Friday at Nazareth, at the Nazareth Village. The shepherd, his sheep in the fold behind.

Shepherd at Nazareth Village. Photo by Mike Eison.

Shepherd at Nazareth Village. Photo by Mike Eison.

Thanks for following our travels. Tomorrow is a walking tour in Jerusalem.


Israel: Up the Jordan Valley and on to Galilee

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.

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.

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.

Sunrise at Sea of Galilee, Sept. 2011. Photo by Leon Mauldin.


Shepherd with His Sheep

December 22, 2014

When visiting biblical sites I never tire of seeing sheep and their shepherds. I’m sure that is due in large measure to the frequent references in the Bible, not only to literal shepherds and sheep, but also the metaphorical usage.

Shepherd with sheep in biblical Pamphilia. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Shepherd with sheep in biblical Pamphylia. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

1 Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Elders of local churches are told: 1 Peter 5:2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.

Revelation 7:17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.


Ararat (cont’d.)

August 9, 2012

When traveling in the lands where biblical events occurred, I never tire of scenes of sheep with their shepherd. This is certainly true down from the slopes of Mt. Ararat, known as Greater Ararat, located in the mountain range where the ark came to rest.

Shepherds with sheep at Mt. Ararat. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Mt. Ararat reaches 16,945 feet in altitude, and is snow-capped year round.

Mt. Ararat is situated near Dogubeyazit, Turkey. This peak is only 10 miles west of the border of Iran, seen in this photo:

Turkey/Iran border. Mt. Ararat is 10 miles west (to our back) from this point. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This kind of trip makes for some wonderful memories. Four of us, Ferrell Jenkins, David Padfield, Gene Taylor and myself, made this trip to eastern Turkey in 2007.

Check yesterday’s post for biblical references to the mountains (and kingdom) of Ararat. Ferrell Jenkin’s has made numerous posts on Ararat, including here.

Click on images for larger view.


Shepherds in a Dry and Thirsty Land

August 11, 2011

In our last post we mentioned the obvious fact that sheep need shepherds. When you consider the terrain and climate of the wilderness of Judea, it becomes even more clear that shepherds were/are needed to lead sheep to pasturage and water.

Judean Desert. Shepherds are needed to lead sheep to grazing and water. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Over the years the sheep as well as goats carve out paths in the rugged terrain.

Trails worn by sheep & goat in Judean Desert. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Scenes such as this below are basically unchanged from the days of the patriarchs thousands of years ago.

Such scenes illustrate life in biblical times. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Click on images for higher resolution.


They Smell Like Sheep

August 10, 2011

In Dr. Lynn Anderson’s book, They Smell Like Sheep, he tells of a church member who cornered him after a lesson in which he repeatedly referred to the elders as “shepherds.” His suggestion was basically this: since we sophisticated Americans don’t usually have sheep and don’t work as shepherds, no one connects with that idea. So find a better way to communicate the spiritual leadership idea.

Anderson’s response:

Admittedly, the shepherd metaphor does sound strange in the cyber-world of our daily experience.  We don’t normally see these picturesque, rural characters rolling down the expressways or eating at our local McDonald’s. But, after carefully considering my friend’s suggestion and searching in vain for a contemporary metaphor that would better connect the biblical notion with our times, I finally had to explain, ‘I can’t find any figure equivalent to the shepherd idea in our modern, urban world. Besides, if I drop the shepherd and flock idea, I would have to tear about five hundred pages out of my Bible, plus leave the modern church with a distorted–if not neutered–view of spiritual leadership.’ God keeps pointing shepherds to the pasture to struggle with sheep (pp. 11-12).

The ultimate example of a shepherd is God Himself; in the New Testament Jesus is identified as the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep (John 10). Anderson is correct to use the biblical image of elders as shepherds (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2,3).

Without doubt one of the most well-known, if not THE most well-known scriptural texts using the shepherd metaphor is Psalm 23.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (vv.1-4, KJV).

For today’s post we share a photo of a sheep who has been led to the still waters (quiet waters, NASB; refreshing water, NET).

Sheep lying down near green pasture beside refreshing water. Eastern Turkey. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

What a beautiful metaphor of God’s care for His people!

Click on image for higher resolution.