January 15, 2018
In 1927 the archaeologist Leonard Woolley uncovered spectacular finds in southern Mesopotamia, in the ancient city he had identified as Ur, home of Abraham. The treasury of his finds included this figure, known as “The Ram in the Thicket.”
Ram in the Thicket. British Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
This statuette is composed of gold, silver, copper, lapis, shell and coral. Two of these were in what is called “the Great Death Pit.” The other is housed in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
This figure is illustrative of the ram which Abraham offered at Moriah, in the stead of Isaac his son (Gen. 22:13). This figure here is actually a male goat.
Interestingly, this artifact predates Abraham by a few centuries.
Fant and Reddish suggest that
. . . the discoveries at Ur are a significant indication of an amazing level of cultural sophistication in an early period in the locale identified as the birthplace of the father of the Hebrews. If Abraham and his family came from Ur, a city of such considerable cultural advancement, to the tents of the land of Canaan, it further dramatizes the biblical story of his sacrificial following lowing of the promises of an unknown God. (Clyde E. Fant; Mitchell G. Reddish. Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums, Kindle Locations 580-581. Kindle Edition.)
January 9, 2018
Among the many artifacts we photographed today was the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III (r. 858-824 BC). This Assyrian king forced Jehu, King of Israel (r. 841-814 BC) to pay tribute. This is one of those many exciting finds where the Bible and other historical records intersect! The Black Obelisk includes a pictograph/cuneiform record of this very important historical event. The reads:
The inscription reads: I received the tribute of Jehu of the House of Omri silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden goblet, golden cups, golden buckets, tin, a staff of the king’s hand, (and) javelins (7).” All 14 of the Israelites pictured are bearded, with long hair and pointed caps. Each wears a belted tunic with fringe at the bottom. In addition, each of the 13 porters wears a mantle or cloak over the tunic, which extends over the shoulders and is fringed or tasseled down the front on both sides. Jehu is not wearing the outer garment, possibly as a sign of humiliation before Shalmaneser. (NIV Arch. Bible).
This is detailed on one of the four sides, second panel down:
Shalmaneser’s Black Obelisk. This panel shows King Jehu paying tribute to the Assyrian King. The year was 841 BC. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
Here is a photo of the 4-sided stone in its entirety, with our facing the side that mentions Jehu:
Shalmaneser’s Prism. The Black Obelisk. British Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
Todd Bolen has an article on the Obelisk here.
You can read of Jehu in the Bible in 2 Kings 9-10.
Click images for larger view.
January 3, 2018
“. . . they sailed to Cyprus. When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews” (Acts 13:4,5). The preaching here at Salamis in Cyprus was the beginning of what is usually called Paul’s “First Missionary Journey” (Acts 13-14).
Salamis on the Island of Cyprus. Pictured here is area of the gymnasium. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
Luke, the author of Acts, is very brief in his account of the preaching that took place here, without recording any results from the proclamation of the Gospel in the synagogues, quickly moving on in his narrative SE to Paphos, and continuing on from there. Our photo here shows the area of the gymnasium at Salamis.
It is interesting to note that Barnabas, Paul’s traveling companion and fellow-preacher, was from Cyprus (Acts 4:36).
Here is the harbor into which their ship would have sailed for their arrival at Salamis.
Harbor at Salamis, Cyprus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
We have previously posted on Salamis here here and here.
December 15, 2017
Beth Guvrin in Israel was a Roman city on the outskirts of biblical Maresha (see Josh. 15:44; Micah 1:15).
Emperor Septimus Severus turned Beth Guvrin into a major administrative center (ca. 200 AD). I took this photo of the amphitheater on April 27, 2017.
Panorama of amphitheater at Beth Guvrin. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
This amphitheater would have been used for animal and gladiator fights.
BTW: Often folks refer to theaters as “amphitheaters.” There is a difference: the amphitheater makes an oval shape while a theater only makes a half circle.
Click image for larger view.
December 13, 2017
The Apostle John wrote, “And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps” (Revelation 14:2). I heard this harpist playing her harp in Jerusalem, at the Damascus gate this past April.
Harpist in Jerusalem, Joppa Gate. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.
The context of Revelation 14 is that of the Lamb standing victoriously on Mount Zion with His people, those “having His Father’s name written on their foreheads” (v.1). What joy belongs to those described in the text! — “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (v.4).
Click image for larger view.
December 8, 2017
In this panoramic shot of Jerusalem you can see several landmarks, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at left, the Dome of the Rock, right center, and the Mount of Olives in the Distance.
Panorama of Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
It would be difficult to overestimate or overstate the importance of this city in both Old and New Testament studies!
I have numerous posts on Jerusalem, including here, here and here. Use the search box for more.
I took this photo this past April, 2017, on a personal study/photography trip with Ferrell Jenkins.
December 6, 2017
Acts 10 narrates the exciting history of how the door of faith was opened to the Gentiles. The Apostle Peter was directed to leave Joppa and go up the coast to Caesarea where he would find a man with an honest and good heart, Cornelius the Roman Centurion, as well as his relatives and close friends.
Wave action at Caesarea, on the south side of the Herodian Palace. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.
Peter, who had the “keys of the kingdom of heaven,” had preached to the Jews first on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and was then privileged to preach to the Gentiles in Acts 10. Peter began by saying, “Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35, NASB). Cornelius and those present heard “words by which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 11:14, CSB). They were receptive to and obedient to the faith!
From this new beginning the gospel would go on to include Gentiles in Antioch (Acts 11), and on to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8; cf. Acts 13-28, etc.).
We have several posts on Caesarea, including here, here, and here.