Valley of Beracah

March 24, 2017

Jehoshaphat (873-848 BC) was the fourth king of the southern kingdom of Judah during the Divided Kingdom period. His war with the combined forces of the Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites is described in 2 Chronicles 20. It was reported to the king that a great multitude was encamped at En-gedi (v.2), located on the western shore of the Dead Sea.

This good king prayed to God for deliverance (vv.4-13). God answered by a prophet named Jahaziel: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you” (v.17, ESV).

Encouraged by this word, the text narrates what happened next: “And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed'” (v.20).

God overruled on Israel’s behalf:

And when they [Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah] began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another (vv.22-23).

All that remained was for Israel to gather the spoil: “When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much” (v.25).

The site where this occurred is known as the Valley of Beracah (meaning: Valley of Blessing).

Valley of Beracah, near Tekoa. Facing east toward the Dead Sea, and Edom & Moab. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The text reads, “On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the LORD. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day” (v.26).

Photos such as this are helpful in visualizing the setting of the historical events narrated in Scripture. Click on photo for larger view.

Back in 2010 Ferrell Jenkins did a post on the Valley of Beracah. He and I visited this site in Dec. 2009.


Not a Prophet or a Prophet’s Son

August 3, 2011

In our last post we introduced the prophet Amos of Tekoa. God sent him from Judah to Israel to cry out against the idolatry there, centered in such locations as Judah. A false prophet named Amaziah tried to intimidate Amos, and told him to go back home to Judah, i.e., we don’t need your kind of preaching here! Amos’ response:

14 Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah: “I was no prophet, Nor was I a son of a prophet, But I was a sheepbreeder And a tender of sycamore fruit. 15 Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, And the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore, hear the word of the LORD: You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, And do not spout against the house of Isaac.’ 17 “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; Your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; Your land shall be divided by survey line; You shall die in a defiled land; And Israel shall surely be led away captive From his own land.'” (Amos 7:14-17).

Our photo below was taken on the road between Tekoa and Bethlehem. You can see the sheep in the distance, which illustrate the kind of work Amos would have done in this general area before being called to the prophetic office.

Sheep near Tekoa. Amos was a sheepherder. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Note also that Amos said that he was a “tender of sycamore fruit” (NASB: “a grower of sycamore figs” and NET: “I was a herdsman who also took care of sycamore fig trees”). Below is a photo of the biblical sycamore tree.

Sycamore tree, which produces figs. Amos tended trees like this. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Here is a close up of the fruit. The sycamore fig is inferior to the fig produced by the fig tree, and was eaten by the poorer people of the land.

Close-up of sycamore figs. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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A pleasant surprise: our friends John and Lisa Hains of Jordan, Ontario, invited us to spend the night in their home (when our Sudbury meeting concluded) and then get us to the Toronto airport for our flight home (to “Sweet Home Alabama”). John met us when I turned in our rental car at Toronto, and en route to his home took Linda & me to see Niagara Falls, which was our first time to do so. The Falls are only about 20-25 minutes away from his house.  John took this photo.

Leon & Linda at Niagara Falls. Photo by John Hains.

 Click on images for higher resolution.


Amos of Tekoa

August 2, 2011

The prophet Amos begins his biblical book, “The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1). Tekoa is just south of Bethlehem.

Tekoa. Home of the prophet Amos. Map by bibleatlas.com

 This rustic southern prophet was sent by God to the northern kingdom of Israel to cry out against the idolatrous shrines there. More to come, but for now a photo of Tekoa, Amos’ home.

Site of Tekoa, home of Amos the Prophet. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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It has been great to be in Sudbury again. I presented seven lessons in this Fri.-Mon. series. We are heading for home today.