links to the land


Bird migration & Lake Hula: Cranes at the Hula

“… report 35,300 cranes at the park last Wednesday. They spend the night on the lake and in the early morning fly off to forage for food. It is an incredible sight to see thousands of cranes take to the sky.”

Hannukkah & the Temple Mount: Likud MK Regev: Police Must Allow Jews to Visit Temple Mount on Hanukka

“Jewish groups and activists who regularly visit the Temple Mount frequently complain that the police do not treat them appropriately and hamper their wishes to go up to the site, especially on Jewish festivals.”

Mount Precipice (aka: Mount Kedumim) & Nazareth: * Proposal for Huge Jesus Statue in Nazareth; * Mount Precipice

* “Bishara Shlayan, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, is hoping to build a huge statue of Jesus on Mount Precipice, near his home city. Shlayan … has already begun fund-raising for the project and … is getting positive feedback from the Israeli Arab Christian community as well as some Jews. He sees the statue as being similar to but larger than the huge Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”

* “The hill that we call Mount Precipice is not the hill on which the ancient city was built.”

Patara: Patara (southern Turkey) and the US House of Representatives!

“… the ‘Lycian Confederation’ is mentioned four times in the Federalist Papers that were produced between 1787–1788 (#9, 16, 45). Over 2,000 years ago it met in Patara—the same place where Paul and Luke changed ships on their way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1-3). … The Lycian Confederation is the first known democratic union in history!”

Tel Kabri & wine: One of Civilization’s Oldest Wine Cellars?

“A team of archaeologists discovered this storage room while excavating the site of Tel Kabri in northern Israel. The room measured approximately 15-by-25 feet, and held 40 wine jars that were 3,700 years old.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)


Christian martyrdom & persecution: Counting the Cost (Accurately)

“The number 100,000 is a well-meant but gross exaggeration …”

Duncan, OK & murder [my hometown]: * Police: Australian Baseball Player Killed by Oklahoma Teens — Just Because; * Fund for Slain Australian Player Tops $100,00; * The Fear Upon Us

* “Christopher Lane, who was from Australia, was gunned down in Duncan, Oklahoma, while he was out jogging last week. The motive? Three teens who had nothing better to do, according to police.”

* “… Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, where Lane’s girlfriend is a student.”

* “The real issue is that these young men, just like all of us, are the direct result of a broken world. They are broken just like I am. My brokenness manifests itself in other, less formidable ways, but it’s the same brokenness. And it’s not just here in Duncan, Oklahoma. It’s everywhere. That’s why God sent His Son to die in our place. He loved us to much to leave us broken and hopeless in a world that is decaying before our eyes.”

Jesus, Nazareth & war: Nazareth—Jesus’ Hometown with a View to the Past and the Future

“From this one location, many battles have marked the pages of Scripture.”

Loving your enemy & non-violence: Love Your Enemies

“Turn the other cheek. Ok, I’ll try it, but I’m keeping my gun close in case you try anything. … Jesus takes this a step further. He does not want us to respond with violence at all.”

Non-violent response: * Antoinette Tuff Hailed as ‘True Hero’ for Handling Georgia School Gunman [essential reading];* School Clerk In Georgia Persuaded Gunman To Lay Down Weapons [essential reading]; * CNN Exclusive: A Hug, Then ‘We made it!’ as School Bookkeeper, Dispatcher Reunite [essential reading]

* “A man slips behind someone else into a packed elementary school with an AK-47-type weapon. He goes into the office and shoots at the ground, then darts between there and outside to fire at approaching police.

“So what do you do?

“If you’re Antoinette Tuff, who works in the front office at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy just outside Atlanta, you don’t run. You talk. You divulge your personal struggles to the gunman, you tell him you love him, you even proactively offer to walk outside with him to surrender so police won’t shoot.

“And then the nightmare ends with the suspect, later identified as Michael Brandon Hill, taken into custody and no one inside or outside the Decatur school even hurt, despite the gunfire. …

“That day, for everyone at that school, everything did turn out OK. Shots were fired, but no one got hurt. The gunman never made it to the classroom area, deciding instead to give up and lay down.”

* “‘I just started praying for him,’ Antoinette Tuff . ‘I just started talking to him … and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be OK. And then [I] let him know that he could just give himself up. … I told him to put [the guns] on the table, empty his pockets. He had me actually get on the intercom and tell everybody he was sorry, too. But I told them, ‘He was sorry, but do not come out of their rooms.’ … I give it all to God, I’m not the hero. I was terrified.'”

* “God has a way of showing you what’s really in you.”

links to the land


Ashdod: * Rare, Preserved Fortifications Found at the Harbor of Ashdod; * Ashdod-Yam Excavations 2013; * The Philistine City of Ashdod in the Bible

* “Rare and unique discoveries were found this summer at the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology excavation site in Tel Ashdod-Yam – located in the harbor city of Ashdod. The institute uncovered a system of fortifications which date back to the 8th century BCE, the remains of buildings, as well as coins and weights from the Hellenistic period.”

* “Starting in summer 2013, we are planning to excavate an Iron Age compound (known also as an ‘Assyrian enclosure’) at the site of Ashdod-Yam (South) (Ashdod on the Sea; Asdudimmu in the neo-Assyrian sources; a part of Azotos Paralios in Byzantine times), which is located on the coast of Israel (within the boundaries of the modern city of Ashdod), ca. 5 km north-west of Tel Ashdod. The excavations are planned as a joint venture of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University and the Institut für Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft of the Leipzig University, who are going to be the major partners.”

* “When Israel lost the Ark of the Covenant at Ebenezer, the Philistines brought it to Ashdod and placed it in the temple of Dagon (1 Samuel 5:1-8). … The prophets Jeremiah, Amos, Zephaniah, and Zechariah spoke against Ashdod (Jeremiah 25:20; Amos 1:8; 3:9; Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:6). … Ashdod was known as Azotus in New Testament times (Acts 8:40).”

Ephesus: The Cave/Grotto of Paul and Thecla at Ephesus

“At Ephesus there is a not–too–frequently–visited cave sometimes called “The Grotto of Paul” (= Cave of Paul & Thecla).  It is located on the northern slope of Bülbül Dag, away from the normal visitors’ routes through Ephesus.  It overlooks the site of ancient Ephesus from the south.”

Hazor: Hazor in the Tenth Century BCE

“Few topics are more controversial than the biblical kingdoms of David and Solomon. Were they and their rulers real, and if so, what archaeological remains did they leave? Or were they literary creations, exaggerations or even fabrications of later biblical writers? The arguments have raged for almost three decades without end, polarizing biblical Archaeology—and the public—like no other issue.”

Jerusalem: * Jerusalem: The Movie; * National Geographic Jerusalem and Its Stunning Photography Releases Soon; * Jerusalem – The Movie [the movie’s 2 min. YouTube video trailer; essential viewing]; * The Jerusalem Movie Trailer [you’ll want to read this in conjunction with viewing the movie trailer]

* “National Geographic Entertainment is proud to announce the release of JERUSALEM in IMAX® and giant screen theaters in both 3D and 2D.” [It is scheduled to appear at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in October.]

* “For the first time on the world’s largest screens, experience this ancient city through the stories of people who call it home.”

* “…  official trailer for the movie. It is fantastic.” [essential viewing; I’ll be seeing this movie more than once!]

* “If you are interested, here is a run-down of all of the locations in the trailer …”

Nazareth: Nazareth—Jesus’ Hometown with a View to the Past and the Future

“Not many people can say they grew up on a hill that overlooked the battlefields of history. But Jesus could.”

links to the land


Bethshean: A Day in Bet She’an

“The ancient city of Bet She’an (Beit Shean, Beth Shean, Beth Shan, Bethshean, etc.) … is beautifully strategic, located at the junction of the Jezreel and Jordan Valleys and commanding a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside.”

Jesus & the Tower of David (aka: The Citadel): Tower of David Citadel—Jerusalem’s History Made Easy

“Because Pontius Pilate stayed at the Jerusalem palace, or Praetorium, he likely held the trial there in which he condemned Jesus. The popular identification of the Antonia Fortress as Pilate’s Praetorium finds its basis in tradition, not history. Josephus indicates that the Roman governor not only resided in Herod’s palace, but set up his judgment seat before it (Wars, 2.14). Philo flat-out says Pilate stayed in the palace (Leg. in Caium, 38, 39). …  history points to the David Citadel as Jerusalem’s Praetorium …”

Jerusalem: 5 More Christian Sites in Jerusalem You Should Know About

“The Upper Room … Garden of Gethsemane … The Via Dolorosa and the Citadel … The Church of the Holy Sepulcher … Garden Tomb.”

Lebanon: Lebanon Archaeology

“Unlike its neighbor to the south, Lebanon has only a handful of excavations currently in progress and there is no systematic archaeological survey of the entire country presently available. Sadly, archaeological work is only being carried out at a total of five (or so) sites: Sidon, Tell Arqa, Tell el-Burak, Baalbek, and Kamid el-Loz. Naturally, one would think that the paucity of archaeological work (and tourism, for that matter) is due to present security conditions. But that is only part of the story.”

Masada: A Sunrise Few Have Seen

“… at Masada for the sunrise.”

Oil lamps: Wise or Foolish

“The juglets that the virgins would probably be using were not very large. They probably only contained enough oil for one refill of the lamp.”

Shikhin: * Ancient Jewish Village Found in the Galilee; * Samford Archaeological Dig in Israel Uncovers Jewish Village; * Excavations at Shikhin, Israel

* “The remains include an ancient synagogue, houses and massive evidence of pottery production in the ancient Jewish village of Shikhin, near the ancient Jewish city of Sepphoris (Zippori). The site is important because it teaches about Galilean Jewish village life and its economy at the birth of both Christianity and the Judaism of the Talmud … The site is about five miles northwest of Nazareth.”

* “The site of the discovery has been abandoned, except for agriculture, ever since the mid-fourth century A.D. … The Excavations at Shikhin are part of a cultural heritage project to preserve the site of Shikhin, located at the northern edge of Zippori National Park.”

* “Samford University is the primary sponsoring institution. Professor James Riley Strange of Samford University, USA, serves as Director.”

links to the land


Ancient Israelite daily life: Ancient Israelite House

“Photos of a replica of an ancient Israelite house from the Houses of Ancient Israel exhibit at the Semitic Museum at Harvard University.”

Jacob’s well, Joshua & Shechem: Shechem Still Shouts for Us to Choose God Today

“I’m convinced that’s why Joshua gathered the young Hebrew nation to Shechem, which lay between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. The geographical context of his words played a significant role. What he said that day still applies to us.”

King David & Khirbet Qeiyafa: Claim: Palace of David Discovered in the Foothills of Judah

“Professor Yosef Garfinkel has announced the discovery of two royal public buildings in his excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa. According to the press release, one is the palace of David and the other was the king’s storehouse. … To my conservative friends, I’d urge caution before making any bold claims based on Garfinkel’s work. Or any claims at all. Let’s wait and see how credible archaeologists evaluate his stratigraphy. If he’s correct, we’ve lost nothing by being patient.”

Kir-hareseth: The Topography of Kir-hareseth

“Kir-hareseth figures prominently in a story recorded in 2 Kings 3.”

Mount Arbel & the Sea of Galilee: The Sea of Galilee and Mount Arbel from the NW

“From this point we can see the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Today we know it as the Golan Heights. In Old Testament times it was known as Bashan (Joshua 21:27). Golan was one of the cities of Refuge located in the area. In New Testament times this was the area of the Decapolis (Mark 7:31), and probably the country of the Gadarenes (Matthew 8:28).”

Nazareth: The Quest for the Historical Nazareth

“… the historical existence of Nazareth at the time of Jesus has been a controversial topic. … religious scholars tend to talk up the size of Nazareth, while skeptics tend to question whether Nazareth even existed at the time.”

Slavery: What Was Life Like for Roman Slaves?

“Archaeology in Aphrodisias, Turkey, reveals the story of Zoilos the slave. … Life was horrible for most Roman slaves, and their names are long forgotten. But Zoilos is one who made it past his difficult circumstances.”

Temple Mount: Temple Mount Virtual Tour

[Since the site is written in Hebrew I can’t comment on the text, but the photography of a “virtual tour” is helpful]

Writing: Roman Writing Tablet from c. 80-120 AD

“Scratched onto a wax layer, the lettering on this early 2nd century wooden writing tablet has survived. It is a deed of sale for a young female slave called Fortunata, described as ‘healthy and not liable to run away’. She cost 600 silver denarii – 2 years’ pay for a legionary soldier.”

links to the land


Hinnom Valley: The Hinnom Valley—Redeemed Just Like You

“The infamous valley reminds me of more than Manasseh. It also represents my redemption. And yours.”

Israel & politics: With Golan Fence, Israel Closer to Surrounding Itself with Barriers

“Fearful that the Syrian civil war, jihadist terrorists or Lebanese Hezbollah fighters will spill into Israel, the country’s military engineers are rushing to complete their latest “smart fence,” this one in the occupied Golan Heights.”

Jaffa (Joppa): Video of the Day: The Port of Jaffa (2 min. video)

“Jaffa, now part of Tel Aviv, is one of the oldest port cities in the world with a documented history dating back some 4,000 years. It was to the biblical Joppa that the cedars of Lebanon were once brought to be used in the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. The prophet Jonah, contrary to God’s command, boarded a ship in Jaffa before ending up in the belly of a whale.”

Nature & wildlife: Frog Long Thought Extinct Is Rediscovered in Israel

“…  the Hula painted frog was the first amphibian to officially be declared extinct, in 1996. Prior to [Yoram] Malka’s 2011 encounter, the animal had not been spotted alive in nearly 60 years.”

Nazareth: * Nazareth; * Nazareth in the First Century; * Dr. Ken Dark on Galilean Archaeology

* “Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel with a population of about 75,000 of whom 69% are Muslim …”

* “I have on multiple occasions encountered claims by atheists who insist that there was no village of Nazareth in the first century, often citing outdated or misunderstood archaeological data, or worse still, things written by people who are not themselves archaeologists and yet nonetheless feel they are qualified to offer a completely different interpretation of the existing evidence than professional archaeologists do.”

* “Ken (Dark) is an archaeologist with a great deal of experience in all things to do with the Roman Empire … [and has much] experience in mapping the area around Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. … two extended lectures [of his underscored] … the difference in archaeology between Romanized Sepphoris and Nazareth; it was also news to me that there was no road between Nazareth and Sepphoris – clearly this puts some question marks over reconstructions that have Jesus continually making his way over to the city. By way of contrast, there was a good road between Nazareth (which Ken portrayed as a small Jewish regional town rather than a hamlet) and the larger and more Romanized towns around the the Sea of Galilee.”

Near Korazin (Chorazin): Domus Galilaeae — Near Korazin

“To the west of Korazin, on the south side of route 8277 is beautiful is a Roman Catholic retreat center known as Domus Galilaeae. … It is generally not open to visitors so I thought I would share a few of my images of the place.”

Sidon: Sidon to Build Archaeological Museum

“The museum will house archaeological finds that demonstrate the contribution of various civilizations to the city of Sidon. Excavations at the site have shed light on the city’s history, and the remnants discovered date back as far as 4000 B.C., according to the head of the British Museum expedition, Claude Doumit Sarhal.

“’The artifacts provide insight into historical phases of the city and highlight the importance of the Mediterranean civilizations and cities in communicating with other civilizations,’ she said.

“The number of the archaeological pieces excavated reaches almost 1,000,’ Doumit Sarhal said. ‘You can imagine what could be buried under the historical site of the whole city, and under the 22 hectares of land that constituted the ancient city-state.'”