Incredible 1,500-year-old Christian mosaic uncovered in Israel ~ November 27, 2017

Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a stunning 1,500-year-old Christian mosaic that was once the floor of a church or monastery.
Experts found the mosaic during an excavation in the ancient Mediterranean coastal city of Ashdod-Yam, now part of the modern city of Ashdod. The discovery, which was made in August, was announced Thursday by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
An inscription in Greek dedicated to the structure’s builders offered archaeologists a vital clue. The inscription mentions a date on the ancient Georgian calendar, enabling experts to date the building.

“[By the grace of God (or Christ)], this work was done from the foundation under Procopius, our most saintly and most holy bishop, in the month Dios of the 3rd indiction, year 292” it reads. The year 292 corresponds to 539 A.D. “This is the earliest appearance of the use of the Georgian calendar in the Land of Israel, many years before it was used in Georgia itself,” explained Dr. Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who deciphered the inscription, in a statement.
Experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Tel Aviv University, and the University of Gottingen and Leipzig University in Germany also participated in the project.
Ashdod-Yam was an important city during the Byzantine period. Long hidden under sand dunes, the city is now revealing its secrets. “As far as we know, Ashdod is now home to the largest community of Jews of Georgian origin in the world,” said Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of Tel Aviv University, Dr. Balbina Bäbler of the University of Göttingen, and Sa’ar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the statement. “Testimony to the presence of the actual Georgians in the Land of Israel as far back as the Byzantine period has been found dozens of kilometers from Ashdod – in Jerusalem and its surroundings. But this is the first time that a Georgian church or monastery has been discovered on the Israeli coast.”

The archaeologists note that, according to historical sources, the fifth-century Georgian Prince and Bishop Peter the Iberian lived in Ashdod-Yam.
Archaeologists are now working to raise additional funds to continue their excavation of the site.
The Ashdod-Yam mosaic floor is just the latest fascinating Christian archaeological find in Israel. An ancient Greek inscription, for example, was recently found on a 1,500-year-old mosaic floor near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The inscription mentions the Byzantine emperor Justinian, who ruled in the 6th century A.D., and commemorates the building’s founding by a priest called Constantine.
In 2015 a 1,500-year-old church was discovered at a Byzantine-era rest stop between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In 2014 the remains of another church from the same period were uncovered in southern Israel.
Experts also believe they have found the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, which was the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.
Reported by: James Rogers – Fox News

By Prophecy in the News| November 27th, 2017|Tags: Archaeologists, Ashdod, Christ, Christian Mosaic, Christian News, Georgian Calendar, God, Greek, Israel, Prophecy News

 

 

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Jordan/Israel ~ 1987-1988 ~ Part 8

Day #8

At breakfast we witnessed another beautiful sunrise, a red rubber ball rising over new Jerusalem.  This is Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath – no work is done.  Our breakfast was made from food prepared on previous days.  Not even scrambled eggs could be prepared.  Talk about straining gnats.

Israel is made up of hills, valleys, hamlets, and towns.  Mountains abound all around the Jordan Valley.  We descended toward the Dead Sea and traveled the mountain, desert road, which is also rocky, hilly, craggy and lonely – between Jerusalem and Jericho.  We descended over four thousand feet and once again, entered a different climate.  This, as you probably realize by now, was the road used by the Good Samaritan.  Our ears popped.  What a beautiful land of endless variation!  We saw many Bedouin camps and tents, goats, and sheep along the way.  Israel really opens up the past.  We passed through the wilderness of Judea, just north of Neger, and the wilderness of Beersheba.  We passed deep gorges and narrow mountain passes, and canyons (Wadi) on the way toward Jericho.  In the distance we saw Mount Nebo, Jericho, and the Wilderness of Temptation.  We descended rapidly to the Dead Sea which was once a desert, but now, with water available, tomatoes, onions, strawberries, etc. are raised.  We saw a Greek Monastery – the site of Biblical Gilgal.  We also saw the place where Joshua crossed the Jordan River and laid down twelve stones.  The Dead Sea provides Israel with minerals, power and electricity.  We turned south towards En Gedi and Masada.  We passed the mountains at Qumran, where later today, we will see the caves where the Bedouin shepherd boy discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.  Our ears kept popping.  Now we went by the actual caves which hid the scrolls.  What a desolate place is Qumran, home of the Essenes.  The Dead Sea is 20% salt, and right next to a fresh water spring.  The residents of Qumran depended on this fresh water supply.  We saw possible Essene farms and a community near Qumran.

After proceeding south along the Dead Sea for awhile, away from the spring, the land again turned into a desert.  The Dead Sea is shrinking and getting smaller.  The water line is moving back.  What beautiful terrain – the desert, mountains, and the Dead Sea – it has to be seen.  We drove south a long way, passing caves where rebels hid from Greek and Roman authorities.  The Dead Sea was four shades of blue, surrounded by lush, green vegetation, and towering red and brown mountains and cliffs.  Leopards and ibex dwell in these forlorn mountains.  We kept proceeding south toward the oasis of En Gedi.  As we passed through En Gedi, we immediately saw an oasis filled with beautiful palm trees.  En Gedi, of course, is where David hid from Saul in a cave and cut Saul’s garment.  I can see why David stayed here.

We then passed a health resort where a sulfur spring bubbled from the ground.  Finally we approached our first destination of Masada.  What a majestic site in the distance.  The ramp that the Romans built in order to capture Masada could be seen.  The Romans, under Titus, took three years to capture it through siege (70-73 A.D.).  We also saw Mount Sodom south at a distance.  An oasis was at the bottom of Masada.  What a beautiful drive, Jerusalem to Masada.  One may ascend Masada in one of two ways:  1) by cable car or 2) by the “snake path” which takes about forty five minutes.  There is no rain here, and we saw one large cistern on the way up.  It was a large man made quarry, turned into a cistern.  Masada means stronghold, rock, or fortress, and was built by the paranoid Herod.  There are three separate levels to King Herod’s Pleasure Palace, connected by staircases.  The top level of Masada is twenty acres.  Many of the Roman encampments could be seen below.  The Roman encampments were square shaped and very easy to see.  Masada had water, swimming pools, gardens, and just about everything to make it a paradise.  A Roman wall crept all around the base of the mountain in order to keep the people captive.  After three years, over nine hundred zealots committed suicide.  Masada was discovered only one hundred years ago.  When the Romans laid siege to Masada, they probably got their water at En Gedi.  When the Romans attempted to build the earthen ramp, the zealots threw rocks down on them.  We passed a stone quarry that was used by Herod in order to build.  The walls of all the rooms at Masada were once beautiful, painted, and covered with plaster.  There were saunas, hanging gardens, bath houses, pillars, storage rooms with a nine year food supply (the food was near Herod’s quarters).  There were beautiful mosaics.  There was even a hot room, and the floor was supported by small columns – underneath the floor were coals and hot water which created a sauna.  Tile was on some of the walls.  As mentioned, the pleasure palace of Herod had three tiers, and was located in such a way as to catch the breeze at the end of the mountain.  The outline of the Roman encampments could be seen all around the mountain.  The General’s Quarters could be seen inside the encampments at the corner of each.  Water came to Masada all the way from the mountains near Jerusalem and was collected in cisterns.  There were holes in the base of Mount Masada which collected the water runoff from the mountains nearby.  The force of gravity pushed the water up, because even the top of Masada is below sea level!  The top level of Masada features the Northern “pleasure” Palace.  Next, I visited the lowest tier of the pleasure palace, the third level down.  This tier gave Herod shade and breeze.  There was a hidden stairwell which was built into the rock, that Herod used to go up and down.  There were no trees in the area, hence the Romans had to haul a battering ram for a long distance.  Then I saw the middle terrace of the pleasure palace (Northern Palace), and observed the remains of a narrow, circular stairwell built into the rock.

Back on the top terrace was the oldest synagogue in the world at the time of the Second Temple.  Ezekiel, Chapter Thirty Seven, “The Vision of Dry Bones,” was found in the synagogue.  Nearby, there was a chamber for the scrolls, or library.  We observed the Roman ramp of earth closeup from the top of Masada.  There were many towers posted along the outer walls.  We left the “leisure” Northern Palace, and entered the Western “working” Palace.  This was the Administrative Palace.  A woman  and her daughter were the only ones who did not commit suicide in 73 A.D.  They hid themselves in an empty water cistern.

Now we will head for En Gedi.  The Dead Sea has no fish or seaweed.  The sulfur smell is very strong.  En Gedi comes from “En” or spring, and “Gedi” or goats.  We came to Wadi David – the springs and water source for En Gedi.  We observed the ibex wandering on the cliffs, the mountain animal of Israel, from which we get the word “Gedi.”  En Gedi features a beautiful waterfall.  At En Gedi, the water originates at a spring and goes underground.  The water is warm.  On our walk back from the waterfall, we saw a “coonie” which looks like a groundhog.  We also saw about twenty ibex walking along a high ridge.  We saw many other ibex amid the rocks.  They are very coordinated for the mountains, and they change the position of their feet to land square on the rocks.

Now we went to the Dead Sea at En Gedi for a swim.  One can float there with no effort at all.  Salt deposits were left all over our bodies.  Since I shaved the previous night before swimming, my neck stung.  You could smell the sulfur, and clay deposits were left everywhere.  The clay is used for cosmetics, facial treatments, and other vain pursuits of man.  Since the Dead Sea is the lowest place on the face of the earth, and tropical, and unseasonably warm, and has many mineral deposits, one feels that God did something special here – such as rain fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah, and dropping the entire valley below sea level.

Onward to Qumran.  We passed an oasis filled with palm trees along the way.  (By the way, it just came to mind that there were no problems on the trip which had to do with the recent P.L.O., Gaza Strip and Bethlehem developments).  Qumran was settled by the Essenes in the eighth century B.C.  We visited the remains of the community, observing a water channel, a cistern, scrolls stored in a Scriptorium, and a cemetery.  Many scrolls have been located in these mountains nearby.  Observed in the Essenes Community were homes, pottery, stables, flour, a dining hall, a pool and a cistern.  Every remaining artifact gives evidence of a simple life style.  The Essenes left Qumran and went to Masada.

We left Qumran to go back to Jerusalem.  On the way home, our guide mentioned that Bedouins still trade camels for wives.  They love their simple life style.  We passed a military camp.  Now we went back to the road which goes from Jericho to Jerusalem.  We passed another military camp.  Many Bedouin Camps were seen on the way back to Jerusalem.  We passed through today’s Bethany and stopped at Lazarus’ tomb.  It was deep and dark and seemed very real.  We had to duck and crawl in order to enter the crypt area.  It appeared to be a real possibility of genuine authenticity, like the tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.

We again entered Jerusalem.  We visited Jesus’ Garden Tomb, mentioned in the paragraph above.  It too, seemed authentic because of 1) the trough where the stone rolled, 2) and the window where the Bible seems to indicate light came in (John 20: 4-8); when John and Peter saw the linen clothes in the tomb, a source of light would have been needed for them to see the clothes after running into the tomb – the window, of course, would have provided the light.

Jordan/Israel ~ 1987-1988 ~ Part 7

Day #7

The rabiis, or Orthodox Jews, wear their hair very short with a long, long strand near the ear.  It would be interesting to find out why.  They are probably trying to fulfill a law of theirs.  On the way to our first stop, Pastor Grimes told us that it hardly ever rains at the Dead Sea.

Our first stop entailed a visit to an Israeli shrine in commemoration of the Jewish Holocaust.  The question remains, was the Holocaust God’s push of the Jews into the Holy Land?  First of all, we saw the Israeli military cemetery.  We saw many stones representing the war in 1948, when 650,000 Jews had a six month war with the Arabs and lost 6,000 people.  The Israeli national movement is called the Zionist Movement, named after Mount Zion, or Jerusalem.  Other stones were from soldiers who died in 1967.  (the Six Day War).  Next, we proceeded to the Memorial to the Holocaust.  One and one half million children were killed.  Seventy two hundred (7,200) Jewish people escaped from Denmark to Sweden.  We saw pictures of gas chambers in Poland.  Death and Concentration Camps were all over Europe.  The hair and gold teeth were extracted from the Jews and used in the war effort.  The Holocaust is one reason the Jews go to Mount Masada and vow they will never surrender, but fight to the death,  This entire Memorial is a good reminder of the wretchedness of the heart of man.

Next, we looked at the Dead Sea Scrolls.  We saw part of the book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Aramaic.  It was discovered Qumran in 1947, and it dates to about 100 B.C.  It was made by the famous Essenes.  Then we saw the Temple Scroll.  The Temple Scroll is God teaching the Torah in the first person.  We saw the Manuel of Discipline – the regulations of the Essenes.  We saw the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness.  The biggest blessing, however, was to see a scroll of Isaiah dated 100 B.C., and filled with the prophecies of Jesus Christ!  (examples:  Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, chapter 53, etc.)  We saw the Nahum Commentary which identified the Essenes.  We saw the scrolls of forty one of the Psalms, including the apocryphal One Hundred and Fifty First Psalm.  We saw the jars which held the Dead Sea Scrolls.  We looked at the old marriage contract, a divorce bill, business letters (selling dates and fruits), and a social letter.  The Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-135 was the last revolt of the Jews against the Romans.  This was mentioned in a social letter.  Over seven hundred scrolls and parchments have been found around Qumran.

Now we proceeded to Hezekiah’s Tunnel.  We entered the Hinnom Valley, filled with olive trees.  Then we came to the Kidron Valley.  Hezekiah’s Tunnel is almost one half a mile long, and is a tremendous engineering feat.  There were many residences right outside the tunnel, where donkeys worked right at the tunnel site, and children rode the donkeys.  The tunnel consisted of two parts:  1) The original Canaanite Shaft and 2) Hezekiah’s Tunnel into David’s city.  We saw the entrance to Hezekiah’s Tunnel – dated 750 B.C.  Then we saw where David found the shaft, near the tunnel, which he used to enter Jerusalem around 1000 B.C.  We walked up Mount Ophel – David’s city was a steep hill which was surrounded by valleys, the Kidron and Tyropoeon Valleys.  The shaft and the tunnel diverted water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam at the south end of David’s city.  When David took Jerusalem, Joab went up the Canaanite Shaft in order to open the gate for David and his men.  Because of what he did, Joab received one of David’s daughters in marriage.

We noticed that Muslims paint their doors in relation to their “status” in faith.  A red door, for instance, means they went to Mecca.  There is no end to the customs and oddities in this land.

From our location in Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the ancient walls of the city of David could be seen.  We observed the Pool of Siloam, which was the water receiving area for David’s Jerusalem.  Swimmers were seen who entered the Pool of Siloam, having gone through Hezekiah’s Tunnel.  Nearby, are the traditional sites of the tombs of both Jehosephat and Zedekiah.  They are not one hundred per cent positive about the authenticity of these tombs.  There is more certainty however, about the tomb of Absalom.

Today is Friday, the Muslim Holy Day, and the soldiers were equipped with sticks and riot gear.

Next, we saw Zedekiah’s Cave or Solomon’s Quarries, a mountain where rock and stone was cut out for the temple.  It was a hollowed out mountain, a huge and vast cave opening into an amphitheater.  It kept going down deeper and deeper.  Ton upon ton of rocks were removed.  The traditional site of Golgotha or Calvary was seen across the street from Zedekiah’s Cave.  This was a Muslim area and we could not go there.  We noticed military halftracks and troops in the area.

On the way to Bethlehem, we passed another of Herod’s fortresses in the distance.  It was the Herodium, a man made mountain where Herod flashed signals from, way out in the desert.  (Because of his paranoia over assasination attempts, King Herod slept in a different place every night).  His tomb could be in this fortress which is noted for its flat top, looking like a volcanic mountain from a distance.  We passed Rachel’s tomb in Bethlehem off the main street.

For lunch, we went into St. George’s Arab Restaurant in Bethlehem.  An Arab waiter attempted to take away my salad while I was eating it.  Pastor Grimes was seated next to me and quickly took the waiter to task, straightening out his decorum.  We had lamb shiskabob, and it was good.  Speaking of Arab and custom, I would like to mention that the Arab toilet we saw near Petra, was in a large room, and on the floor.  I was totally mesmerized when I first saw it.  One would perform their bodily functions before a crowd.  Unbelievable.

We walked over to the Church of the Nativity after lunch.  This is the traditional birth place of Jesus Christ.  The church is built on a cave.  The only entrance, the front door, was short so camels could not walk in.  The cave was charcoal black, due to many people bringing in torches and candles.  The 1)Greek Orthodox, 2)Armenian, 3)and Roman Catholic all control this church, each with their own section.  A Greek Orthodox Priest, dressed in black, rang bells filled with smoky incense all over the church – making it “holy.”  Many of us gagged and coughed because of the smoke.  The church goes back to the 5th Century and is rugged looking, like a fortress.  The church has the original Byzantine 5th Century floor, Muslim columns, and Crusader decorations on the walls.  Another cave or manger was on the other side.  After leaving the Greek Orthodox Church, we entered the Catholic section.  This was a very ritualistic church.

Now we proceeded toward the shepherd’s fields.  There was a natural cave in these fields, and there were many shepherd’s fields to be seen in the area.  These fields were similar to, and may have actually been, the fields that Ruth worked in and Boaz owned.  Beth-lehem means “house of bread.”  There are wheat fields and shepherd’s fields all around the town, hence the name.  From Bethlehem, we had a breath-taking view of the mountains of Moab, across the desert and the Dead Sea.  Moab, we know, was where Ruth came from, and the country originated between Lot and one of his daughters.

We then saw a beautiful panoramic view of Jerusalem from the south.  We could observe David’s city at Mount Ophel up the middle, the Mount of Olives was seen on the right, and Mount Zion was on the left.  The valleys are as follows:  the Kidron Valley bears off to the right, the Tyropoeon Valley goes to the left, and the Hinnom Valley can be found in the middle.  We could oberve the ever present Dome of the Rock in the middle also, above the Hinnom Valley.

Next, we went through the Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem – also called Gehenna because it was a trash dump where “the fire never went out.”  The word Gehenna, of course, refers to burning.  The never ending burning of hell.

We went to a store in Jerusalem belonging to a gentleman named Was-Was.  Along the way we smelled the aroma of many good Arabic foods.  Haggling is common place in Jerusalem, as you can bargain with people.  For a reasonable price, I bought two brass candlesticks for my wife, and an olive wood donkey to add to our collection of over twenty donkeys at home.

 

Are Dinosaurs Extinct?

All right.  You are from Missouri and say “show me.”  Watch the following “hot off the press You Tube” from Kim Joiner in Florida.

Published on Jan 16, 2017

Who says Dinosaurs are extinct?”
Giant gator caught strolling through Polk nature center
A giant alligator was caught on camera during a morning stroll at a nature center in Polk County.
The Lakeland Police Department shared the video, taken by Kim Joiner, on their Facebook page saying, “Who says Dinosaurs are extinct?”
The big daddy gator was strolling through the Circle B Bar Reserve, an area of of protected lands in Polk County.
In the video you can see four other people recording the surprise encounter, and not from a far distance – Ekkk!
Thanks for watching.
Please like, comment and subscribe for new videos!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo5FmTLvz2g

What these folks do not know, is that a giant alligator IS a dinosaur.  Dinosaur means “terrible lizard.”  I would suggest the aforementioned “You Tube” qualifies.  And so does the following, featuring the Komodo Dragons, the largest lizards on earth.  The folks in Indonesia who live near these reptiles, leave their lights on at night because there is no end to what they will try to eat – including the poor soul whose turn it is to take out the trash.

Dinosaurs coexisted with man.  Science, history, paleontology, archaeology, and anthropology all prove this to be true.  The best proof to the born again Christian is found in the book of Job.  Read Job 40:15-24 and all of chapter 41.  In these pages you will find a reference to a giant land dinosaur, a plesiosaur, and a fire breathing dragon.  Every continent and every major ancient culture refers to dinosaurs.  A dragon is featured on the national flag of Wales, one was carved on the ancient Ishtar Gates of Babylon, they are carved on the Ica stones in Peru, and they were observed by Marco Polo during his explorations throughout the Far East.  They are represented in the parades in China when they celebrate the new year.  They are replete throughout history.

 

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The Ancient Giants Who Roamed The Earth

There are several entries on this blog site referring to giants; they are in the category: Old Testament Giants.  The first giants in the Bible are mentioned in Genesis 6, and they lived before the flood (antediluvian).  They lived all over the world, and they are mentioned in the historical, anthropological, and archaeological annuls of every major civilization on every continent.  The second group of Biblical giants came after the flood (post diluvian), and are limited to the Biblical lands in the Middle East – specifically to the land of Canaan/Israel and the surrounding nations.  Biblical examples of these giants are Goliath and his brothers, Anak, and King Og of Bashan.  Below, King Og is contrasted with an ordinary Israelite.  As we convert cubits to feet, the Bible says his bed was over 13 feet long and six feet wide.

Image result for king og of bashan in the bible

Image result for king og of bashan in the bible

Image result for king og of bashan in the bible

Image result for king og of bashan in the bible

Image result for king og of bashan in the bible

Image result for king og of bashan in the bible

WND EXCLUSIVE

BIGFOOT? HOW ABOUT A FOSSILIZED GIANT FOOT?

News agency has photo of one in bedrock more than 22 inches long

Published: 19 hours ago
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/09/bigfoot-how-about-a-fossilized-giant-foot/#IlZHt0fkUOJrZlXM.99

 

The Giant Of Kandahar, Afghanistan

Killed in 2002    The Description Is An Exact Match For The Biblical Old Testament Nephilim

There is no absolute proof that this giant was killed in Afghanistan in 2002 except for the testimony of the soldiers.  The writers of the story are reliable however, and the soldiers talk about this story nonchalantly as if it were common knowledge.  The alleged “cover up” by those in charge, was classic and in total harmony with previous incidents, such as the Smithsonian Institute’s hiding of the bones of giants found throughout North America.  [Read Richard Dewhurst’s “The Giants Who Ruled America, The Missing Skeletons And The Smithsonian Cover Up”].

Jordan/Israel ~ 1987-1988 ~ Part 6

Day #6

While eating breakfast at the Shalom we observed a beautiful sunrise over Jerusalem.  While eating breakfast I looked around and observed the Israelites, thinking what a stubborn people they were, and how the Lord still has His hand on them, even though they do not believe in Jesus and the New Testament.  Our hotel gave us a beautiful view of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is a melting pot with all kinds of people.  All of the people in Israel, the men and the women, must serve in the army for two years and take their vows on Mount Masada.  I found the people in Israel to be friendlier, more courteous, and more respectful (especially the children) than Americans.

Today, our first stop was at the model of Jerusalem (The “Model City”).  The model depicted Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple (the time of Jesus).  The Model City displays the many walls, the residences, Herod’s Palace, the Fortress of Antonio, the Temple, and many other things.

Next, we went towards the Mount of Olives.  On our way, we observed an Arab kiss his camel, and give our pastor a ride.  We went up the Mount of Olives to the temple of Ascension which is now a Mosque.  (refer to Acts 1:4 through Acts 1:11).  There is an “alleged footprint” where Jesus ascended from, inside the small temple upon a rock.  Next, we went a short distance away and took several pictures of Jerusalem from this panoramic view.  From our location on the Mount of Olives, we had a view of Jerusalem over the Kidron Valley.  Also observed was David’s City, the Dome of the Rock, as well as the northern end of Jerusalem.  It is interesting to note that the current city walls are only five hundred years old, and built by the Ottoman Turks.  Mount Ophel is David’s old city, and Mount Zion is above David’s City, outside the wall.  We saw Absalom’s tomb in the Kidron Valley.  As we departed from the Temple of Ascension, a burro blocked our path on our way to the Garden of Gethsemane.

We went into the Garden of Gethsemane (“semane” means olive oil).  Gethsemane may have been near John Mark’s home.  We entered the Church of All Nations where the alleged rock is that Jesus prayed at.  This is located next to the Garden of Gethsemane.

We drove up to the Old City of Jerusalem and entered Stephen’s Gate, which is also known as the Lion’s Gate, with a lion on each side of the gate.

Next, we observed a fine site of archaeology – the Pool of Bethesda.  The pool has five porches where people were healed, and is dug out very deep.

The streets of Jerusalem are very narrow.  The women wore robes, and carried large objects on their head.  Beggars and cripples lingered on the street corners.  Walking in the “Old City” is like walking into the past.  Burros carrying loads walk in the streets.  Flutes, and other eastern instruments can be heard.  Muslim people can be heard wailing over microphones.

Next, we arrived at my favorite archaeological site in the whole city – we entered the Judgment Hall at the Fortress of Antonio.  There was a cistern and a water supply here.  We observed areas cut by Herod, which was originally the moat of the Fortress of Antonio.  Next, we went deep into the beautiful, large, and open Strutheon Pool.  Water runs down into the pools from the mountains.  We approached other cisterns and lithostrotos pavement that Jesus walked on.  The pavement was made up of large stones with wedges to prevent slipping.  A church was built above this pavement.  Jesus was tried and judged near here by Pontius Pilate.

We walked down today’s Via Dolorosa, where Jesus is supposed to have carried His cross to Calvary.  The actual road, however, would be many feet underground.  The Via Dolorosa featured an arch overhead, this is an original arch left from the Fortress of Antonio.

The business district was bustling – people commonly walk up to you in order to sell you just about everything.  There are money changers today in Jerusalem just like in Christ’s time.  Many people wear cloaks, robes, togas, and turbines.  Conservative Muslim women wear veils.  We stopped and looked at a Muslim water trough.

We approached the Western “Wailing” Wall and we were frisked on the way into this area.  The wall is near Mount Zion and the Tyropoeon Valley.  The Tyropoeon Valley, filled over the years, is right in front of the wall.  The wall is very long, and is the last part of the temple that was not destroyed – hence the Rabiis, Orthodox Jews, etc. wail there.  We observed the same wall nearby extending underground.  The entire original wall is 150 feet high.  When the rabiis pray – they read their Tora, and they chant, buck their head backwards and forwards, and side to side.  They shake their knees.  Loads and loads of prayers were stuck in the cracks of the walls.  The rabiis wore prayer boxes (Phylacteries; Matthew 23:5) on their foreheads and arms, and were dressed all in black.  In essence, they are modern day Pharisees.  They are very, very zealous.  If they were converted, their zeal would turn the world upside down (like Paul of Tarsus).  When we entered, we put on “cardboard beenies” or Kippurs, like everyone else.  A head covering, they feel, is needed in a holy place.  Orthodox Jews of the law, modern day Pharisees, were seen everywhere.

We observed the excavated Tyropoeon Valley (Old Jerusalem) near the Wailing (Western) Wall.  We passed a Byzantine, Muslim Mosque and approached the Dome of the Rock.  It was built in the eighth century.  Abraham offered the sacrifice of Isaac at the rock in the Dome – the rock inside is the ONLY part of Mount Moriah that Herod left exposed after all of his building.  The best marble available was used to build it.  There is a hole in the rock, and a drainage area below for all the blood sacrifices.  Blood would run underneath, all the way down the mountain.  The Dome of the Rock is surrounded by a Muslim Mosque and worship area.  From this area, one can see the Tyropoeon Valley, the Western Wall, and David’s City beyond.

Jerusalem is a melting pot of cultures, beliefs and different people’s religions.  At lunch time, a man on the tour (Steve Abbott) was drinking a milkshake for lunch and was told to leave – this is NOT KOSHER.  Dairy products cannot be eaten with meat products.  The religions of Jerusalem are 1) Islamic (Muslim) 2) Jewish 3) Christian and 4) Armenian (preceded by Greek Orthodox).  All believe in one God and are monotheistic, and all of them go back to Abraham.

We observed the remains of Byzantine shops.  The shops were Roman streets with columns (pillars), and stores on both sides of the street.  These shops were part of Jerusalem after 70 A.D., when Titus destroyed Jerusalem.  Farther down the row of shops, modern shops are built in the original shops.  We then passed a display revealing the Maccabean, Hasmonean ruins and walls.  These dated from 100 B.C. to 700 B.C., the bottom stones were from the time of Hezekiah and the first temple.  Next, we saw an area where the Israeli and Hasmonean walls joined together.  We passed a Byzantine mosaic map, revealing Jerusalem in the sixth century – showing even the streets with the shops that we previously observed.

In Jerusalem, the people bargain and haggle over everything – nothing has a set price.  The people are friendly and get satisfaction in helping you.  A boy gave me an olive branch, expecting nothing in return.  I bought film from a boy, and he brought down the price for me.

Next, we entered the upper room on Mount Zion.  A Muslim Arab altar was put there when they took over.  This is just the traditional location.  The upper room is traced  back only to the Byzantine period, hence it cannot be real.

We went to Mount Zion, King David’s tomb.  Muslim and Byzantine architecture was observed here also, hence this location is probably also traditional.  We observed the Hinnom Valley off in the distance.

We entered Caiphas’ Palace, which was located below a Catholic Church.  We saw a prison where prisoners were dropped through a circular hole.  Could Jesus have been kept here?  More prisons and dungeons were located below.  This was definitely the main prison of the House of Caiphas.  There were even holes in the walls where the prisoners were strapped into place when they were whipped and beaten.

Caiphas’ Palace was a great archaeological site.  Wonderful views were observed of the Kidron Valley, the Tyropoeon Valley in the lower city in Old Jerusalem, and the ruins of Caiphas’ Palace located outside the Catholic Church.  David’s city is located on Mount Ophel, the original Canaanite stronghold of Jerusalem.

Note:  Since traveling to Israel nearly thirty years ago, there is another school of thought regarding archaeology in Jerusalem.  The “Wailing” Wall is now thought to be from the Fortress of Antonio rather than from Herod’s Temple.  Bob Cornuke’s book Temple is the watershed book regarding this new discovery.  I believe Bob is correct in his assessment.  

 

Jordan/Israel ~ 1987-1988 ~ Part 5

Day #5

In Galilee we had cheese and fish for breakfast.  Ramat is located on the north end of the Sea of Galilee, on the northwest corner of the Golan Heights.  Gadara is at the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee.  [We left Gadara by boat and crossed the Sea of Galilee.  The previous evening, my pastor Bill Grimes, assigned me to preach the Gospel on the boat as we crossed over the Sea of Galilee.  I selected the title:  “Jesus Walking On The Water, A Challenge To Our Faith.”  Matthew 14:22-33.  12/30/1987.  Interestingly, our Jewish boat and tour guides, peeked around the corner and took in every word I said.  The Jewish people from Israel are often curious about the Gospel, observing firsthand how born again Christians drop millions and billions of dollars in order to visit their land!  This caption is typed in red because it was not in my original journal.]    As we left our hotel and entered our boat, we proceeded clockwise around the Sea of Galilee, to the east, and we encountered a rocky area full of cliffs.  It came to mind that Jesus sent the swine over the cliff in an area that must have looked like this- where the Gadarenes lived.  Sure enough, we were approaching Gadara!  Every place we come to matches up perfectly with the Bible, and it should, because the Bible is God’s Word.  When we went out on the Sea of Galilee, we looked around and could see the following:  Gadara, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Magdala, Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, Tabgha the seven springs church (location of the feeding of the five thousand), and Tiberias.  Our boat left Gadara and arrived in Capernaum.  Capernaum may have been the village of Nahum the prophet.  Simon Peter, of course, was from Capernaum.  Capernaum is best known perhaps, as being the home base or headquarters of Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee region.  We saw another ancient olive press here.  Capernaum was owned by the Romans.  We were blessed with the opportunity to observe three different time eras of the town.  There was Capernaum at the time of Jesus.  Another time era was represented by a Muslim Synagogue in the city.  Finally, further archaeological remains depicted Capernaum at a later time, the 5th century under the Byzantines.  We left Capernaum and passed through Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene.  Now, we left the Sea of Galilee, and headed for the boyhood home of Jesus- Nazareth.  Along the way, we passed another of the many Crusader strongholds which were taken over by the Muslims.  The drive towards Nazareth was very scenic, with rocky gorges and mountains.  We drove through lower Galilee.  We passed through Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle in His ministry, turning the water into wine.  Cana kept its name for two thousand years.  The Roman Catholic Church has the “alleged pot” which Jesus used to perform this miracle.  In a postcard I have of the “pot,” it looked in very good shape for its age.  We then passed through Reina, a suburb of Nazareth, near Gath-hepher, the home town of Jonah.  We arrived in Nazareth, which has a population of forty five thousand Arabs, Muslims, and Christians.  There were many crowded streets.  Remember Nathaniel’s comment:  “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  We visited the Nazareth Baptist Church whose pastor was of Arab descent.  The Baptist Church had a dynamic Christian School, and ALL of the many, many students, like the pastor of the church,  were converted Arabs.  Next, we visited the Greek Orthodox Church in Nazareth.  It reminded one of a Catholic Church with all the icons, paintings of Mary, the candles, etc.  “Mary’s well” was inside.  This was the only water source of the city.  This church dates to Byzantine times.

Water is always the bottom line in any potential dwelling area:  1) Where Moses smote the rock near Petra, 2) Where Elisha turned the bitter waters sweet at Jericho, 3) Mary’s well in Nazareth, 4) At the Megiddo tunnel, 5) In Jerusalem at the Canaanite Well, and Hezekiah’s Tunnel which empties into the Pool of Siloam (in Jerusalem is also the Pool of Bethesda), 6) And at En Gedi – the spring where David hid from Saul, also known as David’s Spring or David’s Wadi.

We passed the cliff where Jesus disappeared from the angry people.  Then we came to the eye catching Valley of Jezreel or Valley of Armageddon (Revelation 16:14-16).  Some people think the battle will actually be fought here, such as Hal Lindsey and other literalists of Bible prophecy.  Personally, I believe that “Armageddon” is a symbolic term due to all the battles fought there, just as “Sodom” is symbolic of homosexuality, and “Babylon” is symbolic of spiritual whoredom.

We passed Mount Tabor, where Barak and Deborah the judges had their military base.  Next we approached Megiddo, the strategically located fortress where many famous men died, among these was Josiah.  We were also approaching Mount Carmel.

We observed other fruits in Israel in this area, namely strawberries, grapes, olives, oranges, avocados, cantelopes, etc.

We went by picture perfect Nain, a pretty hamlet on a hillside.  Then we went through Afula.

We came even closer to Megiddo and Mount Carmel (Megiddo is actually a part of the Carmel Mountain Range).  Megiddo is a tell of   about twenty towns which were destroyed.  As mentioned, Megiddo was in a strategic place – blocking the Carmel mountain pass.  Megiddo goes back to 1500 B.C., and Canaanite kings before Joshua.  There is a model of the Megiddo tell on the scene.  The importance of Megiddo lies in the fact that it is the only pass through the mountain range, for the invasion of Jerusalem from the west.  Ancient Megiddo goes back from 4000 B.C. to 500 A.D.  The source of water was an underground tunnel and spring which was camouflaged so the enemy could not poison it.  Mount Carmel is easily scene from Megiddo.  The Catholic “Elijah Church” is seen on Mount Carmel, and is the alleged place where Elijah called down fire from heaven and slew the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal.  From Megiddo, one can see the mountain of Ahab’s Palace to the west, the Gilboa mountains, Mount Tabor, and the Nazareth mountains.  The oldest feature known in Megiddo is a center for Baal worship which dates back to 4,000 B.C.  There were many huge grain silos at Megiddo from the time of Jeroboam.  Ahab had a “chariot city” at Megiddo in the 9th Century B.C.  Also featured in Megiddo are horse stables and a feeding trough from the time of Solomon and/or Ahab.  We went through the water tunnel which leads to the spring, the water source of Megiddo.

Upon leaving Megiddo, we noticed anti-aircraft, Israeli tanks, and military installations everywhere.  We went down the narrow Megiddo pass upon exiting.  We passed one of the largest Israeli Arab settlements in Israel.  During our travels, Pastor Grimes and our Jewish guide Naphtali were talking about King David.  Naphtali said he came from Bethlehem.  In response, Pastor Grimes said that David HAD to come from Bethlehem because he was a type of Christ.  It seems that the best way to witness to Jewish people is to reveal prophetic truths in the Old Testament, show them how the Old and New Testament fit together, show them how the New Testament completes the Old Testament, and show them how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the entire Word of God, and the law, the psalms, and the prophets (Matthew 5:17, Luke 24:44).

We approached Caesarea where Philip the evangelist lived with “his four daughters who did prophesy.”  Caesarea, as you can probably tell by the name, was a Roman settlement.  The town featured all of the attractions of Roman life – an amphitheater, race tracks, administrative buildings, and a regular theater in the round.  Our guides informed us along the way that the Byzantines took over the east after the time of the Roman Empire; the Byzantines came out of Turkey.  This brought to my mind the many empires that have risen and fallen during the ancient history of man.  Here is a list of just a few of the empires that I thought of:  1) Sumerians 2) Babylon 3) Assyria 4) Syria 5) Egypt 6) Neo Babylon 7) Medo-Persia 8) Greek  9) Roman 10) Byzantine 11) Muslims (Arabic) 12) Crusaders 13) The Ottoman Empire of the Turks in 1500.  All of the aforementioned empires had a heavy influence on Israel in the past.  If we thought even more, we could probably add several more to the list such as the Canaanites, Philistines and others.  It is no coincidence that Israel is a “land bridge” where many nations crossed in the past.  In this way, other countries could learn the gospel, and Israel could be humbled by other nations when she stepped out of line.

Herod built Caesarea for the Romans only.  Augustus Caesar made Herod “King of the Jews,” hence Herod named the town Caesarea in honor of the emperor Augustus.  On the way to Caesarea, we passed through the large, modern, contemporary Israeli city of Tel Aviv, where Naphtali our guide is from.

Caesarea was built in the first century by Herod the Great.  We observed an aqueduct built by Herod.  It had two large ducts on top in which to transport water.  The water came nine miles from Mount Carmel and into Caesarea.  We passed the hippodrome (hippo means horse), or Roman race track.  Caesarea also has a “Crusader City” or castle.  The thirteenth century Crusader’s castle is complete with walls and a moat.  The castle was in very good condition.  Caesarea, like many places in medieval times in the Holy Land, changed hands several times between the Muslims and Crusaders.  We stopped and looked at the semi circular Roman theater in Caesarea.  Next, we looked at the remains of the Herodian Palace.  (How many palaces and fortresses did Herod the Great have?)  All of the statue heads were hacked off by Muslims, who despised Roman pagan practices of nudity.  Caesarea is still one gigantic tell – most of which is still uncovered.

We passed through Hadera, on our way to Tell Aviv.  As we again approached Tell Aviv, we observed a beautiful sunset.  Tell Aviv was built in 1909 by Jews from Istanbul.  It is the largest city in Israel, and very modern.

We passed through the city of the Ottomon Empire, which was 500 years old, founded by a Turkish Sultan – New Joppa.  We then arrived in the older part of town, Old Joppa.  This, of course, is the home of Simon the tanner (Peter).  Jonah also went to Joppa, attempting to flee from God’s will.  It is interesting that when we tie Joppa in with Peter and Jonah, with both men the city is significant because it had to do with their respective commissions of taking the gospel to the Gentiles.  There were many narrow streets and shops near the water.  Excavations revealed the third century B.C. Greek occupation of Joppa.  It is a very quaint and pretty town, it reminds one of a fishing port.

Onward, for our one hour drive to Jerusalem.  On our way south, we passed the place where the sun stood still for Joshua’s army.  As we went towards Jerusalem, we gradually ascended.  Hence, even though we were going south, we were going “up” to Jerusalem.  The ONLY way to Jerusalem is a narrow, rocky canyon road.  The Arabs blocked this road in 1948.  Jerusalem is a town of vast hills and valleys.  Jerusalem is over 3,000 feet high and has a population of 450,000.  It has an old city and a new city – our attention will be focused on the old city.  When we arrived for the night, we stayed at the Shalom Jerusalem Hotel in the new city.

 

Jordan/Israel ~ 1987-1988 ~ Part 4

Day #4

We were told that we would go near Gilgal when we crossed the Jordan River this morning.  This is where Elisha and Elijah crossed the Jordan River prior to Elijah being taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot, and the beginning of the ministry of Elisha.  Our tour guide in Jordan, Jack, will take us to the border of the Jordan River, where another guide will pick us up and show us Israel.  We were informed that the inspection station at the Jordan, Israel border was very strict because of the tense situation in the Middle East.  Along our way, Dr. Grimes passed along some valuable information to us about Jericho, one of the first sites we will see on this date.  He said that the Jericho of today, or New Jericho, is at its present location because of Elisha’s Spring, where the bitter waters were made sweet.  It is amazing to observe how God’s blessings from thousands of years ago still bless and affect people today.

As we approached Israel from Jordan, we noted more trees, grass and hills.  We approached Mt. Seir which was both high and long.  This is where Esau settled, and Seir means red, the color of Esau’s hair.  Beyond Mt. Seir, we saw the beautiful Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea.  The scenery was spectacular.  We passed by Mt. Nebo, from where Moses saw Israel before he died.  We could really appreciate how easily Moses could see the Promised Land from Mt. Nebo.  As we quickly descended the mountains in Jordan our ears popped, and we were whisked to an entirely different atmosphere.  We passed banana trees, and tropical palm trees could be seen as we approached the Dead Sea.  The descent to the Dead Sea became more slow and gradual, and now we observed orange trees and cactus.

We finally reached the border inspection station, and we were advanced in front of other larger touring groups because of our small size.  So far so good.  Then we ran into the biggest snag and disappointment of our entire trip.  We were held up about two hours because we had to wait for a “regulation wheelchair” for Steve Abbott.  Steve’s wheelchair could not be taken into Israel in case someone planted a “pipe bomb” or something else inside it.  Finally, after a lengthly delay we were off again.

We were informed that the Dead Sea is rapidly sinking.  Potassium is the main product used from the Dead Sea.  One can see mountains all around the Dead Sea.  In America, I believe the Shennandoah Valley looks similar to the topography in this area – a low area that is surrounded by mountains.

The name of our new guide in Israel was Naphtali (one of the twelve tribes of Israel), and he was from the Levite Tribe.  It is amazing, I thought, for an unbelieving Jew to “guide” people who know Jesus Christ.

We passed through New Jericho.  The people in New Jericho are not Israelites, but citizens from Jordan.  Arabs also occupy the West Bank (1,200,000 of them), a section of Jerusalem, and other parts of Israel.  Jericho is an oasis or green spot.  We passed the Mount of Temptation on our left.  This, of course, is where Jesus was tempted by Satan for forty days in the wilderness.

Next, we visited the palace of the Islamic Muslim ruler Hisham, who ruled from 724-743.  The palace was destroyed by an earthquake only four years after it was completed.  In the realm of architecture, the Muslims copied the Corinthians, Byzantines, Romans, and Greeks.  Hisham stole the ruins from Herod’s palace at Jericho, in order to make his palace.  This place was furnished with bath houses, steam rooms, and spas similar to the Romans.  The palace had mosaics, a mosque, and an ornamental pool.

Now we proceeded towards historical Jericho, passing a couple Refugee Camps for Nomads and Bedouins along the way.  Jericho is the oldest city in human history, dating to about 7300-8300 B.C.  There are various cities in Jericho differing in age – 8000 B.C., 2000 B.C., etc.  The Jericho from the time of Joshua dates to about 1300 B.C.  Despite legendary folklore, the famous walls that tumbled down in Joshua’s battle have never been located with complete certainty.  Finally, in Jericho, we saw the spring of Elisha where he made the bitter waters sweet.  Fruits were plentiful in the area, including tangerines, pomegranates, figs, and dates.

We left Jericho northbound on a long ride towards Galilee.  We could appreciate the good shape that Jesus and the disciples were in to walk such a distance on foot.  Immediately, after we left the oasis of Jericho, the landscape once again became brown, barren, and dry.  As we moved toward Samaria, we saw grapes, fruits, and other crops.  On our left, we passed the mountains of Samaria.  Naphtali pointed out the mountains where the Maccabees hid.  Then we went by the Gilead mountains on our right.  We passed a road to Shechem, which was noted from Jacob’s time for his well.  We passed Jerash, Jordan which was one of the Roman Decapolis cities.  Next, was the Brook Gibok, where Jacob met God.  There is never a dull moment in this incredible land.  We passed a couple of tells, which are mounds containing the ruins of ancient cities.  One tell we passed, may have been Makula, where Elisha came from.  We finally left the Jordan River Valley, noting the Gilboa mountains on our left, where Saul fought the Philistines and killed himself.  We went through Bet Shean, and passed Afula on our way to Tiberias.  We went by another Crusader’s fortress, and fortified mountains on our left as we went north.  The Jordan River is sixty miles long from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.  Finally, we approached the Sea of Galilee.

We entered Tiberias, a Roman town noted for its hot springs.  It was a Muslim town and walled only one hundred years ago.  Tiberias was of importance to the Romans as a place of relaxation and therapy.  The Jewish Talmud was completed in Tiberias by 200 A.D. by Herod Antipas.  Herod built Tiberias in honor of the emperor.  All of the Herods were always trying to placate the Romans, since it was through them that they received their power.  Jesus never witnessed or preached in Tiberias, probably knowing that the gospel was not ready to be received there.

We passed a Jewish stronghold used against the Romans.  Then we passed Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene.  Next, we went by Ginnosar (Ginnessaret).  We saw bananas and olive trees.  It is 600 feet below sea level even at the Sea of Galilee.

We then went to the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount, or the Mount of Beatitudes.  We then approached the area where Christ fed the multitude of five thousand.  We saw an olive press outside the church called Tabgha, right off the Sea of Galilee.  Again, this is where it is thought Jesus fed the multitudes.  The Basilica of Tabgha was new.  The original church was built in the fourth century.  The Crusaders built a church on this site, then the Muslims ripped it down.  The Crusaders built it again, and once again the Muslims tore it down.  There were many icons inside the new basilica.  We then proceeded to the Golan Heights region on the north shores of the Sea of Galilee.  We saw barbed wire and many evidences (foxholes, bunkers) of modern warfare.  Nightfall came rapidly and we stayed at the beautiful Ramot, right off the shores of Galilee, opposite Tiberias.  We had fish for breakfast.

One interesting observation of our trip thus far, is the heavy Roman influence, all the way from Petra in south Jordan, to Tiberias in northern Israel.

The Jordan River is a very powerful river from Mt. Hermon to the Sea of Galilee, then tapers off from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.

Another thought is that I believe we should be wary of “traditional sites,” such as 1) Moses smoting the rock at Rephidim, the Wadi Feiran.  2) Where Jesus taught at the Mt. of the Beatitudes.  3) The feeding of the five thousand at the Tabgha basilica.  4) Aaron’s burial place at Mt. Hor, etc., etc.  5) The place of ascension by Jesus on the Mount of Olives.  6) The rock where Jesus prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane.  7) The place of the upper room on Mount Zion.  8) David’s tomb.  9) The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem – the place of the birth of Jesus Christ.  All of the traditional locations show the weak faith of man.  The important thing is that they happened.  In many cases we are just not sure where they happened – and it really does not matter.

I was surprised by the fact that you can see all the shoreline on the Sea of Galilee.  I thought it was larger.  At Lake Okeechobee, Florida, for instance, you cannot see all the way across.  This just added to its’ quaintness.  We could see Tiberias across Galilee from Ramot; at night the cities’ lights were beautiful.  Just as in the time of Jesus, the region of Galilee today is noted for health resorts, spas, saunas, etc.

Note:  I do not agree with the aforementioned dates of Jericho’s age as a city.  I do not believe the world dates prior to about 4000 B.C.  This is what the Bible tells us.  Radio Carbon dating methods are totally unreliable.  Furthermore, since this paper was written in 1988, there is much more archaeological proof about the location and discovery of the famous walls in Jericho that fell down during Joshua’s conquest. 

 

 

 

More Proof That The Biblical Giants Mentioned In Genesis 6 Once Walked On Our Planet

There are a plethora of historical and archaeological articles on this blog site, as well actual proof that Biblical Giants once walked the earth, under the category “Old Testament Giants.”  The following article is written from a secular standpoint, but much to the chagrin of worldly thinkers, it places an awful wrinkle in their evolutionary scheme.    Pastor Steve

Key the following link:

10 Alleged Discoveries That Suggest Giants Existed

 

Jordan/Israel ~ 1987-1988 ~ Part 3

Day #3

Our hotel is in the capital of Jordan-Amman.  Amman was the southernmost Decapolis city, which explains why there are many Roman ruins there such as a Roman theater.  The population of Jordan is four million, one million of these people live in Amman.  Much of Jordan is three thousand feet above sea level.  When we left Amman for Petra, we saw many things.  We saw olive trees, artisan wells, sheep, military posts, and Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) Refuge Camps.  The exports of Jordan are cement, and phosphates from the Dead Sea.

Amman was a very clean city, with white cement buildings, it was a hilly town, very scenic with no advertisements, and there were army and police men posted in many places.  In ancient times Amman was known as Rabbath-Ammon, chief town of the Ammonites.  Later it was rebuilt and renamed Philadelphus by Ptolemy Philadelphus (245-246 B.C.).  Rabbath means “great,” i.e., the capital.  Amman is at the headwaters of the Jabbok, 23 miles east of the Jordan.  The ancient background of Amman is as follows:  When David was king, the Ammonites defied Israel, prepared for war, and hired auxiliaries from the Aramaeans.  The hired army marched to the town of Medeba (I Chronicles 19:7; or perhaps “waters of Rabbah”).  Joab and the Israelites were encamped before the gate of Rabbah, and presently the Aramaeans  pitched camp behind them in the open field.  The Israelites were beset before and behind (2 Samuel 10:8-9; 1 Chronicles 19:9).  By dividing his forces, Joab met and defeated both enemies (2 Samuel 10:13-14).  The next spring, Joab besieged Rabbah again.  During a sally from the gate, Uriah the Hittite was killed.  That part of the city lying between the citadel and the river, and called the city of waters, fell into the hands of Joab, but the citadel held out.  David was sent for to complete the conquest and associate it with his name.  He came, took the city, and condemned the inhabitants to forced labor (2 Samuel 11:1; 12:26-31; I Chronicles 20:1-3).  In time, the Ammonites recovered the city.  Judgments were denounced against it by Jeremiah (40:2-6) and Ezekiel (21:20).  It was embellished by Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.), and in his honor named Philadelphus.  The city was the eastern limit of Peraea (War III:3,3).  The commercial highway between Damascus and Arabia, which skirted the desert passed through it, and there was also a trade road from Philadelphia by way of Gerasa and Pella to Scythopolis.  The modern name is Amman, an echo of Ammon.  So much for the rich history in the city where our plane landed.

Along the way to Petra, Pastor Grimes told us that the best stance towards the Arab/Israeli conflict is one of neutrality.  This sounds like wise advice.  They do not like each other, and they both have no hope for salvation unless they turn to Jesus Christ.

We already mentioned the intense security check upon entering the airport.  They also had several security checks along the highway.  Jordan has goats, mules and burros, we noticed along the way.  It is a very hilly and barren land.  We crossed a large mountain range.  As we mentioned, phosphates are mined in Jordan and exported for fertilizer.  We saw many shepherds and their flocks of sheep.  There were also many small cement homes for miners, dwellers, etc.  There did not seem to be the danger in Jordan that the recent United States news media attempted to portray (especially P.L.O. factions at the Gaza Strip and in Bethlehem).  We also noticed that many people in Jordan just stand around doing nothing out in the country.  A tourist bus is one of the few things which makes them move – they will attempt to sell just about anything, including the right to take their picture.

We drove on the famous King’s Highway which had an expensive tax on it in Bible times.  We saw many Bedouins after we left the main road.  Finally, we arrived at our first attraction on our way to Petra.  This was the Crusader’s Castle Shoubak.  This castle goes back to the sixth century, and is noted for guarding the crossroads at the King’s Highway near Petra.  It sits up very high, it has steep ravines and canyons around it, and looked impregnable.

The pace of life in Jordan seemed very slow and we noticed many grapes growing upon terraces.

Next, we entered the area of three main attractions:  1) The rock Moses smote in the Wadi of Kadesh, 2) Petra, home of the Edomites and many other settlers later on, and 3) Mount Hor, the traditional burial place of Aaron.  The rock Moses smote accounts for all the water in this area even today.  It is called Wadi Musa, and it supports the modern city of Petra.  Petra is one of the most incredible places on the face of the earth.  The inhabitants there dwelt high, among the clefts (Obadiah 3-4).  This was originally a place in Edom, where the Edomites lived.  The Nabataeans, however, were a group of desert tribesmen (a Semitic, Thamudic people of Arabic descent from Yemen) who may have encroached on the territory of Edom as early as the sixth century B.C.  According to the Greek historian Diodorus, these invaders from the eastern desert eventually captured all of the territory of Edom, including the capital city of Petra.  The Nabataean Arabs raised Petra to its highest glory before they came under Roman control in A.D. 106.  The ruins in Petra we saw were Nabataean ruins.  The Roman influence on the Nabataeans can be seen in the buildings, columns and arches.  Petra is surrounded on all sides by precipitous sandstone cliffs.  A rivulet traverses the whole length of the city, accounting for the variegated colors of the rock – red, brown, purple and yellow – adding to the beauty of the spot.  I picked up some of this rock for our four children.  The only entrance to the city is a narrow ravine with steep, high cliffs on each side.  Petra is surrounded by mountains.  There are some things that have to be SEEN in order to be appreciated and believed – Petra is one of these.  From a distance, the Petra mountains are like nothing you have ever seen – they are purple, eerie, mystic, out of place, like lunar landscape, majestic, steep and towering.  The rock in Petra is the easily cutable soft sandstone.  In Petra, there are Nabataean tombs, Obelisk tombs, remains of temples, an amphitheater, a triumphal arch, and dwelling houses in adjacent cliffs.  On the height above, overlooking the ancient city, is the great high place, and other altars standing on neighboring lofty sites.  There are also areas for blood sacrifices and many other things.  Petra received water through a small aqueduct.  Petra is at the center of a network of three roads – 1) The Kings Highway to the north, 2) a road to the south, 3) and the Desert Highway to the east.  1) Transportation and 2) water are needed for the city.

Mohammed, a popular Arab name in an eastern land, was the name of about a thirteen year old lad who led my horse into and out of Petra.

In the realm of culture, we noticed that in Jordan the music sounds very wailing and full of mourning.  It is even depressing, and almost reminded one of a funeral.

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The two most fascinating places that I have ever been to, are Machu Picchu, Peru and Petra, Jordan.  They are both listed among the seven wonders of the modern world.

Although I formerly agreed with Pastor Bill Grimes’ recommendation to stay neutral in regards to the Arab/Israeli conflict, since learning more of God’s plan for the nation of Israel, I have had trouble doing this.  Genesis 12:3 tells us the Lord will “…bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee.”  The Lord also calls Israel the “…apple of His eye.”  Although I see both Arabic people and Israelis as largely both lost without faith in Christ, Israel is a specially chosen nation of people for whom the Lord has a plan.  I also carry the underdog mentality.  Americans love the underdog, a role that Israel carries, as she is surrounded by innumerable Islamic nations and radical movements who have desired for this nation to be exterminated since May, 1948.  One day the Lord God will thwart the efforts of Gog and Magog, when they gather a huge coalition and mutually attack Israel.  Many students of prophecy believe Gog and Magog are Russia, Iran, and other like minded nations.