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Discoveries regarding two of the most important archaeological sites in Israel – Galilee and Jerusalem, suggest that the sites are far older than commonly believed. Teams of archaeologists have found a giant village from 12,000 years ago in Galilee and a 7,000-year-old ancient settlement in Jerusalem.
Until now, it was thought that the oldest settlements in this part of the world were located in Jericho, which date back 11,000 years (c. 9,000 BC). In the case of Jerusalem, it was previously believed that the oldest settlement comes from c. 5,000 BC. As for Galilee, in 2015 archaeologists discovered fava seeds dated to between 10,125 and 10,200 years ago. The recently announced findings are changing the history of this area.
Jerusalem is at Least 2,000 Years Older
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on February 17, 2016 the discovery of the oldest known remains of an ancient settlement on the site of modern-day Jerusalem, dating back some 7,000 years. This means that the beginning of one of the most important cities in the world dates back to the period of the Chalcolithic era, also known as the Copper Age.
Dr. Omri Barzilai, head of the IAA’s Prehistory Branch, declared that this finding is the oldest proof of human settlement in the Jerusalem area. It was known before that Galilee, Goland and Negev existed during the Chalcolithic period, but it was not known that Jerusalem was also an important site at the time. Some settlements in Judea Hills and Jerusalem were thought to exist, but they were believed to have been very sparse.
Archaeological excavations conducted at the northern Jerusalem site. ( Israel Antiquities Authority )
According to Newsweek Europe , the excavations unearthed two houses with well-preserved remains and floors. The houses contained various installations as well as pottery vessels, flint tools, and a basalt bowl.
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Ronit Lupo, the director of excavations for the IAA at the site, says that the discovery, which includes complicated architectural structures and a range of different tools, points to a thriving settlement. The site also yielded animal bones, which will provide more information on the diet and economic habits of people who lived there.
Polished flint axe and blades and a gemstone bead discovered in the excavation in Jerusalem. (Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority )
Many of the recently uncovered artifacts are shedding new light on Jerusalem’s past. Lupo told the Times of Israel :
“This discovery represents a highly significant addition to our research of the city and the vicinity. Apart from the pottery, the fascinating flint finds attest to the livelihood of the local population in prehistoric times: Small sickle blades for harvesting cereal crops, chisels and polished axes for building, borers and awls, and even a bead made of carnelian (a gemstone), indicating that jewelry was either made or imported. The grinding tools, mortars and pestles, like the basalt bowl, attest to technological skills as well as to the kinds of crafts practiced in the local community.”
A basalt bowl dating back 7,000 years, found during archaeological excavations in the Shuafat neighborhood, northern Jerusalem. ( Israel Antiquities Authority )
A Prehistoric Village in Galilee
Research published on February 16, 2016, suggests that the history of Galilee is also far older than previously believed. Evidence for the longer past comes in the form of an impressive-sized prehistoric village dating back 12,000 years, which was discovered by the Sea of Galilee.
Location of the 12,000 year old site Nahal Ein Gev II (NEG II) in the Southern Levant. ( Grosman et al. )
This find has other repercussions, as it demonstrates that the theory claiming that people in the Levant had reverted to a nomadic existence of hunting and gathering because of climate stress in the late Natufian period (12,500 BC — circa 9,500 BC) is untrue.
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Haaretz reports that the site discovered by the Hebrew University archaeological team headed by Leore Grosman, unearthed the big village by the Sea of Galilee. Their discovery is proof that at least some people remained settled during that time. Furthermore, it is estimated that at least 100 people lived in the 1,200 square meter (three acre) area.
The NEG II site in the Jordan Valley where archaeologists from the Hebrew University have discovered the remains of a 12,000-year-old settlement. ( Austin (Chad) Hill/Leore Grosman )
Grosman suggests that it is possible that the Dryas cold may have completely skipped over this region of the Jordan Valley (part of the Great Rift Valley.) This may explain why the people who lived in the village stayed.
“There is a model that claimed that what pushed people to agriculture was climate crisis and scholars tried to match up rainfall graphs with cultural change. But at least in the African Rift, it does not seem that there was such great distress, and this changes the picture somewhat,” Grosman said to Haaretz.
Some of the artifacts uncovered at the NEG II site: 1: Perforated Piece; 2–5: Decorated objects; 6: Green Stone Spacers; 7: Shell Bead; 8–10: Disc Beads; 10, 12–14: Disc Beads Pre-forms. )
In the paper, A Late Natufian Community by the Sea of Galilee published in the journal Plos ONE , Grosman explains that the Late Natufians were generally thought to have been a largely mobile population that coped with reduced resources caused by climate stress. The new research provides another side to the story.
During the excavations, archaeologists unearthed a cemetery with human remains, which will be tested in the near future. Other artifacts include: animal bones, flint objects, shells, beads, and small pieces of art.
Human remains found at the NEG II site by the Sea of Galilee . )
Amongst the animal remains are the bones of a barbell fish from the Sea of Galilee. Grosman expects that some of the perforated objects found at the site may be associated with a basic knowledge of fishing technology, perhaps as weights for a primitive fishing net.
Featured Image: Excavations at the NEG II site in the Jordan River Valley ( Dr. Leore Grosman ) and the site in northern Jerusalem. ( Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority )
'Jesus Discovery': Jerusalem Archaeology Reveals Birth Of Christianity
On the morning of Tuesday, June 29, 2010, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, we made an unprecedented archaeological discovery related to Jesus and early Christianity. This discovery adds significantly to our understanding of Jesus, his earliest followers, and the birth of Christianity. In this book we reveal reliable archaeological evidence that is directly connected to Jesus' first followers, those who knew him personally and to Jesus himself. The discovery provides the earliest archaeological evidence of faith in Jesus' resurrection from the dead, the first witness to a saying of Jesus that predates even the writing of our New Testament gospels, and the earliest example of Christian art, all found in a sealed tomb dated to the 1st century CE.
We refer to this tomb as the Patio tomb, since it is now located beneath an apartment patio, eight feet under the basement of a condominium complex. Such juxtapositions of modernity and antiquity are not unusual in Jerusalem, where construction must often be halted to rescue and excavate tombs from ancient times. The Patio tomb was first uncovered by construction work in 1981 in East Talpiot, a suburb of Jerusalem less than two miles south of the Old City.
Our discoveries also provide precious new evidence for evaluating the Jesus son of Joseph's tomb, discovered a year earlier, which made international headlines in 2007. We refer to this 1980 tomb as the Garden tomb, since it is now situated beneath a garden area in the same condominium complex. These two tombs, both dating to around the time of Jesus, are less than two hundred feet apart. Together with a third tomb nearby that was unfortunately destroyed by the construction blasts, these tombs formed a cluster and most likely belonged to the same clan or extended family. Any interpretation of one tomb has to be made in the light of the other. As a result we believe a compelling argument can be made that the Garden tomb is that of Jesus of Nazareth and his family. We argue in this book that both tombs are most likely located on the rural estate of Joseph of Arimathea, the wealthy member of the Sanhedrin who according to all four New Testament gospels took official charge of Jesus' burial.
Who was Joseph of Arimathea and how did he enter the historical picture? The Jesus Discovery explores the answers to this and a series of related questions. The recent discoveries in the Patio tomb put the controversy about the Jesus family tomb in new light. We now have new archaeological evidence, literally written in stone, that can guide us in properly understanding what Jesus' earliest followers meant by their faith in Jesus' resurrection from the dead, with his earthly remains, and those of his family, peacefully interred just yards away. This might sound like a contradiction, but only because certain theological traditions regarding the meaning of resurrection of the dead have clouded our understanding of what Jesus and his first followers truly believed. When we put together the texts of the gospels with this archaeological evidence, the results are strikingly consistent and stand up to rigorous standards of historical evidence.
Accessing the sealed Patio tomb was a tremendous challenge. The technological challenge alone was daunting. Our only access to this tomb was through a series of eight-inch drill holes in the basement floor of the condominium. We were not even positive these probes would open into the tomb. We literally had only inches to spare. Investigating the tomb required getting agreements from the owners of the building over the tomb the Israel Antiquities Authority, which controls permission to carry out any archaeological work in Israel the Jerusalem police, whose task is to keep the peace and avoid incitements to riot and the Heredim, the ultra-Orthodox authorities whose mission is to protect all Jewish tombs, ancient or modern, from any kind of disturbance. None of these parties had any particular motivation to assist us and for various reasons they disagreed with one another about their own interests. Any one of them could have stopped us at any point along the way, and there were many anxious times when we thought the exploration would never happen. Ultimately we were able to persuade each group to support the excavation. That we succeeded at all is more than a minor miracle. At the same time we had no evidence that our exploration of this tomb, if it were possible, would yield anything of importance. But we both agreed it was a gamble worth taking.
At many points the entire operation seemed likely to collapse. We pushed on, however, not because we knew what was inside the tomb, but because we could not bear the thought of never knowing. Since that time we have begun to put the entire story together and a coherent picture is emerging that offers a new understanding of Jesus and his earliest followers in the first decades of the movement.
Archaeologists who work on the history of ancient Judaism and early Christianity disagree over whether there is any reliable archaeological evidence directly related to Jesus or his early followers. Most are convinced that nothing of this sort has survived, not a single site, inscription, artifact, drawing, or text mentioning Jesus or his followers, or witnessing to the beliefs of the earliest Jewish Christians either in Jerusalem or in Galilee.
Jesus was born, lived, and died in the land of Israel. Most scholars agree he was born around 5 BCE and died around 30 CE. We have abundant archaeological evidence from this period related to Galilee, where he began his preaching and healing campaigns, and Jerusalem, where he was crucified. There is evidence related to Herod Antipas, the high priest Caiaphas, and even Pontius Pilate, who had him crucified, but nothing that would connect us to Jesus himself, or even to his earliest followers -- until now. Our hope is that these exciting new discoveries can become the catalyst for reconsidering other archaeological evidence that might well be related to the first Jewish-Christian believers.
The oldest copies of the New Testament gospels date to the early 4th century CE, well over two hundred years after Jesus' lifetime. There are a few papyri fragments of New Testament writings that scholars have dated to the 2nd century CE, but nothing so far in the 1st century. The earliest Christian art is found in the catacomb tombs in Rome, dating to the late 2nd or early 3rd centuries CE. Our discovery effectively pushes back the date on early Christian archaeological evidence by two hundred years. More significantly, it takes us back into the lifetime of Jesus himself.
This has been the most extraordinary adventure of our careers, and we are pleased to be able to share with readers the surprising and profound story of The Jesus Discovery.
See Photos of the Archeological Dig and Earliest Christian Images
Where Does the Bible Talk about Galilee?
“What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11).
Mentioned 67 times in the Bible, Galilee appears more predominately in the New Testament (64 times) compared to the Old Testament (9). 1 Chronicles documents the fertile land, and its mention in Joshua and 1 Kings describes it as land gifted from Solomon to King Hiram. Isaiah includes it in a prophecy fulfilled in Matthew 4:13-16: “when Jesus ministered in Capernaum- near the major highway from Egypt to Damascus, called ‘the Way of the Sea.’”
Galilee, where Jesus first called his disciples, is the location of many events recorded in the first three Gospels. “The apostles were all Galileans by either birth or residence,” records Smith’s Bible Dictionary. Much of Jesus’ public ministry occurred there, including nineteen of Jesus’ thirty-two parables, and twenty-five of Jesus’ thirty-three miracles, according to Easton's Bible Dictionary. The first recorded miracle was when Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana in John 2:1-11. Biblical scenes such as the Sermon on the Mount and the Transfiguration also occurred there.
“The entire province in encircled with a halo of holy associations,” wrote Carl Hoffman, “connected with the life, works and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.” Matthew 4:23-25 reads, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing disease and sickness among the people …Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.”
Jesus is often referred to as Jesus of Galilee or Jesus of Nazareth, because custom associated people with cities instead of last names. The region is referenced in the Book of Acts as an identifying factor of His disciples and many early followers. Acts 13:30-31 says, “But God raised Him from the dead and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now His witnesses to the people.”
It’s possible The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16) Jesus delivered to His disciples after His resurrection occurred on a mountain in Galilee, “commanding from its lofty summit a view of about 80 miles in every direction.”
Discoveries Show that Galilee and Jerusalem are Far Older than Once Believed - History
Jesus never told us to call anyone “RABBI” but Him, and neither did Jesus or the Apostles teach “Christianity” (it’s why the word isn’t in the Holy Bible) but for argument sake in the article below, for now “Christianity” means “New Testament Faith” but that’s the funny thing.. “Christianity” comes from Egypt circa 200 years previous and the word “Christian” was never used by Jesus or Paul (maybe because Paul knew the word was a severe appellation of scorn) since truthfully in the first century the word is an insult used by pagans and heathens who believed they were ‘gods’ and blindingly assumed the Apostles and later disciples saw themselves as little ‘gods’ (Christians) but hey, not all are deceived by satan who loves going to the woman first to pull in men after so satan catches them both, just like the Garden of Eden
“Rabbi” Louis Finkelstein in Volume 1 of The Pharisees, the Sociological Background of their Faith says, “Pharisaism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism became Modern Rabbinism. But throughout these changes of name, inevitable adaption of custom, and adjustment of Law, the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered.”
Biblical scholars Robert and Mary Coote clearly show in their book Power, Politics and the Making of the Bible that neither is Christianity a patched up Judaism, nor is Rabbinic Judaism automatically synonymous with the religion of Moses and the old Hebrews.
The Cootes’ illustrate the religious climate in Judea two millennia ago: “The cults, practices, and scriptures of both groups, rabbis and bishops, differed from those of the temple thus we reserve the terms Jew, Jewish, and Judaism for the rabbis and those under their rule and use Judean, contrary to custom, for the common source of Judaism and Christianity….”
“Despite the ostensible merging of Judean and Jew even in certain New Testament passages and by the rabbis who became rulers of Palestine in the third century and continued to use Hebrew and Aramaic more than Greek, the roots of Christianity were not Jewish. Christianity did not derive from the Judaism of the pharisees, but emerged like Judaism from the wider Judean milieu of the first century. Both Christians and Jews stemmed from pre-70 Judean-ism as heirs of groups that were to take on the role of primary guardians or interpreters of scripture as they developed on parallel tracks in relation to each other.” (Power, Politics, and the Making of the Bible).
The few New Testament ‘proof texts’ utilised by Christian Zionists and secular proponents of the modern Judeo-Christian myth are the product of poor translation. Messianic Jewish writer Malcolm Lowe in his paper “Who Are the Ioudaioi?” concludes, like Robert and Mary Coote, that the Greek word “Ioudaioi” in the New Testament should be translated as “Judeans”, rather than the more usual “Jews”. The Israeli scholar David Stern also came to the same conclusion when translating the Jewish New Testament.
Few Christians are aware that the translators of Scripture often mistranslated the word “Jew” from such words as “Ioudaioi” (meaning from, or being of: as a geographic area, Judean). The word Judean, mistranslated as “Jew” in the New Testament, never possessed a valid religious connotation, but was simply used to identify members of the native population of the geographic area known as Judea.
Also it is important to understand that in the Scriptures, the terms “Israel”, “Judah” and “Jew” are not synonymous, nor is the House of Israel synonymous with the House of Judah. The course of history is widely divergent for the peoples properly classified under each of these titles. Accordingly, the authoritative 1980 Jewish Almanac says, *”Strictly speaking it is incorrect to call an ancient Israelite a Jew or to call a contemporary Jew an Israelite or a Hebrew.”*
A writer for The Dearborn Independent, published in Michigan back in 1922, summarised the problem thus: “The pulpit has also the mission of liberating the Church from the error that Judah and Israel are synonymous. The reading of the Scriptures which confuse the tribe of Judah with Israel, and which interpret every mention of Israel as signifying the Jews, is at the root of more than one-half the confusion and division traceable in Christian doctrinal statements.”
*”We have already seen substantial evidence that any notion of Pharisaism (or later rabbinic Judaism) as the true and direct descendants of the Old Testament is contradicted by the most fundamental assumptions of one Mishnah-tractate after another. These stand wholly separate from the Priestly Code… and generally contradict it!”* –Jacob Neusner _A History of the Mishnaic Law of Purities_ (Brill Academic, 1974), p. 7. – ISBN-10: 9004038973
The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia confirms that Judaism is based on the teachings of the Pharisees and not upon the Law of Moses: *“The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without a break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees. Their leading ideas and methods found expression in a literature of enormous extent, of which a very great deal is still in existence. The Talmud is the largest and most important single member of that literature.”* – Vol. VIII, p. 474 (1942).
This article should be using the word “Israelites” and/or “Judahites” not this recent apocopated corruption of “Jew” which clearly shows above even the “Jew’ish” Almanac making it clear, right from the horses mouth.
Discoveries Show that Galilee and Jerusalem are Far Older than Once Believed - History
The melancholy group of lepers, met with in one of the villages on the borders of Samaria and Galilee, was made up of Samaritans and Jews, in what proportion we do not know. The common misery drove them together, in spite of racial hatred, as, in a flood, wolves and sheep will huddle close on a bit of high ground. Perhaps they had met in order to appeal to Jesus, thinking to move Him by their aggregated wretchedness or possibly they were permanently segregated from others, and united in a hideous fellowship.
I. We note the lepers’ cry and the Lord’s strange reply.
Of course they had to stand afar off, and the distance prescribed by law obliged them to cry aloud, though it must have been an effort, for one symptom of leprosy is a hoarse whisper. Sore need can momentarily give strange physical power. Their cry indicates some knowledge. They knew the Lord’s name, and had dim notions of His authority, for He is addressed as Jesus and as Master. They knew that He had power to heal, and they hoped that He had ‘mercy,’ which they might win for themselves by entreaty. There was the germ of trust in the cry forced from them by desperate need. But their conceptions of Him, and their consciousness of their own necessities, did not rise above the purely physical region, and He was nothing to them but a healer.
Still, low and rude as their notions were, they did present a point of contact for Christ’s ‘mercy,’ which is ever ready to flow into every heart that is lowly, as water will into all low levels. Jesus seems to have gone near to the lepers, for it was ‘when He saw,’ not when He heard, them that He spoke. It did not become Him to ‘cry, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street,’ nor would He cure as from afar, but He approaches those whom He heals, that they may see His face, and learn by it His compassion and love. His command recognised and honoured the law, but its main purpose, no doubt, was to test, and thereby to strengthen, the leper’s trust. To set out to the priest while they felt themselves full of leprosy would seem absurd, unless they believed that Jesus could and would heal them. He gives no promise to heal, but asks for reliance on an implied promise. He has not a syllable of sympathy His tender compassion is carefully covered up. He shuts down, as it were, the lantern-slide, and not a ray gets through. But the light was behind the screen all the while. We, too, have sometimes to act on the assumption that Jesus has granted our desires, even while we are not conscious that it is so. We, too, have sometimes to set out, as it were, for the priests, while we still feel the leprosy.
II. We note the healing granted to obedient faith.
The whole ten set off at once. They had got all they wanted from the Lord, and had no more thought about Him. So they turned their backs on Him. How strange it must have been to feel, as they went along, the gradual creeping of soundness into their bones! How much more confidently they must have stepped out, as the glow of returning health asserted itself more and more! The cure is a transcendent, though veiled, manifestation of Christ’s power for it is wrought at a distance, without even a word, and with no vehicle. It is simply the silent forth-putting of His power. ‘He spake, and it was done’ is much, for only a word which is divine can affect matter. But ‘He willed, and it was done,’ is even more.
III. We note the solitary instance of thankfulness.
The nine might have said, ‘We are doing what the Healer bade us do to go back to Him would be disobedience.’ But a grateful heart knows that to express its gratitude is the highest duty, and is necessary for its own relief. How like us all it is to hurry away clutching our blessings, and never cast back a thought to the giver! This leper’s voice had returned to Him, and his ‘loud’ acknowledgments were very different from the strained croak of his petition for healing. He knew that he had two to thank-God and Jesus he did not know that these two were one. His healing has brought him much nearer Jesus than before, and now he can fall at His feet. Thankfulness knits us to Jesus with a blessed bond. Nothing is so sweet to a loving heart as to pour itself out in thanks to Him.
‘And he was a Samaritan.’ That may be Luke’s main reason for telling the story, for it corresponds to the universalistic tendency of his Gospel. But may we not learn the lesson that the common human virtues are often found abundantly in nations and individuals against whom we are apt to be deeply prejudiced? And may we not learn another lesson-that heretics and heathen may often teach orthodox believers lessons, not only of courtesy and gratitude, but of higher things? A heathen is not seldom more sensitive to the beauty of Christ, and more touched by the story of His sacrifice, than we who have heard of Him all our days.
IV. We note Christ’s sad wonder at man’s ingratitude and joyful recognition of ‘this stranger’s’ thankfulness.
A tone of surprise as well as of sadness can be detected in the pathetic double questions. ‘Were not the ten’-all of them, the ten who stood there but a minute since-’cleansed? but where are the nine?’ Gone off with their gift, and with no spark of thankfulness in their selfish hearts. ‘Were there none found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger?’ The numbers of the thankless far surpass those of the thankful. The fewness of the latter surprises and saddens Jesus still. Even a dog knows and will lick the hand that feeds it, but ‘Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider.’ We increase the sweetness of our gifts by thankfulness for them. We taste them twice when we ruminate on them in gratitude. They live after their death when we bless God and thank Jesus for them all. We impoverish ourselves still more than we dishonour Him by the ingratitude which is so crying a fault. One sorrow hides many joys. A single crumpled rose-leaf made the fairy princess’s bed uncomfortable. Some of us can see no blue in our sky if one small cloud is there. Both in regard to earthly and spiritual blessings we are all sinners by unthankfulness, and we all lose much thereby.
Jesus rejoiced over ‘this stranger,’ and gave him a greater gift at last than he had received when the leprosy was cleared from his flesh. Christ’s raising of him up, and sending him on his way to resume his interrupted journey to the priest, was but a prelude to ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole,’ or, as the Revised Version margin reads, ‘saved thee.’ Surely we may take that word in its deepest meaning, and believe that a more fatal leprosy melted out of this man’s spirit, and that the faith which had begun in a confidence that Jesus could heal, and had been increased by obedience to the command which tried it, and had become more awed and enlightened by experience of bodily healing, and been deepened by finding a tongue to express itself in thankfulness, rose at last to such apprehension of Jesus, and such clinging to Him in grateful love, as availed to save ‘this stranger’ with a salvation that healed his spirit, and was perfected when the once leprous body was left behind, to crumble into dust.
Luke 17:11-14 . He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee — As Samaria lay between Galilee and Judea, and therefore our Lord, taking his journey to Jerusalem, must go first through Galilee, and then through Samaria, it is inquired why it is here said that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. To this Grotius, Whitby, Campbell, and some others, answer, that the original expression, δια μεσου Σαμαριας και Γαλιλαιας , means, between Samaria and Galilee, or through those parts in which the two countries bordered on each other or through the confines of them. There met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off — As lepers were banished from the towns, they were likewise obliged to keep at a distance from the roads which led to them. Curiosity, however, to see the travellers who passed, or, it may be, an inclination to beg, having brought these ten as nigh to the public road as they were permitted to come, they espied Jesus, and cried to him, beseeching him to take pity on them, and cure them. They had heard of some of the great miracles which he had performed, and either knew him personally, having seen him before, or guessed that it might be he by the crowds which followed him. And he said, Go show yourselves to the priests — Intimating that the cure they desired should be performed by the way. And as they went — In obedience to his word they were cleansed — Namely, by his wonder-working power the efficacy of which was often exerted on objects at a distance, as well as on such as were near.
11-13. through the midst of Samaria and Galilee—probably on the confines of both.
Ver. 11-13. Christ’s nearest way from Galilee to Jerusalem was through Samaria. In a certain town ten lepers met him, for though the law forbade them any other society, yet it did not restrain them from the society of each other probably they were got together that they might at once come to this great Physician. The leprosy was a sore disease, not so much known in our countries. We shall observe it was the disease which God made to come upon some persons, to testify His displeasure for some sin committed by them. It was threatened as the mark of God upon men for sin, Deu 28:27 — with the scab, whereof thou canst not be healed. God sent it upon Miriam, Numbers 12:10 , for her contempt of Moses. David curseth Joab’s house with it, 2 Samuel 3:29 . Gehazi suffereth by it, for his lying and going after Naaman for a bribe, 2 Kings 5:27 . King Uzziah, for usurping the priest’s office, 2 Kings 15:5 . These ten lepers cry to Christ for mercy, mercy with respect to their afflictions.
that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee or "between Samaria and Galilee" as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it he steered his course through the borders of both these countries and as he passed, Samaria was on his right hand, and Galilee on the left.
(6) Christ does good even to those who will be unthankful, but the benefits of God to salvation only profit those who are thankful.
Luke 17:11-19. The great discussion from Luke 15:1 onwards is now concluded. Now, before proceeding with his narration, Luke first gives into the reader’s hands again the thread of the account of the journey (comp. Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22). According to de Wette, indeed, this is a confused reminiscence of the journey, and according to Schleiermacher an original introductory formula left standing by the compiler.
καὶ αὐτός ] As to καί , see on Luke 5:12. αὐτός : he on his part , independently of other travellers to the festival who were wont to travel direct through Samaria, Joseph. Antt . xx. 6. 1.
διὰ μέσου Σαμαρ . κ . Γαλιλ .] According to the usage of μέσον (with or without an article, see Sturz, Lex. Xen . III. p. 120) with a genitive, this may mean either through the midst of Samaria and Galilee (Luke 4:30 Jeremiah 37:4 Amos 5:17 Bornemann, ad Xen. Anab . i. 2. 23), or through the strip of country forming the common boundary of Samaria and Galilee, i.e. between the two countries on the borders. So Xen., Anab . i. 4. 4 : διὰ μέσου ( in the midst through between the two walls ) δὲ ῥεῖ τούτων ποταμός Plat. Leg . vii. p. 805 E. Comp. ἀνὰ μέσον , Ezekiel 22:26 Jdg 15:4 1 Kings 5:12. The former (Vulg. and many others, including de Wette) is opposed to the context, since Samaria is named first , but the πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ led first through Galilee . No according to Luke, Jesus Himself journeyed in the midst, between (“in confinio,” Bengel), through the two countries , so that He kept on the boundary, having before Him on the south Samaria, on the north Galilee. See also Wetstein, Schleiermacher, Bleek, Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erfüll . II. p. 113 Lange, L. J. II. 2, p. 1065. His direction is to be regarded as from west to east, as in Luke 18:35 He comes into the neighbourhood of Jericho. Now as Jericho is situated not far from the Jordan, but Luke says nothing of any passing over to Peraea (nevertheless Wetstein assumes this crossing over, which is said to have occurred at Scythopolis, so also Lichtenstein, p. 318), it is thus, according to Luke, to be assumed that Jesus journeyed across on the boundary of Samaria and Galilee eastward as far as the Jordan, and then passing downwards on the Jordan reached Jericho. A disagreement with Matthew and Mark, who make Him journey through Peraea. See on Matthew 19:1.
That Σαμαρείας is named first , has its natural reason in the previous statement of the direction εἰς Ἱερους ., in accordance with which, in mentioning the borders, Luke has first of all in view the forward movement corresponding to this direction. The narrative contained in Luke 17:12 ff. Luke has not “constructed out of tradition” (Holtzmann), but has borrowed it from his source of the journey.
δέκα ] οἱ ἐννέα μὲν Ἰουδαῖοι ἦσαν , ὁ δὲ εἷς Σαμαρείτης · ἡ κοινωνία δὲ τῆς νόσου τότε συνήθροισεν αὐτοὺς ἀκούσαντας , ὅτι διέρχεται ὁ Χριστός , Euthymius Zigabenus.
πόῤῥωθεν ] μὴ τολμῶντες ἐγγίσαι (Theophylact)—to wit, as being unclean, to whom closer intercourse with others was forbidden (Leviticus 13:46 Numbers 5:2 f.). See on Mark 1:43, and the relative Rabbinical regulations in Lightfoot, Schoettgen, and Wetstein.
Luke 17:13. αὐτοί ] they on their part took the initiative.
Luke 17:14. ἰδών ] when He had looked upon them , had His attention first directed to them by their cry for help.
πορευθέντες κ . τ . λ .] for on the road their leprosy was to disappear see what follows, where indeed Paulus, in spite of the ἐν τῷ ὑπάγειν (which is made to mean: when they agreed to go!), interprets ἐκαθαρίσθ ., they were declared to be not infectious !
τοῖς ἱερεῦσι ] the Samaritan to be inspected and declared clean must go to a Samaritan priest.
Luke 17:15. ἰδών , ὅτι ἰάθη ] even before his coming to the priest, who had therefore communicated to him no remedy (in opposition to Paulus).
Luke 17:16. κ . αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρείτ .] and as for him, he was a Samaritan (by way of distinction from the rest). This is made use of (Strauss, II. p. 53 f.) for the view that the entire narrative is woven together from traditions of the healings of leprosy and from parables which recorded Samaritan examples. This audacious scepticism is emulated by Eichthal, II. p. 285 f.
Luke 17:17. οἱ δέκα ] all the ten οἱ ἐννέα , the remaining nine . See Kühner, II. p. 135 f.
Luke 17:18. οὐχ εὑρέθ . κ . τ . λ .] have they not been found as returning, etc. Comp. on Matthew 1:18.
τῷ θεῷ ] who through me has accomplished their cure. Comp. Luke 17:15. Proper gratitude to God does not detract from him who is the medium of the benefit. Comp. Luke 17:16.
ὁ ἀλλογενής ] heightens the guilt of the nine. The word does not occur in classical Greek often in the LXX. and the Apocrypha, especially of Gentiles. The Greeks use ἀλλόφυλος , ἀλλοεθνής . The Samaritans were of foreign descent , on account of their Cuthaic blood. Comp. on Matthew 10:5 2 Kings 17:24.
Luke 17:19. Jesus dismisses the thankful one, giving him, however, to understand what was the cause of his deliverance—a germ for the further development of his inner life! Thy faith (in my divine power, Luke 17:15) hath delivered thee. This faith had not yet the specific Messianic substance as yet, Jesus to him was only a divine, miraculously powerful teacher. See Luke 17:13.
 According to this understanding Jesus must have journeyed, not southwards, but northwards, which Paulus and Olshausen actually suppose, understanding it of a subordinate journey from Ephraim (John 11:54). But this is totally opposed to the direction ( εἰς Ἱερουσ .) specified in the context, in respect of which Jesus is wrongly transferred already at Luke 10:38 to Bethany. See on Luke 9:51. Schleiermacher’s view of this passage is altogether untenable, as well as that of de Wette, according to whom (comp. Strauss, II. p. 202) the notice is only intended to explain the presence of a Samaritan , and therefore Σαμαρείας is put first. As though Luke would have written in such a thoughtless mechanical fashion!
 If the Samaritan had first been to the priest (Calvin, Schleiermacher), Jesus could not have put the question which He asks at ver. 17 f., since the nine Jews had a much farther journey to the priests. The return of the Samaritan is to be conceived of as very soon after the departure, so that the whole scene took place while still in the village.
11-19. The Cleansed Ten the Thankless Nine.
11 . as he went to Jerusalem ] Rather, as they were on their way. The most natural place chronologically, for this incident would have been after Luke 9:56. St Luke places it here to contrast man’s thanklessness to God with the sort of claim to thanks from God which is asserted by spiritual pride.
he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee ] The most natural meaning of these words is that our Lord, when rejected at the frontier village of En Gannim (see on Luke 9:52 Luke 9:56), altered His route, and determined to pass towards Jerusalem through Peraea. In order to reach Peraea He would have to pass down the Wady of Bethshean, — which lies between the borders of Galilee and Samaria,—and there to cross the bridge over Jordan.
Luke 17:11. Διὰ μέσου , through the midst ) On the confines of both Samaria and Galilee. [The remembrance of the Saviour in His journey from Galilee through Samaria to Judea, was deeply engraven on men’s minds by the following miracle.— Harm. , p. 416.]
It may also mean between or on the borders of. The Am. Rev. insists on the latter.
Have Archaeologists Found the Lost City of the Apostles?
After recent headlines announced that archaeologists in Israel had uncovered the Church of the Apostles, questions followed. What church is this? And what do these findings tell us about the days of Jesus and his earliest followers?
The world&rsquos attention has turned to a small excavation on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, a project I have been involved with as the academic director since the beginning. Our findings have rekindled the debate about the location for Bethsaida, the home of Peter, Andrew, and Philip referenced in John 1:44.
Every year millions of Christians travel to the Holy Land in their desire to visit places mentioned in the Bible. They journey from Dan to Beersheba with Bibles in one hand and cameras in the other. Not long ago, no one knew about these places. Yet, today signposts proclaim each location to pilgrims: Caesarea, Megiddo, Capernaum, and more. How did all this happen?
The rediscovery of the land of the Bible has been a slow process that began in earnest in the middle of the 19th century, once European and American travelers could make the trip. Mark Twain famously recorded his visit to the Holy Land in Innocents Abroad (1869). His impressions were not altogether favorable:
We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds&mdasha silent, mournful expanse. &hellip A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. &hellipWe never saw a human being on the whole route. &hellipThere was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.
Edward Robinson, a scholar from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was among the first to attempt to locate the lost cities of the Bible. Now considered the father of modern historical geography in the Holy Land, he traveled the region by horseback in the 1830s and 1850s, accompanied by Eli Smith, an expert in Semitic languages. Robinson and Smith discovered that the Hebrew place names from long ago were often remembered in their Arabic equivalents. (For example, the town of Jesus at Capernaum, Kfar Nahum in Hebrew, was remembered in Arabic as Tel Hum.)
The geography of the sacred
When I first came to Israel in 1983 as a PhD candidate at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, I learned&mdashas many scholars and pilgrims do&mdashhow being in the land of the Bible changes your perspective. You are drawn to the geographical contours of the sacred narrative. You see how the setting for these ancient characters, where they lived and traveled, shaped how they saw the world, and, at times, how they saw God.
These early musings about land and Scripture were deepened when I became a graduate professor. I wanted my students to understand the interplay between land, language, and ancient literature, and how it should inform our reading of the Scripture, particularly the Gospels. If one of the central tenets of historic Christianity is the incarnation, should not the aspects of history, material culture, and geography be crucial to our understanding of the life and message of the historical Jesus?
Take Bethsaida, for example. It is one of the most frequently mentioned cities in the Gospels, home to at least three of Jesus&rsquo disciples (John 1:44), and a location for his ministry (Mark 8:22). Jesus repeatedly traveled there by boat (Luke 9:10), and according to Luke, the countryside near Bethsaida was the location for the feeding of the multitudes (Luke 9:12&ndash17). And yet, there was not a strong archaeological consensus around where this lakeside village was located.
I had the opportunity to spend time with the late Mendel Nun, a member of the Ein Gev kibbutz (an agricultural commune) and a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee for over 50 years. Walking its shores with Nun was illuminating. He knew the area like the back of his hand. It was on a visit to el Araj that he introduced me to the question of first-century Bethsaida.
Discoveries Show that Galilee and Jerusalem are Far Older than Once Believed - History
Remarkable new evidence discovered by Dr. Douglas Petrovich may change how the world understands the origins of the alphabet and who first wrote the Bible. As to be expected, his controversial proposals have ignited contentious debate.
In this first of a three-part series, the background and importance of this issue will be explored before some of the specifics of the new finds and the pushback from other scholars is covered in part two.
A common teaching in schools for many decades has been that the Phoenicians developed the world's first alphabet around 1050 BC. This alphabet was believed to have then spread to the Hebrews and other cultures in the Canaan area over the next centuries, eventually being picked up by the Greeks and Romans and passed down to the modern alphabets of today. However, many may have missed the implications of this view for the traditional understanding that Moses wrote the first books of the Bible.
While writing had long been in use by the Egyptians and the people of Mesopotamia, they used complicated writing systems (hieroglyphics and cuneiform) that were limited because they employed nearly a thousand symbols with many more variants representing not just sounds, but also syllables and whole words. The messages they conferred were fairly simple, while the Bible uses complex forms of language. The genius of the first alphabet was to boil everything down to about two-dozen letters that originally represented the sounds of consonants only. From these few letters, every word of a language can be easily represented.
An example of cuneiform wedge shaped script that had hundreds of different symbols, some with 30 or more variants (from wikimedia commons)
For a work as sophisticated as the Bible, you need the flexibility of an alphabet. If the alphabet was not invented until around 1050 BC, then Moses could not have written the opening five books of the Bible four centuries earlier.
Now, new evidence that may change everything has been announced by Dr. Douglas Petrovich, an archaeologist, epigrapher and professor of ancient Egyptian studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions - making classifications and looking for the slightest distinctives between writing systems while defining their meanings and the cultural contexts in which they were written. After many years of careful study, Petrovich believes he has gathered sufficient evidence to establish the claim that not only was the alphabet in use centuries earlier than some believe, it was in the form of early Hebrew, something that almost no one has previously accepted.
Three Giants in the fields of Egyptology, linguistics and archaeology. Sir Flinders Petrie 1853-1942 (from wikimedia commons), Sir Alan Gardiner 1879-1963 (copyright Thinking Man films), and William Foxwell Albright 1891-1971 (from wikimedia commons)
The standard presentation of Phoenician being the first alphabet is curious, since scholars have long known of much older alphabetic inscriptions. In 1904-1905 Sir Flinders Petrie , the father of Egyptian archaeology, and his wife Hilda discovered several rudimentary alphabetic inscriptions in the copper and turquoise mines that were controlled by the ancient Egyptians on the Sinai Peninsula. Sir Alan Gardiner, the premier linguist of his day, deciphered some of the writings and proclaimed that they were a form of primitive alphabet and that they used a Semitic language. The script became known as "Proto-Sinaitic" and was dated to the late Middle Bronze Age in the 1600s or early 1500s BC. W. F. Albright, the American known as the father of biblical archaeology, popularized the idea that these were Semitic writings and many took up the idea that Israelite slaves were responsible for these inscriptions. Hebrew, as the world's oldest alphabet, was first claimed in the 1920's by German scholar Hubert Grimme. "Although Grimme identified some of the Egyptian inscriptions as Hebrew, he was unable to identify all of the alphabet correctly," explained Roni Segal, academic adviser for The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, an online language academy specializing in Biblical Hebrew, who spoke to Breaking Israel News .
As modern skepticism about the biblical account of the Exodus period took hold late in the 20th century, scholars have generally retreated from the idea that the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions were the product of Israelite mine workers. Additionally, the discovery of many other alphabetic inscriptions in the Canaan area dated to the period from 1200-1050 BC prompted the need for a new category. These, and a few earlier fragments from that area that were all similar to the Proto-Sinaitic constructions, were labeled as "Proto-Canaanite."
A comparison between the Hebrew block letters that came into use after the Babylonian captivity (that commenced about 586 BC), the proposed original alphabet of "Proto-Hebrew" and the Egyptian Hieroglyphs that may have been the basis for many of the letters. (from Douglas Petrovich)
The system for all these forms appeared to have been developed from Egyptian Hieroglyphics, which was used as a basis for creating 22 alphabetic letters representing consonantal sounds expressing the Semitic language of the writings. The first writings accepted by scholars as using "Hebrew" script are all from after 1000 BC and classified as using the "Paleo-Hebrew" alphabet.
The ironic thing is that these Paleo-Hebrew writings are often impossible to distinguish from the Phoenician ones and were just as much a natural development from the earliest Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite examples. Yet most sources continue to communicate the standard paradigm. In their article on the Phoenician alphabet, Wikipedia states, "The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, is the oldest verified alphabet." This view is maintained despite the fact that the oldest examples don't come from Phoenicia and predate the existence of Phoenician culture. Might this practice be conveniently retained by those who don't want Moses to be considered as a possible author of the Torah?
|Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left. - Joshua 23:6 (ESV)|
So did the Hebrew alphabet develop from Phoenician or was it the other way around? Could the earliest forms of the alphabet (Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite) just as easily be considered as "Proto-Hebrew," and was it this early form of Hebrew that was the world's first true alphabet? This earliest form of Hebrew could have spread throughout the region and developed into what is now called Phoenician and Paleo-hebrew. The mainstream of scholarship has not gone in that direction, insisting that the most precise we can be with these alphabetic scripts is to say that they are Semitic, and Hebrew is only one variety of many Semitic languages from that time.
Things got more interesting when John and Deborah Darnell made a 1999 discovery in Middle Egypt of alphabetic inscriptions at a place called Wadi el-Hol. These appeared to be a hybrid between hieroglyphic symbols and alphabetic symbols that once again fit the scenario of hieroglyphs-to-Semitic-script scheme. The surprising thing was that they were dated to the 12th Dynasty, which in conventional terms equated to around 1850 BC.
A line drawing of some of the world's oldest alphabetic inscriptions from Wadi el-Hol in Egypt's Middle Kingdom (18th Dynasty) around the time of Joseph. - BRUCE ZUCKERMAN IN COLLABORATION WITH LYNN SWARTZ DODD Pots and Alphabets: Refractions of Reflections on Typological Method (MAARAV, A Journal for the Study of the Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 10, p. 89) (from wikimedia commons)
These realities prompted more scholars to return to the possibility that these early scripts were connected to the Israelites' stay in Egypt. Egyptologist David Rohl theorized that the initial breakthrough may have come from Joseph during his time in power in Egypt, and that this system was later developed by Moses in time for him to begin writing what would become the first books of the Bible at Mount Sinai. Rohl wrote the following:
". it took the multilingual skills of an educated Hebrew prince of Egypt to turn these simple first scratchings into a functional script, capable of transmitting complex ideas and a flowing narrative. The Ten Commandments and the Laws of Moses were written in Proto-Sinaitic. The prophet of Yahweh - master of both the Egyptian and Mesopotamian epic literature - was not only the founding father of Judaism, Christianity and, through the Koranic traditions, Islam, but also the progenitor of the Hebrew, Canaanite, Phoenician, Greek and therefore modern western alphabetic scripts." David Rohl (2002), The Lost Testament, Page 221.
However, these assertions have not shifted the position of most scholars. There just wasn't enough specific evidence to move these early alphabetic writings from the category of "Semitic" to that of "Hebrew." Enter Douglas Petrovich and his claims of new and multiple examples of just such specific evidence. Exactly what he has found and what some of the initial reaction has been will be the subject of Part 2 of this article in next week's Thinker Update.
Sinai 361, part of a stone slab from Egypt, which Dr. Douglas Petrovich proposes contains the name Moses.
|And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. - Exodus 24:4 (ESV)|
In second of a three-part series, we will be looking at the controversial claims and startling new evidence from Dr. Douglas Petrovich that suggest the world's oldest alphabet was actually an early form of Hebrew.
I remember well the buzz around the halls and meeting places at the Evangelical Theological Society's meeting held in the fall of 2015 in Atlanta. Patterns of Evidence was there to promote their new film and book. The annual meeting featured hundreds of breakout sessions where leading Christian scholars from around the world presented their latest findings and proposals in their areas of specialization to several thousand attendees. With dozens of speakers to choose from during any given hour, deciding which session to attend was difficult. But the title of one presentation was the source of particular interest and excitement: "The World's Oldest Alphabet - Hebrew Texts of the 19th Century BC."
Groups I engaged with had already been talking about this presentation and as I negotiated the crowded hallways between presentations I overheard "I can't miss that one," from several hurried conversations. I knew I would need to get there early to secure a seat. It was the date in the title of the presentation that had captured the imaginations of so many. Hebrew texts that early in history were just so far beyond the normal scope of thinking (by about 1000 years) that they just had to see what was behind these fantastic claims.
Professor Douglas N. Petrovich.
The presentation given to that overflowing room did not disappoint. Numerous examples of inscriptions were shown that not only pointed to Hebrew as the first alphabet, but also validated the biblical account of the Israelites in Egypt. Professor Petrovich had been studying the inscriptions on a series of 9-foot-tall stone slab markers called stele, which recorded the annual expeditions of a high official from Egypt down to the southwestern Sinai turquoise mines called Serabit el-Khadim. This is just west of the traditional Mount Sinai location. The official had recorded images of himself at the bottom of the stele where he was depicted on a donkey in the middle, with an Egyptian attendant walking behind him and a boy walking in front. Each year's inscription would show this boy growing taller. What caught his attention was that one stela did not use Egyptian hieroglyphics, but rather a rudimentary form of the alphabet in a Semitic language. If Petrovich's interpretation is correct it speaks of Joseph's son Manasseh and his son Shechem (Joshua 17:2).
The Manasseh inscription. (Credit: Douglas Petrovich)
The inscription included the date of Year 18 of Amenemhat III, the 12th Dynasty ruler around the time of Joseph in both the view of a Middle Bronze Age/Middle Kingdom Exodus around 1450 BC (represented in the film Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus by David Rohl and John Bimson) and in the view of a Late Bronze Age/New Kingdom Exodus at 1446 BC while retaining the conventional dating for Egypt (represented in the film Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus by Bryant Wood, Charles Aling and Clyde Billington and also held by Douglas Petrovich). This is because there are two main views for the length of the time the Israelites spent in Egypt - perhaps more on that debate in a future Thinker Update. Regardless, this date is more evidence that the Ramesses Exodus Theory held by the majority of scholars, may be causing them to miss evidence for the Exodus that actually exists centuries earlier than where they are looking.
If his interpretation is correct, it would also establish Hebrew as the world's first alphabet. According to Petrovich, the inscription says that this expedition included a group with significant connections to the early Israelites. He reads the inscription as, "Six Levantines, Hebrews of Bethel the beloved." The Levant is the area of Canaan and its surroundings. In the biblical account, Bethel was one of the headquarters of Jacob and his family before they moved to Egypt - it was their home town.
|God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau. And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him," - Genesis 35:1,6 (ESV)|
Professor Petrovich said that the second of his forthcoming books will show clear proofs that the featured character can be none other than Manasseh the son of Joseph. This along with his other findings were again presented last November at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), this time drawing the attention (and criticism) of a wider audience.
In Part 1 of the series it was shown that most academic outlets have long portrayed Phoenician as the world's first alphabet, which developed after the time of the Exodus and became the basis of all modern alphabets. This thinking has been propagated despite the fact that there has been clear evidence that the oldest examples of the alphabet don't come from Phoenicia and predate the existence of Phoenician culture. Leaders in the field would be careful not to ascribe the name of "Phoenician" to the first alphabet, but that message has not been getting out to the myriad of classroom and media outlets that continue to teach that.
This issue is critical for understanding the roots of the Bible, since the sophistication of the biblical narrative required an alphabet to be in place for it to be written. If the alphabet was first developed by Phoenicians in 1050 BC (or even around 1200 BC) that would mean Moses could not have been the author of writings that ended up becoming the first books of the Bible as tradition and the Bible itself claim. However, if the alphabet developed centuries earlier, in the very area where the Israelites are said to have been active in the years before and during the Exodus, then this would fit nicely with the claims of the Bible.
Many experts in the area of ancient languages have recognized that the earliest alphabetic scripts developed from Egyptian hieroglyphs and were in a Semitic language (the broad cultural group that the Israelites were a part of), but few have entertained the idea that this language may have been the more specific category of "Hebrew," the language of the Israelites.
As seen in an hour-long interview on Israel News Live , it started several years ago when Petrovich (an archaeologist and epigrapher at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada) was studying Egyptian inscriptions and "accidentally" ran into the inscription mentioning Manasseh. According to Petrovich this led to finding "one gold mine after another" in additional inscriptions. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would bump into three significant biblical figures on three different inscriptions that all date to the middle of the 15th century or so BC," said Petrovich.
It was only after defining every one of the 22 disputed letters of this early alphabetic script and which Hebrew letter each early sign corresponded to that Petrovich was able to interpret the Semitic inscriptions. This led him to eventually propose that the Israelites were the ones who transformed Egyptian hieroglyphics into the world's first alphabet. These texts mainly originated in the locations of Serabit el-Khadim and Wadi el-Hol in Egypt.
Another inscription, this one catalogued as Sinai 376 from the 13th Dynasty, Petrovich interprets as saying, "The house of the vineyard of Asenath and its innermost room were engraved, they have come to life." This sentence has three words (house, innermost room, engraved) in common with 1 Kings chapter 8 where it talks about King Solomon's construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Asenath was the wife of Joseph and certainly one of the most famous women in Egypt at the time.
|. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. - Genesis 41:45 (ESV)|
And to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, bore to him. - Genesis 46:20 (ESV)
Two inscriptions from the time of the Exodus add fuel to the argument. In Sinai 375a (see below) Petrovich reads the name "Ahisamach" and his title, "overseer of minerals." Petrovich knows of no other instance of this name in any other Semitic language than Hebrew. In the Bible, Ahisamach was the father of Oholiab, who along with Bezalel was one of the chief craftsmen appointed for constructing the Tabernacle and its furnishings.
Sinai 375a with the etchings highlighted in black and the proposed Hebrew equivalents added in green containing the name "Ahisamach, overseer of minerals." (credit: Douglas Petrovich)
|and with him was Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver and designer and embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. - Exodus 38:23 (ESV)|
The second of the Exodus-era inscriptions is the most specific reference to the Exodus event. Naturally, it is also the most controversial of all. But that inscription, along with the debate that ensued, will have to wait for the final installment of our 3-part series on the world's oldest alphabet.
Sinai 361 (also photo below), with etchings highlighted in black and the proposed Hebrew equivalents added in green, which contain the name "Moses" in the lower right corner. (credit: Douglas Petrovich)
|Then Pharaoh's servants said to him, "How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?" So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them, "Go, serve the LORD your God. " - Exodus 10:7-8|
In this third of a three-part series, we will look at perhaps the most profound and controversial interpretation proposed by Dr. Douglas Petrovich, and the debate that followed his announcements. As seen in Parts 1 and 2, Petrovich has proposed that there is now sufficient evidence to establish Hebrew as the world's oldest alphabet. If verified, this would push the first instance of Hebrew script nearly a thousand years earlier than previously thought, allowing the possibility that Moses actually was the author of the earliest writings in the Bible in the eyes of academia. This series of Egyptian inscriptions may also validate much of the history recorded in the Bible for the period of the Exodus.
Of the controversial texts that originated from Serabit el-Khadim, the turquoise mines controlled by the Egyptians just west of the traditional Mount Sinai, one in particular raises the temperature of this debate. Sinai 361 (hand drawing above and photo below) may contain the name "Moses" and actually refer to the year in which the plagues and devastation were visited on Egypt. The inscription is laid out in vertical columns from right to left with Moses (actually, the Hebrew "Moshe") being mentioned at the bottom of the first column on the right. Petrovich reads this inscription as follows:
|"Our bound servitude had lingered, Moses then provoked astonishment, it is the year of astonishment, because of the lady."|
The "astonishment" could pertain to the Judgment step seen in the film Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus when Egypt was devastated. The present tense used in the inscription could mean that the message was even written as the plagues were in the process of playing out.
|But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. - Exodus 7:3-4 (ESV)|
The references to bondage, a year of astonishment, and that this was provoked by "Moses," all remarkably fit the Exodus account of the plagues and exodus out of slavery in Egypt as described in the Bible. Petrovich believes "the Lady" spoken of refers to the Egyptian goddess Hathor, who was often depicted as a horned cow. The Bible records the Israelites' tendency to revere the gods of Egypt as seen in the golden calf incident at Mount Sinai. A reference to this rebellion and what may be the year of astonishment occurs in Psalm 78.
|How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert!|
They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe,
when he performed his signs in Egypt and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.
He turned their rivers to blood, so that they could not drink of their streams.
He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them, and frogs, which destroyed them.
He gave their crops to the destroying locust and the fruit of their labor to the locust.
He destroyed their vines with hail and their sycamores with frost.
He gave over their cattle to the hail and their flocks to thunderbolts.
He let loose on them his burning anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, a company of destroying angels.
He made a path for his anger he did not spare them from death, but gave their lives over to the plague.
He struck down every firstborn in Egypt, the first fruits of their strength in the tents of Ham.
Then he led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. - Psalm 78:40-52 (ESV)
Photo of Sinai 361, part of a stone slab from Egypt, which Dr. Douglas Petrovich proposes contains the name Moses.
This inscription (along with the Sinai 375a inscription naming Ahisamach) includes no date, but Professor Petrovich assigns a date in the 18th Dynasty around 1446 BC, based on pottery remains from that period found in the caves. David Rohl, who favors the Exodus occurring at the end of the 13th Dynasty, counters that pottery can only be used to date items found in the same layer as the pottery when dealing with stratified remains in the ground. So a separate inscription on a rock wall or Stela found above ground cannot be linked to any pottery finds, especially at sites in an area known to have a long history like this one.
Petrovich replied that the principle to which Rohl was referring does not apply to a carved mine, but only to sites where architecture experienced various phases of construction/reconstruction with new floor levels that cleared out old material regularly. In contrast, Petrovich noted that that these mining shafts were only used by a band of males who visited this remote site no more than once per year for seasonal/annual mining activity. There would not have been maids, cleaning services, or renovating within the mine shafts. If the mines that yielded New Kingdom inscriptions had been used in earlier periods, there would be visible evidence of it preserved in these shafts. Yet none exists.
While Professor Petrovich admits that the datable pottery evidence is no guarantee of the first use of the mines, he believes there is enough evidence along various lines to ensure that these particular mines were not used during the Middle Kingdom. And so the debate goes on. Petrovich believes his reconstruction of the development of the earliest Hebrew script also strongly supports his view that these later inscriptions are from the New Kingdom. Once again, whether late 13th Dynasty or early 18th Dynasty, these inscriptions appear to pre-date a Ramesses Exodus by centuries.
In an article in Breaking Israel News Petrovich points to other "Bible-esque" statements that he has deciphered. A statement reading, "Wine is more abundant than the daylight, than the baker, than a freeman," was found in an inscription from late in the 12th Dynasty. Another inscription (this one from Sinai 375a, and nearer the time of the Exodus) reads, "The one having been elevated is weary to forget." While Professor Petrovich has not asserted this link, I find the wording uncannily similar to the account of Joseph being raised to second in command after being cast out by his brothers. This action caused him to be enslaved in Egypt and then thrown into prison for several years before being elevated.
|Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you." And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." - Genesis 41:39-41 (ESV)|
Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. "For," he said, "God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house." - Genesis 41:51 (ESV) [Manasseh sounds like the Hebrew phrase for making to forget]
Petrovich explains that other Semitic languages do not result in sensible renderings for these inscriptions, which is why they have never been interpreted before. And few have thought the Israelites were this early, so Hebrew was not considered an option. This earliest version of Hebrew could be thought of as "Hebrew 1.0," and according to Petrovich it alone works at translating the Egyptian inscriptions. "There were many 'A-ha!' moments along the way," he stated, "because I was stumbling across Biblical figures never attested before in the epigraphical record, or seeing connections that I had not understood before."
Petrovich continued, "My discoveries are so controversial because if correct, they will rewrite the history books and undermine much of the assumptions and misconceptions about the ancient Hebrew people and the Bible that have become commonly accepted in the scholarly world and taught as factual in the world's leading universities."
As expected, criticism swiftly followed Petrovich's presentation at ASOR. The primary critique thus far has come from Dr. Christopher Rollston of George Washington University, one of the leading American scholars in the field of epigraphy and ancient inscriptions from the area of the Levant. On December 10, 2016, he wrote an article on his website titled: The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions 2.0: Canaanite Language and Canaanite Script, Not Hebrew . In it he stated the following:
"As for the script of these inscriptions from Serabit el-Khadem and Wadi el-Hol, the best terms are "Early Alphabetic," or "Canaanite." Some prefer the term "Proto-Sinaitic Script." Any of these terms is acceptable. But it is absolutely and empirically wrong to suggest that the script of the inscriptions from Serabit el-Khadem and Wadi el-Hol is the Hebrew script, or the Phoenician script, or the Aramaic script, or the Moabite script, or the Ammonite script, or the Edomite script. The script of these inscriptions . is not one of the distinctive national scripts (such as Phoenician or Hebrew or Aramaic, etc.), but rather it is the early ancestor of all of these scripts and we term that early ancestor: Early Alphabetic."
Professor Rollston is arguing that these inscriptions can't be called Hebrew because they are clearly "Early Alphabetic" or "Canaanite" (what many call Proto-Canaanite or Proto-Sinaitic), and Canaanite can't be said to be in any particular language, therefore it can't be Hebrew. But Petrovich is arguing against the very premise and the conventional thinking that the Early Alphabetic script can't be thought of as being in one particular national language. Obviously, some group of Semites who spoke some particular language developed it - and why not the Hebrews? The developers of the Early Alphabetic script had to be either the Hebrews or the Phoenicians or the Arameans or the Moabites or the Ammonites or the Edomites or the Midianites etc. One of them had to have been the first. And it just so happens that the Hebrews were in Egypt at just the time that this Semitic script developed from hieroglyphs into alphabetic symbols, and these earliest inscriptions just happen to feature the unique names of characters from the biblical story of the Israelites in Egypt and later during the Exodus.
It is true that there is a script called "Hebrew" (or Paleo-Hebrew) that can be seen in inscriptions from around 1000 or 900 BC, and this "Hebrew" script is different than the earliest alphabetic script. But no one is disputing that point. The question is whether there is a precursor to that script - an earlier form of Hebrew (what Petrovich likes to call "Proto-consonantal Hebrew") - which was the world's first alphabet and has been called Early Alphabetic (or Proto-Canaanite) up until now. This script would then have developed into various branches used by the different groups in the region, including a gradual development into later forms of Hebrew like the one called Paleo-Hebrew today. The new book by Petrovich discusses this process extensively. He points to evidence showing that the Hebrew letters continuously evolved, becoming less pictographic over time, until eventually being converted into block letters.
The development of Proto-consonantal Hebrew as proposed by Douglas Petrovich
Rollston focuses the majority of his critique on Petrovich's interpretation of some words as "Hebrew" when they, in fact, appear in other Semitic languages and can have several possible meanings. But a large part of Petrovich's argument relies on the context of these inscriptions using uniquely biblical names in the correct time periods when those figures were active. Additionally his case rests on the claim that some of these inscriptions can only make sense when the Hebrew terms are supplied rather than the other options. To assess the strength of that argument, scholars will need to read the full proposal set out in Petrovich's new book, something no one has been able to do yet. Petrovich will lay out his findings in full in the first of his forthcoming volumes The World's Oldest Alphabet available now for preorder through Carta out of Jerusalem.
In an exchange on Facebook, David Rohl said it was valid for Rallston to classify these early writings as Semitic. But Rohl pointed out that Rollston's reasons for not considering "Hebrew" as the type of Semitic involved, were dependant on his view that Israelites only existed in the centuries immediately preceding Ramesses II, and not as early as these inscriptions. If Rohl's (or Petrovich's) view was correct, the Israelites were around in the 12th Dynasty and Hebrew should be considered as a legitimate candidate for these earliest alphabetic inscriptions. Rollston responded, "Oh, David, you are so utterly mistaken about so much. It will serve no purpose for me to try to point such things out to you again. it would serve no useful purpose. So sorry. My analysis is based on actual inscriptions, diagnostic elements of language and script. Bless your heart. Be well and prosper. Sincerely, Chris"
The lack of willingness to engage in this important aspect of the debate caused Rohl to throw up his hands and say there is no way to force scholars to question their long-held traditions - academic inertia is hard to overcome. We look forward to continuing the debate in our upcoming Patterns of Evidence film series, hopefully with Douglas Petrovich and Christopher Rollston participating.
Professor Petrovich summed up, "Truth is un-killable, so if I am correct, my findings will outlast scholarly scrutiny. I have no doubt whatsoever that Hebrew is the world's oldest alphabet."
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Discoveries Show that Galilee and Jerusalem are Far Older than Once Believed - History
Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes (James Emery)
Among Holy Land sites, the Sea of Galilee has changed comparatively little since Jesus walked on its shores and recruited four fishermen as his first disciples.
A picturesque, heart-shaped lake set among hills in northern Israel, it is one of the lowest-lying bodies of water on earth (some 210 metres below sea level).
This freshwater “sea” is 21km long and 13km across at its widest point, with a maximum depth of 43 metres. Its other names include the Sea of Tiberias, the Lake of Gennesaret and (in Hebrew) Lake Chinnereth or Kinneret.
Fed mainly by the Jordan River and drained by it, the lake has served as Israel’s chief water reservoir, but its usefulness has been limited by a falling water level.
In modern times tourism has become the major local industry. In Jesus’ time it was fishing, with 230 boats regularly working the lake and their catch dried and exported all over the Roman world.
Jesus made the fishing town of Capernaum the centre of his itinerant ministry in Galilee, using the lake, its boats and its shores to spread his Good News. He calmed a storm, he walked on the water and probably even swam in the lake.
Miracles on the shore
It was around the usually serene waters of the Sea of Galilee that Jesus began his public ministry, teaching in the synagogues and curing the sick. Crowds flocked to him, “for he taught as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:29).
Boatman demonstrates fishing technique on the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net)
Perhaps his best-known discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, is believed to have been delivered on the Mount of Beatitudes (also known as Mount Eremos). This small hill is on the lake’s northwestern shore, between Capernaum and Tabgha.
Tabgha is also the traditional site where Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Later, across the lake near Kursi, he performed a second miraculous feeding.
The Heptapegon (“Seven Springs”) fishing ground off Tabgha was also the scene of a memorable post-Resurrection appearance.
The apostles had fished all night with empty nets. Just after daybreak Jesus appeared and told them where to find a miraculous catch. When the apostles came ashore, they found the risen Lord had cooked breakfast for them.
Acoustics aided parable
Visitors look down on Sower’s Cove (© BiblePlaces.com)
About 1km northeast of Tabgha is a small bay with exceptional acoustic qualities. Here it is believed Jesus taught the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9) from a boat moored in the bay.
The semicircular bay, at the foot of the Mount of Beatitudes, is one of the most attractive places along the shoreline. It is called Sower’s Cove or the Bay of the Parables.
The slope of the hill forms a natural amphitheatre, rather like a Roman theatre. Acoustical research has demonstrated that as many as 7000 people could hear a person speaking from a boat in the bay.
Pilgrims who test the acoustics, usually by reading the Gospel account, are amazed at how far the voice carries.
This location was also an appropriate setting for the story of the sower and his seeds. There is fertile black earth, rocky ground and plenty of thorns and thistles.
Sudden squalls are common
Waves on the Sea of Galilee (David Niblack)
Because it lies low in the Great Rift Valley, surrounded by hills, the Sea of Galilee is prone to sudden turbulence. Storms of the kind that Jesus calmed (Mark 4:35-41) are a well-known hazard for Galilee fishermen.
With little warning, mighty squalls can sweep down the wadis (valleys) around the lake, whipping its tranquil surface into treacherous waves.
Such storms often arrive in mid-afternoon, as the heat of the rift valley (averaging mid-30s Celsius in the shade) sucks down the cool air of the heights.
After half an hour, the wind drops and the waves subside, restoring calm to the lake.
In 1986, during a severe drought when the water level dropped, the remains of an ancient fishing boat were found in the lakebed. It was old enough to have been on the water in the time of Jesus and his disciples. Dubbed the Jesus Boat, it is now on permanent display at the lakeside Kibbutz Ginosar.
A fish with a coin in its mouth
Modern times have still seen fishermen standing in the shallow waters near the shores of the Sea of Galilee, casting their nets in the traditional manner, with others setting off in boats at sunset to fish through the night. Because of falling fish stocks, the Israel government was to impose a two-year ban on fishing from March 2011, but this was reduced to a four-month annual ban (April 15 to August 15).
St Peter’s fish from the Sea of Galilee (© David Q. Hall)
Of the 27 species of fish in the lake, the best-known is nicknamed St Peter’s Fish. This species (Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus) belongs to the genus tilapia. Its Arabic name of musht (comb) refers to its comb-like tail.
The nickname refers to the Gospel passage in which Temple collectors ask Peter whether Jesus pays the Temple tax.
When Peter returns home, Jesus tells him to go fishing — “go to the sea and cast a hook take the first fish that comes up and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin take that and give it to them for you and me”. (Matthew 17:24-27)
A peculiarity of this species of tilapia is that it is a mouthbrooder. The female holds her eggs in her mouth until they hatch then, for a time, the immature fry swim back into her mouth when danger threatens. The fish is also known to pick up small stones or bottle tops in its mouth.
But not everyone agrees that St Peter’s Fish was a musht. Mendel Nun, an authority on the Sea of Galilee, and a veteran fisherman, says musht feed on plankton and are therefore caught by net, not hook. The fish Peter caught, he believes, was a barbel.
Even Mark Twain was impressed
Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee (© Tom Callinan/Seetheholyland.net)
The first-century Roman historian Flavius Josephus was so impressed by the beauty of the Sea of Galilee and the fertility of its setting that he wrote, “One may call this place the ambition of Nature”.
Even the satirical Mark Twain, who visited Galilee on horseback in 1867, was moved by the significance of the place. In The Innocents Abroad he wrote:
“In the starlight, Galilee has no boundaries but the broad compass of the heavens, and is a theatre meet for great events meet for the birth of a religion able to save a world and meet for the stately Figure appointed to stand upon its stage and proclaim its high decrees.
“But in the sunlight, one says: Is it for the deeds which were done and the words which were spoken in this little acre of rocks and sand eighteen centuries gone, that the bells are ringing to-day in the remote islands of the sea and far and wide over continents that clasp the circumference of the huge globe?”
Jesus calls his disciples: Matthew 4:18-22 9:9 Mark 1:16-20
The miraculous catch of fish: Luke 5:1-11
Jesus calms the storm: Mark 4:35-41 Matthew 8:23-27 Luke 8:22-25
Jesus walks on the water: Matthew 14:22-33 Mark 6:45-52
The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:1-7:28
The Parable of the Sower: Mark 4:1-9
The feedings of the crowds: Matthew 14:13-21 15:32-39 Mark 6:30-44 8:1-9 Luke 9:10-17 John 6:1-14
Paying the Temple tax: Matthew 17:24-27Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes (James Emery) Harp-shaped Sea of Galilee from above (NASA) Edge of the Sea of Galilee (© Israel Ministry of Tourism)
Tabgha from Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net) Pilgrim group on the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net) Kinneret village, the lake and Golan Heights (© Israel Ministry of Tourism)
Sea of Galilee looking towards the Golan Heights (© Israel Ministry of Tourism) Monument on the Eremos hillcrest, quoting Jesus’ words “Go teach all nations” (© Don Schwager) Ancient fishing boat known as the Jesus Boat (Seetheholyland.net)
Model of the Jesus Boat as it would have been (Seetheholyland.net) Modern equivalent of the Jesus Boat on the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net) Boatman demonstrates fishing technique on the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net)
Fishing net hits the water of the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net) St Peter’s fish from the Sea of Galilee (© David Q. Hall) St Peter’s fish on the plate (Seetheholyland.net)
Pilgrims paddle in the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net) Fertile land by the Sea of Galilee (David Niblack) Sower’s Cove or the Bay of the Parables (© Don Schwager)
Sower’s Cove from the air (© BiblePlaces.com) Visitors look down on Sower’s Cove (© BiblePlaces.com) Sower’s Cove in 2009, with water level lower than in Jesus’ time (Seetheholyland.net)
Moonlight over the Sea of Galilee (© Tom Callinan/Seetheholyland.net) Modern fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee (© David Q. Hall) Eucharist by the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net)
Sea of Galilee at sunrise (Brett Wagner) Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, by Ludolf Bakhuysen (© Indianapolis Museum of Art) Sea of Galilee from the cave of Eremos (© Don Schwager)
Swimming in the Sea of Galilee (© Israel Ministry of Tourism) Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee (© Tom Callinan/Seetheholyland.net) Wild wheat by the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net)
Greek Orthodox church at Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee (Seetheholyland.net)
Ashkenazi, Eli: “Two-year fishing ban cut down to four-month annual break”, Haaretz, February 16, 2011
Charlesworth, James H.: The Millennium Guide for Pilgrims to the Holy Land (BIBAL Press, 2000)
Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P.: The Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Guide to Israel, Jordan and the Sinai (Continuum Publishing, 1996)
Gonen, Rivka: Biblical Holy Places: An illustrated guide (Collier Macmillan, 1987)
Holmes, Oliver: “Where Jesus once preached, the holy waters are draining away” (Guardian, February 23, 2019)
Jeffay, Nathan, and Singh, Anita: “Fishing banned on the Sea of Galilee”, The Telegraph, April 3, 2010
Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome: The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 (Oxford University Press, 2005)
Nun, Mendel: “Cast Your Net Upon the Waters: Fish and Fishermen in Jesus’ Time”, Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1993
Pixner, Bargil: With Jesus Through Galilee According to the Fifth Gospel (Corazin Publishing, 1992)
Walker, Peter: In the Steps of Jesus (Zondervan, 2006)
Wareham, Norman, and Gill, Jill: Every Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Land (Canterbury Press, 1996)
Sea of Galilee (BiblePlaces)
Sea of Galilee (Wikipedia)
Sea of Tiberias (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Cove of the Sower (BiblePlaces)
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The Discovery of the Lost City of Aten
The discovery was announced by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s best-known archaeologist who is never far away from breaking archaeological news in the country. “Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it” Hawass, a former antiquities minister, said in a statement. “We began our work searching for the mortuary temple of Tutankhamun because the temples of both Horemheb and Ay were found in this area.’”
Betsy Brian, Professor of Egyptology at John Hopkins University said, “The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun.” She continued, “The discovery of the Lost City …will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the ancient Egyptians at the time where the empire was at his wealthiest…”
This city of Amenhotep III was known from Egyptian historical accounts, but no one had located it until now. The excavation began in September 2020 and within weeks the team was surprised to see mudbrick formations emerging from the sand and running in all directions. Rooms within the city were filled with tools of daily life that had been untouched for thousands of years.
The remains of some of the mudbrick walls still stand nine feet high in areas. (credit: Zahi Hawass – the Center for Egyptology)
The site lies between Rameses III’s temple at Medinet Habu and Amenhotep III’s temple at Memnon. In the hills to the west lies the Valley of the Kings. “The city’s streets are flanked by houses, which some of their walls are up to three meters high,” Hawass stated. “We can reveal that the city extends to the west, all the way to the famous Deir el-Medina.” He believes it was the largest administrative and industrial settlement in the era of the Egyptian empire on the western bank of Luxor. (See the story about 800 Egyptian tombs discovered.)
Jesus in Jerusalem
Each of the Gospels give an account of Jesus throughout the course of His life and ministry. Each account differs in length and gives a unique portrayal of events surrounding Christ in Galilee and in the city of God. The Gospel of John gives the most detailed accounts concerning different appearances of Christ in Jerusalem. John also depicts Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem more than any other Gospel.
The number of times Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem, and the total amount of time He spent there throughout His life is impossible to know for certain.
Despite the different accounts and details each Gospel portrays it is evident He spent time there, and journeyed to Jerusalem for many of the Jewish feasts. Scripture makes it plain He taught in the Temple precincts, spreading His gospel to all who would listen. Jesus frequently appeared in Jerusalem during celebrations and feasts where throngs of people would have been present to hear His message. These times would have also been under heightened watch by both the Jewish and Roman authorities.
The book of John details the most accounts of Jesus in Jerusalem. In John He is depicted as attending 3 Passover Feasts, the most significant of the Jewish feasts, as well as the Feast of Booths and the Feast of the Dedication. This account places Jesus in Jerusalem at least five times just in the three year length of His ministry. He also made several appearances near Jerusalem, such as where John was baptizing, and the nearby suburbs of Bethany and Bethphage.
JESUS IN JERUSALEM - HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Jesus also would have visited Jerusalem on numerous occasions while growing up. The Bible records Jesus in Jerusalem as an infant. His parents, Mary and Joseph, had taken Him to the Temple in order to fulfill their obligation to present the child to God. Another instance is recorded where a twelve year old Jesus visits the Temple during Passover with his family, and likely a large group of extended relatives and friends. His parents realize Jesus is missing one day into the journey back, at which point a panicked couple hurried back to Jerusalem. They found Him three days later, sitting in the Temple talking and asking questions with the priests.
All Gospels are also consistent with the narrative of Jesus journeying near Jerusalem to be baptized Himself by John the Baptist. In the book Jerusalem by Simon Sebag Montefiore, he states Jesus' baptism took place around 28-29 AD, according to the opening chapters of Luke. Jesus was thirty years old when John baptized Him in the Jordan.
Though Jesus was not in Jerusalem proper, the Baptist was preaching near enough the city to draw out many citizens to hear his message and be baptized. The Bible informs us great multitudes flocked to John's location, to be discussed in more detail later. Temple priests and scribes flocked to hear his message, as well as many others from the surrounding villages. Jesus was likely just another face in the crowd at this point in time. The Baptist knew who He was, but Jesus had not yet began His public ministry. This baptism, in fact, signaled the beginning of Christ's ministry on earth. On a later occurrence of Jesus in Jerusalem, He withdrew to this area to escape the authorities.
The Passover occurred once a year, drawing tens of thousands of pilgrims to the Temple and Jerusalem. The Gospels picture Jesus in Jerusalem during each of the three Passovers of His three-year ministry, as well as journeying to it as a youth. The city of Jerusalem swelled to many times it's normal population during the Passover. Pilgrims from all over the globe would set out for the Passover. A comparable scene would be Mecca today during the great Islamic festivals which attract hundreds of thousands of Muslims.
JESUS IN JERUSALEM PAGE CONTENTS
Click on a link to view that section of Jesus in Jerusalem.
The Passover remembered God's deliverance of their forefathers from the throes of Pharaoh and slavery in Egypt. God's miraculous deliverance, led by Moses, included the death of every first-born male of Egypt's. He passed over the Hebrews, however, due to the blood marked on the door posts of each Israelite household. People journeyed from all over the ancient world to fulfill their Godly obligation to remember the Passover and keep it holy. Josephus stated at one particular feast one million people thronged to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration.
THIS IS A MODEL OF HOUSES IN JERUSALEM'S LOWER CITY DURING THE TIME OF JESUS. THE RULING ELITE & WEALTHY LIVED IN UPPER JERUSALEM, INCLUDING THE HIGH PRIEST AND OTHER HIGH RANKING TEMPLE PRIESTS AND OFFICIALS.
First century AD Jerusalem, specifically the years from 1 AD to 33 AD, witnessed a golden era of the ancient city. Herod the Great changed Jerusalem into one of the great cities of the ancient world. His architectural achievements included the Temple, a Roman-style theater, an extension of the city west of the Temple Mount, and a grandiose palace for himself away from the Jewish section of ancient Jerusalem. The Upper City was adorned with opulent houses for the rich. The High Priest, and other elites would have had their homes in the Upper city. It was the luxurious neighborhood of Herod and the Jerusalem ruling class and elite.
Herod changed Jerusalem from a secluded mountain fortress into a Romanized metropolitan of architectural genius and wonder. At the same time his psychotic behavior, at one point murdering 45 of the 71 members of the Sanhedrin, cast a subdued fear over Jerusalem. The city had grown to cover over 400 acres. Population estimates place it between 20,000 to 50,000 people. Josephus estimated the circumference of the city was 33 furlongs, or 3 1/2 miles.
By the time of Jesus the name Jerusalem not only included the city and its surrounding suburbs, towns and villages, but also came to represent a district of Judea. Herod's massive construction projects would have been taking place throughout the city, adding to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Pilgrims, Jews, Romans, festivals, the Temple, and Jesus in Jerusalem would have created a very tense, exciting and charged atmosphere.
THE TEMPLE MOUNT CAN BE SEEN CENTER-RIGHT. THE NARROW SLIVER OF LAND IMMEDIATELY SOUTH OF THE TEMPL & CURVING SOUTH ALONG THE RIDE IS THE CITY OF DAVID. UPPER JERUSALEM SITS ABOVE LOWER JERUSALEM, TO THE WEST OF THE TEMPLE.
Herod upset many of his fellow Jews by the construction of such Roman buildings as the theater and hippodrome. He was a polarizing figure, yet maintained friendships in high places. Many of Herod's projects were dedicated to his Roman benefactors. He was accepted as a friend of Octavian, also known as the emperor Augustus, and a friend of Marc Antony as well. Herod was a master at playing both sides, hedging his bets, and jockeying himself into favorable positions. He exchanged political intrigues with the ever shrewd and deadly Cleopatra.
Herod built a massive platform, the first of its kind, upon which to extend the Temple. Platform ruins are visible today. Herod's Temple took eighty years of construction to complete from start to finish. Jesus in Jerusalem would have encountered this construction, and the noise and confusion that came with it. Many baths for ritual purification and small shops surrounded the Temple.
Some of these shops still have hitch posts for animals visible today amongst the ruins. Herod's Second Temple was fully completed not long after Jesus' death and resurrection. Full completion, ironically, came just years prior to the Roman destruction of this same Second Temple and the burning and looting of Jerusalem in 70 AD. These were turbulent times in Judah.
By the time of Jesus, Jerusalem was in it's fifteenth generation of Graeco-Roman influence (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,999673-6,00.html). Jewish families gave Greek and Roman names to their children. Much of the city's architecture was in the Graeco-Roman style, thanks to Herod, including the Temple in Jerusalem. As Jesus taught in the Temple precincts, and the priests performed the holy rites and rituals within the Temple compound, between two and three thousand Roman troops would have looked on from the adjoining Antonia Fortress, another Herodian addition to Jerusalem. The Jewish religion was very peculiar to the Romans, who worshiped many gods. Indeed the two cultures, though similar in many ways, varied widely in the realm of religious thought and belief.
Caravans from Samaria, Syria, Egypt, Nabatea, Arabia and Persia were common sights within the city walls, especially during times of religious festivals and celebrations. The city burst out of its walls into the surrounding countryside. Steady streams of traffic likely ran in and out of Jerusalem's many gates. Jerusalem was a true ancient metropolis, incorporating all facets of society from many different cultures and influences. In the years spanning anywhere from 28 to 34 AD, the news of Jesus in Jerusalem would have electrified this ancient hilltop fortress.
THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
The book of Matthew depicts Jesus in Jerusalem only two times. Matthew, along with the other Gospels, speak of Jesus near Jerusalem being baptized by John the Baptist. The location of this site remains a topic of debate and controversy to this day. Some place it west of the Jordan, while others say it lay in "Bethany beyond the Jordan", meaning on the east side of the Jordan River. Regardless, the Baptist's location was at most one day's walk from Jerusalem, a short distance by ancient standards.
Matthew 3 state John was baptizing in the wilderness of Judea. Whatever the location, it was close enough to Jerusalem that in verse five Scripture states
"Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the districts around the Jordan,"
Jesus appeared and was baptized by John the Baptist, who was the only one to recognize Jesus for who He was. As stated above, Jesus had not yet started to preach publicly, thus was likely an unknown. Scripture, though, is silent in regards to such specifics. The Spirit of God descended on Jesus in the form of a dove as He rose from the waters.
Matthew 3:17 records a "voice out of the heavens" was heard proclaiming Jesus God's son. Though the Bible gives no further detail, those present must have been confused as to the voice and the meaning. The exact reaction of those standing nearby is not recorded, though certainly an interesting thought.
The first actual appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem according to Matthew takes on a surprising nature. Immediately after being baptized, Jesus is depicted as heading out into the wilderness to be alone. Frequently the Gospels portray Jesus withdrawing by Himself, or a small number of select disciples. In this instance, Matthew 4:1 states:
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."
The map depicts Jesus' route to John the Baptist. Jews avoided traveling through Samaria on their way to Jerusalem from Galilee. They would thus cross the Jordan River twice during the journey, avoiding Samaria to the east. The Baptist's location, though uncertain, is depicted as being on the eastern side of the Jordan, just at the point Jesus would have crossed the second time on His voyage.
AT TIMES JESUS TRAVELED EAST OF THE JORDAN BEFORE RECROSSING AT JERICHO. OTHER TIMES JESUS TRAVELED THROUGH SAMARIA, THE MORE DIRECT ROUTE, YET THE JEWS LOOKED DOWN UPON SAMARIANS.
From this point of crossing, most would continue west to Jerusalem. Multiple routes led out of Jericho, with one leading to Jerusalem, and another into the wilderness. It is a theory that Jesus took the road leading to the northeast, into the Judean wilderness.
The devil appeared to Jesus in the wilderness, testing Him through a number of fleshly temptations and weaknesses. Matthew 4:5 relates one of these tests. "Then the devil took Him into the holy city and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of Temple,"
From here the devil tempted Jesus to throw Himself from the top and have the angels rescue Him. Jesus responded with the classic verse
"On the other hand it is written 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST."
This is a supernatural occurrence of Jesus in Jerusalem. Holman's Atlas states Herod's Temple rose to heights exceeding 180 feet in some places from bedrock to the top of certain towers. We do not know in what form He appeared, or if it was a physical or spiritual manifestation. One cannot presume to know anymore details about this occurrence than what is recorded in Scripture, thus it is best left alone.
Matthew's third and final mention of Jesus in Jerusalem is the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Matthew 21-28 narrate Jesus' last week in Jerusalem leading up to His death and resurrection, as well as His resurrected appearances throughout Jerusalem. All four of the Gospels spend great detail on the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem. The Triumphal Entry of Jesus in Jerusalem as Messiah was followed by arrest, denial, trial, beating, crucifixion and death. The followers of Jesus dispersed, as His apostles are pictured fleeing to the Upper Room in fear of "the Jews".
THE GOSPEL OF MARK
The Gospel of Mark is similar in many ways to Matthew. Mark records two instances of Jesus in Jerusalem, with only one actually happening within the city walls. Mark also lends a great deal of detail to the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem. One significant difference, however, is that Mark depicts Jesus in Jerusalem dwelling among His disciples after His death. Whereas Matthew only mentioned two resurrected appearances, Mark puts Jesus in Jerusalem three times in resurrected form.
Mark 1:9 relates Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist much the same way as Matthew does. When Jesus rose from the water, a dove descended upon Him accompanied by a voice from Heaven. Jesus is led into the wilderness, as in Matthew, though much less detail is given as to the specific tests. After Jesus overcomes the devil, Mark states He proceeds to Galilee. Christ began His ministry outside of Jerusalem, and great detail is also given these accounts throughout the Gospels.
Jesus is depicted as journeying to Capernaum in Mark 1. This begins His ministry, and the book of Mark spends most of the first ten chapters in Galilee. Jesus in Jerusalem is not mentioned by Mark until chapter eleven. Mark 11-15 depict Jesus' last week in Jerusalem. Chapter sixteen speaks of His resurrected appearances.
CHRIST TURNED WATER INTO WINE AT A WEDDING IN CANA. ALONG THE BANKS OF THE SEA OF GALILEE HE CALLED HIS DISCIPLES. THE GREATEST SERMONS IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND WERE TAUGHT ON THE HILLTOPS OF GALILEE, AND IN THE WATERS OF THE SEA OF GALILEE.
It becomes evident that two distinct ministries took place with Jesus. One ministry took place around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus spent valuable time on the road with His disciples between villages and towns in Galilee. These occasions allowed one-on-one time with the apostles. His other ministry was in the hustle and bustle of the great city of God. Jerusalem was an altogether different atmosphere than the fishing villages of the Galilee.
When the disciples were with Jesus in Jerusalem much time was spent around the Temple compound and in the suburbs, where He stayed with such friends like Martha, Mary and Lazarus. In the city, Jesus reached more diverse crowds, while at the same time drawing the ire and eventual wrath of the authorities. Regardless of in the city or the countryside, Jesus Christ drew a crowd during His public ministry.
Mark's second instance of Jesus in Jerusalem takes place in Mark 11:1, the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus had traveled to Jerusalem through Jericho in chapter ten.
Jesus would have approached Jerusalem from the east, in the direction of Bethphage and Bethany. Bethany was a suburb of Jerusalem about 1.8 miles to the east. The village was on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, thus Jesus would have journeyed over the Mount of Olives each day. Lazarus lived here, and it was here Jesus stayed during His last week.
Jesus had sent two of His disciples ahead into Jerusalem. They were instructed in verse two to look for a colt and bring it to Him. The disciples found things as Jesus had predicted, and brought the colt out to Him. Matthew 11:7-9 details the Triumphal Entry of Jesus in Jerusalem.
"And they brought the colt to Jesus and put their garments on it and He sat upon it. And many spread their garments in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before, and those who followed after, were crying out, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord "
This recorded instance of Jesus in Jerusalem, however, is brief. For immediately upon entering the city, verse eleven states He entered the Temple, "and after looking all around, He departed for Bethany". Jesus seems to be surveying the battleground in this instance. He likely took notice of the moneylenders stationed all around. Commerce and trade filled the Temple. Perhaps Jesus began to formulate His attack on the moneylenders which would take place the next day. Perhaps He just wanted to look upon His Father's house.
The remainder of Mark is spent relating the last week of Jesus. Mark 16, though, relates three specific appearances of Jesus in Jerusalem. These are significant because they take place after His death. Mark lists three appearances of the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem. The first of these occurs in Mark 16:9.
"Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons."
Mary, of course, ran to tell the disciples who refused to believe her. Immediately preceding this verse is yet another appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem. This appearance takes place on an unidentified road. The timing in Scripture implies one happening right after the other. In verse nine it is to Mary Jesus appears, and three verses later in Mark 16:12-13 He appears again.
"And after that, He appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking along on their way to the country. And they went away and reported it to the others, but they did not believe them either."
The third resurrected appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem takes place just two verses later. Mark 16:14 records an interesting encounter between Jesus and His disciples. This incident is presumably one of the appearances of Jesus in the Upper Room. The Gospels of Luke and John also mention at least one appearance of Jesus in the Upper Room. John lends more insight than any, as it tends to focus more on Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem.
With Jesus in Jerusalem the authorities were on high alert, and the Roman occupiers glanced nervously at the crowds. What John tells us sheds valuable insight into the political situation in first century Jerusalem immediately following the death of Jesus. John informs us the disciples had gathered in a room
"when the doors were shut. for fear of the Jews".
The atmosphere in the twenty-four hours following the death of Jesus in Jerusalem was one of intense anxiety for His followers. They feared their for lives as well. If their leader could be put to death by the authorities, then they were surely in danger as well. They had locked themselves in an Upper Room. Though seemingly some of them moved about, as Thomas was absent during one appearance, and Jesus appeared to two on a country road, they did so discreetly and likely only when absolutely necessary.
The rest of the time they were shut in, out of view, underground. Such was the mood of the disciples leading up to Mark 16:14.
"And afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table, and he reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen." Though this passage in Mark does not give a time as to when it occurred, it would seem likely it was one of the first appearances of the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem. The reason being it mentions only eleven being present, meaning Thomas was the disciple missing as mentioned in other Gospels. However, the next appearance of Jesus occurs with His ascension.
The chronology in Mark seems to indicate the ascension took place after Jesus' first appearance in the Upper Room. This, however, should not be assumed to indicate such, as specifics are not mentioned in Mark. By combining the other accounts, one can formulate more of a detailed account of the resurrected appearances of Jesus in Jerusalem and Galilee leading up to His glorious ascension.
Mark 16:19 gives a brief account of Jesus' ascension.
"So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God."
This was all Mark mentioned about the ascension. Mark places Jesus at the right hand of God, where He sits today in anticipation of the eventual judgement of mankind.
THE GOSPEL OF LUKE
Luke describes the earliest account of Jesus in Jerusalem. Luke 2:21-22 states Jesus was taken to Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph when He was eight days old as the Law prescribed for all newborns. He was to be dedicated at the Temple as well as circumcised.
"And when eight days were completed before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord."
Some scholars indicate this verse seems to imply Jesus was closer to forty days old, as this would have been the time necessary for Mary's purification after the birth of Jesus. Regardless, He was an infant, and fulfilling His obligation to the law. Born under the law, He perfectly fulfilled all of the law. Even this first appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem as an infant attracted some attention.
Verses twenty-five through thirty-eight tell the story of two righteous individuals that see Jesus the baby, and immediately recognize Him for who He is. One was an old man named Simeon and the other a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. Simeon, said to have been a righteous and devout man, praised God for allowing him to see "Thy salvation" in the infant Jesus.
One can only imagine the thoughts of Mary and Joseph as Simon looked at them and said, as stated in verses 34-35.
"Behold this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed - and a sword will pierce even your own soul - to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed,"
Verse thirty-six also speaks of a prophetess named Anna who recognized the baby Jesus. Scripture records Anna continued speaking of Him "to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem". Thus from the very beginning Jesus in Jerusalem drew notice as a special occasion.
The second appearance in Luke of Jesus in Jerusalem occurs in Luke 2:41-52. In this narrative Jesus is twelve years old and again visiting Jerusalem with His parents for a Passover feast. Jesus and His family would have traveled with a large party of extended relatives and friends from Nazareth. Such pilgrimage groups would join with others along the way, for in numbers there was safety. Travel during the first century AD could prove dangerous.
The distance north to south from Jerusalem to Nazareth was approximately 70 miles. This direct route, however, led through Samaria. Samaritans were viewed as unclean by Jews, and thus travel through their land was avoided. This meant the journey would have covered approximately 100 miles, as this route took them east of the Jordan River. This would have been a journey of approximately ten days, at the average of eleven miles per day.
"And His parents used to go to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast"
This was likely not the second time Jesus had been in Jerusalem. Scripture implies the boy Jesus had been prior to this trip, attending the previous Passovers with His parents. Thus Luke's second instance of Jesus in Jerusalem does not necessarily indicate this was only Jesus' second visit to the city. Luke tells us the family spent one week in Jerusalem this visit, as was custom for the Festival of Unleavened Bread. They likely stayed in the suburbs of the city, where He would spend His last week on earth with friends approximately twenty years later.
No details are given concerning the week they spent in Jerusalem. The narrative picks up in verse 43 where Mary and Joseph are said to have departed the city after the Passover, unaware they had left Jesus in Jerusalem. This seems much more careless in our current context than it would have been during first century Jerusalem.
Mary and Joseph's traveling party included many relatives and close family friends. Jesus would have naturally thought to have been safe with any number of people in their traveling party. Thus, as the party departed Jerusalem all would have been assumed to be present. Scripture relates such, saying Mary and Joseph "supposed Him to be in the caravan".
After a day's journey Mary and Joseph realized they had left Jesus in Jerusalem. A panicked mother and father made hastened back to Jerusalem, and spent three days looking for Jesus in the city! One can only imagine the feeling Mary and Joseph must have had upon seeing Jesus sitting in the Temple. Scripture depicts an angry, or at least perturbed, Mary in verse forty-eight.
"Son, why have treated us this way?"
Jesus' response indicates He had a distinct awareness of who He was at the age of twelve.
"Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?"
The young Jesus was challenging the minds of the aged priests at twelve years old. He was "both listening to them, and asking them questions". What a fascinating picture of a young Jesus, probing the minds of the "experts" on the law, forming His beliefs and thoughts, communing with His Father. The extent of Jesus' awareness of who He was is, of course, speculation as Scripture is silent about such matters. It is, however, a thought provoking subject, and one briefly touched on in Scripture. This instance of Jesus in Jerusalem was only a foreshadowing of what would come. Jesus would again sit in the Temple and confront these same priests.
Luke's next appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem takes place some years later, as Jesus makes His way to Jerusalem for the final time. Luke 19 opens with Jesus making His way into Jericho. It would seem by this account that Jesus had traveled south from Galilee, down the eastern side of the Jordan River and had crossed at Jericho on His way to Jerusalem.
It was on this journey from Jericho to Jerusalem that Jesus stopped and told the crowd the parable of the Money Lenders, found in Luke 19:11-27. The telling of this parable took place near Jerusalem. After finishing the parable, Jesus continued on His way west from Jericho towards Zion. Coming from Jericho He would have entered the suburb villages of Bethphage and Bethany, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives.
Luke tells us from Bethany He sent two disciples ahead to secure the colt He would enter Jerusalem on. Thus Luke begins his account of the Triumphal Entry and the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem. During this week He stayed in the suburb of Bethany with His friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Luke continues to deal with the last week of Jesus through chapter 23. Luke 24 deals with the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem.
Luke describes three total appearances of the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem. Unlike the previous two Gospels, Luke does not describe the appearance of Jesus to Mary in the early morning hours following His resurrection. The first appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem as recorded by Luke occurs on the road to Emmaus. Emmaus was seven miles to the west of Jerusalem. Luke 9:13-15 describes the appearance.
"And behold two of them were going that very day to a village name Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached, and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him."
One of these men was named Cleopas. We do not know how long Jesus stayed with these men, but He traveled all the way to Emmaus with them, explaining the Scriptures to them as they went, according to verse twenty-seven. Jesus even sat down to eat with the men, yet when He broke the bread and gave it to them, Scripture relates
"their eyes were opened and they recognized Him and He vanished from their sight."
So shocked and surprised were these men that they "arose that very hour and returned to Jerusalem". How electrifying these moments must have been! The resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem empowered an otherwise defeated group of small followers. Luke next portrays Jesus appearing to His disciples as they were gathered together, presumably in the Upper Room.
Though the chronology of the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem is hard to determine, it is clear things were happening quickly. Luke 24:36 speak of another appearance of the resurrected Jesus.
"And while they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst."
Though the Bible is silent as to where this appearance takes place, when taken in context with the other Gospel accounts it seems plausible to suggest this took place in the Upper Room. If this was the Upper Room, then the disciples were surely in a state of high alert and anxiety. Verse thirty-six makes it clear the travelers on the road to Emmaus had returned and were "telling these things" to the remaining disciples. One common theme throughout is the disbelief that accompanied Christ's disciples upon first learning of His resurrection.
Luke tells us when Jesus appeared to them, "they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit". Their world had been turned upside down. The one they thought was their king had died unceremoniously on a wooden Roman-made cross. Things were not as they had foreseen, and they certainly did not expect to see Jesus standing in front of them.
"Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?"
The questions seem natural for Jesus to ask, except for the fact He had just risen from the dead. As He had taught them about what was to come, Scripture indicates they did not fully grasp what He was telling them. Now His questions were invitations to a new level of faith.
"See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself, touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."
Then, as if this were not enough, the disciples "gave him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate it before them". This scene is reminiscent of when God visited Abraham with two of His servants in Genesis 18. God and His mysterious company sat and ate with Abraham just as Jesus ate with His disciples. This act symbolized His complete victory over death.
Luke's narrative again moves quickly from one episode to another. In verse fifty Jesus leads "them out as far as Bethany", where He blesses them. Luke then simply states in verse fifty-one
"And it came about that while He was blessing them, He parted from them."
The transformation of His disciples is seen in the last two verses of Luke's account. John tells us they had locked themselves up in the Upper Room, afraid for their lives. They had gone underground. Now, according to Luke, after Christ's Ascension they "returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising God". His disciples had been empowered by the resurrected appearances of Jesus in Jerusalem.
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
Of the four Gospels none give a more detailed account of Jesus in Jerusalem than John. whereas Matthew, Mark and Luke gave a great deal of focus to Jesus in Galilee, the Gospel of John focuses on His Jerusalem ministry. John lists Jesus in Jerusalem at least on six occasions. He records three Passover Feasts (Jn. 2:13 6:4 11:55), one Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles (Jn. 7:2), an unnamed feast (Jn. 5:1), and a Festival of Dedication, or Hanukkah (Jn. 10:22).
The book of John opens up with Jesus venturing to see John the Baptist near Jerusalem. One must keep in mind this encounter took place before Jesus had began His public ministry. The Bible is mysteriously silent as to what took place in Jesus' life prior to His public ministry in the Gospels. Thus the words of John the Baptist in John 1:29 would have seemed strange to the onlookers, as Jesus was likely just another face in the crowd at this time.
"The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, 'Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."
With this act Jesus began His ministry on earth as recorded by the Gospels and other non-biblical accounts. Matthew tells us that from here Spirit-led Jesus journeys into the wilderness to square off with Satan. Matthew reports Satan and Jesus in Jerusalem, standing on the pinnacle of the Temple, the devil attempting to thwart Jesus' divinely appointed mission. John, however, does not delve into the temptation of Jesus.
Rather, John quickly moves to depict Jesus in Jerusalem again, this time for the Passover in John 2:13. The time frame involved with this appearance has drawn some debate.
"And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem."
The Passover was accompanied with the festival of the Unleavened Bread. Leviticus 23:5 describes the two.
"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month between the two evenings is the lord's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the lord seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation ye shall do no manner of servile work. And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the lord seven days in the seventh day is a holy convocation ye shall do no manner of servile work."
The Passover celebrated the Exodus out of Egypt. Leviticus states the Israelites were to eat unleavened bread only during the duration of the Passover, thus the festival of Unleavened Bread accompanies the seven day Passover. Jesus in Jerusalem during the Passover would have included a seven day stay in the overcrowded city. Jerusalem swelled to many times its size during these special occasions. Many people were forced to stay in the surrounding suburbs and countryside. Jesus had some friends in Bethany thus He often stayed with them. Lazarus, Martha and Mary housed Him during the week leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection.
The debate is concerned with what happens next. Jesus marches into the Temple where much trade and commerce was taking place. Sacrificial animals were sold and traded for, as well as moneylenders that exchanged whatever currency was given them for the Temple coins, of course at different rates for their profit. John 2:15 recounts Jesus' actions.
"And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables."
Each of the other three Gospels depict this happening during the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem. John, however, places it at the very beginning of His ministry. This may or may not be a contradiction, and shouldn't be used as evidence of discrepancies in the Gospels. The reason for this is simple. Jesus may have done a similar thing earlier, recorded in the tradition that John accounts for. Is it impossible He could have done it twice over the course of three years?
Of course this cannot be proven one way or the other either, and should not be taken as absolute truth. Yet, it is quite possible to conceive Jesus Christ could have cleared the Temple twice over the course of three separate Passover feasts in three years. Such would seem to be the case when the Gospel of John is taken into account with the other three Gospels.
From this point, the second appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem according to John comes to an end, for in 3:22 Jesus and the disciples are coming "into the land of Judea", the implication being they had left earlier from Jerusalem in the previous chapter. It becomes clear from tracing the movements of Jesus in the Gospels that He was constantly on the move. Possibly numerous times He traveled by Jerusalem without stopping. He had an itinerary only He knew as He and His disciples moved from one village to another, one side of the Jordan to the other, and one end of Canaan to another.
John's third account of Jesus in Jerusalem takes place in John 5:1-9. This feast remains unnamed throughout the narrative. Some versions indicate by footnote this feast is likely another Passover, though John does not specifically name it.
"After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem."
Verse two even gives an exact location of Jesus in Jerusalem. John describes Jesus as being at the Bethesda Pool, near the Sheep Gate leading into the Temple from the north. Pool lined the different gates leading to the Temple. Ritual purification was essential to Temple worship, thus pools were present throughout ancient Jerusalem. The Bethesda Pool is located on the northern side of the Temple Mount. It's ruins are evident today. The Antonia Fortress prominently stood nearby.
People would have stopped to bathe and cleanse themselves before entering the Temple precincts through the Sheep Gate. Thus, large crowds typically gathered at the pools, especially during festivals and feasts. The New Testament speaks of a tradition first century Jews associated with the Bethesda Pool. It was believed that at certain times of the year "an angel of the Lord went down" and stirred the waters in the pool.
Scripture relates that after the waters had been stirred the first one to step into the pool would be healed from whatever affliction they suffered. John describes a man lying near the water on a pallet. This man had suffered from an unnamed ailment for 38 years, and had failed to enter the waters first on occasions the angel stirred up the pool. It was people such as this one that Jesus was drawn to.
Scripture seems to imply Jesus spotted the man immediately, knowing he had suffered for a long time in his present condition. Jesus asked the man if he wished to be cured, to which the man answered he had no help to put him in the waters when they stirred, thus he continued to suffer. Verses eight and nine record the words of Jesus.
"Jesus said to him, 'Arise, take up your pallet and walk."
There are certain things and details the Bible leaves out that would make for intriguing reading. Such details are often those associated with the reactions of people fortunate enough to witness such miracles by Jesus. The sick man was likely well-known by frequenters of the pool. They knew of his condition, had perhaps grown accustomed to seeing him there day after day. To see him all of a sudden jump up and start running around would have been shocking.
What is especially insightful in John's account of this is the reaction of "the Jews" in verse ten. They actually accuse the man of carrying his pallet, because it was the Sabbath and such was not allowed. They do not acknowledge the miracle given the man, only his "violation" of the law! Jesus later sees the man in the Temple and encourages him to "sin no more". The Jewish establishment, however, became upset over Jesus healing people on the Sabbath.
After this feast, Jesus departs Jerusalem and returns to Galilee (Jn. 6:1). John next places Jesus in Jerusalem (John 7) attending another feast, The Feast of Booths. Leviticus 23:41-44 describe the purpose and function of the Feast of Booths.
" 'You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.' So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the Lord."
This was the defining moment of Hebrew history. God interacted on behalf of the enslaved ancient Hebrews like He had with no other nation on earth before, and perhaps since. As such, He instructed celebrations as reminders of what He did for His people, and what He will do in the future. God has never stopped working since those ancient days. Scholars and historians, of course, write the narrative off as mere myth. No proof exists, nothing from the archaeological evidence, and so on and so forth.
John also sheds an important light on Jesus in verse three. Scripture mentions His brothers, thus shedding some light on Jesus' childhood. He grew up with siblings, multiple siblings. Interestingly, the tone of His brothers in this verse is one of ridicule.
"His brothers therefore said to Him, 'Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing."
They dared Jesus to venture to Jerusalem, where they knew the authorities were seeking Him. Jesus declines their invitation to travel to Jerusalem for the feast. However, John 7:10 reveals He went to Jerusalem anyway, "not publicly, as it were, but in secret."
Scripture informs us the Jews were looking for Jesus in Jerusalem. They likely had stationed lookouts at each of the gates leading into the city, and hid spies throughout the crowds. One must remember there would have been plenty of pilgrims and traffic coming into the city for the Feast of Booths. Jerusalem was a lively and vibrant city around these national celebrations. John also recounts the people were divided over Jesus.
Some claimed He was a good man, others that He led people astray. John lends fascinating detail into the situation in Jerusalem. The people were talking of Him openly, yet in hushed tones, "for fear of the Jews". This is likely in the second year of Jesus' ministry, thus He was by now well-known and already at odds with the Jewish authorities. Things were picking up and tensions were escalating over this commoner from Nazareth. He performed miracles and debated the scholarly authorities with skillful and precise arguments. Jesus in Jerusalem would not go unnoticed long.
"But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, 'How has this man become learned, having never been educated?"
John lends beautiful details in this account of Jesus in Jerusalem - the ridiculing brothers, the split crowd, the paranoid Jews, the amazed priests and scholars. The length of Jesus' stay this time is not clear. Scripture indicates He stayed at least two days. The likely duration would be seven days, as the Feast of Booths was a seven day celebration.
On the last day of the feast, which Scripture relates was "the great day of the feast", Jesus stood up in the Temple and cried in verse 32
"If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'"
This episode of Jesus in Jerusalem included Him forgiving the adulterous woman in John 8, Him teaching in the Temple treasury, and Jesus fleeing the Temple as the authorities picked up stones to stone Him with. As Jesus fled the Temple, He and His disciples passed a blind man on the side of the road. John 9 describes Jesus making clay with His spit and restoring the blind man's vision.
The time frame of Jesus in Jerusalem for this feast is a bit uncertain, however. In the next chapter (Jn. 10), Jesus is said to have traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Dedication. This feast is also know as the Festival of Lights, or Hannukah. The Old Testament does not give detail concerning this Feast because it's establishment occurred during the Intertestamental Period, or the time period stretching from the last of the Old Testament to the beginning of the New Testament signaled by the birth of Christ.
It celebrates the Maccabean revolt, miraculous victory over Antiochus Epiphanes, and the re-dedication of the Temple. Epiphanes had persecuted Jerusalem ca. 168 B.C. He had dared enter the Holy of Holies in a foreshadowing of yet another abomination of desolation to occur in the last days. In 165 B.C. Judas Maccabeus instituted this festival after their successful rebellion. John also tells us this feast took place in winter.
John 10:22 illustrates Jesus in Jerusalem once again at the Temple. He was drawn to His Father's House for good reason. He preached throughout the Temple, in it's courtyards, in the treasury, and now John depicts Jesus in the portico of Solomon. Peter would later give a sermon in this spot in Acts 3. Jesus was once again being quizzed by the Pharisees, scribes and teachers of the Law.
Though cloaked in innocence their inquisitions were malicious in intent. With Jesus in Jerusalem they sought to entrap Him by their questions. They pursued proof He thought He was God, thus anytime He would declare something similar to that sentiment they would seek to stone Him, seize Him, beat Him, etc. etc. They accused Him of blasphemy by claiming to be the son of God. Thus, in verse thirty-eight when Jesus says "the Father is in Me, and I in the Father", the Jews become outraged and seek to seize Him.
However, as He was prone to do, Jesus eluded their attempts and fled the city. Without Jesus in Jerusalem the Pharisees and company were free to carry on their excesses without accusation. The Jewish royalty and elite were worldly in their pursuit of political gain and fleshly desires. The Herods were excessively wicked and murderous, often killing their own family. Jesus attacked the lifestyles of the establishment, often rousing the crowd of onlookers with His miracles and sermons. On top of the religious atmosphere, the occupying Romans always kept a close eye on Jerusalem, especially during the festivals. Any sort of public agitation was promptly taken care of. Roman force was always quick to be dispatched.
John relates in chapter eleven that Jesus fled "beyond the Jordan" to the place John the Baptist preached. This area was not very far from Jerusalem, as Jericho lie thirteen miles east. John 11 is the narrative concerning the death and resurrection of Lazarus. Shortly after these events, Jesus was informed of Lazarus' death. As discussed above, Lazarus lived with Martha and Mary in the village of Bethany. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem.
Jesus, being nearby, was quickly summoned to Lazarus' house. He chose to remain put for two days before departing, however. By the time Jesus arrived Lazarus had been dead four days. Scripture informs that many Jews from Jerusalem had ventured to Mary and Martha's house due to Bethany's close proximity. Consequently, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead news quickly spread into Jerusalem of the miracle.
The ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem had reached out to all the surrounding countryside, towns and villages. Indeed, Christ was known throughout all of the land, from Galilee in the north, to the deserts south of Jerusalem, from the Mediterranean to east of the Jordan River, everybody knew of the lowly carpenter from Nazareth. Scripture makes it plain some believed and others did not. Those that did not reported His raising of Lazarus from the dead to the Pharisees. It was this miracle that sealed His death sentence, for in John 11:53 the Jewish authorities reached a consensus.
"So from that day on they planned together to kill Him."
Things escalate quickly from this point on in the Gospel of John. John 12 begins the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem, where He is attending His third and last Passover in John. Scripture reveals Jesus ventured first to Bethany, where he would stay with His friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary. It was this visit which Mary anointed Jesus' feet with perfume, much to the disgust of Judas Iscariot in verse four. The remaining chapters of John are dedicated to the days leading up to Christ's death and resurrection.
THE LAST WEEK OF JESUS IN JERUSALEM
Of the New Testament records of Jesus in Jerusalem, the most detailed are those regarding His last week in Jerusalem, the city of God. When Judas Iscariot and the Jewish authorities of the day arrested Jesus and sentenced Him to death, little did they know their actions would define an epoch and shape the world's largest religions. Each of the Gospels record the events in various details. A large segment of each Gospel is dedicated to the last week of Jesus in Jerusalem, and rightly so as it gave birth to Christianity.
The journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem was about 70 miles. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus arrives in Bethany, where he is staying at the house of Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead, and Martha and Mary (Jn 12:1). Martha serves them a dinner in Jesus’ honor and Mary anoints Jesus with costly perfume, foretelling the death and burial of Jesus. Judas Iscariot rebukes her for wasting such expensive perfume instead of selling it and giving it to the poor. John implies Judas' true motives in verse six, relating that it was Judas who possessed the money box and was guilty of taking from it.
Jesus tells Judas to leave her alone, saying “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Others find out Jesus is staying at the house, and a large crowd gathers to see Him and Lazarus. The chief priests make plans to kill not only Jesus, but Lazarus as well. Lazarus had been proclaiming the name of Christ with fervor. Scripture tells that many believed in Jesus on account of Lazarus' efforts, thus the authorities debated getting rid of him as well.
SUNDAY – The Triumphant Entry
Jesus ventured out from Bethany on a donkey for the nearly two mile journey into Jerusalem. John records a great multitude gathered on the street leading into Jerusalem from Bethany. As He descended down the slopes of the Mount of Olives, the crowd cried "Hosanna”, and followed Jesus into Jerusalem. It was on this approach that Jesus beheld Jerusalem lying below him and “ wept over it” ( Lk 19:41 ). The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem signaled Jesus' admittance of being the Messiah publicly. Every time the Scriptures portray Jesus in Jerusalem, He is said to have visited the Temple. He does so again in John. After entering the Temple, he retired back to Bethany for the evening to spend some time with Lazarus and His friends and disciples.
As Jesus and His disciples left Bethany Monday morning, Jesus was hungry on the walk to Jerusalem. Spotting a fig tree (Mk 11:12) Jesus went up to it to see if there was any fruit on it. The tree was without fruit, and Jesus cursed the tree for not producing fruit as it should have. Upon entering Jerusalem Jesus went into the Temple. It was on this day that Jesus cleared the Temple from the money changers and lenders (Mk 11:15-18 / Lk 19:45-48 / Mt 21:12-13). This action further provoked the authorities in Jerusalem to plot his death (Mk 11:18). A delegation of Greeks approached Phillip asking to see Jesus (Jn 12:20-50). Jesus predicted His death, and a voice from Heaven was heard by the people listening to Jesus speak. This was no ordinary Monday with Jesus in Jerusalem. After this, He retired to Bethany for the night.
Jesus returned to Jerusalem and spent the majority of the day in the Temple answering questions posed to Him by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and chief priests and leaders. These religious authorities sought to entrap him with their questions (Mt 21:15-17,23-46 / Mt 22:15-46) about John the Baptist, paying tribute (“Give to Caesar what is Caesars”), and the resurrection. As Jesus was sitting in the Temple watching the people put their offerings into the temple treasury, He witnessed a simple offering by a poor widow, described in Mark 12:41-44.
Despite her offering of the smallest copper coin in use at the time, Jesus remarked that her offering was more than everybody who had given, for they had given out of wealth, but she had given all she had to live on out of faith. Later in the day, after Jesus and His disciples had left the Temple, they were sitting on the Mt of Olives. It was here that Jesus gave His sermon about the End Times to His disciples while overlooking Jerusalem (Mt 24 / Mk 13). Mere decades later, in 70 AD, the Romans would destroy Jerusalem and burn the Temple to the ground. It has not been rebuilt since.
According to traditional interpretations the Gospels record no events on Wednesday. However, Jesus did receive a second anointing by an unnamed woman in Bethany at the house of a man named Simon the Leper (Mt 26:6-13 / Mk 14:3-9). This incident is almost identical to Mary’s anointing earlier in the week. It was on this day that Judas Iscariot sealed his deal with the Jewish authorities to betray Jesus for money (Mt 26:14-16). Judas would hang himself by the end of the week.
THURSDAY – The Day of Unleavened Bread
Jesus spent the day with His disciples in anticipation of sharing the Passover meal with them. He sent Peter and John ahead into Jerusalem to make final preparations (Lk 22:8-12). The third Passover of Jesus in Jerusalem was spent with those He was readying to spread His word. Jesus reclined with them that evening, giving them the wine and bread and relating each to His blood and body (Lk 22:14-20). After dinner, Jesus took his disciples to the Mt of Olives and a place called Gethsemane. It was here that blood dripped from his brow as he was in intense and fervent prayer (Mt 26:36-45 / Mk 14:32-42). In Gethsemane, Judas betrayed Jesus, and the authorities placed him under arrest (Lk 22:47-53 / Jn 18:2-12).
Jesus’ trial started late Thursday night and carried on into early Friday morning. From Gethsemane the mob took Jesus to the house of the High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas. This house was in the Upper City, where the royalty and Jerusalem elite lived. It was here, before the High Priest and his father-in-law Annas, the former High Priest, that a preliminary hearing was held under hasty and hushed circumstances (Mt 26:57-75 / Jn 18:12-23). Peter denied Jesus three times while following the mob throughout the city.
DAYBREAK – The Sanhedrin Meets
The Sanhedrin questioned Jesus if He was the Son of God. He answers them: “You are right in saying I am.”
It was after this statement that the Sanhedrin formally condemned Jesus to death for blasphemy (Lk 22:70-71). They then brought Jesus before Pilate (Mk 15:1-5 / Lk 23:1-5), seeking his approval of their verdict of Jesus. The Roman Pilate, realizing that Jesus was a Galilean, sent him to Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great who was given Galilee by his father to rule, and who was also in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover (Lk 23:6-12). Jesus, thus, was Antipas' problem. Jesus had already called Antipas a fox and Herod was eager to see a miracle.
Jesus refused to entertain the wicked and foolish Herod Antipas, who then sent Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate, eager to keep the unrest to a minimum, gave in to Jewish demands, releasing the murderer Barrabas and sentencing Christ to die by crucifixion. Many scholars and critics tend to discount the narrative at this point, stating that no evidence for such a ceremony has been discovered. Yet, neither has there been any to discount it. Pilate handed Jesus over to the Roman soldiers to have Jesus whipped and eventually crucified (Mt 27:27-31 / Lk 23:13-25).
It was on Friday morning that Jesus was crucified at Golgotha. The Pharisees had exacted their plan on Jesus in Jerusalem, the capital city, during the Passover. Antipas and Pilate had both sought to rid themselves of Jesus by pawning Him off, yet the religious authorities had urged His death and won out in the end. One can only imagine the feeling of His disciples and followers. Fear and panic must have spread throughout. Followers of Jesus feared their lives, for if their leader had been killed nobody was safe.
Jesus rests in the tomb. The city of God is likely in a state of shock, though Scripture is silent of such. One would speculate that the followers of Jesus were in a great state of mourning and fear. Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene had witnessed His final breath, and were likely inconsolable in their grief. It was a sad day for those involved. Little did they know the miracle that awaited.
THIS IS A ROCK HEWN TOMB SIMILAR TO THE ONE JESUS WAS BURIED IN. A ROCK WAS ROLLED OVER THE ENTRANCE TO THE TOMB TO ENCLOSE THE BODY WITHIN.
Sunday witnessed the resurrection of Jesus. It was “very early in the morning” when the women came to see his body (Lk 24 / Mt 28 / Mk 16), only to find the tomb empty and no Jesus. An angel informed them He had risen and was no longer dead. The Gospels record several post – resurrection appearances of Jesus in Jerusalem.
The Resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem
There are several appearances in Jerusalem ( Mt 28:9-10 / Mk 16:14-18 / Jn 20:19-29 ), one appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus ( Lk 24:13-35 ), and several appearances in Galilee ( Jn 21 / Mt 28:16-20 ). Jesus’ final appearance to His disciples and others took place on the Mt of Olives near Bethany. It is interesting to note that recently a city also named Bethany was discovered in Galilee, which was previously unknown. It was here that Jesus was taken up into Heaven ( Lk 28:50-51 / Acts 1:9-12 ). The documentary The Real Face of Jesus, aired on The History Channel, is an excellent account of Jesus' death and resurrection, and the source of much information below. (http://www.history.com/shows/the-real-face-of-jesus)
It describes a combination of Biblical and extra-biblical sources attesting to a stretch of 40 days after Christ's crucifixion during which He appeared to His disciples and others. Six appearances of the resurrected Jesus in Jerusalem occurred before His glorious ascension. The first appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem appeared at the Tomb, to Mary Magdalene and the other women. The Christians venerate this day as the resurrection of their Savior, the triumph of life over death by God's Son, Jesus Christ. Today we commemorate this event with the Easter holiday.
His second appearance was to His disciples along the road to Emmaus. These unnamed men recognized Him only after He broke the bread before they ate, then He vanished suddenly from their sight as Luke reports. These men had spent the entire day traveling along the road listening to Jesus explain the Scriptures, "beginning with Moses and with all the prophets". Never before had they heard the Scriptures explained in such a way, declaring "Were our hearts not burning within us while He was speaking".
His third appearance took place in front of some of His closest followers. The Upper Room in Jerusalem was sight to this appearance. Political tensions seized the city, as they had throughout the previous occasions of Jesus in Jerusalem. The situation was obviously heightened now, as Jesus had been put to death by the authorities. News had spread throughout all of the land.
The Apostles hid for their lives in the Upper Room. Life hung in the balance, and these men face imminent death. Failure, confusion, anger, frustration, and their own guilt of abandoning Jesus took hold of their hearts and minds. Roman cruelty was coupled with the Jewish authorities new found zeal for the persecution of the followers of this blasphemous false prophet Jesus. The disciples fear reached to their very souls.
They had gone undercover and underground. Jesus had publicly taught against the corruption of the authorities, both Jewish and Roman. Pontius Pilate is said to have washed his hands over Jesus, according to the Gospels. Many point to this as another indication of a fabricated report of Jesus' death in the Gospels. Their reasoning for such is that Pontius Pilate was a very sadistic man. He was unlikely to have washed his hands over Jesus, and was most likely to have been the one to authorize His death.
Pontius was later dismissed from his post for excessive brutality, an astonishing and extraordinary accusation given Roman standards. However, no evidence exists either for this theory, thus the Scriptures should not be discredited simply for this reason. Is it not impossible Pontius sought to avoid violence during this occasion, despite his reputation otherwise? Could he not have sensed something different in Jesus, something that disturbed and bothered him?
This appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem after His death to the disciples changed the course of history. Emerging from the wall He stood before them miraculously, the resurrected Christ, saying "Peace be with you." He overpowered their fear with His presence, empowering them now to proclaim His name fearlessly. Thomas, however, was not present in the Upper Room.
The narrative of doubting Thomas is the fourth appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem. Eight days after the third appearance, the disciples remain in hiding. Thomas, this time, is present. The disciples had not doubt tried numerous times to convince Thomas of Jesus' life. Thomas remained skeptical. He wanted evidence, empirical proof of Jesus' resurrection.
The resurrected Jesus made a decided effort to bring Himself to Thomas. As He appeared to the disciples yet again, He invited Thomas to embrace His wounds, to test Him in order to satisfy Thomas that He was real. Jesus welcomed the challenge of Thomas, invited the test, and then gracefully pronounced a blessing on those who have believed without touching. The forty days of Jesus in Jerusalem after his death empowered His believers to establish themselves without fear, emboldened by His appearances and assurances. After the fourth appearance, Thomas was fully convinced of Jesus' existence.
Sixty-eight miles north of Jerusalem, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus appears for the fifth time. An untold number of days after His death the Bible records the disciples are fishing, back to work, back to their mundane lives. All night they fished without luck. They struggled with the task of getting on with their lives, and a long night of no fish was not helping matters. At dawn, a figure emerged on the shoreline, waving them in and inquiring of their success.
He instructed them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, at which point fish suddenly filled the nets, 153 to be precise according to the Gospels. Peter, at that moment, recognizes Jesus as the man on the shore. Jesus was already present with a fire on the shores of Galilee, perhaps as He had done many times prior. Once again they are fishermen simply fishing, and Jesus served them on the shores of Galilee.
Jesus in Jerusalem was occupied with large crowds and gatherings, festivals of the Jewish faith. He was preaching in the Temple and dodging the Jews trying to seize Him. Jesus in Galilee was concerned with one on one development, at a site where they lived and worked, where the ministry began, where they grew up and lived. Jesus' appearance at their home is a statement that we need not leave our homes to experience Him. The fifth appearance of Jesus was one to assure His disciples that He would be with them always and anywhere they went. He was strengthening them, empowering them, and no doubt instructing them to the very end.
The most spectacular event, perhaps, recorded by mankind accompanies the sixth and final appearance of Jesus after His crucifixion. This, too, does not occur with Jesus in Jerusalem, but on a mountain top. The ascension of Jesus defies understanding. This account is the climax of the forty days following His death. His apostles were the only witnesses to this event, as Scripture records Jesus departed into the clouds.
The Biblical accounts are vague and non descriptive, leaving much room for imagination. The ascension is attested to by Luke as a physical event, meaning Jesus' body physically ascended into heaven, rising above the earth's surface to the mysterious realm above. It is hard for humans to imagine such a scene. No story about Jesus can compare to His final moment on earth. The ascension transcends our rationale minds, just as the resurrection. The ascension took place on the hills outside Jerusalem, on top of the Mount of Olives.
The apostles gathered with Him, summoned by Him to witness an event they would never forget. By the time of the ascension the apostles had strengthened their wills to live for Christ, proclaiming His name even to the point of death. Their faith and strength propelled the early movement through horrific persecutions. It was what they saw on the fortieth day after the crucifixion, with Jesus in Jerusalem atop the Mount of Olives, that would forever live in the memory of each apostle, motivating their ferocious devotion to Jesus, driving the faith to the front of the Roman Empire by the fourth century AD.
Jesus Christ lived, still lives, thus Christianity would survive, and will survive, regardless of the efforts otherwise.
View this online resource on Jesus & Jerusalem