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  • Beth Shemesh, Israel: Return of the Ark by the Philistines, Samson, Samuel, Sorek Valley, Zorah |

    Beth-Shemesh Photo Gallery Places of Interest Beth-Shemesh ​ Location 1. Beth-Shemesh lies 13 miles (21 km.) west of Jerusalem and 20 miles (32 km.) east of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s on Hwy. 38, about 5.5 miles (8 km.) south of Hwy. 1. 2. Beth-Shemesh was the most important city in the Sorek Valley as it was a guard-city to both east-west and north-south traffic through the region. 3. It was a border city between Judah and Dan that was given to the Levites. 4. Just across the valley (north) is the town of Zorah, where Samson lived. Some ruins and his tomb can be seen today. 5. Down the valley (west) a short distance was the town of Timnah, the hometown of Samson’s first wife, and the area where his girlfriend Delilah lived. 6. Beth-Shemesh means “House of the Sun” and probably got its name from sun worship by the Canaanites. 7. Beth-Shemesh is most known as the place where the Ark of the Covenant arrived when the Philistines returned it in 1 Samuel 6. Historical Background 1. Beth Shemesh was a large thriving city belonging to the Canaanites when the Israelites arrived in about 1400 BC. 2. The Philistines were part of the Canaanite people group who lived in the land (Gen. 21:34). They possessed iron and were the high-tech people of the day. 3. At the time of Judges and 1 Samuel (1050 AD), the Philistines had a stronghold in the coastal plain area. 4. As the Philistines gained territory, they moved inland. Beth Shemesh and the cities in the Sorek Valley were affected and became border towns between the Philistines and the Israelites. 5. Samson, who lived across from Beth Shemesh in Zorah, engaged in battle with the Philistines to liberate the area from their grasp and return it to the Israelites. 6. The Philistines worshipped the false god, Dagon, who was supposedly the father of Baalsabul, or Baal. He was a fish god of fertility and was represented as a half-man, half-fish creature. Places of Interest ​ 1. Tel Beth-Shemesh 5th century AD Byzantine Monastery Underground Water Reservoir Northern Double Chambered Gate Southern Gate Mosque Ruins Tombs Large rock where the Israelites likely sacrificed the oxen who pulled the cart after receiving the Ark of the Covenant from the Philistines. 2. Sorek Valley ​ 3. Nahal Sorek Stream 4. Zorah ​ Samson's Tomb 5. Tel Timnah 6. Modern Beth-Shemesh Beth-Shemesh in the Bible 1. God gave the Israelites over to the Philistines because they had done evil in His sight. Judges 13:1: And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. 2. God raised up Samson to begin the deliverance of the area from the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13–16). 3. The Ark of the Covenant was captured in a battle against the Philistines. This was due to judgment against the priest Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who all died in battle because of their wickedness (1 Sam. 4). 4. The Philistines believed they were victorious in battle because their god, Dagon, was stronger than the true God of the Israelites. As a result, the Philistines took the Ark to the temple of their god, Dagon, to honor him for the victory. ​ 5. However, God made the false god, Dagon, fall down in worship before the Ark. 1 Samuel 5:1–4: When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. 3 And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 6. God sent the Philistines many sicknesses as a result of possessing the Ark. So they moved it from town to town, thinking their diseases were just coincidental. 7. Finally, they realized that it was God who was behind their diseases and decided to send the Ark of the Covenant back to the Israelites. 8. The Philistines prepare to return the Ark to the Israelites in Beth-Shemesh. 1 Samuel 6:1–9: The ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months . 2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place.” 3 They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why his hand does not turn away from you.” 4 And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. 5 So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land. 6 Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed? 7 Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milk cows on which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. 8 And take the ark of the LORD and place it on the cart and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off and let it go its way 9 and watch. If it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-Shemesh , then it is he who has done us this great harm, but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by coincidence.” 9. The Ark miraculously arrives at Beth-Shemesh. 1 Samuel 6:10–13: The men did so and took two milk cows and yoked them to the cart and shut up their calves at home. 11 And they put the ark of the LORD on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. 12 And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-Shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went. They turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-Shemesh . 13 Now the people of Beth-Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 10. The Israelites offer a burnt offering to the Lord in gratitude for receiving the Ark. 1 Samuel 6:14–16: The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-Shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. 15 And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-Shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the LORD. 16 And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron. ​ 11. The Beth-Shemesh area is where Philip the Evangelist witnessed to the Ethiopian Eunuch. Acts 8:26–31: Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza .” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet, Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Faith Lesson from Beth-Shemesh 1. The Israelites adopted the sinful culture of those around them and did evil in the sight of the Lord. Am I careful not to adopt the sinful lifestyles and beliefs of the sinful culture in which I live? 2. Even though the Israelites sinned and failed to be a faithful witness to the surrounding nations, God protected His glory and showed Himself to them as the true and living God. Am I a faithful witness to my culture in living out God’s truth and reflecting His glory? 3. Do I use the miracles God has done in my life as a tool to witness and teach others who God is? ​ 4. Like Philip, am I obedient in listening to God’s voice and sharing the gospel when He prompts me? ​

  • Capernaum: Home & Ministry Base of Jesus, Peter's Home |

    Capernaum Photo Gallery Places of Interest Capernaum ​ Location 1. Capernaum is located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. 2. Capernaum was located on the Via Maris, which was the main international highway of the known world during the time of Christ. The Via Maris linked the three continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Travelers were forced to use this route as there were few other options for traveling to and from each continent. The north shore of the Sea of Galilee was even more traveled than the roads and routes leading through Jerusalem. It might appear that Christ set up His ministry base in a remote place. However, just the opposite was true. He chose the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (and Capernaum was located at a key place along the Via Maris) as a center stage so His message would reach as many as possible in the world. By spending most of His ministry time in the northern Galilee area, Christ’s miracles traveled by word of mouth to the ends of the earth. This laid the groundwork and sowed the seeds of the gospel to the rest of the known world. As a result, evangelism done later on by the apostles would be easier and more acceptable. 3. Today, Capernaum is shared between two sites. The Franciscan site receives around 90% of visitors as it possesses the synagogue, Peter’s home, village ruins, ancient artifacts, and nice access to the beach. The Greek Orthodox site has chosen to remain basically unexcavated and serene. Historical Background 1. The name Capernaum is derived from two words, Caper, which means "village," and Naum, which means "rest," and is also from the title, Nahum. Therefore, some believe that the town was named after the Prophet Nahum, and some believe it was simply a place of rest. 2. Capernaum was a fishing village with a population of around 1,000 during the time of Christ. It encompassed what is today both the Franciscan and Greek Orthodox sites. 3. Capernaum became the hometown of Jesus after He moved from his boyhood home of Nazareth. It also became the ministry headquarters of Christ during His ministry on earth. Matthew 4:13–17: And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." ​ Why was the Galilee area called "Galilee of the Gentiles ?" Because after the Assyrian conquest in around 722 BC, the Assyrians removed much of the Jewish population and then imported people from other places they had conquered into the area. Later, after the Babylonian conquest, the Jews once again populated the area. However, many of these foreigners remained in the area, so it was called Galilee of the Gentiles. 4. Capernaum is mentioned more than any other town around the Sea of Galilee. 5. Capernaum was also the home of Peter, James, Andrew, John, and Matthew. 6. The Synagogue in Capernaum was built by a Roman Centurion of whom Jesus healed his servant. Luke 7:5 says regarding this centurion, “For he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue .” 7. The synagogue that existed during Christ’s time is made from black basalt stone, and its foundations are under the current synagogue, built out of limestone. 8. The current synagogue was built in the 4th century and was quite luxurious and impressive. This happened because Capernaum became a venerated site due to its role as the ministry base and home of Jesus and other apostles. 9. The home of the Apostle Peter has been identified and now has a large modern church built over it. The location of Peter’s home is certain and has been verified by many substantial archaeological excavations. ​ 10. Greek Orthodox site of Capernaum. This church was built in 1931 and dedicated to the twelve apostles. Places of Interest 1. Peter's Home ​ It has been clearly identified and verified by five layers of archaeological excavations. ​ It has also been identified as the home of Jesus as well. This makes sense as single people didn't live alone but with family or close friends. This is verified by the 1st century AD graffiti with the name of Jesus and Peter found here. ​ ​ It contained the central kitchen and living quarters and then individual bedrooms connected to it. The original home's floor and some walls can still be seen today in the very center of the buildings. ​ Layers of Evidence Layer 1: 50-75 AD ~ Early Christian believers marked out this site and began venerating and protecting it soon after the return of Christ to heaven. ​ Layer 2: 375 AD ~ Christians built a wall around the home of Peter to protect and set it apart from the other homes of Capernaum. This wall would be outside the octagon church walls built around 450 AD. It's likely this building was used as a church as well. Layer 3: 475 AD ~ An octagon-shaped church with a small apse was built over the earlier church. The apse points east. A Pilgrim of Placenza who visited this site at this time period verifies this as well. This church seems to have been destroyed during Muslim reign in around 650 AD. It would lay abandoned for some time. Layer 4: 1100 AD ~ During the Crusader period, several structures were built in the area of the abandoned earlier church. Layer 5: 1990 AD ~ In 1990, the current church was built over Peter’s house’s previous ruins. You can walk inside it and look down at the ruins through a glass floor in the church. ​​ 2 . Village Houses Millstone All homes were somewhat similar . The people seem to have been similar in income status. 3 . ​The Synagogue The lower synagogue made out of basalt rock, is from the time of Jesus. ​ The current synagogue made out of limestone is from the latter part of the fourth century (375 AD). ​ A bema altar was found that reveals the synagogue faced toward Jerusalem. ​ The synagogue has an adjacent building that was likely used for study of the Scriptures, a schoolroom for children, and a meeting area. ​ ​ This synagogue had two levels. The lower level for men and the upper for women. ​ ​ The Torah Scroll Cart would be rolled into the center of the synagogue for reading the Scriptures. The people would sit around the edges of the synagogue. ​ ​ The synagogue also functioned as a community meeting place and school. ​ ​ The synagogue has inscriptions on the two front pillars. One is in Greek, and the other in Aramaic. They recognize those that helped in the construction of the building. ​ Jesus preached in this synagogue. Mark 1:21–22: And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. ​ ​ 4. Ancient A rtifacts ​ Stairs that led up to the second story of the synagogue during Jesus' time. ​ ​ Olive Press and a Gethsemane (press for crushing olives). The first press of olives is called "virgin oil" and was sent to the temple in Jerusalem. The second press was used for cooking and eating, and the press was used for lubrication, ointment, medicinal, and oil lamp use. ​ Via Maris Roman Road Post Marker ~ This verifies that Capernaum was located on the Via Mares. Pillar inscribed with a family name (Alphaeus) mentioned in the Bible. The marker says: "Alphaeus, the son of Zebedee, the son of John, made this column. May it be for him a blessing." So, this column was made and donated by a family member of Matthew several generations later. Mark 2:13-14: As He passed by, He saw Levi [Matthew] the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. Alphaeus was a family last name. A Frieze with a Star ~ Some misunderstand this star and think it refers to the Star of David. Actually, it refers to a verse in the Bible found in Numbers 24:17: "I see him, but not now; I look at him, but not near; a star shall appear from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel." So, it doesn't refer to the star of David, a six-pointed star that came into existence in the 17th century AD and was the official seal of many Jewish communities and a general sign of Judaism, but to Jesu s. ​ ​ Torah Scroll Cart Stone Carving ~ This carving shows the Torah Scroll Cart, which would have scrolls inside. It would be rolled in and out of the synagogue when needed. ​ Winepress ~ Grapes were crushed by foot to avoid crushing the seeds, which would make the wine bitter. 5. Capernaum Greek Orthodox Site 6. Capernaum National Park It has a peer, which is a great place to walk out onto the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum in the Bible 1. Christ left Nazareth to live and set up His ministry base in Capernaum. Matthew 4:13-16: And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali. This happened so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned.” ​ This quotation from Isaiah 9:1–2 emphasizes that in this region where the Assyrians decimated and scattered the northern tribes of Israel, which brought darkness and death, would be the first to receive the light brought by the preaching of the Messiah. 2. Jesus frequently taught in the Synagogue in Capernaum. Mark 1:21–28: And they went into Capernaum , and immediately on the Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching . 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God." 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. 3. Jesus healed Peter’s mother and many others here in Capernaum. Mark 1:29–34: And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 4. In Capernaum, Jesus forgave and healed a paralyzed man. This likely happened right at the home where Jesus lived. Mark 2:1–5: And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven.” 5. Christ marveled at the great faith of a centurion in Capernaum. Luke 7:1–10: After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum . 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. 6. The Parables of the Kingdom were preached close to Capernaum. Matthew 13:1–3: That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 And He spoke many things to them in parables. 7. The miracle of Peter getting money out of a fish's mouth to pay the temple tax for himself and Jesus happened in Capernaum. Matthew 17:24-27: When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the tax?" 25 He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?" 26 And when he said, "From others," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself. 8. Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector, close to Capernaum. Matthew 9:9: As Jesus passed on from there [Capernaum], he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 9. Capernaum was one of the three towns Christ cursed because of their unbelief in Him. Matthew 11:23–24: And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom than for you. Faith Lesson from Capernaum 1. Christ astonished the large crowds who followed him because He taught with authority. He was completely different from all other teachers because He was God in the flesh. Are we astonished today as we read Christ’s teachings in His Word? 2. Christ healed multitudes of people in and around Capernaum. He also showed He was God as He forgave their sins. Forgiving sins is something only God can do. Do we believe Christ was God in the flesh and full deity? 3. Christ marveled at the great faith of a Roman Centurion. Do we trust God in such a way that He would marvel at our faith? 4. Unfortunately, Christ cursed the town of Capernaum because of their unbelief in Him. After all they had seen, and after many of them had been healed by Jesus, they still were filled with unbelief. Unbelief is, therefore, a sin. Do we have unbelief in Christ and who He claimed to be? Do we also have unbelief in trusting Him in our daily lives when things don’t seem to make sense? ​ ​

  • History of the Walls & Gates of Jerusalem: Maps, Videos |

    History of Jerusalem's Walls & Gates Photo Gallery Places of Interest History of the Walls of Jerusalem The First Walls Were Built by the Canaanites Long before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the Jebusites lived securely within the walls of Jerusalem. The city was blessed with natural valleys around it that made it easy to defend. The city walls and its fortress provided additional protection. David Conquered the Jebusite City and Enlarged the City Walls God was with David and allowed him to capture Jerusalem from the Jebusites. Later, he built stronger and additional walls to fortify the city, and it would become known as the City of David. 2 Samuel 5:6–10: And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” 7 Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. 8 And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David's soul.” Therefore, it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” 9 And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him. Solomon Added to the Walls of the City After David died, Solomon built the Temple Mount Platform on Mt. Moriah upon the threshing floor of Araunah. Then he erected the temple upon it and added walls from the City of David to encompass the Temple Mount and temple. Hezekiah’s Broad Wall Expansion of the Western Hill In 701 BC, the Assyrians, headed by Sennacherib invaded Judah, the Southern Kingdom of Israel, because of their disobedience to God. According to an Assyrian stele found in the ruins of the royal palace of Nineveh, Sennacherib conquered 46 cities in Judea prior to attempting to conquer Jerusalem. God allowed most of Judah to be conquered but protected Jerusalem because of Hezekiah’s obedience to Him. As Hezekiah began to prepare for what he knew would be a terrible siege by a merciless Assyrian war machine, he had to figure out how to protect his people. This meant building new defenses. During the time of Hezekiah, Jerusalem’s urban population had grown far outside the old walls of the city and were unprotected. King Hezekiah fortified the existing walls of the city and built a new wall in a rapid manner to protect those living outside the city walls. 2 Chronicles 32:5: He set to work resolutely and built up all the wall that was broken down and raised towers upon it, and outside it he built another wall, and he strengthened the Millo in the city of David. He also made weapons and shields in abundance. Hezekiah’s new wall measured about 22 feet wide (7 m.) by 25 feet high (8 m.). It was a massive undertaking and measured around 2.5 miles (4 km.) in length. A portion of the wall was discovered in the 1970s by Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad and dated to the reign of King Hezekiah (716–687 BC). It was called “Hezekiah’s Broad Wall” by archaeologists because of its width. Hezekiah also built a water tunnel in order to keep the water from the Gihon Spring inside the city walls so the Assyrians couldn’t cut off the water supply (2 Chron. 32:3–4). The curving tunnel is 583 yards (533 m.) long and has a fall of 12 inches (30 cm.) between its two ends. It was chiseled from both ends to the middle at the same time. It took the water from the Gihon Spring under the mountain to the Pool of Siloam below the city. Today, this water tunnel is known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel. ​ Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls When the Babylonians conquered and destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, they also destroyed the walls and burned the gates with fire. However, God sovereignly moved in the heart of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, to allow Nehemiah to rebuild the walls. Under his leadership and with a small Jewish population, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt to dimensions similar to Solomon’s day. Nehemiah 1:1–3: Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire." The rebuilding and repair of the wall was a miracle. Nehemiah 6:15–16: So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. ​ Hasmonean Wall Addition The Jews gained their independence from the Seleucid Empire in 164 BC, led by the Maccabees and Hasmoneans. During this time, known as the Hasmonean period (164–63 BC), Jerusalem was rebuilt along with its walls. It was built to dimensions similar to King Hezekiah’s time. King Herod Addition ~ Jerusalem of Jesus’ Day In 19 BC, the master-builder, King Herod the Great, began his life's most ambitious building project. He undertook the rebuilding of the temple and the Temple Mount on a massive scale. He took the expansion of the Hasmonean Temple Mount and extended it on three sides, to the north, west, and south. This expansion also included some additional wall construction on the north side of the city walls. The archaeology of the Temple Mount today confirms this enlargement. It would be this city layout that would exist during the time of Christ. Agrippa I Wall Addition According to the Jewish historian Josephus, K ing Agrippa I (41–44 AD) began the construction of a third city wall of Jerusalem to protect a new quarter that grew north beyond the first and second city walls. Agrippa stopped work on the wall after only laying the foundation out of fear that Roman emperor Claudius would suspect he was planning a revolt. Jewish rebels later completed this wall in haste leading up to the First Jewish Revolt (66–70 AD). This would be the largest area the city walls would encompass. The City Walls Today In the 16th century, Suleiman decided to rebuild the city walls on much of the remains of the ancient walls that already existed. However, much of the southern part of the city walls were omitted in the new construction. They were completed in 1538 and are the walls that exist today.

  • Pater Noster Church: Lord's Prayer, End Times Explained |

    Pater Noster (Eleona) Church Photo Gallery Places of Interest Pater Noster (Eleona) Church ​ Location 1. The Church of Pater Noster is located on the top of the Mount of Olives, just below the Chapel of the Ascension. ​ 2. It was first named the Church of Eleona, which means "olive grove." Then, later, in around 1100 AD, its name was changed by the Crusaders to Pater Noster Church, which means "Our Father" because it refers to the beginning of the Lord's Prayer. 3. It is part of a Carmelite Monastery, also known as the Sanctuary of the Eleona (Greek for olive grove). ​ 4. It is the believed place where Christ taught about the Lord's Prayer, gave the Olivet Discourse as found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, and ascended back to heaven as found in Acts 1:9-11. ​ 5. The location of the ascension of Christ to heaven was moved to the top of the Mount of Olives (where the Chapel of Ascension is located today) in the 4th century as it was the believed site it actually took place. Historical Background 1. Pater Noster means “Our Father” in Latin. ​ 2. Soon after Christ ascended back to heaven, early Christians venerated this site because of its significance. 3. Writing in around 318 AD, Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, who was an eyewitness to this site, writes: "According to the common and received account, the feet of our Lord and Savior, himself the Word of God, truly understood . . . upon the Mount of Olives at the cave that is shown there. On the ridge of the Mount of Olives, he prayed and handed on to his disciples the mysteries of the end, and after this, he made his ascension into heaven as Luke teaches in the Acts of the Apostles." ​ 4. Around 330 AD, a church was commissioned and built by Constantine on the site marked by Helena, the mother of Constantine. It was one of the numerous churches constructed by Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor. Some of these churches include the Church of the Nativity, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Church of Eleona (later named Pater Noster by the Crusaders), a Church at Mamre in Hebron, a church at the Shepherds Fields in Bethlehem, and others. The church was built in three levels on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, with stairs connecting each level. The church was built on the highest level and shaped like a long rectangular hall with two rows of columns. Its apse was on the east side, facing the rising sun. The remains of the apse can still be seen today by going down some stairs into the grotto. The center level was an atrium, a colonnaded forecourt, and the lowest level was on the west side, consisting of a portico (porch) erected on six columns. Only its foundations were found during the excavations in the 19th century, including the crypt (cave), which was located under the eastern edge of the church. 5. The Byzantine church was built over a cave, which according to tradition, was the place Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. 6. The Persians destroyed the church in 614 AD, but the memory of Jesus’ teaching continued to be associated with it. Some of the Byzantine church remains can be seen in the backyard outside of the present courtyard. 7. When the Crusaders arrived, the site was associated specifically with the Lord's Prayer, so the Crusaders rebuilt part of the church in 1099. 8. In 1851, the remaining stones of the 4th-century church were sold for tombstones in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Kidron Valley). ​ 9. The site was acquired by Princess Aurelia Bossi de la Tour d'Auvergne (1809–1889) in the second half of the 19th century, and a search for the cave mentioned by early pilgrims began. In 1868, she built a cloister and founded a Carmelite convent in 1872. A convent church was erected in the 1870s. ​ 10. In 1910, the foundations of the ancient church that once stood over the venerated cave were finally found, partly stretching beneath the modern cloister. The convent was moved nearby, and reconstruction of the Byzantine church began in 1915. The half-restored church has the exact dimensions as the original, and the garden outside the three doors outlines the open-aired area. 11. The reconstruction was stopped in 1927 when funds ran out, and the renewed Church of Eleona remains unfinished. The French architect Marcel Favier, who was put in charge of rebuilding the ancient church, arrived in Jerusalem in September 1926. ​ 12. The tomb Princess Aurelia Bossi prepared for herself during her lifetime stands at the entrance of the modern church. She died in Florence in 1889, and her remains were brought to the church in 1957, according to her last wish. ​ 13. The current church is overseen by the Carmelite Cloistered Sisters. 14. It is very likely that Jesus prayed in this vicinity because He had just visited Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ house in Bethany, a short distance away. 15. Jesus also regularly prayed on mountaintops, so the top of the Mount of Olives would be a natural fit. Places of Interest 1. The church has 140 large ceramic plaques containing the Lord’s Prayer in many languages. 2. The cave where it is believed Jesus taught about prayer is in an enclosed courtyard in front of the church and down a few stairs. The cave was partially collapsed when discovered in 1910. 3. To the left of the church's south door is an area paved with mosaics and identified as a baptistery. 4. The backyard of the church is where the original Byzantine church was located. ​ 5. The apse of the Byzantine Church can be seen today. 6. Bethany, the town of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. 7. Top of the Mount of Olives 8. Chapel of the Ascension 9. Old City Jerusalem The Lord’s Prayer in the Bible In the New Testament, the Lord’s Prayer is mentioned two times. The first and longer form is found in Matthew 6 and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. The shorter form is in Luke 11 and is a response given by Jesus to a request by one of his disciples to teach them to pray as John taught his disciples. ​ Apparently, according to Luke 10:38-42, Jesus came to this place to pray when He was staying at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, which is located nearby, to the southeast. 1. Jesus was asked to teach His disciples how to pray. Luke 11:1–4: It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” 2. Christ gave examples of how we should pray. Luke 11:5–13: Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9 So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” 3. Jesus also taught about how to pray in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:5–15: And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Olivet Discourse in the Bible The Olivet Discourse, as found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, is believed to have occurred here. In these passages, Jesus talked about the events leading up to His second coming and what we should expect. ​ Matthew 24:1-31 Jesus left the temple area and was going on His way when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 But He responded and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” 3 And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many people. 6 And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 And at that time many will fall away, and they will [g]betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will rise up and mislead many people. 12 And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. ​ Difficult Times Will Come 15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place—let the reader understand— 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get things out of his house. 18 And whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19 But woe to those women who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 Moreover, pray that when you flee, it will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no [q]life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘He is over here,’ do not believe him. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and will provide great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. Christ's Glorious Return 29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet blast, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. ​ Christ's Ascension to Heaven Acts 1:9-11 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were watching, and a cloud took Him up, out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, then behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, 11 and they said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” ​ Faith Lesson from the Lord’s Prayer 1. Jesus prayed regularly and was in constant communion with the Father. Do we do the same? 2. We should not pray repetitious phrases but should pray in a sincere and heartfelt manner. 3. The Lord’s Prayer is not an exact phrase we must pray but gives us principles of how to pray. 4. Jesus taught that we should be persistent in prayer. 5. Jesus taught that He is a good loving Father who delights in answering prayer when it is best for us and His sovereign will. 6. Jesus taught that if we expect God to forgive us, we should forgive others as well. Do we have people in our lives we need to forgive? 7. Do we realize Christ's return will be a real event and are we ready for His return? ​

  • Masada, Israel: Natural Fortress by Dead Sea, David, Saul, Herod, Jewish Zealots Take Their Lives |

    Masada Photo Gallery Places of Interest Masada ​ Location 1. Masada is found at the southern end of the Dead Sea, about 40 miles (64 km.) southeast of Jerusalem. 2. It's a natural flat mountain that rises up from the valley floor some 1,000 ft. (305 m.). It's like a huge column with sheer cliffs on every side that makes it virtually unreachable. 3. Ancient Gomorrah lies at the base of Masada and ancient Sodom is south of Masada about 14 miles (23 km.). 4. The base of Masada is in a desert region, about 1,000 ft. (305 m.) below sea level. 5. The word Masada means fortress. Historical Background Leading up to the Fall of Masada 1. Masada was one of 3 fortified fortresses King Herod built for pleasure purposes and from which to protect his territories. He built Masada in about 24 BC. 2. Masada was fortified with elaborate water cisterns that were fed by diverting water from the nearby mountains. It even had swimming pools and many of the luxuries life afforded at that time. 3. In addition to ample water storage, Masada had 15 storehouses of food, enough for 10,000 people for 10 years. 4. In 66 BC, events began to unfold in Israel that caused the Jews to rebel against Roman rule. This revolt began in Caesarea Maritime. 5. In 66-70 AD, when the nation was in revolt, Jewish Zealots who had fled from Jerusalem and the surrounding areas took the fortress of Masada from Roman occupation. They were national Freedom Fighters who opposed Roman rule. In their conquest, they gained possession of all the stored food and water at Masada. 6. Between 66–70 AD, Rome conquered all the northern cities of Israel. 7. In 70 AD, under the command of Titus, the Romans totally destroyed Jerusalem in a bloody battle that lasted well over 4 months. Josephus (Jewish Historian) claims that 1.1 million Jews lost their lives in this battle, and another 97,000 were captured and enslaved. The temple was leveled in the siege at this time as well. 8. In 73 AD, there had amassed a total of 967 Jews, counting their families, at Masada. They were under the command of Eleazar Ben-Yair, a Jewish Zealot Freedom Fighter. 9. After conquering Jerusalem and most of Israel, the Romans headed south to conquer the southern strongholds around the Dead Sea region and Masada. 10. Masada was the last stronghold of the Israelites that existed, and the Romans amassed their troops there in the fall of 73 AD. Places of Interest 1. Cistern 2. Living Quarters 3. Ritual Baths 4. Small Palace 1 5. Southern Fort 6. Pool 7. Small Palace 2 8. Small Palace 3 9. Western Palace 10. Byzantine Church 11. Cable Car Access 12. Eastern Gate 13. Storerooms 14. Baths 15. Northern Palace 16. Officer’s Quarters 17. Administrative Building 18. Western Gate 19. Synagogue 20. Siege Ramp 21. En Gedi 22. Dead Sea 23. Ancient Gomorrah 24. Ancient Sodom Masada in the Bible 1. After a confrontation between King Saul and David close to En Gedi, David likely hid out on top of Masada afterward. 1 Samuel 24:22: And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold [fortress]. 2. Because of Israel’s rejection of Christ as their Messiah, Christ foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. This destruction occurred between 66-70 AD. Luke 19:41–44: And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation . 3. Zechariah prophesied about Jerusalem’s destruction as well. Zechariah 14:1–2: Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. The Fall of Masada 1. In 73 AD, the 10th Roman Army Legion, totaling around 8 ,000 soldiers and 6,000 Jewish slaves under a commander by the name of Silva, arrived at the base of Masada. 2. This Roman legion first built a wall around the base of Masada, much of it by using Jewish slave labor. 3. Next, they built 8 camps around the base of the mountain. The remains of most of these camps can still be seen today. Silva set up his headquarters at the northwest camp. 4. After several months of unsuccessful engagement with the Jewish Zealots atop Masada, the Romans decided to build a massive siege ramp out of dirt on the west side of Masada, using Israelite slave labor to help in the process. 5. As the siege ramp grew closer to the top of Masada, the Romans primarily used Jewish slave labor so that their fellow Jews on Masada wouldn’t shoot arrows and throw spears at their own countrymen. 6. After several months of building the siege ramp, the Romans finally reached the top of Masada and severely damaged the exterior wall. 7. When the Jewish Zealots realized they were in grave danger of being conquered, they built another interior wall just inside the exterior wall using wood beams from many of their buildings. They layered the beams with earth in between in order to fortify the new wall. 8. The Romans set this inner wall on fire and were now poised to enter. However, this all happened late at night, so the Romans decided to wait until the next morning to make their attack. 9. Eleazar Ben-Yair, the commander of the Zealots, gave an impassioned speech about how God had not created them to be slaves and about what would happen to them if they surrendered to the Romans. This is what he proposed: The Romans are angry after the long battle and will kill most of us by torture. Those who are not killed will be mistreated and forced to be slaves. Our women will be raped before our eyes and violated, and our children will be tortured and forced to be slaves as well. The only option we have as free people is to take our own lives. In the synagogue, the men gathered for a special meeting and drew lots picking out 10 courageous men who knew about killing and understood how to die. Then every father went home and killed their wives and children. Then all the men gathered again together and 10 of these men in the group killed the remaining men. Then one man killed the other 9, and then the last man killed himself. 10. On May 3, 74 AD, after 7 months or so of long battled weariness, the Romans entered the top of Masada and stood in awe-stricken silence as they beheld the mass suicide of the Jews before them. The Zealots chose to die by suicide rather than be conquered by the Romans to be abused or killed. Faith Lesson from Masada 1. While we don’t endorse and believe the Jewish Zealots should have committed suicide as it’s only God’s place to take a person’s life, we do understand these Zealots' decision. 2. While some of the Zealots may have believed in Christ and were devoted servants to God, the Jewish nation as a whole, and their leaders, had largely rejected Christ as their Messiah. As a result, Christ spoke judgment upon the nation in Luke 19:41–44. 3. Almost every instance in which a country falls, it’s due mainly to the decisions of its leaders. 4. The sad reality is that the righteous always suffer at the hands of the wicked. 5. Today, it’s the same; while there may be many righteous people in a country, God will still judge it because of the sinful and immoral decisions its leaders and the majority of the people make. 6. Israel didn’t return to be a nation again until 1948, and this was due to God’s sovereign plan for them. God prophesied that He would bring them back again to be a nation and it’s a miracle that after almost 2,000 years, this has been fulfilled. This is unheard of in the history of any civilization. 7. However, the price Israel paid for their rejection of Christ cost them dearly and should be a warning to us today as well.

  • Kadesh Barnea: Crises of Faith for the Israelites |

    Kadesh Barnea Photo Gallery Places of Interest Kadesh Barnea Location 1. Kadesh Barnea is located on the southern border area between Israel and Egypt. 2. It’s about 31 miles (51 km.) east of the Mediterranean Ocean and about 33 miles (53 km.) southwest of Beer Sheba. 3. Kadesh Barnea was the original place where God intended the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. 4. Today, a community lives at Kadesh Barnea, and the town retains its same name. Historical Background 1. At Kadesh Barnea, one of the most tragic events in Israel’s history happened. 2. It’s here they rebelled against God’s plan for them to enter the Promised Land. As a result, they were severely judged for their lack of faith and condemned to wander in the wilderness 40 years until those 20 years, and older, died. 3. The Israelites had seen many spectacular miracles. They saw 10 supernatural plagues God sent upon the Egyptians. They witnessed the first Passover wherein God spared the Israelites as they put blood from a lamb around the doors of their dwellings. They saw God open the hearts of the Egyptians so that they gave them many possessions. They experienced supernatural help to cross the Sinai Peninsula on eagle’s wings to reach the Aqaba finger of the Red Sea. They beheld a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide and protect them. They experienced the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea (10.5 miles wide, 17 km.) in which they were approximately 2,500 ft. (762 m.) under sea level in the midst of the depths and mighty waters of the sea (Isa. 51:10). They saw God supernaturally provide water out of a rock at Rephidim. God helped the Israelites supernaturally defeat the Amalekites as Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses. They stood in fear and trembling as God sent fire and smoke upon Mt. Sinai when he gave them the Ten Commandments written on stone by His own finger. They received supernatural provisions of Manna and quail in the desert. 4. The Israelites had been bathed in miracles for well over a year from the time they left Egypt until the time they reached Kadesh Barnea. 5. They had seen enough miracles to be able to trust God for anything. 6. However, despite all the miracles they had witnessed, they viewed God as too weak to help them enter the Promised Land and rebelled against Him. Places of Interest 1. Kadesh Barnea 2. Egypt 3. Sinai Peninsula 4. Aqaba Finger of the Red Sea crossing 5. Rephidim 6. Mt. Sinai 7. Israel Kadesh Barnea in the Bible 1. Twelve spies were sent into the Promised Land from Kadesh Barnea to give a report. Numbers 13:1–3: Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, 2 “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.” 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel. 2. Ten Spies gave a report of the difficulty in possessing the land. Numbers 13:25–29: When they returned from spying out the land , at the end of forty days, 26 they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh ; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Thus, they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.” 3. Two spies (Joshua and Caleb) give a report of faith. Caleb is the spokesman. Numbers 13:30: Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” 4. The 10 spies convince the people that they are unable to possess the land. Numbers 13:31–33: But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us .” 32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. 33 There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” 5. The Israelites rebel against God and decide to return to Egypt as slaves again. Numbers 14:1–4: Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt .” 6. Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb plead with the people not to rebel against God’s will for them. Numbers 14:5–10: Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. 6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. 7. God threatens to destroy the Israelites and make a great nation out of Moses’ offspring. Numbers 14:11–12: The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? 12 I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.” 8. Moses prays on behalf of the people (Num. 14:13–19). 9. God forgives the Israelites but still judges them. Numbers 14:20–38: So the Lord said, “I have pardoned them according to your word ; 21 but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. 22 Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, 23 shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. 24 But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it. 25 Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys; turn tomorrow and set out to the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.” 26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; 29 your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. 30 Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey—I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. 35 I, the Lord, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.’” 36 As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing out a bad report concerning the land, 37 even those men who brought out the very bad report of the land died by a plague before the Lord. 38 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive out of those men who went to spy out the land. Faith Lesson from Kadesh Barnea 1. The reality of the judgment of God is sobering. God forgave the Israelites, but He did not remove the consequences of their disobedience. We frequently find this in Scripture, i.e., Moses striking the rock and David and his sin with Bathsheba. 2. There were approximately 1.2 million Israelites 20 years old and above who died in the desert over a 40-year period. This means there were 30,000 funerals per year, 82 funerals a day, and 7 funerals an hour. 3. God has written these examples in the Bible for our instruction today. Romans 15:4: For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction , so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 1 Corinthians 10:1–13: For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come . Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 4. Do I grumble and complain about God’s provision, trials, or difficulties He has sent my way? 5. Do I have faith that God can help me in whatever He has called me to do and be? ​

  • Bethany: Site of the Tomb of Lazarus, Home of Mary, Martha, Lazarus, & Simon the Leper |

    Bethany ~ Tomb of Lazarus Photo Gallery Places of Interest Bethany ~ Tomb of Lazarus Location 1. Today, Bethany is located in the modern town of Al-Eizariya or Al-Azariya (Arabic for the place of Lazarus). 2. It was a village in Judea about two miles (3.2 km.) southeast of Jerusalem. 3. It was situated on the well-traveled road to Jericho. 4. Some believe Bethany was more like a modern subdivision of Jerusalem rather than an entire town. 5. The edges of Bethany reached to the Mount of Olives and also bordered Bethphage, a suburb of Jerusalem. ​ Historical Background 1. Archaeological excavations between 1949 and 1953, directed by Sylvester J. Saller of the Franciscans, have unearthed evidence of Christian places of worship erected near the tomb. 2. Four ancient churches were discovered to the east of the tomb of Lazarus, the earliest dating to the 4th or 5th century AD. Rock-cut tombs and the remains of houses, wine presses, cisterns, and silos were also discovered. 3. Pottery finds dating to the Persian and Hellenistic periods also provide evidence of the authenticity of this site. 4. O ngoing excavations at a site continue around the area of the House of Martha and Mary. ​ 5. The name Bethany is translated by some to mean “house of figs,” as there are many fig trees and palms in the area. On the other hand, o thers translate its meaning as “house of misery,” believing that Bethany was a designated place for those with contagious diseases. Places of Interest 1. Tomb of Lazarus 2. House of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus 3. House of Simon the Leper 4. Ancient churches built over the Tomb of Lazarus 5. Bethany 6. Bethphage 7. Mt. of Olives 8. Old City Jerusalem 9. Old Jericho to Jerusalem Road ​ Bethany I n the Bible 1. Bethany was the place Jesus taught a major lesson to Martha, the sister of Mary. Luke 10:38-42: Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village [Bethany]; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 And she had a sister called Mary , who was also seated at the Lord’s feet, and was listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do the serving by myself? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary; for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” 2. Bethany is where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. John 11:1-5: Now a certain man was sick: Lazarus of Bethany , the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 And it was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not meant for death, but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 (Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and Lazarus.) ​ John 11:17-27: So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen stadia away [2 miles, 3.2 km.]; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them about their brother. 20 So then Martha, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise from the dead.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, and He who comes into the world.” ​ John 11:38-44: So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 But I knew that You always hear Me; nevertheless, because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out !” 44 Out came the man who had died, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 3. Bethany was also where Simon the Leper lived and where Mary anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. John 12:1-3: Therefore, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a dinner there, and Martha was serving; and Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3 Mary then took a pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. ​ This event happened at the home of Simon the Leper. Mark 14:3-9: While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper , He was reclining at the table, and a woman came with an alabaster vial of very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke the vial and poured the perfume over His head. 4 But there were some indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5 For this perfume could have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a good deed for Me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9 Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the entire world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.” 4. Jesus cursed a fig tree on His way to Bethany from the temple where He had been ministering. Matthew 21:17-22: And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany , and spent the night there. 18 Now in the early morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves alone; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered. 20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive it all.” 5. The Triumphal Entry began close to Bethany. Luke 19:29: When He approached Bethphage and Bethany , near the mountain that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent left and found it just as He had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and they threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 Now as He was going, they were spreading their cloaks on the road. 37 And as soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, 38 shouting: “Blessed is the King, the One who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 6. When in Jerusalem, Jesus regularly stayed in Bethany. Most likely at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Mark 11:11: And Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple area; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late. 7. While Acts 1:9-12 says Jesus ascended back to heaven from the Mount of Olives, Luke states it happened around Bethany. There is no contradiction, as Bethany was considered part of the Mount of Olives. Luke 24:50-53: And He led them out as far as Bethany , and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising God. ​ Faith Lesson from Bethany 1. Martha was a busy person who worked hard but neglected spiritual devotion and eyes to see what was most important in life. What about us? Are we so busy that we neglect our devotion to Christ? 2. In Bethany, Christ raised Lazarus from the dead and claimed to be the resurrection and the life for those who believe in Him. What about us? Are we right with the Lord and have the hope that we will be resurrected to live with a new, glorified body with Christ for eternity in heaven? 3. Mary showed her love and devotion to Jesus by anointing Him with very expensive ointment and wiping His feet with her hair. What about us? How do we show our love and devotion to Jesus? ​ 4. Jesus cursed a fig tree, and it died. He told us that if we have faith and don't doubt, we can move mountains. What about us? Do we have faith and believe God can do great things when we serve and trust Him? In what areas of my life do I lack faith and have fear?

  • Beth-Shean (Beit Shean, Bet She'an): King Saul's Downfall, Roman Decapolis City |

    Beth-Shean Photo Gallery Places of Interest Beth-Shean ​ Location 1. Beth-Shean, also known as Beit Shean or Bet She’an, was a major biblical and secular city for thousands of years. 2. It’s located in the center of several main crossroads between the Jordan Valley and the Jezreel (Yizreel) Valley. 3. It’s about 15 miles (25 km.) south of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee and about 35 miles (55 km.) east of the Mediterranean Sea. ​ 4. It’s located on the Harod Stream, which provides it with much water. This Harod Stream is the same stream that originates at Harod Spring, just west of here (15 miles or 20 km.) and is where Gideon chose 300 men under God’s command to defeat the Midianites and other armies. ​ 5. The main entrance faced the east, as did most other major cities and structures in ancient times. In fact, the word "orientation" comes from the word “orient,” which means east. Because creation, the beginning civilizations, and the sun rose from the east, to be oriented was to position yourself focused on the east. Today, maps use the north for orientation, but in ancient days, maps used the east for orientation purposes. Historical Background 1. Beth-Shean was a key city long before the arrival of the Israelites because of its location. In the late Canaanite period (1600–1400 BC), the Egyptians had political control over the land of Canaan. 2. Later, around 1000 BC, the Philistines also ruled the city for a time because they hung the body of King Saul on its walls after defeating the armies of Israel in the Battle of Gilboa. 3. When King David reigned (1010–970 BC), he conquered Beth-Shean, becoming part of Israel’s territories. 4. Later, in 732 BC, the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III, destroyed Beth-Shean after defeating the northern Kingdom of Israel. 5. In the 4th century BC, Hellenistic (Greek) new settlers established a city-state (polis) in Beth-Shean. During the Hellenistic period, the city was named Nisa Scythopolis. 6. In 63 BC, the city was conquered by the Romans and became one of the cities of the Decapolis – a group of cities with a Hellenistic-Roman cultural character, most of them in Transjordan. Beth-Shean was one of the key cities of the Roman Empire in this area south of Galilee. 7. Beth-Shean was not far from Nazareth, and it’s very likely Jesus, as a young man, worked here with His father as a builder. 8. Undoubtedly, Christ ministered here and walked by it on a regular basis. 9. Beth-Shean was destroyed in 749 AD due to an enormous earthquake. 10. The biblical tel of Beth-Shean has around 20 layers of civilizations that have been discovered. Places of Interest 1. Entrance ​ 2. Old Testament Beth-Shean ​ 3. Egyptian Governor’s House ​ 4. Tree marking the place where Saul’s body was hanged. ​ 5. Bathhouse – Often, it was a place of prostitution. Therefore, Christians avoided places like these. ​ 6. Theater – Often, immoral and indecent acts took place there. Therefore, early Christians avoided them and were persecuted as a result. ​ 7. Cardo (Palladius Street) – Comes from the word “Cardiac,” which means the center street of the city. ​ 8. Sigma - A mosaic depicting Tyche, Goddess of the city. ​ 9. Pillars ​ 10. Shopping stores ​ 11. Nymphaeum – Public Fountain ​ 12. Marketplace (Agora) – Paul would be dragged into places like this during his visits to cities in the Roman Empire (Acts 16:19). ​ 13. Temple – Paul spoke against the gods of these temples in each Gentile city in which he ministered (Acts 14:13). ​ 14. Northern Street ​ 15. Valley Street ​ 16. Silvanus Street ​ 17. Eastern Bathhouse ​ 18. Public Bathrooms ​ 19. Sacred Area ​ 20. City Gate during Greek and Roman times. Beth-Shean in the Bible 1. Beth-Shean is mentioned in the division and conquering of the Promised Land. Joshua 17:11: Also in Issachar and in Asher, Manasseh had Beth-Shean and its villages. 2. The Canaanites were a strong and fortified people. Joshua 17:16: The people of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-Shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel. 3. The tribe of Manasseh was not able to conquer the city of Beth-Shean and its villages. Judges 1:27: Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-Shean and its villages. 4. The major biblical event about Beth-Shean has to do with the life of King Saul. As a result of Saul’s persistent disobedience and presuming upon God’s grace, his life was taken by the Lord, and his body, along with his sons, were hanged here on the walls of the biblical Beth-Shean, which is the hill above the lower Beth-Shean . Saul’s Disobedient Life 1. Saul had incredible jealousy and tried to kill David for many years. Scripture records many times that Saul tried to kill David: 1 Samuel 18:11, 1 Samuel 18:25, 1 Samuel 19:9–15, 1 Samuel 20:31–33, 1 Samuel 23:9, and 1 Samuel 23:25–26. Saul even gave his daughter, Michal, in marriage to David as a means to ensnare and kill him. ​ 2. When Saul felt pressured during a battle, he offered sacrifices that only a priest was allowed to do. 1 Samuel 13:5-7: And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, 7 and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. 3. Saul's Unlawful Sacrifice. 1 Samuel 13:8–14: He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. 11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” 13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 4. Saul failed to obey God by not destroying God’s enemies. 1 Sam. 15: 1–3: And Samuel said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD. 2 Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." 5. Samuel confronts Saul’s disobedience. 1 Samuel 15:22–23: And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king." 6. In a heated battle with the Philistines, Saul disobeyed God and visited a witch of Endor. 1 Samuel 28:15–19: Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore, I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” 16 And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.” 7. As a result of Saul’s repeated disobedience, God took his life. 1 Samuel 31:1-13: Now the Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi - shua , the sons of Saul. 3 The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me." But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore, Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. 5 And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 6 Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. 7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them. 8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. 11 But when the inhabitants of Jabesh- gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days. Faith Lesson from Beth-Shean 1. Saul cared more about what people thought of him than what God thought of him. 2. He made big decisions without consulting the Lord. ​ 3. Saul always had an excuse for his sin and disobedience. ​ 4. We need to realize that obedience delights God more than asking forgiveness. ​ 5. Rebellion & arrogance are the same as witchcraft because both attitudes fail to obey God and instead, seeks their own will and pleasure. ​ 6. Saul presumed upon God’s grace. In other words, he believed he could disobey God, that God would just forgive him, and there would be no consequences. This attitude proved to be dangerous, sinful, and cost him his life and ministry. 7. Are we committed to submitting to God or do we set ourselves up as our own authority like Saul?

  • Tel Gaza: One of the 5 Philistine Stronghold Cities |

    Biblical Gaza Photo Gallery Places of Interest Gaza Location 1. Gaza is located south of Ashkelon and Ashdod, it also is on the Mediterranean Ocean and was one of the cities of the Philistine Pentapolis. It is the southernmost city. Today, virtually no ruins remain from this city as it has been destroyed in later years due to what appears to be political reasons. ​ 2. It was on a hill rising about 200 ft. (61 m.) above the valley floor. There were sand dunes between it and the sea, which was about 2 miles away. 3. Today, because ancient Gaza lies in the Gaza Strip, where land is scarce and Israeli interests are not valued, the remains of ancient Gaza are practically nonexistent. ​ Gaza in the Bible ​ 1. In the conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua and the Israelites failed to conquer Gaza, along with several other main cities of the Philistines (Josh. 10:41, 11:22). ​ 2. Later, the tribe of Judah captured Gaza but couldn’t control it for long, and it fell back into the hands of the Philistines (Judg. 1:18). ​ 3. Samson had many encounters with the Philistines. In one encounter, Samson carried heavy gates from Gaza all the way to the Hebron area, a distance of around 42 miles (72 km.). Judges 16:1: Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute there, and had relations with her. Judges 16:3: Now Samson lay asleep until midnight, and at midnight he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two doorposts, and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron . ​ 4. Samson met his death in Gaza. Judges 16:28-30: Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed outwards powerfully, so that the house fell on the governors and all the people who were in it. And the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed during his lifetime. ​ 5. After the Philistines defeated the Israelites in battle and captured the Ark of the Covenant during the priesthood of Eli and his two wicked sons, Gaza, along with the other main cities of the Philistines, sent a trespass offering to God when the ark was returned to the Israelites at Beth-Shemesh (1 Sam. 6:17–18). 6. When Hezekiah reigned, he defeated and pursued the Philistines to Gaza but did not seem to have captured the city. However, the Assyrians later captured it in 720 BC. 7. In the New Testament, Philip was sent to Gaza to evangelize the Ethiopian eunuch. Acts 8:26: But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Get ready and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza .” ​ Faith Lesson from Gaza 1. The Israelites failed to conquer the people of Gaza and as a result, they caused continual problems for Israel. In the same way, if we fail to be victorious over sin and problems in our lives we will continue to suffer the consequences as well. 2. God used Samson to reveal Himself as God to those of Gaza. Therefore, they knew who the true God was and had no excuse for rejecting Him. ​ 3. Unfortunately, Samson failed in many ways to fulfill the mission and calling God intended for him. He met his death in Gaza as a defeated, blind servant instead of a strong victorious, and successful servant. ​ 4. What about us? Are we victorious successful servants of God or do we live weak defeated lives? God gives us all the power and grace we need to be victorious. Romans 8:37: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

  • Sea of Galilee Overview: Sites, Videos, Talks, Tours |

    Sea of Galilee Overview Photo Gallery Places of Interest Sea of Galilee ​ Location 1. The Sea of Galilee is located in the northern part of Israel, known as the Galilee region. Therefore, it’s called the Sea of Galilee. 2. It is also referred to in Scripture by other names like Ginnosar, Lake of Gennesar, Gennesaret, Sea of Chinneroth, Kinneret, and Sea of Tiberias. 3. It’s about 70 miles (115 Km.) north of Jerusalem and about 27 miles (45 Km.) east of the Mediterranean Sea. 4. It's a freshwater lake about 8 miles (13 km.) wide by about 12 miles (19 km.) long, and 150 ft. (46 m.) deep. 5. It's located about 700 ft. (213 m.) below sea level. 6. It's a key freshwater source for much of Israel. 7. Because of its location, storms can arise quickly and drop down onto its surface without much warning. 8. The Sea of Galilee was located on a main crossroad of the known world during Christ's ministry on earth. This international highway was called the “Via Maris” (Way of the Sea), and linked travel between the three continents of, Africa, Asia, and Europe. 9. Travelers from these 3 continents were forced to use this route as there were few other options for traveling to and from each continent. This was so because there was a desert to the east that was impassible due to lack of water, and the Mediterranean Sea was located to the west which was not a realistic option for travel as it was expensive and ships were scarce. 10. The Via Maris passed right along the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and there are old ruins and markers showing its existence. 11. The north shore of the Sea of Galilee was even more traveled than the roads and routes leading through Jerusalem. 12. Oftentimes, we might think Christ was hiding out somewhere in a remote location. However, just the opposite was true. He chose the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (and Capernaum was located at a key place along this route) as a center stage so His message would reach as many people as possible in the world. 13. By spending most of His ministry time in the northern Galilee area, Christ’s miracles would travel by word of mouth to the ends of the earth. This laid the groundwork and sowed the seeds of the Gospel to the rest of the known world so the evangelization work done later by the apostles would be easier and more acceptable to those who heard the message about Christ. Historical Background 1. Abraham entered the Promised Land through the gateway of the Sea of Galilee when he first journeyed from Ur of the Chaldeans. 2. In Matthew 4 we find that Jesus established his home ministry base in the town of Capernaum which is located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. 3. At least 6 of the 12 disciples were from right around the Sea of Galilee. These were Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, and Philip. 4. According to Acts 1:11, the rest of the disciples were from the Galilee area as well. Places of Interest (Please See Above Map) Listed clockwise, starting at Tiberias 1. Tiberias 2. Mount Arbel – Likely place the Great Commission was given. 3. Magdala – Hometown of Mary Magdalene, from whom Christ cast out 7 demons. 4. Gennesaret (Ginasar) Yigal Allon Center – Jesus Boat Museum 5. Calling of the disciples. 6. Tel Chinnereth (Kinneret) – Identified as the Biblical city listed by Joshua as one of the fortified cities in the Naftali tribe region (Josh 19). 7. Restoration of Peter at Tabgha – Church of the Primacy of Saint Peter 8. The traditional site of the feeding of the 5,000 at Tabgha – Church of the Multiplication 9. Mount of Beatitudes – Place from where Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount. 10. Chorazin – One of the 3 towns Jesus cursed because of their unbelief. 11. Sower's Cove – Likely place Christ preached the Parables of the Kingdom sermon. 12. Capernaum - Homebase of Jesus, Franciscan Site 13. Capernaum - Homebase of Jesus, Greek Orthodox Site 14. Capernaum National Park and Peer – Great place to get out into the Sea of Galilee a bit. 15. St. Peter's Fish Restaurant Mifratz-Amnun – Nice restaurant and beach location. 16. Bethsaida traditional location. 17. Bethsaida newly discovered location – New archaeological evidence points to this place as the real Bethsaida. 18. Gamla – Place many Jews jumped to their deaths fleeing the Romans in 66 AD. 19. Great Sea of Galilee lookout place. 20. Kursi - Demon-possessed man healed. Pigs run down a steep slope into the sea just south of Kursi. 21. Feeding of the 5,000 – The most accurate location according to Scripture. 22. Horvat Susita – Old Roman City atop of a hill on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. 23. Yardenit – Nice baptismal site and souvenir store. 24. Hamat Tiberias National Park – Old Ruins of ancient Tiberias. The Sea of Galilee in the Bible 1. Jesus calmed the sea here two times. 2. Christ fed 5,000 and 4,000 on its eastern shores. 3. Christ walked on water in the northern part of the sea. 4. Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount here which is His most famous and longest sermon. 5. Jesus cast demons out of a herd of 2,000 pigs here. 6. Christ did the majority of his miracles here in this region. 7. The miraculous “Catch of Fish” was performed here by Jesus. 8. Jesus performed every class of miracle to show He was Lord of every aspect of creation. Here are the kinds of miracles Christ performed: He healed all kinds of sickness. He had power over the demons and the demonic world. He had power over the weather and calmed the sea. He had power over nature and cursed a fig tree, and it died. He had power over animals – He cast demons into a herd of swine, performed miraculous catches of fish, rode into Jerusalem on an untamed donkey. He had power over food – He fed 5,000 and 4,000 people. He had power over death – He raised a number of people from the dead and rose from the dead Himself. Jesus had power to forgive sins Mark 2:10. 9. Christ preached the parables of the Kingdom from its shore. 10. Jesus spent around 60% of His ministry time on earth around the Sea of Galilee. 11. The cursing of the unrepentant cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum was pronounced here by Jesus. 12. The Great Commission was likely given on Mount Arbel, which is the tallest mountain around the Sea of Galilee and has the best view. 13. Jesus appeared here to the disciples after His resurrection. 14. Jesus restored Peter to ministry here. 15. Thirty-four times in the Gospels it’s mentioned that multitudes of people followed Jesus. These great crowds could have easily reached 15,000 or more in size. Matthew 4:23–25: And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. Mark 6:30–34: The apostles gathered together with Jesus ; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 32 They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. 33 The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. Faith Lesson from the Sea of Galilee 1. Christ chose to locate His ministry base in Capernaum which was on the Via Maris so He would have maximum impact on a worldwide scale. Do we position ourselves to have maximum impact regarding the ministries we are involved in? 2. Jesus performed every class of miracle to show He was Lord of every aspect of creation. Do we believe Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time? 3. Christ cursed the three towns of Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida because they heard so much teaching and witnessed many miracles but grew apathetic and hardhearted. Are we becoming apathetic toward Christ and His Word in our own personal lives? 4. Christ gave the Great Commission overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Are we seriously fulfilling the Great Commission, or have we become lazy and apathetic to this key command?

Holy Land Site

Bringing the Bible to Life by Seeing Where It Took Place!

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Biblical Sites


Israel Overview Tour of All Biblical Sites

Jerusalem Sites


Jerusalem Overview

Jerusalem Holy Sites Overview


Antonia Fortress

Bethany: Tomb of Lazarus

Chapel of the Ascension: Ascension & Return of Christ

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

City of David Overview

Death, Burial, Resurrection of Christ


Dominus Flevit Church: Triumphal Entry

Eastern Gate


Garden of Gethsemane: Church of All Nations


Gordon's Garden Tomb


Gethsemane to Golgotha:

Christ's Path to the Cross

Hezekiah's Broad Wall


Hinnom Valley Overview


House of Caiaphas: Peter's Denial of Christ


Kidron Valley: Judgment of God


Mary's Tomb


Mount of Olives Overview


Pater Noster Church: Lord's Prayer, Olivet Discourse

Pilate's Palace: Trial of Jesus

Pools of Bethesda & St. Anne 



Pool of Siloam

Prophecy, Proof the Bible Is True: Mount of Olives


Solomon's Temple

Southern Stairs/Davidson Archaeological Site

Temple Mount Overview

Temple Location

Temple Mount: Pentecost


Temple Cleansing by Jesus


Temple & the Early Church

Tomb of King David

Tombs of the Prophets

The Old Testament Feasts & Jesus


The Upper Room

Via Dolorosa


History Of Jerusalem's Walls and Gates


Western Wall & Tunnels Tour

Other Sites In Jerusalem

Sea of Galilee Sites


Sea of Galilee Overview




Calling of the Disciples


Capernaum: Jesus' Ministry Base




Feeding the 5,000

Gennesaret: Jesus Boat


Jesus Walks on Water, Calms the Sea


Kursi: Demonic Man Healed


Magdala: Mary Magdalene


Mount Arbel: The Great Commission

Mount of Beatitudes


Sower's Cove: Parables of the Kingdom


Tabgha: Restoration of Peter

Yardenit Baptismal Site

Other Sites Around the Sea of Galilee

Northern Israel Sites


Beth Shean

Beth Shean Amphitheater


Caesarea Maritima Overview

Caesarea Maritima: Holy Spirit Given to the Gentiles


Caesarea Philippi


Cana: First Miracle of Jesus

Church of the Annunciation & St. Joseph Church

Dan (City of Dan)

Gideon's Spring


Jezreel Overview

Jordan River Overview

Megiddo: Armageddon


Mount Carmel & Elijah

Mount Tabor: Transfiguration of Christ


Nazareth Overview


Nazareth: Mt. Precipice

Sepphoris (Tsipori, Zippori)


Other Sites In Northern Israel


Central Israel Sites






Ein Karem (Kerem)


Emmaus Road 


Gezer: On Crossroads of the World

Gibeon - Nabi Samwil



Inn of the Good Samaritan


Jericho ~ Tell Es-Sultan


Joppa (Jaffa, Yafo) Overview

Jordan River: Crossing into the Promised Land

Jordan River Baptismal Site of Jesus (Qsar al-Yahud)

Judean Wilderness

Judean Wilderness: Testing of Jesus

Mount Nebo & Moses

Philistine Cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gaza, Ekron, Gath

Qumran: Dead Sea Scrolls


Samaria (Sabastia)



Shechem: Jacob's Well


Shiloh: Center of Worship

St. George's Monastery (Wadi Qelt)

Timnah: Life of Samson

Valley of Elah: David & Goliath

Other Sites In Central Israel

Southern Israel Sites




Beer Sheba: The Patriarchs


Bethlehem Overview

Bethlehem: Church of Nativity


Bethlehem: David & the Psalms

Bethlehem: Naomi, Ruth, Boaz


Bethlehem: Shepherds' Field

Dead Sea Area


En-Gedi: Living Waters


Exodus, Red Sea Crossing, Mt. Sinai




Hebron Overview

Hebron Caves of Machpelah

Herodian (Herodium) Fortress

Oaks of Mamre, Hebron


Kadesh Barnea





Mount Sinai


Sodom & Gomorrah

The Philistines & Their City Strongholds


Timna Park: Tabernacle, Moses


Other Sites In Southern Israel

Other Biblical Sites

Exodus, Red Sea Crossing, Mt. Sinai

Madaba ( Map), Jordan

Mount Nebo & Moses


Noah's Ark & the Great Flood


Noah's Ark Location


Petra, Jordan

Biblical Series


Life & Ministry of Jesus Series

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