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One Year Ago - The Israel Museum

The Mediterranean Sea from the city of Ashkelon. NOTE: I am continuing my series of retrospective posts on the our tour one year ago. I invite you to start at the beginning and read through all of them.

A year ago today, we went to the Israel Museum and to Ashkelon.

We started our day with a stop at the Israel Museum. This is your typical museum with more things to see than you could possibly see in a few hours. We started off at the huge model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. This is a fantastic way to visualize the way that the city looked during the time of Jesus. Our attention was then directed into the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed. We ended our tour of the museum in the Archaeology wing, where we could see many different artifacts related to Biblical history.

Our last stop of the day was at the tel at Ashkelon. Most tour groups don't travel all the way to this site. But, I have some good friends that were in Israel working the dig at this city. They provided us with a fantastic personal tour of the site and showed us the work that they are doing.

Tomorrow: Our journey ends.

2015 Israel Poster B

Have you been enjoying these posts on last year's tour? Are you interested in traveling with me this year? Then, I would love to have you join me. Our 12-day tour is scheduled for October 12-23. We will stay one night on the Mediterranean Sea, three nights on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and five nights in beautiful Jerusalem. During the day, we will visit dozens of sites that will enhance your understanding of the land and of the Biblical stories that take place in them. Reservations are coming in, but we still have some availability! This is a first-class tour with many extras thrown in that many Israel tours overlook. If you are interested, I encourage you to read the itinerary and contact me personally for more details.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The city of Asheklon was one of the most important cities of the Philistine pentapolis. Although it was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, its elevated position provided the inhabitants a strategic advantage over any incoming invaders.

Ashkelon Cat

5_Cat_Ashkelon The modern housecat was likely domesticated in 4th millennium Egypt, when tabby African wildcats were invited into the human community.  In Egypt, they were not only important for controlling vermin, but paintings depict cats used for hunting birds.  Their ancestors roam throughout archaeological sites today, often begging for treats and earning nicknames from lonely archaeologists (like Bagheera, pictured here in Ashkelon).

The Final Day

The Final Day


Well, the tour is over. I am sending this post from my home in Athens, Alabama. Due to time limitations, I was not able to send a post last night. We woke up yesterday morning a little later than usual, allowing us to have some extra sleep and time to pack our bags for the voyage home. We started the day at the Israel Museum. We spent about 2.5 hours there, but that was only long enough to make us wish that we could spend a week. There are three primary sections to the museum: 1) The large model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period, 2) the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and 3) the museum itself.

We toured the large model (about a half acre in size) first. This is a wonderful visual aid to understanding Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. If given the opportunity, I would love to teach a series of lessons using that model as my background. You can describe so many stories from the Gospels and Acts by examining the model in light of Scripture.

We then turned our attention to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Having visited Qumran earlier in the trip, it was nice to see the actual scrolls being displayed.

Finally, we visited the archaeology wing of the museum (there are many other wings that we did not even walk into). Our quick tour of that wing showed us so many things that related to our tour and passages in the Bible.

duttonsHaving finished at the Museum, we headed southwest toward the coast. I have two friends, Trent and Rebekah Dutton, who are currently getting their Masters Degree at Wheaton College in Chicago in Biblical Archaeology. To accomplish that goal, they have been participating at a dig at the ancient Philistine city of Ashkelon. They agreed to meet us at the site and to give us a personal guided tour of the site and of the work that they are doing. It was a fantastic tour and I believe that everyone enjoyed the personal touch. The main thing that I learned from the tour is how large the city of Ashkelon was. The site itself (which is made up of three tels) rivals the size of Hazor in the north on just pure size. In addition, by seeing its location on the coast makes it easy to understand why it was such an important city.

From there we headed north toward Joppa. We spent about an hour touring the city and seeing how beautiful it is. It is through this port that cedar wood from Lebanon was delivered to build Solomon’s Temple. Jonah tried to run from God here. And, Peter received a vision which instructed him to teach to Good News of Jesus to the Gentile people.

tel_avivAfter a final dinner, we headed toward the airport. Ben Gurion International Airport is known as one of the most secure airports in the world. You need to arrive early because there are several different levels of security to go through. We all made it through fine and boarded our flight to New York City. The flight was smooth and even landed a little ahead of schedule. At New York City, we all parted ways to go to our separate home destinations.

It was a great tour. I could not have asked for a kinder, more fun group than the people that came with me on this tour. They never complained and were glad to be spending this wonderful time together.

Visiting the land of Israel opens the Bible in ways that you had never considered. I’ll end these series of posts by reminding us of the words of Moses as he spoke to the people before entering the land of Canaan:

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. - Deuteronomy 8:7-10

I agree. It’s a wonderful land. And, I can’t wait to go back. Until then, shalom.

Casemate Walls at Khirbet Qeiyafa

Casemate Walls at Khirbet Qeiyafa


I am not an archaeologist. Although friends of mine that have participated in an actual dig in Israel (Ferrell Jenkins at Lachish, Luke Chandler at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Trent and Rebekah Dutton at Ashkelon) have told me to give it a try. Perhaps one day I will. Participating in a dig allows you to gain first hand knowledge of the people of past civilizations. Earlier today, I received the latest edition of Biblical Archaeology Review magazine. In it, there is a really good article by Yosef Garfinkel (and others) concerning the dig that he has been participating in since 2007. The dig has been centered around Khirbet Qeiyafa (possibly Biblical Sha'arayim), but they are in the process of moving next season to Lachish. (For more information about this particular dig, I encourage you to read Luke Chandler's blog. He has participated in the dig for several seasons.)

In the article, there is a fantastic picture of a casemate wall from the city. I tried to find the same picture on the Internet with no luck. However, I found a similar picture that I have included at the top of this post. (NOTE: If you are reading this post from an email, you might need to click on the title and view the post from the web to see the picture.) In the center of the picture, you can see a four-chambered gate which led into the city. However, along the edge of the city walls, you can see a series of small rooms very similar in size. The walls in these small rooms were thicker than normal walls. During peace times, the inhabitants of the city used these small rooms for storage. However, if the enemy decided to attack, these rooms could be quickly filled with dirt, rock and other debris, which would make the city more secure.

Thanks to the real archaeologists and their teams of volunteers, we can learn so much more about the land and the people in the Bible. And, by learning more about the land and the people, we can learn more about the Bible.

I have got to figure out a way to participate in a dig in the near future.

Credit: The picture at the top of the post comes from the Israel Antiquities Authority website.