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Spring of Harod

Down The Rift Valley

Down The Rift Valley


This evening, we arrived in the beautiful city of Jerusalem. Unlike what is being reported on the news right now, it is exactly as I remember it from my last visit. In fact, when we arrived at Jericho today, it was more crowded with tourists than I have ever seen it. So, whatever is being reported back home isn't exactly what is happening here on the ground. In other words, as much as we all appreciate your care and concern, we are doing just fine. I always hate leaving Galilee, but that is what we were required to do to keep on our schedule. Very soon, we found ourselves at Tel Jezreel, the site of the palace so Ahab and Jezebel. From the hillside, you can see the locations of many Biblical stories.

Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the Spring of Harod. Gideon narrowed his army to 300 men by giving them a test here. The water was actually flowing a little bit. Since we are at the end of the dry season, I had not expected this.

A visit to Bet She'an was next on the agenda. The amount of ruins that are visible here is overwhelming. By claiming to the top of the tel, you get a good appreciation for the strategic importance of this location.

By driving down the Jordan Rift Valley, we found ourselves at Jericho. Whenever we stop there, I want to talk to the group for an hour discussing all that happened here. But, it was very hot when we arrived. So, I abbreviated my comments and then finished them up when we were all back in our touring coach.

After a quick visit to the traditional baptismal site, we made our way "up to Jerusalem". We will spend the next five nights here and enjoy all of the sites in this wonderful city.

We are all having a great time and the sarcasm is getting more and more intense. I can't wait to spend time with all of them again tomorrow.

Until then, shalom.

Why Study Biblical Geography? Part I

The Spring of Harod, at the foot of Mount Gilboa.Sometimes people ask me, "Why do you study Biblical geography so much?" Generally, I study Biblical geography because it helps me to understand the Bible more. But, to answer answer the question specifically, I can think of three reasons. I will cover these three reasons in the next few posts.

Reason #1 - I study Biblical Geography to better understand God's people.

As Moses was giving final directions to the nations of Israel, he states:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. - Deuteronomy 6:4-9

God wanted His people to teach their children about Him as they walked by the way (or, as they walked across the land). Three times a year, the nation of Israel were required to go to Jerusalem for the feasts. As they made those trips, it would provide a number of opportunities for the parents to talk to their kids about God.

As they passed the Spring of Harod, the could explain how God used Gideon and a small army of only 300 men to take on and defeat the Midianites.

As they passed Mount Carmel, they could explain how God and Elijah took on the prophets of Baal and proved that He was the one and only true God.

As they passed the ruins of Jericho, they could explain how God used His power to render a fortified city defenseless against His people.

By studying Biblical Geography, we can better understand God's people and how they taught their children.

In my next two posts, I'll discuss two other reasons why we need to study Biblical geography.

Up To Jerusalem

Up To Jerusalem


Today’s goal was to travel from the Sea of Galilee to the city of Jerusalem. As in Biblical times, there are a variety of paths you can take to accomplish this. From the Sea of Galilee, we travelled south to the city of Beit-shan. This site is a beautiful place to visit. You could easily spend a full day here and only then get started good. Our group split into two parts with some of the tour members climbing to the top of the tel and the remaining members touring the Roman site on the floor. Overall, it was a great stop.

Our next stop was the Spring of Harod. This site is very simple, but provides gives the visitors a wonderful visual of the battle between the army of Gideon and the Midianites.

Our last stop before heading into Samaria was the site of Jezreel. This was such an important city in the history of the northern kingdom of Israel. The view was a little hazy, but it was still breathtaking. We were able to see the workers down at the Jezreel Expedition archaeological dig as they were breaking for lunch.

samariaTraveling through the West Bank took us to the city of Samaria. Kings Omri and Ahab purchased this hill and built their palace here to rule the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The views from this site allows you to see the mountains all around and helps you appreciate how difficult it was to travel through this region.

Our final stop for the day was at Jacob's Well in the modern city of Nablus (ancient Sychar). This well, which now sits in the basement of a Greek Orthodox church building, is the same well that Jacob dug so many years ago. Jesus later had a discussion with a Samaritan woman while she was drawing water at this well.

Late this afternoon, we arrived in the beautiful city of Jerusalem. We’ve checked into the hotel and had a good dinner. After a good night’s sleep, we’ll be ready to tackle everything this city has to offer.

Until tomorrow...


Jezreel (center) and the surrounding area.  Picture from the Jezreel Expedition Facebook Page, taken by Todd Bolen Earlier today, the Jezreel Expedition Facebook page updated their cover photo. All I have to say is "wow". That is a fantastic aerial shot of Jezreel as it overlooks the southeastern corner of the Jezreel Valley and the Valley of Harod.

This picture is facing almost due east. Jezreel is the light brown area just below the exact center of the picture. The northern end of Mount Gilboa is off to the right and the Transjordan Plateau is in the distance. The Jordan River, which sits in the Jordan Rift Valley is not visible as it falls below the land line between Jezreel and the Transjordan Plateau.

How many Biblical events can you name that happened in this picture? Well, here is a list to get you started.

  • Gideon narrowed his army from many thousand to only 300 men at the Spring of Harod. That spring is located at the foot of Mount Gilboa in the closest shady area just beyond Jezreel. Later that night, Gideon attacked the Midianites near the Hill of Moreh, located just off of the picture to the left. (Judges 7:1-25)
  • Saul was killed on Mount Gilboa. When the Philistines found Saul's body, they took it and hung it over the walls at Beth-Shean. Beth-Shean sits about halfway between Mount Gilboa and the Jordan River (not visible from this angle). (1 Samuel 31:1-10)
  • Jehu rode "furiously" through this area. Jehu had been anointed by a prophet to be the next king of Israel at Ramoth Gilead. Ramoth Gilead was located on top of the Transjordan Plateau in the distance in this picture. A Jehu was riding back to Jezreel, the men in the tower saw him coming up the valley you see in the picture. (2 Kings 9:1-29)
  • This view is probably the last view that Jezebel saw just before she was pushed out a window to her death. (2 Kings 9:30-37)

Many other Biblical events happened within the view of this picture. In addition, anyone traveling from the Galilee area (to the upper left) to the Jerusalem area could have come through this area.

To the Jezreel Expedition: Thanks for supplying this picture! And to Todd Bolen, thanks for taking the picture! It was a great reminder of all of the things that happened here.

2012 Israel Trip - Day Six

2012 Israel Trip - Day Six


Today is Sunday, which is always a special day. However, when you wake up on a Sunday morning by the Sea of Galilee and end it in Jerusalem, it makes is an extra special day. After spending a period of time in worship, we loaded the bus and headed south and away from the Sea of Galilee. The Galilee area is a very special place and I hated to leave it. (I guess I'll just have to come back.) Our first stop was at Bet-She'an, an ancient city that guarded the southeastern end of the Jezreel Valley. The ruins at Bet-She'an are extremely impressive. It reminded me of the ruins at Jerash, Jordan, which I visited two years ago. There are ruins from several different periods including Roman and Canaanite. The view from the top of the ancient tel looking over the Roman ruins is not one that I'll ever forget. (I also won't forget how hot it was and the taste of the Magnum bar I had at the end of the tour.)

From there we traveled to the Spring of Harod. This is the location where Gideon narrowed down his army to 300 men to fight the Midianites who were camped across the valley at the base of the Hill of Moreh. This is one of my favorite places because it puts on display how accurate the Bible is with regards to geographical descriptions and locations. You can see the entire story laid out in front of you. It is incredible.

At Jezreel, we were able to see the excavations taking place and the wonderful view of the Jezreel Valley below. We were also reminded that Phil Roberts, a man who many of us admired so greatly, spent many hours at Jezreel.

From there we turned south and were able to travel across the mountains of Samaria. Since most of Samaria is in the West Bank, travel through that area is not always possible. However, at this time, the situation is peaceful which provided us a rare opportunity. I was amazed. I never realized hour mountainous Samaria was. We were able to visit the city of Samaria as well as spend time at Jacob's Well in Nabulus.

Soon thereafter, we arrived safely in Jerusalem where we checked into a wonderful hotel. Our day tomorrow starts off on top of the Mount of Olives. I can't wait.