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Photo Of The Day

Masada Cistern

IMG_2196 copy While cisterns like those at Beit Guvrin could serve a household, others were built to store water for communities, like Herod the Great’s colossal cisterns atop Masada.  Living waters and wells are preferable, because the cistern catches and holds runoff from the rains.  This can grow rather unpleasant as all the filth of the land can wash in, creating the deep sludge in which Jeremiah found himself sinking in Jeremiah 38.

Meresha Cistern

IMG_3203 copy In the land of Israel, water is a precious commodity and there are three main sources: living water (springs and rivers), wells, and cisterns. Cisterns were especially common in the Shephelah, where the chalk allowed easy digging.  Some cisterns, like this one at Beit Guvrin (Mareshah) could belong to several families, while smaller ones may provide for a single household.

Four-Horned Altar at Tell Be’er Sheva

Beersheba_FourHornedAltar Contemporary with the cultic site at Arad was this large four-horned altar at the fortified city of Beersheba.  Like the sanctuary at Arad, it was also dismantled during the 8th century and later reused in building a wall.  This altar illustrates the altar horns to which fugitives like Adonijah and Joab clung to evade punishment.

Arad Altar

Arad_IA_Altar The Iron Age fortress of Arad protected the frontier divide between the Negev desert and the Judaean Hill Country, while also guarding the lucrative trade routes passing from the Persian Gulf and Edom to Egypt and the Mediterranean.  Within this fortress, a cultic site was discovered, which was destroyed in the 8th century, likely during Hezekiah’s reforms.  It featured this large altar, as well as a Holy of Holies and may be the “House of Yahweh” referenced in local inscriptions.


Nazareth_ChurchoftheAnnunciation_2 Just as in the days of Christ, Nazareth is still a small city tucked away behind the mountains lining the Jezreel.  While the Basilica of the Annunciation pictured here is magnificent, of greater import are the remains of First Century dwellings beneath the local convents, which provide an insight into the community in which Jesus grew up.

Ein Harod

EinHarod_1 Ein Harod, or the Spring of Harod, flows out of what is now called “Gideon’s Cave” on the north face of the Gilboa range, facing the hill of Moreh.  This spring flows out down the Jezreel and into the Bet She’an Valley.  Gideon was the first of many base camps and battles here, including the battle to drive the Mongols out of the Near East, as well as a refuge for the strike force that would eventually become the IDF.

6-Chambered Gate at Gezer

2_Gezer_SolomonicGate One of the markers of the 10th century in Israel is the presence of 6-chambered gates and their attached casemate walls.  They can be found primarily at three important sites: Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer.  These at Gezer are a beautiful example, with the city’s main drainage channel—which would have run under the street—exposed.

Naftali Mountain Range in Galilee and the Huleh Basin

1_Galilee_NorthRegion_2 This photo was taken in the Naftali Mountain Range where it looks out toward the Huleh Basin.  While the region’s forests are still recovering from the devastating fires of the 2006 Lebanon War, one can imagine the difficulty of crossing these heavily forested hills with a caravan or army.  This makes passes, such as the Huleh Valley invaluable to both travels and empires alike.

Oasis of En Gedi

IMG_2631 Located on the western shore of the Dead Sea, the oasis of En Gedi provides a solitary location of pure, clean water in an otherwise inhospitable place. It is no wonder why David fled where when he was in this area about 3,000 years ago.

Shepherd and his Sheep

DSCN0230 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. - Psalm 23

Mesha Stela Replica

Mesha_Stela The Mesha Stela, also called the Moabite Stone, was recovered from Dibon, Jordan, the ancient capital of the Moabite state, and was written in Phoenician script the 9th century BC. Mesha of Moab boasts of his victory against the son of Omri, as well as for having drug captured vessels of Yahweh before Chemosh. There is also a possibility that it mentions the defeat of the House of David, but this is debated.

Canaanite Captive

Palestinian This Egyptian plaque was one of a series depicting enemies of Egypt, found in ancient Luxor (Medinat Habu), and dates to the reign of Ramesses III (1182-1151 BC). This particular individual represents the Canaanite people.

Region Near Banias

DSCN0346 We know that King Herod built three temples to Caesar Augustus. One was at Caesarea Maritima, the second was at Sabaste and the third was in the region near Banias (Caesarea Philippi). Recent digs in this area have focused on this site at Omrit. Some archaeologists are considering the possibility that these ruins near Banias could be the foundation of the temple which King Herod built.

Walls of the Temple Mount

DSCN1275 King Herod was a terrible man. He did not even trust members of his own family and had them executed. But, he was a visionary and had very large construction projects. Even two thousand years later, his thumbprint is all over the country. This view of the southern wall of the Temple Mount still contains many Herodian stones. The Mount of Olives sits in the background.


DSCN1428 The Romans were experts at crucifixion. A few years ago, a first century ossuary was found in Jerusalem. Upon opening it up, they found the bones of a crucified man. This picture, of a nail through an ankle bone, is a vivid reminder of how terrible of an ordeal it was.

Sycamore Figs

DSCN1531 There is hardly anyone that has not heard the story of the "wee little man" Zacchaeus and how he climbed up in the sycamore tree to see Jesus. However, most people in the United States associate a different type of tree with that story. The sycamore trees in the United States are different than the ones in Israel. Those trees are actually sycamore fig trees. Every year, their fruit is harvested and can be purchased throughout the land.

The Elah Brook

DSCN1571 As told in 1 Samuel 17, David went down into the brook in the Valley of Elah to gather stones to battle against the Philistine giant Goliath. In an ironic twist of fate, that same brook winds its way directly past the Philistine city of Gath (Goliath's hometown) about five miles to the west of the battlefield. It is a legitimate possibility that, as a boy, Goliath played in the exact stream where, many years later, his foe would gather ammunition which would eventually be used to kill him. This picture is of the dry river Elah wadi adjacent to the tel at Gath.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In contrast to yesterday's picture of the Judean Wilderness, the northern area of Israel is covered in lush vegetation as evidenced by this picture of the Gennesaret. The Gospels tell us that Jesus and His disciples traveled across the Sea of Galilee and landed in this region. Once Jesus was recognized, all of the people in the villages came to him to bring Him their sick to be healed.

Judean Wilderness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Although a large portion of the country of Israel is green and covered with vegetation, some of it is not. This view of the southern Judean Wilderness provides a wonderful example of the terrain that the Israelites would have encountered as they made their way to the Promised Land.

Mount Nebo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This view of Mount Nebo was taken from the the kibbutz at Qumran looking east across the Dead Sea. The hotels in the distance are in the modern kingdom of Jordan. From Mount Nebo, Moses was provided with a view of the promised land of Canaan.