Category Archives: ISRAEL

The Siloam Pool: Where Jesus Healed the Blind Man

The Siloam Pool: Where Jesus Healed the Blind Man

In Old Jerusalem workers have stumbled upon the ruins of the Siloam Pool, wherein John’s Gospel, Jesus cures a man who is blind from birth — the new find is praised as a discovery that helps to demonstrate the Bible’s historical authenticity.

In 2004, the stepped remains of the ancient Siloam Pool, long thought to be located elsewhere, were uncovered near the City of David. According to the Gospel of John, it was at this sacred Christian site that Jesus healed the blind man.

In the Los Angeles Times, James H. Charlesworth, a New Testament scholar of the Princeton Theological Seminary, had a quote: “Scholars have said that there wasn’t a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit” to illustrate a point…”Now we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was.”

A gospel that was thought to be “pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history,” he added.

Sewer workers discovered the pool some 200 yards from another Pool of Siloam, this one constructed somewhere between 400 and 460 AD by the Empress Eudocia of Byzantium, who, experts say, commissioned the rebuilding of several biblical sites.

Archeologists say that the pool which appears in John’s Gospel was built around the 1st century BC and destroyed by the Roman Emperor Titus in 70 AD.

The sewer line repair which led to the discovery was being overseen by Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority who, according to the LA Times report, was “100% sure it was the Siloam Pool,” when his group saw two steps unearthed by the workers.

The account of the pool in the Gospel of John shows Jesus encountering a man there who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples thought that the man was blind because of some sin of his own or his parents.

Jesus then responds that the man is blind so that God’s work might be revealed in him, spits in the dust to make mud and rubs it in the man’s eyes telling him to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam.

The return of the man’s sight makes this story one of the most often recalled in the whole of the Gospels. Now, theologians and biblical scholars are excited that the significance of this miracle can be appreciated in a whole new light.

Artist’s rendering of the Siloam Pool, the Biblical Christian site where Jesus healed the blind man

Misplaced 2,000-year-old ring unearthed in Jerusalem’s City of David

Misplaced 2,000-year-old ring unearthed in Jerusalem’s City of David

Some 2,000 years ago, a Jewish penitent misplaced a bronze ring during his climb of a 600-meter-long (about 2,000 feet) pilgrims’ thoroughfare leading to the Temple Mount.

While the recently recovered ring is today heavily corroded, its central blue semi-precious stone still sparkles.

The ring was recently discovered at the City of David’s Sifting Project in Emek HaTsurim, in a bucket of dirt excavated from a structure on the side of the broad 7.5-meter (24-feet) -a wide road that is thought to have housed a ritual bath, or mikveh. 

According to the City of David archaeologists, the worshiper likely lost the ring when fresh from ritual purification prior to his ascent to the Temple Mount.

For the past seven years at the City of David National Park in Jerusalem, archaeologists have been excavating a now-subterranean stairway that once served as a main artery to the Temple Mount, beginning at the intersection of the Kidron and Ben Hinnom Valleys.

“Every step on this street brought the pilgrims closer to the Temple,” said City of David archaeologist Nahshon Szanton, in a recent video tour of the site.

“Imagine to yourselves the joy, the songs, the prayers, the spiritual journey that these people experience when they know they are just meters away from reaching the gates of the Temple,” he added while climbing the monumental staircase.

The pilgrims’ road, which ascends from the Pool of Siloam to the Jewish Temple, dates to no earlier than 30-31 CE, during the time of the notorious Roman governor Pontius Pilate. In the short video, Szanton emphasized that this was the period when Jesus was sentenced to death.

According to the City of David, the Herodian road was lined with shops and businesses to serve the thousands of pilgrims to Jerusalem on the major holidays.

The broad road is a monumental achievement: Szanton estimates that some 10,000 tons of quarried rock were used in its construction.

The road was built above a complex drainage system, which rebels hid in 40 years after the Pilgrims’ Path’s construction as the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

A 2,000-year-old bronze ring with a solitaire gemstone was uncovered in archaeological excavations in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.

The drainage channel “was essentially a manmade tunnel,” according to the City of David, and was built underneath the Herodian Road. Its ceiling is made of the rectangular paving stones of the pilgrim’s road above.

The ring is perhaps a testament to a final period of peace, in which pilgrims could still safely climb the path to the Temple Mount and freely worship.

In a statement released by the City of David, archaeologists Szanton, Moran Hajbi, Ari Levy, and Dr. Joe Uziel said, “Just like today, it would appear that in the past, rings and jewelry were removed before bathing, and sometimes forgotten. This phenomenon, perhaps, is behind the discovery of the ring in what appears to be a ritual bath.”

The ring is a very human reminder of the people who ascended the path prior to the temple’s destruction, said the archaeologists.

“This ring allows us to personally connect with an individual’s personal story from 2,000 years ago. The ring, along with other finds, can shed light and expose the lives of people during the Second Temple period,” they said.

Archaeologists have uncovered a stunning 1,600-year-old biblical mosaic in northern Israel.

Mind-blowing 1,600-year-old biblical mosaics paint a new picture of Galilean life

The spectacular biblical mosaic of 1600 years old found in Northern Israel was discovered by archaeologists.

On the site of a Synagogue in Huqoq from the fifth century, the mosaic was discovered, which depicts a scene in the book of Exodus.

Director of Excavation Jodi Magness, Professor in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina, said the mosaic was the first depiction of the episode of Elim from Exodus 15:27 ever found in ancient Jewish art.

“Elim is where the Israelites camped after leaving Egypt and wandering in the wilderness without water,” she explained in a statement, noting that the mosaic is separated into three registers or horizontal strips.

One register showed clusters of dates being harvested by loincloth-clad agricultural workers while another showed a row of wells and date palms, she explained.

“On the left side of the panel, a man in a short tunic is carrying a water jar and entering the arched gate of a city flanked by crenellated towers. An inscription above the gate reads, ‘And they came to Elim’,” Magness added.

Archaeologists also discovered mosaics depicting four beasts described in Chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel. The beasts represented four kingdoms preceding the end of days.

A detail from the Elim mosaic.

“The Daniel panel is interesting because it points to eschatological, or end of the day, expectations among this congregation,” said Magness, in the statement.

“The Elim panel is interesting as it is generally considered a fairly minor episode in the Israelites’ desert wanderings ­­– which raises the question of why it was significant to this Jewish congregation in Lower Galilee.”

The mosaics have been removed from the site for conservation.

Magness and the archaeological team during the summer 2019 dig at Huqoq.
Magness and the archaeological team during the summer dig at Huqoq.

The excavation marked the ninth year of digs at the Huqoq site. The first mosaics were discovered in 2012. Between 2014 and 2017, archaeologists discovered mosaics depicting Noah’s Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the fish and the Tower of Babel, painting a fascinating picture of life at the ancient site.

In 2018 researchers also announced the discovery of a stunning mosaic depicting a biblical scene from Numbers 13:23. Labeled “a pole between two,” the panel showed two spies sent by Moses to explore the biblical land of Canaan.

Another mosaic discovered at Huqoq includes a depiction of Samson. There also has been an ongoing debate about whether a mosaic uncovered in 2016 portrays Alexander the Great.

The purported Alexander the Great mosaic was the first non-biblical story ever found decorating an ancient synagogue.

A mosaic depicting the building of the Tower of Babel.

Experts said the wealth of mosaics show that Jewish life in the surrounding village flourished during Christian rule in the fifth century. This challenges a widely held view that Jewish settlement in the area declined during that period.

“Our work sheds light on a period when our only written sources about Judaism are rabbinic literature from the Jewish sages of this period and references in early Christian literature,” said Magness, who noted it showed only the viewpoint of the men who wrote it. Additionally, early Christian literature generally was hostile to Jews and Judaism.

The parting of the Red Sea mosaic.

“So, archaeology fills this gap by shedding light on aspects of Judaism between the fourth to sixth centuries CE – about which we would know nothing otherwise,” Magness explained. “Our discoveries indicate Judaism continued to be diverse and dynamic long after the destruction of the second Jerusalem temple in 70 CE.”

A mosaic depicting Jonah being swallowed by a fish.

The Huqoq Excavation Project has involved experts from a host of universities, including Baylor University, Brigham Young University and the University of Toronto, as well as the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University.

3,000-Year-Old Hebrew Inscription Discovered

3,000-Year-Old Hebrew Inscription Discovered

Archeologists at Tel Abel Beth Macaah, a joint dig between Azusa Pacific University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have recently exposed a nearly 3,000-year-old jar with the Hebrew inscription.

The ink inscription reads “lbnayo,” meaning “belonging to Benaiyo.” This implies that an Israelite man named Benaiyo lived in Abel Beth Macaah around the 9th century B.C.

This is significant because it is the northern Israelite equivalent of a name found in the Bible (see 2 Samuel 23:20; 1 Chronicles 27:5; 1 Kings 1:8) and indicates that the site may have indeed been an Israelite city at this time (see 2 Samuel 20:29). The name means “Yahweh has built”.

The ink inscription reads “lbnayo,” meaning belonging to Benaiyo, an Israelite name

“Such a discovery advances our understanding of the site and the local region considerably,” said Robert Mullins, Ph.D., co-lead archaeologist of the dig site and chair and professor in Azusa Pacific’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies.

The jar was found in the lower part of the city, where the team has already found remains from the 9th century, the time of King Ahab.

The new section of the site, Area K, had very little occupation from later periods, which allowed the archaeologists to quickly go below the topsoil and unearth a room containing several broken jars.

The team did not notice the inscription on the jar at first, but when the item was sent for restoration, faint traces of ink on one of the pieces were detected.

The Hebrew script was deciphered through multispectral images taken at the same lab in the Israel Museum that studies the Dead Sea Scrolls. “Any time you find writing on artifacts, that’s important because it can tell us so much about the history of the area,” Mullins said.

One of the other jars had a grape pip and residue in it, indicating the vessel was used to store wine, and the room may have been used for wine storage. Mullins said the team expects to find much more in the area when they resume excavation this summer.

Mullins and the team of archaeologists have excavated ancient artifacts and buildings at the site every summer since 2012. Past finds include silver earrings and ingots, a stone seal, and a small faience head of an ancient king.

Each year, Mullins is accompanied by co-directors Naama Yahalom-Mack, Ph.D. and Nava Panitz-Cohen, Ph.D., from the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University, and their team of archaeologists and scholars, including students from APU and partner schools Cornell University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Asbury Theological Seminary, and Indiana Wesleyan University.

Scientists find that tin found in Israel from 3,000 years ago comes from Cornwall

Scientists find that tin found in Israel from 3,000 years ago comes from Cornwall, England.

Scientists have revealed tin ingots from more than 3,000 years ago found in Israel. They have established that ancient tin ingots found in Israel actually came from what is now modern-day Britain.

Archaeologists believe it shows that tin was transported over long distances about 3000 years ago. Moreover, the researchers may have solved the mystery of the origin of the tin that was so vital for Bronze Age cultures.

The origins of Bronze-age tin ingots have been investigated by researchers from the University of Heidelberg and the Curt Engelhorn Center for Archaeometry in Mannheim. Tin ingots from the Bronze Age discovered by marine archaeologists off the coast of Israel.

According to Phys.org, the researchers used “lead and tin isotope data as well as trace element analysis” to identify where the metal was originally mined. What they found was totally unexpected.

The researchers established that the “3,000-year-old tin ingots found in Israel are actually from Cornwall and Devon” reports the Daily Mail.

These areas are in southwest Britain and were the sites of tin mines until modern times. The experts then analyzed tin ingots that were found in Greece and Turkey and they discovered that they had also come from Devon and Cornwall.

The original discovery of the tin ingots.

Tin was essential in the Bronze Age. This is because bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. The ability to make bronze transformed societies and the technology to make the metal was distributed all over the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

The Angle News quotes Dr. Ernst Pernicka, a retired professor from Heidelberg University, as stating that “Bronze was used to make weapons, jewelry, and all types of daily objects, justifiably bequeathing its name to an entire epoch”.

However, deposits of tin are very rare in much of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. The question that arose for archaeologists was where did the tin originate from that was used to make bronze?

The source of the metal has been a mystery for decades and some have argued that it came from Central Asia. The researchers, based on their findings, believe that they have solved this mystery. Dr. Daniel Berger stated that “These results specifically identify the origin of tin metal for the first time” according to the Daily Mail.

Map of Eurasia showing the locations of the tin ingots mentioned in the study (green dots), other tin objects in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East before 1,000 BC (yellow dots), and major and minor tin deposits.

Based on the findings it seems that the tin was formed into ingots and exported from Devon and Cornwall. Given the limited technology at the time and the lack of roads, the most plausible way for the ingots to have reached modern-day Israel was by sea.

It seems that “the British Isles had developed maritime trade routes with the rest of the world as early as the Bronze Age ” according to the Daily Mail. These trade routes were probably very complex and covered great distances.

Tin was essential for societies in the eastern Mediterranean and there would have been a great demand for high-quality tin, and this would have encouraged the development of international trade routes. This could have led mariners to travel great distances to secure the metal.

The trade-in tin ingots were probably very dangerous but also very profitable. Other materials that were likely traded along these international trade networks were amber, copper, and luxury items. The fact that Bronze Age merchants could trade over vast distances shows that they were proficient sailors.

Bronze age artifacts which tin was vital for production.

The findings of the research are very important and allow us to have new insights into the trade in the distant past. It identifies for the first time the origin of the tin, that was so important in the Bronze Age.

It strongly indicates that international trade was much more advanced, 3,000 years ago, than widely supposed. The results could also guide archaeological research in the future.