The Accordance Bible Lands Photo Guide Sampler
Written by David Lang
About the Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide Sampler
The Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide is designed to illustrate the geography and history of the lands of the Bible and is not intended to be a mere collection of stock photographs. This Sampler includes more than fifty high-quality images selected from the more than 1600 images included in the full PhotoGuide.
Copyright and Usage of Photographs
The photographs contained herein are all under copyright, and ownership of this software does not constitute a license to duplicate, republish, or redistribute these photographs without the express written consent of their copyright holders.
All photographs and original artwork are copyright © 2008 OakTree Software, Inc. Persons wishing to reproduce or republish any of these photographs in any form, whether for print, Internet, or other electronic media, can request permission from:
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A number of years ago, an experiment in communication was conducted in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A researcher, posing as a native Bostonian, stationed himself in Harvard Square and asked passers-by how to get to Central Square. Assuming him to be somewhat familiar with the area, the people he stopped gave him very concise directions, such as “First stop on the subway.” The next day, the researcher conducted the same experiment, this time dressed as a tourist, and the people he stopped gave him much more detailed directions. The conclusion the researchers drew from this experiment was that language becomes increasingly compressed the more speaker and listener share a common understanding of the subject being discussed.
We can see this same dynamic in the Bible. The book of Judges was written to a group of people who all spoke the same language, who all shared the same history and culture, and who all lived in the same geographic area. Consequently, places and customs are given only brief description. The book of Luke, on the other hand, was written to Christians who were scattered throughout the Roman empire, many of whom were unfamiliar with the geography and customs being described. Luke is therefore much more detailed in its description of geographic features or local customs. Yet even the book of Luke was written to people who were all familiar with Roman rule, who utilized the Roman system of roads, who spoke the same language, and who all lived during the same period of history. Luke was therefore able to make assumptions about his readers which are no longer true of us.
When we read the Bible, we do so as “tourists” who are often completely unfamiliar with the places and time periods being discussed. When the Bible says, “First stop on the subway,” we understand it not as locals who already know how to get to the subway and which train to take when we get there, but as strangers who aren’t quite sure where to go next. Thus, if we really want to gain a deeper understanding of the Scriptures, we need some way to get a feel for “the lay of the land.”
The Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide is designed to help modern day students of the Bible do just that. Through detailed descriptions and beautiful color photographs, you will gain a greater sense of the geographical and historical setting in which the events of the Bible took place. Such a sense of the local surroundings will help you to “read between the lines,” so that you can understand exactly why David hid from Saul at En-gedi, or why Jeremiah spoke of Rachel weeping for her children at Ramah, or why Moses and the Israelites entered the Promised Land from the east rather than from the southwest. So pack your bags and prepare yourself for a whirlwind tour of the lands of the Bible. With the help of the Accordance Bible Lands PhotoGuide, you no longer have to worry about getting lost in the pages of the Bible.
Ammon (עַמּוֹן ʿammôn, LXX Αμμων). The region east of the territories of Gad and Reuben (Deuteronomy 3:16), which was inhabited by the Ammonites. The Ammonites were descended from Ben-Ammi, the son of Lot by an incestuous union with one of his daughters (Genesis 19:36–38). Because they were decendants of Abraham’s nephew, the Israelites were forbidden to attack the Ammonites or encroach on their territory (Deuteronomy 2:19-21; 36-37). Nevertheless, Ammonites living in Israel were forbidden to enter the assembly of the LORD down to the tenth generation of their descendants (Deuteronomy 23:3).
The Ammonites were hostile toward Israel throughout most of their history. During the period of the Judges, Ammonites assisted Eglon king of Moab in subjugating the Israelites (Judges 3:12-14). Later, the Ammonites conquered Gilead and began to attack the tribes west of the Jordan (Judges 10:6-9). Eventually, they were driven back by Jephthah (Judges 10:17-11:33).
Early in the reign of Saul, Nahash king of Ammon besieged Jabesh-gilead, refusing to make a treaty unless a gruesome condition was met (1 Samuel 11:1-5). Saul routed the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:6-11), and thereby strengthened his hold on the throne (1 Samuel 11:12-15).
Later, Hanun son of Nahash acceded to the Ammonite throne, and humiliated a delegation which David had sent in peace—an incident which resulted in war (2 Samuel 10:1-14). David’s army besieged the Ammonite capital of Rabbah and captured it (2 Samuel 11:1, 12:26-31), subjecting the Ammonites to forced labor. It was during the siege of Rabbah that David had Uriah the Hittite killed (2 Samuel 11:14-27).
When David fled Jerusalem to escape Absalom’s rebellion, he received aid from Shobi son of Nahash (2 Samuel 17:27-29), a brother of the Ammonite king whom David had defeated. It is possible that David had installed this man as the new king of Ammon, which might help to explain his loyalty to David.
Solomon had Ammonites among his foreign wives (1 Kings 11:1), including the mother of Rehoboam, who succeeded him as king (1 Kings 14:21, 31). Solomon even built a high place for Molech, the god of the Ammonites, on a hill east of Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7); a sin which is explicitly linked to the secession of the northern tribes (1 Kings 11:29-34). This high place for Molech was eventually destroyed by Josiah (2 Kings 23:13).
During the reign of Jehoshaphat, Judah was attacked by a coalition of Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites; but these allies turned against one another and destroyed themselves (2 Chronicles 20:1-23). Judah later received tribute from Ammon during the reigns of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:8) and Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:5). Ammonite bands raided the countryside of Judah during the reign of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:2). After the Babylonian conquest of Judah, the Ammonite king was behind the assassination of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 40:13-41:15).
According to Josephus, Ammon was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar around 581 B.C. Although this marked the end of Ammon as a significant political force, the Ammonites nevertheless continued to trouble Israel throughout the post-exilic period. The Jews continued to intermarry with the Ammonites and to worship their gods (Ezra 9:1-2; Nehemiah 13:23), and some Ammonites opposed the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:10, 19; 4:3, 7). Judas Maccabeus later fought against a strong band of Ammonites (1 Maccabees 5:6).
Figure 1: The modern city of Amman, Jordan preserves the name of the ancient Semitic kingdom of Ammon, and is built on the site of the Ammonite capital city of Rabbah.
Figure 2: Walls of the Ammonite citadel of Rabbah. Remains of the Ammonite city of Rabbah are scant, but a wall dating to the Iron II period has been found. This wall may have been used by the Ammonites in defense of their city, or constructed by the Israelites after their conquest of Rabbah.
Beer-sheba (בְּאֵרשָׁבַע bᵉʾēr šāḇaʿ, LXX Βηρσαβεε or τὸ φρέαρ τοῦ ὅρκου). The southernmost city of Israel, Beer-sheba is located in the northern Negev approximately midway between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. The formula “from Dan to Beersheba” is used repeatedly to designate the entire nation of Israel (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; 2 Samuel 3:10; 17:11; 24:2, 15; 1 Kings 4:25; 1 Chronicles 21:2; 2 Chronicles 30:5).
The site was founded by Abraham, who apparently lived there for some time. Abraham dug a well there and made a treaty with Abimelech, king of Gerar, in which he gave seven ewe lambs in exchange for rights to the well (Genesis 21:22-31). The name Beer-sheba accordingly means “well of seven” or “well of the oath.” It was from Beer-sheba that Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness (Genesis 21:14), and it was to Beer-sheba that he returned after the binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:19). Isaac later reopened the well at Beer-sheba, giving it the same name his father had given it (Genesis 26:18, 23-33). Jacob stopped at Beer-sheba on his way to Egypt, and there he received a vision from God (Genesis 46:1-5).
After the Conquest, Beer-sheba was among the towns of Judah (Joshua 15:20-31) which was inhabited by the Simeonites (Joshua 19:1-5). It was there that Samuel’s two sons served as judges (1 Samuel 8:1-2) and that Elijah left his servant in his flight from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-3). Beer-sheba apparently became the site of an idolatrous shrine similar to those at Bethel and Gilgal (Amos 5:5). Beer-sheba was rebuilt after the return from exile (Nehemiah 11:25-30).
Figure 1: Well at Beer-sheba. According to Genesis 25:22-31, Beer-sheba got its name from a treaty which Abraham made with a neighboring king concerning the rights to a well. Because Beer-sheba receives very little annual rainfall, people and livestock in the region depended on wells for drinking water.
Figures 2 and 3: The Fortifications of Beer-sheba. The city walls of Beer-sheba were made of mud-brick built atop a foundation of stones, as can be seen from the unrestored walls of Figure 2, and the restored walls in Figure 3.
Figure 4: Ruins of ancient Beer-sheba. In the top left corner of this photograph, the outer gate of the city is visible. The inner gate is visible up the ramp to the right, passing between the two guard towers. Just inside this gate was an open area which served as a public square. It is referred to in the Bible as the “street of the gate of the city” (2 Chronicles 32:6). To the left of the gate stood the storehouses used to store staple goods.
Bethlehem (בֵּיתלֶחֶם bêṯ leḥem, LXX and NT Βηθλέεμ). A name meaning “house of bread,” or possibly “house of war.” There are two towns by that name mentioned in the Bible.
1. Bethlehem Ephrathah; also Ephrath. A town of Judah just south of Jerusalem. It was originally called Ephrath, and Jacob’s wife Rachel was buried nearby (Genesis 35:19; 48:7). Though it apparently remained a small town of relatively little political importance (Micah 5:2), it was the home of several central figures in the history of Israel. The judge Ibzan is said to be from Bethlehem (Judges 12:8-10), though it is unclear which Bethlehem is meant. Bethlehem of Judah is specifically named as the home of Micah’s Levite (Judges 17:1-13), as well as the Levite’s concubine who was raped and murdered in Gibeah (Judges 19:1-30). Bethlehem is the setting for the story of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 1:1-2, 19, 22; 2:4; 4:11), and the ancestral home of David (Ruth 4:11-22; 1 Samuel 16:1; 17:12). Bethlehem was apparently also the home of David’s general, Joab, and his brothers Abishai and Asahel (2 Samuel 2:18, 32), as well as of Elhanan, one of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:24). The prophet Micah later prophesied that the Messiah would arise out of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus (Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:1-7), and the setting for the adoration of the shepherds (Luke 2:8-18), the visitation of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12), and Herod’s slaughter of the innocents (Matthew 2:13-18).
Figure 1: The Town of Bethlehem in the Highlands of Judah, as viewed from the Herodium.
Figure 2: The Tomb of Rachel north of Bethlehem. Since at least as early as the fourth century B.C., this spot about a mile north of Bethlehem has been venerated as the burial place of Rachel (Gen. 35:19; 48:7). This tradition is not uncontested, however. Another possible location for Rachel’s tomb is near Ramah, about ten miles further north.
Figure 3: The silver star of Bethlehem in the Grotto of the Nativity. The Basilica of the Nativity stands over a series of caves, one of which is believed to be the Grotto of the Nativity. The traditional place of Jesus’ birth is marked by this silver star.
Figure 4: The Chapel of the Manger next to the traditional place of Jesus’ birth in the Grotto of the Nativity.
2. Bethlehem of Zebulun. A town in the territory of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15) just northwest of Nazareth. It may have been the home of the judge Ibzan (Judges 12:8-10).
Caesarea (Καισάρεια Kaisareia); also Strato’s Tower (Στράτωνος πύργος Stratōnos pyrgos).Established by Herod the Great as a tribute to Caesar Augustus, Caesarea was a great international seaport on the coast of the Sharon plain. It was built on the site of a longtime trading outpost known as Strato’s Tower, and was situated along the great caravan route between Egypt and Tyre. A magnificent city featuring an elaborate harbor complex and such Greco-Roman structures as a hippodrome, theater, and even pagan temples, Caesarea soon became the seat of Roman government in the province of Judea.
Philip the Evangelist made his home in Caesarea (Acts 8:40; 21:8). Not long after his conversion, Paul was taken to Caesarea before going to Tarsus (Acts 9:30). It was in Caesarea that Cornelius and his household were converted, becoming the first Gentiles in the church (Acts 10:1-48; 11:1). Paul was imprisoned there for more than two years before being sent on to Rome (Acts 24:1-27:1).
Figure 1: The Harbor at Caesarea, also called Sebastos (the Greek name for Augustus). The modern breakwater at Caesarea extends into the water only about a third as far as the remarkable artificial harbor built by Herod, and is built on its sunken remains. The remains of the Herodian harbor are still visible as a dark silhouette beneath the water’s surface (lower left in Figure 2). Directly behind the harbor in Figure 2 are the remains of the Crusader city. Figure 2 also shows the hippodrome and theater in the distance to the right.
Figure 2: Replica of a Latin inscription found near the Roman theater at Caesarea. The full inscription reads “Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius.” The word [T]IBERIEUM on the top line probably refers to the building dedicated to the emperor Tiberius by Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea at the time of Christ (Luke 3:1). This is the only known ancient inscription of Pontius Pilate outside of the New Testament.
Figure 3: Herod’s palace along the sea. This palace was also the residence of Pontius Pilate (except when he had to travel on special occasions such as to Jerusalem during the Passover season). The apostle Paul may have been imprisoned on the grounds of this palace (Acts 23:35).
Figure 4: Aqueduct at Caesarea. This aqueduct at Caesarea dates from the time of Herod and carried water to the city from the southern slopes of Mount Carmel.
Dan (דָּן ḏān, LXX Δαν).
1. The city of Dan; also Laish (לַיִשׁ layiš, LXX Λαισα), Leshem (לֶשֶׁם lešem), or Antiochia. The northernmost city of Israel, Dan was located at the foot of Mount Hermon near one of the sources of the Jordan river. Originally called Laish (Judges 18:29) or Leshem (Joshua 19:47), the city was taken by the Danites and renamed after their patriarchal head (Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29). The formula “from Dan to Beersheba” is used repeatedly to designate the entire nation of Israel (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; 2 Samuel 3:10; 17:11; 24:2, 15; 1 Kings 4:25; 1 Chronicles 21:2; 2 Chronicles 30:5).
It was in the vicinity of Dan that Abraham attacked the four kings who had captured Lot (Genesis 14:14). Dan was seen by Moses from the top of Mount Nebo (Deuteronomy 34:1). Jeroboam I established Dan and Bethel as the two main worship centers for the northern kingdom in order to sever the people’s ties with Jerusalem and Judah (1 Kings 12:26-30). Jehu was later condemned for failing to destroy these worship centers (2 Kings 10:28-29).
Figures 1 and 2: Paved Street and City Gate at Tell Dan. This stone-paved street, the city’s royal processional way, led from the city gate complex up to the main city atop the tell.
Figure 2 shows the details of the inner gate. The inner gate played a very important role in the life of the city. Legal transactions would take place here (Genesis 23:17-18) and the elders of the city would gather here (Deut. 25:7; Josh. 20:4; Ruth 4:1-2). Judgment would take place here (Amos 5:15; Zech 8:16), and even gossip was present here (Psalm 69:12).
Figure 3: Worship center of the Golden Calf. It was almost certainly at this location that King Jeroboam I established the worship center with the golden calf (1Kings 12:28-29). This worship center was divided into a lower and higher place. The lower place was a simple outdoor room with a horned altar for the burnt offering, as shown by the metal structure in the center of Figure 4. Figure 5 shows the higher place which was the sanctuary consisting of different rooms and a courtyard, roughly analogous to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.
2. The region of Dan. The region of Israel allotted to the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:40-48). Dan was bordered by Judah to the south, Benjamin to the east, Ephraim to the north and east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west.
Dead Sea; also Salt Sea, Sea of the Arabah, or Eastern Sea. A large salt lake located at the southern terminus of the Jordan river. The Dead Sea occupies the lowest trench of the Great Rift Valley, and at an average of 1,296 feet below sea level, its shoreline is the lowest point on the earth’s surface. Also called the Salt Sea, its salt content is about seven times higher than that of the oceans. The high density of its waters enable swimmers to stay afloat, but only microscopic organisms are able to survive in them.
It was in the vicinity of the Dead Sea that the four eastern kings fought against the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, and their allies (Genesis 14:1-3). The Dead Sea marked the southern and eastern border of the Promised Land (Numbers 34:3, 12), the eastern border of the tribes of Judah (Joshua 15:5) and Benjamin (Joshua 18:19), and the southwestern border of the Transjordanian tribes (Deuteronomy 3:17). The water flowing into the Dead Sea was cut off when God parted the Jordan at the time of the Conquest (Joshua 3:14-17). According to the prophet Ezekiel, the waters of the Dead Sea will once again be restored and support life (Ezekiel 47:8-12).
Figure 1: The Dead Sea. The Dead Sea has no outlet. The inflow of fresh water from the Jordan is carried off by evaporation alone.
Figure 2: Lot’s wife pillar, near the Dead Sea. This rock formation, which bears a striking resemblance to the figure of a woman, is located to the south of the Dead Sea in the vicinity of the traditional site of Sodom. It is said to be the remains of Lot’s wife, who was turned to a pillar of salt for looking back at the wicked city (Genesis 19:17-26).
Elah, valley of (עֵמֶקהָאֵלָה ʿēmeq hāʾēlâ, LXX ὁ κοιλάς Ηλα). A long valley running east–west through the Shephelah, forming a natural trade route between the coastal plain and central highlands of Palestine. Its principal cities were Socoh and Azekah. It was in this valley that David defeated Goliath the Philistine (1 Samuel 17:2, 19; 21:9).
Figure 1: The Valley of Elah in the Shephelah near Tell Azekah. Here it is easy to see how the Israelites and the Philistines were encamped on opposite hills with the valley between them (1 Samuel 17:2-3).
Figure 2: Dried brook in the valley of Elah. This streambed is reminiscent of the stream where David found the stones with which he slew Goliath (1 Samuel 17:40).
Israel (יִשְׂרָאֵל yiśrāʾēl, LXX and NT Ἰσραήλ).
1. The nation of Israel. The region occupied by the twelve tribes of Israel after the Conquest. This region included the land east of the Jordan river allotted to Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, as well as most of the land of Canaan on the west side of the Jordan.
Figure 1: The coastal plain of Israel, near Gaza.
Figure 2: The foothills of the Shephelah acted as an important buffer between the coastal plain and the central highlands of Israel.
Figure 3: The Wilderness of Judah near the Dead Sea.
Figure 4: The Negev region of Israel.
2. The kingdom of Israel. The kingdom formed when the northern tribes of Israel rebelled against the Davidic monarchy and split off from the southern kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 12:1-24; 2 Chronicles 10:1-11:4). The kingdom of Israel lasted from the reign of Jeroboam I until the Assyrian invasion under Shalmaneser V.
Jerusalem (יְרוּשָׁלִַם yᵉrûšālaim, LXX Ιερουσαλημ); also Salem (שָׁלֵם šālēm, LXX Σαλημ), Jebus (יְבוּסyᵉḇûs, LXX Ιεβους), Zion (צִיּוֹן ṣı̂ōwn, LXX Σιων), and Ariel (אֲרִיאֵל ʾᵃrı̂ʾēl, LXX Αριηλ). An ancient city considered to be sacred by the three great monotheistic religions, Jerusalem is the most frequently mentioned city in Scripture. In the time of Abraham, Melchizedek was king of the city, which at that time was called Salem (Genesis 14:18). It was later controlled by the Jebusites, and is variously referred to as “the Jebusite city” (Joshua 15:8; 18:16, 28) or simply as “Jebus” (Judges 19:10-11; 1 Chronicles 11:4).
During the Conquest, Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, organized a coalition of five Canaanite kings which was defeated by Joshua at the Battle of Gibeon (Joshua 10:1-27). The city was allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28) and marked the boundary between Benjamin and Judah (Joshua 15:8; 18:16), but while the tribe of Judah experienced some success against Jerusalem (Judges 1:8), neither Judah nor Benjamin was able to permanently dislodge the Jebusites (Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:21). It was not until David captured the city and made it his capital (2 Samuel 5:5-10; 1 Kings 2:11; 1 Chronicles 11:4-9; 28:1) that Israel finally gained control of Jerusalem.
David strengthened Jerusalem’s position as the preeminent city of Israel by making it the home of the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6:1-19; 1 Chronicles 15:1-28; 23:25-26; 2 Chronicles 1:4). Solomon later built a temple to house the ark (1 Kings 8:1-11; 2 Chronicles 2:1-7:22), as well as a wall around the city (1 Kings 3:1; 9:15) and an elaborate palace for himself (1 Kings 7:1-12). All subsequent kings of Judah also reigned from Jerusalem.
During the reign of Rehoboam, Jerusalem became subject to Shishak, king of Egypt (1 Kings 14:25; 2 Chronicles 12:1-9). It was later threatened by Hazael king of Aram, who withdrew his forces after the payment of tribute (2 Kings 12:17-18). Jehoash king of Israel broke down a section of the wall of Jerusalem during the reign of Amaziah (2 Kings 14:13-14; 2 Chronicles 25:23-24). Jerusalem was threatened by the allied forces of Aram and Israel (2 Kings 16:5; Isaiah 7:1-2) and was later besieged by Sennacherib of Assyria (2 Kings 18:13-19:37). It was eventually destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. and its inhabitants carried off into exile (2 Kings 24:1-25:17; 2 Chronicles 36:5-21; Jeremiah 52:1-30). After Cyrus the Great of Persia issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem, the city was rebuilt by men such as Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah (Ezra; Nehemiah).
During the Hellenistic period, Jerusalem was ruled first by the Ptolemies of Egypt and then by the Seleucids of Syria. The city was ravaged and its temple desecrated by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, who wanted to stamp out Judaism completely, but the city was liberated by the Maccabean revolt. Jerusalem was then ruled by the Hasmonean dynasty until it was annexed by Rome around 63 B.C. It was during this period that the city was greatly expanded and built up by Herod the Great and his successors. A Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 A.D. eventually led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Jerusalem was the scene of numerous important events in the life of Christ, including his dedication (Luke 2:22-24), his boyhood encounter with the religious teachers in the temple (Luke 2:42-50), one of his temptations (Matthew 4:5-7; Luke 4:9-12), his triumphal entry (Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-15), his cleansing of the temple (Matthew 21:12-16; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-47; John 2:13-17), his arrest and trial (Matthew 26:47-27:31; Mark 14:43-15:20; Luke 22:47-23:25; John 18:1-19:16), his crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-56; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-37), his resurrection (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-10; John 20:1-8), and several of his post-resurrection appearances. Jerusalem was also the site of Pentecost and the establishment of the first church (Acts 1-7). The city is mentioned throughout the epistles of the New Testament, and in the book of Revelation, the city of God coming down out of heaven is referred to as the “New Jerusalem.”
Geography of Jerusalem: Jerusalem is located along a narrow crest which runs through the central highlands of Palestine, and along which all north-south traffic through the central part of the country had to pass. The city is strategically situated on a mountain surrounded on all sides but the north by deep valleys: the Hinnom to the west and south, and the Kidron to the east. The southern extent of the city consists of two ridges, which are separated by the Tyropoean Valley. The Tyropoean valley was much steeper in ancient times than it is today, having largely been filled in with centuries of debris.
Jerusalem’s western ridge is higher, broader, and more level than the eastern ridge, and was long thought to have been the site of the original city of David. It has therefore come to be known as “Mount Zion,” even though the original Mount Zion is now known to have been on the eastern ridge.
The reason David, and the Jebusites before him, first occupied the lower, narrower, and less desirable eastern ridge was its proximity to the Gihon spring, the area’s only natural water source. Because the city David established as his capital was located on this eastern ridge, the area is now known as the Hill or City of David.
Figure 1: Jerusalem as viewed from the Mount of Olives. The Temple Mount is in the foreground, the Old City in the background, and the New City in the far background.
The City of David: David’s first act upon being crowned king of all Israel was to attack and capture the Jebusite city of Jerusalem, which he intended to make his capital. There were several reasons for this. First, Jerusalem was of strategic importance for controlling the main north-south trade route through Israel. Second, Jerusalem was centrally located. Yet perhaps most important was the fact that Jerusalem was an independent city which did not belong to any of the twelve tribes. By establishing his capital there, David was making it clear to the tribes of Israel that under his rule, no tribe, not even his own tribe of Judah, would be shown favoritism.
Figure 1: City of David Excavations. Here we see the City of David as viewed from the north along the eastern side, which is where most of the excavations have taken place.
Figure 2: Model of the City of David during the Second Temple period. The Pool of Siloam, where Jesus told the blind man to go and wash (John 9:7, 11), is visible in the left foreground, and Herod’s Temple complex can be seen at the top.
The Temple Mount: When Solomon became king, he set about building the Temple which his father David had been unable to build (2 Samuel 7:12-13; 1 Kings 5:3-5). He therefore expanded the city northward, building the Temple near the highest point of the eastern ridge, and building his own palace between the Temple and the City of David.
Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians around 586 B.C., and was rebuilt on a humbler scale by the returning Jewish exiles some 70 years later. This Temple stood until the reign of Herod the Great, who tore it down in order to build a Temple far more grandiose and glorious. Nothing of Herod’s Temple survives, but the Temple Mount on which it stood, at least in its lower courses, dates back to the time of Herod.
Figure 1: Model of Herod’s Temple Mount as seen from the east. Herod’s Temple was built atop an enormous raised platform which occupied more than a fifth of the city’s total area. The outer court, seen here, was surrounded by magnificent collonades on all three sides but the south, which was occupied by the enormous Royal Stoa (left). At the northwest corner of the Temple Mount stood the Antonia fortress (upper right). The Temple itself stood in the center of the platform, facing east, and was separated from the court of the Gentiles by two additional courtyards.
Figure 2: The Western Wall of the Temple Mount (also known as the Wailing Wall). Long believed to be the only surviving remnant of Solomon’s Temple, Jews have come here for centuries to mourn the Temple’s destruction and to offer up prayers. It is now known that this wall was originally built by Herod the Great and formed the western extent of his Temple Mount.
Figure 3: The Dome of the Rock atop the Temple Mount. Originally built by the Omayyid caliph Abd al-Malik in the late seventh century, this octagonal mosque surrounds a rock mass known to the Muslims as Es-Sakhra. According to Jewish tradition, this rock is the site where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18) and where the Holy of Holies was located. According to Muslim tradition, it was Ishmael whom Abraham almost sacrificed on Es-Sakhra, and it was from atop the rock that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
Figure 4: Temple Inscription warning Gentiles not to enter. This limestone inscription from the Herodian temple contains an ominous warning written in Greek:
ΜΗΘΕΝΑ ΑΛΛΟΓΕΝΗ ΕΙΣΠΟΡΕΥΕΣΘΑΙ ΕΝΤΟΣ ΠΕΡΙ ΤΟ ΙΕΡΟΝ ΤΡΥΦΑΚΤΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΠΕΡΙΒΟΛΟΥ ΟΣ Δ ΑΝ ΛΗΦΘΗ ΑΥΤΩΙ ΑΙΤΙΟΣ ΕΣΤΑΙ ΔΙΑ ΤΟ ΕΞΑΚΟΛΟΥΘΕΙΝ ΘΑΝΑΤΟΝ
No foreigner may enter within the railing and enclosure surrounding the temple. Whoever is captured will have himself to blame for his subsequent death.”
The apostle Paul was accused of bringing Gentiles into the temple in violation of this prohibition (Acts 21:28-29). He later wrote from prison that in Christ, the “dividing wall of hostility” which excluded Gentiles from the presence of God has been torn down (Ephesians 2:14).
Fortification under Hezekiah: With Jerusalem expanding under the influx of refugees from the northern kingdom of Israel, which had already fallen to the Assyrians, and the threat of an Assyrian invasion of Judah on the horizon, King Hezekiah embarked on a massive effort to fortify and expand the city’s defenses.
Figure 1: The Expansion of Jerusalem. The original city of David was confined to the southern tip of Jerusalem’s eastern ridge. The city’s first significant expansion came when Solomon expanded the city northward along the eastern ridge to include the Temple Mount. The next major expansion occurred during the eighth century B.C., when waves of refugees from the northern kingdom of Israel settled on the western ridge. To defend his expanded city from the Assyrians, Hezekiah built a new wall to enclose the western ridge, and rerouted the city’s water-supply.
Figure 2: Hezekiah’s tunnel. In preparation for the siege he knew would result from his revolt against Assyria, Hezekiah rerouted the city’s water supply so that it could be controlled from within the city’s walls. He stopped up the Siloam Channel (2 Chronicles 32:2-4), which ran outside the city walls, and dug a tunnel underneath the City of David to route water from the Gihon spring to the Pool of Siloam (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30; Sirach 48:17), which had now been brought inside the city walls).
Figure 3: The Exit of Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Pool of Siloam. At its western terminus, Hezekiah’s Tunnel empties into the traditional Pool of Siloam. A remarkable feat of engineering, Hezekiah’s tunnel meanders underneath the city of David for a distance of about 540 meters (1,750 feet), descending a mere 32 cm. (12.5 inches) along that entire length. This gradual decline is nevertheless enough to keep water flowing from the Gihon spring on the opposite side of the eastern ridge. The Siloam Inscription, which recounts the moment the two teams of miners broke through to meet each other, was discovered in 1880 by some boys swimming here.
Jerusalem in Jesus’ Day: In Jesus’ day, the city of Jerusalem had only recently been transformed into one of the most magnificent cities in all the Roman Empire. A glorious new Temple now stood over the city, along with a new palace, stadium, theater, and other public buildings constructed during the reign of Herod the Great.
Jerusalem was at the height of its wealth and splendor, yet this new-found affluence came at a price: subservience to Rome. Roman soldiers were garrisoned in key points around the city, including the Antonia fortress, which was adjacent to the Temple itself. They were there to keep the peace, and they responded swiftly and ruthlessly to even the hint of Jewish insurrection.
Into this environment of divided loyalties, religious tensions, and political unrest, Jesus came preaching about a coming kingdom of God and claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah.
Figure 1: Via Dolorosa. The Via Dolorosa, or “Way of Tears,” traditionally believed to be the road along which Jesus carried his cross. Figure 38 shows the Ecce Homo arch in the distance.
Figure 2: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The traditional sites of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial are located within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located in the heart of Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter. This may seem a strange location since the Church is located within the Old City walls, and Jesus would certainly have been crucified and buried outside the city (see Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:20, and John 19:17, all of which speak of Jesus “going out” or being “led out” to be crucified).
Excavations beneath the church have shown however that the area was uninhabited during the first century, and that it was almost certainly located outside the city walls which existed at the time (see full PhotoGuide). It is also likely that the area contained a garden or grove, in accordance with the description of Jesus’ burial site in the Gospel of John (John 19:41).
The authenticity of the site is also supported by the fact that in 326 A.D., the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, was told that this location was the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. At the time the site was occupied by Hadrian’s Temple to Aphrodite, and was located within the city walls. If someone had wanted to make up a location for Jesus’ tomb, they certainly would have chosen a site outside the city walls.
Figure 3: The site of Jesus’ crucifixion. The Jerusalem model shows what the hill of Calvary probably looked like in Jesus’ day, situated just outside the entrance to the city as a grim reminder of Roman supremacy.
The Destruction of Jerusalem and Aelia Capitolina: In 66 A.D., the Jews in Palestine rebelled against Rome, beginning seven years of bitter conflict. In 70 A.D., Jerusalem was captured, the Temple was destroyed, and much of the city was burned. Although now reduced to political insignificance, Jerusalem nevertheless remained the Holy City in the hearts and minds of the conquered Jews, and the flame of Jewish nationalism continued to smolder. It was reignited in 132 A.D., when rebellion once again broke out in response to Hadrian’s plans to turn Jerusalem into a pagan city. This rebellion, led by Simon Bar-Kokhba (or Simeon Bar-Kosiba), was put down in 135 A.D., and Hadrian went on to rebuild Jerusalem as the new Roman city of Aelia Capitolina.
Figure 1: Herodian street with toppled stones. The pavement seen here is from a street which ran alongside the western wall of Herod’s Temple Mount. The toppled stones offer mute testimony to the destruction of the temple, and call to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:1-2.
The Old City: The current Old City Walls were rebuilt in the sixteenth century A.D. by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and follow the lines of the exterior walls of Aelia Capitolina.
Figure 1: Outside the Western Wall of the Old City. The outer walls of the citadel are visible at left, with the erroneously named Tower of David rising above them. The Tower of David was actually part of the Citadel built by Herod, and was one of the few fortifications left standing after Titus’ destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Jordan river (יַרְדֵּן yarḏēn, LXX Ἰορδάνης). The river which runs through the Great Rift Valley from Mount Hermon to the Dead Sea, dividing the western half of ancient Palestine (Cisjordan) from the eastern half (Transjordan). The Jordan formed the eastern border of the Promised Land (Numbers 34:12), and the tribes of Judah (Joshua 13:23; 15:5), Ephraim (Joshua 16:1, 7), Benjamin (Joshua 18:11-20), Issachar (Joshua 19:22), and Naphtali (Joshua 19:33-34). It formed the western border of the Transjordanian tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh (Numbers 32:1-42; Deuteronomy 3:16-17; Joshua 13:8, 23, 27).
Jacob crossed the Jordan on his journey to Haran to find a wife (Genesis 32:10), and Jacob’s sons mourned his death near the Jordan (Genesis 49:33-50:10). After the Exodus, before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they camped alongside the Jordan opposite Jericho (Numbers 22:1; 31:12; 33:48-49). There Moses addressed the people (Deuteronomy 1:5). Moses himself was forbidden to cross the Jordan (Deut. 4:14, 21-22), and he died on the east side of the Jordan in the plains of Moab (Deuteronomy 34:1-6).
It was Joshua who received the command to lead the Israelites across the Jordan (Joshua 1:2, 11), an event which was accompanied by a miraculous parting of its waters (Joshua 3:14-17) and which was commemorated with a pile of twelve stones taken from its dried bed (Joshua 4:1-24). After the Conquest, when the Transjordanian tribes returned to their lands east of the Jordan, they erected an altar by the river (Joshua 22:10-11).
Several of Israel’s judges were noted for regaining control of the fords of the Jordan: including Ehud (Judges 3:28), Gideon (Judges 7:24), and Jephthah (Judges 12:4-6). David later crossed the Jordan in pursuit of his enemies (2 Samuel 10:17; 1 Chronicles 19:17), and during his flight from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:24). Elijah and Elisha both crossed the Jordan through the parting of its waters at the time of Elijah’s ascension (2 Kings 2:6-8; 2:13-15). The Aramean army commander Naaman was later healed of leprosy by dipping seven times in the water of the Jordan (2 Kings 5:1-14). The Jordan is mentioned throughout the poetic books (Job 40:23; Psalm 42:6; 114:3, 5) and the writings of the prophets (Isaiah 9:1; Jeremiah 12:5; Ezekiel 47:18; Zechariah 11:3).
John the Baptist baptized in the waters of the Jordan (Matthew 3:5-6; Mark 1:5) and it was there that Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13; Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21-22; 4:1). In later Christian thought, the Jordan river came to symbolize the soul’s crossing from an earthly to a heavenly existence.
Figure 1: Jordan river south of the Sea of Galilee.
Khirbet Qumran; possibly also City of Salt. A town near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea once inhabited by the Essene community that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. The discovery of these scrolls in the caves of the neighboring cliffs is one of the most dramatic archaeological finds of this century. Khirbet Qumran is possibly to be identified with the City of Salt mentioned in Joshua 15:62.
Figure 1: Cave 4 at Qumran, where more than 40,000 scroll fragments were found. The first scrolls were discovered in a cave about a mile north of Khirbet Qumran, but the largest quantity was discovered in this cave, just over 100 yards from the Essene community. The discovery of scrolls so close to Khirbet Qumran suggest that the scrolls may have been produced by the Qumran Essenes.
Masada (Μασάδα). A formidable stronghold in the Judean desert, overlooking the Dead Sea and situated about 10 miles south of En-gedi. Masada may be the desert “fortress” (metzuda in Hebrew) to which David fled in times of danger (1 Samuel 22:4-5; 24:22; 2 Samuel 5:17; 23:14; 1 Chronicles 11:16; 12:8, 16). The fortifications at Masada were first constructed by the Hasmoneans, and were later expanded by Herod the Great. Masada is famous as the site of the Jewish rebels’ final stand against the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. According to Josephus, these rebels committed mass suicide in order to avoid surrendering to the Romans.
Figure 1: The fortress of Masada. Built on the summit of a steep cliff rising 1,480 feet above the Dead Sea, the fortress of Masada was capable of withstanding an extended siege.
Figure 2: The Roman Camp at Masada. To ensure that none of Masada’s defenders would escape, the Roman commander established eight fortified camps around the base of the cliff which were linked together by a wall. This picture of the camp was taken during the filming of the motion picture Masada.
Megiddo (מְגִדּוֹ mᵉg̱iḏōw, LXX Μαγεδδω). A city in the valley of Jezreel, Megiddo was located at a crucial fork of the Via Maris, the ancient highway running along the Mediterranean coast. The road to the north led to Tyre, Sidon, and Ugarit; while the road to the east led to Damascus. Because of its strategic location, the valley of Megiddo was the site of many ancient battles.
During the Conquest, the king of Megiddo was killed by Joshua (Joshua 12:21) and the city was allotted to the half-tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17:11), but Manasseh was unable to drive out its Canaanite inhabitants (Joshua 17:12; Judges 1:27). Sisera was later defeated in the vicinity of Megiddo (Judges 5:19).
By the time of Solomon, Megiddo was firmly under Israelite control (1 Kings 4:12), and Solomon made it one of his fortified cities (1 Kings 9:15). It was in Megiddo that Ahaziah king of Judah died after being wounded by Jehu (2 Kings 9:27), and that Josiah was killed in battle with Pharaoh Neco of Egypt (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:22-24). It was eventually conquered by Tiglath Pileser III of Assyria.
In the New Testament, Armageddon (a name meaning “the mountain of Megiddo”) is mentioned as the place where the kings of the earth will gather in opposition to God (Revelation 16:16).
Figure 1: The ruins of Megiddo overlooking the Jezreel valley. With its commanding view of the entire Jezreel valley, the citizens of Megiddo could watch the unfolding of every battle fought in the plain below them.
Mount Sinai (הַרסִינַי har sı̂nay, LXX ὄρος τὸ Σινα); also Mt. Horeb (הַרחוֹרֵב har ḥôrēḇ, LXX ὄρος τὸ Χωρηβ). The mountain in the wilderness of Sinai where Israel entered into a covenant with the LORD after the Exodus from Egypt (1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chronicles 5:10). The exact location of the site is uncertain. It was on this mountain that God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17), and it was there that he brought the people of Israel after the exodus (Exodus 19:1-2). Moses ascended the mountain to speak with God (Exodus 19:3, 18; 34:1-2) and to receive His commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; 34:32; Leviticus 7:37-38; 26:46; 27:34).
Elijah later traveled to Mount Sinai in his flight from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:8) and it was there that he experienced the presence of the LORD (1 Kings 19:9-18). The mountain receives mention in Deborah’s song (Judges 5:5), Nehemiah’s prayer (Nehemiah 9:13), the writings of Malachi (Malachi 4:4), Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:30, 38), and the writings of Paul (Galatians 4:24-25).
Figure 1: Mount Sinai. Gebel Musa, the mountain of Moses, in southern Sinai is the traditional location of Mount Sinai—a tradition which dates back to at least as early as the fourth century A.D.
Nazareth (Ναζαρά). A small town in lower Galilee, located just north of the valley of Jezreel. Nazareth was the home of Joseph and Mary (Matthew 2:23; Luke 1:26; 2:4, 39). Jesus grew up there (Luke 2:39; 51; 4:16), and so became known as “Jesus of Nazareth” (Matthew 21:11; 26:71; Mark 1:24; 10:47; Luke 4:34; 18:37; 24:19; John 1:45; 18:5, 7; 19:19; Acts 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 6:14; 10:38; 22:8; 26:9). For some reason, the town of Nazareth seems to have had an unfavorable reputation (John 1:46). Jesus ministered there, but met with a negative response (Matthew 13:54-58; Mark 6:1-6; Luke 4:16-30).
Figure 1: The city of Nazareth, with the Basilica of the Annunciation in the foreground. The Basilica marks the spot where, according to tradition, the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Christ (Luke 1:26-38).
Nazareth village. Nazareth village, a relatively new exhibit located just outside of old Nazareth, is designed to illustrate the daily life of first-century Nazareth. Recent archaeological discoveries there have revealed walled terraces, watchtowers, a stone quarry, and a winepress dating back to the first century. These provide a striking illustration of the social world and agricultural practices which lay behind many of Jesus’ parables.
Figure 1: Path along the agricultural terraces. This path in Nazareth village vividly illustrates Jesus’ parable of the sower, in which seed falls on the path, on rocky ground, among weeds, and in fertile soil (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-15).
Figure 2: Carpenter’s workshop and reenactment at Nazareth village.
Petra (Πέτρα); possibly also Sela and Joktheel. The capital city of Nabatea, situated in the mountains of Seir on the western edge of the Transjordanian plateau. Petra flourished during the Hellenistic period, growing rich from trade along the nearby King’s Highway. Petra was conquered by the Romans in 106 A.D., but continued to flourish as part of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea.
If Petra is to be identified with the Biblical city of Sela (the names “Petra” and “Sela” both mean “rock”), then it may also have been the Edomite stronghold which was captured by Amaziah king of Judah (2 Kings 14:7). An alternative site for Sela is located about 32 miles north of Petra. The rock-carved structures of Petra may also be in view when Obadiah speaks of the Edomites living in the “clefts of the rock” (petra in the Greek Septuagint) and making their home in the heights (Obadiah 1:3).
Figure 1: The Mountains of Seir around Petra.
Figure 2: The city of Petra is entered through the Siq, a narrow gorge which is never more than 16 feet wide, and which winds for more than a mile. The Siq dramatically ends at the spectacular rock-cut façade of the Khazneh, or Treasury.
Rabbah (רַבָּה raḇâ, LXX Ραββα).
1. Rabbah of Ammon; also Rabbath or Philadelphia. The capital of Ammon, Rabbah was located near the source of the Jabbok river, where the modern city of Amman, Jordan is located today.
The enormous iron bed of Og king of Bashan was kept on display at the city of Rabbah (Deuteronomy 3:11), possibly as a war trophy or memorial to the Rephaites whom the Ammonites had driven out (Deuteronomy 2:19-21).
During the reign of David, the Israelites besieged Rabbah and captured it (2 Samuel 11:1, 12:26-31). It was during this siege that David had Uriah the Hittite killed (2 Samuel 11:14-27). When David later fled Jerusalem to escape Absalom’s rebellion, he received aid from Shobi son of Nahash (2 Samuel 17:27-29), an Ammonite (possibly the king) from Rabbah.
Rabbah and Ammon appear to have remained subject to the Israelites until about the 9th century B.C., and archaeological evidence suggests that Rabbah became most prominent during the 7th and 6th centuries B.C., when Ammon enjoyed greater freedom under Assyrian and Babylonian rule than it had under the Israelites. Throughout this period, prophets from Israel and Judah repeatedly condemned the Ammonites for their aggression and arrogance, warning of Rabbah’s impending destruction (Amos 1:13-15; Jeremiah 49:1-6; Ezekiel 21:18-32; 25:2-7). This took place at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar around 581 B.C.
Rabbah was rebuilt during the Hellenistic period by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who renamed it Philadelphia. Philadelphia was later annexed by the Roman general Pompey, and became one of the ten cities of the Decapolis.
Figure 1: The modern city of Amman, Jordan preserves the name of the ancient Semitic kingdom of Ammon, and is built on the site of the Ammonite capital city of Rabbah.
Figure 2: Walls of the Ammonite citadel of Rabbah. Remains of the Ammonite city of Rabbah are scant, but a wall dating to the Iron II period has been found. This wall may have been used by the Ammonites in defense of their city, or constructed by the Israelites after their conquest of Rabbah.
2. Rabbah of Judah (possibly also Rubute). A town in the hill country of Judah located in the same district as Kiriath-Jearim (Joshua 15:60). It is possible that this town is the Rubute mentioned in Egyptian texts, though this identification is uncertain.
Red Sea (יַם־סוּף yam-sûp̱, LXX ἡ ἐρυθρὰ θάλασσα). The long narrow sea which separates northeastern Africa from the Arabian peninsula. At its northern extent the Red Sea divides into two gulfs. The Gulf of Suez divides Egypt and the Sinai peninsula to the west, and the Gulf of Aqaba divides Sinai and Arabia to the east. The Hebrew name for the sea of the exodus, Yam Suph, is usually identified with the Red Sea (Exodus 13:18; 15:4, 22; Deuteronomy 11:4; Joshua 2:10; 4:23; 24:6; Nehemiah 9:9; Psalm 106:7, 9, 22; 136:13, 15; Acts 7:36; Hebrews 11:29). The Red Sea is also mentioned in connection with the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites (Numbers 14:25; 21:4; 33:10-11; Deuteronomy 1:40; 2:1; Judges 11:16), with Solomon’s establishment of the port at Ezion-geber (1 Kings 9:26), and with Israel’s southern border (Exodus 23:31; Jeremiah 49:21).
Figure 1: Red Sea near Dahab, on the east coast of Sinai.
Sea of Galilee; also Sea of Chinnereth, Lake of Gennesaret, and Sea of Tiberias. A large freshwater lake in the northern region of Palestine known as the Galilee. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides but the northwest, which opens out upon the fertile plain of Gennesaret, and the south, where it meets the Jordan valley. The lake is fed from the north by the headwaters of the Jordan river and empties into the Jordan to the south.
The Sea of Galilee marked the eastern border of the promised land (Numbers 34:11) and the western border of the Amorite kingdom of Sihon (Joshua 12:3; 13:27). It was the central region of Christ’s ministry (Matthew 4:18; 15:29; Mark 1:16; 7:31; Luke 5:1), and he frequently crossed it in his travels (Matthew 8:23; Mark 5:1; 8:10; Luke 8:22, 26; John 6:1). The miraculous catch of fish took place in its waters (Luke 5:1-11), as did the drowning of the demon-filled swine (Mark 5:11-13; Luke 8:32-33). Jesus calmed one of its sudden storms (Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25) and walked across its surface (Matthew 14:22-33; John 6:16-21).
Figure 1: Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee.
Tabernacle. The movable tent sanctuary constructed by the Israelites at Sinai and used as their central place of worship until the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. Also known as the “Tent of Meeting,” the Tabernacle was always erected in the center of the Israelite camp, and was seen as the visible manifestation of the LORD’S presence with His people (Exodus 25:1-9).
Figure 1: The Tabernacle in the wilderness. The tabernacle consisted of an open courtyard and an enclosed tent, known as the Tent of Meeting. Note how plain and unassuming the tabernacle looks from a distance, with the Tent of Meeting’s outer cover hiding the richness of its ornamentation.
LXXSeptuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible)