Religion

 This is a special seminar originally prepared by Dr. Robert Grant aka The Holy Land Guru for use at Palm Coast Community Church Palm Coast Florida  3/24/14 version. Contact the author at 386 447 9473 or   www.holylandguru.com                                                                                                                    

 

 

The soon to be released  Hollywood movie about Noah has engendered interest and also created controversy and even ridicule. Adding to the controversy, its producer recently personally branded his  own film as the “least Biblical Biblical film ever made”.  An interesting statement.

 

 

 

What do the secular and the Biblical  sources say happened and can a rational person believe such a tale?

AN IMPORTANT OBSERVATION:          

The Biblical record of the Flood is premised upon the direct miraculous involvement of GOD in the affairs of man

and of His creation. Without that underlying premise it makes no sense.

With it the story rings as true. The secular mind rejects that idea.

 

 I Recommend the DVD      DISCOVERY OF NOAH’S FLOOD THE BEST EVIDENCE   estimated 55 minutes long which records the discovery an indentation in the earth shaped like a boat and near Mount Ararat that, when investigated with sonar type devices, demonstrates a structure that clearly fits the Genesis account. Quite compelling.  See source for this DVD at the end of this material

 

 

There are two competing viewpoints for understanding the geological history of the planet:

(1) The important prevailing principle that guides secular Geology is   UNIFORMITARIANISM

  • Uniformitarians argue that the way the planet operates is predictable as this is how it has always operated in the past. Gradual change rather than catastrophic change. This underlying principle instructs them how to date geological strata. Where items appear in the strata and where the strata appears in the multiple layers of strata draw them to certain conclusions.                                                                                                       BUT It is very difficult for this prevailing secular view to explain occurrences of great sudden change like the so called  Cambrian explosion that resulted in the apparently sudden deposits of huge  quantities of fully formed life forms. The laying down of huge deposits of fossils must have had an equally catastrophic cause.   It is also this uniformitarian principle that compels the secularist  to speculate as to  when such deposits were made ie 545 million year ago. Educated guesses based upon certain presuppositions.                                                                              BUT      Something enormous out of the ordinary occurred at least one time in the history of the planet it seems.
  •  Example The Siberian Mammoth Beds “The richness of the Siberian mammoth deposits in the permafrost defies description. Although uniformitarian writers consistently understate the extent and abundance of these beds, even their admissions are significant……..in Siberia alone some 50,000 mammoth tusks have been collected and sold to the ivory trade and there are rare occurrences of whole animals preserved in frozen ground……the mammoth and mastodon seem at one time to have been common over the whole surface of the globe………And the Arctic islands north of Siberia have been described as even more densely packed with the remains of elephants and other mammals as well as dense tangles of fossil trees and other plants so much that  entire islands seem to be composed of organic debris…There is most certainly no modern parallel entombment of elephants or any other kind of mammal taking place anywhere in the modern world…………..it seems fairly evident that the extermination of such immense hordes of animals and their interment in what has ever been frozen soil must be somehow explained in terms of the events accompanying just such a universal aqueous catastrophe as the Bible describes ………………the greatest riddle however is when, why and how did all of these assorted creatures and in such absolutely countless numbers get killed, mashed up and frozen into this horrible indecency”  (Genesis Flood p 289-291 )

                                                    An example of UNIFORMITARIANISM at work

“Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson in an important speech delivered  in connection with the Darwinian Centennial Convention at the University of Chicago said:

With the dawning realization that the earth is extremely old in human terms of age, came the knowledge that it has changed progressively and radically but usually and always in an orderly, a natural way. The fact of change had not earlier been denied in Western science or theology- after all the Noachian deluge was considered a radical change. But the Deluge was believed to have supernatural causes or concomitants that were not operative through earth’s history. The doctrine of geological uniformitarianism finally established in the 19th century widened the recognized reign of natural law. The earth has changed throughout its history under the action of material forces only and of the same forces as those now visible to us and still acting on it. The steps that I have so briefly traced reduced the sway of superstition in the conceptual world of human lives”  (Genesis Flood p 117)

 

 

           (2)In competition with that view  is  CATASTROPHISM  that allows for majorout of the ordinary events of great magnitude such as a one time enormous flood that altered the landscape in major ways

  • Uniformitarianism  is a conviction that geological change only occurs over a long period of time and gradually in the big picture and so it/they  rule out the possibility of a calamitous event like a world wide flood regardless of the evidence that might favor that view

 

 

 

Where is the story of the flood located in the Bible?

  • Genesis chapters 6 to 10 (p6 ff)

 

What does the Bible text say about this event?

  • After the creation man sinned and broke the relationship with God and was expelled from the Garden of Eden, got all messed up and angered God to the point that He decided to wipe them out and start over.  
  • People lived a lot longer then than they do today. (Genesis 5 p 6) ex Adam 930 years, We will see why. Climate change?
  • Things went from bad to worse . The “sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives” God got ticked off.  Who were these “sons of God” and who were these seductive “beautiful women”?      And there were giants living then, Who were they?         God concluded one thing, men were living too long  so their longevity was radically shortened to 120 years max. after the flood.
  • God was sorry He had ever made them…It broke his heart…..I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes I will destroy every living thing-all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them” (Gen 6:6)
  • But the family of Noah got His attention “Noah found favor with the Lord”. (6:8) He was “a righteous man, the only blameless person living on the earth at the time and he walked in close fellowship with God”  (6:9)
  • Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and filled with violence….everyone on earth was corrupt” Genesis 6:11  (p7)                                    
  • God decided to start over. “I have decided to destroy all living creatures for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes I will wipe them all out along with the earth”  
  • He identified one family, Noah,  that was faithful and decided to spare them and sufficient animals to repopulate the post flood earth.
  • God tasked Noah to build a huge boat in a place where there was no water or apparent need for a huge boat. No doubt subject to ridicule from the locals     Modern replicas have been created in  the Netherlands and also as part of a Christian theme park in Hong Kong.
  • The coming flood was going to destroy all not in the ark so God told Noah to be prepared to repopulate the earth after the flood is over. Noah was to bring Noah’s family and pairs of all animals by their “kind” and bring along enough food to last. Food/sacrificial animals were to be brought in in 7 pairs. The other animals were brought in in single pairs.

 

 

What did the world described by the Bible look like prior to the flood?

  • There apparently was no rain. The atmosphere was affected by a vapor canopy that blanketed the atmosphere of the planet and by an abundance of fresh water springs.
  • That climate apparently was universally quite temperate and the vapor canopy shielded the inhabitants from harmful radiation from the sun.  This probably contributed to the longevity of the pre flood population. The ideal global warming environment.

 

How long did the flood last?

  • They were on board that boat for more than a year (Genesis 7:17-8: ) about 371 days  ( The Genesis Flood hereinafter referred to as GF p3)

 

 

How does the Bible say that this enormous catastrophe occurred?

  • Note a flood that covered mountain tops would require enormous geological disruption. Perhaps tectonic shifting of the earth’s plates. Volcanic eruptions in the sea bed would leave a lot of evidence that it occurred such as massive layers of fossils later to be found in unusual places such  as would not be expected, for example like sea shells and evidence of creatures high up in mountains.   Do such exist?  well yes
  • What did the world look like to an observer prior to the flood? According to the text, quite different than it does today. The forces that caused the changes must have been enormous. Perhaps the heaving up of mountains that had not existed before? More than just a big rainstorm to account for the enormous change and the huge amount of water that would be required for this to occur.                                                                    Genesis 7:11 “All of the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents for forty days and forty nights……the flood waters grew deeper covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground the boat floated safely on the surface. Finally the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks” Then at the end    “The underground waters stopped flowing and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped”
  • Indicates enormous  geological dislocation. Heaving up of the ocean floor and heaving up of mountains? What were those forces

 

The Icelandic epic version of the flood legend called  Edda

describes the coming of the Flood this way:

  • “Mountains dash together……
  • And heaven is split in two the sun grows dead-
  • The earth sinks into the sea.
  • The bright stars vanish.
  • Fires rage and raise their flames
  • As high as heaven Flood Legends Global Clues of a Common Event by “Charles Martin( hereinafter referred to as FLGC)  p 85    NOTE        It conveys the picture of monumental devastation.

 

I know the Bible says the Flood  happened but is there any evidence

 outside of the Bible for such an event?    Well yes again!

 

Universal Flood traditions are found everywhere:

  •  “Scores and even hundreds of such traditions have been found in every part of the world in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres and common to most of them is the recollection of a great flood which once covered the earth and destroyed  all but a tiny remnant of the human race. Many of them even those which have been found among the American Indians tell of the building of a great ark which saved human and animal seed from total destruction by the flood and which finally landed on a mountain”      (GF p48)

The best example: THE GILGAMISH EPIC the most famous flood tradition outside of the Bible. From the area of Iraq and Iran. Found on clay cuneiform tablets dating before the writing of the book of Genesis

This is the same area from which Abraham  (about 2100 BC) emigrated. He was totally unique for his day and was a monotheist in the midst of polytheists.

 

The Gilgamish  Epic dates to about 2000-1700 BC (  G F p 30)

When these 2 PRIMARY ACCOUNTS OF THE FLOOD ARE COMPARED  they have very SIMILAR THEMES.

So it is safe to conclude that  they are somehow connected and one is probably feeding off the other as its source.

  1. 1.     Both claim the flood  to be “Divinely planned
  2. 2.     Both claim that “the  impending catastrophe was revealed to the hero of Deluge”
  3. 3.     Both “connect the Deluge with defection in the human race”
  4. 4.     Both “tell of the deliverance of the hero and his family
  5. 5.     Both tell “the hero of the Deluge was divinely instructed to build a huge boat to preserve life”
  6. 6.     Both” indicate the physical causes of the Flood “
  7. 7.     Both “specify the duration of the Flood”
  8. 8.     Both “name the landing place of the boat
  9. 9.     Both “ tell of the sending forth of birds at certain intervals to ascertain the decrease of the waters
  10. 10.   Both “describe acts of worship by the hero after his deliverance
  11. 11.   Both “allude to the bestowing of a special blessings upon the hero after the disaster”. (GF p 38)

 

 BUT THERE ARE ALSO BIG DIFFERENCES  BETWEEN THE TWO TRADITIONS

  1. 1.     THE AUTHORS OF THE FLOOD.                                                                                                                                                                                 “In Genesis it is the one and only true God who brings the Flood because of the moral depravity of mankind: in the Babylonian account the Flood is sent because of the rashness of Enlil and the opposition to the wills of other gods”
  2. 2.     THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE FLOOD                                                                                                                                                                 “In Genesis it is God Himself warns Noah to build an ark and gives mankind 120 years to repent; in the Babylonian account  the Flood is kept a secret by the gods but Utnapishtim (the Babylonian Noah is given a hint of the coming disaster by era without the knowledge of Enlil
  3. 3.     THE ARK AND ITS OCCUPANTS                                                                                                                                                                                       “In Genesis the Ark is 300 x 50 x 30 cubits with three decks and carries eight people, tow of each unclean animal and seven of thje clean and food; in the Babylonian account the Ark is 120 x 120 x 120 cubits with none decks and carries all of Utnapishtim’s  family and relations the boatman all the craftsmen(or learned men)’the seed of all living creatures’ and all hois gold and silver”
  4. 4.     THE CAUSES AND DURATION OF THE FLOOD                                                                                                                                                    “In Genesis the Flood is caused by breaking  up of he fountains of the great deep and the opening of the windows of heaven and these conditions continue for 150 days followed by an additional 221 days duri9ng which the waters abate; in the Babylonian acc9unt rain is the only cause mentioned and it ceases after only six days. After an unspecified number of days Utnapishtim and the others leave the Ark”
  5. 5.     THE BIRD SCENE                                                                                                                                                                                                            “In Genesis a raven is sent out first and then a dove three times art intervals of seven days; in eh Babylonian account a dove is sent out first then a swallow and finally a raven at unspecified intervals. The Babylonian account does not mention the olive leaf”
  6. 6.     THE SACRIFICE AND BLESSINGS                                                                                                                                                                           “In Genesis the Lord graciously receives Noah’s sacrifice, gives him and his family power to multiply and fill the earth, emphasizes the sanctity of human life and promises not to destroy the earth again by a flood. In the Babylonian account, hungry gods ‘gather like flies over the sacrificer’ because they had been deprived of sacrifices for so long. A quarrel ensues between the gods Enlil and Ea and Enlil finally blesses Utnapishtim and his wife after being rebuked by Ea for his rashness in bringing the Flood. Utnapishtim and his wife are then rewarded by being made gods and are taken to the realm of the gods” (GF p39-40)

 

THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? WHICH CAME FIRST?

An important fact: The story of the flood is to be found worldwide in most cultures in some sort of similar version.

 The big question is WHY?

The Bible says that following the flood God scattered the survivors across the world. So it should not be surprising that they retained a memory of what was a shared event of great importance to their ancestors?.

Could it be because they all share a common ancestry in Noah and that they were preserving an oral tradition of what happened to their forefathers  many years prior?

We would dismiss the stories as purely fictional if it were not for their universality. Yes I would expect cultures to invent myth explaining the existence of other cultures around them. That is logical. What is not logical is that almost every culture in the world would invent a similar if not virtually identical myth, explaining the existence of other cultures. Because this story exists almost everywhere what seems more probable is that the event really happened.”          ( FLGC)  p32

If they all have a common source in history we would expect that they would share common characteristics. Which they do.

ALL THE QUOTES THAT  FOLLOW ARE FROM      

LEGENDS OF THE FLOOD

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Kyle Butt, M.A.

Note: emphasis added by me to the below pages

 

Anthropologists who study legends and folktales from different geographical locations and cultures consistently have reported one particular group of legends that is common to practically every civilization. Legends have surfaced in hundreds of cultures throughout the world that tell of a huge, catastrophic flood that destroyed most of mankind, and that was survived by only a few individuals and animals. Although most historians who have studied this matter estimate that these legends number into the 200s, according to evolutionary geologist Robert Schoch, “Noah is but one tale in a worldwide collection of at least 500 flood myths, which are the most widespread of all ancient myths and therefore can be considered among the oldest” (2003, p. 249, emp. added). Schoch went on to observe:

 

Narratives of a massive inundation are found all over the world…. Stories of a great deluge are found on every inhabited continent and among a great many different language and culture groups (pp. 103,249).

Over a century ago, the famous Canadian geologist, Sir William Dawson, wrote about how the record of the Flood is preserved in some of the oldest historical documents of several distinct races of men, and is indirectly corroborated by the whole tenor of the early history of most of the civilized races (1895, pp. 4ff.).

Legends have been reported from nations such as China, Babylon, Mexico, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Persia, India, Norway, Wales, Ireland, Indonesia, Romania, etc.—composing a list that could go on for many pages (see Perloff, 1999, p. 167). Although the vast number of such legends is surprising, the similarity between much of their content is equally amazing. James Perloff noted:

In 95 percent of the more than two hundred flood legends, the flood was worldwide; in 88 percent, a certain family was favored; in 70 percent, survival was by means of a boat; in 67 percent, animals were also saved; in 66 percent, the flood was due to the wickedness of man; in 66 percent, the survivors had been forewarned; in 57 percent, they ended up on a mountain; in 35 percent, birds were sent out from the boat; and in 9 percent, exactly eight people were spared (p. 168).

 AMERICAN INDIAN LEGENDS

The Aztecs tell of a worldwide global flood in a story with striking parallels to the biblical deluge. “Only two people, the hero Coxcox and his wife, survived the flood by floating in a boat that came to rest on a mountain” (Schoch, p. 103). Then, soon after the flood, giants constructed a great pyramid in an endeavor to reach the clouds. Such ambition is said to have angered the gods, who scattered the giants with fire sent from the heavens (cf. Genesis 11:1-9).

In the ancient land we now refer to as Mexico, one tribe of Indians, known as the Toltecs, told of a great flood. In their legend, a deluge destroyed the “first world” 1,716 years after it was created. Only a few people escaped this worldwide flood, and did so in a “toptlipetlocali” (a word that means “closed chest”). After these few people exited the closed chest, they wandered about the Earth, and found a place where they built a “zacuali” (a high tower) in case another flood came upon the Earth. At the time of the “zacuali,” the Toltecs’ languages were confused and they separated to different parts of the Earth.

Another ancient tribe of Mexico told the story of a man named Tezpi who escaped the deluge in a boat that was filled with animals. Similar to Noah, who sent out a raven (a scavenger bird) that never returned, and a dove that came back with an olive leaf, “Tezpi released a vulture, which stayed away, gorging on cadavers. Then he let a hummingbird go, and it returned to him bearing a twig” (Schoch, p. 104).

 

ANCIENT GREEK MYTHOLOGY

 

According to the Greek legend of the deluge, humans became very wicked. Zeus, the leader of the many gods in Greek mythology, wanted to destroy humans by a flood, and then raise up another group. However, before he could do this, a man by the name of Deucalion, and his wife Pyrrha, were warned of the impending disaster. This fortunate couple was placed in a large wooden chest by one of the immortals named Prometheus. For nine days and nights, the floodwaters covered almost all of the Earth. Only a few mountain peaks remained. The wooden chest came to rest on the peak of Mount Parnassus. Later, after leaving the wooden chest, Deucalion sacrificed to Zeus.

 

CHINESE AND ASIAN LEGENDS

In the land of China, there are many legends about a great flood. One of those comes from a group of people known as the Nosu. According to their legend, God sent a personal messenger to Earth to warn three sons that a flood was coming. Only the youngest son, Dum, heeded the messenger. He constructed a wooden boat to prepare for the coming flood. When the waters arrived, Dum entered his boat, and was saved. After the waters began to recede, the boat landed on the mountains of Tibet, where Dum had three sons who repopulated the Earth. Interestingly, even the Chinese character for “boat” possibly reveals the story of Noah and the other seven people on the ark. The three elements used to symbolize a boat are:

 

The Iban people of Sarawak tell of a hero named Trow, who floated around in an ark with his wife and numerous domestic animals (Schoch, p. 252). Natives from India tell a story about a man named Manu who built an ark after being warned of a flood. Later, the waters receded, and he landed on a mountain (Schoch, p. 250).

 

 

ANCIENT BABYLONIAN MYTHOLOGY

Possibly the most famous flood account (aside from the biblical record of Noah and the Flood) comes from the ancient Babylonian empire. The Gilgamesh Epic, written on twelve clay tablets that date back to the seventh century B.C., tells of a hero named Gilgamesh. In his search for eternal life, Gilgamesh sought out Utnapishtim, a person who was granted eternal life because he saved a boatload of animals and humans during a great flood. On the eleventh tablet of this epic, a flood account is recorded that parallels the Genesis account in many areas. According to the story, the gods instructed Utnapishtim to build a boat because a terrible flood was coming. Utnapishtim built the boat, covered it with pitch, and put animals of all kinds on it, as well as certain provisions. After Utnapishtim entered the boat with his family, it rained for six days and nights. When the flood ended, the boat rested on Mount Niser. After seven days, Utnapishtim sent out a dove to see if the waters had receded. The dove came back, so he sent a swallow, which also returned. Finally, he sent out a raven—which never returned. Utnapishtim and his family finally exited the boat and sacrificed to their gods (see Roth, 1988, pp. 303-304).

 

 WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE OF ALL OF THESE SIMILAR ACCOUNTS?

What is the significance of the various flood legends?     The answer seems obvious: (a) we have well over 200 flood legends that tell of a great flood (and possibly more than 500—Schoch, p. 249); (b) many of the legends come from different ages and civilizations that could not possibly have copied any of the similar legends; (c) the legends were recorded long before any missionaries arrived to relate to them the Genesis account of Noah; and (d) almost all civilizations have some sort of flood legend.

The conclusion to be drawn from such facts is that in the distant past, there was a colossal flood that forever affected the history of all civilizations.

Those living soon after the Flood did not have the book of Genesis to read to their descendants. (Genesis was not written until several hundred years after the Flood.) The account of the Flood was passed from one generation to the next. Many parents and grandparents told their children and grandchildren about the huge ark, the wonderful animals, and the devastating Flood, long before the Genesis record ever existed. Over the years, the details of the story were altered, but many of the actual details remained the same. Alfred Rehwinkel wrote:

Traditions similar to this record are found among nearly all the nations and tribes of the human race. And this is as one would expect it to be. If that awful world catastrophe, as described in the Bible, actually happened, the existence of the Flood traditions among the widely separated and primitive people is just what is to be expected. It is only natural that the memory of such an event was rehearsed in the ears of the children of the survivors again and again, and possibly made the basis of some religious observances (1951, pp. 127-128).

Harold W. Clark, in his volume, Fossils, Flood and Fire, commented:

Preserved in the myths and legends of almost every people on the face of the globe is the memory of the great catastrophe. While myths may not have any scientific value, yet they are significant in indicating the fact that an impression was left in the minds of the races of mankind that could not be erased (1968, p. 45).

After the “trappings” are stripped away from the kernel of truth in the various stories,     

 

There is almost complete agreement among practically all flood accounts in the following areas:

(a) a universal destruction by water of the human race and all other living things occurred;

(b) an ark, or boat, was provided as the means of escape for some; and

(c) a seed of mankind was provided to perpetuate humanity. As Furman Kearley once observed: “These traditions agree in too many vital points not to have originated from the same factual event” (1979, p. 11). In volume three of his multi-volume set, The Native Races of the Pacific Slope—Mythology,H.H. Bancroft wrote: “There never was a myth without a meaning; …there is not one of these stories, no matter how silly or absurd, which was not founded on fact” (1883).

Among the noted scholars of days gone by who have studied these matters in detail are such men as James G. Frazer (Folklore in the Old Testament) and William Wundt (Elements of Folk Psychology). Wundt, who did his utmost to find some kind of reasonable case for independent origins of the various flood sagas (and who had no great love for the biblical evidence), was forced to admit:

Of the combination of all these elements into a whole (the destruction of the earth by water, the rescue of a single man and seed of animals by means of a boat, etc.), however, we may say without hesitation, it could not have arisen twice independently (1916, p. 392, parenthetical comment in orig.).

Or, as Dawson concluded more than a century ago:

{We} know now that the Deluge of Noah is not mere myth or fancy of primitive man or solely a doctrine of the Hebrew Scriptures. …[N]o historical event, ancient or modern, can be more firmly established as matter of fact than this (1895, pp. 4ff.).

 

Note Emphasis added by me.

 

 

REFERENCES

Bancroft, H.H. (1883), Works: The Native Races of the Pacific Slope—Mythology (San Francisco, CA: A.L. Bancroft).

Clark, Harold W. (1968), Fossils, Flood and Fire (Escondido, CA: Outdoor Pictures).

Dawson, John William (1895), The Historical Deluge in Relation to Scientific Discovery (Chicago, IL: Revell).

Kearley, F. Furman (1979), “The Significance of the Genesis Flood,” Sound Doctrine, March/April.

Perloff, James (1999), Tornado in a Junkyard: The Relentless Myth of Darwinism (Arlington, MA: Refuge Books).

Rehwinkel, Alfred M. (1951), The Flood (St. Louis, MO: Concordia).

Roth, Ariel (1988), Origins: Linking Science and Scripture (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing).

Schoch, Robert M. (2003), Voyages of the Pyramid Builders (New York: Jeremy P. Parcher/Putnam).

Wundt, William (1916), Elements of Folk Psychology, trans. Edward L. Schaub (New York: Macmillan).

 

 

 

 

It was April 1967 when I gathered at New York’s JFK International Airport with my 47 friends. This was to be my first journey abroad.If you have already  been to the Holy Land, you will be able to identify with my feelings on my first journey. I was flying before the plane left the gate in New York.I was actually going to the Holy Land!    Me!      Actually!    Seemed incredible.Our group was quite eclectic in its make up. There were young couples and a few kids but they were mostly older retired people. This is still the profile of most groups.   And most groups today are not as large as was mine. They usually number 12 to 15 and share the services of guides and drivers on a bus

To me the unique experience of being a minority in a majority Muslim world, was quite disturbing at first.

one of the largest mosques in the worold

one of the largest mosques in the world

 It was a rude awakening to learn that the world did not mirror my limited life experience in Southern California. I remember awakening in Beirut Lebanon the first morning to the Muslim call to prayer and finding that so wild  and pagan sounding.

One of our 1967 side trips was impossible this year as we went through the Bekka Valley to Damascus to visit the traditional Street called “Straight” and the largely fictional places that memorialized the story of Paul in the book of Acts.

I remember the huge monolith there, destined to be an obelisk but broken in the process of its removal from the quarry, jutting out of the quarry as a silent memory of when this area was dominated by Rome. So big you could actually drive a car on it.

Beirut was known then as the Switzerland of the Middle East as it was the place the wealthy of the Muslim world went to play and experience the vices they were denied back home in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.It was fortunate that we went there in 1967 because, not too many years later, war would break out between the Maronite Christians and the Syrian backed Muslim fundamentalists and later Hamas. Beirut became a war zone. Hamra Street, with all of its French designer shops, was right in the middle of that conflict and was destroyed in the process.

When we were there, all of the world’s top designers  had their beautiful stores on Hamra Street where they catered to the wealthy of the Arab world. Beirut was then a beautiful city and even had a Las Vegas style casino, Casino du liban, complete with elephants and water falls on stage that out did the Nevada scene by far

One of the marvelous buildings cared out of the rock in Petra

One of the marvelous buildings cared out of the rock in Petra

Going to Petra the first time was a thrilling experience even before I understood its fascinating probable connection with the Apostle Paul and with the development of our Christian theology. (See chapter 19 ).

The Rose red city of Petra

The Rose red city of Petra 

Up there, above our heads, was the tomb of Aaron, brother of Moses.

Petra was on the track followed by the Jews during their 40 year trek through the wilderness.

It was also  from here that the mother of Herod the Great came .

The Idumaeans who built Petra were a gifted people with their city carved out of the red sandstone cliffs described now as one of the wonders of the world.

It took another 30+ years for Hollywood to discover this exotic site and feature it in the epic film, Indiana Jones and Last Crusade.

Not far from Amman, the famous mountain called Nebo towers over the Jordan Valley.It was from this vantage point that Moses viewed the promised land that he was forbidden to enter and it was near here that he was buried in a yet to be discovered tomb. Somewhere below where we stood on Nebo, Uriah the Hittite fell in battle so that David could claim his wife Bathsheba for his own. Down the distant mountain pass to the West, Naomi  and her 2 sons and their wives, traveled in search of food and it was back up that same pass, across the Jordan River  that the 2 now destitute widows returned to Bethlehem, as recorded in the Book of Ruth. As we stood on Mount Nebo we were able to let our eyes sweep the panorama below us as we looked to the left and saw the Dead Sea and the cliffs where the Dead Sea scrolls were found, Qumran, where we would later visit.

Sweeping to the North our gaze took us past ancient Jericho and the mountain of temptation where Jesus is said to have had his encounter with Satan, and, with the Jordan River snaking its path from the Sea of Galilee in the North to its terminus in the Dead Sea, it was all there  at our feet. Awesome!

Further to the North, if we could have seen that far, we would have seen the Sea of Galilee.

Standing there on Nebo we realized the fact that the land promised by God to Israel was located on both sides of the Jordan River. That became more significant later when the border dramatically moved in June of 1967, 6 short weeks after my visit there. We ventured onto the West Bank by crossing the King Hussein bridge over the Jordan River near where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.

You  are beginning to see how close we are to the Bible events? They are everywhere.

Visiting Jericho we looked in vain for the fallen walls and then proceeded up the modern/old Jericho road and were reminded of the story of the good Samaritan. The ruins of an old Turkish fort are found at the mid point and are often mistakenly called the inn of the Good Samaritan.  I learned early on to try to distinguish between the fanciful and the real. A lot of what we were shown as fact just was not so. Our Jerusalem hotel was an Arab hotel called the St George and it was located quite near the Old City of Jerusalem. Next door to the hotel was the shop of Mr. Kando.

He was an interesting character and played an important role in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Small of stature and always wearing a dirty ankle length robe with a fez hat and always in need of a shave and shower, his main employment was as a shoe repair cobbler. He also dabbled in antiquities and that is how he at one time had the famous Dead Sea Scrolls in his possession. I bought some ancient lamps from him to bring home with me. The famous one eyed  Israeli general Moishe Dyan was a regular customer of Kando in later years.

While in Jordan/Jerusalem we had a fascinating time visiting so many sites of importance to the faith. 

A cave is located under the alter in the church in Bethehem where Jesus was born

A cave is located under the alter in the church in Bethlehem where Jesus was born

We went to the birthplace of the Savior in Bethlehem,  to Mount Moriah with its 4000 year old history at the heart of the Old Testament  sacrificial system and  its connection to one of the 2 possible sites for the crucifixion and resurrection. (See chapter 19.) We visited both traditional places identified as Calvary.

The authentic pools of Siloam and Bethesda central to 2 of Jesus’ miracles, and the 2800 year old tunnel of Hezekiah were on our itinerary.   

the retaining wall of the temple of Herid

the retaining wall of the temple of Herod

A wandering walk through the Old City is an experience unto itself.   And of course the “wailing wall” or western wall of the temple plateau built by Herod the Great at the time of Jesus, looms large in my memory of that first trip.

The high point emotionally for us then and now, was the communion service experienced at the Garden Tomb, one of the 2 locations thought to be where Jesus died and was raised from the dead.

The wine/grape juice is served there in a small carved olive wood cup that is then taken home as a treasure to remember an extraordinary experience and spiritual high.

 

communion service at the garden tomb

communion service at the garden tomb

During the intervening years since 1967 the borders between Israel and her Arab neighbors have changed in remarkable ways.

On the first trip, all of the West Bank of the Jordan River including the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem and Jericho and the Dead Sea, were ruled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan under the Western oriented King Hussein. His son Abdullah now reigns in his place. Israel’s piece of the pie was tiny and indefensible

There were then and are still, 2 cities of Jerusalem.There is the “Old City” everyone recognizes. But there is also New Jerusalem built by generations of Zionist Jews who have immigrated from Europe over the past 150 years.

In April 1967, the border between Jordan and Israel, and Old and New Jerusalem,  was a “no mans land” strip of dirt that traced along  outside the walls of the Old City and continued to the North.  Across the valley to the West were Israeli snipers who tried to kill the Arab snipers who were shooting at them from behind the walls of the Old City.  Everyone was a target and fair game in this struggle, regardless of which side of “no mans’ land” you stood on. Keep your head down or else..

If you were foolish enough to become exposed to either side you could become dead quickly and so, when touring the Old City then, we were very careful to not stick our heads up anywhere along the Western side of the city.

One of the places where Jesus may have been buried

One of the places where Jesus may have been buried

In early 1967 while the Old City was still in the hands of Jordan, Jews were forbidden to visit what is now Israel’s most sacred location the so called wailing wall or Western Wall of the Temple Mount. Now there is a wide open plaza there that allows you to walk in great numbers right up to the wall. Then that entire area was covered by slummy little houses that crowded right up to the wall itself. I remember threading my way through this tumbledown mess and suddenly abruptly finding myself at the base of the wall looking up. The time of greatest celebration for Israel was when the Jews took the Old City and especially the area of the Western wall. Almost immediately they cleared away the slum dwellings and the result is the wide plaza over the now filled in Tyropean Valley of Jesus’ day.

Israel was so small and virtually indefensible then within the borders defined by the UN mandate and then subsequently  fought over in the 1948 war of Independence.

Israel’s  continued existence as a nation was not all  that certain in 1967

At one point Israel was only about 8 to 10 miles wide between the border with Jordan to the East and the Mediterranean Sea to the West. This narrow portion was in the area of Biblical Samaria.  The Arab world at large has never accepted the existence of the State of Israel and still does not do so. So Israel can never enjoy the luxury of letting its guard down.

In order to enter Israel in April 1967  it was necessary to cross over “no mans’ land”.The entry point to Israel from Jordan was through the remains of a home formerly owned by a Jewish family called Mandelbaum. Their ruined home was in fact the famous so called Mandelbaum Gate. When we crossed over into Israel, leaving our Jordanian bus and driver and guide behind , we personally hauled our baggage across the strip of dirt plaza where it was then  reloaded  onto the awaiting Eged  Israeli bus and  where we met our Jewish Israeli guide and, unexpectedly,  our Christian Arab driver.An  Arab driver for our Israeli bus in Israel?    We did not expect that.             How can this be?

At that time many of the sites of interest to Christians were in Jordan. But there was still much for us to see on the Israeli side including Nazareth, Cana and Megiddo and Caesarea and Capernaum. In traditional Cana I purchased a small bottle of wine (remember that famous wedding Jesus participated in?) that now, some 46 years later, resides yet unopened in my home office.

local wine in the city made famous by Jesus' first miracles

local wine in the city made famous by Jesus’ first miracles

A mystery. This corked and still sealed bottle has seen its fluid level drop about an inch over the past 46 years. How is that possible?     Bottom Line: It is my hope is that this summary from memory of my first journey to the lands of Bible will whet your appetite to share my experience

canawine holylandguru

STRATEGIC SUICIDE

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Since this present US Administration took office it has been abundantly clear that Barack Obama is a prejudiced man .

And that prejudice runs counter to America’s historic commitment that has consistently viewed the State of Israel as a necessary and valued ally in the Middle East.

While understanding that countries do not have “friends”, they mainly have interests, a safe Israel has always been viewed as clearly among our US national interests.

Most American Presidents and Administrations have recognized that fact and have supported Israel, often standing alone in that endeavor in the UN.

But to many in the world, the very existence of the Jewish State is the cause of tension and war and to them, it would be a good thing if the state of Israel no longer existed.
Its demise would remove a constant irritant that has the Arabs so angry and aggressive.

Does Obama believe that?

holy land tour with the Holy Land Guru

Huge Herodion stones placed in the western wall built by Herod the Great at the time of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Obama’s presumed mind set in this matter is perhaps understandable.

Consider the following: Mr. Obama’s family roots are in the Muslim world and his personal emotional attachment is clearly to Islam, from his father’s influence and from his years living in the Muslim world and from soaking up that culture to the point that the sound of the Islamic call to prayer is, as he admitted, one of “the most beautiful sounds” in the world to him.

If you were to be able to peal back the layers of the onion so to speak, I suspect that this is what you find inside the American President.

That personal sentiment/ pre judging, has been on display since Obama took office beginning with his “apology tour” to the Muslim world, his cow towing to the Saudi leader, his dissing of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on several occasions, and his strong reluctance to visit the Jewish State.

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It took until 2012 for him, under political pressure from the largely Democrat American Jewish lobby, to actually go to Israel and see for himself the absurdity of a peace plan that requires strategic suicide on the part of Israel and an eventual guarantee, one day. of the refighting, of the 1967 war all over again.

Fact: The Arab world has never accepted the existence of the State of Israel and is still committed to its extinction either through the so called “right of return” that would open her borders to her Arab neighbors and would result in the Jews becoming an instant minority in their own state, OR, by war, perhaps the largely preferred way.

Now Mr. Obama’s emotional attraction to the Arab side is playing out geo-politically in his commitment to a “Peace Process” designed to force/convince/entice/bribe Israel to return to the early 1967 borders that existed prior to the 6 Day War.
John Kerry, US Secretary of State, is there as I write pursuing that goal.

This American/European pressure on Israel to give up this hard won land has been on display since 1967 and, if implemented, would result in the eventual destruction of the Jewish State and a possible 2nd holocaust.
Consider that carefully.
Not so farfetched.

If you had been there with me on one of my Holy land tours you would understand why this plan will never be implemented.
Israel will never voluntarily give up the “West Bank” as it is known.
To do so, would be strategic suicide.

A brief lesson in geography and in history is in order.

holy land tours

1948 plan to divide Palestine and provide for a Jewish state

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took my first of now 125 holy land tours in 1967, 19 short years after the establishment of the State of Israel and only 6 short weeks prior to the outbreak of the important 6 Day War.

I remember vividly the Middle East as it was then.

The Jewish State came into existence in 1948 as the fulfillment of a plan to provide a safe place, a Jewish State, for survivors of the European holocaust.

In 1948, the area we now call Israel was a state-less area, still administered by Great Britain after the dissolution of the Turkish Ottoman Empire at the end of World War One.

Its national roots were laid earlier when a British politician named Lord Balfour created a formal plan called the Balfour Declaration that declared it was Great Britain’s intention to establish a Jewish state somewhere in the land they then administered that had formerly, prior to World War One, been part of the now long gone Ottoman Empire.

Jews had already lived in that part of the world for thousands of years and had come in large numbers during the previous 150 years to escape the pogroms of Russia and Eastern Europe.
As a result of a wave of Zionist inspired “aliyah” imigrations from Europe, their numbers there 9in this part of the former Ottoman Empire had steadily grown. (For more information see blogs at my website holylandguru,com).

The land allotted to Israel by the UN in 1948 was small and indefensible to the max.

The bulk of the partitioned land went to Jordan and so, Immediately upon the official declaration of the existence of the State of Israel by the UN, war broke out and its now citizens were forced to fight to the death against the numerically stronger Arab side as the “War of Independence” commenced.

Israel’s survival did not gain much hope internationally.

It then seemed inevitable that Israel would be destroyed by its Arab neighbors.

Much to surprise of the world, Israel prevailed, won the conflict, and pushed the borders back thus strengthening their position……. but not by much.

And that was the reality when I first visited both sides of that border on my first of now 125 Holy Land tours.

When I took this 1st holy land tour in 1967, Israel was only about 10 miles wide at one point and the entire West side of the Jordan River, including the Old City of Jerusalem was under the control of Jordan (See www.holylandguru.com for a detailed account of that journey and my observations then)

In 1967, under the prodding of Egyptian strong man Gamal Abdul Nasser,the combined forces of the Arab side simultaneously attacked Israel from 3 sides, shortly after I returned from my first holy land tour.

Again the Jewish State was faced with annihilation and another holocaust.

The huge well trained and equipped Egyptian army with hundreds of tanks, flooded across the Suez Canal into the Sinai from the South, and the disciplined Jordanian army came from the East while the Syrian forces attacked from the North East .

Nothing short of a miracle and remarkable courage prevented a massacre and the end of the small State of Israel.

This lop sided conflict, resulted in a massive victory for the greatly outnumbered Jewish forces.

The decisive defeat by Israel of all of these Arab armies resulted in the borders of Israel being dramatically pushed South all the way to the Suez Canal and to the Jordan River to the East, and to the backside of the Golan Heights to the North East.

By mid June 1967 Israel finally had achieved clearly defined and defensible borders.

At the very same time, international pressure began to be exerted on Israel to give up the land the Arabs had lost during the 6
days of war, and to return to the former pre 1967 borders as though there had not even been a war.

That pressure on Israel continues today and at an increasing rate under the Obama Administration.

The US has great influence in Israel because of the historic financial and military support we have given them over the years.
At the same time we have also poured billions into the Arab side.
Such is the insanity of American foreign policy.

Israel depends upon the support of the US for its existence and so when an American Administration tries to muscle policy that is detrimental to Israel’s survival they are placed in an impossible situation.

They must try to balance their need to defend themselves in the midst of a hostile Arab sea
AND
alienating the only historic supporter they have had, the United States of America.

And so the diplomatic struggle between Israel and the US proceeds with Secretary of State John Kerry wielding both the carrot and the stick and with the Arab world looking on.

The players have all seen this movie before but not with an American President so clearly prejudiced to the Arab side..

One thing Israel understands is that it cannot trust the United States to serve Israel’s interests.
It must in the final analysis, look to its own survival, regardless of what inducements Kerry and Obama may push that serve their own interests.
Clearly there is a conflict of interests afoot here.

drbob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The author, Dr. Robert Grant has frequently been to the Middle East, taking American church groups there, about 125 times over the past 46 years and is a keen observer of the region.
He encourages American pastors to bring members of their congregations with them and to, in the process, be able to have this Bible inspiring journey, at no personal cost to them.
Please go to Faceboook.com/HolyLandGuru where you will find his many original articles written on all things holy land related. Also consider traveling with him in December 2014 or January 2015 when he will be going back to the Holy land again.

The Old City of Jerusalem as seen today

The Old City of Jerusalem as seen today

CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS: GET NAKED

 

If you lived in Estonia that could very well be a choice you would make. Estonian families often go to a sauna on Christmas eve where the entire family strips off and soaks aux natural to welcome in Christmas day. If you lived in Norway you would probably find yourself hiding your brooms on Christmas eve lest the wicked witch who roams about on Christmas eve might find yours and proceed to ride it. If you lived in Caracas Venezuela you would probably get out your roller skates and make your way down roads temporarily deserted of cars to celebrate midnight mass..

 

In a moment I will tell you about yet other strange encumbrances that have attached themselves like barnacles to the bottom of a boat, to the simple story of the birth of the Savior. One of the highlights of our holy land tours is our visit to the Church of the Holy Nativity in the heart of Bethlehem. Local tradition pointed to this location when Helena the mother of the “Christian” emperor Constantine first came here in the 4th century AD and caused this church to be built. Under its present structure (been destroyed and rebuilt a couple of times) and under the alter is a cave where most agree that this is where Jesus was born.

 

Most people who have not traveled abroad are under the mis-impression that the way they celebrate events is the way everyone does so. That is clearly not so. Local culture and traditions often get all tangled up in the fabric of the historic event. We can see how that happened to our own celebration of Christmas as pagan symbols from Europe like mistletoe and Christmas trees and Easter bunnies and eggs all attached themselves to the celebration of important days in the life of Jesus.

Dome of the Rock Muslim shrine

Dome of the Rock Muslim shrine

 

In the Holy Land where we take holy land tours annually, Christmas in Bethlehem is a grand celebration that begins with a crowded manger square lined with restaurants and peddlers selling their goods, and a procession with Arabian horses followed by a single horseman riding a coal black horse and carrying a cross, followed by a host of dignitaries who proceed into the Church of the Holy Nativity where mass is celebrated.

 

But if you were to poke your head inside that church it would not much resemble your church at home. No seats. Huge rough textured chandeliers festooned year long with round colored Christmas glass globes. You would also notice that the local Christian Arab homes (of which there are fewer each year as the Muslims continue driving the Christian families out) have a cross painted on their doors and often a nativity scene outside. Local craftsmen carve such from local olive wood and many who travel with us on our holy land tours buy such to display at home. On our Holy Land tours we go into the church and are able to go below the alter where the cave is located that is reputed to be where “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. So to their credit the Orthodox and Catholic denominations that predominate there make the important connection between the birth and the death/resurrection of Jesus.

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So what other strange customs have been added to the Christmas story around the world? Here are a few, perhaps bizarre details. I am moved to ask the rhetorical question: What on earth do these have to do with the simple yet profound story of the incarnation? In Japan on Christmas eve you would probably celebrate by getting a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I kid you not.

 

In Greenland you would probably “enjoy” a delicacy that has been in the preparation since the past summer called kiviak. It is made by killing about 500 birds, sewing them up whole complete with entrails and beaks, in a seal skin, placing a heavy rock on top to squeeze out the air and allow it to ferment for 6 months. Said to smell like cheese.

 

In Catalonia Spain you would see statues called “caganers” of famous politicians and personalities shown defecating. Families hide these graphic statues in their nativity scenes and invite their guests to discover them. These cagners are thought to attract prosperity. Also they have what they call a “Christmas crapper” which is a piece of a tree trunk with 4 stick legs and with a face painted on it and a hole cut out into which the kids stuff candy over the days leading up to Christmas and then on Christmas day the small section of log is placed in the fireplace and the kids are instructed to beat it until it “poops candy” all the while singing Christmas carols. You can’t make this stuff up now can you.

 

In the Ukraine you would find the Christmas trees decorated with artificial spider webs remembering the local legend of a poor family who could not afford to decorate their tree and so the spiders did it for them and those webs later turned into gold and silver threads. In La Befana Italy, instead of awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus you would be waiting for the arrival of a witch who flies into town on a broom stick and gives out candy to the kids.

 

In Bangladesh you would see the villagers cutting down banana trees, tying them together in pairs and replanting them alongside the path they take from their home to church. The huge leaves are bent over to make an archway. Pieces of bamboo have holes drilled in them and candles inserted and provide light for the journey to church for the late night service Christmas eve.

 

In Turkey, an officially Muslim country which tolerates a degree of freedom of religion (unfortunately this appears to be diminishing under the current regime), the birth place of Saint Nicholas in Patara is celebrated in the nearby town of Demre with a 3 day festival in early December.
In Viet Nam a strongly Buddhist/Confucian country, the influence of the French occupation there is to be seen in the large number of Roman Catholics who, following midnight mass on Christmas eve go home to a huge meal of chicken soup, if you are poor, or of turkey with all of the trimmings if you are wealthy. And the kids do not hang up stockings but place their shoes outside in the hope of finding gifts there in the morning.

 

In Labrador the kids are given turnips saved from the previous summer harvest. A hole is drilled in the turnip and a lighted candle inserted.
In Iceland a central character in the celebration of Christmas is a scary cat like figure that eats children who have been lazy and not studied hard enough. If you have performed well in your studies you get new clothes to wear on Christmas. That is to protect you as the hungry cat is said to only eat people with old clothing on.

 

In parts of Mexico like Oaxaca you would find locals making and buying nativity scenes carved out of huge radishes and sold in local stores.
In Sweden you would probably share a bowl of rice pudding in which a peeled almond has been placed knowing that the one who finds the almond is assured of good fortune and of getting married in the following year.

 

If you were a Christian living in Iraq (yes a few still survive there) you would probably make a fire outside your house from thorns. Tradition says that the way your fire burns will determine your future prospects. If the thorns turn to ash then the future will be good for you and then everyone jumps over the ashes 3 times. Why 3?

holy land tours

Dr Robert Grant the Holy Land Guru

 

Such is the interesting variety to the human experience. One does wonder how the story of Christmas gets so interwoven with such often bizarre customs and practices.

 

Question: Should you be considering coming with us when we next return to the Holy Land in December 2014 (11 days to Israel, Jordan and Turkey) or in January 2015 for 10 marvelous days in Israel? Special arrangements are provided for pastors and Bible teachers to underwrite most if not all of their cost.

 

For 46 years now I have been going to the lands of the Bible (over 120 times) and in the process taking thousands of friends with me and I am committed to helping pastors to have this inspiring experience that will transform their preaching and teaching ministries. I can be reached at (386) 447 9473. 

JEZEBEL THE MOST DESPISED WOMAN IN RECORDED HISTORY

A special article written by Dr. Robert Grant aka The holy Land Guru

to keep his friends up to speed on all things Holy Land related.

10/10/13

Known as the Holy Land Guru as a result of his vaste experience over 46 years of conducting Holy Lnd Tours ever 125 times there

Dr Grant personally escorts groups of friends to the Holy Land annually

In the 1950s the most popular hit song of the day at one time was Jezebel sung by the late Frankie Laine.

See the UTube link for this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw9j2EN4TU4 (Preview)

If you are of an older generation you will now experience an immediate  burst of nostalgia.

 If you are in the 50 or younger crowd you will wonder what we ever saw in that song or in Frankie Laine for that matter.

Earlier in 1938, Betty Davis stared in a film called Jezebel about a scheming woman.

 In more contemporary history another popular song was written about Jezebel  with lyrics beginning with

“She’s on the prowl, She wants it all and she’ll stop for nothing everyone knows”

Skipping on it continues

 “The innocent look on her face is all fake. She’s worn out and worn down,  From all of the one night stands”

  And still  later

“What a waste of a beautiful face. Was it the way she was raised, Or just the terrible choices she’s chosen to make”

So clearly, Jezebel has left her mark on history

Just who was this woman  Jezebel who inspired such dislike and condemnation.

First of all it needs to be noted that she was a real flesh and blood person.

It was a story in the Biblical Archeology Journal called  How Bad Was Jezebel? that caused me to go to the Bible and learn what I could about this unforgettable character who lived and died about 2900+ years ago and who still stirs passions and inspires poetry and song  to this day.

I get great pleasure in trying to understand Biblical characters as they would be today while recognizing that people have not really changed all that much over the centuries. The only things that have changed are their gadgets and toys. Same base emotions and drives and sins and temptations and weaknesses. And so we can learn a great deal from them.

Who was Jezebel?

 Her father was a Phoenician (read Lebanon) King who lived about 850 BC or almost 3000 years ago..

 

The Mediterranean  city state in which Jezebel was raised was devoted to the worship of the pagan nature gods of Baal and Asherah / Astarte (from which we get the word Easter).

Jezebel, as a young woman, was probably a priestess in that cult and so may well have engaged in temple prostitution as part of her duties.

She also gave cosmetic makeup such a bad name that for a long time Christians were discouraged from wearing such by their Christian culture. Some Christian denominations still frown upon its use today and that all traces back to the influence of Jezebel.

Marriages then were often arranged for political reasons and served to  build strong political ties between otherwise competing/warring factions. Solomon carried that crazy strategy to an extreme with his hundreds of “wives”.

God had given the Israelites specific orders to not make such alliances with the pagan nations around them. So when Ahab, king of Israel arranged for Jezebel to come to his kingdom as his bride  it might have made great political sense to him but he was in direct rebellion against the express wishes of God.

(This article in the Biblical Archeology journal predictably wanders off into applying the speculative “documentary hypothesis” used for the past 100 years  by theological liberals to try to dissect the authorship of the early books of the Bible and assign their authorship to others than stated. Having observed this, from my perspective, flaw, there is still much to be appreciated from this scholarly treatise.)

So this apparently very attractive and willful young woman was put into an impossible position by the choices of the 2 most important men in her life: her father who arranged this marriage for his own strategic political reasons, and Ahab her husband who agreed to it in spite of the warnings of the God of Israel: “Do not do this”.

Jezebel was a stranger in a strange and to her very different land, now married to a man she did not know, and in a culture that denied her gods and tried to force her to worship another God. Even the climate was different from the Mediterranean sea shore warm climate of Southern Lebanon where she grew up, to the stark interior of Israel in the mountains of its capital Samaria to the north of Jerusalem where it can get quite cold in the winter,

Her father apparently had raised her to be very strong willed and to push for her way. And so once  armed with the title of Queen she was able to exert her will strongly, which she did.

By contrast her husband Ahab was not a man of strong character and he readily gave in to the competing demands of his new wife to the point of joining her in the worship of the fertility gods of Baal.

Jezebel  made her first aggressive move by building a conspicuous place of worship dedicated to the worship of Baal in the middle of the capital of Israel.  It was not long before her husband Ahab joined her in this abomination (1 Kings 16:31 f )

Emboldened by this achievement Jezebel took it to the next step and launched a public campaign to discredit the God of Israel with the famous contest on Mount Carmel where we go on our Holy Land tours. This definitive contest matched the prophet Elijah against the 450 prophets of Baal with the resounding defeat of Baal . (1 Kings 18:4)

The capital of Israel was samaria north of Jerusalem where Jezebel was queena

Jezebel was queen of Israel in Samaria

it is interesting to note that Jezebel was not present to personally witness this confrontation which was only viewed by males and so she had to rely on the reports that were brought back to her by her husband Ahab who must have  had an “OOOPs” moment. She may not have been convinced as to what had occurred.

 An interesting aside: Fresh from this amazing victory the prophet  Elijah immediately had a spiritual   collapse and a fear driven emotional breakdown that seems classic in its description as he fled from  the reach of an angry Jezebel (1 kings 19:3f)

(An interesting aside: serious religious apostasy often lasts for generations and is difficult to uproot  apart from a major religious revival. Flash  forward to the next generation after Ahab and Jezebel  and the king that ruled after Ahab died, Ahaziah. He apparently fell through the roof of his palace in Samaria and seriously injured himself. His immediate inclination was to send for the help of Baal despite the warnings to the contrary by Elijah the prophet of God who had recovered his courage by this time. 2 Kings 1)

Greed to acquire valuable  real estate by any means necessary  is not a modern development. It was alive and well in Jezebel’s time. Ahab wanted a neighboring piece of land that produced grapes. It was prime land and was located right next to the palace. Ahab, allowed Jezebel who was not sensitive to the God given laws of Israel, to intervene.

She conspired to misuse the modern American doctrine of eminent domain, plus a dose of foreign intrigue and perjury to seize the man’s property by conspiring to have him executed by stoning. Poor Naboth was doomed and lost his life and Ahab got the land he wanted. This experience caused Jezebel to view her husband as weak because where she came from the King would just seize whatever he wanted and that was that.

Interestingly that piece of land was probably located in the wide now lush valley of Jezreel. We also call that valley the valley of  Armageddon.

We travel though that wide and fertile valley on our Holy land Tours as we travel across it to Megiddo where, 300 years earlier, Solomon had built a fortress city to guard the important trade route, the via Maris (way of the Sea),  that passed through the valley near by.

So Ahab  may have felt some guilt about the matter but he got what he wanted and so Jezebel probably won his respect. But she was repelled by his vacillation which she interpreted as weakness while she,  Jezebel was behaving exactly as she was raised to behave  and just arranged to seize the land. So Ahab should have been under no illusions when he married her.

Not long ago the archeologists uncovered a remarkable ancient stone seal. The Biblical Archeology Journal reports as follows concerning the details found on the seal:

“Four paleo-Hebrew letter- two just below the winged sun disk at center, two at the bottom left and right-spell out the name YZBL or Jezebel, on the seal. The Phoenician design, the dating of the seal to the ninth century or early eighth century BCE and of course the name, have led scholars to speculate that the Biblical queen may have used this gray opal to seal her documents. In the Phoenician language Jezebel’s name may have meant ‘Where is the Prince?’ which was the cry of Baal’s subjects, But the spelling of the Phoenician name has been altered in the Hebrew Bible perhaps in order to read as ‘Where is the excrement (zebel, manure)?’- a reference to Elijah’s prediction that her carcass shall be like dung on the ground 2 Kings 9:36”

Jezebel did not end well.

She so alienated the population that they turned on her. Her son Joram assumed the throne after the death of Ahab. His loyal general Jehu killed him and then took upon himself the job of ridding Israel of this Phoenician queen who had so disrupted the nation. It was his declaration that labeled her a prostitute as he proclaimed:  “How can all be well when your mother Jezebel carries on her countless harlotries and sorceries” (2 Kings 9:22)

Reports the Biblical Archeology Journal :

“Jehu with the blood of Joram still on his hands, races his chariot into Jezreel to continue the insurrection by executing Jezebel……………realizing that Jehu is on his way to kill her, Jezebel does not disguise herself and flee the city as a more cowardly person might do. Instead she calmly prepares for his arrival by performing three acts: ’She painted her eyes with kohl and dressed her hair and she looked out the window”(2 Kings 9:30)

Was she plotting to seduce him as often is concluded? Or does she hope to become part of his harem? Not likely as she is no longer the seductive chick but an aging grandmother.

“Applying eye makeup (Kohol) and brushing one’s hair are often connected to flirting in Hebraic thinking. Isaiah 3:16, Jeremiah 4:30 Ezekiel 23:40 and Proverbs 6:24-26 provide examples of women who bat their painted eyes to lure innocent men into adulterous beds. Black Kohl is widely incorporated in Bible passages as a symbol of deception and trickery and its use to paint the area above or below the eyelids is generally considered part of a woman’s arsenal of artifice. In Jezebel’s case however the cosmetic is more than just an attempt to accentuate the eyes. Jezebel is donning the female version of armor as she prepares to do battle……………When she dies she wants to look her queenly best”

 

How did the story end?

Not well for Jezebel.

Her executioner had her– now dressed in her finest and with her makeup in place and her hair looking like a Loreal  tv commercial –thrown to her sudden death out of the upper story window of her palace.

Her own eunichs were ordered to throw her to her death.

Her executioner then went to have lunch and, after later giving orders to have her buried,  found to his surprise that in the intervening time, her body had been completely eaten by wild dogs and all  that was left was the skeleton.

Biblical Archeology Journal raises the question in conclusion: How Bad Was Jezebel?.
The author was impressed by the way that she died with dignity. At the end she still remained a child of her pagan Canaanite culture.

 At the time of her death Jezebel was no longer a sexy seductive chick but a heavily made up  aging grandmother who had ticked off almost everyone.

The author makes the following interesting somewhat sympathetic, perhaps feminist tainted, observations:

 “Jezebel is an outspoken woman in a time when females have little status and few rights; a foreigner in a xenophobic land, an idol worshiper in a place with a  Yahweh-based state sponsored religion, a murderer and meddler in political affairs in a nation of strong patriarchs, a traitor in a country where no ruler is above the law, and a whore in the territory where  the Ten Commandments originate”

Having personally traveled frequently through all of the places mentioned in this intriguing story, it is interesting for me to note just how very  close they all are to each other.

If you come with us on a future journey to the Holy Land we will pass by most of the area where this fascinating  story took place.

What a fascinating book the Bible is as it reports on the lives of these real people who, though they lived many years ago, are very much like us today. Human nature remains constant and the only thing that really changes is our toys.

Each year we invite friends to travel with us on personally escorted journeys to the Holy Land. Currently there are  two   2014 departures scheduled for February 10 and December 1, 2014.

Special arrangements are available for pastors who host a small groups of their family and friends and church members .

Be sure to check www.holylandguru.com and Facebook.com/HolyLandGuru

Also feel free to call me at 386 447 9473.

There are no dumb questions. Please  get in touch so that I can help make this experience real for you.