Monthly Archives: September 2013

During the past 46 yearfs Dr Robert Grant has been ot the Holy land about 125 times. He regularly takes friends there

Dr Grant’s more than 125 journeys to the Holy land

It must be confusing if you are a pastor and you are wanting to go to the Holy Land.  You start your search and you come up with a long list of travel companies offering to arrange the trip to the Holy Land for you.

How are you supposed to make an informed choice?

Let me help  you sort this out

holy land tour vistis Petra

Herod’s mother was an Idumean and came from Petra


There is an endless variety of Holy Land tours. They are each shaped by the orientation (secular or religious) of the company that has planned them and put the pieces together.

To a lesser degree they may also reflect the expectations of the people going on them and by the ability of the tour company to meet those expectations as well as the expertise of the travel company.



For example If you are a rather secular Jew and you want to visit Israel you are going to expect to see quite a different Israel than if you are a devout Christian.

And if you are a Messianic Jew you will have completely different expectations than your more liberal Jewish friends. 

And if you are an evangelical Christian you are going to want still other emphasis to the journey

holy land tour with the Holy Land Guru

Huge Herodion stones placed in the wall.

And so the mind set of the company operating your tour for you is important.

Do they understand what it is you hope to accomplish on your tour? How long have they been in the business?

Do they really understand where you are coming from religiously?

Often as I have observed, well meaning persons who have been to the Holy Land a few times catch fire and come to the conclusion that they can do it better than anyone else and so they set up their own little company and begin to offer tours.That may be fine but Ooops the time may come when they may not be up to the task

Be aware. That part of he world is unstable and you want to be sure that the people operating your tour have had the experience of dealing with that area of the world over an extended period of time.

So this may help to narrow down the field for you to those companies that have a history and have the orientation and knowledge of what you want to accomplish with your journey and the sensitivity to your particular religious commitment. Note: Because a company is big and advertises widely or has fancy brochures in Travel Agencies, does not mean they are the correct fit for you

Also many of the tour choices you will see when you search this topic will include a large number of prominent religious personalities attaching their names to a given tour.

What does that mean? Usually it means that they will make a few appearances, give their remarks and then often disappear from the scene. Nothing wrong with that as long as you understand that this is what their participation amounts to. 

holy land tours

Dr Robert Grant the Holy Land Guru

Time now for some unabashed self promotion.

If you were to decide to travel with the Holy land Guru you will get my hands on 24 hour a day throughout the entire journey oversight of the journey. We will meet in New York and we will return to New York together.

You get the on-the-site Biblical applications of the places that you are visiting from me daily and so receive help in the connecting of the dots.

You get the benefits of my 125 journeys there over a 46 year period of time that I am openly  free to admit adds additional value to the journey.

If you are a Bible believing person and you want to experience the Holy Land in a way so as to enhance your understanding of the Bible and your knowledge of Jesus then that will be my focus for you during the days we spend together traveling about.

And you will also find competitive pricing and quality arrangements. So if you are among the majority of pastors who have not yet had this incredible experience I strongly encourage you to make this journey available to your church members and friends and travel with me next year.

BTW Journeys Unlimited is the company I use for all of our arrangements. I have used the services of their principals, Nick Mancino and Ray Masillo over my entire 46 years traveling to the Holy land, and between the  3 of us we share over 125 years of experience doing this for Christian groups.

You can call me at home 386 447 9473 if you have any questions.

If you have not already done so I invite you to like my    page where you will find all of the many original articles I have been writing to keep my friends up to speed on all things Holy Land related..

Have a blessed life.

Bob Grant aka The Holy Land Guru

holy land tour with the Holy Land Guru

Dr Robert Grant with the 2013 Holy land tour group



What if Rahab was not a hooker as your Bible claims?  ( see Joshua 6:25)  Read on.

Holy land Guru  holyh land tours see this monastery on the mountain where tradition says Jesus was tempted by Satan

Monastery above Jericho on Mount of Temptation


Known as the City of Palms, Jericho is a welcome oasis in the Jordan valley with an historic water spring of Biblical note   ( See 2 Kings 2 where it is called the spring of Elisha the prophet who poured in salt and made this formerly brackish water sweet. You can still drink from that spring today some 2900 years later). That spring has provided water all the way back as far as recorded history and beyond.




Jericho is said to be the oldest continually inhabited city on earth and is located near where the Jordan River dumps into the Dead Sea at the lowest elevation on earth some estimated 1300’ below sea level and its history is told in both the Old and New Testament parts of the Bible.

Jericho appears first in the Biblical story at the time of the conquest of the promised land by the invading Israelite army under Joshua. This occurred about 40 years after the exodus from Egypt. This is the well known story of when its city walls fell down, as memorialized in the old spiritual “Joshua Fit the battle of Jericho and the Walls Came aTumblin Down”.

1000 years after that event  Jericho became the private estate of Alexander the Great .Some time later Mark Anthony of Rome then gained control of Jericho and  gave it to Cleopatra from whom Herod the Great then  leased it and built his great palace and a hippodrome there.

alexander the great

alexander the great

According to the Roman/Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Herod also died a terrible agonizing death in Jericho while plotting the death of the important men in every leading family in his realm.

Some thirty years after that, Jesus passing through Jericho, had an encounter with a remarkably short man called Zacchaeus under a sycamore tree.   If you happen to be  among the more gullible, the locals will show you that very tree as it stands alongside the main street of modern Jericho. We passed that tree  by when we were there last February without stopping. I always try to differentiate between the fanciful and the factual when my friends travel with me on a Holy Land Tour.

It was the famous British woman archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, who first extensively explored the ruins of this  site in the 1950s and she identified 20 layers of civilization dating back to well before the invasion of the army of Joshua.

I first went to Jericho in 1967 and was disappointed with what I found there.

Not sure what I expected to find, but I have since learned that there was certainly more there than what my untrained eyes saw.

I was surprised to see that Jericho was not all that large either.

And I had hoped to be able to detect evidence of the fallen walls from the time of Joshua.


This taught me that the educated eye of the professional archaeologist is far superior to the untrained eye of the layman.

An archaeologist like Kenyon could look at the accumulated rubble and discern the different layers and what those now fallen stones had originally been.  She like all of us was intrigued by the story of Joshua and the fallen walls and she made an effort to find them.




The Biblical story found in Joshua 1-6 is fascinating especially when reread in a modern translation of the Bible such as the New Living Translation which I rather favor.

The account tells how, following the crossing of the Jordan River, (a sight we enjoy from afar, as did Moses,  when viewed from atop Mount Nebo in Jordan  across the river to the East when on our holy land tours).

Like any wise military commander, Joshua sent 2 spies in to Jericho to scope out the defenses of the city in advance of attacking it.

Those spies were unexpectedly protected by a woman called Rahab who resided there and who was either a prostitute or an inn keeper or both.

The Hebrew word “zonah” apparently could go either way.

I have often wondered what motivated Rahab to side with this invading force and thus enlist in the plot that would result in the certain destruction of  her neighborhood and all of her neighbors. Was it self preservation that motivated her or something bigger?

More on that to follow.

In the Biblical account (Joshua 1-6) we read that for 7 days the army, tribe by tribe, with the ark of the covenant surrounded by the priests, encircled the walls daily in total silence. With apprehension building, on the 7th day they encircled the city 7 times and then, as with  one voice, yelled at the top of their lungs and the priests simultaneously blew the trumpets and the walls came down and all but the family of Rahab were put to the sword.

What caused the collapse of the walls? I am always amused how skeptics, if they are forced by the evidence to accept the historicity of a weird or unusual event or seemingly supernatural occurrence, often try to provide a rational explanation for that event. The plagues of Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea on dry land during the exodus come to mind.

In the case of Jericho, some have suggested that sympathetic vibrations from the marching army of Joshua may have caused the collapse of the walls noting how armies, when they cross bridges, are always ordered to not march in lock step but to break stride for real fear that the simultaneous  steps of an army of thousands could cause structural failure of the bridge.

I don’t know what happened or what caused it. Guess it is enough to just conclude that God did it and He is not saying how.

And so what of this woman Rahab?

A recent issue of the Biblical Archeology Review has an article that caught my attention entitled “Was Rahab Really a  Harlot?” and I wondered what they would report.

Just who was this woman who was memorialized in such a marvelous way in both the Old and New Testament parts of the Bible.

Question: Prostitute? OR  Innkeeper? OR both?

And is it really all that important?

Answer: the Biblical Archeology article claims that the Hebrew word “zonah” that is translated as “harlot” is the same word that is translated as “inn keeper”.

So it seems that a bad translation of the Hebrew word “Zonah” may have needlessly besmirched Rahab’s good name for 3300 years.   Who’d a thunk it??!! Maybe time to think outside the box as they say?

Remember that those of us who believe in the inspiration of the Bible only attribute that quality to the original documents (called autographs, none of which exist) and not to the translations of the same.  So I am not troubled by possible errors in translation.

It all now makes sense to me that Rahab may have run a small hotel in Jericho. Doing so it would seem natural for her to take in 2 strangers and house them overnight as she is said to have done. And the local Jericho authorities would not be surprised that she would have guests as this must have been a common phenomenon. But they were concerned about these particular guests as they posed a risk to the city.

 Either “prostitute” or “inn keeper” fits this scene

And what about where she lived?

 Did she live IN the wall or ON the wall?

Makes an interesting difference to the archaeologists. The building of walled cities apparently went through an evolutionary process.

The oldest most primitive walls built around  cities then were of sold stone and a single thickness in nature.

The later more sophisticated walls like those to be viewed atop Masada, are called case mate walls and consist of double walls (inner and outer with a substantial space between) with a roof and with partitions every so often thus creating rooms within the parallel walls and so making the back wall of those rooms the actual outer wall of the city.

The earlier solid stone walls would not have had windows while the case mate walls would have had them and Rahab is said to have let the concealed spies down from a window by means of a rope in order to escape discovery and so this would seem to indicate that she lived in a house with such a case mate wall with a window and so could let them down to the ground undetected by anyone else. But some archaeologists have seized on this and date the use of case mate  type walls to a time later than Joshua and so conclude that this Biblical story is not accurate.

A moral dilemma for Rahab.

Rahab  lied. And she was praised in Scripture for doing so.

Dr Robert Grant the so called Holy Land Guru has been to the Middle East 125 + times over  rthe past 46 years and writes frequently about the Holy Land and takes friends there annually

Dr Robert Grant, aka The Holy Land Guru

When I was a student at Fuller Theological Seminary in the 1960s my favorite professor there was Dr. E J Carnell.

I remember well a class he taught on ethics and a  discussion of the issue of lying. An illustration was brought up that demonstrated the dilemma that we often encounter when we are faced by competing choices and we find that neither choice is free of deception.

But one could say, doesn’t the Bible charge us not to lie? After all it says “let your yea be yea and your nay be nay”.

An example was proposed of a World War 2 German family who were sheltering a Jewish refugee when the Gestapo arrived and demanded to know if there were any Jews there.

If they said “No” they would be lying but the Jew would be saved.

If they said “Yes” they would be truthful but the Jew would die.

Carnell described this as a “tragic moral choice” an idea that I still find helpful many years later.

Rahab faced just such a “tragic moral choice” and is lauded now for lying.

In fact she is mentioned  in the New Testament book of Hebrews (chapter 12) as an example of one of great faith and is also listed as an ancestor of Jesus.(Matthew 1:5) So if having a prostitute in the family line of Jesus has perplexed you perhaps this explanation resolves that issue. Was Rahab a franchisee for the local Motel 6 of her day??!!

In conclusion: I mentioned in an earlier posting how the archaeology game is often played.

It is often, of necessity, largely about the money.

Observe: If you are going to undergo the costly work of archeology you will need money and lots of it.

Question is: How do you get it?

Here is the game plan: If you are in this field and you want to gain fame and attract investors to fund your work then you get attention by either successfully challenging some accepted claim or by   conclusively confirming the validity of an already accepted claim.

The resulting attention brings the cash.

And so, in the often imprecise science of archeology, it is common to draw controversial conclusions while not having conclusive evidence to support those claims.

So it is not surprising to find some archeologists who now question the accuracy of the Bible account of the destruction of Jericho by Joshua and company, and some who even question the validity of the book of Joshua claiming that it is the product of an editor who lived some 400 years after the events recorded there.

Such claims used to bother me but no more.

Permission  to reprint granted with appropriate source credit.


I understand the role that MONEY plays in the field of archeology. Fortunes are made and reputations established by a major find particularly if it overturns accepted assumptions.

But what about POLITICS? I earlier wrote an article you can find when you like entitled “A strange pillar Jutting Out” that spoke of the recent discovery by an Israeli guide of a column jutting out of the ground when he was resting in the Arab village of Silwan (aka the City of David from 1000 BC) And that in a snapshot demonstrates the toxic mix: Archeological find AND Jewish guide AND Arab  village.

Well it has happened again. Israel Today (8/20/13) reports “a major Biblical Archeology find in the Judean hills is apparently being covered up by the government ” (Israeli government that is)

It is unusual to come across an archeological site that has not been disturbed. Why?

In the ancient world it was common to cannibalize old buildings for materials to be used in the construction of the newer buildings. So the possibility of uncovering a find that was not subjected to this destructive stress is remarkable in and of itself.

Seems the Israeli archeologists stumbled upon “an ancient ornate pillar” as they entered a cave in the wilderness. From the appearance of this ornate column it is thought that it may even go back to 1000 BC and to the time of King David himself. Because the site appears to be larrgely undisturbed they suspect that much more exists beneath the surface……perhaps the entire fortress.

One prominent archeologist, Yaron Rosenthal, surmised that “We appear to have a complete castle here………….Those who lived here after it did not know of its existence and thus, instead of using its stones to build a new structure as was the usual practice, left it intact”.

So what about the POLITICS?

Seems the Israeli Antiquities Authority has known of the existence of this find for more than a year but said nothing. So when Rosenthal approached them about excavating the site they hushed Rosenthal up because the find is located in territory claimed by the Palestinian Authority.

And here is the killer observation:”Uncovering a major and even unprecedented archeological site that solidifies the ancient Jewish presence in and control of these lands could upset the peace process”. Enough said.

This is yet another original article written by Dr Robert Grant the Holy Land Guru to keep his friends up to speed on all things Holy Land related.

If you like my   page you will find all the many original articles I have been writing in one convenient place.

Have you considered traveling with us to the Holy Land?

254During the late 1960s the most radical and controversial figure in the world of American Christianity was Episcopal Bishop James Pike of the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.                                                            My path crossed his briefly in 1969.

Bishop James Pike

Bishop James Pike


A former Roman Catholic in training for the priesthood, a trained attorney, Pike no longer fit the religious restrictions of Catholicism and so he migrated to the Episcopal church which was more tolerant of his somewhat controversial views about all things Christian. In short, he was the Bishop Spong of his day for those who recognize the name of episcopal Bishop John Spong of current controversy.

I was then a young pastor and recent Fuller Seminary grad at the time  and newly involved in arranging Christian travel to the Holy Land which I continue doing to this day as the Holy Land Guru.

Our travel  strategy then was to find famous religious figures, recruit them to provide lectures and then encourage pastors from their denomination to bring people from their churches to travel to the Holy Land and through this strategy gather a large group to travel to the Holy land with the major figure offering lectures at points along the way. It was a sound strategy and offered many a wonderful journey to the Holy land.

It was this plan  that brought me and my colleague in the travel venture, a beautiful Greek lady called Elena, sister of the president of the travel company, to the home of Jim and Diane  Pike in the hills of Santa Barbara California in the spring of 1969. We came to recruit Jim to be the focal point around which to create  a large group of people to travel together to the Holy land  later that year or the next.

The setting of their home was informal and friendly and relaxed and Jim (as he insisted upon being called) made us welcome. But there was something about this environment that I just could not put my finger on that was somehow unsettling and weird and yes unclean. I remember driving back to LA after our successful meeting with Jim and having the distinct feeling that I wanted to take a bath. Never happened before or since. And yet I liked him as a person and he was gracious to us without a fault.                                                                                          But why did I have this strange feeling? Took a while to discover the reason for that but let’s not  get ahead of the story.

Seeing the Pikes had not been to the Holy Land before themselves we agreed to arrange for them to go there to get acquainted and provided them with airfare and hotels so they could get comfortable in Israel.

That was the only time I met Jim Pike.

What was he like? He was a brilliant, warm, chain smoking, alcoholic and very conflicted and complex man, struggling to deal with the recent suicidal death of his son and with his multiple failed marriages and his doubts about Christianity. Because of his attacks on settled Christan dogma he had recently been  threatened with a heresy trial by the Episcopal church before he took leave of his role as bishop of California. And it was after this series of events that I crossed paths with Jim. I found him enormously engaging and interesting and a terrific conversationalist.

And so the Pikes, with our help, departed for Israel in September 1969.

traditional birth spot of Jesus

traditional birth spot of Jesus

One ill fated day, they decided to try to try to find a roundabout way from Bethlehem through the wilderness to Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls had been discovered some years earlier. This was an act of foolishness, fatal foolishness as it turned out. The Judean wilderness is unforgiving and brutal and no place for unprepared travelers.

And so on a whim Jim and Diane apparently decided to strike out on their own from Bethlehem heading East in the general direction of the Dead Sea.

They had no emergency supplies. As a recall they had  a single Coca Cola. Within hours their car  became stuck and they found themselves stranded. Nobody knew where they were and they were on their own.

Pike was still convinced that if he struck out to the East that he would find his way down to Qumran and be able to find help and return to rescue Dianne.

Diane told him to remain by the car in the shade and she backtracked and went to find help. When she returned with the help Jim was no where to be seen. He had apparently decided to test his theory and struck out down a wadi that it turns out was a dead end

He never made it.

Dianne was rescued and Jim’s now mummified body was found at the bottom of a crevice some days later in a remote area no where near Qumran. He had fallen and killed himself. He was buried in a cemetery in Jaffa near Tel Aviv..

After his death much was written about Jim Pike and it explained to me why I had  felt so uncomfortable and yes soiled when I emerged from his home in Santa Barbara earlier that year. Having abandoned traditional Christianity, his experimentation took him in many unwholesome directions.  Apparently that home had become the place where seances were regularly conducted as he tried to raise the spirit of the dead son and also there was talk of sexual orgies being  staged frequently there.

So my instincts were apparently correct. He was a tragic figure that could have been so important to the Kingdom of God had he taken another direction. What a wasted life..

So among my many experiences is the realization that I indeed played a part in the death of the infamous Bishop James Pike. And now, as the famous radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say,  you know the rest of the story.

Dr Robert Grant aka The Holy land Guru

September 3, 2013