Israel

Are the Characters mentioned in the Bible  Rooted in History?  The continuing conflict

Since the dawn of the modern discipline of archaeology, its practitioners have been divided as to the usefulness of the Bible as a source book when searching for ancient locations and validating historic events.

This skepticism mystifies Christian laymen many of whom approach the Bible with an explicit acceptance of the accuracy of the Biblical text and acceptance of its supernatural origin. They are surprised when I advise them that, because a scholar is engaged in Biblical studies, this does not mean that they have any personal religious faith at all. In fact some mainline theological seminaries are populated by teachers some of who have little or no deep faith in God or the Bible. Some even seem to view their goal in life to strip away the faith of their young soon-to-be-pastors theology students which they may view as simplistic and based upon myth. Some become evangelists for unbelief

The Argument From Silence:

Skeptics have attacked the Biblical record using the argument from silence. The fact that for many Biblical characters, there is no mention of them outside of the Biblical record in the findings of archaeology or ancient inscriptions or manuscripts, calls their historicity into question…silence. This fact lends credence to the argument that many of these prominent-in-Scripture people, may not have ever existed

The argument goes that if such people really lived, one would expect to find some trace of them outside of sacred writ……..not silence

But: That argument has been found wanting on numerous occasions as further excavations and discoveries have been made over time, and challenged names eventually documented. As the digging continues we may expect even  more to be affirmed.

It occurs to me that one of the most vivid examples of this, is the New Testament case of Pontius Pilate.

Surely, it was argued, a person who was of such importance and prominence would leave some trace somewhere. An inscription? A mention in a document? A carving on a wall or monument?

Silence reigned for hundreds of years. No extra Biblical mention of this prominent Roman official. Curious!

And then recently  while excavations were underway in Caesarea Maritima, the ancient seaport built  around the time of the birth of Jesus by Herod the Great, a stone was uncovered that bore the name of Pilate. If you were to travel with me to the Holy Land in January 2015 I would take you to see the exact replica of that stone on display in the ruins in  Caesarea today.

The current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review sheds light on this argument from silence.   An  excellent article found there by Lawrence Mykytiuk, begins with

“How many people in the Hebrew Bible have been confirmed archaeologically?

The startling answer is at least 50!”.

In this article he confirms 50 important Biblical names that have been documented in the non Biblical record in some way. Many of the names of Hebrew Kings from both of the sub nations of Judah and Israel post civil war are to be found on his list.

One big one was the question about the historical existence of King David.

Surely Israel’s greatest king would be found mentioned somewhere outside of the Bible?  for almost 3000 years silence reigned. Is it possible that David was a myth created out of whole cloth as many skeptics surmised? Prominent scholars actually labored to make that case.

But then, in 1993,  David’s  name was found in the excavations of Tel Dan, written in Aramaic, found on a stela dating back to the mid ninth century, about 100 years after his Biblically recorded reign over Israel.

In summary, Mykytuik documents the following groups of Old Testament Biblical names as also being found in extra Biblical locations:

  • Five Egyptian pharaohs
  • One King of Moab
  • Nine Kings of the Northern Kingdom  of Israel
  • Fourteen Kings of the Southern Kingdom of Judah
  • Seven Kings of Assyria
  • Five Kings of Babylonia
  • Five Kings of Persia
  • All mentioned in the Biblical record              and elsewhere.

If you wish to pursue this study further you can go to the website  www.biblicalarchaeology.org/50 

This is the plaza at the base of the Western Wall in Jewrusalem

This is the plaza at the base of the Western Wall in Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next journey to the Holy Land will depart New York for 10 marvelous days on January 12, 2015 and you can come with us. Pastors and teachers can travel with us with little or no out of pocket cost by inviting as few as 5 people to accompany them on this reasonably priced journey under my personal oversight as the Holy Land Guru. Call me at 386 447 9473

Be sure to download my new book free here     A HOLY LAND ROMANCE      YOURS FREE

Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives

Click here  http://holylandguru.com/ebook-for-you/

MASSIVE PRAYER MEETING AT THE WAILING WALL

Last evening thousands of Jews gathered in the Old City of Jerusalem at the historic Western Wall (aka “The Wailing Wall”)  to pray that God would preserve Israel now seen by many there as threatened by American middle eastern policy. They view current US policy with alarm and as counter to the interests of the State of Israel.

The echoing sounds of  trumpets rang out across the crowded square as bearded rabbis prayed fervently to “Adonai” and “Elohim”, Biblical names for G-d (Jews so respect the name of God that they will not fully spell it out).

They prayed that “G-d would cancel the decrees” of John Kerry, that Israel would “stand firm against the difficult pressures coming from the other side of the ocean” and that their leaders would resist American pressure and that G-d would give them “fear and great awe of You that they will fear greatly to harm our holy land”.

 

The Obama Administration, in ways both subtle and open, has made it quite evident that they have chosen sides in the ongoing competing interests of the Arabs and the Jews. This tilting of American foreign policy away from US long standing support of the State of Israel to a not always veiled belligerence towards the Jewish State, has marked the Obama Administration since day one.

In spite of that fact American Jews have remarkably  remained firm supporters of this president.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been quietly pressuring the European powers to tighten the pressure on Israel in regards to the Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in favor of the goal of declaring Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian State.

Orthodox Jews gather at the waiing wall for prayers on a regular basis

Orthodox Jews gather at the waiing wall for prayers on a regular basis

The plaza where this mass prayer meeting took place is quite significant and historic. The huge stones at the base of the wall were placed there at the time of Jesus by King Herod the Great and are all that remains of the Temple structure from that time. This is the western wall of the huge plateau on top of which then stood the 2nd Temple of Israel and where now stands two important Muslim buildings, the El Aksa Mosque and the gold covered Dome of the Rock built over what many believe to be the place of Old Testament sacrifice going all the way back to Abraham 2100 years before Jesus. The Muslims believe that it was from this spot Mohammed ascended into heaven on the back of a white stallion. These competing traditions about this site come laden with deep emotion and remain a tinder box that could easily ignite a new war.

In 1967 when, during the 6 day war, Israel took Jerusalem, this made it possible for Jews to again visit this wall, their most treasured site. They had been forbidden to go there when it was in Jordan. Its capture was greeted by great joy and celebration

I have stood there many times on our many Holy Land tours, first in 1967 just 6 weeks before the 6 day war and as recently as last February. We will go there again next December and January.

When I first went to the Holy Land  in 1967  the location of this huge prayer meeting appeared quite differently than it does today. There was no wide open plaza then that we now see. Then the area was a mass of slummy homes that crowded up against the base of the wall. It was not until, after weaving about through these dwellings  you suddenly rounded a corner and you could actually see where you were. And your eyes involuntarily turned up

One of the first things Israel did in 1967 was to clear away these modest Arab  dwellings, open the area up as we see it today and pave the filled in Tyropaean Valley from the time of Jesus (aka valley of the Cheesemakers) to accommodate the thousands that appeared there last evening.

There is great apprehension in Israel over the stance of the present US Administration and with good cause due to President Obama’s positive predisposition towards Islam due to fond memories of his childhood in Muslim countries.

One of the great values of travel to that part of the world is the  gaining of an understanding of the real politic issues that abound there and also a deepened understanding of the Biblical background and significance of the site

Dr. Robert Grant has been traveling to the Middle East for 46 years going there about 125 times and so has a unique understanding of the places important to Bible students and also what is reported on the evening news. Each year he takes Christian pastors and their church members on journeys there. His new book can be downloaded FREE at

http://www.holylandguru.com/ebook-for-you/

STRANGE BED FELLOWS: JORDAN AND ISRAEL

Get your FREE copy of my new book A HOLY LAND ROMANCE here. http://www.holylandguru.com/ebook-for-you/

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                   Breaking news.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU, HOLY LAND GURU

In a surprise development, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah, met together last week in Amman Jordan to discuss their shared concerns: Muslim radicalism and national defense.

One could say that this is a demonstration of the maxim:  “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. But that would be overly simplified.

The two leaders met to discuss shared concerns about the current increase in the level of Arab radicalism that threatens both countries, the conflict in Syria, and the continuing  fallout from the  so called “Arab Spring”.

Built in historic tension between Jordan and her Arab neighbors, results from the fact that  Jordan, is a Sunni Muslim State, that borders Shiite Iran and Shiite dominated Iraq and Iran-allied Syria.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 https://maps.google.com/maps?q=map+of+jordan&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x15006f476664de99:0x8d285b0751264e99,Jordan&gl=us&ei=fs3aUs6GLuzMsQTyiIGIDg&ved=0CC0Q8gEwAA

A fragile existence at best for Jordan.

Jordan is clearly a target of the Muslim radicals. With this very public meeting, that target just got a whole lot bigger.

Those above stated long standing inter Muslim tensions have been exacerbated by the current  flow of refugees from the turmoil in Syria now spilling over the borders into both Turkey and Jordan.

A Complicated History

It is important to understand that Israel has, since 1967, been maintaining a military presence along its Jordan River border with Jordan.

On our holy land tours we have often driven alongside the plowed strip of land with its wire  fence that has provided this necessary barrier. Fences really do work. We in the US have yet to understand that fact.

Jordan fears  that negotiations being pushed by the present  US Administration in its quest to fulfill an Obama  campaign promise, could result in the establishment of  an untenable  Palestinian State ( with borders agreeable to both the Palestinians and the US but not to other parties), that could result in a compromise of Israel’s stabilizing influence along the border with Jordan. Not good for either side.

Jordan river border,

Jordan river border,

Jordan wants the Israelis to maintain a presence there and is fearful that Israel could cave in to American demands. Such a compromise would not serve the interests of either country.

Hence this historic meeting.

What makes this meeting so significant is not that it was held but that it was held openly and in Amman. Clearly Jordan has chosen sides.

It is important to understand that Israel and Jordan have a complicated history.

When the UN declared the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 , the combined forces of all of her Arab neighbors, including Jordan, ganged up on the fledgling  Jewish state.

Israel more than survived that 1948 “War of Independence”.

It was victorious and extended its borders beyond those designated only days earlier by the UN. She was then in a stronger but not yet secure position.

Again in June 1967, 19 years later, under the prodding of then Arab nationalist Egyptian President Abdul Nasser, conflict broke out with the 6 day war.

Nasser was a client of the then Soviet Union and his motivations were clearly at the behest of the Soviet Union in its contest with the US to dominate the region.

Under the guise of spurring  nationalism Nassser orchestrated a combined attack on Israel from the South (Egypt) East (Jordan) and North East (Syria).

Jordan was a reluctant participant.

Again Israel survived and even prospered, primarily at the expense of Jordan which lost all of the West Bank of the Jordan River including the Old City of Jerusalem and including the valued Muslim holy place, the golden Dome of the Rock.

dome of the rock

dome of the rock

Israel gained its most precious site, the “Wailing wall” or Western Wall of the Temple Mount that goes back to the time of Jesus and is nearest to the location of the destroyed temple that Jesus frequented.

Wailing wall/Wetern Wall

Wailing wall/Western Wall

Then King Hussein (married to an American girl and father of the current King Abdullah, also western educated and an Oxford grad) was a pragmatist and had his own real politic problems to deal with including an unsuccessful attempt by Yasser Arafat and his PLO forces to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy.This failed coupe led to the expulsion of Arafat and  the PLO from Jordan and into Lebanon, where they remain.

King Hussein long rued the day he got sucked into the 1967 conflict. It cost him dearly.

Behind the scenes discussions have been ongoing between Israel and Jordan for a long time. Those meetings seldom appear in the press. (Can you spell clandestine?)

This inter country communication goes back as far as 1963 but in particular to the days leading  up to the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

Six years after the disastrous Arab losses of 1967, the Egyptians and Syrians were  plotting  to retake land lost to Israel.  They wanted Hussein to join them in this plan and fight Israel with an Eastern front.

Rather than support them, King Hussein actually tipped off then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (an American from Milwaukee who had emigrated to Israel)  that this was a foot.

Jordan  remained out of that conflict.

Israel and Jordan  have shared interests and shared concerns over the shape of and the terms of the establishment of any proposed Palestinian state.

The openness of this  meeting between Abdullah and Netanyahu on Arab soil is quite significant in what it says as to the cooperation between the two countries.

It also ramps up the enmity of the Muslim radicals against Jordan and their desire to unseat King Abdullah. Oh and by the way American forces are now quietly on the ground in Jordan to undergird the stability of the region.

My personal perspective

I first went to Jordan in early 1967 on my very first Holy Land tour and  returned as recently as our holy land tour in February 2013.

Petra where Paul may have stayed

Petra where Paul may have stayed

Jordan is a beautiful country with strong Bible roots of interest to Christians who visit there.                                                       Among those roots are:  the place where the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River to conquer the promised land, the place where John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, the place where St Paul spent time preparing for his world changing ministry (Petra), Pella where the early Christians sought refuge as the Roman armies approached to sack Jerusalem in 70 AD, and the places where both Moses and Aaron are buried, to name just a few.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is another original contribution by Dr. Robert Grant aka The holy land Guru to help his  friends keep up to speed on all things holy land related and is based upon the perspective he has derived from 125 journeys to that part of the world during the past 46 years.    Each year he plans to take friends to the holy land.

His next  departures are December 1, 2014 and January 12, 2015. If interested please go to the website or call Dr. Grant at 386 447 9473.

New Holy Land Discoveries Since ’67: Temple Steps, Pontius Pilate & City of David

There have been some marvelous discoveries since my first trip to The Holy Land in 1967. Probably too many to mention, so I will offer just a few and let that suffice as we continue the discussion.

Holy Land Discovery: Pontius Pilate Inscription?

 

pilate inscription

For years skeptics questioned the accuracy of the Bible account by pointing at Pilate and observing that there was no mention of this Roman official outside of the New Testament. Surely they reasoned, one would expect to find mention of him somewhere else in the literature or on the inscriptions and monuments. Mystery solved: A stone containing the inscribed name of Pilate was recently found in Caesarea Maritime, the great sea port built by Herod the Great. A replica is on permanent display near the amphitheater for tourists to view while the original is safely tucked away in a museum.

Holy Land Discovery: The Steps Jesus Would Have Used to Enter the Temple

In 1967 following the war that brought Jerusalem under Jewish control, the Israeli archaeologists began excavating at the Southern wall of the Temple Mount (which is  also the Southern wall of the city). They uncovered an enormous flight of stairs that led up from the Ophal Valley to the South and the Pool of Siloam, into the Temple through a set of gates. This well preserved flight of steps would have been used by Jesus and the Disciples as they entered the temple on feast days.

 

Much of the present day gates at the top of the stairs, (some from the time of Herod and some from a later time) are walled up. Limited access isjerusalem steps available into the Temple Mount at this point but the good news is that, once inside, the original ceilings and walls appear just as they did when Jesus walked the Earth. This section survived the almost total destruction caused by the Romans in 70 AD. It is however difficult to gain access to the inside section of this discovery as access is controlled by the Muslim authorities and is rarely granted.

 

In addition to the steps, extensive digging along the entire Southern Wall of the Temple platform, has resulted in the uncovering of the foundations of homes and public buildings from the time of Jesus as the mountain of dirt has been systematically scraped away leaving the remains on view. The exciting truth is that there is much more to be uncovered all the way from the walls to the City of David  down in the Kedron valley. 

Holy Land Discovery: City of David

city of davidThe city of David was still much just a mound of dirt in 1967 but is now an extensive archaeological dig. Much of it, until recently was hidden below the paving of a parking lot. Buildings going back to the time of David are being uncovered and it is quite apparent now that this was not a huge city but more like a mud village perched on the side of the Kedron Valley at the Arab town of Silwan.

 

Stay tuned as I keep you updated on ongoing and new Holy Land discoveries and archaeological finds!

 

It is my intention to address a wide variety of issues related to the Holy Land. We cover the gamut of history, theology, current events, archaeology and the current political tides. As such we welcome and encourage your comments and healthy interchange as we continue to learn together. 

 

Promoting Your Holy Land Tour: How To’s

holy land tour  holy land guru

Dr. Bob Grant “The Holy Land Guru”

As a Pastor who has decided to join us as we travel to the Holy Land, it is well to approach this promotional opportunity realizing that you are making a wonderful life changing experience possible for those who will travel with you.

Chances are if you had not offered them this travel plan they would never have the opportunity to go to the Holy Land. Your invitation makes this feasible for them. The fact that they also make it possible for you to travel is beside the point. Remember that the price has not been inflated to accommodate you but to replace the normal travel agent commission with your journey expenses.

 

Act Early – We Can Help

The earlier you announce your plans the better as people generally need time to schedule being away, especially on something as exciting as this. Beginning one year in advance of your departure  is optimal but not mandatory. A minimum of 6 months lead time is still possible to do. There are 3 Simple Steps to take:

  • Step #1 Choose the Date and Itinerary: If you want to travel at the same time as me then you currently have 2 choices.

√ Choice A  – 11 days to Turkey, Jordan and Israel departing December 1, 2014 for 11 days

OR

√ Choice B  – 10 days to Israel departing January 12, 2015

NOTE: If you want to go at another time that is fine too and I will still be able to help so let me know what you prefer                                                                        

  • Step #2 – Let me Know of Your Decision: Let us know your choice so we can speak directly and I can provide you with direct help and answer any questions you might have. You can call me at (386) 447 9473 or provide your number and I will call you. We need to talk. I will want to print special personalized brochures for you to use with your name on them. No cost to you for this!
  • Step # 3 Plan your promotional approach. Everyone’s situation is unique but there are a few principles that I recommend  you employ.

1. Do Not Assume that you know who is going to say yes to your invitation or who you are sure could never do this. I have observed that it never fails that the ones you were so sure of may not go while someone you never thought in your wildest dreams, says yes. Examples from my most recent trip in February 2013: Some well to do members of our church who are deeply committed Christians I was sure would go. They did not. Instead 2 teen-aged girls  became excited about the opportunity and they set out to personally raise the money for their trip by selling baked goods on Facebook and other social media. Between them, they raised over $8,000 and traveled with us. You can actually hear their testimony if you go to www.holylandguru.com/testimonials and click on the testimonies.

Another couple of modest means decided to sacrifice and they saved and did without because they so wanted to have this onetime experience. Be prepared to be surprised. You cannot predict who will respond so send out the invitations to as many as you can.list

2. Decide on Your Target Audience: Church members, family members, close friends, business contacts, former church members. How are you going to reach them with news of your plans? Pulpit announcement, bulletin, small groups, email, social media, inexpensive ad in local media, story in the local newspaper of your plans?   See the sample letter that follows as a great starter. Rewrite to fit your situation. (Leverage me by contacting me directly for guidance. I am here to help you especially if you are going for the first time to the Holy Land)

3. Set a Date for an Orientation: When people who are interested meet, this is the ideal venue to deliver information. guidance, itineraries, ask questions and give you the deposit. I can provide you with a terrific DVD for you to show at the meeting that will get them excited  about the trip. Such a meeting should really generate interest as they become aware of other friends who are going and the word spreads!

4. Keep Your Tour Plans Top of Mind: One thing I did was create a poster on which I printed this heading  “MEET THE PILGRIMS” and under that heading I would periodically add the names of those going as they turned in their deposits. This was a reminder to people still flirting with the idea but not yet committed. We put this in the foyer. Also I conducted a series of seminars for my people. Optional: You can do the same by going to www.holylandguru.com and clicking on “GURU U” where you will find the information I used for my seminars. Again, I am always at your disposal for advice, guidance and materials.

5. Commitment, Deposit, Enrollment: Ask them to make their deposit and fill out the enrollment part of the brochure. (Check or Credit card) Until they have actually done this they are still considered to be prospects rather than tour group members so it is important to encourage them to commit. When you have your orientation meeting with them let them know in advance that it would be appropriate for them to come prepared to place their deposit. In order to help with this the tour company offers a generous discount of $100 for deposits of  $350 received 12 months before departure and $50 for deposits received 6 months prior. People love to save money so use this. You may want to assign your secretary or a staff member to handle this for you.

This will be a  wonderful  shared experience that will result in a lifelong bond between you and those who travel with you.

God bless you in this part of the process. Share your excitement it is contagious.

 ______________________________________________________________________________

sample

SAMPLE INVITATIONAL LETTER

Dear Xxxxx Xxxxx,

For years I have wanted to go to the Holy Land but the timing was just not right. I believe that now is the time I should go and I want to invite you to consider coming with me.  Here is why.

 

Recently I became acquainted with Dr. Robert Grant, known as the“Holy Land Guru”, and was presented with the opportunity to go with him on what will be his 125th journey to the Holy Land.  He has been going there for 46 years and I thought how neat it would be to be able to travel along with him and soak up some of the knowledge he has acquired over these many years.  I want to encourage you to go to his website  www.holylandguru.com and get acquainted with him. He has set aside space for us so that I will be able to invite my friends to join us on the journey.

Here are the details concerning our journey for your consideration.

Departure date is (00/00/0000) going for (?) days to (?).

 

The price of ($ 0,000 ) is very inclusive and includes international airfare from New York where the journey originates, good quality hotels, admissions to places on the itinerary, most meals, and accompaniment by our Holy Land Guru director, Dr. Bob Grant and his wife. Almost everything is included except the airfare from home to New York, tips, and about 8 lunches.

 

It occurred to me that this is something you might want to consider sharing with us. Should you decide to come along, here is what I expect will happen for us as we travel together. We will share something rare that really binds people together, a fantastic life-changing experience. I fully expect that our understanding of our Bible is going to be greatly enhanced as we travel together to places we have read about for years. I also expect that God will change me for the better and that I will return a better pastor, leader and Bible teacher as a result of this journey. That excites me immensely.

 

We are planning to have a get together in our home to discuss the upcoming journey and I would like to invite you to attend. We will be meeting at (Place, Address) on (Date) at (Time).(RSVP please)

 

Please come with questions, curiosity and openness. There are no dumb questions. If I don’t know the answer we will get Bob, our “Holy Land Guru” on the phone and he will provide the answer for us.

 

I hope that it will be possible for you to come along.

P.S. Please let me know if this is of interest to you. Call me at (555) 555-5555 or email me at joepastor@yourchurch.com to RSVP so we can plan our gathering.

 

In Christ,

(Your Signature)

God Bless