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Author's Journal Transcripts for Bill Humble
Bible Archeology - Proofs From the Earth

 


Professor Bill Humble has traveled to the Holy Land numerous times over the past 30 years. He has visited many of the ancient sites that provide evidence of the accuracy of the Bible. He shares his insights with us in the KNLS series,  Bible ArcheologyóProofs from the Earth.

 

 


 

Herodís theater at Caesarea on the Sea, built about 20 B.C. New Testament references to Caesarea are found in Acts 8:40; 9:30; 10:ló11:18; 18:22; and 23:23ó26:32.  Bill Humble photo - all rights reserved.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

Caesarea Theater

Did you know that Herod the Great, the king who tried to kill the baby Jesus, was also the greatest builder in the history of the Holy Land? And did you know that many of his building projects can still be seen? According to the Jewish historian Josephus, the most spectacular of Herodís building projects was Caesarea on the Sea, a city that is mentioned many times in the book of Acts. Herod needed a good harbor, and the Holy Land did not have one. So Herod decided to build an artificial harbor, an engineering feat that had never been undertaken before. The Romans had recently learned to pour concrete that will harden under water, so Herodís builders poured a concrete foundation and then lowered blocks of stone 50 feet long down into the Mediterranean Sea. They built two breakwaters out into the Sea, one of them a third of a mile long, and these breakwaters created an artificial harbor, the first in human history. Herod then spent twelve years building a city, Caesarea, around his new harbor. It had piers and warehouses, a palace, temples and a theater. The theater, seen above on the left, was excavated about fifty years ago by Italian archaeologists and has now been restored. It has seating for about 4,000, and is used for musical concerts and other programs. And it was here in the theater in 1961 that archaeologist Antonio Frova found a monument with the name Pontius Pilate on it. Pilate was the Roman governor who condemned Jesus to death. This inscription from the Caesarea theater is the only archaeological evidence of Pilate that has ever been found. Caesarea is mentioned many times in the book of Acts. Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to Christianity, was a Roman army officer stationed at Caesarea. When I have visited the theater at Caesarea, I have always thought of Cornelius and wondered, "Where did he and his family sit when they came to concerts here in the theater?" And the people of the New Testament become very real at times like that.


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Small dungeon-like room in Herodís palace at Caesarea. Palace discovered in 1992. Paul was kept under guard in the palace (Acts 23:35), perhaps in one of these rooms. You can find the story of Paulís two-year Caesarea imprisonment in Acts 23-26. Bill Humble photo - all rights reserved.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

Paul at Caesarea

Did you know that the apostle Paul was once imprisoned for two years at Caesarea? And did you know that archaeologists have only recently found the palace of Herod the Great, seen in the photo to the left,  where Paul was a prisoner? The events that led up to Paulís imprisonment at Caesarea are found in the book of Acts. At the end of his third missionary journey, Paul returned to Jerusalem. He was accompanied by Luke and other traveling companions. But when Paul came to the temple, some enemies accused him of bringing Gentiles into the temple and "defiling the holy place." He was attacked by a mob, bent on killing him, then rescued by Roman soldiers and held prisoner in the Fortress Antonio. Then when more than forty men plotted to assassinate Paul, the Roman commander learned of their plot and decided that since Paul was a Roman citizen, he needed to be taken to Caesarea where he would be safe. So he dispatched a large company of soldiers to escort Paul, at night, from Jerusalem to Cseaarea, 55 miles away. Paul was delivered to Governor Felix, and Acts 23:35 says that the governor "ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herodís palace." This palace was located on a rocky promontory sticking out into the Mediterranean Sea, but archaeologists working at Caesarea did not find the palace until 1992. It is now being excavated and restored and is open to the public. The Bible does not say where Paul was kept in the palace. But the archaeologists have found some small dark dungeon-like rooms that may have been used as prison cells, and if so, one of those tiny rooms may have been Paulís prison. According to Acts, Felix kept Paul in prison for two years, but when governor Festus came to power, Paul appealed his case to Caesar and was sent to Rome for trial. The Bible does not say where Paul was kept during those two years. It may have been in Herodís palace, or it may have been somewhere else. But when we visit Herodís palace, as I have done several times, and know that Paul was once imprisoned here, and perhaps in one of the little dungeon rooms, the book of Acts comes alive. We know that it tells about real people and real places, and we know that we can trust the Bible.


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Aqueduct that provided water for the seaport-city of Caesarea. Six miles of arches, but many are now buried under the sand. For New Testament references to Caesarea, read Acts 8:40; 9:30; 10:1ó11:18; 18:22; and 23:23ó26:32. Bill Humble photo - all rights reserved.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

Caesarea Aqueduct

Did you know that Herod the Greatís seaport at Caesarea is now being excavated and that we can see many buildings there that go back to New Testament times? In the years just before Jesus birth, Herod the Great build a great city and an artificial harbor at Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea, the first time in human history that such an artificial harbor had been built. Like Roman cities, Caesarea had a broad main street called the Cardo Maximus. It had piers and warehouses, a palace for Herod, temples to the emperor, and a large theater. But Caesarea did not have a natural water supply. So Herodís engineers built a six mile long aqueduct, as seen in the photo at the left, to bring water from the Carmel Mountains into the city. And a tunnel was dug to bring the water from the mountains to where the aqueduct began. Herodís aqueduct supplied Caesarea for more than a hundred years, but by the second century the city had grown so large that the emperor Hadrian had to build a second aqueduct, and it was parallel to the first aqueduct, arch for arch, for six miles. When we see this massive aqueduct, and perhaps climb up on it, we are reminded of how important Caesarea was in the New Testament book of Acts. After Philip preached to the man from Ethopia, he went to Caesarea, and several years later, he was living there. Peter went from Joppa to Caesarea and converted Cornelius, and he and his family became the first Gentiles in the kingdom. Later, Paul and Luke and their traveling companions sailed in and out of the Caesarea harbor several times. It must have been an impressive sight, there were three tall columns on each side of the harbor entrance with a large statue on each column. And later, Paul was arrested, taken to Caesarea, and kept in prison there for two years. When we visit Caesarea and see its aqueduct and other buildings, we think of the early Christians who were there, Peter and Cornelius, Philip, Paul and Luke and many others, and we are reminded that our New Testament is not myth or legend, but a historical record of real people and real placesólike Caesarea.


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Swimming pool at Herod the Greatís palace at Caesarea. Discovered in 1992. Pool was the architectural focus of the palace. For information about Paulís two-year imprisonment at Caesarea, read Acts 23-26.  Bill Humble photo - all rights reserved.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

Caesarea Palace

Did you know that Herod the Great had a palace at Caesarea, his seaport-city on the Mediterranean Sea? And did you know that the apostle Paul was once held in prison in that palace? Let me tell you about it. Archaeologists have been working at Caesarea for many years, and they knew that Herod the Great had a palace somewhere in Caesarea, but they did not find that palace until a decade ago. The palace was located on a rocky promontory sticking out into the Mediterranean Sea, not far from the theater, but no walls were still standing and archaeologists had found the site. That changed in 1992. The architectural focus of the palace was a swimming pool, cut down into the solid rock, and with columns and a colonnade around it. When archaeologists found that swimming pool in 1992, seen here in the photo at the left, they knew they had the palace. No walls were standing, but near the swimming pool they found a beautiful mosaic floor from the palace dining room. Guests who came to have dinner with Herod might arrive in boats from other parts of the city. And as they dined, they could look westward through the columns around the swimming pool and watch the sun sinking into the Mediterranean Sea. It must have been a beautiful sight. Fit for a king. The palace is now being restored and is open to visitors. I have seen the palace several times, and whenever I have been there, I have always thought of the apostle Paul. At the end of his third missionary journey Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and then taken to Caesarea. He appeared before Governor Felix, and Acts 23:35 says that Felix "ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herodís palace." As I look around the ruins of the palace, I think--Paul was once a prisoner, right here in this very palace. And I can tell you that my Bible becomes very real to me at times like that.


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