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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.

 

 


 

This site at Hebron is called the "Oaks of Mamre." The oaks, which grew here 4,000 years ago, are long gone. But an ancient well called "the well of Abraham" remains. Read about Godís promise that Abraham would have a son in Genesis 18:1-15.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

Oaks of Mamre

Have you ever wondered where Abraham and Sarah lived when they came into the promises land? Let me tell you about one of the places: the oaks of Mamre. The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is the most important archaeological site in the Holy Land connected with Abraham. Thatís where the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their wives, were buried. But just a few miles from the Tomb of the Patriarchs, thereís a site called "the oaks of Mamre" where Abraham once lived. After God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans, he came into the promised land (Israel today). And Genesis says that Abraham went to live near the oaks of Mamre at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.  The oaks of Mamre Ötheyíre gone today. But it must have been a beautiful spot 4000 years ago when Abraham pitched his tents in the cluster of giant oaks, lived as a Bedouin with his flocks, and waited for the son that God had promised him. In Genesis 18 Abraham and Sarah were living there when three men, messengers from God, came to visit them. The messengers told Abraham that about this time next year, Sarah would have a son. Sarah laughed, she was much too old to bear a son. But God repeated his promise, and a year later Isaac was born. And through Isaac, many generations later, the Messiah came to bless all people of all nations.  The oaks are gone, but the site where they once grew was not forgotten. Herod the Great built a wall around the place, and the wall is still there. In the year 325 Christians built a church over the site. Iíve had a chance to visit the oaks of Mamre. Iíve seen the wall that King Herod built and the ruins of the church. And Iíve seen an ancient well that is there. It is called "the well of Abraham" and the local people believe that Abraham dug the well.  So the trees are gone and Mamre doesnít look like it did 4000 years ago when Abraham lived among the oak trees. But still, it is a moving spiritual experience to visit Mamre and remember, it was right here that Godís messengers came and renewed the promise that Abraham and Sarah would have a sonóIsaac. And now, according to the New Testament, when we believe in Jesus Christ and belong to him, we are the spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham, and we are the heirs of Godís promises to him.


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This is the site at Dan of King Jeroboamís temple where the people of Israel worshiped the golden calf (1Kings 12:25-33). This archaeological site is part of a national park. The metal altar shows visitors the site and location of the ancient altar. The steps and platform of the temple are to the right of the altar.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

Temple at Dan

Would you like to visit the ruins of an ancient temple in the Holy Land? No, Iím not talking about the one that Solomon built in Jerusalem. This one is at Dan. Let me tell you about it. King Solomon died about 930 BC, and this was an important event in Old Testament history. During the 80 years that David and Solomon reigned, the kingdom of Israel was strong and prosperous. But all that changed after Solomon. The kingdom divided into rival nations, Israel and Judah, and they fought a civil war for the next 50 years. All the kings of Judah were from the house of David, but not in Israel. Their first king was Jeroboam. Jeroboam knew that if the people of Israel went to the temple in Jerusalem for the religious feasts, like Passover and Pentecost, they might not be loyal to him. So according to the Bible Jeroboam built two temples where he set up golden calves and he told his people, "This is the god that brought you out of slavery in Egypt." One of the temples was at Bethel, just north of Jerusalem, and itís gone. The other was at Dan. Dan was the northern-most city in Israel, and today, itís an important archaeological site and a national park. Dan was an important city long before the people of Dan captured it. The archaeologists have found a city gate that was built about 1800 BC. And it was made of mud-brick, not stone, the only mud-brick city gate ever found anywhere in the Middle East. They have found massive stone walls that Jeroboam built around 900 BC. And they have found the site where Jeroboamís temple once stood. The temple building is gone. But the large platform or foundation where it stood is still in place. Stone steps, 25 feet wide, lead up to the platform. The archaeologists have found where the altar of sacrifice stood in front of the temple. And they have found many bone fragments from the animals that were sacrificed there more than 2500 years ago. Now, thereís a metal altar on the site, to show visitors the size and location of Jeroboamís altar. We read the story of Jeroboamís temple in the Bible. And then when we visit the site, the ancient story comes to life. We are there where it happened. Where Jeroboam built his temple to honor an idol, and not the true God of Israel. And we are reminded, once again, that our Bible is not myth or legend, but the story of real people and real history from the long ago.


This Capernaum synagogue was built in the 4th or 5th century. It was made of white limestone which was transported a long distance at great expense. The foundation of what is probably the synagogue where Jesus taught was uncovered on this site. Read about Jesus teaching in the synagogue Mark 1:21-31 and Luke 4:31-37.  (Click photo to view a larger image)

Capernaum Synagogue

Capernaum was the "home town" of Jesus during the three years of his public ministry, and this makes it very important to Christians Iíve been to Capernaum many times, and Iíd like to tell you about it. Capernaum was located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, and it was very important in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus grew up at Nazareth, 25 miles southwest of Capernaum, but when he began his public teaching, he spent most of his time around Capernaum. The first two books of the New Testament, Matthew and Mark, both call Capernaum "his own city." He preached in villages around the Sea of Galilee, he crossed the sea many times, and he preached the "Sermon on the Mount" on the hill above Capernaum. One of his first apostles, Matthew, was a tax collector at Capernaum. The Bible says that he worked many miracles of healing there, including Peterís mother-in-law and a centurionís servant. The centurion was a Roman army officer, and recent excavations have confirmed a Roman military presence at Capernaum. Archaeologists have excavated Capernaum, and we can walk down the streets where Jesus walked and see the houses where he might have stayed. The houses are small and they are all made out of black basalt, the volcanic stone found all around the Sea of Galilee. The most important building that the archaeologists found in Capernaum was the synagogue. Itís a large building, 65 feet long and two stories high, and itís built of beautiful white limestone, not black basalt like the houses. The white stone had to be brought from a long distance and at great expense. The synagogue has double columns and beautiful decorations carved in the stone. One decoration is a large chest being moved on a cart, and this might be the ark of the covenant from the Old Testament, as pictured by the sculptor. This beautiful white synagogue was not there in Jesusí day, it was built 300 or 400 years later. So when Jesus taught in the synagogue at Capernaum, as he often did, it was an earlier building that had once stood on the very same site. A visit to Capernaum is one of the highlights of any trip through the Holy Land. What makes Capernaum so important is that it was Jesusí "home town" for three years. He walked down the streets where we can walk today, and he may have stayed in the houses that we can see. So when we visit Capernaum, the ministry of Jesus comes to life and our faith in him is renewed.


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