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Sailing on the iconic Sea of Galilee

One of the most loved sights of the Gospel’s many locations is the Sea of Galilee.  Whether we recall Jesus walking over its stormy seas to calm the disciples’ fear, or directing them to cast their nets ‘on the right side’, this was a place where the Master preached, taught and healed.

BibleRoad’s video blog is an invitation to join us as we navigate its calm waters on a magnificent Fall day.  You’ll get a feel for the surrounding hills and views as we sail on the northern end of what is actually a very large lake in the Galilee region of Israel.   An experience always to be cherished, you will witness one of the crew casting a net similar to what the disciples would have used, gleaming in the bright sun as it’s weighted net fell below the water line seeking a catch.

Please feel free to share your insights on the below (and share this post with fellow travelers). We love hearing from you.

A fellow traveler,

Madelon

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Tel Megiddo

The subject of this month’s video blog is Megiddo, one of the richest, most diverse archaeological sites in Israel and perhaps the entire Middle East. Megiddo means “Hebrew” in English, an appropriate name for a site that marks not only so many of Israel’s layers of civilizations, but those that existed back to 6000 BCE, long before either Biblical ancient Israel was established or the modern country of Israel was formed in 1948.

Located at the foot of Mt. Carmel, Megiddo occupies a strategic site both militarily and economically, located along an international commercial highway. That’s why it became one of the most important centers in the country and makes a fascinating stop on a tour of Northern Israel as one approaches the Galilee region.

Megiddo’s various archaeological digs show twenty different strata from before Egypt’s Middle Kingdom in 2000 BCE, through King David’s reign around 1000 BCE, through the Alexander the Great conquering by Greeks, through Roman times to the 4th century CE.

It’s not a small thing to look deep into the shaft of stone and descend dozens of steps and several hundred feet to move through these various strata. You’ll see a hearty group of explorers in the video clip, going down, down, down and then through the famous tunnel that enabled ancient Israelites to survive enemy attacks because they were able to still get water from outside the city walls, undetected.

What makes this more than just a pile of rocks that we should care about? By finding jugs and bowls, ax heads and spearheads, domestic structures and temple remains, city gates and more, we gain a more accurate understanding of what life was like in the Biblical period as well as prove the veracity of Scriptural accounts that were inaccurately dismissed as fiction in earlier times. Just one example is discovery of the remains of Solomon’s stables from the 9th century BCE.

So enjoy your armchair tour of Megiddo and let us know what you think in the comments below. We appreciate hearing from you.

Note: And don’t forget to forward this to your Bible-loving friends so they too can subscribe to the Bible Roads free monthly blog. They will then have access to the same free overview of the Old Testament in streaming video available to all subscribers. (If you haven’t seen it yet and are a current subscriber, go to the top of the page after signing into your account where you’ll see the link to the 17 minute (!) overview of the Old Testament for immediate viewing.)

Happy digging!

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Traveling the Holy Land: Caesarea Maritima

October’s offering is from that stunning seaside location: Caesarea Maritima. With two Caesarea’s mentioned in the New Tesatment, it’s helpful to know this is right on the sea, thus the ‘Maritima’ name. Herod built a palace there, Paul was imprisoned here, Roman chariot races took place and today it’s being thoroughly excavated and preserved, as you’ll discover in the film.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. And, if you know of anyone that has wanted to travel the Holy Land, please share this post.

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Three NEW Video Lectures

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We are happy to announce three new 75+ minute Bible talks tied to nature themes in the Scriptures.

They are intended for group or individual Bible study.  For groups, these video talks are especially helpful for those seeking a short study unit, since each one can be handled in one or two sessions.  Each comes with its own pdf study guide of questions that is immediately downloadable upon purchase.  Participants will want to watch the videos before attending a group session since the accompanying questions are directly tied to the streaming video.  In a world where much discussion is of our environment and nature, these three talks lend spiritual insight into this important topic.  Enjoy!

Click the links below to purchase:

Bundle of all three lectures (Save %20)
Biblical Uses of Fire: From Sacrifice to Purification
Let there be Light: Tracing its Healing Appearance throughout the Scriptures
Nature Metaphors in Jesus’ Parables

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Psalm 137 and Popular Culture

Gebhard_Fugel_By the Rivers of_Babylons

By the Rivers of Babylon, Gebhard Fugel, 1920

Just when you think popular culture has shelved the Bible as passé, along comes a haunting version of Psalm 137 sung by American singer-songwriter, Don McLean,* and captured on this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTnspbSjKVc

A lament over the destruction of Jerusalem, McLean’s version of Ps. 137 captures the ache of those who were taken from their homes and brought to the Babylonian Empire’s capital for slave labor.   This popular version’s lyrics are a summary of the Psalms’ opening four verses, simply but powerfully conveyed for maximum impact.

Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept
    as we thought of Jerusalem.
We put away our harps,
    hanging them on the branches of poplar trees.
For our captors demanded a song from us.
    Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn:
    “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!”
But how can we sing the songs of the Lord
    while in a pagan land?

“The rivers of Babylon” was the name Jews used for the whole country, sharply contrasted to their beloved Jerusalem, destroyed when Nebuchadnezzar’s troops invaded. (For that reason, Ps. 137 is considered one of the few that can be dated—either written between 587 -539 BCE, the period of captivity that starts with Jerusalem’s destruction in 587, or just after the Jews’ release in 539 BCE).

Demanding that the captives sing – an act of joy – when hearts are breaking for their many losses (loved ones, homes, country, etc.), smacks of cruelty. It reminds us of Nazis demanding that the classical musicians in Jewish concentration camps entertain captors with their beloved Bach and Brahms.

The Psalm doesn’t shy away from those strongest of emotions in extreme circumstances–grief, anger and outrage. Aren’t these the natural responses to evil? Perhaps this is the way Ps. 137 tells us we must never be complacent when evil tries to gain the upper hand, whether in individual lives or for an entire nation and people.

But the lament doesn’t stop there, providing the reader or listener with a way out of such mental or physical hell. After the opening lament (verses 1-4) expressing grief, verses 5 and 6 turn us to the value of remembering.

I forget you, O Jerusalem,
    let my right hand forget how to play the harp.
May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth
    if I fail to remember you,
    if I don’t make Jerusalem my greatest joy.

Who hasn’t experienced remembering better days–whether prior to a death, divorce, health or financial challenge? And yet the Psalmist points us to far more than just better times. It’s remembering why Jerusalem is our greatest joy, Jerusalem representing the place where God dwells.   For centuries the Jews and Israelites believed their God was a tribal God and lived in Zion (Jerusalem), which was one reason Solomon needed to build a Temple for Him.

But a spiritual breakthrough grew out of their reverse exodus or deportation to Babylon. They might have left Jerusalem, but God would never leave them.   It was in captivity where the Jews began to glimpse how enormous God is, far beyond the tribal deity who protected them on their homeland’s battlefield. Indeed, this is the God capable of saving from fiery furnaces and lion’s dens—even securing the Jews’ national release to return home.

In the midst of their grieving, Psalm 137 turns them to the answer, and it can do the same for us.

Note: For a different musical interpretation of the same Ps. 137, watch this dramatic clip from Guiseppe Verdi’s opera (1841) that launched his artistic career: Nabucco (the short version of “Nebuchadnezzar” in Italian, about the same period of Jewish captivity.  It’s a kind of 19th century version of popular culture.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPy_HwOtumU

*The verses were were composed by Englishman, Philip Hayes and McLean recorded it as ‘Babylon’ for a 1971 album.

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