Harbours of the Sea of Galilee

Ferrell Jenkins runs a travel blog and today wrote a post on the Ports of the Sea of Galilee which has some excellent photographs of the Church of the Primacy of Peter at Tabgha. In this interesting post he comments on the work of the late Mendel Nun, who was a member of Kibbutz Ein Gev and worked as a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. Although not a professional archaeologist, Mendel researched and recorded the remains of the ancient harbours of the Sea of Galilee, of which there were at least sixteen.

The remains of these harbours can only be seen when the water level is low. In the 1970’s, a number of ancient harbours were discovered, followed by the discovery of an ancient fishing boat in the mud near Magdala. During the years of 1989-1991 there was a severe drought and the accompanying archaeological activities revealed many remains that shed light on the shipping trade and fishing industry during the first century.

Here is a map of the harbours that were plotted by Mendel:

A map of the Sea of Galilee showing the remains of ancient harbours.

The photograph below, taken in 2009, shows the remains of some of the piers of the Capernaum harbour:

Photo: Leen Ritmeyer

Mendel’s map and the photographs he published made it possible to make a reconstruction drawing of Capernaum and its ancient harbour:

Reconstruction of the harbour of Capernaum at the time of Christ, based on archaeological remains. Several piers, which can still be seen when the water level is low, jutted out into the sea to provide a quiet and safe harbor for fishing boats. Capernaum was the city where Jesus lived after he left Nazareth (Matthew 4.13; Mark 2.1; Luke 4.31; John 2.12).

The Temple Mount during the Roman period

We have now arrived at the Roman period in our sequence of reconstruction drawings showing how the Temple Mount developed over time. After the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70. A.D., the area of the Temple Mount lay desolate. In 130 AD, Emperor Hadrian began to build a Roman colony named Aelia Capitolina, on the ruins of Jerusalem.

After the Roman destruction of 70 A.D., the 10th Legion set up an encampment south of the Hippicus Tower on the Western Hill of Jerusalem. After nationalistic uprisings, Hadrian flattened the city and in 135 A.D. built a new one on its ruins and called it Aelia Capitolina. The major buildings in this city were the Damascus Gate in the north, a Temple of Aphrodite, two forums (market places) and there may have been a Temple of Jupiter on the Temple Mount.

The name Aelia was given in honor of the emperor’s family name, which was Aelius, while the name Capitolina honored the deities of the Capitoline triad: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.

Hadrian’s actions precipitated the Revolt of Bar Kokhba (“Son of a Star”), which began in 132 AD. Some Jews regarded Bar Kokhba as the promised Messiah. Plans were made to rebuild the Temple and coins depicting it were struck. It is unclear how far these plans materialized. Following the suppression of the revolt in 135 AD, the pagan city of Aelia Capitolina became reality. A sanctuary to Jupiter may have been erected on the Temple Mount.

Some historical sources indicate that during this Roman period when Jerusalem was called Aelia Capitolina, a sanctuary to Jupiter was erected on the Temple Mount.

The remains of three long steps that are no longer visible but which were marked on plans made by Sir Charles Warren, may have belonged to the southern part of the crepidoma  (stepped platform) of this presumed temple.

Part of Warren’s Plate 5, showing the location of the 3 long steps south of the Raised Platform where the Dome of the Rock stands and north of al-Kas, a fountain for Muslim ritual washing.

Jews were forbidden from entering the city on pain of death and Hadrian tried further to erase their connection to the Land by changing the name of Judea to Syria Palaestina (whence the name Palestine).

The reconstruction drawing above is the 8th in this series that was made specially for our new Temple Mount guide book that is awaiting publication. For the previous drawings see: Mount MoriahJebusitesSolomonHezekiahNehemiah, the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods and the Herodian period.

The Temple Mount in the Herodian period (37 BC-70 AD)

Following on from our previous drawing, the Temple Mount during the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods, we now examine the Temple Mount during the Herodian period. This was, of course, the Temple that is mentioned in the New Testament.

Herod extended the Hasmonean Temple Mount in three directions: north, west and south. At the northwest corner he built the Antonia Fortress and in the south, the magnificent Royal Stoa.

In 19 BC  the master-builder, King Herod the Great, began the most ambitious building project of his life, the rebuilding of the Temple and the Temple Mount in lavish style. To facilitate this, he undertook a further expansion of the Hasmonean Temple Mount by extending it on three sides, to the north, west and south. Today’s Temple Mount boundaries still reflect this enlargement.

The cutaway drawing below allows us to recap on the development of the Temple Mount so far:

King Solomon built the First Temple on the top of Mount Moriah which is visible in the centre of this drawing. This mountain top can be seen today, inside the Islamic Dome of the Rock. King Hezekiah built a square Temple Mount (yellow walls) around the site of the Temple, which he also renewed. In the Hasmonean period, the square Temple Mount was enlarged to the south (red walls). Finally, King Herod the Great enlarged the mount to double its size (grey walls) by building 15 feet (5 m) thick retaining walls, which are still standing today.
The many cisterns cut into the mountain are also shown.

A visualization of this Temple Mount was made possible by combining the historical sources with the results of archaeological exploration. The main historical source is the first-century historian Josephus Flavius. His works, The Jewish War  and Jewish Antiquities, although prone to exaggeration, are indispensable for this period. Also invaluable is the Mishnah, the earliest code of rabbinic law, written about 200 AD, particularly the Tractate Middot, which deals with measurements. The New Testament adds further detail and context. All this was augmented by the results of the excavations to the south and west of the Temple Mount following the Six-Day War in 1967.

Herod’s extension of the Eastern Wall to the north required the filling in of a deep valley to the north of the pre-Herodian Temple Mount. The Shushan Gate remained the only gate in the Eastern Wall. Towers were erected at each corner and a large water reservoir was built at the northeast corner, the so-called Pool of Israel.

The present-day Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount is 1536 feet (468 m) long. The central part of this wall (shown in blue) dates from the time of King Hezekiah. In the drawing, the gate just below and to the right of the Temple is the Shushan Gate. To the south of the central section is the Hasmonean extension (red), while both ends of this wall were further extended by Herod the Great (yellow). The Herodian extension to the north of the central part of the Eastern Wall (Hezekiah’s expansion) required the filling in of a deep valley, known as the Bezetha Valley.

The Western Wall, which had four gates, was placed some 82 feet (25 m) outside the square platform with its southwest corner built on the opposite side of the Tyropoeon Valley.

The Western Wall of the Temple Mount is 1590 feet (485 m) long. The Antonia Fortress is on the left. The four gates in the Western Wall are, from left to right, Warren’s Gate, Wilson’s Arch and bridge, Barclay’s Gate and Robinson’s Arch and stairway. This drawing also shows the lay of the bedrock below the Herodian street.

The Southern Wall featured two gates, the Double Gate and the Triple Gate, often erroneously referred to as the Huldah Gates.

The Southern Wall of the Temple Mount is 912 feet (278 m) long. The extant remains of this wall are shown in yellow. A monumental stairway led up to the Double Gate, indicating that this was an important entry point for many worshippers. In between this stairway and that leading up to the Triple Gate is a ritual bathing complex and a public building.

The most fortified feature in the Northern Wall was the massive Antonia Fortress (right in the drawing below), built to protect the Temple against attacks coming from the north and to guard the mount in times of strife. A large reservoir, the Pool of Israel (left) provided additional protection to the Temple Mount.

The Northern Wall of the Temple Mount is 1035 feet (315 m) long. The Pool of Israel, which was constructionally an integral part of the Temple Mount, can be seen on the left. The Antonia Fortress is on the right. A brief reference in Josephus points to the possible existence of a gate in the middle of this wall,.

Once the platform was completed, double colonnades, or porticoes, were built above the outer walls to provide shelter from the elements. A huge hall called the Royal Stoa, with four rows of columns, was erected on the southern end. The pre-existing eastern portico that stood on the square mount was left unchanged. As it belonged to a pre-Herodian period, it was called Solomon’s Porch. Near the centre of this platform a new gold-covered Temple was constructed that in turn was surrounded by many other buildings.

In 70 AD, this splendid structure that had taken 46 years to build (John 2.20) was destroyed by the Romans. The only vestiges of the compound to survive the destruction were the four retaining walls that supported the Temple platform; the best known today is the Western Wall.

This drawing is the 7th in this series that were made specially for the new Temple Mount guide book that is awaiting publication. For the previous drawings see: Mount MoriahJebusitesSolomonHezekiahNehemiah and the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods.

The Temple Mount during the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods (332-37 BC)

The next drawing in our series on the development of Mount Moriah shows the Temple Mount in the Hasmonean period (see below). However, we will first describe some preliminary stages in its expansion, which took place during the Hellenistic period. The Bible, apart from the book of Daniel, is virtually silent about the inter-testamental period. However, the works of Josephus and the Apocryphal books of Ecclesiasticus and the two Books of the Maccabees provide much information.

Josephus records in Ant.11.325–339 a visit to the Temple by Alexander the Great after his capture of Gaza in 332 BC. Here, the Jewish historian has him sacrificing in the Temple under the guidance of the High Priest.

The Emperor Alexander meeting the Grand Priest Jaddus. Painting by Jacopo Amigoni (c. 1675-1752), Issoudun, Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roch.

Although this may be mere legend, the story points to the perpetuation of the Temple services following their revival after the return from exile in Babylon. After the death of Alexander, Judea was governed by the Ptolemies of Egypt, who were tolerant of Jewish religious practice.

Around the end of the third century BC, restoration work was carried out on the Temple Mount by the High Priest Simon, son of Onias. According to the apocryphal work of Ben Sira called Ecclesiasticus (50.1–3), the work is described as follows:

It was the High Priest Simon son of Onias who repaired the Temple during his lifetime and in his day fortified the sanctuary. He laid the foundations of the double height, the high buttresses of the Temple precincts. In his day the water cistern was excavated, a reservoir as huge as the sea.

Cistern 8 aka The Great Sea. Painting made in 1872 by William Simpson. It is located to the west of Cistern 7, called The Sea, which was probably the one mentioned in the above quote.

It is clear from the text that the bulk of these works consisted of  the repair and strengthening of the temple and other existing structures. In the reconstruction drawing of the Temple Mount below we have shown the buttresses that were added to stabilise the Temple.

Control of the city of Jerusalem was won from the Ptolemies by the Greek Seleucids from Syria in around 200 BC . The Seleucid dynasty was determined to force the Jews to accept Hellenism. It was the sacrifice of a pig on the Temple altar by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes, mentioned in Daniel 11.29-31, that sparked off the revolt by the Maccabee brothers. Their bloodline evolved into the Hasmonean dynasty that established an independent Jewish state lasting from 164 to 63 BC.

The consecration of the Temple in 164 BC is still celebrated today by the Jewish feast of Hanukkah.

In contrast to the Temple Menorah that had seven branches, the Hanukkiah used at
Hanukkah has eight representing the eight nights that oil miraculously burned
in the Temple. The lamp on the central ninth branch, which is called the shamash, is used to light the others.
In 141 BC, Simon the Maccabee demolished the hated Akra, a fortress that the Seleucids had built to the south of the Temple Mount so that a Macedonian garrison could control the Jewish population.

This schematic drawing of the Akra is one of the five stages in the development of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Akra Fortress (red) was built by the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 BC to the south of the Temple Mount.

Simon then leveled the mountain on which it was built and incorporated the whole area into the Temple Mount complex:

The Temple Mount in the Hasmonean period.

After this extension to the south, the Temple was no longer square in shape and the original Mount Moriah was now almost completely built over. The Hasmonean southeast corner can be seen in the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount at the so-called seam.

The “seam” near the southern end of the Eastern Wall. To the left of the seam is Herodian masonry, and to the right, Hasmonean.

Following the Maccabean rebellion, a fortress was constructed at the northwest corner of the square Temple Mount, to defend the mount against attacks from the north. It was called the Baris. When Herod the Great later extended the Temple Mount to the north, he dismantled the Hasmonean Baris and built a fortress, called the Antonia Fortress, that stood at the northwest corner of the new Temple Mount.

This drawing is the 6th in this series. For the previous drawings see: Mount Moriah, Jebusites, Solomon, Hezekiah and Nehemiah.

 

The Temple Mount during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah

Continuing our series on the development of Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount, we have now arrived at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.  In the Post-Exilic period, the returnees from Babylon first built the altar and then laid the foundations of the Second Temple (536 BC). There is no reason to doubt that these foundations followed the same orientation as the temple being replaced, as the foundation trenches were preserved in the Rock (as they are to this day). Due to the opposition of the local population, it took twenty years to complete the building of which we are told that it was 60 cubits high and wide, presumably referring to the dimensions of the façade.

This drawing shows the newly rebuilt Temple that apparently was not as grand as the previous one, as Haggai (2.3) said: “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now, is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” The internal layout of the Temple undoubtedly remained the same and would therefore have been able to function normally, although the quality of the architecture must have appeared inferior in the minds of the ancient people who remembered the first Temple.

Later on, during the time of Nehemiah, the city walls were restored as recorded in Nehemiah Chapter 3:

After the Babylonian Exile, many Jews returned to Jerusalem. They came in relatively small numbers, not sufficient to occupy both the Eastern and Western Hills. It was not until the Hellenistic period that the Western Hill was occupied again. In this drawing we see the rebuilt city of Jerusalem on the Eastern Hill with a smaller Temple on Mount Moriah. On the Western Hill we see the houses and walls that were destroyed by the Babylonians and were not repaired at this time.

Below is the fifth drawing in the series of Mount Moriah that shows the Temple Mount in the Post-Exilic period with the walls of the original square Temple Mount restored  (the first in this series was Mount Moriah itself, followed by the mount during the times of the Jebusites, Solomon and Hezekiah).

The Temple Mount in the time of Nehemiah. The Temple Mount walls were repaired together with the walls of Jerusalem. The northwest towers of Meah and Hananeel are mentioned in Nehemiah 3 (3.1) and also the Corner Tower in the northeast (Neh. 3.32).

A few months ago, we updated our Jerusalem in the Time of Nehemiah book. It was very popular and the first of our books to be sold out completely. The new edition which is now available from our website, has been updated with digital photographs, some by Nathaniel Ritmeyer, and also with new drawings. The above mentioned reconstruction drawing of the Temple built by Jeshua and Zerubbabel has been included, together with new drawings of Jerusalem at that time.

Second and revised edition of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah (Carta, Jerusalem, 2014).

We are still waiting for our Temple Mount guide book to be published and also the revised Jerusalem in 30 AD . The original version of the latter book was based on our slide set (now discontinued) which we produced in the 1990’s. This book also soId out. The latest  edition has new digital photographs and an additional section on the Palace of Queen Helena of Adiabene. Although ready for publication, the publishers are waiting for tourism to pick up after the recent unrest in Jerusalem.

Temple Mount guide book

Carta, the publishers of our upcoming guide book, run a blog called Carta Jerusalem Echo. This morning they put up a post stating their hope that our new guide book will be published soon.

Soon to be published, Leen & Kathleen Ritmeyer’s JERUSALEM – THE TEMPLE MOUNT is a peaceful ecumenical book intended for Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all those for whom the Temple Mount has special meaning. The authors endeavor to afford each and every visitor or reader an opportunity to acquaint himself with, relate to and contemplate sites that may resonate for him when reading Holy Scripture.

Carta emphasises that this guide book is not only for visitors to Jerusalem, but also for those travellers who wish to acquaint themselves with this unique site from afar.

This guide is also meant for all those who have already seen or read about the marvels of the world – be it the Niagara Falls in North America, the ancient Inca Temples in South America, the Great Wall of China,  the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the great pyramids and sphinx of Egypt, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – but have yet to visit Jerusalem. All are invited to  . . . Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. . . (Isaiah 2:3).

To those who wrote directly in advance enquiring about the publication date, they wrote:

We at Carta appreciate your interest and are grateful for your intent to purchase Ritmeyer’s latest work once it is available. Publication of JERUSALEM THE TEMPLE MOUNT has been delayed, heeding . . . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

Given the current regrettable spate of incidents in Jerusalem, Ritmeyer’s Interfaith Guide, which relates in great detail – and separately – to specific sites of interest to Jews and Christians, not only Muslims, deserves better timing, hopefully ahead of the festival season.

 

New drawings of the Development of the Temple Mount.

Our Image Library contains reconstruction drawings of Jerusalem in the various periods. I made different versions of them for the ESV Study Bible and for the Chronological Life Application Study Bible.

However, when compiling our latest book, a Guide Book to the Temple Mount (forthcoming), a new set of drawings was necessary, the focus this time being on how Mount Moriah developed over time.  The series begins with a drawing of the topography of Mount Moriah:

We can no longer see what Mount Moriah originally looked like. All that is visible today is its summit inside the Dome of the Rock. However, Charles Warren, the British engineer who explored Jerusalem in the 1860s produced a rock contour map, which has not been surpassed in accuracy to this day. Using this rock map and taking the general configuration of the Jerusalem mountains, with the layered rock sloping from north to south, into consideration, our illustration shows what Mount Moriah would have looked like before the subsequent temples were built. It was near the top of this mountain that Abraham built an altar to sacrifice his son Isaac. © Ritmeyer Archaeological Design

In the succeeding days, we will feature the following drawings of Mount Moriah in the historical periods from the Jebusites till the Early Muslim period.

Jerusalem – The Temple Mount – A Carta guide book

We promised to report on our new: “Jerusalem – The Temple Mount – A Carta Guide Book”.  Incredibly, this is the first true guide book to the Temple Mount to be published since 1925, when the Supreme Muslim Council published their 12-page Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif. In 2006 we published The Quest, Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This is an academic work, but written and illustrated in such a way as to be accessible to scholars and laymen alike, detailing every nook and cranny of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Our new guide book is completely different from The Quest. It has many new evocative reconstructive illustrations and is designed to help visitors understand what they are looking at, but is also invaluable for the person who cannot visit the Temple Mount in the flesh, but whose spirit is very much there.

In the Preface we wrote:

It is the authors’ sincere hope that this profusely illustrated guide book to the Temple Mount will help you to fully savor the experience of visiting a site that is truly without parallel and be embraced by its aura of power and sanctity. It is the culmination of years of academic work distilled into a user-friendly manual whose aim is to make the dry facts and stones come alive. If it can help you make this complex site more accessible and find your own personal spots for reflection, it will have fulfilled our vision. Each of the six distinct areas connected to the Temple Mount is preceded by a “Useful Information” section. Each route has its own detailed tour map. Of course, the tours can be done in whatever order you choose to do them in, including or omitting as you like.

Map of the 6 color coded areas

1. The Western Wall – Experience the Wall at the heart of Jerusalem (blue)

2. The Western Wall Tunnels – Follow the wall hidden in darkness (red)

3. Jerusalem Archaeological Park – Walk in the Park around the Southern Wall (brown)

4. The Eastern Wall – Deciphering the Puzzle of the Oldest of the Temple Mount Walls (green)

5. The Northern wall – Discovering the Hidden Wall (purple)

6. Going up to the Mountain of the House of the Lord (white)

The specialised maps at the end of the book provide additional information if you wish to focus on a particular aspect of the Temple Mount. One unique never-before-published map gives New Testament references that will allow you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples around the Temple. The plan of the cisterns and underground structures will give you an idea of the magnitude of the vast world that lies beneath the Temple platform. The map of the Islamic structures will acquaint you with the gems of Muslim architecture all over the platform.

Many pages have sidebars containing fascinating tidbits of information on topics such as “Who was Melchizedek”,  “What did the Queen of Sheba see?”, “What is the difference between a Menorah and a Hanukkiah?“, “What happens to the prayer notes left in the Western Wall?”? etc.

The book was due to have been published this month but is being delayed by the lack of tourists in Israel at the moment. Ironically, the fact that visitors are being deterred by the present situation and that when they do come, visiting hours are so restricted, makes the sort of virtual tour facilitated by this guide book all the more valuable.

As we wrote in our previous post, you can expedite the book’s speedy publication by using the online Contact Form to express interest to Carta.

Jerusalem – The Temple Mount

The Temple Mount has been in turmoil recently. Every day there is some news about violence between Jews and Muslims on the Holy Mount. And the tourists are caught in the middle.

Ynetnews published an article today called “Powder keg on Temple Mount” which includes a video made during a visit to the Temple Mount. The situation on the Temple Mount is summarised like this:

 While Muslim worshipers are allowed to enter the complex throughout the entire day, Jews are allowed entry as visitors (not worshipers) between 7:30 am and 11 am, only through the Mughrabi Bridge and under heavy police protection. Palestinians have grown aggrieved by the increasing number of visits to the site by Orthodox Jews, a program that is actively supported by Moshe Feiglin, an outspoken and far-right member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

The sounds of Jews singing and praying a few meters below, at the Western Wall and adjoining tunnels, permeate the Dome of the Rock plaza. The choirs of bearded men and veiled women in black compete for dominance with shouts and screams in Arabic of “Jews out! This place belongs to Muslims!

But the last paragraph caught our particular attention:

“Suddenly the screaming starts again. This time a group of women in black hijabs rushes amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” to expel a group of frightened-looking Israelis in secular dress, who are accompanied by a licensed guide who had dared to open a guide book in Hebrew.“

This brings us to the reason why we haven’t blogged for a while. Kathleen and I have been very busy updating two of our previous books and also writing a new Guide Book to the Temple Mount, called “Jerusalem – The Temple Mount, A Carta Guide”. Over the coming days we will report on these books and especially on our new Guide Book. This latest book is completely ready for publication, but the publisher is holding back because there are so few tourists in the country! The first guide book to this unique site since 1925 is ready to roll off the printing press… if only the tourists will show up!

We have just been told that if Carta gets enough interest for our book, they will go to print!!

The publisher is awaiting expressions of interest, so, we’d appreciate it if you’d fill in the contact form, expressing interest in our book. Thank you!

Newly released historic film collection includes scenes of the Holy Land

Israel’s History – a Picture a day announced that:

The giant newsreel archive British Pathé, released its entire collection of 85,000 films to the public this week.

The films, dating from 1896 to 1976, include hundreds of newsreels from Palestine prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948.  We found of particular interest the films of combat between British and Turkish forces during World War I and the brave attempts to push desperate Jewish refugees from Europe past British barriers in the 1930s and 40s.

“This unprecedented release of vintage news reports and cinemagazines is part of a drive to make the archive more accessible to viewers all over the world,”British Pathé announced.

“Our hope is that everyone, everywhere who has a computer will see these films and enjoy them,” said Alastair White, General Manager of British Pathé. “This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.”

We present here several of the exciting films now on the British Pathé YouTube collection. Many of the newsreels are silent films.

The ones shown on the website are:

Dedication of the Hebrew University  and speech by Earl Arthur Balfour (1925)

1929 disturbances against Jews, a crude Jewish barricade,  and the arrival of aBritish naval ship in an attempt to restore order.

Thousands of American Jews take part in [1929 “monster”] demonstration before offices of the British Consul, demanding protection for their kinsmen in Palestine. New York, U.S.

“In Palestine Today (1938)” shows how the British restored peace in Jerusalem with the loss of “only” 9 people: