Sunday, March 24, 2019

SHS: Matthew 14–15; Mark 6–7; John 5–6

Matthew 14:
3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife.
4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
6 But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.
9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

Machaerus is the eastern most of Herod's many fortress. It sits strategically on a hill top on the eastern side of the Dead Sea in the southernmost portion of Herod Antipas' territory of Perea. It is the site where John the Baptist was imprisoned and where he was beheaded.

Source: Hammond Atlas of the Bible Lands
View from the north. Roman Pillars can be see on the west (right) end of the summit,

Approach from the east.

Site of Herod's palace.

Read more about Machaerus here:

And more from my blog post:
Matthew 14;
15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
18 He said, Bring them hither to me.
19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

Enjoying St. Peter's fish at a restaurant on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Source: Hammond Atlas of the Bible Lands

Tabgha, located between Capernaum and Magdala is the traditional site of the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

At the heart of this church at Tabgha is a Byzantine mosaic of a basket of loaves and two fish.

Matthew 14:
34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.
35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;

The plain of Gennesaret. The cluster of trees in the center hides the pumping station that brings water up and out of the Sea of Galilee to then be carried via the National Water Carrier to other parts of Israel. Mt Arbel is on the right and the flat topped Horns of Hittin, where Saladin defeat the Crusaders is in the distance. This view is from the Mt of Beatitudes.

Mark 6:
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

A map of ancient Galilee. The Historical Atlas by William Shepherd, circa 1923

During the time of Jesus the city of Sepphoris, just a few miles to the northwest of the tiny village of Nazareth, was rebuilt into a lovely Roman city by Herod Antipas. This building of this city offers some perspective about what Jesus being a carpenter might mean.  More likely than not he was a stone mason.  My BYU colleagues Bill Hamblin and Dan Peterson explain:

"[D]uring the time of Jesus, Sepphoris was probably a relatively large and bustling city that employed many construction workers. And that’s precisely what Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, was. The Gospels call him a “tekton” (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3), which is traditionally translated as “carpenter” but can also mean “artisan” or “builder,” and which, given Palestine’s rocky and treeless character, very likely means that he was a stone mason. (Even today, almost all construction in Israel uses stone.)

By contrast, Nazareth was a tiny town in the Savior’s lifetime, offering little work. It’s easy, though, to imagine Jesus walking to and from Sepphoris every day with his father — about an hour each way — as he learned the family building craft. And traces of this background may appear in his teachings, where, for example, he describes a wise man who built his house upon a rock (Matthew 7:24), announces (with a pun on Peter’s name) that his church will be built upon “rock” (Matthew 16:18), and refers to himself as a stone rejected by the builders (Mark 12:10; compare Romans 9:33 and 1 Corinthians 10:4)."

Read more here:

The Arab village of Saffuriya before 1948 on the site of ancient Sepphoris. The roman city and Arab city are both good examples of a city on a hill.

Following the 1948 war in which many residents of Saffuriya fled, the Arab town was razed by the new State of Israel and trees planted among the stone rubbel fo the home. An Israeli moshav called Zippori was built at the base of the hill.

The northwest quarter of Nazareth is called the Saffuriya Quarter after the residents who fled Saffuriya (the tree covered hill with the Ottoman fortress on top) for the safety of the monasteries and churches in Nazareth and who now live in this quarter which looks out on their former homes.

In the past three decades, excavations at Zippori/Saffuriya/Sepphoris have revealed amazing Roman era mosaics and structures.

Roan theater.

Roman homes and villas. Nazareth is located on the hills in the distance.


Perhaps the most famous discovery from the excavations was a lovely third century mosaic called the Mona Lisa of the Galilee.

John 5:
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

When I first visited Jerusalem in 1979 (on a TWA tour) a sheep market still existed just outside the northeast corner of the walled city to the north of Lion's Gate and just on the other side of the wall from the site of the Pool of Bethesda.

A Palestinian Shepherdess at the sheep market.

This map sows the location of the pools at the time of Jesus.

This map shows the Byzantine Churches of Jerusalem including St Mary's at the Sheep Pool which was built over the Pools of Bethesda.

The Byzantine and Crusader ruins at the Pools of Bethesda.

The crusader Church of St. Anne (dedicated to the mother of Mary) now stands by the pools.

John 6:
24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.
25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

Among the many items excavated at Capernaum are these grain mills used to grind wheat into flour. They serve as good reminders that Capernaum was located in a wheat growing area and bread would have been a dietery staple.

"In such mills the grain was ground into regular flour. The mill (mola) consisted of three parts, the lower millstone (mēta), the upper stone (catīllus), and the framework that surrounded and supported the latter and furnished the means to turn it upon the mēta. FIG. 164: SECTION OF A MILL The mēta was, as the name suggests, a cone shaped stone (A) resting on a bed of masonry (B) with a raised rim, between which and the lower edge of the mēta the flour was collected. In the upper part of the mēta a beam (C) was mortised, ending above in an iron pin or pivot (D), on which hung and turned the framework that supported the catīllus. The catīllus (E) itself was shaped something like an hourglass, or two funnels joined at their necks. The upper funnel served as a hopper into which the grain was poured; the lower funnel fitted closely over the mēta." FIG. 165: HORSES TURNING A MILL. From a relief in the Vatican Museum, Rome.

Source: The Private Life of the Romans

This forth century synagogue in Capernaum.

The fourth century synagogue was built of limestone. It is built atop where an earlier synagogue of basalt--from the time of Jeuss--was located.

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

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