The wilderness played an important role, affecting life in ancient Israel in several different ways. For instance, every year, at the beginning and end of summer, a hot, dry desert wind blows from the east. This wind, called sirocco, raises the temperature and can be quite destructive to vegetation. The wind was yearly reminder to Israel that the wilderness was within reach.Continue reading THE WILDERNESS
Most often, however, it appears that a masseba was set up as a sacred stone. In this case, the unnaturally placed stone or series of stones provided worshipers with a physical location at which to meet their deity. To this day, surviving sacred stones break the natural contours of the landscape, inviting us to come in for a closer look.Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (SACRED STONE “TO SET UP OR TO DESTROY” PT2)
By banishment, which in the ancient world was the social equivalent of execution (also an option). Today, our identity and sense of self are radically individualistic. We believe that each individual has rights that a just society will distribute equally; that is, without respect to differences of race, age, or matters of conscience such as religious preference. These ideas find their origin in Europe’s emergence from feudalism and in the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century.Continue reading HOW IS A PERSON “CUT OFF” FROM HIS PEOPLE?
If we tear our clothing, it is generally by accident unless we are tearing up an old garment for rags. This was not true in the culture of Bible times where the tearing of one’s garment was an external sign of one’s internal pain. The average person of the era did not have multiple changes of clothing like we do in our closets and dressers; consequently, they took great care to prevent accident tearing of their clothing (Exod 28:32; Matt 9:16; Mark 2:21). But there was “a time to tear and a time to mend” (Eccles 3:7); the time to intentionally tear was a time of intense grief that might have included repentance.Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (TEAR A GARMENT PT 1 OF 2)
In the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, we meet a woman named Hannah. She was married in a man named Elkanah, of the tribe of Ephraim. They lived in the hill country, in a little town with a big name-Ramathaim-zophim.Continue reading WOMEN OF THE BIBLE (HANNAH “THE MOM WHO LET GO”)
The mechanics are unclear, as always, but the result was a special sense of divine help and presence that enabled the leader to do God’s will. In very few places in the Bible is the coming of the Holy Spirit described in any detail (Acts 2), but the spirit descends, fills, and empowers according to God’s will and purpose.Continue reading HOW DID THE SPIRIT OF GOD “COME UPON” ANCIENT LEADERS?
Chapter 15 and 16 of Isaiah contain the prophet’s declaration of God’s judgment against the Moabites, enemies of the Israelites. The Lord would humiliate these people. Isaiah declared, by making them bald and cutting off their beards.Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (HAIRLESS MOABITES)
Place and agency for education, particularly of children. The word “school” is not mentioned in the OT and only once in the NT where the reference is to a Greek school (Acts 19:9). Until the exile in Babylon (586 B.C.), the education of children was like the of all ancient peoples: it was centered in the home. The main concern of the Jewish people was for religious education in the home.Continue reading DEFINITON OF THE DAY (SCHOOL)
In a vision the prophet Ezekiel saw the temple of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. He was shocked to see on its walls paintings or sculptures of unclean animals that God’s people were not supposed to eat (Leviticus 11:1-19).Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS & CURIOSITIES (IDOLS IN THE TEMPLS)
Physical or material image or form representing a reality or being considered divine and thus an object of worship. In the Bible various terms are used to refer to idols or idolatry: “image,” either graven (carved) or cast, “statue,” “abomination.” Both Testaments condemn idols, but with idols the OT expresses more concern than the NT, probably reflecting the fact that the threat of idolatry was more pronounced for the people of the OT.Continue reading DEFINITON OF THE DAY (IDOL)