Historical Geography of Jordan

Posted by admin on September 20, 2012

Interested in archaeology? History? The Bible?

Heard of Gilead, Edom, Ammon, Moab, or the Nabateans?

Want to see where Ahab met his doom, where Nabonidus left his mark, where John the Baptist may have spent his final years?

Biennial companion course to UHL's Historical Geography of Israel, Historical Geography of Jordan is summer study you can find nowhere else in the world. Led by Dr. Ginger Barth Caessens (Ph.D., Cambridge University), it includes 10 days of field trips, offers 2 college credits, and provides the adventure of a lifetime.

The next posts will explore some highlights from the itinerary of the upcoming trip. It's not too late to sign up for Historical Geography of Jordan 2012!

UHL's 25th: Part 3

Posted by admin on September 20, 2012

The day concluded with a biblical style meal, held in Nazareth Village's new upper dining room.



On the menu: spicy grilled chicken, savory lentil soup, fresh flat bread with hummus, cucumbers, labeneh, za'atar, and olives, salad, and watermelon for dessert.


UHL's 25th: Part 2

Posted by admin on September 20, 2012

Once faculty and graduates had robed themselves in first-century style clothing, everyone headed to the synagogue for the commencement ceremony itself.

Like the synagogues of the first century, its high ceiling is supported and lit by the traditional clerestory structure above, and its interior is plain, white-plastered on walls and floor, and blessedly cool on a hot June day. Benches built into the walls on three sides of the building enabled the participants to face one another, enhancing the community feel of the commencement celebration.


This year's commencement ceremony marked not only UHL's 25th year, but also the first Master of Divinity to be conferred at the University of the Holy Land. Ordination of UHL graduates can now be carried out under the auspices of the Korean Association of Independent Churches and Missions.

Also conferred at this ceremony were six Master of Arts degrees, and one Master of Theological Studies.


Next: a Biblical-style meal.

UHL's 25th: Part 1

Posted by admin on July 05, 2012

On June 28, the University of the Holy Land held its 25th commencement at Nazareth Village.

Nazareth Village is tucked into a corner of the bustling modern city. The land, originally planned to hold a visitor's center, was found to contain the remains of a first-century terraced farm. It is now a working farm, researched and reconstructed to resemble as closely as possible the way it looked at the time of Jesus.

The day's festivities began with a tour. UHL faculty, the graduates, their families, and guests explored a watchtower, cistern, winepress, olive press, and rolling stone tomb, as well as the thriving grape arbor,  sheep pen, and threshing floor.

Some were able to participate in winnowing the newly harvested grain with a wooden fork, tossing it high in the air to blow away the chaff. This step follows threshing, where a donkey pulls a stone-studded wooden threshing sled atop the grain, helping release the chaff and pulverize the stalks. After winnowing comes sifting: first with a coarse sieve, which catches larger pieces of stalk and chunks of gravel and allows the grain to fall out, and then with a finer sieve, which retains the grain and allows dirt to fall to the ground.

Dr. John Chung, Dean of Asian Students, befriends a young goat.


The sheep pen was especially popular with the children.


The rolling stone tomb is one of the newest additions to Nazareth Village.


Next stop: the synagogue.

Jordan: Ancient Copper Mines

Posted by admin on May 15, 2012

Feinan - in fact, the Punon of the Bible -- was one of the stopping places of the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. (Numbers 33:42) Mines in this area were in use from about 4000 BC to 650 AD.

Surely there is a mine for silver...and copper is molten out of the stone. Man sets an end to darkness, and searches out, to the furthest bound, the stones of obscurity and of thick darkness. He breaks open a shaft away from where men sojourn; they are forgotten of the foot; they hang afar from men, they swing to and fro [as they descend into the vertical shafts by rope]. (Job 28:1-4)

Jordan: Red Sands of Wadi Ram

Posted by admin on May 14, 2012

Wadi Ram: Ancient caravan gateway to Arabia. Modern site of the filming of "Lawrence of Arabia."

Tomorrow: biblical copper mines.

Jordan: Off the Beaten Track at Petra

Posted by admin on May 13, 2012

Here is Petra, the capitol city of the wealthy Nabateans, especially in the first century AD. These early Arabians had a caravan trade that was the envy of the ancient world. If you think mall - an opulent, designed-to-impress mall - you've got some idea of what this city used to be like. After the Crusaders, it was lost to the Western world until 1812. Its imposing carved-into-the-bedrock tombs draw crowds from all over the world, but Petra's very size preserves some of its mystery. Most tourists visit for a day; it would take a month to fully explore its out-of-the-way canyons.

Next up: Lawrence of Arabia territory.

Jordan: Grand Canyon of the Arnon

Posted by admin on May 12, 2012

Though the rich Medeba Plateau to the north was coveted by ancient Israel, Ammon, and Moab, this rugged gorge marked the undisputed border. Welcome to Moab.


Tomorrow: Petra.

Jordan: Herod's Calling Card

Posted by admin on May 11, 2012

Here's a little calling card that says "Herod was here." If you've seen pictures of the Herodion, they look very similar. This is Machaerus, a fortress Herod inherited from the Hasmoneans and fortified to his own satisfaction. (Yes, that's the Dead Sea in the background).

Josephus says it was at Machaerus that John the Baptist was imprisoned. And beheaded.

Next stop: "the Grand Canyon of Jordan."

Jordan: "Pompeii of the Middle East"

Posted by admin on May 10, 2012

Unlike Pompeii, Jerash/Gerasa was never destroyed by a volcano. This famously well-preserved Decapolis city appears in the Gospels in connection with Jesus' healing of two demoniacs who were living in tombs, somewhere within the broader region. Its monumental gateways and temples, largely intact theater and arena, and rutted stone streets lined with rows of columns make it easy to imagine the luxurious Graeco-Roman lifestyle into which Paul traveled just decades later.

Tomorrow: Machaerus.

Jordan: Ahab's Last Battle

Posted by admin on May 09, 2012

On Gilead's frontier with Syria, which is ominously flat, is a key outpost of Biblical Israel: it's called Ramoth-Gilead. Here wicked king Ahab fought the Syrians, was wounded, and propped himself up in his chariot until he died at sunset. Here his son Joram was wounded, and returned to Jezreel to recuperate. Here Jehu was stationed when he was anointed king by Elisha's protege.

Next stop: Gerasa, a little bit of Rome in the backwoods of Gilead.

Jordan: In Jacob's Footsteps

Posted by admin on May 08, 2012

Welcome to the Bible-story-rich hills of Upper Gilead, and to the Jabbok Valley. Unlike the other river valleys in the area, which are about as friendly as the Grand Canyon, the Jabbok -- aka "Shepherd's Gateway" -- hospitably provides food and water along the way.

Nearby is the likely site for Penuel (which means "the face of God") where Jacob wrestled with the angel, after sending his family and flocks over the Jabbok.

Tomorrow: Lower Gilead, the frontier between ancient Israel and ancient Syria.