Benjamin Field Trip

On the High Place where Solomon asked God for wisdom looking out to Gibeon, where the sun stood still in Joshua 10

Our first stop on our Benjamin Field trip was to a park just above Emmaus Nicopolis, so we could look down upon it. This city was in the Aijalon Valley which is used for guarding the main route of the central hill country. This is the traditional location of Emmaus, dating from the Byzantine period in 300 AD. This site is 17 miles from Jerusalem, which questions the Biblical account of Luke saying, “later that day they returned to Jerusalem”. The 34 mile distance would make it impossible for this site to be the real location. However, today the site of Emmaus Nicopolis is a memorial for Israel’s armored division. Some believe the site to be at Emmaus Motza –Coloenia, for it is only 3.5 miles from Jerusalem. Another suspect is Emmaus Castellum(Abu Gosh) which is close to Yad Hashmonah, where we are staying. However, this tradition only goes back to the Crusader Period. The last candidate is Emmaus Quibehbeh which the tradition goes from 1290 AD. The unanswered question still lingers. But all we know is the site of Emmaus was mentioned in Luke 24:13-25 where two disciples were traveling when they saw Jesus after His resurrection. Also Emmaus is the center of the Aijalon Valley in New Testament times and Vespsian/Titus took Emmaus and put the fifth Roman Legion there (they did this to control the routes traveling from the east into Jerusalem).

it was REALLY windy on top of Gibeah, the city Saul makes the capital

After this we headed towards a place that looked upon Gezar. This city was once recorded to be conquered by Thutmose III in 1480 BC for it was a Canaanite city of value in the Late Bronze Age. This city is also mentioned in Joshua 10:33 when the king of Gezer tried to help Lacish against Joshua’s attack.  Gezar was in the tribe of Ephraim, but didn’t come into Israel’s full control until the reigns of David and Solomon. In 1 Kings 9:15-17 we see that this city was given to Solomon as a gift for marrying the Pharaoh’s daughter. This city was fortified by Solomon, most likely due to its strategic location as being a gateway from the Aijalon Valley and Beth Horon Ridge access into Jerusalem. Gezar was also the location for Tiglath Pileser’s palace after the conquest with “battering rams” in 734 BC. The location and significance of Gezar was crucial. This city was in the central Benjamin Plateau. Here we talked about Ramah and how it was the home and burial location of Samuel (1 Samuel 15:34, 25:1). This city must be in the location we were looking at for it is mentioned by being with the Central Benjamin Plateau (1 Kings 15:16-22). We also see Gibeon in the distance where Joshua got tricked into a peace treaty (Joshua 9:3-22). This is also the location where the sun stood still as the Amorite fled west by being conquered by Joshua (Joshua 10:12). Here, we also did a reenactment of Abner and Joab’s men fighting at the pool of Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:12:15). We know that this is the location of the city of Gibeon because a wine seal with the name Gibeon was found there. Gibeon was also the place where the tabernacle was moved to (2 Chronicles 1). Near Gibeon was Nebi Samwil, the possible “High Place of Gibeon” where Solomon asked God for wisdom (1 Kings 3:3-15, 2 Chronicles 1:1-13).

coffee break at KOSHERcafecafe

Our next stop was to Gibeah of Saul. This is mentioned in Judges 19:10-16 where the Levites traveled past Jerusalem to Gibeah or Ramah. This shows that these cities are on the watershed or the “Patriarchs” route, and must have been in close proximity to each other. The men in Gibeah who are inhospitable spark the Benjamite civil war. Gibeah is also the city which Saul makes the capital for the monarchy (1 Samuel 15:34). Gibeah was also on the route which the Assyrians used to go to Jerusalem (Road of the Patriarchs (Isaiah 10:28-32)). Lastly, Gibeah is where Titus consolidated his forces before taking Jerusalem in 70 AD, according to the writings of Josephus.  What we sat at on our extremely windy field trip was an unfinished palace from 1965 in Gibeah.

learning about The Pass, between Mikmash and Geba

Our second to last stop was in the “oldest and lowest city in the world”, Jericho. It is also known as the City of Psalm for the abundance of palm trees due to the subtropical climate, catering to its agriculture and many fresh water springs. What we stood in front of in ancient Jericho was the original retaining wall that the Israelites marched around. Our group even marched around it too! The retaining walls weren’t the walls that came “tumbling down”, it was the city wall made of mudbrick. Jericho had two city walls, one was on the outside, which encased the other wall (this wall was the one which Rahab lived). There was also another wall inside of the outer wall; both made of mudbrick, and both proved by archeologist to come “tumbling down.” Many excavations of Jericho have occurred some from 1910’s, however the archeological process wasn’t as advanced and didn’t incorporate evaluation of the layers.  However, in 1930, John Gastang showed that his findings proved the Bible. While in 1952-1957, Kathleen Kenny (who basically discovered modern archeology) found the dating of Jericho to be 1550 BC instead of Biblical 1406 BC.

in front of the excavations of ancient Jericho

This is due to the fact that she didn’t find certain pottery, common in the Late Bronze Age. However, she only dug in a small section of the city, which was most likely the poorer area, where expensive pottery, like the kind she was looking for would not be found. There are many evidences in the city that prove the Biblical account of Jericho. Archeologists have uncovered large amounts of pots with burnt wheat in them. If people were to conquer the city they usually would take valuables (especially wheat) before they destroy it. But this shows that Biblical account for the Israelites to offer everything in the city up to God, and nothing, but Rahab and her family to be spared. While in Jericho, we read Joshua 6 where Joshua obeys God even human reason would disagree with Him. God wanted the Israelites to march around the city 7x for 7 days and at the end of each day, blow a trumpet. This took a lot of trust from Joshua. After the city was conquered (mudbrick walls fell down in a way that was a ramp over the retaining wall), Joshua put a curse on the 1st born son of the man who would try to rebuild Jericho (1 Kings 16:31).

in front of Elisha Spring, where Elisha made bitter water pure.

Now, modern Jericho is controlled by Palestine. The ancient Jericho was much smaller than I imagined, only about 10 acres.

The last stop on this field trip was to the excavation location of where King Herod’s palace was. It was built over Wadi Qilt. This location is also mentioned in Joshua 15:5-8, 18:16-19 where the boarder of Benjamin is. In Joshua 7:26, 15:7-8 it is known as “the valley” where Achan was stoned and buried. Wadi Qilt can also be known as the “Valley of Achor(Trouble).”where Herod's Palace once stood


One Response

  1. So cool. I liked your hair picture:)
    Interesting about the Jericho walls.

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