Listen to the Land (Historical Geography) - Lesson 7

The Rift Valley and Jericho

The Rift Valley is valuable because of its location and resources. Bitumen and Balsam were sought after. It was a popular trade route but it was important to know where to get water. Jericho was at crossroads and was near some major springs. Connecting events in biblical history to the event and location of the baptism of Jesus adds weight and significance to it.

Cyndi Parker
Listen to the Land (Historical Geography)
Lesson 7
Watching Now
The Rift Valley and Jericho

I. Rift Valley

A. Aravah

B. Dead Sea

C. Bitumen

D. Balsam

E. Masada

F. En Gedi

II. Jericho

A. Herod and Cleopatra

B. Roads

C. Water

III. Qumran

IV. Valley of Achor

A. Hosea

B. Baptism of Jesus

  • The Historical Geography of the Land of the Bible is a course that aims to explore the secrets of the land of the Bible by learning how to pay attention to details like rocks, water, and roads, and how they have a dramatic impact on the people living in that context and will change our theology.

  • The land influences the people that are living on it by affecting their stories. Learning to listen to the land helps you understand the details that are hiding in the background so that when you read the Bible, it’s like you see the narrative in living color and 3 dimensions.

  • Major rivers in the Ancient Near East provided the resources necessary for empires like Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia to grow and flourish. Israel is on a couple of the major trade routes that connects these cultures. The location of mountains, hills and valleys in Israel affects the lifestyle and travel patterns of the people who live there and the people travelling through.

  • Wind patterns and the shape of the land determine where more rain falls. Finding and managing sources of water is a critical aspect of survival. The feasts coincide with the agricultural calendar. Biblical passages containing references to water and the feasts had profound meaning to the original audience.

  • Of the granite, sandstone and limestone layers of rock, the limestone layer is what controls much of the lifestyle of the people. The layers of limestone that are common throughout Israel and the surrounding areas are Cenomanian, Senonian and Eocene. It is a good land because there are enough resources to survive and thrive, but it is not an easy land. It has been referred to by different names throughout the years and the political boundaries have been fluid.

  • Bashan is in the north and has enough rainfall and arable soil to support crops and large animals like cattle. The Dome of Gilead provides connection points for international and local travel. Ammon and Moab are neighbors and descendants of Lot’s daughters. Edom is south and are descendants of Esau.

  • The people that migrated to live in the coastal plain were known as the Philistines. Because of the location and terrain, the roads were sources of international travel and trade. Cities were built for commerce and control. The Negev was an important area to control for travel.

  • The Rift Valley is valuable because of its location and resources. Bitumen and Balsam were sought after. It was a popular trade route but it was important to know where to get water. Jericho was at crossroads and was near some major springs. Connecting events in biblical history to the event and location of the baptism of Jesus adds weight and significance to it.

  • The hill country of Judah has enough rain to grow grapes and other crops. Hebron was first given to Caleb and then was the city that David ruled from when he first became king. It was a connecting point for local roads. Bethlehem and Tekoa are also cities in this area.

  • Jerusalem is framed by the hills and valleys that are near it. The Sorek Wadi System is to the west and the Mount of Olives is to the east. David built a palace and Solomon later built a temple. Jerusalem was important in Jewish history and also has a place in eschatology.

  • By the beginning of the first century, Jerusalem was the site of a magnificent Jewish temple built by Herod the great. He also built an impressive palace and a Roman fort which overlooked the temple. The events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus take on added layers of meaning when you understand how the geography of the events reminded people of Messianic prophecies.

  • Benjamin has the smallest tribal allotment but it is one of the most significant areas in the nation of Israel. The geographical features, the cities located there and the roads that run through it make it a region of national and international importance.

  • The Shephelah is between the hill country and the coastal plain and has unique geographical features. When you know the location of the roads, valleys and cities in this area, you can see their significance in the stories. When you understand where Micah and Isaiah came from and their historical context, you can understand why there is a difference in their message and tone.

  • The rocks and roads will give you valuable information about the Sharon Plain and Mt. Carmel. The international road took different paths around Mt. Carmel depending on your final destination. The harbor and palace that Herod built in Caesarea were impressive.

  • The hill country of Joseph has abundant resources and nearby roads for commerce. Shiloh was a religious center and the place where Joshua met with representatives from each tribe to determine their tribal allotment. The women of Shiloh also were instrumental in saving the tribe of Benjamin. Shechem was important as far back as Abraham. Every time people would see Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, it was a reminder of the blessings and curses of their covenant with God.

  • Who was Omri, and why was he significant in making Samaria an important city? When the people of Judah returned from Persia, there was a conflict with the people of Samaria. The animosity that was still present during the ministry of Jesus set the stage for an encounter he had with a woman that was at a well near the city.  

  • Upper and Lower Galilee have the climate soil that is conducive to widespread agriculture. Lower Galilee also has some valleys that became major roads. Major empires of the fertile crescent exerted their influence here as they expanded. When the Greeks took control with their military, they also spread their cultural influence.

  • The Jezreel Valley is the center of activity for many of the biblical narratives. Not only was it an important economic and strategic location for Israel, but also for the Canaanites, Egyptians, Arameans and Assyrians. It is also a place where significant events took place in the lives of the prophets and Jesus.

  • This body of water is often referred to as a, “sea” even though it is fresh water, not salt water. There are not many stories in the Hebrew Bible that take place in this area, but it is a center of activity for Jesus during his ministry. Many of the parables are illustrations taken from local culture and geography.

  • The Huleh basin has an abundance of water from several sources. The soil is also good, but the conditions for growing crops in some areas presents some challenges. Dan is a strategic city in the north as a gateway to the region and a religious center under Jeroboam. Caesarea Phillippi was built by Herod and was a place that Jesus used to teach his disciples about his role as Messiah and their future as leaders of the church.  

  • The Gospel of Luke traces the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, and the book of Acts traces the journey of the gospel going out from Jerusalem. The events in Pentecost have a connection to the events at Mt. Sinai. The gospel is for the world but the events that made it possible are anchored in Israel. (Don't forget the Epilogue, Lesson 21!)

  • There are two different stories in the Gospels of Jesus feeding large groups of people. One account is in John 6 and another account is in Mark 8. The message is similar but the geography gives you some clues to help you understand why the details are different.

Have you ever read about a place and when you went there in person, it came alive? As you walk through the hills and valleys of Israel with Dr. Parker, you will see the stories of the Bible in living color. 

Your location affects your lifestyle, relationships, worldview, occupation, diet and travel. In ancient Israel, you depended on the resources around you to survive. People often lived near springs or rivers, but it was possible in some places to collect rain water and ration it through the year. The terrain and the type of soil would determine what crops you could grow, or what animals you could raise. Living near a road would give you opportunities to sell what you produced or buy what you needed. Your location would determine the amount of risk you would face from people in neighboring countries. By living in the hill country, you would develop a different mindset than if you lived on an open plain.

Once you begin to have an understanding of the, "rocks and roads" of Israel, reading your Bible with a good map next to you will help you get a 3 dimensional perspective. When the characters and the scenery become life-like in your mind, you will find yourself being inspired and motivated in your understanding of your relationship with God and how you can apply it in your interactions with others. Take this opportunity to learn from Dr. Parker to "Listen to the Land!"

Don't forget the Epilogue, Lesson 21!


Recommended Books

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study

Have you ever read about a place and when you went there in person, it came alive? As you walk through the hills and valleys of Israel with Dr. Parker, you will see the...

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study
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Dr. Cyndi Parker
Listen to the Land (Historical Geography)
The Rift Valley and Jericho
Lesson Transcript

We are continuing our exploration of the southern arena. So we already did the Philistine Coastal Plain, we did the Greater Negev and the Biblical Negev. So we've already covered all of that. But we're going to continue this exploration. We're going to dip down and around into the Rift Valley and then follow that to the north. So as we go, just kind of big picture wise, a lot of the southern arena, the trade routes that we've seen, the connections that we've seen out of the land of the Bible elsewhere has been to the south. Right. Those are the primary connections down into Egypt or from the Mediterranean all the way across the Edam in this in the southeast. So we're going to continue looking at where all the connections are. So what kind of resources do we have at our disposal in a different region of the Bible and where we connect to? So we're looking at the Arava, which is a portion of the Rift Valley in the biblical text. When they refer to the river, usually, not always, but usually it is the area of the Dead Sea further south, all the way down to a lot. So we're going to we're going to also look at the Dead Sea, along with the Rift Valley. So we're looking here in this very narrow area that goes all the way south off the map to the Red Sea. So this is the Arava. It's very dry. We're looking it's exactly parallel to the greater wilderness that we looked at in a previous lesson. So we should already know that we're expecting to have very little rain in this area.

[00:01:55] And this is also true what is unique in the river as compared to the greater wilderness over a little bit further to the west is there are springs that show up right at the base of the Arava. So just enough springs that if you know where to go and how to time your travel, you can actually get a pretty good sized caravan to come up the river, which we might remember when we were discussing trade through the Biblical Negev, when we talked about the Queen of Sheba, she would have traveled up from the Red Sea, up the Arava following the different oases that are here, and then up into the Judean hillside. Interestingly as well, we have a whole bunch of copper mines that have been found along the river. So it was a place of industry, even though it wasn't a place of agriculture, it was a place where people could go and they could dig for copper. And then copper being an essential element for creating bronze weapons, bronze implements that people used during the time. And then, of course, the Dead Sea and the Dead Sea, although we because of the name Dead Sea, we think, oh, it's completely dead. There's nothing valuable in the Dead Sea. But in reality, the area around the Dead Sea and the Dead Sea itself had quite a few resources that everyone wanted. So let's kind of move a little further north from the river. And so here we're looking at the very southern end of the Dead Sea. It's a very shallow portion of the Dead Sea. We're looking in the haze of the picture. We can see the ridge line just barely. If you kind of squint a little bit, you might be able to see the ridgeline of Moab.

[00:03:49] So now we're we're coming north a little bit that we're exactly parallel to where MOAB is. And then you can see on like right around the Dead Sea and this is all the way around in Moab and on the western side that it's really quite dry, that the soil is quite salinity. It has absorbed a lot of the minerals, which makes it a very rough place. You're not going to find a whole lot of agriculture now, modern day because of modern day irrigation and because this is a parking lot for a tourist site. You know, they're watering plants. So ignore all of that. This is the more accurate picture for what this would look like. So again, I'm going to pull from Jeremiah. We've looked at several of his the images that Jeremiah likes to use. He uses this kind of imagery, this kind of soil that is dry and barren, and it doesn't help the production of trees. It's a very rough place for trees to even grow. And he says the one who trusts in mankind. Right. So we're looking at the character of one who trusts in man is one who will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in a stony wastes in the wilderness. A. The land of salt without inhabitants. And when you look at this picture, you're like, oh, I can see I can see what he means. And there's something about this solitary tree growing out there, absorbing as much water as possible, but it being alone. And that picture in a very rough place where the ground is salty is what Jeremiah says. The person who trusts in man is like that. In contrast, and I didn't write this on the screen because I was going to run out of room.

[00:05:46] But if we continue reading in verse seven since his Jeremiah 17, verse seven, so that the opposite picture of this is going to be blessed, is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord. For He will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes. But its leaves will be green and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. Right. It's the complete opposite to the picture that we see here. And Jeremiah says, like, this kind of imagery is like maybe the trees planted in this kind of place, but it's planted by clean water, by that living water that we talked about in one of the earlier lessons. And God's provision for this tree is abundant enough that the leaves are always green. Okay. So as we continue to think of the area around the Dead Sea, let's talk about how the Dead Sea was used, why people are there, what could be found around this area, date palms are found all through this area of the river. Once you get at least where there's enough rain to allow for the date, palms to grow. And again, we're looking across the Dead Sea to the east, to the hills of Moab over here. And we're starting to see how even though in Moab we have this unknown in kind of chalky soil on the very top, we're looking at this Hirsch break down into the Rift Valley, where we're going to pick up a little bit of the sandstone that is down underneath, which gives it this incredibly beautiful, rosy hue. If you're ever there in the evening time as the sun is setting, it's incredibly beautiful.

[00:07:46] So they palms can grow. And people in the area knew of the date palm trees that grew up all along the Dead Sea and then closer to where Jericho is located. And it was a commodity that was exported to peoples to all the neighboring peoples around Israel. Now, interestingly enough, I'll just throw this in as a little tidbit, since we have this great picture of date palms in imagery. So in some of the carvings that we have of even synagogues later on the date, palm tree became a symbol of one who is righteous. Because look how straight and tall the date palm trunk of that tree is. And it grows in this salad needed area. Like an olive tree can never grow down here, but a date palm can. And so this righteousness, this symbol of righteousness, became one of even a person who is planted in a murky area where a murky context is one who stands up straight and proud. That would be a righteous person. And so any time you're out exploring and you see synagogues with the date palm tree that is on the entrance to the synagogue, it was always a visual of this image that we see all the time. On our horizon line is a lesson we should take for ourselves. Okay. So another element, another resource that is found around the Dead Sea that is exported all over the place is this wonderful little element that's called the Bitterman. So, Bitterman, this is a this is a quote, and I really love this quote. It's from Josephus, who is one of our great first century historians. So a Jewish historian writing about the area, the resources of the area, and some of the events that happened. And he has this great explanation of what Bitterman is.

[00:09:51] He says The nature of the lake at full, Titus is the Dead Sea. It's also worth describing. It is, as I have said, already bitter. It is so thick that it bears up the heaviest things that are thrown into it. Nor is it easy for anyone to make things seem there in to the bottom if he had mined to do so. However, it casts up black clods of Bitterman or Bitterman, as some of my students have said on exams, which I find hilarious every time they say that. But it's Bitterman. In many parts of it, these swim at the top of the water and resemble both in shape and bigness, headless bulls. The bitter mumm is not only useful for the coking of ships, but for the cure of men's bodies. Accordingly, it is mixed in a great many medicines. It's such a great visual of what this stuff must have looked like as it just came up from below, from the bottom of the Dead Sea area and floated to the top. So we assume people would have gotten into little boats and rode out and then just collected this bit of mum. Bit of mum was exported very often to Egypt. It was highly desired by the Egyptians who not only had an army that could go out onto the Mediterranean Sea, but Bittermann was used in embalming. And so a practice that was common, common for the Egyptians. And so the Bitterman was always a desired trade, which meant that people were often going from the Dead Sea through the biblical Negev down into Egypt, carrying products like Bittermann and Dates. Okay, now there's another commodity that was very, very precious. It's Balsam. Back to Josephus. So Josephus says Balsam, which is an ointment of all the most precious, which, upon any incision made in the wood with a sharp stone, distills out thence like juice balsam.

[00:12:04] And the the sap from balsam was highly valuable and was exported so common people lived in this place. They were not the ones to use it. It was always the wealthy in other areas. So it was exported by the time of Josephus to when we're in the first century. It was the wealthy throughout the Roman Empire that had a high desire for the balsam that grew around the Dead Sea. So much so that when the Jews staged their revolt against Rome, the one that ended up with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD and the second great revolt. Later on, the Jews would go and destroy balsam wood because it was something that the Romans craved, and so they could destroy the commodity the Romans had, that they didn't have the same wealth to be able to purchase and consume. Josephus tells us that at certain points Roman soldiers were sent to guard the balsam wood. That's how precious it was. So we're looking at the area around the Dead Sea. The dryness were moving up along the Rift Valley with the Dead Sea over here to the right. We can see why finding an oasis in this kind of place would be so important. In fact, I took this picture. We're standing up on top of a rock that Herod later turned into a palace. So we've only met Herod very briefly in a previous class when we were talking about Herod being an omen. So having historical roots in Edam and moving over. When Herod was king of this area, when he ruled this land of the Bible area, he took care. He was known for taking impossible places and turning them into fortresses and palaces. So we're looking at an area that is obviously extremely dry.

[00:14:05] There's no water. There's a couple oases you have to know where they are. And there is an oasis about 50 miles to the north of this place. But this is Masada, where Herod ended up building a palace. It was known long before Herod. People knew of this rock. It has a really interesting shape to it. This is a little blurry, the picture, but Masada is almost exactly an island of rock that is popped out and away from the surrounding rocks that are around it. Now, if we were to really go in close, we would see this is centered mainly in rock. So Santo Manian is the oldest, the green color on all of our maps. So this rock could produce agriculture, but you need water for it to do so. And in this portion of the Rift Valley of the river next to the Dead Sea, we only have about 4 to 6 inches of rain. So we don't get enough rain to be able to produce any agriculture at all. But Herod said, you know, that looks like a rock that could be easily fortified. And Herod was known for trumping nature for just trying to go out. And in an impossible place where you cannot have a fortress, it's like nothing will stop me. I can do it. Or at least my engineers can write my name. That maybe not him. We attribute all this to him, but he built a wall along the top of this rock that is already heavily fortified. But part of the strategy may have been whatever rain did fall stayed on the surface of the rock and didn't flow off to the side. Now it is also connected by this one little ridge line. And so Herod had his engineers build a system of they're not really aqueducts, but they're ravines etched all in the mountains all the way around Masada, so that as our rain fell on the rock around us, the water would fall into these trenches and flowed downhill and across this little piece of rock into a whole bunch of cisterns that were here.

[00:16:22] He would also send servants up to the 50 miles away, up to the local oasis, to get bags of water and to bring that water back. And when we read the description of what was at Masada, he had his palace, another palace where he hosted people, swimming pools. That's just obscenely luxurious in this kind of context, to have a swimming pool and cisterns and hanging gardens. And if you stand on the northern face where Herod had his own private palace, you can feel the light breeze come through and you're looking at that kind of scenery. It's very impressive. So you can bring your dignitaries to that kind of palace, that kind of impressiveness, and say, Would you like to go for a swim where everything visually on your horizon is saying it's impossible for this to exist here? That was part of what Herod did, was to set up the eye can overcome even the natural elements. Okay. Now, if this is our constant context where the scenery is looking like this. And one of my favorite things is to get groups of people and to make them hang out in the greater Negev and then the biblical Negev and then all the way south in the RV and spend days down there and then go to Masada. And by now everyone is really thirsty. All the water has evaporated out of their skin. And this is when we can finally touch on the importance of water. And we understand dramatically why an oasis is so significant. So this spring that is just north of Masada is and Getty, which is quite a famous spring, there's actually a collection of springs. They are ever flowing pure. This would be our great picture of what living water would look like and to feel the effects of living water, how important living water really is.

[00:18:31] So and Getty is just north of about halfway up on the western side of the Dead Sea. And look, we can see the effects of water. So again, we're looking at snow mainly in rock. Now up on the very top, it's covered over with snow and that chalky limestone. But down here, we get snow manian. And so we know if you have water, it will produce. And so it is extremely impressive to go around the Dead Sea, where everything is really dry and barren and the soil is salivated. And it's not good for anything. It's not good for agriculture. And then all of a sudden, you get here and you're like, God, this is the effect of living water. Right. And when you can go there and experience it and you're thirsty. And just by talking about water, everyone starts to grab their water bottles because they're like, yes, I feel thirsty right now. And the heat is really intense. And you go, Now, how precious is that? Living water? And the thing is, you can stand back and look at the living water all you want and it won't affect you. It's not until you get in close enough to be covered by the living water that it starts to bring about the fruitfulness of the soil or of your soul. Right. So David knew of this. In fact, David's often in the area of and Getty. And I'll just point on the map because David grew up in Bethlehem and this is the Judean wilderness. And as a shepherd, as a young boy taking the sheep out, the family fortune out into the wilderness, he would have known where all of the different spring water would have been. So when he's running from Saul, he some of the time ends up going into the wilderness.

[00:20:19] This is his home turf. Saul is a little bit more of a city guy and doesn't isn't so familiar with this. And so David can hide in the nooks and crannies where he and his mighty men can get the water that they need. And so he often goes down to and Getty. So I'm going to read from first Samuel, all 23. This is one of those times he's running from Saul. So Saul is still the king. And it says David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of Getty. Now, when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness. Then Getty. Then Saul took 3000 chosen men from all of Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the rocks of the wild goats. Now, this is another one of those. When the writer was describing this event, it would have been plainly obvious what he meant. Not only do we get the mention of David is in and Geddy, but he's by the rocks of the wild goats. Well, what is that? All through this area, greater Negev, biblical Negev, all through the Rift Valley. We have these little creatures that are called IBEX. These two that are pictured here, this one that's looking out in this one that's jumping, are quite young. The older male goats can get huge horns that come up over the back of their heads and they can be quite fierce. They are known for being able to live in areas where there's almost a sheer rock face because they can scamper up these rocks. So it's impressive to go to areas where the IBEX live because you'll see them walking and then they disappear over a cliff face and you think there's no way it can still be there.

[00:22:10] And you go and peer over and then hanging on an impossible ledge is one of these ibex. So the biblical writer is telling us, David goes to an area. It's an oasis of anxiety, but it's the place where there's a lot of the goats that are hanging out these ibex. Now, just to take us a little further on this, I'm going to say if we were to read Habakkuk, there's two different references, one in second, Samuel, one in Habakkuk. And this is one that we have to have this picture and we have to have this scenery in mind to fully understand what is being said. So Havoc says he makes my feet like hinds feet and sets me on high places. That's another one of those. Like this quote is often in greeting cards and on bookmarks. And I see it all the time and we think it's just really nice. But what is being said is God is the one who is giving me the kind of feet I need to exist in the kind of area that I live in. Right. He's not taking you out and putting you in an easier place, but he's giving you the tools you need to live in this environment. Another. Some of David is using this kind of imagery. Some 63. And he says and in fact, some 63 when you look at the superscript and it says what David wrote while in the wilderness of injury. So he says, Oh, God, you are my God. I shall seek you earnestly, my soul thirst for you. My flesh yearns for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water. And when you stand there, you're like, Oh, yes, I've never been so thirsty in my life.

[00:24:05] So David is tapping into not only the scenery, but the physical experience of being in that kind of scenery. And then he continues on. My soul is satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. So just think David is setting us up for this kind of scenery and saying, being in God's presence, God, it's almost like God feeding him marrow and fatness. So I don't know if any of you have had bone marrow ever. It is a luxury item. If you are making a stew or if family is sharing this stew and there is a bone in the stew. It's often the the element that people fight over. The marrow gets really soft on the inside. It coats your mouth like something even more luxurious than butter. Is it? I'm vegetarian, but I know this because I ate bone marrow before I became vegetarian and had this experience of just how luxurious it is. And I talk to people all the time who were like, Oh, we fought over the bone marrow as kids when we had this big meal. So David is saying, not only does God just give him water in a dry and thirsty land, God gives him more than that. The fatness that coats your mouth and the experience of it is just so satisfying that God's presence. It's incredibly beautiful to read these songs in the context they were meant to be read in, to understand the physicalness of what is being portrayed in the songs. Let's continue our journey to the north. And we get to the area of Jericho. Jericho is known for being the city of Date Palms. And I'll just say, before we really jump into Jericho, before we talk about the Israelites coming into the land, I'm just going to take little bits of history that aren't often put together at the same time and say These were contemporaries.

[00:26:23] So we just met up with Herod the Great at Masada. At the same time of Herod the Great was Cleopatra in Egypt. I don't know if people always put them as contemporaries. Herod the Great hated Cleopatra hated her because when she was with Mark Antony. Mark Antony, so Rome, already in control of this land, gave Cleopatra all of the area around Jericho and all of the lands along the Dead Sea. Herod felt it all belonged to him, and he hated her. And so as soon as Mark Antony and Cleopatra were no longer threats, when they go away and Octavian becomes emperor, the first thing Herod does, I want this land. I want you to give it back to me. And he's getting not just land. He's getting all the commodities of the land. So all the bitumen, all the balsam wood, all the trade, all the very expensive trade that is going on. So it's fun to kind of start to knit together elements of history and say these people were contemporary with each other. Okay. So Cleopatra had this land, but Herod the Great is going to take it over. So let's go back to the Israelites, though, and we're going to pull in some of the geography that we talked about in a previous lesson. So just to the east, this is the seashore or the medieval plateau. So when we went through our Transjordan, we had, based on the Dome of Gilead, the measure, the plateau. That's the area that didn't ever really belong to one people group. It was always back and forth, back and forth. So the Israelites, they fight KING Simon who had control of the Army, sure. At the time, go down to the plains of Moab and they're going to pass over to Jericho here.

[00:28:16] There's an element of this being very strategic of what they're doing. So this strategy is not necessarily something that the biblical writers going to take time to explain to us. But the maps will show us why this is a strategic place to go. We talked about in the same Transjordan lesson, we looked at the different areas where you can cross the Rift Valley and we said this is one of the major kind of local crossings is here at Jericho. So we know that behind us is the measure. Behind them measure is the international trade route. And Israel has just come through there. So they've kind of opened up a space for themselves and they're in between Amman to the north and Moab down here to the south. So they have behind them now access to a very strategic road. And as they come down, they're gaining access to Jericho. And then if we look at the area of Jericho leaving Jericho and heading west into the hills, there's this really nice road that comes up and then hits the spine of the hill country. But there's not just one road. There's not just two roads. There are three very significant roads that split off. They all congregate here in Jericho and they head off into three directions. So one is going to head up close to Bethel and then go north. One heads over and we're going to hang out in this area in a later lesson because it's quite strategic, but it's going to come up here and then is one of the best roads down to the west and to the coastal plain. So that connection is made through here all the way to Jericho. And the other one comes up through the Judean wilderness and hits Jerusalem also on the spine of the hill country.

[00:30:11] Okay. So I love to stand here with students and say. What is so strategic about Joshua taking Jericho first? Well, there's the obvious God told them to. And so that is good strategy is you just to follow what it is that God is telling you to do. But there is also additional strategy that is going on. And for this, I want to show you another picture to. This is Jericho. Around Jericho. There are three powerful springs. So at the base of what is very dry, you can see the Judean wilderness. But down at the base with three springs that are always flowing. One of them comes up through here. You can see how the trees seem to go beyond where they are growing and they're pushing their way into the hills here. They're following the path of water, which is why they're there. So one spring back, there are two other springs here. So Jericho becomes a place that was known as the city of palm trees, of date palm trees. It was lush with vegetation. Even today, the residents of Jericho are using their local water to create agriculture in their area. And you can see where the water stops. It is you can drive on a bus and you're driving down the road and it's lush and it's lush and it's lush. And you can draw a line in the sand where it's dry. It's so fast. It's so immediate. It's where the water can reach. So if we then take a slightly more aerial view of Jericho and we're looking to the east, we're looking at the Mischa over here and we're looking at the plains of Moab that are down here. Again, the greenery here would be on the eastern side of the Jordan River, not the western side.

[00:32:09] So another this gives us a really good shot of the ancient site or tell the tell Jericho, which is this would be this mound that you see a table is just layers and layers and layers and layers of human civilization that have been layered on top of one another. And over time it grows a little higher. These dot to our landscape all over the place. So we can we can see where people lived in ancient times. So this is Jericho. There's been a lot of archeological activity at Jericho because there's a lot of interest because Jericho shows up in the biblical text. So there's been a lot of trying to figure out what the shape of Jericho was, how long people lived in Jericho, that type of thing. So that's why it's so bumpy. There's massive gashes through the tunnels so that we can discover as much as we can discover about Jericho. Again, we're looking over to the shore. We're looking over the north end of the Dead Sea. But this because you can see the mound, the temple of Jericho. This might help us visualize in a much better way the story of Joshua and the Israelites. Because if this is the walled in city of Jericho and this is kind of the normal size of cities at the time, then when you think about marching around a city, you Oh, okay. I actually see that for someone like me who grew up in an urban environment, I thought there is no way. I just I could not get a picture in my mind at all of how it was physically possible to march around a city and then you see the proper size of the city. Okay, this is interesting. Now. This is the geography.

[00:33:59] There's a lot of arguments. The scholarly conclusion right now is that there was no significant city of Jericho during the time of Joshua. But that, of course, depends on what time we date Joshua and the Exodus. So there's a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of scholars who have done really fantastic work on Jericho. So I'm going to keep that debate over in their arena and stay in my safe zone, which is the geography that surrounds Jericho. So one of the Mighty Springs is right on the other side of Jericho and it comes gushing out of the ground. So and again, we can see how all around the city of Jericho we have this lush greenery. Okay. So back to our question. What is the strategy of taking Jericho first? Hopefully you're making the road connections and the geography connections, one for people who've been traveling through the greater wilderness. You now have those images in your mind for people who've been traveling like that, who've been struggling for water, struggling for food. As soon as you get to Jericho. You have all the date palms you could eat. You easily can produce food for your community. So food and water. These are great things because as soon as the Israelites move over, the manna stops and they're having to provide for themselves from the land. Okay, so food and water, they also have to their back. Now, Reuben and some of the Israelites who were going to stay behind and protect this access road. And if they take Jericho, they've taken basically the whole country because they have taken all of the access points up into the hills. We're going to come back to this. In a little in a future lesson, because this strategy of Jericho is extremely important for the whole rest of the story of what Joshua and the Israelites do.

[00:36:10] Okay, so nearby Jericho, there's maybe a few other places that are mentioned. Just to the south of Jericho is a place called Qumran. Of. Infamy because of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were found there. Qumran is a very fascinating place, and if you have seen any pictures of Qumran, it is usually this cave, which is cave four, which is. This is not actually the original entrance to the cave. This was created by the archeologists. That's one of the most famous caves, but scattered throughout the hills. Up here are a whole bunch of the caves where the scrolls were found because it is so dry here, because they're so desiccated. That's why the scrolls could survive. So there's something fantastic about various Jewish communities that are bringing scrolls here to be stored, to be protected. Knowing that the revolt is going to be happening with Rome, but preserving their very sacred writings in these this kind of landscape allowed them to survive to today, which is amazing to study the effects of. Since we have found the Dead Sea Scrolls, what that has done to our interpretation of Bible and culture, the biblical text. So again, maybe lectures for another day, but very, very exciting. And it's at the north end of the Dead Sea. And I also mentioned this valley of Acre, which is in the wilderness up here. We don't know exactly where, but I want to point it out because we should already be expecting this is synonym and country. This is where the snow in rock is covering over the Omani. And so it's that dry and chalky and barren ness. Hozier likes to use this. So if we think of Hozier, the Prophet Hozier, he is known for God telling him to go and marry a prostitute and has children with her.

[00:38:17] And then all of this becomes imagery of the relationship God has with his wife, his own people. Now, like for sure, and I would say Jose too can be very tricky in its interpretation because the language is quite strong. And there are a lot of women I know that have reacted very strongly against the imagery that is in chapter two because it seems quite abusive towards women. I think and again, this is maybe a biblical interpretation thing that we could go into later on if anyone wants to. But I am going to focus on what the geographical imagery is that is being used in this very tricky chapter that needs to be handled with great care. So Jose two says for she does not know that it was I this is God speaking about his wife. She does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil. Do you remember that from previous lessons? It's our sacred trilogy that is basically meaning the whole entire calendar year. Okay, so it was I right? And God is the one who brings early rains in the latter rain. So we're in very familiar territory here. And lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for bail. Therefore, I will take back my grain at harvest time and my new wine in its season. I will also take away my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. Therefore behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. This is when I think. I you know, that is some allure ment that's happening to pull her out of agricultural areas, to allure her into the wilderness. But then God says, then I will give her vineyards from there.

[00:40:28] It's astounding. And the Valley of Acre. So here's our reference to the Valley of Acre, the Valley of Ecorse from Joshua seven. When the Israelites come in, they destroyed Jericho. They're not supposed to take any of the goods of Jericho. But Acre and his farm, or Aiken and his family hoard everything and then try to hide it. It is in the Valley of Acre that it can is then destroyed. So Hosanna is making mention of a place that is recalling a memory that has this kind of landscape associated with it. So he is going. I will give her vineyards from there in the Valley of Acre as a door of hope. There's like a redemption of the history that happened there before. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the days when she came up from the land of Egypt. It will come about in that day, declares the Lord, that you will call me. She and I kept it in Hebrew. Because this is important. The ishi. This means my husband and no longer will you call me. But Ali, my master. It's so astounding. There's something deeper and richer putting the geography underneath Jose's words, because, yes, there is the punishment involved in going to take away all of this agriculture that you are giving away and attributing to another God. And I'll take you into the place where it's impossible to recognize it's me who provided for you because vines cannot grow in this land. But God says, I can give you those vines. And then because of that, because I've wooed you, because I've spoken kindly to you, because I have pursued you and I have drawn you back in. Then we reestablish. You are my husband.

[00:42:30] It's arts and crafts. So beautiful. Okay. Let me do a couple more stories from this area. In roughly. I'm not going to say it's Jericho, but let's say the Jordan River facing Jericho. Let's think of Jesus's baptism here just for a second. There's this baptism event for me is something I talk about it quite a bit in the new book that I have coming out, because it is a significant thing and we often talk about it theologically, like, what is Jesus doing theologically in this baptism? What does it mean? And I am forever and ever standing behind everyone. And the geography is really important, but people don't always pay attention. So let's think of just a moment. We're going to match imagery and geography together and then just see the ways in which our heads are going to explode, hopefully in a gentle way. Okay, we're looking at this area. And before we get to the geography, let's just think about the imagery for a second. Jesus is coming from up north, we assume, because of the geography, that he's traveling along the eastern side of the Jordan River. Why? Because that's where all the food and water is. And then he's going to pass through the water here. And when we think of him like he's going to be baptized in the Jordan and then he goes immediately into the wilderness. Right. So this helps us place roughly where the event is. So we know he's passing from the east to the west and then into the wilderness for a moment, because the gospel writers love doing this, looking through their scriptures, through the Hebrew Bible, and looking for patterns of imagery, of things that have happened in the past. And then they'll place a modern event on top of that imagery and say, let's just let's just build a little oomph and excitement into the story.

[00:44:33] So which stories? So let's just go ahead and say Jesus is God. So let's think of his divine presence in this moment. Which stories do we have that involve water splitting with God there? Oh, and when God speaks and the dove comes and God calls him my son, my chosen one, which has references also back to the Hebrew Bible. All of that is really beautiful. Read my book to get into that. It's great. But what other imagery, what other stories can you think of that has water splitting, dry ground, God showing up or God being there? Maybe even an element of a bird? We can go all the way back to the beginning. In Genesis one at the beginning of creation, we have this expanse of chaos and it seems to be some kind of watery existence. And the spirit of God is fluttering and he splits the water and creation comes out. Now, if we were to continue, you may also think of Noah. So Noah and the flood, which is the destruction of creation, all of the elements happen in the opposite way that they happen in the creation narrative. And when the floods recede and the mountains show up, so the water splits, dry ground appears in Noah. He sends out a dove, goes out, flutters over the land. We can continue all the way through Exodus. The people leave Egypt. They get to the Sea of Reeds. God breathes and it splits. And they walk through on dry ground into the wilderness. We have one more. Joshua in the Israelites cross. The priests step into the water, the Jordan splits, the dry ground appears, they pass through. So there's so many different elements that are at play as the readers, very close readers of the text who are very familiar with our Hebrew Bible, because why wouldn't we be Deuteronomy, of course, being the most important, but of course we should all of a sudden go, I've seen this pattern before.

[00:46:54] What was happening in all of the stories before and how significant is it? Jesus is following this same pattern. Something old happened. There's something new about to happen. Plus, there's kind of a retracing of the Israelites steps by Jesus going through water into a wilderness to be tempted, like the Israelites were tempted in a wilderness, different wilderness, but same kind of idea. Okay. So there's the imagery element, which is really very exciting, but the geography element, let's think about that. How many events can you think of that have to do with crossing the Jordan River in this location? Israelite events? These are the important ones that we're looking at. Well, I just mentioned one. We have Joshua in the Israelites crossing from east to west. Moses anoints Joshua. Joshua crosses with the Israelites and is building something new. If we were paying very close attention, we would also know there's another story of Elijah and Elijah. So Elijah has been a student of Elijah, and at the end of Elijah's ministry, he's traveling along the ridge of the hill country, comes down to Jericho, keeps telling allies to stay safe, stay. And, you know, it's just very persistent. And so there's a school of prophets who say in Jericho, but Elijah and Elijah walk to the Jordan River. How do they get across L.A.? She takes off his coat, he hits the water, it splits into two, and they walk over to the Transjordan. So this is when we get this really great story of Elijah says, What would you like? Elijah says, I would like a double anointing of what you have in life. Or Elijah says, It's not mine to give, but if my coat falls, you pick up my coat, you can have that double anointing.

[00:48:52] God has given you the double anointing. And then we get chariots and, you know, it's it's an interesting vision. And then the coat falls. Elijah picks it up, goes to the Jordan River. And how does he get across? He rolls up the coat, hits the water and it parts. Alicia goes from east to west with a double anointing into something new. Huh? Okay, now, before we get to the really exciting punch line, we're not punch line. Maybe you're already there, which I kind of hope you are, but. If we were to think about Elijah and Elijah, in fact, scholars have done this before. They've mapped out Moses and Joshua in their ministries and Elijah and Elijah in their ministries and talk about the parallels between them, which is really very fun, really interesting to look at that with Elijah and Elijah. They were significant prophets for the Israelites and the latter prophets. So Micah and Malachi in particular. Is telling the people that they're looking forward to something that is yet to come. And so in Malachi, I'm just going to go ahead and read it because I won't quote it correctly if I don't. So this is going to be the very end of Malachi in chapter four, verse five, where it says, Behold, I'm going to send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse. So this is a really interesting it's an interesting verse and an interesting thing to tell the people. One like Elijah, a prophet, as significant as Elijah is going to come and he's going to start that process of restoration.

[00:50:55] Be looking for him. So the gospel writers who are, you know, who have a lot of these scriptures memorized are very familiar with these prophecies when they describe John the Baptist, who is out in the wilderness baptizing people. They describe John as almost this wild man. He has a like a coat of animal pelts around him and a rope around his waist. Well, guess what? Elijah is described in the exact same way. So everything about the way John the Baptist is presented to the readers is to make you go. Wait a minute. Is this the Elijah figure and John the Baptist is out in the wilderness bringing restoration, calling people to repentance. So who would like already so very exciting. And then. Jesus comes to get baptized by John the Baptist. And where does he go geographically to this area, which is significant because of the leadership, the mantle of leadership that is transferred several times in this area. Moses to Joshua. Elijah to Elijah. John the Baptist to Jesus. Right. And just as Elisha had a double anointing in his ministry. Jesus's ministry is quite a bit larger than John the Baptist. Now, what is really fun, which I really love, is take the Ministry of a Life share and map it down onto the ground and then take the Ministry of Jesus and the miracles. Jesus does map that onto the ground and you'll find them layered on top of each other. The geography is so important, and because ancient readers understood this geography, if they had eyes to see, they would see the layers of God's story that is taking place in the same places, creating really thick soil of not just soil, but of the history that is being held and anchored in that land.

[00:53:06] So as you walk through it, you're going, Ah, I'm walking in the footsteps of great people who have come before. And when these events happen, it is no mistake. They happen where they happen. We're asking not only what happened, but where did it happen? Okay. So with that, we're going to start moving into the hill country of Judah. But before I do, are there any questions or points of clarification that or comments that anyone would like to make? Just what you said about Jesus doing the miracles and considering where Elijah did his miracles. That that's a a layer of indication to the readers of the Gospels that sometimes we miss because we're not familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures or are really thinking about that in the first place. Yeah. And yet those are all purposeful. Yeah. And it's interesting that you see that even before the foundations of the world. God had this all planned out. And the place where Jesus was going to be born, the, you know, all the things of how the prophecies are made. And Jesus was conscious of that when he was doing those things. Yeah, it's it's it's fascinating. Yeah. And it, it goes back to the very, very beginning of our study. We were talking about part of the goal of this course is to take these theological bubbles that float around independent of each other, because we we often do talk about Jesus's baptism just as this great, like, solitary event. But pulling it down onto the ground and anchoring it there is making it not only historical, but it's in a real place that is holding onto real memory that maybe. Makes us go. That's even more incredible in it. And I love that part of listening to what the land has to say as it's often poking us on the shoulder and going, That's true, but you know what else it's true.

[00:55:14] And we'll just say with the Elijah and Alicia thing and Elijah and Jesus thing. Alicia's first miracle after passing through the water was to go to Jericho, and the first thing he did was he took bad water and made it healthy water, clean water. And Jesus's first miracle is he took water and made it into better water. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's great. The part about living water. Yes. It's almost like in some of these things that it's looking at a black and white picture compared to a color picture. Because when you see the conversation with Jesus at with the woman at the at the well, that there's ease in having living water. Yeah. Because then she wouldn't have to draw it. Mm hmm. But then when you think about where it is and the contrast of in Getty in the middle of a dry land. Yeah. That really brings out something else. It's. It's not just convenient. Yeah. That it's water, but it's where it is. It's. That's right. Of a dry land. Yeah. It's in the worshiping, in spirit. And truth is way different than following the rules or worshiping in a certain place. And so that contrast of what really worship is and the contrast of where the living water is. Yeah, it's really interesting.