Sunday, August 26, 2007

Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site X~Tell Heshbon

Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site I~ Tell Al'Umeiri
Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site II~ Ataroth
Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site III~Machaerus
Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site IV~ Khirbet Iskander
Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site V~Dibon
Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site VI~Aroer
Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site VII~Um Ar Rasas, Burj Sa'man
Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site VIII~St. Stephen's Church and Kestron Mefaa
Biblical Archaeology in a Day, Site IX~Tell Mudayna--Jahaz

Finally, the final installment. The rock fatigue was serious at this point in the tour however with only one more stop planned for the day, we pressed on to the modern town of Hisban, a quiet agricultural town, on the outskirts of which is located the large tell of Heshbon.

Returning once again to the Old Testament passages, Deuteronomy 2 and Numbers 21, we find mention of:

"... Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon..."
" of Sihon, the king of the Ammorites..."

And Solomon writes of his beloved (Song of Solomon 7:4)

"Your eyes are pools in Heshbon..."

The capital city of Sihon's Ammorite kingdom, Heshbon was conquered by the wandering Israelites during the time of Moses. It is believed the tribes of Gad and Rueben settled in this area and that Heshbon later fell under Moabite rule.

Heshbon site map

From antiquity, Tell Hesbon has been occupied by many peoples. Eventually abandoned by the Moabites, it was re-fortified in the 2nd century under Roman rule and was an important ecclesiastical center from the 4th century until the time of the Umayyad takeover. It was later occupied by the Abbasid's (8th century) and then, the Mamluks (14th century).

Byzantine Church

Mamluk period Governer's Residence

For a more complete description of the Heshbon site, check out this virtual tour.

And the kids are still smiling! They've never known many traditional playgrounds but have instead grown up climbing around the ancient ruins of Jordan.

Centaurea procurrens

This one-day whirlwind trip combined with the writing of these blog posts have greatly increased my understanding and appreciation of biblical history and the incredible wealth of archaeological history present in Jordan. Imagine what we could have seen in two days! An interesting aside: a friend of ours who has extensively studied biblical geography tells us that most of the recorded words of Jesus were spoken on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Faith, Culture, and Art

Forbes has an interesting article on the changing way in which evangelical Christians are interacting with culture, particularly in the visual arts. As the mom of an aspiring professional musician (Oldest Daughter) and a visual artist/philosopher type (13 y.o. son) I am especially interested in this topic on which I have done some but not nearly enough thinking. Rookmaaker's book (Rookmaaker is referenced in the article), Modern Art and the Death of a Culture has been on the top of my "to read books" for too long now, and I was, in fact, hoping to read it with Oldest Daughter before she heads off to college next year.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Back from Thailand~

This was my first trip to Thailand, my first trip to Southeast Asia, and the farthest east I've ever ventured. Though I was primarily conferencing, within the confines of an air-conditioned hotel, we played the tourists one day and below are some of the pictures that I took.

Crossing a swinging bridge on our way to see the elephants

One of the elephants wading into the river for bath time

We fed the elephants, watched them bathe, watched them work, watched them paint a picture, and then we rode them through the jungle and a river. The elephants of Thailand are Asian elephants (of course) and they are smaller, but smarter than African elephants--according to our guide.

Thai child from the hill country in traditional dress

Oldest Daughter, enjoying a raft ride on the river

Rafting down the river

Thai orchid farm(notice that the roots are free-hanging)

A few interesting facts about Thailand:

It was the only country in mainland Southeast Asia not colonized by Britain or France. I found this out when a friend inquired about the relatively low level of English spoken by Thais.

The King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej as ruled Thailand for 60 years, making him the longest serving head of state in the world. While we were in Thailand the country was anticipating the celebration of the beloved Queen's birthday. Thus, the hotel had a sort of flower covered shrine erected in the lobby.

The Thais believe in luck and think that is lucky to synchronize the color of their clothes to the day of the week. Thus, each day of the week is assigned a color. I traveled from Thailand on a Friday and noticed that a lot of middle aged people were wearing yellow shirts. Now, yellow is not the color for Friday but it is the color for Monday, the day on which the Queen was born, so they were wearing it in her honor.

A couple more impressions: the Thai people are quiet and gentle; we were often met with a smile, and a bow and the Thai greeting, "Sawadeeka". The women are beautiful. And I think this must be a karaoke culture. The coffee shops of both hotels I was in featured Thai singers who could do a great Karen Carpenter, among other musical artists. And I noticed that other Thais in the restaurant could sing along. My daughter never guessed that I knew the words to so many songs. Every meal was a walk down memory lane.