The Judean Desert, the Wilderness, and Jericho : The Judean Desert, the Wilderness, and Jericho Week 5
Jesus in Context by Renelda Owen Slide 2: Last week we looked at the baptism of Jesus and a little bit about the ministry of John the Baptist. The Baptism and Temptation of JesusMark 1:9-11 (NIV) : The Baptism and Temptation of JesusMark 1:9-11 (NIV) 9At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." The very next verse says, : The very next verse says, 12At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Mark 1: 12 Luke 4:1-13 (New International Version) : Luke 4:1-13 (New International Version) 1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.’’” Slide 6: 5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7So if you worship me, it will all be yours."
8Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.‘” Duccio’s The Temptation on the Mount Slide 7: 9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.‘"
12Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.‘"
13When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV) : Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV) 1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." 4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.‘"
5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.‘”
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.‘”
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Where is the site of Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness? : Where is the site of Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness? Since He would have had to have a source of water to survive forty days of fasting, there was a Herodian aqueduct which carried water through the Judean Desert near the Wadi* Qelt. Tradition and context place Jesus’ time in the desert wilderness here.
(*‘Wadi’ means ‘dry riverbed’ and indicated a place where water only ran during the brief but heavy rains during the rainy season in the desert.) Slide 10: When we picture “wilderness” we tend to think of heavily wooded and overgrown places. Not so for the place where Jesus went for solitude and prayer. The Judean Desert near Wadi Qelt : The Judean Desert near Wadi Qelt Slide 17: “By going out into the desert now, Jesus is underlining the absolute priority of
God in his life and ministry. He is acknowledging the true source of his own power and authority. He is going into God that he may then go out in this ministry with and for God “ (Peter Walker. In the Steps of Jesus 57) . Slide 18: “There are lessons here that have inspired Jesus’ followers ever since:
The value of fasting at key junctures in life
The use of Scripture in times of testing
The determination to find appropriate solitude before times of real exertion;
The importance of preserving the integrity of one’s inner life so that it is of a piece with one’s public persona.” (Walker 57) Slide 19: “The desert. . .an opportunity to face our loneliness and turn it into solitude.”
--Henri Nouwen Slide 20: The word “desert” is used 49 times in the Bible.
Mark tells us Jesus went into the desert with the “wild beasts.” Those would likely have included in that time and place wild asses, jackals, and even lions and tigers. Forty Days : Forty Days The number 40 is a very familiar one in the Bible.
In the story of Noah and the flood, it rains 40 days and 40 nights (Gen 7:4,12,17; 8:6).
After the sealing of the covenant at Mt. Sinai, Moses is with God on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights (Ex 24:18).
The scouts Joshua and Caleb are gone to see the Promised Land for 40 days.
Because they are afraid to act on the scouts’ report and fail to take the Promised Land, the children of Israel wander in the wilderness for 40 years (one year for each day the scouts were gone).
When the prophet Elijah is being pursued by Queen Jezebel, he flees for his life and travels 40 days and nights until he comes to the mountain of God Sinai (1 Kings 19:8).
The number appears also in the New Testament.
Besides Jesus’ temptation in the desert for 40 days and nights,
we also have His ascension to heaven occurring 40 days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:3). Slide 22: “Numbers in the Bible are often not meant to be taken literally, but serve a symbolic function. Our suspicions are aroused especially with a number that recurs so frequently as 40. What would be the symbolic meaning of the number 40? On one level, it represents a longer period of time, but there is more. The longer time has content: It is a time of need, of struggle, of testing. There is in fact extra-biblical evidence for this usage as well. But in the Bible, a third level of meaning appears. Forty denotes a period of preparation for some special action of the Lord; it is a time of grace.
“After the flood in Genesis, a new creation begins. After Moses converses with God, the covenant is renewed. After Israel's wandering in the wilderness, they will enter into the Promised Land. After Elijah's journey, God strengthens him to resume his prophetic ministry. After Jesus' temptation, he begins his public ministry; after the Ascension, we enter the age of the Church. At the end of the 40 day season of Lent, we celebrate Holy Week and the great feast of Easter.” (www.american catholic.org) The Judean Desert Wilderness : The Judean Desert Wilderness In the “rain shadow” between the eastern side of the Judean mountains and the rift valley, cut through by the Jordan River, and culminating in the Dead Sea. Slide 24: Extends from just north of Jerusalem to the southern tip of the Dead Sea
10 to 20 miles wide
Has a tremendous drop in elevation, from 2600 feet above sea level to 1100 feet below sea level at the Dead Sea—a drop of over 3700 feet. Modern day Bedouin shepherd leads flock across the Judean desert: : Modern day Bedouin shepherd leads flock across the Judean desert: Badlands along the Jordan River near the Dead Sea in the wilderness: : Badlands along the Jordan River near the Dead Sea in the wilderness: The Herodium, Masada, and Qumran are in the Judean Desert : The Herodium, Masada, and Qumran are in the Judean Desert Climbing up to Masada : Climbing up to Masada Looking down from Masada : Looking down from Masada Also looking down from Masada : Also looking down from Masada Qumran : Qumran The Judean Desert ends at the Dead Sea : The Judean Desert ends at the Dead Sea Ibex looks down to the Dead Sea : Ibex looks down to the Dead Sea Salty shoreline of the Dead Sea : Salty shoreline of the Dead Sea This region in the Bible: : This region in the Bible: In the Hebrew Bible, it is referred to as
the Desert of En Gedi,
the Desert of Maon,
the Desert of Tekoa,
and the Desert of Ziph. The Prophet Isaiah wrote (40:1-5) : The Prophet Isaiah wrote (40:1-5) 1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." Slide 43: You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!“
(Isaiah 40:9) Dr. Jim Fleming, in his study “Biblical Texts Inspiring Great Music,” says this about the Judean Desert: : Dr. Jim Fleming, in his study “Biblical Texts Inspiring Great Music,” says this about the Judean Desert: The Judean Desert is a place of forgiveness, for that is where the scapegoat (who symbolically carried the sins of the people away) was sent on the Day of Atonement.
The Judean Desert is a place of healing. Ezekiel had a vision of the waters flowing from the Temple through the wilderness to the Dead Sea in Ezekiel 47, forming a great healing river. Slide 45: The wilderness is a place of joy. The Psalms of Ascent (120-134) were always recited as the people went up to Jerusalem for the feasts. They were written for the journey from Babylonian captivity—from the east back to the Promised Land. They become more and more joyous as the desert is passed through and the hills of Jerusalem come into sight. Slide 46: The wilderness is a place of reflection and introspection. This is shown by the choice of the Qumran community to flee Jerusalem and live here in desert to seek after holiness and so to hasten the coming of Messiah.
Isaiah is the most frequently occurring part of the bible among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The people of the community prayed for the consolation and repentance of Israel. Slide 47: John the Baptist also preached most frequently from Isaiah 40. The synoptic gospels summarize John’s message as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord.”
His ministry was conducted in the Judean desert, as was much of Elijah’s. Slide 48: There is a good deal of evidence to suggest that John the Baptist may have at least for some part of his life lived in the community at Qumran.
They were known to take in orphans of priests (as John likely would have been since his parents were old when he was born.)
His theme was the same as theirs
He baptized at Bethany beyond Jordan, only three miles from Qumran.
His message was apocalyptic, as was theirs
His baptismal practices were similar to theirs Slide 49: Jesus went to the desert for His own time of reflection and prayer during His 40 days of fasting. This is where He decided what kind of ministry He would have.
(Fleming 2-10) Slide 50: The wilderness is a place of prayer.
Many monasteries were established in the Judean Desert throughout the centuries. It continues to draw people to come aside and pray. The Judean Desert was a place of refuge. : The Judean Desert was a place of refuge. David hid from Saul in the Desert of Ziph
(I Samuel 23:15-29)
David spared Saul’s life in the Desert of En Gedi
( I Samuel 24:1-22) Also in the New Testament: : Also in the New Testament: After raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus withdrew with His disciples “to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephriam.” (John 11:54)
“Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.”
Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan was set here between Jerusalem and Jericho. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37 NIV) : The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37 NIV) "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." Jericho : Jericho Jericho : Jericho A desert oasis 800 feet below sea level, watered by clear, bubbling springs.
Annual rainfall is 6.4 inches, mostly between November and February.
The average temperature is 59 °F in January and 88 °F in August.
One of the oldest cities on earth.
Excavations have revealed two towers that may be the oldest structures on the face of the earth, dating to 6000 BC. (Wallace, Robert and Gwynneth. Pilgrim’s Progress, 38) Slide 58: Being 800 feet below sea level, Jericho remains warm in the winter, when in other parts of Judea there may even be snow.
Josephus writes, "The climate is so mild that the inhabitants wear linen when snow is falling throughout the rest of Judea" (War 4.473). Slide 59: Described in the Hebrew Bible as the "City of Palm Trees,” it is known as the place of the Israelites' return from bondage in Egypt, led by Joshua, the successor to Moses.
The constant sunshine, rich alluvial soil, and abundant water from the spring have always made Jericho an attractive place for settlement.
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of over 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back to 11,000 years ago (9000 BC). Slide 60: It was chosen as the site for the winter palaces of the kings of the Hasmonean dynasty, and of King Herod, in the Second Temple period.
In this plain with fertile soil and an abundance of water from nearby springs, rare plants producing aromatic essences and spices, were grown. Most famous among these was the opobalsamum plant, whose oil was among the costliest substances in the ancient world, and very profitable to the growers. Slide 65: The nearby spring of Ein es-Sultan produces 1,000 gallons of water per minute, irrigating some 2,500 acres through multiple channels and feeding into the Jordan River, 6 miles away. Interesting tidbits of Jericho’s history: : Interesting tidbits of Jericho’s history: Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, returned the Jewish exiles after conquering Babylon in 539 BC.
Served as the private estate of Alexander the Great between 336 and 323 BC after his conquest of the region.
In the middle of the 2nd century BC, Jericho was under Hellenistic rule and a number of forts were built to strengthen the defenses of the area around Jericho against invasion by the Macabees (1 Macc 9:50). One of these forts, built at the entrance to Wadi Qelt, was later refortified by Herod the Great.
Herod originally leased Jericho from Cleopatra after Mark Antony gave it to her as a gift. After their joint suicide in 30 BC, Octavian assumed control of the Roman empire and granted Herod free rein over Jericho.
Herod’s rule oversaw the construction of a hippodrome-theater to entertain his guests and new aqueducts to irrigate the area below the cliffs and reach his winter palace. Slide 73: The dramatic murder of Aristobulus III (Herod’s wife’s brother) by Herod took place in a swimming pool at Jericho, as told by the Roman Jewish historian Josephus.
The city, since the construction of its palaces, functioned not only as an agricultural center and as a crossroad, but as a winter resort for Jerusalem's aristocracy.
Excavations conducted over a period of 15 years beginning in 1973, revealed a series of royal palaces from the Second Temple period, built successively one on top of the other, or adjacent to earlier structures. The excavations uncovered the complex plans of the palaces, as well as evidence of the opulent life at court. (www.mfa.gov) Slide 74: The palaces were situated below the high cliffs of the Judean Desert at the entrance to Wadi Qelt - west of the Jericho oasis - about a day's horseback riding from Jerusalem.
They were planned for rest and recreation, but also as administrative centers; the proximity to Jerusalem made it possible for the monarch to efficiently deal with affairs of state during his winter sojourn there.
Regular water supply, via aqueduct from the springs in Wadi Qelt, was ensured. The water filled reservoirs and swimming pools and was used to irrigate the palace gardens as well as tens of acres of agricultural land belonging to the crown, where dates and costly aromatic plants and spices were grown. (Israel Foreign Ministry,www.mfa.gov.) Herod’s Palace at Jericho : Herod’s Palace at Jericho Herod's Second Palace was built north of Wadi Qelt, east of the Hasmonean Palace and on parts of it, after the destruction of the first palace by earthquake in 31 BC.
The twin swimming pools of the Hasmonean palace were joined into a single large one (32 x 18 m.) and surrounded by gardens.
Trees and shrubs were planted in clay pots set into the ground; many of them were found in their original position. The palace had an unobstructed view of the surrounding scenery; it was divided into two wings, the northern built on a terrace 5 m. higher than the southern, connected by a broad staircase (www.mfa.gov). Herod the Great’s Second Palace floor plan: : Herod the Great’s Second Palace floor plan: www.mfa.gov But Herod wasn’t satisfied. : But Herod wasn’t satisfied. Herod's Third Palace, the largest, was constructed on both sides of Wadi Qelt and covered an area of over seven acres, with a bridge over the wadi, connecting its two wings.
Some of the walls of this palace were made of a core of concrete, with small rectangular or square stones set into the concrete. Since this construction technique, though widely used in Rome, was extremely rare elsewhere, it is the opinion of the excavator, that King Herod had hired a team of Roman artisans. Floor plan of third palace: : Floor plan of third palace: www.mfa.gov Slide 79: Included in this vast complex were
halls, rooms, peristyle courtyards and a large 5 room bathhouse
courtyards surrounded by columns on three sides , with a garden in the center
A large sunken garden ( 145 x 40 meters)
Elaborate frescoed walls and mosaic floors
Several grand halls elaborately decorated with frescoes
In the 1st century AD, until its destruction during the Jewish Rebellion against Rome (66 -70), the palace remained in use by members of King Herod's family.
The palace complex of Jericho was excavated by Ehud Netzer on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Slide 80: www.abu.nb.ca Slide 81: One wonders if one of the views that Satan showed Jesus during the temptations included an overlook at this palace and grounds as he “showed Him all the kingdoms of the world” located right at the base of the Wadi Qelt. New Testament events in Jericho: : New Testament events in Jericho: Zacchaeus, the Tax Collector
1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "
8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
9Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.“ Luke 19:1-10 (NI V) Healing of Blind Bartimaeus : Healing of Blind Bartimaeus 46Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging.47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" 48Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
49Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." 50Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."
52"Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:46-52 NIV) In Luke: : In Luke: 35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." 38 He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" 39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" 40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied. 42 Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. (Luke 18:34-43) The last journey up to Jerusalem took them through Jericho: : The last journey up to Jerusalem took them through Jericho: 17Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 18"We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death19and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!“ (Matthew 20:17-19) Slide 86: 20Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21"What is it you want?" he asked. She said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom."
22"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered.
23Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father."
24When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.25Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.“ (Matthew 20:20-28) Slide 87: “Jesus was on his way to his death in Jerusalem when these events occurred. Jericho held powerful memories for him. Did he perhaps glance up from that Jericho street to the stony heights where today one can see the astonishing Monastery of the Temptation clinging to the nearby vertical cliff side? Did he draw fresh strength from the memory of his baptism nearby and the assurance that he was ‘the beloved one’?”
(Wallace, Robert and Gwynneth. Pilgrim’s Progress: A Spiritual Guide for the Holy Land Traveler, 39).