Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wordless: Verse 32

The Pool of Siloam where John 9 recounts the event where Jesus healed a blind man. The pool was created by King Hezekiah several centuries before the ministry of Jesus and is also mentioned in 2 Kings 20:20.

Read about the history of locating the pool. The pictures show what the site looked like upon its initial founding to today and the get the lowdown on the Biblical event that occurred at the pool here.

Check out other Wordless Wednesday images here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

More on the Homeland of the Good Samaritan

I’m sure you’ve heard of the story of the good Samaritan, right? If not you can read it here.. When I was little girl the story would often be used in Sunday School to remind us to be nice and loving to one another…even those that were different, but did you ever wonder like me…..why did the Jews hate the Samaritans so much?

To obtain the answer we need to go back many hundreds of years before before Jesus Christ told the story of the good Samaritan to the reign of King Omri of the Northern Kingdom. Upon seizing power he transferred his capital city from Tirzah to Samaria. He fortified the city against his enemies including his rival, Jerusalem, to the south. Originally Omri’s new capital was called “Shemer” for the original owner of the land that surrounded Samaria. Eventually the name Samaria not only represented the capital city of Israel, but the entire Northern Kingdom came to be known as Samaria.

The city of Samaria was a very diverse town economically, politically, and socially. There were several temples….some for the Hebrew God and others were devoted to the Phoenician god Baal. King Omri’s son, Ahab and his wife Jezebel, increased the Northern Kingdom’s devotion to Baal during their reign.

Eventually the Northern Kingdom of Israel was taken over by the Assyrians in 724 B.C. after an extensive siege. Those that survived the seige were taken in captivity to Assyria where they eventually blended with the the native peoples there. The Assyrians repopulated the Northern Kingdom with people of their own choosing called the Cuthaeans.

Memories apparently didn’t fade fast in the Southern Kingdom. Samaria had such a bad reputation as a place filled with idol worshippers, and the addition of the Cuthaeans didn’t help matters as their foreign ideas were also disagreeable to the people of the Southern Kingdom. To put it simply the people of Samaria were heretics. In the minds of the people of Judah the Samaritans were inferior racially and inferior religiously.

The Samarians on the other hand thought their “sophisticated” views were more intelligent and liked their ideas of polytheism. Even those Samaritans who believed in the God of Abraham didn’t see the need to travel to Jerusalem in order to worship.

Once the Assyrian Empire fell the entire region of Samaria fell into the hands of the Babylonian Empire ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar along with the entire Kingdom of Judah as well. Records indicate Samaria as a whole was loyal to the Persian government.

Later the area would be taken over by Alexander the Great, the Seleucids, and the Romans. You can read more about it here. During the Roman occupation the Northern and Southern Kingdoms were finally reuinted once more.

The image with this post is the human head of a relief of a winged bull, from the palace of the Assyrian king, Sargon II. It was under his leadership that Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom.

Related Posts: 13 Things About King Omri and His Fortressed City of Samaria
Keeping the North and South Straight

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

13 Things About King Omri and His Fortressed City of Samaria

Yesterday I posted a picture of an obscure hillside. It’s amazing what was once there….

1. King Omri reigned over the Northern Kingdom also referred to as Israel. The Southern Kingdom was known as Judah.

2. Omri’s reign is designated between the years 884-841 B.C.

3. King Omri is only mentioned in 13 verses of the Bible…..1 Kings 16: 16-28.

4. The word “change” can be used to describe King Omri’s time on the throne.

5. The throne did not come to King Omri through a line of secession. He TOOK it.

6. Omri was originally an army general for King Elah and was considered to be a brilliant political and military leader. Zimri, a commander of the King’s charioteers, assassinated Elah (1 Kings 16: 9-11).

7. Omri thought this was wrong and decide to fight Zimri. Only one week into his reign Zimri found himself faced with a palace coup and Omri burned the palace down around him. Omri also spent four years fighting another rival for the throne…Tibni.

8. Following the split the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom they were often at war with each other. This made both nations very weak militarily and economically.

9. During Omri’s reign the bickering and strife stopped long enough for the Northern Kingdom to take part in events on the world’s stage.

10. King Omri moved the Northern Kingdom capital from Tizrah to Samaria (Sabaste) and built it up to rival Jerusalem where it remain Israel’s capital (Northern Kingdom) until the Assyrian captivity.

11. Omri bought the Hill of Shemer for two talents of silver and made this his capital

12. For the next 160 years, the city was the capital of the northern kingdom, apparently reaching a size of 150 acres (as large as Jerusalem in Hezekiah's time). Samaria is well situated with steep slopes on all sides. Eventually the name Samaria came to refer to the entire Northern Kingdom.

13. King Omri entered into a political alliance with Phoenicia by marrying his son Ahab to Jezebel, a princess of Tyre. Once he became king Ahab built a temple to Baal at Samaria. Many, many years later King Herod would build a palace at Samaria as well. Many of the ruins seen at the ancient capital today are from Herod’s time, but a wall there dates back to the 9th Century B.C. during the time of King Omri and King Ahab.

You can find a great article regarding Samaria here.

Visit other Thursday 13s here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wordless: Verse 31

It doesn’t ever look like there was ever a major city here, does it? Read my explanation of this major city in the Northern Kingdom as the first comment…then leave your own.

See other Wordless Wednesday participants by following the link.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Get Off the Beaten Path: MLK's India Connection

I've written before that students often arrive in my room having seen the same MLK videos, having completed the same MLK worksheets, and read the same MLK books in order to celebrate certain milestones in the American Civil Rights Movement or Dr. King’s birthday. After discussing the situation with various educators at my school and at other locations it seems that it is very easy for a faculty as a whole to get bogged down with the same curriculum materials.

There are simply too many facets to Dr. King’s life for students to be inundated with the same content over and over. One event in Dr. King’s life involves his interest in the teachings of Ghandi and King’s five week visit to India in 1959.

I’ve written about Dr. King’s trip to India and his visit with Prime Minister Nehru at History Is Elementary.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

There's Always a Story Behind a Forwarded Email

If your email box is like mine you receive all sorts of crazy things from Nigerians who want to become your new best friends, the neverending messages that hawk viagra, and all of those cutesey flashing, scrolling messages of some sort or another that your Aunt Fanny likes to forward to you….all day long. Between my email address at History Is Elementary, the separate one for Georgia on My Mind, another for Got Bible, a family address, and addresses for my husband’s business we have quite a bit of cyber-messages floating about. It’s a full time job just to delete most of them, but every now and then you receive a forwarded message that sparks interest. A message that begs for a little research or one that just makes you laugh or say to yourself, “Right on!”

Yesterday I received an email from a good friend that goes to my church. We both receive all sorts of things from friends and family but rarely forwarded them on. When I saw her message it sparked a memory regarding Rev. Joe Wright who used to be the minister at Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas. The email concerned a prayer that he gave as an invocation for the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka on January 23, 1996.

Here is Rev. Wright’s prayer:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we've done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.

We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.

We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.

We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.

We have abused power and called it political savvy.

We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our fore-fathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state. Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the name of your son, the living savior, Jesus Christ.


This version is a bit different than the email I received …..I copied it directly from Rev. Wright’s page here.

The prayer gives you quite a bit to think about, huh?

It caused a bit of a ruckus in the following days after it was given. Since some of the emails that circulate about it have been changed as they have been passed along from person to person I thought I’d do a little research.

Here’s what I found out.

Rev. Wright was invited to give the invocation as many religious leaders are invited to do across the United States. Many of the messages that have circulated state he gave the prayer to open a session of the Kanasas Senate….others state he gave the prayer to open a session of the U.S. Senate. Many of the debunking sites on the Internet verify it was the Kansas Senate and Rev. Wright’s site verifies it was the Kansas Senate as well.

Most messages and Rev. Wright’s site advises many of the legislators walked out in protest of the prayer, but a news report from the Kansas City Star (I found a link to the story in the paper’s archives but didn’t want to pay $2.50 for the url) reported only one legislator walked out and a few others spoke out against the prayer. The Kansas House Minority Leader made it a point to call Rev. Wright’s prayer an example of “extreme radical views”. Another legislator called the prayer intolerant.

Rev. Wright left the Kansas Senate chamber that day unaware he had caused an uproar. Later he stated, “I was speaking to God…..not the legislators.”

Snopes, a well known website for debunking erroneous email messages and news stories advises Rev. Wright’s prayer was not totally written by him but inspired by a prayer given at the Governor's Prayer Breakfast in Frankfort, Kentucky by Rev. Bob Russell in 1995. Rev. Russell was the pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. This is nothing new. Pastors inspire other pastors just as educators inspire other educators. I’m notorious for lifting a good idea form another teacher. It's how we roll! :)

Other have used the prayer for invocations following Rev. Wright including the Chaplain Coordinator of the Nebraska legislature in February, 1996 and Republican Representative Mark Paschall for the Colorado House of Representatives.

Snopes also provides a copy of one of the email versions and what they call the actual prayer Rev. Wright gave. There is a little difference in the one provided in the email.

Rev. Joe Wright has never been on to shy away from a controversy. A position statement regarding abortion can be found here at the Central Christian Church. Rev. Wright has been very active regarding the issue of abortion and was very instrumental regarding Kansas legislation against same-sex marriage.

It would seem that the prayer given that morning on January 23, 1996 has made its way around the Internet world many times. In fact it has gotten the notice of Muslims. This article from The Briefing titled Turning a Christian Prayer into Muslim Propaganda is very upsetting and very telling about how we must all be careful about things we see and read in print or on the Internet.

At one point I believe Central Christian Church had the prayer up at their website along with information concerning the number of phone calls they had received about the prayer. Some sites and email claim 5,000 calls while others have given a number as high as 6,500 in support of the prayer.

One thing is for certain….and I truly believe this….even though the statisticians and poll takers want to promote the message that anything goes and there are no absolutes in America there are more Americans who believe the message this prayer promotes than those who want to paint the prayer as mean-spirited and radical.

Thanks for visiting. My most current articles can be seen here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Keeping the North and South Straight

King Solomon died sometime around 931 B.C. and unfortunately the nation of Israel began a great decline. The first step down was one united kingdom become two. The Northern Kingdom most often referred to as Israel or Samaria was ruled by a succession of rulers that can be described as wicked. The Southern Kingdom, also known as Judah, continued to be ruled by kings from the Davidic line, and the records indicate some were good while others were just as wicked as the kings who ruled the Northern Kingdom.

The two kingdoms rarely got along and were often at war which weakened each other economically and in human potential. Surrounding nations were quick to take advantage of each kingdom’s weakened condition. First and Second Kings chronicles the history of both kingdom’s in what can be a confusing set of accounts that alternate between events in the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Second Chronicles details information only about the kings of the Southern Kingdom while First Chronicles centers only on the reign of King David.

So the first question regarding the divided kingdom might be how did it happen, right?

After Solomon’s death his son Rehoboam lost the Northern tribes to Jeroboam, a rebel leader. Some scholars blame the loss on Rehoboam because he followed some poor political advice. Others state God allowed Rehoboam to loose the Northern tribes because of the sins of Solomon. During Solomon’s lifetime he had approximately 700 wives and 300 concubines. This kept him a little preoccupied. The sins of Solomon also included a marriage to a pagan princess who gave birth to Rehoboam. The princess was blamed for turning Solomon’s people away from the Lord, and they began worshipping idols. First Kings 11: 4 explains God decreed Solomon’s successor would rule a smaller kingdom and the rest of the tribes would follow another king. During Rehoboam’s reign he lost most of Solomon’s treasure to Shishak, an Egyptian pharoh. Rehoboam reigned for seventeen years and much of it was marked with warfare with the Northern Kingdom.

Jeroboam, or the first king for the Northern Kingdom, had been a government official for King Solomon who was in charge of forced labor. He received word from God that he was to rule the Northern tribes, and went to Egypt to wait out King Solomon’s death. He hoped to return and rally the Northern tribes to support him in a challenge to Rehoboam’s rule. He was banking on the discontent many felt due to high taxes and forced labor that plagued the final days of King Solomon’s rule.

Jeroboam successfully took control of the Northern tribes and kept a firm hand by fortifying the cities of Shechem and Peniel on both sides of the Jordan River. Jeroboam also revised a mode of worship forbidden by the Lord. Since he didn’t want the people to venture into the Southern Kingdom in order to return to Jerusalem to worship in the temple he set up shrines in two different locations for people to worship. One location was near the border with Judah at Bethel. Another shrine was in Dan close to the border with Syria/Aram.

Golden calves were erected in both locations. Scholars explain these calves as idolatrous representations of God or as pedestals for His glory much like the ark of the covenant was a pedestal for His presence.

Jeroboam also specified alternative dates for festivals and established priests of his own choosing contradicting the Law. Amazingly the people of the North blindly followed Jeroboam in his religious altercations.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

13 Things Concerning the Babylonian Captivity

1. The first exiles were sent to Babylonia in 605 B.C. including Daniel. The second group went into exile around 597 B.C. including Ezekiel. The third and final group went in 586 B.C. after Jerusalem was destroyed.

2. Unfortunately only a few of the actual events during the Babylonian exile are part of the historical record.

3. The reason why thousands of people from Judah were taken to Babylon was quite simple. By removing them from their homeland the Babylonians could keep the potential for rebellion down.

4. While living in the cities of Babylon the Jews worked, married, and had children. They carried on with life’s events….the good and the bad.

5. Over time they forgot their native Hebrew and began to speak Aramaic which was like English is today---the international language of trade.

6. Many Jews completely forgot their native customs, language, and religion, and over time completely blended in with Babylonian society. Many scholars state these are the Jews that represent the Lost Tribes.

7. Many other Jews remembered the messages of the prophets and they attempted to follow the Lord as best as they could, but they had no temple and no sacrifices.

8. Some Jews kept their history alive and passed on the story that they were exiles from the land of Judah-----from this eventually came the designation “Jew.”

9. The name “Jew” is only found in the Old Testament books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Zecariah.

10. Originally the designation “Jew” only referred to those that had lived in Judah---members of the tribe of Judah.

11. After the time of the exile the term “Jew” came to mean anyone who was a biological descendant of Jacob.

12. By the first century A.D. the term “Jew” included non-biological Jews who accepted the Jewish religion.

13. In our world today the term Jew has religious and ethnic connotations.

Find out more about the Babylonian Exile here.

See other 13s here.

Wordless: Verse 30

This is a picture of Warren’s Shaft believed to be the way King David and his men entered Jerusalem. The shaft runs from Gihon Spring up through the old city section of Jerusalem. (See 2 Samuel 5)

See more pictures of Warren's Shaft here.

Follow this link to others participating in Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Did the Queen of Sheba Really Exist?

Yesterday I wrote about King Solomon and his points of success. One those points mentioned the fabled Queen of Sheba, so today I’m wondering……Did she really exist?

What proof do we have?

She’s mentioned, of course, in the Bible in 1 Kings 10: 1-13 and 2 Chronicles 9: 1-12. The story goes she had heard tales of King Solomon’s wisdom and wanted to see it in action for herself. She travelled to meet him and tested him with many questions. She brought with her gifts of precious stones, spices, and gold. In fact, the Bible states she brought 4.5 tons of gold with her.

The trip was worth it I guess because she was awed by his wisdom and his wealth. She pronounced a blessing upon Solomon’s God. In return King Solomon gave the Queen of Sheba extravagant gifts. Some Bible scholars believe the Song of Solomon describes the love King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba shared.

She’s also mentioned in the Qur’an, and throughout Ethiopian history. The Queen of Sheba has many names throughout these sources including Makeda, Bilqis, Nikaule, and Nicaula. Jewish historian Josephus wrote of the Queen’s love of learning while Origen and Jerome, early church fathers identify her as a queen of black nationality.

Depending on which archeologist you prefer it is believed her kingdom, if it did exist, was located in present day Ethiopia, Yemen, or Eritrea. The Imperial family of Ethiopia claims its origin directly from the offspring of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

There are some historians who think long ago in Ethiopia’s history a group of Semitic-speaking South Arabians migrated across the Red Sea and intermarried with non-Semitic peoples. Evidence of this is connected to the fact that the African kingdom of Aksum ruled a large area of Southern Arabia including Yemen. This kingdom was very powerful until the rise of Islam in the 7th century. Further support of this comes from the knowledge that the languages of Southern Arabia and some of the dialects spoken in Ethiopia are both known as South Semetic languages.

Archaeological evidence includes ancient Sabaean inscriptions using the old South Arabian alphabet, but this scenario is still heavily debated.

There is no archaeological evidence to date that has been directly linked to a monarch known as the Queen of Sheba, and even when new discoveries are made everyone is careful about making definitive links. In this 1999 BBC article artifacts and structures are authenticated, but links to the legendary queen are not forthcoming.

A fantastic article by Michael Wood can be found here titled The Queen of Sheba.

So, I guess we’ll just keep wondering.

The painting with this post was completed in 1648 by Claude Lorrain. Its formal title is Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Success of Solomon

The Hebrew Bible relates Solomon as the son of King David. Once you begin to research King Solomon the sources become very scarce outside of the Bible.

He ruled from 971 B.C. to 931 B.C. This was during the period of time historians recognize as the “Dark Age”. Many of the centralized empires during the late Bronze Age had collapsed and the new Iron Age monarchies had not risen.

Many structures have been excavated at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer that are mentioned in the Bible and are attributed to Solomon, however, the dating is off almost a century.

The Bible relates several accomplishments of Solomon. They are:

1. his stunning judicial wisdom (1 Kings 3)

2. lavish and extravagant food (1 Kings 4)

3. a palatial dwelling larger than the Temple (1 Kings 7)

4. fortifying such strategic cities as Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer (1 Kings 9)

5. dazzling the fabled Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10; 2 Chronicles 9)

6. success in international trade, as much as 25 tons of gold annually (1 Kings 10)

7. building a large standing military including calvary and chariots (2 Chronicles 9)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What Are You Eating For New Year's?

Happy New Year! In case you haven’t noticed I haven’t posted in a few days. I took a self-imposed blog holiday to do mommie things like clean house, wash clothes, grocery shop, help Dear Daughter spend her Christmas money and help her prepare for a ski trip with her youth group. I also took some time to speak with Dear Son as he comes and goes between his many social engagements. I think the kids enjoyed not seeing a computer attached to my lap.

I decided to check in though to wish everyone in the blogosphere who might stop by a very happy new year. Blogging might be spotty over the next few days, but regular posting will resume next week. I will be posting links to the Education Carnival tomorrow and the Georgia Carnival on Friday. The Georgia Carnival will be one year old! In the meantime you can choose a month from my archives and scroll through. Maybe you’ll find something interesting you missed before.

So, back to my title…everyone has customs and traditions especially to mark the beginning of a new year. My family is no different. Over at Georgia on My Mind I posted Looking Ahead to New Year's Day where I provide two recipes for dishes that mark the new year for my family as well as the reasoning why I eat something I don’t particularly love. There are some great pictures with the post my daughter took on my father’s property. The first picture doesn’t totally show up, but if you click on it you can see one of the huge oak trees on the property as well as one of the few farm buildings that is left….an old corn crib.

and again,

Happy New Year! May you realize all of your hopes and dreams in 2008.
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