Bible Archaeology

Ancient Rural Town Uncovered in Israel

On the outskirts of Jerusalem.

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… archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 2,300-year-old rural village that dates back to the Second Temple period, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced.

Trenches covering some 8,000 square feet (750 square meters) revealed narrow alleys and a few single-family stone houses, each containing several rooms and an open courtyard. Among the ruins, archaeologists also found dozens of coins, cooking pots, milling tools and jars for storing oil and wine.

“The rooms generally served as residential and storage rooms, while domestic tasks were carried out in the courtyards,” Irina Zilberbod, the excavation director for the IAA, explained in a statement.

Archaeologists don’t know what the town would have been called in ancient times, but it sits near the legendary Burma Road, a route that allowed supplies and food to flow into Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The rural village located on a ridge with a clear view of the surrounding countryside, and people inhabiting the region during the Second Temple period likely cultivated orchards and vineyards to make a living, IAA officials said.

The Second Temple period (538 B.C. to A.D. 70) refers to the lifetime of the Jewish temple that was built on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to replace the First Temple after it was destroyed. Archaeological evidence suggests this provincial village hit its peak during the third century B.C., when Judea was under the control of the Seleucid monarchy after the breakup of Alexander the Great’s empire. Residents seem to have abandoned the town at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty — when Herod the Great came into power in 37 B.C. — perhaps to chase better job opportunities in the city amid an economic downturn.

“The phenomenon of villages and farms being abandoned at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty or the beginning of Herod the Great’s succeeding rule is one that we are familiar with from many rural sites in Judea,” archaeologist Yuval Baruch explained in a statement. “And it may be related to Herod’s massive building projects in Jerusalem, particularly the construction of the Temple Mount, and the mass migration of villagers to the capital to work on these projects.”

The discovery was made during a salvage excavation ahead of a construction project that began last year; a 21-mile-long (35 kilometers) gas pipeline was supposed to run through the site, but engineering plans were revised to go around the ruins, IAA officials said. Salvage excavations are common in Israel to avoid building over ancient sites. For instance, remarkably well-preserved Byzantine church mosaics were recently revealed ahead of the construction of a park, and an ancient Roman road connecting Jerusalem to Jaffa was uncovered ahead of the installation of a drainage pipe.

 

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Church

Snake Kills Snake-Handler Pastor

The Guardian:

Preachers who practice handle poisonous snakes during church services vow to continue tradition despite deaths and illegality.

Jamie Coots, a pastor in Middlesboro, Kentucky. snake preacher

A pentecostal preacher in Kentucky who died after being bitten by a rattlesnake is being hailed as a martyr by his colleagues, who will continue breaking the law by handling poisonous reptiles during their church services, according to friends.

Jamie Coots “lived and died consistent with his faith” and his death will only inspire more people to obey an instruction from God in the Gospel of Mark that “they shall take up serpents,” said Professor Ralph Hood, of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

“This won’t stop them: just the opposite,” said Hood, a friend of Coots and the most noted expert on the Appalachian serpent-handling tradition. “They will continue, and praise Jamie Coots as a martyr who died for his faith.”

Coots died on Saturday night after being bitten on the right hand during a service at his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church. The 42-year-old, who featured prominently in the National Geographic series Snake Salvation, refused medical attention on religious grounds.

His funeral is due to be held in his hometown of Middlesboro on Tuesday evening.

Coots’s son, Cody, said his family had expected him to survive because he had been bitten eight times before. “Everybody was getting in, shouting, taking up serpents, speaking in tongues, handling fire,” he told Kentucky’s WKYT-TV. “You could just feel the power of God.”

Coots had continued flouting a 74-year-old Kentucky law banning the use of poisonous snakes in religious services, even after a woman died from a bite during a ceremony he conducted in 1995. Coots was charged, but avoided prosecution after a judge declined to proceed with the case. He was also fined $6,400 in 2008 after being convicted of illegally trading in poisonous snakes.

Andrew Hamblin, a pastor in neighbouring Tennessee who was mentored by Coots and co-starred with him in the National Geographic series, is understood to have been devastated by the death. The Guardian has been told that he intends to continue his snake-handling services at Tabernacle Church of God…

Rest here.

Junior McCormick handling a rattlesnake as Homer Browing looks on during services at the Church of the Lord Jesus in Kingston, Georgia, in 1995.

 

Church

Suicide Bus Bombing Kills South Korean Christians on Holy Land Pilgrimage

If nobody else is going to say it, I will: Stay out of Egypt!

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A bus full of South Korean Christians who saved money for years in order to visit biblical sites in Egypt and Israel were attacked Sunday by a suicide bomber.

Four people were killed in the bombing, including the Egyptian driver, a church member, and two South Korean guides. At least 14 others were injured, the Associated Press reports.

This is not the first time South Korean Christians have been the target of violence in a foreign country. In 2007, after a 43-day hostage situation left two South Korean missionaries dead in Afghanistan, South Korea subsequently banned citizens from traveling to certain majority-Muslim countries—which proved to be a blessing in disguise for Korean Christians.

This time, the 31 churchgoers on the bus came from a Presbyterian church south of Seoul, as they were touring biblical sites in commemoration of the church’s 60th anniversary of its founding.

“No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, which bore the hallmarks of attacks blamed on al-Qaida-linked militant groups that have been battling government forces in Sinai’s restive north for years,” the AP reports.

On Sunday, the church group was about to enter Israel from the Egyptian border town of Taba after visiting an ancient monastery in Sinai. The group had left South Korea last Monday on its 12-day tour of Israel, Egypt, and Turkey.

”My mother was a devout Christian,” the dead church member’s daughter, surnamed Yoon, told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. ”I don’t know how such a thing could happen. I don’t know how to react to this.”

South Korea has long been known for its zeal for mission work, with nearly 30 percent of the country’s population claiming Christianity. They have 20,000 missionaries in 177 countries, ranking No. 6 in the world for sending the most missionaries. Some Korean Christian leaders see the existing travel bans not as a hindrance to missions work, but an opportunity to “focus Korean missions in areas where missionaries are more accepted and more likely to be successful,” CT reported.

CT regularly reports on South Korea and South Korean missions, including a 2006 cover story on how Christians in South Korea sent more missionaries than any other country besides the United States.

CT also regularly reports on pilgrimages, including how modern pilgrimage sites and classic pilgrimage sites offer surprising rewards for the Christians who visit them.