Artifacts & Biblical History

How Much Can a Camel Drink? – as he bites me!

by Steve Ray on June 13, 2019

Since we will soon be in Jordan and Israel again riding camels, I thought I would post some fun and interesting facts – and a movie of the camel trying to bite me.

CamelsDrinking.jpgI recently wrote the Bible Study on Genesis for www.CatholicScriptureStudy.com. In chapter 24 Abraham sends his unnamed servant to find a bride for his son Isaac.

The servant prays to God and asks, “Whichever girl at the well offers me a drink, and offers to water my camels as well, let her be the one you’ve chosen for Isaac.”

Come on! Get real! What girl is going to draw water by hand for a group of men and TEN CAMELS? Do you know how much a camel can drink?  Try and guess!

Camels can drink _______ gallons in 10 minutes
Camels can drink _______ gallons in one session
Camels can drink _______ gallons in a day
Rebekah drew __________ gallons for 10 thirsty camels

No wonder the servant thought Rebekah was a good wife for Isaac. Good grief, this girl must have been amazing.

The answers are in the Comments below.

Camel biting me when I tried to get him to water….

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king-james-bibleWhen is the first time the word love is used in the Bible? It is great fun to ask a million questions when you open the Bible. Good questions serve to unlock the treasure chest revealing untold riches.

Since the Bible is a book and books are made of words, it is great fun to see how God uses words and where they are placed in the sacred text. Nothing is random or by chance with the words of God.

When you search for the word love it first appears in the story of Abraham and his beloved son Isaac. As you read this verse ask yourself “Does this verse sound familiar — maybe similar to a well-known New Testament verse?”

009-009-abraham-taking-isaac-to-be-sacrificed-fullbAfter these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. (Genesis 22:1–2)

If John 3:16 came to your mind, then you had the same reaction that I did. God loved His only begotten Son.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

These passages belong together — calling back-and-forth to each other for a reason. God gave us a human story of a father sacrificing his only son so we would understand His great sorrow when sacrificing His only Son whom He loved.

The word love was saved for this crucial moment to describe the love of a father for his only son. Abraham prefigures God the Father as he takes his son to Mount Moriah for the sacrifice.

For the rest of this short article, click here. To see or purchase my documentary on Abraham filmed in Iraq, Palestinian areas, and Israel, click here.

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Today is Ascension Thursday. The Ascension always falls on a Thursday, 40 days after Resurrection Sunday. Then 9 days of praying in the Upper Room (1st Novena) and on the 50th day from the Resurrection the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost. Pentecost means “the fiftieth day.”

One of our past pilgrims wrote to me expressing an apparent contradiction in the Bible about what I had said in Israel. The wording in the two verses below is what caused the confusion.

Acts 1:12  “[After the Ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.”

Luke 24:50–51  “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.”

So, did Jesus ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives or from Bethany?

Church of Pater Noster

On pilgrimages, I take my groups to the top of the Mount of Olives to the Church of Pater Noster (the “Our Father”) where Jesus taught his disciples to pray in “the Grotto of the Teaching” — a cave beneath the front of the church. It is here that the oldest traditions inform us that Jesus was raised into heaven. Here Constantine built a church in the early 300’s. Here we celebrate Jesus’ departure and pray the Rosary’s 2nd Glorious Mystery of the Ascension.

Muslim Chapel of Ascension

There is a Muslim mosque five minute’s walk away (called the Chapel of the Ascension) that most Protestants visit but I don’t patronize Muslim sites and don’t accept this as the authentic place of the Ascension.

No one knows the exact square inches where his feet left the ground. But the Church of Pater Noster has the oldest tradition, is on the Mount of Olives and very near Bethany.

If we had had the time, and there was not the big wall separating Jerusalem from Bethany like it does Jerusalem from Bethlehem, in a few minutes we could walk into Bethany from the top of the Mount of Olives. We used to walk people there to go into the tomb of Lazarus. That is how close Bethany is to the top of the Mount of Olives.

However, I can’t do that with groups anymore because of the big wall that keeps us from walking from the Mount of Olives into Bethany.

Bethany is on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about 2 miles from Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. At the time of Jesus there was nothing on the Mount of Olives but olive trees (even until the late 1800’s, see picture black and white picture from about 1900). If you left from Jerusalem, heading to the Mount of Olives, it was perceived you were headed to Bethany.

 The picture shows that even until the turn of the 20th century there was nothing outside the old walls of Jerusalem. That meant there was just trees and open space between Jerusalem and Bethany. Bethany, though not seen on this map, was on the Eastern slope of the mount.

The other two maps show the proximity of Bethany, the the top of the Mount of Olives and the short distance from the walled city of Jerusalem. Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  He obviously saw no contradiction in referring to both places as the general location of Christ’s ascension.

It is easily explained this way. First, some suggest that he went as far as Bethany to say good-bye to the family he loved – Lazarus, Mary and Martha, then came back to the top of the mount and departed to heaven. However, there is no need to stretch things that far. Being on the eastern slope of the mount, Bethany is virtually on the Mount of Olives, especially from the perspective of Jerusalem.

If someone asks me where I’m from, I always say “Detroit.” But those who have been to my house know I really live 40 miles east of Detroit in Ypsilanti. But since no one knows where Ypsilanti is – I say “Detroit.”

If there is nothing but trees and bare land on the Mount of Olives and you’re heading east from Jerusalem, people would say you are going to Bethany. Jesus left Jerusalem and went over toward Bethany to ascend into heaven.

So if the geography is understood there is no conflict. Scripture can be trusted.

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How We REALLY Got the Bible – the Facts Simply Presented (print this out, hand it out)

May 16, 2019

This is just one page of Bob Sullivan’s excellent little tri-fold handout to explain how we got the Bible. It is from the Catholic and historical perspective without all the Protestant biases and twisting of history. I think you enjoy the whole thing which you can see here. You can print this out, fold it […]

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The Technology of Scripture Study: The Middle Ages (and a hilarious video at the end)

April 30, 2019

“I am an ecclesiastical historian by training and a Bible software guy by trade. Which, I think, puts me in the unique position to write about the history of the intersection of technology and Scripture study in a series of posts.” Written by my friend Andrew Jones PhD: “We might start with a description of […]

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Lovely Jewish Music from Biblical Times

April 27, 2019

I LOVE the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn) used in Jewish life and worship. This is a beautiful Jewish prayer and the shofar is in the first 1.5 minutes of the video. The “shofar” trumpet or ram’s horn is mentioned over 130 times in the Bible. Moving Jewish prayer worth listening too – putting […]

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How the Ancient Hebrews Viewed the Universe

April 25, 2019

This is part of Verbum Catholic Bible Software. I encourage every Catholic to get this Catholic and Bible Study software. Visit http://www.verbum.com/steveray. Use Promo Code STEVERAY10 for a 10% discount.

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Entering the Empty Tomb; A Contrast – Now and Back Then

April 19, 2019

It looks different today, but the place is the same. It is darker now, covered with a dome that blocks the sun. There is no grass, no hillside, no trees waving their leaves nearby. Instead there are the hushed voices of hundreds of people, the Muslim call to prayer echoing in the distance and the […]

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Passover Lamb: A True Story

April 12, 2019

Contributed by my son Jesse Ray a while ago but worthy of reposting… I arrived on the scene with my gun and stoically loaded in some self-defense rounds (although I was clearly not in danger). I did not lavish the idea of slaughtering a lamb, but my friend and new-farmer, Pat, called and sheepishly asked for […]

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Real Stations of the Cross discussed on Relevant Radio

April 2, 2019

Steve Ray joined John Harper on Morning Air (Relevant Radio) to discuss the origin and the meaning of the Stations. Also insightful comments on each individual Station. Join the 20-minute discussion with the link provided. Steve’s discussion starts at the 26:00 minute mark.

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Walk the Road to Calvary with Steve Ray this Lent – New Talk

March 27, 2019

Wisdom from Steve Ray’s Stations of the Cross “If you want to know about Jesus and the Crucifixion, you not only read the four Gospels, but you go back in history, and you study the land, and you study the culture at the time. And it fleshes it all out, and black and white becomes a […]

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Temple Sizes Compared – bigger than a football field

March 18, 2019

Since we are at the Western Wall today, seeing all this with our own eyes, I thought I would share again this blog about the size of temples of Israel. The 1) Tabernacle in the wilderness, the 2) Temple of Solomon, 3) Herod’s Temple at the time of Christ and 4) Ezekiel’s Temple are compared. The […]

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Feast of Chair of St. Peter: “Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter” Steve’s Article, YouTube Video and Resources

February 22, 2019

St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will […]

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Discovering the Place of Paul’s Shipwreck on Island of Malta on the Feast Day!

February 10, 2019

You would not have wanted to be with St. Paul today because February 10 is the Feast Day of the Shipwreck of St. Paul on Malta. I have been on ships in the Mediterranean many times and I make a practice each time of going out on the deck on a stormy night and imagining…. […]

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St. Adam & Eve, St. Abraham, St. Moses – Did you know some Old Testament people are Saints?

January 16, 2019

I am doing a show on Catholic Answers Live tonight (Wed., 1/16/19). The topic is OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS. Tune in at 6:00 PM Eastern at www.Catholic.com. You can listen to the podcast later too. Adam and Eve have liturgical feast days, so do Isaiah, Jeremiah, King David and many others. The Roman Martyrology (1600) lists […]

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UNESCO Adds the Baptismal Site of Jesus to the World Heritage Sites

January 13, 2019

Happy Feast Day of the Baptism of Our Lord! Since we will be at the actual site of Jesus’ baptism in two weeks with a bus full of pilgrims, I thought I would share this post again. This is an exciting development which helps establish the authentic baptismal site of Jesus. With the involvement of UNESCO […]

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