Artifacts & Biblical History

How did the Israelites think of north, south, east and west without a compass, GPS or even a map?

download (5)Since I am in the heart of Israel today with our Holy Land Part II pilgrimage, I thought this would be an interesting topic. Here is a short article written by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg.

We read in Gen. 13:14: “And the LORD said to Abram… ‘Raise your eyes and look out from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west.’” The Hebrew words for the four directions where Abram was asked to direct his gaze are: “north” (pronounced as tsafonah), “south” (negbah), “east” (kedmah) and “west” (yamah).

In English these words are technical navigational terms, but Hebrew is an extremely physical language and the origin of these words is tied to the environment.

The Hebrew phrase translated as “to the north” – (tsafonah) – is connected to Mt. Tsaphon in modern Syria (see Isa. 14:13), which lay to the north of Abram when God told him to look in all directions.

The Hebrew term (negbah), traditionally translated as “to the south,” literally means “to the Negev” – the name of a wilderness in the south of Canaan/Israel.

The phrase (yamah), translated as “to the west” means “to the sea.” Similarly, (kedmah), translated as “to the east,” evokes an image of “going back to something from a time long ago”, namely to the Garden of Eden that God planted in the beginning of history (Gen. 2:8).

Someone put it very well: “To read the Bible always and only in translation is like listening to Bach, always and only played on the harmonica. You certainly get the tune, but you will miss pretty much everything else”.

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Jostling through the crowds Paul and Luke pushed their way to the ramp. The wooden cargo ship was ready to leave Caesarea and they had gathered the last of their supplies. They pressed the silver denarii into the hands of the sailer at the dock. They were allowed onto the ship.

They rushed to the far side of the salty deck to claim their few square feet of living space where they would live, sleep and eat for the next seven days. The set up a leather tent covering, put their blankets under the tarp and stashed their food and meager supplies in the corner. They were ready to go!

Traveling by ship in the first century was rugged and grueling. Ships did not have cabins for travelers. They purchased space on the deck — the lower part of the ship was for the huge cargos, usually grain from Egypt, marble from Greece or lumber from Lebanon.

However, this was certainly the quickest way to get through the Roman Empire by voyaging the shipping lanes of the Mediterranean Sea. Even though Rome had built over 250,000 miles of primary roads the time and labor to walk around the sea was rugged, dangerous and timely.

How do you think Mary traveled from Israel (Judea) to Ephesus with St. John? It would have been almost impossible to travel by land so she must have suffered much on the deck of one of these cargo ships. Mary was tough!

Ships were not reliable like the luxurious cruise ships today where pilgrims sip a glass of wine on the deck looking out over the waves only imagining the grueling voyage of St. Paul and the other early Christians. To get a sense of this rugged reality we suggest our pilgrims go out on the deck of our cruise ship in the middle of a windy wavy night. Imagining living on the deck of the ship, covered with the salty spray and using the side of the ship for a toilet is not the way modern people would want to travel.

Even though we can only use our imagination to “experience” the travels of St. Paul as he spread the Gospel around the Mediterranean, our pilgrims traveling with us through the Great Sea of biblical times still get to walk in Paul’s footprints through the cities he walked. We even walk on the actual roads with the stones laid over 2,000 year ago.

To join us in September 2020 on our St. Paul Mediterranean Cruise and “Seminar at Sea” visitwww.FootprintsOfGod.com. Or you can call 866-557-2364 or write FootprintsOfGod@ctscentral.net. 

The names of these cities will be familiar to everyone — Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessaloniki and many more.

We will study what he said and did in each site as well as celebrate Mass in the most amazing locations. Some of the Masses will be set in local cathedrals while others outdoors in historic locations mentioned in the Bible.

Our Seminar at Sea will provide pilgrims with spiritual talks on St. Paul, Evangelism and the Family. This is a cruise, a pilgrimage, a seminar—and a biblical adventure. Steve arranged the itinerary with the cruise company to visit only biblical, early Catholic sites. You will have time to explore and pray in eight locations deeply rich with our Catholic heritage.

Steve teaching in ancient Roman theatre

You will visit the cities where St. Paul wrote his inspired letters and other cities to which they were written. You will walk the same roads, sit in ancient theaters where he taught, discover how true and accurate the Bible is, and draw closer to Our Lord.

But Paul is not the only saint we will discover. The Apostle St. John was the bishop of Ephesus and we will pray at his tomb. Mary lived for a while in Ephesus with St. John and we will have Mass at Mary’s House. St. John was exiled on the Greek Island of Patmos because of his testimony to Jesus.

We will stop at this beautiful Greek Island to celebrate Mass at the cave where St. John lived and where he received the profound revelation which became the last book on the New Testament. From here he also saw the heavenly vision of Mary, the Queen of Heaven (Rev 12:1).

Mass at the holiest biblical sites

It is not too late to join us.  For those who want to join our post-cruise extension to Rome, we will tour the most important sites in the Eternal City too.

To learn more visit Steve Ray’s website www.FootprintsOfGod.com. Or you can call 866-557-2364 or write FootprintsOfGod@ctscentral.net.

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Most pictures of St. Paul ignore his Jewishness. When he entered a Synagogue to teach he could not have looked like a Gentile. He would have been distinctly Jewish. They would never ask a Gentile to share a “word of encouragement” to the Jewish worshipers. For example:

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 10.36.55 AMActs 13:14–15:  “They went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.  After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, ‘Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it’.”

There is a description of St. Paul’s appearance in the 2nd century The Acts of Paul and Thecla which says: “A man small in size, bald-headed, bandy-legged, well-built, with eyebrows meeting, rather long-nosed, full of grace. For sometimes he seemed like a man, and sometimes he had the countenance of an angel” (ANF, vol. 8, p. 487). The picture does not match this description perfectly, but I still think the picture well portrays St. Paul as the Jew he was.

(This picture was from the website Israel Bible Center)

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Protestant Pastor Discovers the Eucharist of the Early Church!

January 20, 2020

Protestant pastor Chan with a huge following is sharing his new ideas about the Eucharist and the Early Church. As a convert, I know the signs, and I would suggest he’s realizing the truth of the Catholic Church. Only 3.5 minutes; WORTH a listen. Pray for him. 

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Mary, Mother of God’s Early & Later Life – The Real Mary

January 1, 2020

Questions I answered about Mary’s real life on Catholic Answers Live — it was a FUN show! To listen on-line, for podcasts and other listening options, click here.  (Photos: Top photo painted by James Tissot; bottom two pictures are actual photos of girls at the well in Nazareth over 100 years ago.) 1. Did Mary […]

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Was Jesus Really Born at THAT Place in Bethlehem?

December 18, 2019

(Picture: Aerial view of Nativity Church in Bethlehem) In a few days we are leaving for Bethlehem. We will have Mass next week at a lot of holy sites with our group of Catholic families. To the left is a picture of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. How do we know this is really […]

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Biblical Measurements and Units

November 11, 2019

Cubits, a spam, and ephah and a bath. What do all of these mean in the Bible? Here is a helpful chart taken from Verbum.

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The Holy Family Ate those Pesky House Sparrows

October 10, 2019

The Holy Family was not wealthy. When you had a firstborn son in Israel you were required to take a lamb to the Temple for the redemption of your firstborn son but if you were poor you could take to turtledoves instead. Mary and Joseph took the two turtledoves or pigeons which demonstrates they were […]

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

September 4, 2019

Today is the Feast Day of St. Moses. What? Moses is a saint? Yes, and so are many of the heroes of the Old Testament. Adam and Eve have liturgical feast days, so do Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, King David and many others. The Roman Martyrology (1600) lists saints recognized up to that point including many […]

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Did the Bible Always have Chapters & Verses?

August 23, 2019

No! The chapter and verse divisions in the Bible are relatively recent additions to the Bible. Originally it was written in Hebrew and Greek and there were NO chapter and verse divisions–in fact, most of the time there was not even spaces between the words! Interestingly, in the book of Hebrews the writer is quoting […]

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A Page from my New Book on Genesis

July 31, 2019

This book has been on the back burner for quite a few years. But I took five weeks off this summer to finish it. About 12 hours a day since June 28 and I am almost done. Just putting the finishing touches on it this week before leaving for the Family Conference in Wichita, two […]

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Joachim & Anna: Nativity and Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

July 26, 2019

The birth and presentation of Mary is described in the early 2nd century document known and loved by the first Christians. It is the source for the names of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna. It is entitled “The Protoevangelium of James.”  It is fascinating. I have only provided the first 1/3 of the document. The […]

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Finalizing My Book on Genesis…Here are a Few Favorite Paragraphs about Creation

July 17, 2019

Here are a few paragraphs from my new book on Genesis which is nearly done. Genesis 2:7 is foundational and crucial to the whole story of the cosmos, Man and salvation. God takes dust or clay from the ground and like a potter he fashions a human being. The scientific formulas used by God still […]

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Bloody Martyrdoms in Lyons – Feast Day of St. Irenaeus

June 28, 2019

In honor of the feast day of St. Irenaeus today I have reposted a blog from several years ago when we were filming our documentary on Apostolic Fathers, Handing on the Faith. Here is the story… “We finished getting all our work done in Lyon for St. Irenaeus. It was very cold and windy — with snow hampering […]

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Last Days of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome

June 28, 2019

Happy Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul…. Join us in Rome, Assisi, Manoppello, and Lanciano the first week of December this year, in preparation for Christmas! (Click here for more info!) When I take my pilgrims to Rome one of my main objectives is to introduce them to the saints – especially Peter and […]

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

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. I recently wrote the Bible Study on Genesis for www.CatholicScriptureStudy.com. In chapter 24 Abraham sends his unnamed servant to find a bride […]

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