Pro and Con 1079

Posted 12-8-03

APOD: The Long Shadow of the Moon

The long shadow of the Moon fell across the continent of Antarctica on November 23rd, during the second total solar eclipse of 2003....

Top Ten New Testament Archaeological Finds of the Past 150 Years

MJA note: This puts the James-ossuary find in the right perspective. I think you will want to read the whole article. I enjoyed it. The emphasis is Witherington's.

Christianity Today, Week of 9-22-03
How do shrouds, boats, inscriptions, and other artifacts better help us understand the Christ of the Ages?
By Ben Witherington III

...occasionally something comes to light that is certainly more significant...Such an event occurred recently when the James ossuary came to light. To appreciate the significance and rarity of that find, it will be useful to first review the top finds of the last 150 years insofar as they have relevance to the study of the New Testament, and more particularly of Jesus and his context....

In the 19th century, and not long after the popularization of flash photography, a man named Segundo Pia was given the privilege of taking pictures of the Shroud of Turin, alleged to be the burial shroud of Jesus....

For example, we now have 5,000 manuscripts or portions of manuscripts of the New Testament....The earliest piece of the New Testament we have is a small portion of John 18 copied on a piece of papyrus and dating to about A.D. 125....

The now famous House of Peter in Capernaum, which was found in 1906, but was only properly excavated between 1968 and 1998...

Of course mention must be made of the Qumran scrolls that began to come to light in 1946-47...

Of more direct relevance is the finding of the Pontus Pilate inscription at Caesarea Maritima in 1962.....

The various excavations at Herodian sites (Masada, the Herodium, the Temple Mount) have certainly confirmed the image of Herod as a builder with dreams of grandeur, and have helped us reconstruct what the Temple and Temple Mount must have looked like in Jesus' day....

From the 1970s to the present there have been excavations at Scythopolis (a.k.a. Beth Shean)....

There was much ado about the finding of the "Jesus boat" in the '80s, a first century A.D. fishing boat found in the mud flats of the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee when the lake was low....

In the early 1990s the finding of the burial box of the high priest Caiaphas caused a great deal of stir....

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there is the James ossuary which Hershel Shanks and I have dealt with in some detail in The Brother of Jesus (Harper, 2003). It is my belief that this ossuary, having passed several batteries of scientific tests, is indeed the burial box of James the brother of Jesus...

Incoming email, Re: about blood moon

You talk about the color of the moon during the recent total lunar eclipse as if it is something special for a total lunar eclipse event. In fact, the color of the moon will always be reddish-orange during any total lunar eclipse because of the source of the light the moon is reflecting. If you were standing on the lunar surface during a total lunar eclipse you would see a large round black object (the earth) ringed with reddish light. That light is sunlight passing through the earth's atmosphere. The atmosphere and its suspended particles bounce the light around so that only the reddish frequencies are transmitted. The color will be more intense if there has recently been a large volcanic eruption (like Pinatubo a few years ago) or massive wildfires (like Indonesia a couple of years ago) that pump thousands of tons of particles into the atmosphere that are carried around the planet by upper atmospheric winds. You see the same color show every sunrise and sunset when on earth. In fact, from the moon (during a total lunar eclipse) you are seeing all sunrises and sunsets on earth simultaneously.

The unusual would be if the moon was not reddish-orange during a total lunar eclipse.

My reply

Thanks for your interesting information. This lunar eclipse was just a very bright one. The one I saw from our front yard a few years back looked more coppery, brownish orange. It looked huge and very close. The next one was nothing like that one. It's track across the sky was not close to being the same either.

Ordinarily, I don't see the Moon in the spot where we watched the first one. We had to walk out the front door and turn left. Usually, I can see the Moon rise almost straight out from the door without even going outside. Agape

Wiesenthal Center delegation meet with Pope

By TOM TUGEND, 12-1-03

LOS ANGELES - Pope John Paul II receives a menorah from Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, at center, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean, at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 1, 2003.

In a 40-minute private audience Monday with Pope John Paul II, a Simon Wiesenthal Center delegation appealed to the pontiff to condemn suicide bombings and international terrorism as "crimes against God and crimes against humanity."...

Hier also expressed his grave concern about "the proliferation of anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world," citing specific examples. "Your words are needed now more than ever," Hier appealed to the pope.

When the delegation showed the pope architect Frank Gehry's rendering of the Wiesenthal Center's future MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE IN JERUSALEM, the pope took off his ring and placed it on the drawing. The gesture, the pope's aides told Hier, represented a papal blessing of the project.

At the end of the audience, Hier presented the pope with the Wiesenthal Center Humanitarian Award, in the form of a tall menorah, in recognition of the pontiff's "lifelong friendship to the Jewish people," commitment to world peace, and fostering of tolerance among all people.


By Marilyn Agee

I keep thinking about the Exodus and have learned a little more about the Way of the Philistines, and probably why the Israelites were not to go out by that road, but went across Sinai south of that coastal road.

They went through the DESERT, roughly along the Way to Shur. Josephus said, "Moses led them not along the road that tended to the land of the Philistines, but he was desirous that THEY SHOULD GO THROUGH THE DESERT, that so after a long journey, and after many afflictions, they might enter upon the land of Canaan. ANOTHER REASON OF THIS WAS, THAT GOD COMMANDED HIM TO BRING THE PEOPLE TO MOUNT SINAI, that there they might offer him sacrifices." (Ant. II. XV. 3). Mt. Sinai is surrounded by desert.

The Book of Jubilees mentions, "Mount Sinai, the center of the DESERT" (Jubilees 8:17).

They travelled across the desert that bounded the Mediterranean Sea, not along the coastal route, but inland from that, roughly along the Way to Shur.

Ex. 13:17 says, "when Pharaoh had let the people go...God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see WAR, and they return to Egypt."

The Way of Hor (wat hor), or Way of Horus, was the road that ran from Memphis through Ramesses, the Egyptian military garrison city, to the frontier fortress Sile, where there was a bridge over the northern inlet of the waters of the Great Sea, through Pelusium, then along the fortified Mediterranean coast to Gaza, the coastal land of the Philistines, and finally to Syria. That seems to be why the Israelites assembled at Ramesses before they left Egypt. They were leaving with permission. The Way of Hor was the shortest route. They might have been expected to take the Way of Hor, but the Lord had other plans for them. The six forts along the Way of Hor across the coast of the Sinai Peninsula probably explain "when they see war" mentioned in Ex. 13:17. There was a bridge at Sile. The Israelites would be expected to leave by crossing this bridge.


By John D. Keyser

Approximately half way along the eastern leg of the frontier barrier, at the northern end of Lake Ballah, was the frontier post of SILE. According to Ian Wilson, "THE SOLE ROUTE TRAVERSING THE CANAL [AND WALL] IS A BRIDGE COMMANDED BY THE KEY FORTRESS OF SILE, otherwise known, like the route it controlled, as WAT-HOR." (The Exodus Enigma).

The MAIN CARAVAN AND MILITARY ROAD FROM EGYPT WAT-HOR, or the "way of the land of the Philistines" -- led from Memphis and followed the banks of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile to PI-RAMESSES or AVARIS. From here it passed through the frontier fortress of SILE and continued on to Pelusium, and thence to el-Arish and Gaza, running parallel to the Mediterranean coast. THE FORTRESS OF SILE WAS, THEREFORE, THE QUICKEST WAY OUT OF EGYPT FROM THE PI-RAMESSES/AVARIS AREA, and the quickest way to Canaan....

The Garrison Cities of Exodus 1:11

At the SAME TIME the canal and wall were constructed on the eastern frontier, the so-called "store cities" of RAMESSES and PITHOM along with -- according to the Septuagint version of the Bible -- the city of ON or HELIOPOLIS, were built!

The Way of the Philistines

Historical records inform us that the Egyptians knew this coastal artery leading to Canaan and Syria as the "Way of Horus." Fortunately, recent archaeological digging has uncovered material relevant to understanding the Exodus 13:17 passage. Digging has uncovered evidence of SIX FORTRESSES ON THIS ROUTE described in Exodus as the road through the Philistine country....

The Deir el-Balah site serves as an important link to understanding Exodus 13:17. The site confirms that the Egyptians of the fourteenth-thirteenth centuries B.C. had a string of fortresses on this route that they called the Way of Horus and that Exodus calls the "way of the land of the Philistines."

Phantom Wanderers

Two archeologists say the escape from Egypt into Sinai seems highly unlikely.
By Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman

...Throughout the period of the New Kingdom, large Egyptian armies marched through Canaan to the north, as far as the Euphrates in Syria. Therefore, the main overland road that went from the delta along the coast of northern Sinai to Gaza and then into the heart of Canaan was of utmost importance to the pharaonic regime.

The most potentially vulnerable stretch of road--which crossed the arid and dangerous desert of northern Sinai between the delta and Gaza--was the most protected. A sophisticated system of Egyptian forts, granaries and wells was established at a day's march distance along the entire length of the road, which was called the Ways of Horus....

A relief from the day of Ramesses II's father, Pharaoh Seti I (from around 1300 B.C.), shows the forts and water reservoirs in the form of an early map that traces the route from the EASTERN DELTA to the southwestern border of Canaan.

The remains of these forts were uncovered in the course of archeological investigations in northern Sinai by Eliezer Oren of Ben Gurion University, in the 1970s. Oren discovered that each of these road stations, closely corresponding to the sites designated on the ancient Egyptian relief, comprised three elements: a strong fort made of bricks in the typical Egyptian military architecture, storage installations for food provisions, and a water reservoir.

Thoughts on Jebel al-Lawz and the Location of Mt. Sinai

By Bryant G. Wood

...The Bible tells us exactly how long it took the Israelites to travel from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh Barnea. Knowing their approximate rate of travel provides a rough calculation of the distance traveled. THIS PLACES MT. SINAI IN THE GENERAL AREA OF THE NORTHERN SINAI PENINSULA, not in Saudi Arabia. Scholars have paid scant attention to this important information in their efforts to locate Mt. Sinai....

My comments on the search for Mt. Sinai

Here's a splended picture of the Sinai Peninsula from space. Jebel Helal is the mount on the right along the Way of Shur. It is probably Mt. Sinai. It is in the desert area called "the wilderness of Sinai." Ex. 19:1 says, "In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness (midbar, desert) of Sinai."

Some say that Mt. Sinai is in Saudi Arabia. Why? Gal. 4:24-26 says, "Which things are an allegory (speaking figuratively): for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is MOUNT SINAI IN ARABIA, and answereth to Jerusalem which NOW is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."

It doesn't say Saudi Arabia, just Arabia. Why? The Sinai Peninsula was part of Arabia Petrea. At one time, it was part of the area ruled from Petra.

Mt. Sinai in Arabia Petrea corresponded with earthly Jerusalem under the old covenant--in bondage to the Law. The heavenly New Jerusalem under the new covenant is free of bondage to the Law.

Some say that Mt. Sinai is Jebel Musa in the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula. However, that is in mountainous territory. Jebel Musa is 7497' high. Moses had to climb Mt. Sinai several times when he was 80 years old. The Israelites never left the desert wilderness before reaching the desert of Sinai. They roughly followed the Way to Shur, which was inland from the coastal Way of the Philistines. Even when they arrived at Kadesh Barnea, they were in the wilderness of Zin and the wilderness of Paran. From Kadesh Barnea, Moses sent the spies into nearby Canaan.

Some think Jebel al Lawz, in Saudi Arabia, is Mt. Sinai, because it is volcanic. So is Jebel Helal, near the Way to Shur. As far as I can tell, Jebel Helal seems to be Mt. Sinai. Nothing else fits.

When the Israelites left Egypt, they were in the wilderness, the desert, of Etham. That was a local part of the wilderness of Shur, which stretched all the way across the northern peninsula to Canaan. Local sections of the larger wilderness of Shur also had local names, such as the wilderness of the Red Sea, the wilderness of Etham, the wilderness of Sin, the wilderness of Sinai and the wilderness of Paran.

Ex. 13:18 says, "God led the people about, through the way of the WILDERNESS OF THE RED SEA: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt."

Ex. 15:22 says, "So Moses brought Israel FROM THE RED SEA, AND THEY WENT OUT INTO THE WILDERNESS OF SHUR; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water."

Nu. 33:8 says, "they departed from before Pihahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, and went three days' journey in the WILDERNESS OF ETHAM, and pitched in Marah."

Nu. 33:11 says, "they removed from the Red sea, and encamped in the WILDERNESS OF SIN." The word midbar, translated wilderness, means desert, pasture for driving flocks, open field. It aptly describes the northern Sinai peninsula, which bloomed with flowers last spring because of the rains. When there is enough rain, there is forage for the animals.

Ex. 16:1 says, "they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the WILDERNESS OF SIN, WHICH IS BETWEEN ELIM AND SINAI, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt."

Nu. 10:12 says, "And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the WILDERNESS OF SINAI; and the cloud rested in the WILDERNESS OF PARAN." Kadesh was in the wilderness of Paran and the wilderness of Zin.

Nu. 13:26 says, "they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, UNTO THE WILDERNESS OF PARAN, TO KADESH; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land."

Nu. 27:14 says, "For ye rebelled against my commandment in the DESERT (midbar) OF ZIN, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in KADESH in the WILDERNESS (midbar, desert) OF ZIN." They were in the desert part of the Sinai until they had crossed the northern peninsula and arrived near the border of Canaan.

Watch Yossi Bailin. Is he after the title Prime Minister of Israel?

Bailin’s Geneva Stepping Stone to TOP OF ISRAELI POLITICS
DEBKAfile Special Analysis, 12-2-03
Yasser Abd Rabbo & Yossi Bailin - Geneva Accord duo

The glitzy ceremony in a Geneva auditorium on December 1 did very little to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace - it was more a Palestinian hate Israel platform - but a great deal to place YOSSI BAILIN, the Israeli co-author of the unofficial peace accords, ON THE ROAD TO REALIZING HIS POLITICAL AMBITIONS AT HOME.

The day before the Geneva ceremonies, he joined his new partners in LAUNCHING A NEW LEFT-WING PARTY, USING THE GENEVA ACCORDS AS THE CORNERSTONE OF ITS PLATFORM AND THE LEAD-IN TO HIS OWN CORONATION AS PARTY LEADER. But even before that takes place, he is looking ahead to a much broader power base, THE FORMATION OF A LEFTWING-CUM-CENTRIST BLOC, carved out of the splinters he expects to chip off from other groupings....

On the basis of these shared sentiments and links, YOSSI BAILIN WAS ANOINTED EUROPEAN PARTNER AND HEAD OF THE NEW ISRAELI PARTY by his foreign friends, former French lawmaker Simon Weill in the name of Jacques Chirac, Russian Middle East ambassador Andrei Vdovin for Vladimir Putin and Lord Levy for Tony Blair....

For the first time in Israel’s 50 years as a state, therefore, an aspiring Israeli politician has embarked on a militant course to alienate Israel from its powerful, close historic partnership with the United States and replace it with European backing for himself as their Israeli spokesman and for HIS POLITICAL ASPIRATIONS. This is what the Geneva Accord and Bailin’s close ties with Palestinian leaders are all about.

Incoming email, Re: Dark Side: Eurocrats Plan Israel’s Non-Future

...If Israelis and Palestinians reach a peace accord, they will need a credible multinational force to police it, and the only one would be a US-led NATO force....

Nineteen days before the New York article appeared, an informant dining at a Knightsbridge restaurant with a highly-placed British intelligence official heard him drop this remark: “Some people in the West have come to the conclusion that the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 was a mistake.” WHEN ASKED TO EXPLAIN WHETHER THIS MEANT THAT THE JEWS WERE TO BE EVICTED FROM THE MIDDLE EAST, HE REPLIED: “CERTAINLY. ISRAEL HAS A LITTLE MORE THAN 5 MILLION JEWS. IF THE UNITED STATES AND NATO WERE TO FINANCE THEIR RELOCATION IN OTHER COUNTRIES, THAT WOULD SOLVE MANY MIDDLE EAST PROBLEMS.”...

Getting the paper accepted as an official document by a group of NATO member-governments would provide the alliance with a solid basis for moving ahead with a private plan that would lead ultimately to THE TERMINATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL.

Incoming email

Prophecy News Bulletin Board

...Eurocrats and NATO Planning Israel’s Future

Oct. 28….Sharon said that if NATO really wants to secure Europe, it needs to help stabilize other regions to its south. If Israelis and Palestinians reach a peace accord, they will need a credible multinational force to police it, and the only one that Israel would accept is a US-led NATO force. With that said, it seems that Arafat’s dream of an international force to police the conflict becomes attainable with the help of the creative strategists of Brussels. Israel’s standing as an independent democracy would then make way for its subservience to international rule with the peace guaranteed by an EU-NATO security force. This also explains why two senior NATO members, Belgium and France, enthusiastically granted its senior author, Yossi Bailin, $7 million for domestic marketing and promotion of the Geneva Accords initiative. Getting the Geneva Accords accepted as an official document by a group of NATO member-governments would provide the EU/NATO alliance with a solid basis for moving ahead with A PRIVATE PLAN THAT WOULD LEAD ULTIMATELY TO THE TERMINATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL. Ariel Sharon is keenly aware of the scheme afoot in the European branch of NATO. Hence his barely concealed out-lash at the Eurocrats. Although Sharon is probably unaware of it, according to Bible Prophecy the EU-NATO will someday play a major role in guaranteeing Israel security in the Middle East. Events are already leading in that very direction....

Geneva Plan Has No 'Safety Net' for Israel, Military Expert Says

By Julie Stah, Jerusalem Bureau Chief

Jerusalem ( - The Geneva Initiative signed this week between Israeli left-wingers and Palestinians offers no "safety net" to Israel should the Palestinians renege on their obligations, a military expert here said....

"In essence, almost all of Israel's security requirements were exchanged for the idea of deploying a foreign military presence that will be supervised by an international committee created to oversee the agreement's implementation," he said. According to the agreement international monitors would include the U.S., United Nations, European Union and Arab states.

Powell Calls for Increased NATO and U.N. Roles in Iraq
N.Y.Times, 12-5-03

Israel's two greatest mistakes

By SHIMON PERES, former prime minister, chairman of the Labor Party - 12-4-03

Israel reached its apex in the Six Day War....

One is that we did not turn the military victory into a political gain. I am not referring to our declarations of willingness to make peace with the Arab countries based on the international borders.... Had we invested the necessary energy in making peace with Egypt after Nasser's death, and with Egypt before the Yom Kippur War, we would probably have avoided that war and might have achieved a different kind of peace accord than we got at Camp David.

Ben-Gurion, who said that for real peace he would have given back most of the territories, was not at the helm. His words were heard, but as the words of a statesman, not as the commitment of a leader. Peace with Egypt would have led to peace with Jordan. And King Hussein would have been the one to manage the Palestinian issue (as was proved in the agreement I reached with King Hussein in London in 1987, an agreement that Yitzhak Shamir thwarted, and which I know many of his supporters regret to this day).

There might also have been an opportunity to reach full peace with Syria....

THE SECOND mistake was falling in love, without bounds, without demographic considerations, with the territories....What a tragic missed opportunity. Had the Likud and its leaders accepted Ben-Gurion's view 25 years ago, the whole country would look, and live, differently....

Those who claim Oslo is a crime caused the biggest sin in Israel's history. Our staying in the territories did not give us security (because terrorism replaced conventional war) or peace (because without giving back the territories there will be no peace) nor a modern Israeli society (that has to exist in an open, global economy).

What a mistake!...

Incoming email

By Uri Dan, 12-3-03

...British and American intelligence services know that the Geneva farce has been organized by YASSER ARAFAT, THE HERO OF BEILIN, Lord Levy, and other Jews of the Left. And Arafat's aim remains the destruction of the Jewish state by a combination of terrorist and diplomatic tactics....

Arafat's deception plan is being abetted by BEILIN, WHO REALLY BELIEVES HE IS ISRAEL'S PEACE MESSIAH. BEILIN'S HATRED FOR SHARON IS ONLY MATCHED BY HIS AMBITION TO BECOME PRIME MINISTER. To achieve this goal he is willing to give Arafat the Temple Mount and "return" thousands of Palestinian "refugees" to Israel...

The Oslo Agreement initiated by BEILIN, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin, has led to the most terrible and longest war Israel has ever known...

The following is (part of) the text of the Geneva Accord printed in the Israeli daily Haaretz

...Confirming that this Agreement is concluded within the framework of the MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS initiated in Madrid in October 1991, the Declaration of Principles of September 13, 1993, the subsequent agreements including the Interim Agreement of September 1995, the Wye River Memorandum of October 1998 and the Sharm El-Sheikh Memorandum of September 4, 1999, and the permanent status negotiations including the Camp David Summit of July 2000, the Clinton Ideas of December 2000, and the Taba Negotiations of January 2001....

5. al-Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount (Compound)
(a) International Group i. An International Group, composed of the IVG and other parties to be agreed upon by the Parties, including members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), shall hereby be established to monitor, verify, and assist in the implementation of this clause....
Funding for the Geneva Initiative
10-27-03 /Cheshvan 1, 5764

...PA official Fares Kadura, who took part in the negotiations, said that THE AGREEMENT'S ONLY PURPOSE WAS TO CAUSE INTERNAL SQUABBLING IN ISRAEL....

Why does the Israeli consulate in San Francisco promote Yossi Beilin?

By David Bedein, 10-24-03

Dr. Yossi Beilin currently holds no public office in Israel. He holds no seat in the Israeli Knesset. Indeed, Beilin handily lost his bid for re-election in the Labor Party primaries last year, and wasn't placed high enough in a small left wing party to be re-elected to the Knesset.

Beilin's previous record of government service over the past twenty years had been impressive.

He had served as Israel's cabinet secretary, director general of the foreign ministry, deputy foreign minister, the minister of economic planning, and minister of Justice.

Yet Yossi Beilin today conducts negotiations with the PLO, on his own, with a few back benchers of the Israeli Knesset participating.

My comments

I see the purpose behind the Geneva Accords, to launch Dr. Yossi Beilin's campaign for the office of Israel's Prime Minister. Beilin hasn't had much credibility among Jews, because he was the main initiator of the Oslo Accords. Many Israelis have died in the decade since the Oslo Accords were signed 9-13-1993.

An accord like this, conceived and signed behind the leader's backs, should be akin to treason, but he may be patted on the back for making an attempt to jump start the peace initiative. Some people may be tired of waiting on Sharon to accomplish something that will bring peace. Beilin may be able to convey to the voters the thought that if he was in office, something would be done. Watch this man. He wasn't given $7M for promotion for nothing.

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Updated 12-8-03