Monthly Archives: April 2019


Did Jesus Have an Ossuary?

Did Jesus Have an Ossuary?

Jewish burials in the first century AD in the area of Jerusalem followed a regular pattern. The tomb itself was dug as a cave in the rock. The typical tomb included a small room that had one or more benches located around it, each about 5 or 6 feet long, as well as smaller cavities or niches that were dug into the walls. When a person was buried, they were brought into the tomb and laid on one of the benches (blue in the diagram above). The tomb was then sealed for......


Abraham, Moses, and the Messiah

Abraham, Moses, and the Messiah

In Galatians, Paul builds a wonderful argument for Salvation by faith alone and not by a combination of works and faith.  In the midst of that letter we find a very clear statement about salvation by faith when Paul mentions Abraham. Paul’s argument to the Galatians is that everyone of all time has been, is, or will be saved by faith and not by works.  He begins with Abraham, the father of the Jews, and then moves on to include all the gentiles. He also says that the scriptures preached the gospel......


A Rolling Stone

A Rolling Stone

The Gospel accounts tell that a large stone was used to block the entrance to Jesus’ tomb (Matt 27:60). Many modern artists incorrectly depict that stone as a massive 5-6′ stone disk. Archaeology tells a different story, and one that fits better with the Gospel accounts. Archaeologists have excavated hundreds of rock-hewn burial caves around Jerusalem from the time of Jesus. Three different types of tomb closures have been found: swinging stone doors, large circular disks, and heavy square blocking stones. The first two types, swinging stone doors and large circular disks,......


Where was Jesus' Tomb?

Where was Jesus’ Tomb?

Christian tourists who visit Jerusalem nearly always want to see the tomb of Jesus. There are two locations that they most often visit. Is either more likely to be the actual tomb of Jesus than the other? History and archaeology give a clear answer. The so-called “Garden Tomb” is located north of the Old City of Jerusalem. It provides a serene, outdoor garden setting that allow the visitor to contemplate the resurrection in a pleasant setting. For that reason it is worth visiting. However, it is not the tomb of Jesus. The......


Is it part of God’s plan that Christ had to die?

Is it part of God’s plan that Christ had to die?

Is it part of God’s plan that Christ had to die? I have been asked this question in many forms over the years.  To our fallen human minds the idea that Christ had to die seems so wrong.  How could it be that God could have sent His son to take on flesh and walk among us for nearly 34 years, only to die? I find this often  indicates a deeper question.  That question is often something like, “when man sinned, did God’s plan somehow go wrong?”  Or maybe we could put......


Crucifixion in Antiquity

Crucifixion in Antiquity

The practice of crucifixion is known from as early as the 5th century in Greece.  Herodotus mentions the crucifixion of a captured Persian general at the hands of the Athenians in 479 BC. Numerous other historical examples are known, including the following: Alexander the Great crucified 2,000 survivors of his siege of Tyre. Alexander Jannaeus, king of Judea from 103 to 76 BC, crucified 800 rebels, said to be Pharisees, in the middle of Jerusalem. In Hannibal’s day, crucifixion was an established mode of execution which could even be imposed on generals......


Battling City to City in Esther

Battling City to City in Esther

Xerxes, the king of the Persian Empire in the days of Esther, granted the Jews the right to defend themselves from their attackers on the 13th day of Adar, 473 BC. Esther 9:16 indicates that on that day the Jews killed “75,000 of those who hated them.” How large was this number to Xerxes? One way to evaluate it would be to compare it to some of the battles that the Persian army fought in those days. Here are a few examples: Battle of Thermopylae, Aug 480 BC – about 20,000 Persians......


Two Days Fighting in Susa

Two Days Fighting in Susa

Purim, a celebration of the victory of the Jews over their enemies in the days of Esther, is celebrated for two days. In 2019, Purim was March 21 and Shushan Purim was March 22. The book of Esther explains that, although the Jewish populations were victorious throughout the land on Adar 13, in the capital city of Susa the fighting was extended an extra day (Esth 9:17-19). Why did the fighting in Susa take an extra day? There are two observations that may be helpful in answering this question. The first is......


How Far to Elephantine?

When Mordecai created a new edict allowing the Jews of the Persian empire to defend themselves from their attackers (Esther 8:11-12), he needed to send it throughout the kingdom. In fact, it went to the Jewish communities as well as to all the various governors throughout the empire, “from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces” (Esth 8:9). Once copies of the new edict were made, how far would it need to be taken, and how long would it take to get it to the farthest reaches of the  empire? After Nebuchadnezzar and the......