Tag Archives: Bible

The Prodigal Son

Jerash (known in the Jesus’ time as Gerasa) – One of the Greco-Roman cities of the Decapolis (meaning “ten-cities,” but in Jesus’ day there were some 18 cities). In Jesus’ day Gerasa was approximately the same population as Jerusalem. But apart from the size and grandeur of the Jerusalem Temple, Gerasa was more impressive architecturally. Josephus tells us that Scythopolis (Beth-Shean) was the largest city of the Decapolis, and was less than 25 miles from Nazareth. In Jesus’ day, the contrast between Galilean towns, constructed of black basalt, homes having roofs of mud and sticks, would have been a striking contrast to the beauty and allure of the nearby Greco-Roman cities, with their theatres, athletic arenas, running water, indoor toilets, bathhouses, gymnasiums, beautiful streets, public buildings, and fleshly pleasures. Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son was a common problem for Israelite families, where Jewish boys were seduced away from Judaism and their families by the majesty and temptations that the pagan world offered. To illustrate this – when Jerusalem fell to the Roman legions and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, it was a Jew who was second in command under Titus, Tiberius Julius Alexander, the Alexandrian Jew, was the embodiment of a Jewish prodigal.Jerash

Indiana Jones’ Petra

For all you Indiana Jones fans – here is a picture of Petra that figure so prominently in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In Jesus’ day, Petra was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom, a rock city roughly the same size as Jerusalem (50,000). We climbed to mountain to see the “High Place” above Petra, where they sacrificed to Molech. Herod Antipas was married to the Nabatean king’s (Aretas IV- 9BC – 40AD) daughter, Phasaelis. Herod divorced her to married his brother’s wife, Herodias the mother of Salome. When Phasaelis learned that Antipas intended to divorce her, she fled to her father, King Aretas. Eventually Aretas went to war against Herod and defeated him. When John the Baptist denounced Herod for divorcing Phasaelis and marrying Herodias, this was not merely a moral statement, but worsened the political crisis Herod was facing because of his divorce and remarriage, leading to John’s imprisonment and execution.

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