Idle thoughts while in flight

4 03 2013

We have just taken off from Detroit airport (but I cannot post his until after we land) and I thought that I would share some of the “revelations” that I experienced from my research in preparation for our trip to the Holy Land.

One of the my discoveries that really surprised me was what the typical house in Galilee looked like at the time of Christ. I am sure that I never really gave it much thought, but when the scriptures spoke of the home of Peter, or the home of Mary and Martha, or the home of whoever, I always pictured a hut, probably like you would see in medieval Europe. I don’t know why I jumped to the conclusion, but I know that I did. Now however, I have a whole new picture of the houses that are discussed in the New Testament scriptures and when we get to see the house of Peter, in Capernum, I will expect to see something entirely different.

It is my understanding that instead of the houses being built like our house, with an outward orientation, the houses in Galilee (in the Mediterranean region), were built with an internal orientation. That is to say, they were built facing inward, around an internal courtyard. Apparently even the most humble of homes had this design.

When we get to see the house of Peter, at Capernum, I will hopefully be able to take some pictures in order to better show you what I mean. But this changes my perspective of a number of Biblical events, like say when the men lowered the cripple down, through the roof, in order for Jesus to heal him.

Another discovery that surprised me had to do with rock cut tombs. When I have pictured Jesus’s remains being put to rest in a rock cut tomb, I have always pictured him being laid out on a rock cut bench. Now I find myself wondering about that picture.

It is my understanding that back in what was called the “First Temple Period” (about 960 to 586 BC) the rock cut tombs were cut that way. However, when the Babylonians came and destroyed Jerusalem, in 586 BC, rock cut tombs were no longer cut (because all of the wealthy Jews had been hauled off into exile in Babylon). It wasn’t until the Maccabee rebellion, and the beginning of the Hasmonean dynasty (the “Second Temple Period”) that the practice of using rock cut tombs was revived. However, it was no longer the practice to include rock cut benches, but instead the style was to include rock cut niches. So instead of the bodily remains being laid out on an open bench (I always pictured the bench parallel to the wall of the tomb), the remains where placed in a niche, in the wall of the tomb, that was perpendicular to the wall.

This was the style of rock cut tombs that were in use at the time of the death of Jesus, or at least that is my understanding. I am most anxious to get to Jerusalem so that I can actually see some of these rock cut tombs for myself.

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