Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1801 Reflections on Israel Travel


2022 tour group at Caesarea theater

At the end of every one of our programs, we invite our listeners back next time for more “backgrounders on the Bible through biblical archaeology.” Connecting with the biblical foundation of our faith is our top priority. Since almost the very beginning of this program, we’ve also been offering our listeners the opportunity to go to Israel and personally connect with more of the biblical world.

In fact we have just returned from our 2022 tour to Israel and Jordan, which was originally scheduled two years ago. Even though archaeology is at the center of our tours, there’s so much more that people experience. On this week’s program, some reflections from some of the participants in our most recent Book & The Spade holyland tour.

1800 John DeLancey-In the Footsteps of Paul in Greece, Turkey and Italy

John DeLancey

John DeLancey

People are traveling again and we are once again offering our listeners “backgrounders on the Bible” through in-person visits to the archaeological sites we talk about on our radio program.

This October, we are teaming up with tour co-leader John DeLancey once again, offering a tour that follows the footsteps of Paul from Macedonia to Athens. This tour includes a 3-day Greek Isles cruise with a visit to Ephesus, on the western coast of Turkey. It also includes an optional extension to Pompeii and Rome, traveling along the Appian Way.

1798-1799 Kyle Keimer – Ziklag & Jerubbaal @ Khirbet Arai


Kyle Keimer

One of the top archaeological discoveries announced in 2021 was the Jerubbaal inscription found at Khirbet Arai, a site near Lachish in southern Israel. Kyle Keimer is co-director of that excavation and acquaints us with this important discovery and this site.

Khirbet Arai has important occupation levels, back around 3,000 years ago, that are not found at other sites in the area, including Lachish. Jerubbaal was a nickname given to Gideon in the book of Judges, and the fact that this discovery dates to that same time period is significant, even if it’s not actually that Gideon.

Khirbet Arai has also been suggested as the site of Ziklag, an important city for the story of David, before he bacame King of Israel and Judah.

Kyle Keimer works with our travel partner John DeLancey, of Biblical Israel Ministries and Tours,
to offer additional online teaching about the land of the Bible.

1796-1797 Scott Stripling – Mt. Ebal Curse Tablet


Mt. Ebal Curse Tablet

We first mentioned this discovery last year in our Wet Sifting documentary. Further details were announced just weeks ago and now we have the background on what may turn out to be the most important biblical archaeology discovery of the decade.

This amazing item is a small one inch square lead document, a curse tablet which is known as a defixio. This discovery, made in 2019 and recently announced, has been making headlines around the world.

Scott Stripling, the director of the Archaeological Studies Institute of the Bible Seminary in Katy, Texas, and director of excavations for Associates for Biblical Research, is the leader of the salvage excavation on the dump piles of Adam Zertal’s 1980s excavation of an altar on Mt. Ebal. In this 2-part interview he explains why he believes this is such an important development in biblical studies.

1782 The Wet Sifting Revolution Documentary

FL33ZTLHMBAXRLCQMVGMJMMA5Y200We were pleased to find out that last year’s documentary report on wet sifting, seals and seal impressions took the top award in the small market hard feature category of the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association annual contest. It’s called the Sevareid Awards. So we’re going to rerun the report again this week.

1380-1382 Steve Mason – Josephus

Steve Mason, a professor of history at York University in Toronto, gave us some insights into the ancient historian Josephus, in this August, 2000 interview from our archives. Josephus was a prolific writer and his writings offer many insights into the world of first century Judaism. In this 3-part conversation, some new insights into Josephus.

1794-1795 Amanda Borschel-Dan and Andrew Lawler – Under Jerusalem


Andrew Lawler

Andrew Lawler’s new book, UNDER JERUSALEM – The Buried History of Israel’s Most Contested City, has been referenced in a number of articles that Lawler has written for a variety of magazines in the last few months. I haven’t read the book yet but I loved the articles and I loved the interview that Amanda Borschel-Dan did on the Times of Israel podcast, Times Will Tell.

So I got permission to excerpt the interview on my program and I think you will enjoy the interview as much as I did. Jerusalem has a unique biblical and non-biblical history, and some unique characters who have gone about trying to uncover that history, some of whom we have featured on this program.

1793 Clyde Billington – Timna and Tents plus the New Crucified Man

Erez Ben YosefThe archaeology at the Copper Mines at Timna has upended a number of biblical archaeology theories and the latest development may be quite revolutionary. Archaeologist Erez Ben Yosef of Tel Aviv University has observed that there were large numbers of laborers at work in the mines, well-fed and presumably well-treated, but little evidence of buildings to house them. The conclusion, then, is that they lived in tents. And the fact that much larger populations of citizens, say 3,000 years ago, lived in tents rather than houses has significant ramifications for how archaeologists interpret the sites they are studying.

Also on this week’s program, a discussion of another crucified man discovered in England. Like the first one, found in Israel many decades ago, this one also had a nail stuck in his heel bone. Both of these stories are featured in the news digests of ARTIFAX, our quarterly biblical archaeology newsmagazine.

1792 Clyde Billington – Saul’s Palace/Lachish Siege Ramp

Site of Saul's Palace in Givat Shaul

Site of Saul’s Palace in Givat Shaul

I had no idea that the ruins of Saul’s palace might be located on a hilltop in western Jerusalem. But one of the stories in the winter issue of ARTIFAX included a call to excavate that site and find out what’s really there. That was one of the item’s we discussed in this week’s program. (And we’ll have more on this story in the next issue of ARTIFAX-you might want to consider subscribing to our biblical archaeology newsmagazine.)

Also on this week’s program, we report on new research into the construction of the siege ramp used by Assyrian King Sennacherib to conquer Lachish. The archaeological findings match the depiction of the siege in reliefs excavated from Sennacherib’s palace in the 19th century.

We also report on the excavation of St. Hilarion’s monastery in Gaza. Yes, in Gaza.

1791 Clyde Billington – Treasures from the Bottom of the Sea


The cover of ARTIFAX magazine

On the cover of the just-released winter issue of ARTIFAX, our biblical archaeology newsmagazine, are photos of some of the treasures recovered recently from two shipwrecks off the shore of Caesarea Maritima. There were bronze and silver coins, rings and gemstones, and tools of a scribe.

On this week’s program, professor Clyde Billington and I discuss these treasures from shipwrecks that came from two different eras: the Roman period (250-300 AD) and the Mamluk period (1300 AD).

One of the most amazing items is a gold ring with an engraved gemstone picturing the Good Shepherd, an iconic Christian image. No doubt it belonged to a wealthy individual or a leader in the early church.

Other news digest items discussed on this program included the discovered of a second synagogue at Magdala, and a new exhibit at the nearby kibbutz Ginnosar Yigael Allon museum.