Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology


1653-1654 James Papandrea – A Week in the Life of Rome

Book Cover, a Week in the Life of Rome.

Book Cover, a Week in the Life of Rome.

James Papandrea is the author of the 4th book in this series published by InterVarsity Press, historical fiction by biblical scholars that doesn’t scrimp on the story line but adds explanatory details from history and archaeology.

Papandrea takes us to the middle of the first century when the Christian church was just getting started in Rome, long before the Apostle Paul made it to Rome. John Mark, the writer of Mark’s Gospel, is one of the central characters. Other personalities known from the Bible are also featured.

As we have done with other books in this series, we are giving our copy to a listener. Send an email to radioscribe and let us know you are listening, and what you like about The Book & The Spade. We would like to hear from more listeners! And one listener will get a copy of this book.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Hayim Otsarya, the winner of our contest!




1652 John DeLancey – From Dan to Beersheva

The altar at the high place of Tel Dan

The altar replica at the high place of Tel Dan

The traditional description of all of Israel is, “From Dan to Beersheva.” And on our Israel tour with John DeLancey last March, we visited both locations.

Tel Dan is located in northern Israel, next to one of the sources of the Jordan River, and has been excavated for decades with some intriguing results. In particular, we visited the high place at Dan, where Jeroboam, king of Israel, erected a golden calf for his people to worship, so they wouldn’t go to the temple in Jerusalem, in the kingdom of Judah.

At Tel Beersheva, in the Negev, we gathered at the gate of the city and reviewed the story of Abraham and the well of dispute recorded in Genesis 21.

1651 John DeLancey – From Qeiyafa to Lachish

Khirbet Qeiyafa

Khirbet Qeiyafa

The archaeological sites of Khirbet Qeiyafa and Tel Lachish give us biblical connections to the reign of King David and to the conquests of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. We visited both sites during the same day during our 2018 Archaeology Adventure Study Tour and we also have them on our itinerary for our March 2020 tour.

Khirbet Qeiyafa overlooks the Elah Valley, where David met Goliath. This unusual city may or may not be mentioned in the Bible, depending on the clues you read. Lachish is mentioned prominently, it was the most important city in Judea outside of Jerusalem.


1650 John DeLancey – A Visit to Tel Gezer

Rev. Dr. John DeLancey

Rev. Dr. John DeLancey

On our Israel Adventure Study Tours we visit many of the archaeological sites that we talk about on this program, sites that other tours often do not include. This week, we go back to the first archaeological site we visited on our 2018 tour last May, Tel Gezer.

John DeLancey, my co-leader, was a volunteer at the Bronze Age Gate excavation, which was digging the ancient Canaanite water system among other things. On this program, John orients us to the site and gives us his personal insights on the archaeology that has taken place at Tel Gezer, one of the most important archaeological sites in Israel.

We will be visiting Tel Gezer again, and a lot of additional archaeological sites, during our 2020 Israel Adventure Study Tour next March and we invite you to join us.

1649 Clyde Billington – Negev Desert Finds and King of Hebron Inscription

Cave of the Patriarchs at Hebron

Tomb of the Patriarchs at Hebron

A faint drawing of Jesus Christ was discovered on the wall of a Byzantine church at Shivta in the Negev desert. And an inscription has been found mentioning the “king of Hebron.” Is there any other king of Hebron besides David?

These stories and more from the news digest of the latest issue of ARTIFAX, our quarterly news magazine on biblical archaeology are shared on this program, and discussed with professor Clyde Billington, co-editor of ARTIFAX.


1648 Clyde Billington – Yahweh Worshipped at Tel Dan

The altar at the high place of Tel Dan

The altar replica at the high place of Tel Dan

King Jeroboam I of Israel erected golden calf statues at Dan and at Bethel, saying, “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (I Kings 12:28) The idols were meant to keep people from going to Jerusalem to worship in the temple. But who were the people worshiping when they came to Dan and Bethel?

Apparently Yahweh and not pagan Canaanite gods, judging by a new analysis of archaeological finds from years of excavations at Tel Dan.

Before that discussion with my colleague, professor Clyde Billington, we reviewed another news item from the news digests of the latest issue of ARTIFAX, our quarterly biblical archaeology magazine: the excavations at Tel Keisan, near Acre, the Persian military base from which King Cambyses II launched an attack on Egypt in 525 BC.

Also discussed in this program, the discovery of a tiny beka stone, used for weighing the half-shekel temple tax that was assessed on each Jewish male.

1647 Clyde Billington – Beit Shemesh & Kiriat Yearim

Tel Beit Shemesh on the cover of ARTIFAX magazine.

Tel Beit Shemesh on the cover of ARTIFAX magazine.

Two stories that are linked in the Ark of the Covenant tradition are reported in the news digest of the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine. After the ark was captured by the Philistines at the battle of Aphek, it was returned to the Israelites at Beit Shemesh in a cart pulled by two cows. (I Samuel 6:12) The men of Beit Shemesh didn’t know what to do with the ark, so they sent it to Kiriath Yearim.

Both Beit Shemesh and Kiriath Yearim are under excavation at the present time. Beit Shemesh is yielding new information about the restoration of Judean cities after destruction by Sennacherib at the beginning of the 6th century BC. And Kiriath Yearim has an artificial mountain top, much like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

These stories and the discoveries from Canaanite tombs excavated at Tel Megiddo are discussed in this week’s program.