Matthew 28 – The Resurrection of Jesus & The Soldiers Guarding Jesus’ Tomb

This is the last chapter of the Book of Matthews.  Tomorrow we’ll look at…

Matthew 28
The Resurrection of Jesus

Entrance to the Garden Tomb of Jesus. The photographer wrote, “The so-called ‘Garden Tomb’. This tomb was first proposed in the 19th century as the site of Jesus’ burial, in part as an alternative to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Unfortunately, it is very doubtful that this was actually Jesus’ tomb. Not only was there no ancient tradition associated with this location, but the tomb is not of the correct age. It was originally an ancient Israelite tomb and seems to have gone out of use during the time of Jesus. Hence it was not re-shaped in the distinct ‘niche’ or ‘kokkhim’ pattern of Second Temple Jewish burials. The tomb was then only re-used in the Byzantine period. Nevertheless, a dedicated Protestant group maintains a beautiful garden around the tomb and many (Protestants in particular) find the site more condusive to prayerful reflection than the busy and ornate Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”
Entrance to the Garden Tomb of Jesus?
The photographer wrote, “The so-called ‘Garden Tomb’.

This tomb was first proposed in the 19th century as the site of Jesus’ burial, in part as an alternative to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Unfortunately, it is very doubtful that this was actually Jesus’ tomb.

Not only was there no ancient tradition associated with this location, but the tomb is not of the correct age.

It was originally an ancient Israelite tomb and seems to have gone out of use during the time of Jesus.

Hence it was not re-shaped in the distinct ‘niche’ or ‘kokkhim’ pattern of Second Temple Jewish burials.

The tomb was then only re-used in the Byzantine period.

Nevertheless, a dedicated Protestant group maintains a beautiful garden around the tomb and many (Protestants in particular) find the site more condusive to prayerful reflection than the busy and ornate Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”

1 In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.

“First day of the week” – Sunday began by Jewish time at sundown on Saturday.  Spices could then be bought and they were ready to set out early the next day.  When the women started out, it was dark, and by the time they arrived at the tomb it was still early dawn.

“The other Mary” – the wife of Clopas.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

“A great earthquake” – only Matthew mentioned this earthquake and the one at Jesus’s death.  It is also clear from the parallel accounts that the events of vv. 2-4 occurred before the women actually arrived at the tomb.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

The Holy Face of Jesus is based off of the Shroud of Turin.
The Holy Face of Jesus is based off of the Shroud of Turin.

11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

28:11-15 – only Mathew tells of the posting of the guard and he follows up by telling of their report.

12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

Tomb of the Virgin Mary, Jerusalem.
Tomb of the Virgin Mary, Jerusalem.

“Eleven” – remember Judas had committed suicide on 27:5.

17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

“Baptizing” – a sign of their union with and commitment to Christ, that is all baptism means.  It won’t save you, nor do you need to be baptized to be saved.

The photographer wrote, “The Baptism Site on the Jordan side of the Jordan River is one of the most important recent discoveries in biblical archaeology. Excavations only began here in 1996, following Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel in 1994, but have already uncovered more than 20 churches, caves and baptismal pools dating from the Roman and Byzantine periods. Although the identification is not absolutely certain, archaeology has shown that the area known as Wadi Kharrar has long been believed to be the biblical Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, where John the Baptist lived and Jesus was baptized. This area is also associated with the ascension of the Prophet Elijah into heaven.”
The photographer wrote, “The Baptism Site on the Jordan side of the Jordan River is one of the most important recent discoveries in biblical archaeology.

Excavations only began here in 1996, following Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel in 1994, but have already uncovered more than 20 churches, caves and baptismal pools dating from the Roman and Byzantine periods.

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus is not dead:

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and I have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev 1:18).

The Soldiers
Guarding Jesus’ Tomb

Tomb of Jesus Several places have been proposed as the tomb of Jesus, the place where Jesus Christ was buried: * Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, accepted by many Christians and scholars as built on ground on which Jesus was crucified and buried * Garden Tomb, discovered in the 19th century outside of the old city of Jerusalem, considered a possible site of Jesus's tomb by many Protestant scholars and pilgrims * Roza Bal in Srinagar, India, a shrine venerated by locals and Ahmadiyya Muslims as the grave of a sage named Yuz Asaf, or "son of Joseph" * Talpiot Tomb, rock-cut tomb in the East Talpiot neighborhood, five kilometers south of the Old City in East Jerusalem * Tomb of Jesus in Shingō, Japan, where, according to legend, Jesus died, aged 106, after he escaped the crucifixion in Jerusalem
Tomb of Jesus
Several places have been proposed as the tomb of Jesus, the place where Jesus Christ was buried:
* Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, accepted by many Christians and scholars as built on ground on which Jesus was crucified and buried

* Garden Tomb, discovered in the 19th century outside of the old city of Jerusalem, considered a possible site of Jesus’s tomb by many Protestant scholars and pilgrims
* Roza Bal in Srinagar, India, a shrine venerated by locals and Ahmadiyya Muslims as the grave of a sage named Yuz Asaf, or “son of Joseph”

* Talpiot Tomb, rock-cut tomb in the East Talpiot neighborhood, five kilometers south of the Old City in East Jerusalem

* Tomb of Jesus in Shingō, Japan, where, according to legend, Jesus died, aged 106, after he escaped the crucifixion in Jerusalem

Only Matthew mentions that soldiers guarded the tomb of Jesus. Mt 27:62-66 records that the chief priests and Pharisees recalled Jesus’ own prediction that he would rise again, and they cited their fear that the disciples might steal his body to support their request for an authorized guard.

Pilate’s reply in 27:65 literally means “You have a guard,” and on this basis some have surmised that the guard in question was the temple guard under the high priest’s own jurisdiction.

However, the language of 28:14 precludes this possibility and requires a Roman guard under Pilate’s direct control. Moreover, it is unclear why the chief priests and Pharisees would have requested permission for a guard that they themselves could have directed.

The tomb of Jesus was already sealed by a large stone, which was then probably affixed with an official seal that, if broken, would have attested to the opening of the tomb.

Matthew 28:11-15 records that some of the guards reported the things they had seen and were bribed into circulating a false report about their own negligence and the theft of Jesus’ body. The ensuing rumor is assumed in Jn 20:2,15 and appears later in Justin Martyr’s 2nd century Dialogue With Trypho (108:2).

The Roman concern for safeguarding tombs is reflected in an imperial inscription bearing the title Diatagma Kaisaros, acquired at Nazareth during the 19th century.

The marble slab containing 21 lines of Greek text, dates from between 50 B.C. and 50 A.D. The text attests to the sanctity of tombs and threatens with capital punishment any who would defile a tomb by removing the body.

Gethsemane “is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem most famous as the place where, according to the gospels, Jesus and his disciples are said to have prayed the night. The photographer asked, “2,000 years old olive tree… is it possible?”
Gethsemane “is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem most famous as the place where, according to the gospels, Jesus and his disciples are said to have prayed the night.

The photographer asked, “2,000 years old olive tree… is it possible?”

Scholars have considered the possibility that, in light of the disturbances between Jesus and early Christians over what happened to the body of Jesus, the Diatagma Kaisaros may reflect an early Roman response.

Although the present state of research does not allow for absolute certainty, the presence of this authentic decree lends historical credibility to Matthew’s account.

And if you walk with Him He will be there with you always.

Tomorrow we’ll start with the Book of Mark.

Matthew 27 – The Death of Judas Iscariot & The Location of Jesus’ Tomb

I wonder how many people would like to see Jesus’ tomb?  I know I would.  I would like to see anything that pertained to Him.

It’s okay to admire a person for the deeds that they have done, but don’t admire the person as though they are something.

For example (people you may admire for what they have done), Johnny Cash, General George Patton, President Thomas Jefferson, Joan of Arch, Anne Frank, Ingrid Bergman, etc.

Or it’s okay to admire Moses, the Prophet Elijah or John the Baptist because we know enough of what they did.  But don’t worship anyone, and that includes Jesus’ mother Mary or Mary Magdalene. 

Oh sure, Mary gave birth to Jesus, but that isn’t something she controlled and all Mary Magdalene did was be present when Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead.  Who wouldn’t want to be there?

Now, if you admire people like Warren Beatty, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, that would be the same as admiring Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, President Bush and his clan or the Obamas.

There’s nothing they have done worth admiring so there you would be admiring the person which is the same as worshiping them and that is idolatry.  That would be the same as what the devil said to Jesus:

“And saith unto him, All these things will I gie thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me (Matt 4:9).

As I had said, I would love to see Jesus’ tomb, where He lived, everything about Him.  But why?  I don’t know, that’s just human nature, that’s the way You made us.  We like to see great things and there is nothing greater, more fantastic than Your Son.

Tomorrow we’re going take a look at…

Matthew 27
The Death of Judas Iscariot

1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:

Pontius Pilatus known in the English-speaking world as Pontius Pilate was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from 26–36 A.D.

He is best known as the judge at the trial of Jesus and the man who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus. As prefect, he served under Emperor Tiberius.

“When the morning was come” – the Sanhedrin couldn’t have a legal session at night, so at daybreak a special meeting was held to make the death sentence (26:66) official.

2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.

“Delivered him to Pontius Pilate” – the Sanhedrin had been deprived by the Roman government of the right to carry out capital punishment, except in the case of a foreigner who invaded the sacred precincts of the temple.  So Jesus had to be handed over to Pilate for execution. 

3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.

5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.

Jer 7:31-34 and Jer 19:1-15 are talking about the Valley of Hinnom, which is the same place as the potter’s field, which is also where Judas was thrown.

Basically the 30 pieces purchased the field, but also purchased the curse on that land. Judas was a partial fulfillment of that curse (the firstfruit) where 70 A.D. was its fulfillment.

Just so you know the Zech reference says the money was to go to the potter in the house of the Lord (i.e. the person in charge of making ceremonial pottery for the temple). All misshapen pottery was to be thrown out as unclean and broken. It was to be thrown into the Valley of Hinnom.

7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.

8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.

“The field of blood” – cf. “the valley of slaughter” in Jer 19:6.

9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.

11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.

13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?

14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly.

15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.

16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.

Potter’s field today in Jerusalem

“Barabbas” – he had rebelled against the Roman’s so he would have been a folk hero among the Jews.

17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

This incident is eerie and brings us back to the 15th verse of yesterday’s discussion – did Judas betrayed Jesus or was he following orders.

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

In Aramaic, the language which most Jews spoke in the early first century, hagel dema means “field of blood.” This picture depicts the Greek-Orthodox monastery of St. Onophrius and the remains of a building called Akeldama (Aceldama), which was used as a burial place for foreigners (and non-Jews) until the early part of the nineteenth century.

Some scholars believe this is the “potter’s field” which the authorities purchased with the “blood money” Judas gave back after he was filled with remorse for betraying Jesus.

23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

“Scourged” – Roman floggings were so brutal that sometimes the victim died before crucifixion – the movie Passion of Christ is a good example of that.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.

“the common hall” – the  praetorium was the governor’s official residence in Jerusalem.

28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.

Romans spent a lot of me outdoors, so they needed apparel that protected them from the elements. To this end, they wore a variety of capes, cloaks, and ponchos. It is hard to determine which is which from a monochrome relief sculpture or even from a colorful mosaic, since they were so similar.

“Scarlet robe’ – the outer cloak of a Roman soldier.

29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

“Cyrene” – a city in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea about 700 miles west of Jerusalem.

33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,

“Golgotha” – it may have been a small hill (though the Gospels say nothing of a hill) that looked like a skull, or it may have been so named because of the many executions that took place there.

34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

“Mingled with gall” – tradition says that the women of Jerusalem customarily furnished this pain-killing narcotic to prisoners who were crucified.  Jesus refused to drink it because He wanted to be fully conscious until His death.

Cyrene is an ancient Greek city founded in 630 B.C. by Battus I. It is present day Shahhat, Libya and it is also the important and oldest among the other five Greek cities of this region. The Cyrene city is also the home for Cyrenaics, a philosophy school founded by Aristippus around 3rd century B.C.

Cyrene was founded in the year 630 and it became of the one of the major cities in ancient Libya. The city prospered during the reign of Emperor Battus IV and in 460 B.C. the city became a Republic.

Around 96 BC the Romans took control over the city and served as the main state for the Romans for about 18 years.

The city also prospered for some years but in the year 115 A.D. a major part of the city was destroyed as a part of Jewish revolt. The city again prospered during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, but in the 365 AD an earthquake struck the city destroying temples and buildings.

35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

36 And sitting down they watched him there;

37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

“Two thieves” – according to Roman law, robbery was not a capital offense. 

39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,

42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.

44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

Golgotha – The hill just above Jeremiah’s Grotto, is possibly the true site of Calvary (Calvary is the English-language name for Golgotha). Jesus was crucified outside the city gate (Hebrews 13:12). Golgotha overlooks the ancient main road that led to Jericho and Damascus in New Testament times.

“From the sixth hour…unto the ninth hour” – from noon until 3:00 p.m.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

“Eli, Eli, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” – a mixture of Aramaic and Hebrew, one of the languages commonly spoken in the Holy Land in Jesus’ time.  They reveal how deeply Jesus felt His abandonment by God as He bore the sins of mankind.

For Jesus to quote the initial verse of Psalm 22 was to declare its fulfillment in His own life.

47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.

48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

The bystanders mistook the  first words of Jesus’ cry (“Eloi, Eloi”) to be a cry for Elijah.  It was commonly believed that Elijah would come in times of critical need to protect the innocent and rescue the righteous  (Mk 15:36).

50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

“Vail” – the inner curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place.  The tearing of the curtain signified Christ’s making it possible for believers to go directly into God’s presence (see Heb 9L1-14, 10:14-22).

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

27:52-53 – an incident found only in Matthew’s Gospel.  These rose after Christ did.  Jesus was “the first fruits of them that slept” (1 Cor 15:20).  They were a witness to Christ’s victory over death.

53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

“Son of God” – it cannot be determined whether the centurion made a fully Christian confession, or was only acknowledging that, since the gods had so obviously acted to vindicate this judicial victim, Jesus must be one especially favored by them (the Greek can also be translated “a son”).

But in view of the ridicule voiced by “those passing by” (vv. 39-40), it seems probably that Matthew intended the former. 

55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:

56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:

58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,

Jesus cleansed Mary Magdalene of “seven demons” (Mk 16:9; Lk 8:2), sometimes interpreted as referring to complex illnesses. But still, she was nothing more than a sinner like everybody else.

Of course, the Catholics have put her on a pedestal because she was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. And therefore they think she is the second-most important woman in the New Testament.

60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.

61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulcher.

62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

“The next day, that followed the day of the preparation” – Saturday, the Sabbath.  Friday was the preparation day for the Sabbath (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday).

63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

64 Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

“The last error shall be worse than

the first” – the first would be that Jesus was the Messiah, the second that he had risen as the Son of God.

65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

66 So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

The Location of Jesus’ Tomb

According to the New Testament, Jesus was buried in a new tomb hewn out of rock in a garden near the crucifixion site just outside the city.  In addition, the entrance was low and sealed with a stone and on the right side it was possible to sit where the body of Jesus had lain.

The Garden Tomb located in Jerusalem, outside the city walls and close to the Damascus Gate, is a rock-cut tomb which was unearthed in 1867 and has subsequently been considered by some Christians to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.

The Garden Tomb is adjacent to a rocky escarpment which since the mid-nineteenth century has been proposed by some scholars to be Golgotha (it is also known as Skull Hill and Gordon’s Calvary).

In contradistinction to this modern identification the traditional site where the death and resurrection of Christ are believed to have occurred has been the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at least since the fourth century. Since 1894 the Garden Tomb and its surrounding gardens have been maintained as a place of Christian worship and reflection by a Christian non-denominational charitable trust based in the United Kingdom named The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association

Based upon the Biblical description and upon other known 1st century tombs, the tomb of Jesus can be reconstructed as having had a small forecourt, a low entry passage and a burial chamber with benches, or “couches,” on three sides for the placement of the deceased.

There are two main contenders for the location of Jesus’ tomb in the Old City of Jerusalem: the Garden Tomb, 275 yards north of the Damascus Gate, and the Church the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter. 

The Garden Tomb, however, has no authentic ancient tradition associated with it. It was suggested as the site of Jesus’ burial after the renowned British military hero Charles Gordon, while visiting Jerusalem in 1883, suggested that Calvary would have been located on a nearby hill.

His identification was based a fanciful interpretation of ancient Jerusalem as being in the shape of a skeleton, with the skull (i.e., Golgotha) positioned at a hill north of the Damascus Gate. This led to the identification of a tomb on the western side of the hill as Jesus’ burial place, once referred to as Gordon’s Tomb.

Modern investigations of the Garden Tomb and others in the vicinity, however, indicate that they were part of a cemetery dating to the divided monarchy period rather than to the 1st  century A.D.

The Christian quarter in the north-west section of the Old City comprises some 4,900 people. Most of the Christian institutions are clustered around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

This church is built over the remains of Golgatha where Christ was crucified and the tomb where he was buried and rose.The first Christian community held liturgical clebrations here until 66 AD. The emperor Hadrian in 135 built a pagan shrine over the spot. Constantine built a hugh Church of the Resurrection in the 300s. This is the most sacred place for Christians in Jerusalem.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher location, on the other hand, has a tradition going to early Christian times. When the Roman emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem in 130/131 A.D., he constructed a temple to Jupiter and Venus over the site of the present Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

In 325 A.D. Constantine ordered the removal of Hadrian’s temple. Local Christian tradition had claimed this to be the site of Jesus’ tomb, and, remarkably, when Hadrian’s temple was cleared away, a tomb area was indeed discovered beneath it.

Constantine had a church constructed on the site and built a small structure, or edicule, within the building to enclose the tomb itself. The present Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the continuation of Constantine’s church.

In favor of the authenticity of this location is the fact that there was a continuous Christian presence in Jerusalem from Jesus’ death until Constantine uncovered the tomb.

This Christian community doubtless would have venerated the site of Jesus’ burial, preserving the memory of the location of his tomb. Also, the site of the church was an old quarry during the time of Jesus, although at least part of it had been made into a garden (Jn 19:41).

The fact that the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher had been a quarry implies that it was outside the walls of the city (it is today inside the Old City). This agrees with the fact that Jesus was crucified outside the walls.

The Garden Tomb (also known as Gordon’s Calvary), located in Jerusalem, outside the city walls and close to the Damascus Gate, is a rock-cut tomb considered by some to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus, and to be adjacent to Golgotha, in contradistinction to the traditional site for these—the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

There is no mention of the Garden Tomb as the place of Jesus’ burial before the 19th century.

Within this area at least four tombs cut into the western rock face have been discovered, only one of which corresponds to the type in which Jesus was buried.

The church was destroyed in 614 and rebuilt in 626.The edicule (a small shrine) was destroyed in 1009 by the Egyptian caliph al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah. Contemporary accounts suggest that the southern wall, the burial couch and part of the northern wall survived this destruction.

The rebuilt edicule has suffered damage and neglect over the centuries since that time, so that today it is a hodgepodge of reconstructions and repairs. Although absolute certainty is impossible, the evidence points to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as being the actual site of Jesus’ tomb.

…the soldiers that guarded Jesus’ tomb.

Matthew 26 – The Plot to Kill Jesus & The Last Supper and the Passover

I have said before that to truly know who Jesus is we have to read the Old Testament because the Old Testament spoke of and/or prepared things that pertained to Jesus in the New Testament. 

For example, the Passover (Ex 12), as well as His birth (Is 7:14).

Tomorrow we’ll look at the location….

Matthew 26
The Plot to Kill Jesus

The High Priest was the chief religious official of Israelite religion and of classical Judaism from the rise of the Israelite nation until the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

The high priests belonged to the Jewish priestly families that trace their paternal line back to Aaron, the first high priest and elder brother of Moses.

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,

2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,

“Caiaphas” – high priest 18-36 A.D. and the son-in-law of Annas, a former high priest who served 6-15 A.D.

4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him.

5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

“An uproar among the people” – hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims came to Jerusalem for Passover and riots were not unknown.  The religious leaders knew that many people admired Jesus.

“Bethany” – a village on the eastern slope of the mount of Olives, about two miles from Jerusalem and the final station on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

“Simon the leper” – mentioned elsewhere only in Mk 14:3, though Simon was a common Jewish name in the 1st century.  He was probably a well-known victim of leprosy who had been healed by Jesus.

6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,

Joseph Caiaphas, known simply as Caiaphas in the New Testament, was the Jewish high priest who is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus. Caiaphas is also said to have been involved in the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus.

From the name written on two of the ossuaries the cave seems to be the family tomb of Qafa, in Greek Caiaphas, a name known to us from the New Testament and writings of Josephus, one of whom was the high priest who presided at the trial of Jesus.

One of these ossuaries is decorated beautifully in a rare and intricate pattern of two circles, each made up of six whorl rosettes, bordered by a pattern of palm branches. Inside were found bones from six different people, two infants, a child between 2 and 5, a young boy between 13 and 18, an adult woman and a male of about 60.

7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

“Alabaster box” – most “alabaster” of ancient times was actually marble.

8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.

11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.

13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,

“Iscariot” – probably means “the man from Kerioth,” the town Kerioth-hezron (Josh 15:25), 12 miles south of Hebron (Jer 48:24).  The man that betrayed Jesus.

These jars come from Egypt and can be dated to the 2nd century BC. It is likely that a larger jar of type was used for the anointing.
Matthew 26:7
a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
Mark 14:3
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Luke 7:37
When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume.

15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

“Thirty pieces of silver” – equivalent to 120 denarii.  Laborers customarily received one denarius for a day’s work.  Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver.

It is said that Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver.  Yet, some say Judas did what he did at Jesus request.  I am unable to agree or disagree because God does uncanny/unbelieveable things and His crucifixion was prophesied centuries and centuries before He was born:

“And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD” (Zech 11:12-13).

“He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips” (Ps 22:16-18).

Of course, the Jews say Jesus was never crucified and try and use Psalm 91 to prove their evil lie or some of them through their ignorance. They say it because if Jesus would not have been killed and resurrected then we could not be saved.  They want to hold to their ridiculous idea that the Messiah has not yet come.

Ancient Village of Kerioth
Home of Judas Iscariot

Of course, Jesus told us that these Jews are of the devil (Jn 8:44; Rev 2:9, 3:9).

16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?

“The first day of the feast of unleavened bread” – the 14th of Nisan (March-April), it was also called the preparation of the Passover.  The Passover meal was eaten the evening of the 14th after sunset – and therefore technically on the 15th, since the Jewish day ended at sunset.

The feast of unleavened bread lasted seven days, from the 15th to the 21st of Nisan (Lev 23:5-6), but in the time of Christ the entire period, Nisan 14-21, was referred to under that name.

18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.

26:18-30 – these verses clearly indicate that Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples the night before His crucifixion.

Cave Dwellings at Kerioth

“My time” – a reference Jesus’ crucifixion.

19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.

21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.

“Dippeth his hand with me in the dish” – it was the custom – still practiced by some in the Middle East – to take a piece of bread, and dip it into a bowl of sauce (made of stewed fruit) on the table.

“Shall betray me” – in the culture, as among Arabs today, to eat with a person was tantamount to saying, “I am your friend and will not hurt you.”  This fact made Judas’s deed all the more despicable (see Ps 41:9).

24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

Ancient Wine Press at Kerioth

26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

5th/6th Century Monastery at Kerioth

34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

“Gethsemane” – the name means “oil press,” a place for squeezing the oil from olives.

37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

“Peter and the two sons of Zebedee” – the latter were James and John.  These three disciples seem to have been especially close to Jesus.  They were the only disciples to accompany Jesus into Jairus’s house and to the mount of transfiguration.

38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

The city of Hebron is located 20 mi. [33 km.] southwest of Jerusalem. Roads from the Negev, from Arad to the south and Beersheba to the southwest join here making Hebron a natural meeting point of peoples from the Negev with those of the Hill Country of Judah.

Abraham purchased a cave here and buried his wife Sarah in it. In turn Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their spouses, were buried in Hebron. Joshua captured it and gave it to Caleb. Here David was made the king of Judah and later of both Judah and Israel. His son Absalom began his revolt here.

Today Hebron is a city of about 125,000 people – all of them Moslem Arabs save for about 500 Israelis who live in, or near, the city.

40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

R41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.

44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.

“A servant of the high priest’s” – Malchus.

52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

The Gospel of Judas is a fragmented Coptic (Egyptian)-language text that portrays Judas in a far more sympathetic light than did the gospels that made it into the Bible.

In this version of the story, Judas turns Jesus over to the authorities for execution upon Jesus’ request, as part of a plan to release his spirit from his body.

53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

“Legions” – a Roman legion had 6,000 soldiers.

54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

“Scriptures be fulfilled” – in view of v. 56 and pro a reference to Zech 13:7.

55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

26:57-27:26 – for a summary of the two stages (religious and civil) of the trial of Jesus .

58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,

Top row left to right: 157 BC Roman Republic, A.D 73 Vespasian, A.D 161 Marcus Aurelius, A.D 194 Septimius Severus;
Second row left to right: A.D 199 Caracalla, A.D 200 Julia Domna, A.D 219 Elagabalus, A.D 236 Maximinus Thrax.

In the Roman currency system, the denarius (/dɪˈnɛərɪəs/ di-nair-i-əs; plural: denarii /dɪˈnɛərɪaɪ/ di-nair-i-eye) was a small silver coin first minted about 211 BC during the Second Punic War. It became the most common coin produced for circulation but was slowly debased in weight and silver content until its replacement by the double denarius, called the antoninianus, early in the 3rd century AD.

The word denarius is derived from the Latin dēnī “containing ten”, as its value was 10 asses, although in the middle of the 2nd century BC it was recalibrated so that it was now worth sixteen asses or four sestertii; it may also be the origin of the words dinar and penny.

61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?

63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

“I adjure thee” – Jesus refused to answer the question of v. 62, but when the high priest used this form He was legally obliged to reply.

64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

“Rent his clothes” – ordinarily the high priest was forbidden by law to do this (Lev 10:6, 21:10), but this was considered a highly unusual circumstance.  The high priest interpreted Jesus’ answer in v. 64 as blasphemy.

66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,

68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.

70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.

74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

The Last Supper and the Passover

Exodus 12 records the deaths of all males in Egypt, except for those born to Israelites whom God spared or “passed over” when the avenging angel saw the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. Passover is the annual festival commemorating God’s miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.

Depictions of the Last Supper in Christian art have been undertaken by artistic masters for centuries, Leonardo da Vinci’s late 1490s mural painting in Milan, Italy, being the best-known example.

Every year thousands of 1st century Jews would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate this holy day (the fourteenth day of the first month). 

The Passover celebration involved a sacrifice on behalf of each family present, followed by a sacrificial meal consisting of unleavened bread, bitter herbs and wine. The following day (the fifteenth) was the first day of the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread.

During the eight days of these two festivals no one was permitted to eat bread with leaven; this was commemorative of the need to prepare to leave Egypt in haste at the time of the exodus (there  being no time to wait for a dough to rise).

There has been a good deal of debate over whether the Last Supper of Jesus was a Passover meal.  It certainly appears that Jesus understood it to be such (Mk 14:12-16; Lk 22:15).  Arguments against it being a Passover meal include the following:

Jn 19:14 indicates that Jesus was crucified on that day of the preparation for the Passover; thus the previous evening could not have been that of the Passover.

– The Passover is traditionally eaten with one’s family, whereas the Last Supper was shared among a group of men, some of whom (such as Simon Peter) were married but who for the most part were unrelated to one another.

– The Gospel accounts of the Last Supper do not mention the lamb or the bitter herbs of the Passover, nor do they use the normal Greek word for” unleavened bread,” speaking instead of ordinary bread.

– Passover wine was consumed using individual cups, but the wine of the Last Supper was drunk from a common cup.

On the other hand, many elements associated with the Passover were present at the Last Supper:

The sacrifice of lambs played a very important role in the Jewish religious life and sacrificial system.

When John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), the Jews who heard him might have immediately thought of any one of several important sacrifices.

With the time of the Passover feast being very near, the first thought might be the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. The Passover feast was one of the main Jewish holidays and a celebration in remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.

In fact, the slaying of the Passover lamb and the applying of the blood to doorposts of the houses (Exodus 12:11-13) is a beautiful picture of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Those for whom He died are covered by His blood, protecting us from the angel of (spiritual) death.

– The meal was consumed at night, which was the time for the celebration of Passover,

– The drinking of wine was obligatory at Passover, and wine was central to the Last Supper.

– During New Testament times, Jews ordinarily sat when taking meals, but Jesus and the disciples habitually reclined while taking the Passover. At the Last Supper they reclined.

– At Passover, a dish of hors d’oeuvres preceded the breaking of bread; such a dish is mentioned in Matt 26:23.

– A hymn was sung at Passover, as in verse 30.

Some of the arguments against the Last Supper having been a Passover meal probably indicate that Jesus was transforming the Passover and creating a new institution for the new covenant:

– Jesus’ taking the meal with his disciples implies that the church is the family of God (see Mk 3:31-34).

– Jesus may well have used unleavened bread at the Last Supper, but the Evangelists may have used the ordinary word for bread to avoid the implication that it is essential that the Lord’s Supper be taken with unleavened bread.

– The lack of mention of a lamb is probably significant. Jesus was presenting himself as the sacrificial Lamb of the new covenant, and the mention of a literal lamb would have been a misleading distraction in the narrative.

…where Jesus was placed after His crucifixion.

Matthew 25 – The Parable of the Ten Virgins & The Lost Cities of Africa: The Great Zimbabwe (1 of 5)

Tomorrow weren’t going to go back into the Bible and look at…

Matthew 25
The Parable of the Ten Virgins

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

The parable of the ten virgins is a direct reference to the Rapture of the Church – the removal of all born again Christians, dead and alive from the Earth, into the clouds to meet the Lord Jesus and be taken to Heaven until the Second Coming and Armageddon.

In this parable Jesus teaches an important and startling lesson: some Christians will miss the Rapture and be left behind to experience God’s wrath unleashed on Earth during the end times Day of The Lord.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Pearly gates of heaven opening to a high altitude sunrise between two layers of clouds in a landscape orientation

“The day nor the hour” – Christ’s coming is always imminent, therefore be ready; watch.

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

“Talents” – the term was first used for a unit of wei9ght (about 75 lbs.), then for a unit of coinage.  The present-day use of “talent” to indicate an ability or gift is derived from this parable since they received 5, 2, or just 1 talent, “to  every man according to his several ability.”

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, and the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matt 7:24-25 NIV).

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

“The exchangers” – the Greek for this word comes from traveza (“table”), a word seen on the front of banks in Greece today.  Bankers sat at small tables and changed money.

“Usury” – the Greek for this word was first used in the sense of offspring, interest being the “offspring” of invested money.

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

The main point of the parable is being ready for Christ’s coming involves more than playing it safe and doing little or nothing.  It demands the king of service that produces results.

30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and brought it” (Matt 13:45-46).

25:31-46 – the two most widely accepted interpretations of this judgment are: 1. It will occur at the beginning of an earthly millennial kingdom (vv. 31, 34).  Its purpose will be to determine who will be allowed to enter the kingdom (v. 34). 

The criterion for judgment will be the king of treatment shown to the Jewish people (“these my brethren,” v. 40) during the preceding great tribulation period (vv. 35-40, 42-45).  Ultimately, how a person treats the Jewish people will reveal whether or not he is saved (vv. 41, 46).

2. The judgment referred to occurs at the great white throne at the end of the world (Rev 20:1-15).  Its purpose will be to determine who will be allowed to enter the eternal kingdom of the saved and who will be consigned to eternal punishment in hell (vv. 34, 46). 

The basis for judgment will be whether love is shown to God’s people (see 1 Jn 3:14-15).

I believe that either or both of the above suggestions could be true.  We can’t control how we feel about someone, but we have control over our behavior.  For example, there’s nothing I can do about my evil hopes for Obama and his family, but it is my choice to pray for them or not, in which I do. 

I know that my prayers aren’t that sincere, but it doesn’t matter because my sincerity of praying for them is true.  I pray for them for God, not for me.

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

“Or what woman having ten sliver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?

When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost,’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Lk 15:8-10).

“Before him shall be gathered all nations” – the word ethne, nations, properly means here ethnic groups.  All people will be judged as individuals.  No one enters God’s kingdom because of his relationship with a certain country, but rather because of his or her relationship with Jesus Christ.

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

25:34-40 – rewards in the kingdom of heaven are given to those who serve without thought of reward.  There is no hint of merit here, for God gives out of grace, not debt.  What Paul says would make one think otherwise:

“Know ye not that they which run in a race urn all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (1 Cor 9:24-25).

Yet, the 1 Cor 9:23 explains it:

“And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.”

The Gospel is Jesus Christ, all that we do we do for Him, not for a reward.  Our reward is out salvation.  Like me praying for Obama and his family.  I don’t do it for a reward, I do it for His sake.

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The Lost Cities of Africa 

Overview of Great Zimbabwe. The large walled construction is the Great Enclosure. Some remains of the valley complex can be seen in front of it.

The Great Zimbabwe

Location: Zimbabwe
Date of Construction: c 13th century CEA
Abandoned: late 15th century C.E. Built By: Mwene Mutapa Empire
Key Features: Great Enclosure; Sophisticated Dry-Stone Masonry; Conical Tower; Hilltop Complex; Stone Birds

The greatest archaeological site in sub-Saharan Africa and perhaps the only one to lend its name to a modern-day state, Great Zimbabwe was once the center of a mighty trading empire. Its ruins have inspired exotic speculations and been at the center of political storms.

Great Zimbabwe is the collective name given to a group of ruins spread across a valley and adjoining hills on the Zimbabwe Plateau – a region of high ground between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers in southern Africa.

View west from the Eastern Enclosure of the Hill Complex, showing the granite boulder that resembles the Zimbabwe Bird and the balcony.

It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. Its most prominent and best-known feature is a circular wall known as the Great Enclosure, a feat of sophisticated monumental masonry that continues to awe and inspire today as it must have when it was first constructed, probably during the 13th-15th centuries CE.

This was the height of the Mwene Mutapa Empire (known by Europeans as Monomotapa), a kingdom of the Shona (the peoples who still live in the area) that developed from about 900 CE.

At first the empire was based on cattle herding, but from around 1100 Mwene Mutapa took over control of the lucrative trading networks that linked ivory, iron and gold production centers inland with the merchants on the coast, who brought in return luxury goods from the Middle and Far East. Goods found at the site include silk, cotton,

Chinese porcelain, Persian faience, glass from Syria and beads from India. In particular, rich gold fields were opened up to the west of Great Zimbabwe and considerable wealth flowed through the hands of the king, or mambo.

It was this wealth that funded construction of Great Zimbabwe’s monumental masonry and attracted a growing population.

The Hill Complex

The whole complex covers about 1,800 acres, but the ruins are concentrated at three main sites.

Atop a rocky hill sits the group known as the Hill Complex, which includes an oval stone enclosure about 330 feet across at its widest point and up to 36 feet high, within which sit a number of huts and small buildings made of daga – mud, gravel and earth from termite mounds, mixed to give a sort of concrete, which forms the most common building material in Africa.

Great Zimbabwe Ruins

The hill was probably the part of the site that was occupied earliest. Remains indicate that it was first settled by Iron Age herders and farmers as early as the 5th century CE, probably attracted by the area’s rich grazing, fertile soil and, thanks to its altitude, relative lack of tsetse-fly spreading sleeping sickness.

When Great Zimbabwe became rich and powerful, the Hill Complex was developed into the enclave of the mambo and possibly other figures of power, such as priests. A number of stone birds perched on top of stone pillars were found inside the complex, one of which has since become the national emblem of Zimbabwe.

The Great Enclosure

Below the Hill Complex is the most iconic and impressive of Great Zimbabwe’s wonders – the Great Enclosure, known by the 19th century residents of the area as the Imbahuru, which means either ‘great house’ or ‘house of the great woman’ in the local Karanga dialect of Shona.

The conical tower in the Great Enclosure, possibly a giant symbol, but also thought to be a symbolic replica of a grain store. No mortar is used to hold together the stone blocks.

This latter translation would prove to have significant resonance for early European interpretations of the site. The Great Enclosure is an elliptical space enclosed by a giant wall with a circumference of 735 feet, which is up to 33 feet high in places.

It is constructed of two layers of rectangular granite blocks, laid together with such precision that no mortar was required, filled with earth and stones. The wall is about half as thick at the base as it is high and tapers in towards the top.

Almost one million blocks were used in its construction. The blocks come from the surrounding hills, where granite domes erode through a process known as exfoliation, whereby thin sheets of rock peel off and natural heating and cooling cause these to crack along existing fault lines to give handy brick-shaped blocks.

The medieval Shona people would accelerate the process by artificially heating and cooling the granite and by driving wooden wedges into cracks.

Notable features of the Great Enclosure include an inner wall that runs around part of the main wall to create a180-foot long alley, openings and doorways, smoothly rounded walls and rounded steps crafted with great skill. Inside the enclosure is a solid conical tower 30 feet high, a number of standing stones and traces of many daga huts.

The Valley Ruins

Scattered through the valley that surrounds the Great Enclosure are the ruins of many smaller stone enclosures and traces of more daga huts.

View of part of the 180 foot long alley that runs between the inner and outer walls of the Grand Enclosure.

Not the skill and precision of the dry stone masonry. The function of the alley is unclear – perhaps it was defensive, or perhaps it had some ritual function linked to the greater religious symbolism of the whole site.

These structures are the youngest and archaeologists speculate that they were built to accommodate the swelling population of Great Zimbabwe as its power and wealth drew in greater and greater numbers.

At its height the population may have reached 17-19,000, equivalent to that of medieval London. One of the enclosures is thought to have been where the wives of the mambo lived – there may have been up to 1,000 of them.

The layout of the site had socio-political aspects. The physical separation and elevation of the Hill Complex mirrored and demonstrated the status of the king, while lesser chiefs of the kingdom maintained smaller enclosures of their own on less elevated points and the common people spread around the valley.

When the population was at its height, Great Zimbabwe would have been a busy metropolis, with traders bringing in raw materials for craftsmen to process and farmers and herders keeping them supplied with food.

The function of the Great Enclosure itself, however, remains something of a mystery. It is thought that it may have been a royal palace or played a role in initiation rites and/or religious ceremonies.

Part of the wall is decorated with a frieze of chevrons, thought to have sexual symbolism, while the conical tower is an obvious phallic symbol that may have been a symbolic replica of Shona grain storage structures.

View of part of the 55-metre (180-foot) long alley that runs between the inner and outer walls of the Grand Enclosure. Note the skill and precision of the dry stone masonry. The function of the alley id unclear — perhaps it was defensive, or perhaps it had some ritual function linked to the greater religious symbolism of the whole site.

King Solomon’s Mines

The city began to diminish from the mid-late 15th century, probably because the gold fields that underpinned its wealth began to run dry, but possibly also because the area could not support the environmental demands – particularly firewood and grazing – of the population.

It was almost entirely deserted by the time that European explorers began to penetrate the interior of the continent, although subsequently there may have been low-level reoccupation of parts of the site and the Great Enclosure was still used for religious ceremonies.

This meant the largely empty city was available as a template for the assumptions and preoccupations of European explorers and treasure-hunters.

The stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe National Monument, a mysterious site once thought to be the source of King Solomon’s gold.

The first Europeans to report the existence of the site were the Portuguese, who had set up trading forts on the East African coast to access gold, ivory and the other riches of the continent, but who did not penetrate inland.

Native informants told them of the rich gold mines of the empire of Monomotapa and of its great fortresses called Symbaoe (possibly a misinterpretation of ‘Zimbabwe7), built of stones joined without mortar.

The Portuguese and subsequent Europeans connected Monomotapa with the legendary Ophir, said in the Bible to be the home of the Queen of Sheba and the location of the gold mines that were the source of King Solomon’s fabulous wealth.

By the mid-19th century, European explorers and missionaries finally penetrated the interior.

In 1870 eccentric German explorer Karl Mauch (who typically eschewed the use of porters or bearers and carried all his gear himself, while dressed in a suit of antelope hide leather and sporting a large umbrella as a sunshade) heard tales of Monomotapa from a missionary and determined to win glory – and possibly riches – as the discoverer of Ophir.

After various tribulations he reached the site and found the evidence he sought. Chipping a piece of wood from the lintel of a doorway he decided that it resembled his pencil, made from cedar, and must therefore have come from Lebanon.

To his mind this confirmed the obvious: such marvelous structures could not have been built by Africans, but must have been constructed by Phoenicians, ancient inhabitants of Lebanon. He went further, speculating that the Hilltop Complex was the Queen of Sheba’s attempt to replicate Solomon’s Temple.

Alas for Mauch, a search of the site revealed neither gold nor gemstones, while his discoveries were greeted with relative indifference back in Europe. He died in relative obscurity five years later, after falling from a window back in his native land.

Whitewash

This extraordinary and completely unfounded interpretation of the site was to dominate subsequent European conceptions.

The view from the hill complex

At the end of the 19thcentury the land around Zimbabwe fell into the hands of Cecil Rhodes, whose project for a British-dominated Africa required certain basic ideological and anthropological assumptions, namely that Africans were barbarous savages incapable of civilization and that it was the ‘white man’s burden’ to lift them out of their benighted state.

The British archaeologists dispatched to survey Great Zimbabwe confirmed Mauch’s earlier theory. The city had clearly been built by Phoenicians or other Mediterranean visitors, concluded James Bent in his 1892 book The Ruined Cities of Mashonaland, which inspired H. Rider Haggard’s adventure novel King Solomon’s Mines.

Bent’s successor, Richard N. Hall, was incompetent and destructive, clearing 12 feet of soil and rubble from the ruins in an attempt to ‘restore’ them and thus irreparably damaging the archaeological record.

In subsequent decades the area became the country of Rhodesia and Great Zimbabwe became an ideological battleground.

For the white elite governing Rhodesia it was important that the ruins should have a non-African background, but as early as 1905 the archaeologist David Randall-Maclver compared finds at the site with the prevalent use of identical artefacts and technology by the Shona peoples still living in the area.

The tower is completely filled in with rock; its purpose is unknown.

He drew the obvious conclusion: Great Zimbabwe had been built by Africans, probably by essentially the same people that still lived there. Archaeologist Gertrude Caton-Thompson, sent to disprove his findings, instead proved them accurate.

The Rhodesian authorities would not accept this line. A cavalcade of eccentric theories was advanced, linking the ruins with everyone from the pharaohs and the Lost Tribes of Israel to the Vikings. Access to the site for Africans was restricted and government archaeologists were fired for straying from the party line.

Meanwhile the ruins became a key symbol for the African independence movement and when the country finally broke free of its apartheid system the nation’s name was changed to reflect this (although there is disagreement over which dialect of Shona ‘Zimbabwe’ actually derives from and thus whether it means ‘houses of stone’ or ‘venerated houses’).

Today Great Zimbabwe remains a politically charged place; a national monument that helps to define Zimbabwe’s cultural identity, but also a focus of grievances over the nations troubled colonial history.

…the Last Supper and the Passover.

Matthew 24 – Signs of the End of this Age & Lost Cities of Africa: Introduction

The Lost City we’ll look at tomorrow is…

Matthew 24
Signs of the End of this Age

1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

“There shall not be left here one stone upon another” – fulfilled literally in 70 A.D., when the Romans under Titus completely destroyed Jerusalem and the temple buildings.  Stones were even pried apart to collect the gold leaf that melted from the roof when the temple was set on fire.

“Thrown down” – excavations in 1968 uncovered large numbers of these stones, toppled from the walls by the invaders.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

“Mount of Olives” – a ridge a little more than a mile long, beyond the Kidron Valley east of Jerusalem and rising about 200 feet above the city.

“When shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign of they coming, and of the end of the world?” –  Jesus doesn’t go into great detail, but He does tells us what to watch out for in this chapter.

4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

In 70 A. D. the Romans burned the temple and destroyed the city. In the words of Jesus, “there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

“Sorrows” – the rabbis, as well as the prophets, spoke of “birth pangs.”  They will lead into the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7).

9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Ancient rock-cut tombs on the lower slope of the Mount of Olives. The rectangular openings to the tombs have been enlarged, probably when the tombs were used as dwellings by Christian monks.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

“The abomination of desolation” – the detestable thing causing the desolation of the holy place.  The primary reference in Daniel (9:27, 11:31, 12:11) was to 168 B.C., when Antiochus Epiphanes erected a pagan altar to Zeus on the sacred altar in the temple of Jerusalem.

There are two more stages in the progressive fulfillment of the predictions in Daniel and Matthew: (1) the Roman destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. and (2) the setting up of an image of the antichrist in Jerusalem (see Thess 2:4; Rev 13:14-15).

16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

“The Mountains” – the Transjordan mountains, where Pella was located.  Christians in Jerusalem fled to that area during the Roman siege during shortly before 70 A.D.  a similar fleeing will occur during the future great tribulation period (identified with Daniel’s 70th “week,” Dan 9:27).

17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house:

18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:

“Neither on the Sabbath” – only Matthew includes this because he was writing to Jews, who were forbidden to travel more than about half a mile on the Sabbath.

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

“Great tribulation” – Josephus, the Jewish historian who was there, describes the destruction of Jerusalem in almost identical language.  Many believe that reference is also to a future period of great tribulation (see Dan 12:1).

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

“Days should be shortened” – some hold that t

The Prophet Daniel Described The New World Order This Way.
Dan 7:7-8, 7:23-25

his statement means that the tribulation will be of such intensity that, if allowed to continue, it would destroy everyone.  Other believe that Christ is referring to the cutting short of a previously determined time period (such as the 70th “seven” of Dan 9:27 or the 42 months of Rev 11:2, 13:5).

I believe we are in the tribulation at this time, but not the Great Tribulation.  The Bible doesn’t tell us when the tribulation begins.  I believe the “shorting of days” is being done now because it seems to me that the days go by quickly, and that is what I believe Jesus was talking. 

God is making the time go quicker so we can get out of here and be with Him forever.

“The elect’s sake” – the people God, during the tribulation, including some Jews and Gentiles.

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

24 For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

25 Behold, I have told you before.

26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

The abomination of desolation is definitely one of the most interesting and misunderstood prophecies found in the Bible.

The element that makes this prophecy especially intriguing is that Jesus identifies it as a specific sign that the end is near. A careful study of Matthew 24 reveals that it is one of the many Bible passages that has a dual application.

It speaks not only of the abomination of desolation that warns of the imminent destruction of the temple and Jerusalem but it also parallels this with the end of this world as we know it and the second coming of Jesus.

28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

“There will the eagles be gathered together” – the coming of Christ will be as obvious as the gathering of vultures around a carcass.

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Jesus’ words are more certain than the existence of the universe, i.e., “verily.”

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Sun Shining Down on the Clouds

42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

43 But know this, that if the Goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;

49 And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Lost Cities of Africa: Introduction

The five cities in this review span a vast gulf of history, from the 11th century B.C. to the 15th century CE. But they also span a cultural gulf, between the super-Saharan world of the famous civilizations of antiquity and the sub-Saharan world that remains little known and poorly understood.

Corinthian columns at Leptis Magna, in Libya, one of the best preserved Roman cities.

The former is the familiar world of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, in which the extraordinarily long narrative of Egyptian history, represented here through the tale of the lost city of Tanis, gives way to the Classical world, and the famous names of Alexandria, a Greek city with an Egyptian flavor, and Leptis Magna, one of the best preserved of all Roman cities.

The sub-Saharan world has its own rich history, with its own narrative of the rise and fall of empires, but the lack of written sources, combined with the relative paucity of archaeological research, means that this narrative is largely unknown.

The haunting site of Great Zimbabwe offers a rare window on this untold history, although it took the efforts of unbiased and professional archaeologists to start to unravel its mystery.  It has been subject to interpretation (or misinterpretation) through ideologically rather than scientifically motivated research.

Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city in the southeastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo, close to the Chimanimani Mountains and the Chipinge District.

t was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s Late Iron Age.

The two worlds are bridged by the ancient city of Meroe and the venerable Kushite civilization of which it was capital. The Kushites are rarely seen as much more than adjuncts to their more famous neighbor to the north, Egypt, but in practice they represent a coming together of the super- and sub-Saharan worlds.

Initially they developed in imitation of the Egyptians, but the establishment of Meroe signaled a geopolitical shift towards the sub-Saharan world and the development of a new, uniquely sub-Saharan culture.

Corinthian columns at Lepti) Magna, in Libya, one of the be.it preserved Roman cities.

…the Great Zimbabwe.