Bible Culture and Customs

The soft, inviting sand in the bottom of most wadis appears to be an ideal place to pitch a tent for the night. However, the wise camper will instead spend the night on the high ground, despite the rocks and thorn bushes. Wadis, such as this one in Jordan, can be deceptive. 
Photo by John Buckner

Floods in the Desert

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every...
Ancient millstone in Capernaum, with the Sea of Galilee in the background. It is easy to imagine Jesus pointing and saying “It would be better to have that tied around your neck and be thrown in there!” 
Photo by John Buckner

Millstones in Capernaum

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him...

The Brass Serpent

“And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the...
Arched Milky Way over the mountain dirt road in summer. Beautiful night landscape with starry sky, milky way arch, trail in mountain village, hills, green grass and purple flowers. Space and galaxy

The Heath in the Desert 

The prophet Jeremiah grew up in the Judean Wilderness, the large desert on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. As a desert dweller, he often wrote about the animals...
The Tombs of the Prophets

“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” 
Zechariah 14:4

	One of the most overlooked gems in Jerusalem is the Tombs of the Prophets on the Mount of Olives. Every day, thousands of pilgrims on their way up or down the mountain troop past the weatherbeaten sign pointing toward the tombs. Only a few turn in to see it. 
Photos by John Buckner 

	The tombs are believed to belong to Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and their disciples. They are located in an enormous man-made cavern in the side of the Mount of Olives. The ancients carved this place near the summit of the Mount of Olives to bury the prophets because of Zechariah’s prophecy about the coming of the Messiah. 
	Once you descend the stairs into the cavern, there is no electricity or signs of modernity. A little light leaks in from the entrance and illuminates the cathedral-like antechamber where the guard will light a candle, hand it to you, and then show you the map of the tombs. He will smile and exhort you to sing, preach, or pray if you feel like it. Believe me, you will!
From there you can wander carefully by candlelight through the corridors and tunnels until you come to the tombs of the great men deep in the mountain. You can find their tombs by the feeble light from a single candle that always burns in front of each of the the three prophet’s graves. A local custom full of symbolism is to kneel, blow out your candle, then relight it from one of theirs. 
Photos from December, 2020.
John Buckner 

	Scholars are not certain if they are the tombs that Jesus mentioned, or if those tombs were elsewhere. Personally, I imagine Him pointing across the Kidron Valley to the tombs, since the entrance to the tombs was visible from the Temple Mount where He was teaching when He said:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,” Matthew 23:29

What is known is that the cavern was built by ancient people to honor some great prophets of the Bible. The Tombs of the Prophets have amazing acoustics. I recommend standing somewhere in the dark, and when your meditations on the prophets, and on Jesus’ teachings, ascension, and second coming overcome you, burst into song! It is overwhelming to be near where Jesus will soon return and sing to Him. Whenever I descend the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem, I always stop and glance back to see if He is there. Every time, I remember that right up there is where He said to “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel.” 
	When you go to Jerusalem, and I hope you do, please schedule an hour or two to visit this beautiful memorial to the prophets. Then go forth carrying the light that they preached to a dark world.  

“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings;” Malachi 4:2

“For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. Haggai 2:6-7

The Tombs of the Prophets

“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst...

Why did David keep Saul’s water cruse?

In I Samuel 26, we find a puzzling account from the life of David. He recruited Joab’s brother Abishai to go with him on a high-risk night raid into the...
Ancient Shechem, with the mountains Ebal and Gerizim in the background, as well as modern Nablus in the West Bank. 
Photo by author.

The Graveyard of the Old Gods in Shechem 

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other...