Mark 11 – The Triumphal Entry & Jericho

Tomorrow we’re going to look at another one of the lost cities of Africa…

Mark 11
The Triumphal Entry

1 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,

Jericho
Storejars of Grain
Both Garstang and Kenyon found dozens of storejars full of grain from the last Canaanite city of Jericho.

The obvious conclusion: these were from the time of the harvest when the city was burned (not looted) by Joshua. As such, the archaeological record fits the biblical record at this point precisely.

The storejars pictured here still remain in one of Kenyon’s balks at Jericho.

“Bethphage” – the name means “house of figs.”  It’s not mentioned in the Old Testament and in the New Testament only in connection to the Triumphal Entry. 

“Bethany” – the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  Ancient Bethany occupied an important place in the life of Jesus.

“Mount of Olives” – directly east of Jerusalem, it rises to a height of about 2,700 feet, some 200 feet higher than Mount Zion.  Its summit commands a magnificent view of the city and especially of the temple.

Olive trees still grow on this mount and the Garden of Gethsemane, with its ancient olive trees, as at the base of its western slope.

2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.

3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.

4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.

5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?

Bethany is located on the south-eastern slope of The Mount Of Olives (its western slope, as viewed from Jerusalem, is shown in the photo below – Jesus would have walked through this scene many times on His way to Bethany).

Jesus Christ often visited the village, so much so that some even refer to it as His Judean home.

6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.

7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.

8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.

9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:

“Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” – a quotation of Ps 118:26, one of the Hallel (“Praise”) Psalms sung at passover and especially fitting for this occasion.

10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

“Went out unto Bethany” – apparently Jesus spent each night through Thursday of Passion Week in Bethany at the home of His friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

View of tombs on the Mount of Olives looking across the Kidron Valley.
Notice the monument with the pyramid shaped roof in the valley, called Absalom’s tomb…

this tomb from the first temple period was not really that of Absalom.

When people hear the name Jesus they either:

– Scoff at it – this is those are the idiots, the same ones that praise morons like Obama, or

– They shake in absolute fear because they know they are going to spend eternity in hell – this would be Satan and his cronies or people that blasphemed the Holy Ghost, like the Catholics) or

– They praise Him and bow down in honor and respect to the King out of complete “uncomfortable” fear – this is those who will be going to heaven and they know exactly who Jesus is, but don’t really know him or

– They bow down in honor and respect to the King with complete “appreciative” fear – this is those who will be going to heaven but also enjoy Jesus company here on earth.  Jesus is not just the King of Kings; He’s also a person and a friend.  It is great to talk to Jesus now, but it will be really cool to hang out with Him in person.

When God tells us to fear Him, He doesn’t mean His person, but what He is capable of doing (Lk 12:5).  God doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him, would you want your child to be afraid of you or be afraid of your authority?

12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:

“On the morrow” – Monday of Passion Week.

Another view from Mount of Olives looking toward temple mount and Jerusalem. Notice the Jewish tombs the cover the Mount of Olives

13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever. And his disciples heard it.

“No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever” – perhaps the incident was a parable of judgment, with the fig tree representing Israel (see Hos 9:10: Nah 3:12).

15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

“The temple” – this refers to the court of the Gentiles, the only part of the temple in which Gentiles could worship God and gather for prayer.

16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

“Of all nations the house of prayer” – Is 56:7 assured godly non-Jews that they would be allowed to worship God in the temple.

View from the mount of Olives, with snow covering the ground. One of the rare times it snows in Jerusalem.

“Den of thieves” – not only because they took financial advantage of the people but bb they robbed the temple of its sanctity.

18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.

19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.

“Dried up from the roots” – this detail indicates that the destruction was total (Job 18:16) and that no one in the future would eat fruit from the tree.  It served as a vivid warning of the judgment to come in 70 A.D.

21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.

“Is withered away” – perhaps prophetic of the fate of the Jewish authorities who were now about to reject Jesus.

22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Eastern Gate on the Mount of Olives Side.

23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

27 And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,

28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.

30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.

The space inside the Eastern Gate is now used as an Islamic school.

31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?

32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.

33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Jericho

There were three different Jerichos, on three different sites, the Jericho of Joshua, the Jericho of Herod, and the Jericho of the Crusades.

Jericho
View from Cypros
The “City of Palms” spreads out on the west side of the Jordan River at 825 feet below sea level.

The Old Testament site of Tell es-Sultan is in the distance and is the city Joshua destroyed. In Jesus’ day a new center had been constructed on the wadi banks in the foreground by the Hasmonean rulers and Herod the Great.

Er-Riha, the modern Jericho, dates from the time of the Crusades. Dr. Bliss has found in a hollow scooped out for some purpose or other near the foot of the biggest mound above the Sultan’s Spring specimens of Amorite or pre-Israelitish pottery precisely identical with what he had discovered on the site of ancient Lachish.

He also traced in this place for a short distance a mud brick wall in situ, which he supposes to be the very wall that fell before the trumpets of Joshua.

The wall is not far from the foot of the great precipice of Quarantania and its numerous caverns, and the spies of Joshua could easily have fled from the city and been speedily hidden in these fastnesses.

Jericho was a fenced city in the midst of a vast grove of palm trees, in the plain of Jordan, over against the place where that river was crossed by the Israelites. Its site was near the ‘in es-Sultan, Elisha’s Fountain, about 5 miles west of Jordan.

It was the most important city in the Jordan valley, and the strongest fortress in all the land of Canaan. It was the key to Western Canaan.

Jericho
Tell es-Sultan
After Jerusalem, Jericho is the most excavated site in Israel. Charles Warren in 1868 sank several shafts but concluded that nothing was to be found (he missed the Neolithic tower by a meter!).

Germans Sellin and Watzinger excavated 1907-13, Garstang 1930-36 and Kenyon 1952-58. An Italian-Palestinian team excavated for several years beginning in 1997.

According to Associates for Biblical Research, the inhabitants of Jericho at Joshua’s time were generic Canaanites. Beyond that we really cannot say anything definite.

In one of the Amarna tablets Adoni-zedec (q.v.) writes to the king of Egypt informing him that the ‘Abiri (Hebrews) had prevailed, and had taken the fortress of Jericho, and were plundering “all the king’s lands.”

It would seem that the Egyptian troops had before this been withdrawn from Canaan.

In New Testament times Jericho stood some distance to the southeast of the ancient one, and near the opening of the valley of Achor. It was a rich and flourishing town, having a considerable trade, and celebrated for the palm trees which adorned the plain around.

It was visited by our Lord on his last journey to Jerusalem. Here he gave sight to two blind men (Matt. 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-52), and brought salvation to the house of Zacchaeus the publican (Lk 19:2-10).

Jericho
Neolithic Tower
Discovered and excavated by Kathleen Kenyon in her Trench I, the Neolithic tower was built and destroyed in Pre-Pottery Neolithic A, which Kenyon dated to 8000-7000 BC. The 8m diameter tower stands 8m tall and was connected on the inside of a 4m thick wall.

On the basis of this discovery, archaeologists have claimed that Jericho is the “oldest city in the world.” Clearly such monumental construction reflects social organization and central authority, but there are good reasons to question both its dating to the 8th millennium BC. and its function as a defensive fortification.

Excavations at the ancient mound of Jericho in the southern Jordan valley of Palestine have yielded extraordinary finds that verify the veracity of Biblical accounts. The only surviving written history of Jericho is that recorded in the Bible.

Archaeology has demonstrated that the Biblical record is a precise eyewitness account of events that transpired there many thousands of years ago.

The most famous story about Jericho, of course, is that of the walls falling, as detailed in Joshua 6. Another less known, but nonetheless important, account is that of Eglon, king of Moab, building a palace there and extracting tribute from the Israelites for 18 years (Jud 3:12-30).

Proof of its existence:

– At the time of the Israelite Conquest, Jericho was heavily fortified, as the Bible implies (Josh 2:5, 15).

– Piles of mud bricks from the collapsed city wall were found at the base of the tell, verifying that “the wall fell beneath itself” (Hebrew, watippol hahomah tahteyha, Josh 6:20).

– An earthen embankment around the city required the fighters to go “up into the city” (Josh 6:20).

– Houses were built against a portion of the city wall that did not collapse, verifying that Rahab’s house was built against the city wall (Hebrew, betah be qir hahomah, Josh 2:15), and that her house was spared (Josh 2:14-21; 6:22-23).

– A layer of ash 3-foot thick with burned timbers and debris demonstrates that the Israelites “burned the whole city and everything in it” (Josh 6:24).

– The destruction occurred at the end of the 15thcentury B.C., precisely the time of the Conquest of Canaan according to the internal chronology of the Bible (I Kgs 6:1; Jud 11:26; I Chr 6:33-37).

Many large jars full of charred grain were found in the destroyed buildings. This is a very rare find since, because of its value; grain was normally plundered from a vanquished city. The large amount of grain at Jericho indicates:

Jericho
MB Revetment Wall
From the excavations of Sellin and Watzinger, archaeologists have recognized the existence of a large revetment wall that supported the slope of the tell in the Middle Bronze Age.

This revetment wall was composed of large Cyclopean stones and supported a mudbrick wall above it. This southern portion of the wall was exposed in 1997.

  1. The harvest had just been taken in (Josh 2:6; 3:15).

  2. The siege was short (seven days, Josh 6:15).

  3. The Israelites did not plunder the city (Josh 6:18).

There was evidence of earthquake activity, possibly the agency God used to dam up the Jordan (Josh 3:16) and bring the walls down.

Following the destruction of Jericho the site lay abandoned for a number of decades. Then, an isolated palace-like structure was constructed. It was excavated by British archaeologist John Garstang in the 1930s.

He called it the “Middle Building,” since it was sandwiched between Iron Age structures above and the destroyed 15th century B.C. city below. The archaeological finds in this stratum match the Biblical description exactly.

– The Middle Building dates to the second half of the 14thcentury B.C., the time of Eglon’s oppression according to Biblical chronology (ca. 1400 B.C. less the remainder of the life of Joshua, Jud 2:6-9; the eight-year oppression by Cushan-Rishathaim, Jud 3:8; and 40 years of peace under Othniel, Jud 3:11).

– The plan of the building is similar to other palaces of the period and fits the description given in the Bible.

Jericho
Collapsed MB Wall
Sellin and Watzinger and later Kenyon found remains of a collapsed mudbrick wall at the base of the stone revetment wall.

Bryant Wood points to the base of that mudbrick wall. All agree that the wall fell down, but they differ on the date. Wood’s conclusions are the most informed and they date the destruction of the wall to the time of Joshua (1400 BC)

– The Middle Building was an isolated structure, as the Bible implies. There was no evidence for a town at Jericho at this time.

– The resident was well-to-do, as seen by a large quantity of imported Cypriot and other decorated pottery.

– The resident was involved in administrative activities, as evidenced by a cuneiform tablet, a rare find in Palestine.

– The building was occupied for only a short period of time and then abandoned.

…Meroe.