Ancient Jerusalem – Faith and Fact

“The ongoing archeological excavations at the City of David continue to prove that ancient Jerusalem is no longer just a matter of faith, but also a matter of fact.”   Doron Spielman, vice president of the City of David Foundation.

In a rare and exciting discovery, a bulla (seal impression) and a 2,600-year-old stone stamp bearing Hebrew names were uncovered in the City of David. The artifacts were discovered inside a public building that was destroyed during the destruction of the First Temple and were uncovered in archaeological excavations of the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.

The Givati parking lot in Jerusalem where the artifacts were uncovered

These special artifacts were found inside a large public building, that was destroyed in the sixth century BC – likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Large stone debris, burnt wooden beams and numerous charred pottery shards were discovered in the building, all indications that they had survived an immense fire. The importance of this building can be discerned, among other things, from its size; the finely cut ashlar stones from which it was built; and the quality of the architectural elements found in the layers of destruction. Bullae were small pieces of clay impressed by personal seals, used in ancient times to sign letters. While the parchment that they sealed didn’t survive the fires that devastated ancient Jerusalem, the bullae, which are made of ceramic-like material, were preserved, leaving evidence of the correspondence and those behind them.

The stamp and bulla, which are about one centimeter in size, were deciphered by Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for the Study of Ancient Jerusalem, who, according to the script, dates them to the middle of the seventh century to the beginning of the sixth century BCE.

The Natan-Melech/Eved Hamelech bulla

The seal impression, dated to the First Temple period, features the words: “(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King” (LeNathan-Melech Eved HaMelech). The name Nathan-Melech appears once in the Bible, in the second book of Kings 23:11, where he is described as an official in the court of King Josiah, who took part in the religious reform that the king was implementing: “And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech the officer, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire.” This seal impression is the first archaeological evidence of the biblical name Nathan-Melech.

The Ikar Ben Matanyahu seal

The stamp-seal was also in discovered the same place, made of bluish agate stone, engraved with the name – “(belonging) to Ikar son of Matanyahu” (LeIkar Ben Matanyahu). According to Dr. Mendel-Geberovich,” The name Matanyahu appears both in the Bible and on additional stamps and bullae already unearthed. However, this is the first reference to the name “Ikar,” which was unknown until today.”

Having evidence to verify accounts in the Bible gives us a powerful case for its authenticity and validity. As Christians we believe that the Bible is in fact the “Word of God” and having this verified by physical evidence only serves to strengthen our faith.


The Annunciation

26……………. the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. 31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. 33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? 35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: 37 Because no word shall be impossible with God. 38 And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA))

Today Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate the Annunciation (Ευαγγελισμός). This is one of the defining moments for all Christians – the day God announced that He would manifest Himself to the world in human form through the birth of Christ Jesus. It is truly a day to be revered and celebrated. Our Savior is about to be born! Blessed be the Mother of God (Θεοτόκος)

The face of evil


Satan has many tools and disguises in his arsenal to lure us into sin and to destroy the world. Sometimes its a little voice at the back of our minds. Sometimes i’s a story line on a TV show. Sometimes it’s an inaccurate news report. Sometimes it’s a female comedian. Sometimes it’s a newly elected congressperson. Sometimes it’s a State Legislature. The list goes on.

Now it’s the Governor of New York. He has sold his soul by becoming an accomplice to murder. If you willingly and knowingly assist someone in taking the life of a human being, you are guilty of first degree murder – that is the law. While Cuomo won’t be charged he will have to answer for his actions to the ultimate court.

 Thou shalt not kill”  Exodus 20:13

Shame on you Cuomo and may God have mercy on your soul.

Compassion remembered


A Greek woman who became an international symbol of solidarity at the peak of the Syrian refugee crisis has died. Maritsa Mavrapidi (seen here with her cousins) was 90 years old. The three elderly women, who became known as the “Lesvos grannies,” are shown here helping a young Syrian mother who had just landed on the shores of the eastern Aegean island after making the treacherous crossing from Turkey in October 2015.

The image of the three women tending to the infant while its mother changed into dry clothes was published around the world and prompted a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Lesvos’s residents in 2016. “She was an honest woman who made us proud, and we will remember her always,” the community president of Mavrapidi’s village, Skala Skamnias said. A large crowd gathered for her funeral to honor her.

No matter what our opinion regarding migrants/refugees, compassion for those in need is our duty, commanded by our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Maritsa Mavrapidi, her cousins and countless others on the island, at great hardship to themselves, rescued and tended to up to 2,500 refugees per day at the peak of the crisis. They showed the world what Christians do in honoring God. May He bless their efforts and may her memory be eternal.

Thanks to Lefteris Partsalis for the photo.


Yesterday, January 6th, was the feast of Epiphany or Theophany. (from the Greek επιφάνεια or θεοφάνεια translated as “manifestation“). Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas to commemorate the manifestation of Jesus Christ’s divinity, as it occurred at his baptism by John the Forerunner in the Jordan River. In the Orthodox Church it celebrates the revelation that the incarnate Christ was both fully God and fully man. Epiphany is one of the principal feasts of the Church.


Sunday School at Church on the Arroyo!


Preach always if necessary use words.  … St. Francis of Assisi

Last week I heard this quote for the first time and thought I’d share it. It was from a member of the church who spreads the word of God through distributing Bibles. We have 2 men in our parish who give them out. Our Sunday school teacher gives them to students he teaches during the week, the other generous man through an organization who distributes Gideon’s Bibles worldwide. What better way to spread the Gospel than to give it? If you would like to make a donation to either of these men please send a check to:  1st Baptist Church of Arroyo City at P.O. Box 1288, Rio Hondo, TX. 78583. Your prayers are appreciated too!

Where is the Ark of the Covenant?

Ethiopians claim that the original Ark of the Covenant is in a church in Ethiopia. No one is allowed to see it except the Ark “keeper”. This claim is unsubstantiated, but here is the story of how the Ark made it to Ethiopia.


The Queen of Saba/Sheba, named Makeda, visited Solomon in Jerusalem in the 10th century B.C. They had previously exchanged letters full of questions and riddles. When she arrived, bringing gifts of gold, spices, precious stones and beautiful wood, Solomon was bewitched by her beauty. He ordered his courtiers not to disturb them for three days and three nights, after which she went back to Saba (present-day Aksum in Ethiopia).

Another version of the story is that he invited her to stay on condition she take nothing of value from him. Offended, she replied that she would stay on condition that he did not touch her. He ordered a meal of salty and spicy food. That night she awoke feeling thirsty and drank some water. At that moment Solomon appeared, declaring that she had broken her word and had taken the most precious thing of all — water. Thus she was tricked into giving way to his desire.

Ancient icons in the Ethnological Museum show two heads, one with black hair and a beard, the other with black hair and no beard, with a sheet pulled up to their chins – Solomon and the Queen of Sheba in bed together.

Back in Saba the Queen bore a child, Menelik I, from whom the entire imperial dynasty of Ethiopia is said to be descended, right down to the last in line, Emperor Haile Selassie (1892-1975). When Menelik was 20, in 950 B.C., he went to Jerusalem to meet his father. When he returned to Ethiopia, Solomon ordered the first-born of all the elders there to accompany him. One secretly stole the Ark of the Covenant – which held the Ten Commandments and on which the safety of the Jewish state depended – and took it with him. When Menelik discovered this he was angry – but then he realized that if such a momentous event had occurred, it must be because God had willed it. And thus it was that the Ark of the Covenant is now said to reside in Ethiopia.

Icon of the Ark of the Covenant being transported to Ethiopia

Thanks to Lesley Downer at JapanTimes for the substance of this article.