Arad—Not Your Average City on a Hill

In Numbers 13, Moses sends spies to check out the Promised Land. The Scriptures do not tell us which cities the scouts visited, but we can guess they took they most common route through Canaan, and visited the biggest cities along that route. The first city the spies are likely to have reached is Arad. Arad was a prosperous and fortified city even during the Early Bronze Age, well over 1500 years before the Exodus.

Ancient Arad ©Bible

Ancient Arad ©Bible

It is important to realize experts believe that in the past the Negev received twice the amount of rainfall that it receives today. Arad was built on a bowl-shaped hill, and that precious rainfall was collected in a reservoir dug into the soft limestone in the lowest point of the city. This guaranteed a continual water supply during the long hot summers. The reservoir may also have reached the water table.…

The Saddest Days of All

© marsmet545

© marsmet545

Earlier this week, Jews all over the world observed Tisha B’Av, the Ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning in Judaism, wherein several calamitous events are remembered. The first of these is a central element in my second book, By the Waters of Kadesh—the report of the spies.

When the scouts returned after their forty days in Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb gave a promising report. Gaddiel and the others told the Israelites that the land was full of giants, walled cities and could never be conquered. The Israelites accepted the false report, and wept all night, demanding to return to Egypt, where though enslaved, they at least had food. The night that the people cried was the ninth of Av, which became a day of weeping and misfortune for all time.

According to Rabbinic tradition, the sin

In the Footsteps of Abraham

Way of the Patriarchs

Just a few verses in Numbers 13 presage a major turning point in the life of the young nation of Israel. Twelve men are chosen to be the first ones to enter the Promised Land and report back.

The twelve spies left Kadesh-Barnea and went north into Canaan. They were instructed to “go up through the Negev and on into the hill country.” It is likely they traveled the “ridge road,” or “the Way of the Patriarchs.” This ancient route traverses Israel from north to south and gets its name because it was frequently travelled by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is called the Ridge Route because it follows the watershed ridge line of the Samarian and Judaean Mountains. In modern times, the route roughly follows the original Highway 60.

The Bible doesn’t tells us what cities the spies visited. The road runs from Megiddo and Hazor south to Beersheba …

By the Waters of Kadesh

I thought this week I’d share with you the first scene of book two: By the Waters of Kadesh. Kadesh takes places a couple months after In the Shadow of Sinai ends, just as Israel reaches the edge of Canaan. The characters from Sinai are here: Bezalel, Meri, Ahmose—but Egyptian captain Kamose is our hero this time. And now I ‘ll introduce you to Tirzah.

TirzahTirzah slipped out of the tent, her bare feet sinking into the warm, coarse sand. She dragged the flaps down and tied them together to shut out the fading evening light and tiptoed away. She cast a look at Gaddiel sitting on the other side of the campfire as she sank to the ground, and reached for a cold manna cake from the stack on the plate. The sweet, honeyed taste filled her mouth as she bit into it.

She glanced past the rows of …