Jew — At first, this was the name for someone from the tribe of Judah. Later it came to be used for anyone who was from the family of Jacob (Israel).
Jezreel — City gaurding the Valley of Harod and the route from the Valley of Jezreel to Beth Shean. Here Ahab and Jezebel had a summer palace, Ahab stole Naboth's vineyard, and Jezebel was killed.
Jezreel Valley — Means "valley of Megiddo." A fertile, agricultural valley whose strategic location led to frequent battles for control over the world trade route between the west and Mesopotamia. Used by biblical writers as the symbolic setting of the final triumph of God's power over evil, Armageddon. Nazareth is nearby.
Joppa — This Old Testament port city is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Jonah sailed from here.
Jordan River — Hebrew Yarden, meaning, "the descender." Headwaters are fed by snow melt on Mount Hermon and underground springs; flows into the Dead Sea; where John baptized Jesus. Largest river in Israel.
Jordan Valley — See Great Rift Valley.
Joseph — The husband of Mary who was the mother of Jesus (Matt. 1:16-25).
Josephus — Jewish historian named Josephus Flavius, author of four major extra-biblical texts of Jewish life and culture. Born to a preistly family about the time of Jesus' death, he died approximately 100 AD; he was a Galilean commander in the First Jewish Revolt. Trapped in the doomed city of Jotapata, Josephus convinced the other survivors to commit suicide, arranging that he would be the last one alive. He surrendered to the Roman commander Vespian and prophesied that Vespian would become emperor. Vespian made Josephus a scribe and a member of his own family; he became a Roman citizen. He write extensively about the First Jewish Revolt and Jewish history, and confirmed that New Testament descriptions of life and culture were accurate.
Judah — Fourth son of Jacob from whom the tribe of Judah and Jesus descended. Also the name of the southern kingdom after Israel divided in 926 BC.
Judea — Region of Israel, named for the tribe of Judah, where Jerusalem was located. Ruled by Herod the Great and later given to his son, Archelaus; then directly under Roman authority. The Judean Temple leadership resisted Jesus' message and ministry.
Judea Wilderness — The eastern slopes of the Judea Mountains form a 10-mile-wide, 30-mile-long hot, dry wilderness frequently used as a refuge for those in hiding or seeking a spiritual retreat, including the Essenes at Qumran, John the Baptist, David, and Jesus. Site of Masada, the last battle in the First Jewish Revolt.
judge — A strong leader of the people of Israel before Israel had kings. God brought judges to power to save the people from their enemies.
Judge’s Platform — The platform on which the ruler of the city sat. The presence of the ruler or king ready to pass judgment in the gate of the city is behind the prophet Amos' plea for "justice in the city gate."
Juno — Roman goddess of marriage, very jealous wife of Zeus, queen of gods.
Jupiter — Roman god of the sky, supreme god. Son of Saturn.
kanaf — Corner; also, wing.
Kidron Valley — Deep wadi forming the eastern border of Jerusalem between David's City and the Mount of Olives. The spring of Gihon and the garden of Gethsemane are in this valley.
Kings Highway — Major trade route east of the Jordan Valley. It was a more difficult road to travel than the Via Maris.
kippah — Head covering worn by observant Jews out of respect to God; similar to a yarmulke.
Korazin — City just north of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus performed many miracles. Jesus condemned the city for its unbelief.
Lachish — Key city in the southern Shephelah. It was destroyed by the Assyrians during the reign of Hezekiah, and later by the Babylonians abd Nebuchadnezzar.
Lamb of God — Jesus is called the Lamb of God. He was sacrificed like a lamb to take away the sins of God's people. (See Passover ).
legion — A military designation. Composed of spear men, archers, tacticians/strategists, calvary, and reserves. Some of the best Roman legions, including the tenth, were stationed in Israel during the first century. Legion also was used to describe a host of demons or an army of angels.
leprosy — The word used in the Bible for differnt skin diseases and infections.
leviathan — A sea monster.
LORD — (in all capital letters) refers to the personal name of God. The Hebrew word for this name is Yahweh, which means "I AM WHO I AM." This name tells us that God is always with his people.
Lord, lord — (in small letters or initial capital) means "master" or someone who is in control. The early followers of Jesus said "Jesus is Lord" to mean that he has authority over everything.
Lower City — The district of Jerusalem that housed most of the common people during Jesus' day. It was built on the slope of the Western Hill, reaching into the Tyropean Valley; where Jesus sent the blind man to wash the mud from his eyes in the Pool of Siloam.
Maccabee — Family of high priest Mattathias and his son Judah, who revolted against oppressive Antiochus, king of Syria, a Selucid Greek; Judah cleansed the Temple after defilement by the Syrians. The Jews remained free, ruled by the Maccabees (family name: Hasmonaean) until 63 BC. The Maccabee symbol of a palm branch became a national symbol of freedom. Hanukkah (or the Feast of Dedication) celebrated Judah Maccabee's cleansing of the Temple.
macellum — Market where food is sold.
maenad — From Greek "raving" or "frantic," refers to female followers of Dionysus.
maim chaim — Living water. Referring to water coming "directly from God" via rain or stream, etc.
manna — Means "What is it?" Manna was the name the Israelites gave the special food God provided to them in the desert. It was a white, bread-like, sweet-tasting food that would show up on the ground in the morning (Ex. 16:14-36). Jesus says he is like manna. He is the bread of life that can truly fulfill God's people.
Manual of Discipline — One of the writings of the Essenes found among the Dead Sea Scrolls; it describes the rules of the community.
marble — The great king Herod imported marble from Italy to build his glorious city of Caesarea. Many of Herod's cities and buildings were covered with this stone. He built these magnificent structures so people would remember him and honor him as a great king. Herod lived for himself. Because he built only for himself, nothing is left but ruins.
marriage cup — During Biblical times, a young man who wanted to marry would accomany his father to the chosen woman's house, where she and her father would be present. They'd negotiate a steep "bride price"—the money or physical items that the woman's father would ask for in exchange for giving up his valuable daughter. Then the young man's father would hand his son a cup of wine. The son, in turn, would offer it to the women and say, "This cup I offer to you." In effect, he was saying, "I love you, and I offer you my life. Will you marry me?" If she drank it (sealing their engagement), she accepted his life and gave him hers. If not, she simply declined.
Mars — Roman god of war. Son of Zeus and Hera.
Masada — A fortress expanded by Herod the Great to include a palace; on a mountain plateau on the Dead Sea's shore near Idumaea. David wrote, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress" (Ps. 18:2), a possible reference to this flat mountain plateau. Along the 1,000- foot mountaintop, Herod built a wall with 37 towers to defend against attackers and carved a three-level palace into the mountain face. Fearing Mark Antony would give his kingdom to Cleopatra of Egypt, Herod fortified Masada as an escape. Last place held by rebels in the First Jewish Revolt; the committed suicide rather than surender. A symbol for the Jewish people, of their determination to remain free.
massebah — See Standing Stone.
Mediterranean Sea — Known in the Bible as the Great Sea, it formed the western border of Israel. Since the Jews were not a seafaring people, the Mediterranean was more of a boundary than an intregal part of their lives.
Megiddo — The most strategic city in Israel, it guarded a key mountain pass of the international trade route Via Maris. It was one of the cities that Herod fortified. According to Revelation, it represents Armageddon, the final battle between God's people and the devil's followers. (See also Armageddon).
menorah — Lampstand.
Mercury — Roman god of trade, messenger. Son of Zeus and Maia.
mercy seat — See Atonment Seat.
Mesopotamia — Refers to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, as well as the surrounding area. The patriarchs came from here. The empires of Assyria, Persia, and Babylon were here.
Messiah — A Hebrew word meaning "anointed" or "chosen one." The Greek word used in the New Testament for "annointed" is Christ. In the Old Testament, God promised to send a special person called the Messiah. This new king would save God's people. The New Testament shows us that Jesus is the Messiah. He is God's chosen one to save his people.
messianic banquet — One way to describe the great banquet (also called the wedding feast of the lamb) that will occur when the Messiah comes.
mezuzah — A small rectangular box containing scripture affixed to a doorpost. Meant to remind observant Jews to obey the commandments whether at home or "along the road."
micmash — (or Michmash) - City north of Jerusalem that guarded one of the approaches from the coastal plain.
Middle East — Modern term refering to the area of Israel and the countries surrounding it.
mikveh — A ritual bath containing living water. Observant Jews would wash head, heart, hands, and feet as a symbol of purity before God.
Minerva — Roman goddess of wisdom and skill. Daughter of Zeus.
Moab Mountains — Mountain range east of the Dead Sea where the nation of Moab lived.
Mount Arbel — Mountain ridge 1,000 feet above the Sea of Galilee. Site of a brutal battle in 38 BC between Galilean Jews and Herod the Great for control of Galilee.
Mount Carmel — Mountain ridge in Israel that divides the Valley of Jezreel from the coastal plain. Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal here.
Mount Ebal — Mountain near the city of Shechem where an altar to God was built. Joshua gave the curses of the covenant on this mountain (the blessings of Mount Gerizim) when he renewed the covenant after entering the Promised Land, as Moses had commanded him.
Mount Gerizim — Mountain near the city of Shechem where Joshua pronounced the covenant blessings (the curses on Mount Ebal) when he renewed the covenant after entering the Promised Land, as Moses had commanded him.
Mount Gilboa — Mountain on the southern edge of the Valley of Jezreel. Saul and Jonathan died here.
Mount Hermon — Mountain on the northern border of Israel. More than 9,000 feet above sea level, it is often covered with snow. Water from this mountain forms the Jordan River.
Mount of Olives — This mountain, standing about 2,641 feet above sea level, stands east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. It is approximately 325 feet higher than the Temple area and the highest peak in the area. Jesus entered Jerusalem, gave his final teaching, and ascended to heaven from here. Some scholars believe this may be the location for Jesus' return.
Mount Sedom — This mountain ridge at the southern end of the Dead Sea is composed of salt. It retains the name of the city of Sodom, which was probably nearby.
Mount Sinai — Mountain where God met Moses to establish his covenant with the Israelites. Here God gave the Ten Commandments and the instructions for the building of the tabernacle. Many scholars believe Sinai refers to Jebel Musa, a peak in the Sinai Peninsula, the area between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. This peak is 7,500 feet high. Others put Mount Sinai further north; still others in Arabia.
Mount Tabor — Mountain at the northeast edge of the Valley of Jezreel. Site of the battle between Deborah and Barak and Jabin, king of Hazor.
murex — Shellfish found along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea north of Israel, where the Phoenicians lived. Purple dye was produced from these shellfish.
Nabatean — Arabs who lived south and east of Israel and significantly impacted New Testament events. A highly advanced civilization that developed the ability to farm wilderness areas. Controlled the spice trade and trade routes that crossed Israel from Arabia.
Nazarite — Individual who showed his devotion to God by choosing to separate himself from other people through his lifestyle. He made a three-part vow: to never cut his hair or beard, to abstain from any grape product, and to avoid contact with anything dead. Samson was a Nazirite.
Near East — Ancient term refering to the area of Israel and the countries surrounding it, including Egypt and Babylonia.
Necropolis — Burial ground.
Negev — Word means "dry" or "parched." Desert on the southern edge of Israel, south of the Judea Mountains. The Israelites wandered here during their 40 years in the wilderness. Home of Jacob, father of the 12 tribes, and many desert nomads and spice traders. Elijah ran Queen Jezebel into the Negev.
Nehemiah — A Hebrew leader of the 5th century BC.
Neokoros — Title borne by a city which possessed a temple dedicated to the imperial cult.
Neptune — Roman god of the sea and earthquakes. Brother of Zeus and Hades
New City — During and after Jesus' time, the city expanded north, and many wealthy people built large villas in this new area of Jerusalem. Herod Agrippa walled it about thirty or more years after Jesus? crucifixion.
Nike — Greek god of victory, pictured with a wreath. Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Styx.
North Wall — The Antonia fortress was located here. Built by Herod the Great, this fortress guarded the northern side of Jerusalem and held Roman troops during Jesus' time who watched the temple activities. Paul was probably brought to the Antonia after his arrest and defended himself on the stairs that apparently led to the fortress. The temple platform's extension to the west required enormous retaining walls on the south and west. Some of the rocks used in the wall weighed more than five hundred tons each. The finished platform was divided into courts, which became increasingly more sacred the closer they were to the temple.
northern kingdom — When Israel divided after Solomon's death (926 BC), the northern 10 tribes under Jeroboam became the northern kingdom, or Israel. The Assyrians destroyed them in 722 BC.
Nymphaeum — "Temple of Nymphs"; an ornamelntal fountain with statues.
obsidian — Silicon hardened like glass in a volcanic eruption.
odeion — Small theater used for concerts and council meetings.
offering — Something given to God to woship him. In the Old Testament, God's people offered food and animals to God. In the New Testament, Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice to God for us. Followers of Jesus serve God with their whole lives as an offering of praise to God.
Oholah — Nickname given by Ezekiel to the northern kingdom. It means "her tent" and probably refers to the Baal high places the northern kingdom built.
Oholibah — Nickname given by Ezekiel to the southern kingdom. It means "tent worshiper," a refernce to the Baal worship of Judah.
olive crusher — The stone basin used to crush olives into pulp. A donkey pushed on a horizontal beam, which in turn rolled a millstone that crushed into a pulp ripe olives placed in a large, round basin. An olive crusher was often placed in a cave, where the moderated temperature improved the efficiency of oil production.
orchestra — Large circular space in Greek theater used for chorus and actors.
paidagogos — A slave attendant who accompanied students from wealthy families to school in order to tutor them in the lessons they received from the teacher in the gymnasium. (See Gal. 3:24).
Palaestra — Courtyard of gymnasium used for exercise, wrestling, and boxing.
Palestine — Name given to the Promised Land after the Second Jewish Revolt (AD 132-235). It is derived from the word Philistia and was used by the Romans to denigrate the Jews.
Pan — Greek and Roman god of the shepherds and goatherds, associated with fertility. Son of Hermes.
parable — A short story that is told to show how one thing is like another. Most of the parables in the Bible are stories used by Jesus. These parables teach us what the kingdom of God is like.
Passover — A Jewish celebration feast. It reminds the people how God saved them from slavery in Egypt. Part of the meal includes the Passover Lamb. At the first Passover a lamb was killed and its blood was placed on the people's doorframes. This was so God would "pass over" the homes of his people and spare the lives of their firstborn sons. Jesus is the Passover lamb for all of God's people. He was sacrificed so his people could be saved from sin and death.
Passover Cup — During the Passover liturgy of Jesus' day, participants would drink from four cups of wine at different times. The third cup was called the cup of salvation. While celebrating the Passover with his disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus offered them the cup of salvation and said, "This cup is a new covenant in my blood." He was saying, in effect, "I love you. I give you my life. Will you give your life to me?" So, every time we drink from the Communion cup when the minister says, "This cup is a new covenant in my blood," God is saying to us, "I love you. I invite you to be my spiritual bride." And every time we drink it, we are in effect saying to him, "I accept your gift, and I give you my life in return."
patriarch — Any of the very early Biblical personages regarded as the fathers of the human race, comprising those from Adam to Noah, and those between the Deluge and the birth of Abraham.
Peloponnese — The peninsula forming the southern part of Greece.
peripteros — Temple surrounded by a row of columns.
peristyle — Row of columns surrounding a building or open court.
peristyle garden — Cultivated garden inside a colonnaded area. Herod the Great built several peristyle gardens, including Jericho and the Herodion.
Pharisees — Means "the seperate ones." Descended from the Hasidim ("pious ones"); considered obedience to Torah to be the heart of a godly life. Seperated from sinful ways and people in their desire to be faithful. Believed strongly in God's judgment and a resurrection where men would be rewarded or punished according to their deeds. Constituted the largest Jewish sect during Jesus' lifetime; exerted great control over society through synagogues.
Philistia — Means "land of the Philistines." It was located on the fertile coastal plain.
Philistine — This cultured seafaring group from the Aegean moved into Israel at about the same time as the Israelites. They lived on the fertile coastal plain, had advanced iron technology, and worshiped many gods through extremely immoral religious practices, including sacred prostitution.
Phoebus — Roman god of light, music, and poetry. He is often pictured with bow and arrow; Son of Zeus and Leto.