Thursday, August 18, 2016

Favorite Geographical Story in the Bible Results

This was a fun survey for me to review, and I think it was fun for many of you who suggested a favorite story. Most of the choices were unique, but David and Goliath was chosen four times and several others were picked twice: Gideon, Jesus’s temptation, the Good Samaritan, and Jesus at Caesarea Philippi.

Of all the stories chosen, 70% are in OT. The other 30% were all in the Gospels. Of the stories selected in the OT, they were pretty evenly divided between these four groups: Pentateuch, Joshua-Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings, though 1-2 Samuel edged out the others because of the four votes for David and Goliath. Those who chose something in Kings went with a story about Elijah, except for one selection for Josiah and Neco and another for Adonijah’s attempted coup.

Perhaps the most curious vote was for “Enoch’s journey throughout the world,” with a helpful explanation for those of us who might be mystified: “Might not be in most Bibles, but it is in mine.” He or she is right: it’s not in most Bibles!

We should give an honorable mention to Tim Bulkeley for providing not just a suggestion but his own podcast (previously recorded) to explain it. He wrote, “The interplay of peasant (Boaz) and nomadic (Ruth) cultures in their interchange is such fun with her ‘but of course I'm not your servant’ as the key phrase.” The brief podcast provides a simplified summary.

I can’t cover everyone’s choice, so I thought I’d just select one from each of the above sections of the Bible and quote the explanation given. Perhaps this will stir your own thoughts or send you back to the Bible to read the story afresh.


Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the LORD at Penuel. Why?

When I read Genesis Chapter 32 I can picture Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the LORD there at Peniel (Penuel) and I can almost feel myself sitting there in the background watching as Jacob was able to keep the match up through the night. This must have been an amazing sight to see.

Agreed! This is one of my favorite places to visit in Jordan!

Jabbok River near fords, tb030815364


Samson. Why?

Well, it's probably my second favorite after David and Goliath. But, it’s always amazing to stand in Beth Shemesh and read the story of Samson and visualize the events in a new way. It’s one of those first moments in our trips where the Bible comes to life for people. It also brings richness to a very familiar story, in much the same way as reading David and Goliath in the Elah Valley.

Yes, indeed. This stop always gets me behind on the rest of the day because it’s so hard to resist going through the Samson story blow by blow.

Sorek Valley from Beth Shemesh view west, tb052405993

1-2 Samuel

Saul fighting the Philistines by Mount Gilboa and all the details surrounding that (1 Sam 28-31). Why?

It combines so many geographical details and routes around the Jezreel Valley, and even helps to make some significant historical connections (why were the people of Jabesh Gilead so concerned about Saul?)  If you count chapter 30, it even has interesting details about the Negev area.  Lots of interesting things happening, geographically.

All kinds of fascinating places here, including En Dor, Jezreel, and Beth Shean! Tour groups need to add an extra day to spend in this area.

Jezreel and Mount Gilboa aerial from west, ws011215042

1-2 Kings

Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and his race to Jezreel. Why?

From some vantage points you can see just about all locations and imagine the entire event unfolding before your eyes.

This is another story where I insist on reading the whole passage no matter how windy (or rainy) it is on top of that monastery’s roof!

Jezreel Valley from Mount Carmel panorama, tb032407526

The Gospels

The woman at the well. Why?

Messiah revealed at locale where previous covenants made, i.e., fulfilling the promises. So much to absorb being there. My favorite place in the land.

Great connection here! This story doesn’t “move” from one place to another, but the geographical background is so rich.

Shechem Jacob's well, pcm05907

This was fun. I have another idea for next week, so plan to stop by on Tuesday to share your favorite!



  • Thanks for the mention :)

    Of the ones other people listed my vote would go with Elijah, seeing the way the Carmel range sticks into the sea and the airflow catching moisture, as well as looking at the Jezreel plain spread out like a blanket, add richness. Though I think reading the Ba'al stories from Ras Shamra adds as much also, especially spice to Elijah's teasing. Asleep? That god's not asleep he's DEAD for crying out loud!

    By Blogger Tim Bulkeley, at Thu Aug 18, 05:15:00 PM  

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