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Jesus Calming the Sea

Mark 4:35-41
35 - On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross
       over to the other side.”
36 - Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He
       was. And other little boats were also with Him.
37 - And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was
       already filling.
38 - But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to
       Him, “Teacher, do you not care we are perishing?”
39 - Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace be still!” And the
       wind ceased and there was a great calm.
          Jesus may have performed a miracle or understood that on the Sea of Galilee there were occasional microbursts of wind. A micro burst is a down pouring of air generally less than a mile in diameter that spreads out across the surface of the water causing waves and high wind velocity. Generally a micro burst lasts around 15 to 20 minutes. It is quite possible that Jesus understood this and was not alarmed.

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Casting their Nets

Luke 5:1-7
1 - So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God that he stood
     by the Lake of Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee)
2 - And saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and
     were washing their nets.
3 - Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a
      little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
4 - When He stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let
     down your nets for a catch.”
5 - But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught
     nothing; never the less at Your word I will let down the net.”
6 - And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was
     breaking.
7 - So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they
     came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Jesus once again may have performed a miracle but it may be that He noted birds circling out over the deep a sign that there were fish near the surface. Bird hundreds of feet above the water can see a school of fish that are not readily visible to those close to the water surface. Birds also can smell the oil given off by fish and can follow the scent trail to where fish are near the surface or are being forced to the surface by predators.


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The Walls of Jericho

          The Biblical story of the Walls of Jericho1 is found in the 6th chapter of the Old Testament Book of Joshua. According to the Biblical account God commanded Joshua to take the walled city of Jericho. Supposedly this occurred around 1400 BCE. Joshua was instructed to take the Ark of the Covenant and march around the perimeter of the walled city of Jericho once a day for six days with men with armament and seven priests with rams’ horns sounding. On the seventh day they were to march seven times around the city blowing their rams’ horns. At the finish of the seventh lap the priests were to give a long blast on the horns and the people were to make a great shout. At that moment the walls of Jericho collapsed and the Israelites were able to enter and take the city. The settlement of Jericho appears to date from as early as 7825 BCE. Archeologist Kathleen Kenyon believes the walls were 6’-6” thick and from 12 to 17 feet in height. The population of Jericho may have been around 2,000 inhabitants situated on 6 ½ acres. Archeologist Carl Watzinger, excavating Jericho in the period 1907-1909, speculated that “in the time of Joshua, Jericho was a heap of ruins, on which stood a few isolated huts”.
          Whether the walls of Jericho had collapsed prior to the time of Joshua is not something that is within the scope of this article. What is important is the need to provide a rational answer as to how the walls collapsed. According to the Biblical text it is God who brings the walls down and allows the Israelites to enter the city. What is troubling about this account is when the Israelites entered the city they “—utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both men and woman, young and old, ox, sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.” Joshua 6:21. Once again God is portrayed not as a peacemaker but a murderer; a murderer of children. That should suggest that this account has been embellished.
          How did the walls collapse? One obvious solution involves an earthquake in the immediate region, however It would be extremely unlikely that this would occur at the exact moment that the people began to shout on the seventh day. A more likely scenario would have the Israelites either feeling the earthquake or hearing from others that the walls of Jericho had collapse and then took advantage of the situation.
          Several years ago a television documentary proposed the idea that the sound of the trumpets and shouting of the people created enough sonic energy to collapse the walls. To prove their idea they erected a small wall consisting of a single course of brick and mortar and mounted it in a sound proof chamber. For the trumpets they substituted an electrically driven siren. The door to the chamber was shut and the siren turned on and the brick wall began to vibrate and most likely would have collapsed eventually. The problem with their idea is the fact that they had to place the demonstration is a sound proof room as the decibel2 emission was so high it would have destroyed their hearing.
          A decibel, designated (dB), is defined as a logarithmic unit that indicates the ratio of the physical quantity (usually power or intensity) relative to a specified or implied reference level.
Normal conversation is usually rated at 60 decibels (dB).Telephone dial tone rated at 80 dB
Truck Traffic or train whistle at 90 dB. Jack Hammer at 95 dB and is a level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss. A loud rock concert may reach 115 dB. At 125 dB hearing becomes painful. I can attest to that. Some years ago my eldest daughter had me drop her off at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California for a rock concert. Several hours later I returned to pick her up and could clearly hear the music from blocks away. The show was about over and the ticket attendant let me enter. When I reached my daughter I had to shout in her ear in order for her to hear me over the din of the music. Pain begins at 125 dB and at 140 dB exposure for even a short time can result in permanent damage and hearing loss. A jet engine produces 140 dB at full throttle. A 12 gauge shotgun blast produces 165 dB and at 180 dB any exposure results in permanent loss of hearing. The space shuttle launch, at half a mile, results in 170 dB and a definite pounding in the chest.
          In historic times there have been high decibel readings such as the explosion of the Krakatoa volcano in 1883 was about 180 dB and the sound was heard on Rodrigues Island located to the East of Madagascar some 3,000 miles away. The sound wave was reported to have traveled around the world seven times. Perhaps the largest decibel reading of all time was the explosion of the meteor over Tunguska in Russian Siberia on the 30th of June, 1908. It produced a decibel reading of as high as 315 dB and flattened hundreds of square miles of forest.
          In order for the walls of Jericho to collapsed by sound alone the decibel reading would have to have been well above 300 dB, a range mere ram’s horns could not possibly reach. A decibel range that not only would have collapsed the walls of Jericho but killed every human in the area. Obviously it wasn’t the sound of rams’ horns or the shouting of the people that caused the walls of Jericho to collapse.
          There is a possibility that the sound of the rams horns and shouts of the people did have something to do with the walls collapsing by masking the sound of what may well have been the real cause; the sound of digging. If a frontal assault on the walls would have proven too costly in casualties then undermining the wall would be a possible solution. The Israelis would start digging weeks in advance and once they reached the base of the wall they would branch out laterally in two directions under the wall perhaps 20 to 30 feet in either direction. This type of excavation under the wall would require timber supports to keep the wall from collapsing in on the excavators and would require hammering beams into place and driving wedges. All of this work would make a level of noise that the inhabitants of the city could hear unless it was masked by noise outside. This is where the ram’s horns and shouting would mask the noise made underground.
Two scenarios:

Support removal by fire
           The wood columns on the outer face of the excavation (A) would be separated from the face of the excavation (as shown in the sketch ) and the wood columns on the side of the excavation (B) nearest the city would be buried in the excavation and plastered over with mud or brick to make them fireproof. Once the excavation was complete small holes would be dug to the surface outside the walls to allow for smoke to escape and brush and firewood would be piled in the excavation and set on fire. The smoke would exit the small holes and create an updraft that would insure that the fire became intense. The exposed outer columns and ceiling beams would eventually burn through and commence the wall to pivot and collapse outward under its own weight. This scenario is mere speculation but perhaps some future archeological excavation may find evidence that this was the way the walls of Jericho came down.

Support removal by Oxen
          Rather than setting fire to the supports, and alerting the inhabitants, a quicker method would involve ropes tied around each of the outer support posts (A). The rope would be taken down the tunnel and attached to horses or oxen who would pull and cause the supports to fail and cause the wall to pivot outward and collapse.

NOTES:

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_of_Jericho
2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decibel2) http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.htmlyour paragraph here.

MIRACLES

What is a “Miracle”?

There are four accepted definitions of the miraculous. The dictionary defines a miracle as :
- An event attributed to divine intervention in nature or human affairs. It may also be worked

   through a saint, religious leader or miracle worker.
- A fortuitous event. “It was  miracle. If I had been delayed in crossing the intersection by a

   second I would have been broadsided  by that car that ran a red light and would have been

   killed.”
- An event that is statistically extremely unlikely. “The odds of winning were 1 in 17,000,000

   but miraculously I won the lottery.”
- An ordinary natural event that the observer, or observers, misinterpret and describe as

   miraculous.
          Biblical miracles, if taken literally, tend to reduce Biblical stories to fairy-tales. Granted there may well be real miracle, such as the raising of he dead and curing leprosy, but there are many that are events for which the observer didn’t understand that what transpired was a natural event and assumed that it must have been the result of a miracle. The Bible was written in a period of  considerable ignorance of nature and anything that could be considered science was centuries in the future. To show what is reputed to be a miracle is of natural cause does not denigrate the Bible but removes it from the realm of myth to the realm of reality. There may well have been miracles performed by Jesus but they should be reserved for those events that cannot be explained as natural events.
         Generally there is no way of definitively proving or disproving claims of the
Biblical miracles which happened long ago and all that is available are the words of those reporting the miracle; however, there are some for which plausible natural explanations can be offered.

How Did They Engrave the Diamond in the Chief Priest’s Breast Plate
            According to Exodus 28: 18 & 21 the breast plate of the Chief Priest of the Temple had a diamond mounted with the name of a tribe engraved. A Moh number (see note 1)of a substance indicates it’s harness. A diamond has a Moh number of ten and is the hardest substance known and in the ancient world there was nothing available that would allow for engraving a diamond. Engraving letters and numbers onto a diamond didn’t become possible until late in the 20th century with the invention of the Laser. Even so they were able to  engrave a ‘diamond’ in the chief priest’s breastplate.
          How the ancients accomplished this feat requires a solution to another Biblical problem. Biblical scholars have argued for ages over what is bdellium (see note 2) and eben hashshoham (see note 3) of Genesis 2:12. Some believe that the bdellium is a tree sap that forms a gum resin that since ancient times has been traded along with myrrh and frankincense and used for making incense, perfumes and as the holy oil of the Jews. Bdellium has also been suspected of being the pearls (see note 4) found in the waters of Bahrain an island off the east coast of modern day Saudi Arabia. The Hebrews had a name for pearls and it was a common trade item in ancient times and thus there would be no doubt as to what it was.
          Although bdellium was known from ancient times, it was first discovered by Westerners in 1822 in the far southwestern province of Jizan in modern day Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea coast. The bdellium of the area is known as “commiphora Africana” and is generally used as an adulterant for the more expensive myrrh (see note 5), “commiphora myrrha”, found further south in Yemen and Oman.
           ‘Eben hasshoham’ poses a mystery. The Jewish Torah in English (see note 6) refers to it as Lapis Lazuli, as does E. A. Speiser’s in ‘The Anchor Bible’ (see note 7). The King James Bible, and others, specifies Onyx stone. All three indicate that they are not certain of the meaning. There are no indications from the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, or any Saudi Arabian Government websites, that either onyx stone or lapis lazuli is found in Saudi Arabia. The nearest source of lapis lazuli is hundreds of miles away in Afghanistan and the nearest onyx stone is found in Pakistan. What then could the ‘eben hashshoham’ be? The Jewish Encyclopedia believes it to be some form of crystal as the name seems to imply.   
     Onyx stone may not be found in Saudi Arabia but is found on an island off of the coast of Yemen and may have been a trade item brought up the coast by caravans. However I doubt this is what the verse is trying to describe as onyx stone was well known to the ancient Hebrews and they had a name for it. There is another mineral found in Saudi Arabia, near the town of Qaysumah (Qaisumah), a part of Hafar Al-Batin, along the banks of the Wadi Al-Batin not long after it enters Saudi Arabia. During my time working in Saudi Arabia these stones were referred to as “Saudi Diamonds”, “Desert Diamonds” or “Qaisumah Diamonds (see note 8)”. They are not true Diamonds but rather very clear crystals of quartz found lying on the surface of the desert. They are collected by venturing out into the desert at dawn and facing away from the rising sun and looking for sunlight reflecting off the pebbles of quartz.  Crystals that have been on the surface for some time, and abraded by the blowing sand, will glow whereas newly exposed crystals will sparkle. Quartz, with a Moh number of 7 is much easier to cut and polish than a true diamond with a Moh number of 10. Once polished they look and have nearly the fire of a true diamond.
        The Qaisumah Diamond most likely the diamond that decorated the breast plate of the Jewish chief priest of the temple. The Qaisumah diamonds shown below are fingernail size but I have seen palm size specimens.
     According to Exodus 28: a diamond  was indeed in the breast plate and that diamond had the name of a tribe of Israel engraved on it; a feat that would have been impossible for the ancient Hebrews to accomplish on a true diamond; but possible on a soft quartz stone that looked like a diamond. There are similar quartz crystals, Herkimer diamons ( ee note 9) found in the Precambrian rock that formed 500,000,000 years ago in Herkimer, New York.
     A caravan heading to the gold mines of Mahd adh Dhahab10 in Havilah would pass through the area where the desert diamonds are found and therefore it is very possible that these desert diamonds are the ‘eben hashshoham’ that has puzzled scholars for generations.


NOTES:
  1) Moh number https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale_of_mineral_hardness
  2) Bdellium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/bdellium
  3) eben hasshoham http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6574-gems 
  4) Pearls http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl#Hebrew_scriptures
  5) Myrrh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrrh
  6) Torah in English https://jps.org/contact
  7) AnchorBible https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchor_Bible_Series
  8) Quysumah Diamond http://www.sauditodayonline.com/useful-articles/desert-diamonds
  9) Herkimer diamond https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herkimer_diamond
10) Mahd ahd Dhahab gold mine

    

 

 

 


             

                  






 

                        Qaisumah Diamonds, Saudi Diamonds or Desert Diamonds

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THE FIRST MIRACLE, WATER INTO WINE


          The story of the first miracle, of turning water into wine, is described in the book of John chapter 2 verses 1-11. See note 1. The verses state –
1- On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there,
2 - Now Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding.
3 - And when they ran out of wine the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
4 - Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
5 - His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
6 - Now there were set there six water pots of stone according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.
7- Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
8 - And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.
9 - When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.
10 - And he said to him, ”Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now.”
11 - This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee , and manifest His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. 
          If it is accepted that Jesus turned water into wine then it raises the problem of why greenish-yellow glass is not found all over Northern Israel. Water, H2O, is composed of Hydrogen and Oxygen; but the sugar in grape juice is  C12H12O11 and the resultant alcohol is C2H6O. It is obvious where the Hydrogen and Oxygen came from but where did the Carbon come from? In addition where did the trace compounds containing the atoms of potassium, sodium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur and chlorine that account for 0.2% to 0.6% of the weight of the grape juice come from? In nature these atoms are created from Hydrogen only in the bowels of massive stars where the pressure and temperature is high enough to create new elements. The temperature required is similar to that produced in a thermonuclear explosion. Considering even the smallest quantiy of wine supposedly made from water and the thermonuclear reaction required would have destroyed every living thing in the north of Israel. It is up to those that claim this was a miracle to explain how Jesus managed to circumvent the laws of nature without massive destruction.

Was it Wine or Grape Juice
Before the question of how the miracle of changing water into wine may have happened it is necessary to answer the question as to whether it was wine that came out of the absolution jar or grape juice.
          Many years ago I attended a church where the pastor was giving a sermon concerning the question of whether Jesus drank alcoholic wine or unfermented grape juice. His conclusion was that Jesus was drinking grape juice and never would have produced, or drunk, an intoxicating alcoholic beverage. Apparently this belief is still prevalent amongst some denominations; a question that, from a reading of the Biblical text, should be evident that Jesus, like the custom of his day, drank wine. The King James Bible uses the word wine as do other bible versions. The Hebrew language has words to describe wine and grape juice. Tirosh is unfermented grape juice. Yayin is fermented grape juice that is wine. Shakar is a strong wine, most likely made by the addition of honey to the fermentation to increase the alcoholic content. Matthew 9-17 says “ Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled and the wineskins are ruined”. What Matthew is saying is placing grape juice in an old wine sack that is saturated with yeast residue from previous wine, the yeast will begin a fermentation process and convert the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide gas will buildup pressure and burst the animal skin sack. “New Wine” may be a way that people of that era referred to fresh squeezed grape juice. This is a phrase that is not used when Jesus is drinking wine, which very definitely contained alcohol.
          People in Jesus time drank wine for a number of reasons; the most probable was it resulted in less stomach problems than if they drank water alone. The Romans built aqua ducts to bring fresh water into major towns, but in Israel the countryside water often came from rivers and streams that may have been contaminated with sewage and animal waste. As a result diarrhea was most likely common and the people knew that by drinking wine the incident of developing diarrhea was much less. 1st Timothy 5-23 “No longer drink water alone, but use a little wine for your stomachs sake and your frequent infirmities.”  confirms this. In Genesis 9-20:22   it is very clear that Noah harvested grapes and made wine and got himself falling down drunk.
          Regardless of the indications in the Biblical verses that alcoholic wine was drunk, and not grape juice, there will be those that will insist that Jesus drank unfermented grape juice. For those that still believe that Jesus would not partake of alcoholic wine there is a way of determining if this was so. Think once again like a detective investigating a crime scene. Start by asking questions and gathering facts.

When did Jesus supposedly drink “wine”?
          Although Jesus is reputed to have turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana it is presumed that he did drink some of the wine but there is no clear indication that he did. However, Jesus is reported to have drunk wine at the Last Supper that occurred just prior to the Jewish Passover and his crucifixion. What year the crucifixion took place is still an unsettled question as there are indications that Jesus may actually have been born around April of 4 BC and not December 25th. However, it is not necessary to know the exact year as Passover occurs within a specific date range. According to the website snopes.com
                      http://www.snopes.com/holidays/easter/earlyeaster.asp
Passover may occur as early as 22 March and no later than April 25th.

Where did Jesus obtain the “grape Juice”?
Knowing when Jesus supposedly drank wine is crucial. Harvesting is dependent on weather conditions and generally occurs from mid September to mid October in Israel although harvest may occur as early as the last week of August and, on rare occasions, as late as mid November. A stretch of hot sunny days and the harvest may occur early; cool or rainy weather and the harvest can be delayed.


Is it possible that Jesus could have obtained unfermented grape juice?
          In Israel grapes are the size of BB shot, green, hard, bitter and are not a source of juice during the months of March and April. The only possibility is grape juice derived from the previous years harvest and only if there were a means of preserving the grape juice. See photo number 1 for appearance of grapes on May 1st. when they are useless for extracting grape juice and photo number 2 for the appearance of grapes in late September when they are ripe, harvested and pressed to extract grape juice.

Is it possible that Jesus was able to preserve last year’s grape juice?
          Some have stated that since the making of wine requires the addition of yeast and suigar that grape juice could be preserved in an unfermented state simply by not adding these ingredients. This belief is evidently from those with a very poor understanding of how wine is made, particularly during the time of Jesus.
          In the modern era grapes are harvested, run through a destemming machine that removes leaves and stems and macerates the grapes. The crushed grapes and juice (now called Must) are pumped into tanks and 24 hours later a pure yeast strain, obtained from a laboratory, such as the University of California at Davis, is introduced to the must and fermentation begins usually within less than 24 hours. If the grapes are harvested when ripe they may register anywhere from 23-25 Brix; a measure of the sugar content given in grams of sugar per 100 milliliters of juice, and measured with a refractometer. A Brix reading in the range  of 23-25 is sufficient to produce a wine of 11% - 13% alcohol by volume. The addition of sugar is not necessary as all the sugar necessary is contained in the grapes.
          In Jesus time there were no laboratories from which pure yeast strains could be obtained nor were there markets where one could obtain packets or blocks of bakers yeast such as Red Star or Fleishmann’s.. To get fermentation started the addition of yeast wasn’t available or necessary. Close inspection of harvested wine making grapes will reveal a faint white coating on the grape skin where the grape attaches to the stem. This is yeast that occurs naturally. Any grapes once harvested and macerated will begin to
ferment within 48 hours unless something is done to prevent fermentation.
          Try this experiment to demonstrate that freshly harvested grapes, once pressed to
extract the juice, will commence to ferment into alcoholic wine without the addition of yeast. Obtain two small glass bottles, a cork that will fit in the neck of one of the bottles, a length small plastic tubing and the glass portion of an eye dropper. Drill a hole in the cork large enough to fit the plastic tubing, as shown in photograph number 3, into the cork and insert the eye dropper into the other end of the plastic tubing.
          Obtain fresh grapes from the vine, not grapes purchased in a market as these grapes may have had the yeast removed through washing and do not wash the grapes prior to crushing. Remove the grape berries from the stems and mash them up and pour through a cloth or sieve to obtain juice only. Continue until you have enough juice to fill the bottle with the cork stopper about half full. Fit the tubing snuggly into the cork and insert the cork into the bottle and insure that there is an air tight seal. Immerse the eyedropper end into the small bottle and fill the small bottle with water sufficient to cover the eyedropper with water. Place the above in a warm place and observe every day. In about 48 hours bubbles should appear coming out of the eyedropper. This is an indication that the yeast is converting the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas that is being vented through the end of the eyedropper. An even simpler method requires merely attaching a balloon to the bottle containing grape juice and securing it with a rubber band, As the grape juice ferments it will produce carbon dioxide gas that will cause the balloon to expand proving that once grapes are crushed they will start to ferment and produce alcohol.


Is it possible that some method was employed to prevent fermentation?
          True, heating the grape juice (must) to 150 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the yeast and prevent fermentation; the problem is storage. Storing the must in a wine skin will start fermentation as the wine skin is contaminated with yeast from the previous wine content. Storage in an amphora poses the same problem as the interior surface is covered in crazing; small microscopic cracks that are reservoirs for yeast cells and assorted bacteria. In Jesus time the idea of sterilizing a container was unknown and attempts to store grape juice would invariably result in a fermented grape juice, spoilage through bacterial infection or the juice will ferment into wine and then, with exposure to air, turn to vinegar. Wild yeast strains abound in nature and contamination is virtually assured unless a chemical, such a Potassium Bisulfide, is introduced to discourage bacteria and yeast growth.
          There is a second method that involves reducing the grape juice to a thick viscous liquid or a paste.  Take a pot and fill it half full of water and place it on a fire and bring it to a boil. On top of this pot place another pot into which the grape juice is poured. Stir until the juice has been reduced to a thick liquid or a paste.
          This juice, or paste, can later be reconstituted by dissolving in water. In any case the problem of storage will be the same as with plain grape juice. Store the results at room temperature and after four or five months storage the result will most likely be a fermented product or a spoiled moldy concoction. In the early days of home wine making tins of concentrated grape juice were available. The producers of the concentrates were known as “kettle jockeys” and the resulting wine was drinkable but hardly what one would call a “good wine”, much less “award winning”.  After several months storage of the resulting concentrate reconstitute it with water. If it doesn’t appear spoiled, or hasn’t fermented into wine or oxidized into vinegar take a sip. The heating of the grape juice removes some of the components that produce the bouquet and flavor and you will find that the taste has diminished in quality compared to the original grape juice, just like the concentrate produced by the “kettle jockeys” of years past.
          At the wedding at Cana the headwaiter is heard to exclaim “Every one serves choice wine first; then, when the guests have been drinking awhile, the inferior wine. But you have
kept the choice wine until now.” John 1 – verse 10. This is a phrase that is only applicable to alcoholic beverages; definitely not to unfermented grape juice. Ergo, Jesus drank alcoholic wine.


How was the miracle performed?
          First, I don’t believe that Jesus set out to fool anyone. The clue to what may have happened lies in the statement of the headwaiter when he exclaimed that it was his experience that the best wine was served first and then after the guests taste perceptions were dulled by the good wine then the lesser quality wine was served. At Cana it was the opposite and the best was served in the beginning and then afterward by the wine from the absolution jars which was declared “choice”. In Jesus day red wine was the wine that most people drank, particularly the poorer class. The conditions under which wine was made in Jesus time were primitive and the quality was at best what we would today probably consider a cheap table wine. The grapes were stomped in stone or wooden containers with the bare feet, thus introducing bacteria into the must. Wine was fermented in, and the finished wine stored in, glazed vessels with crazing or wooden containers, both of which through repeated use built up reservoirs of bacteria and produced a generally poor quality wine.

The most probable answer
     The most obvious possibility is that the wine was a white wine of a Muscat type such as Mareoticumm, a wine made from an Egyptian grapes grown at the time of Jesus that was said to be white, sweet, fragrant and light in color. If so then the story is not a myth as the wine is not only very pale in color but has a fragrant aroma and is a very flavorful wine that would definitely prove to be a “choice” wine. To demonstrate this obtain a bottle of ordinary cheap red table wine and a bottle of Muscat, Rhine, Gwertziminer or German May wine. Note that there is a striking difference in taste and bouquet and that all four are nearly colorless. White wine would also be expensive and most likely the people of Cana would never have seen a good white wine as red wine was the usual local drink.
          On a visit to the Chateau San Michael winery in Washington state at the tasting bar I was given a glass of white wine. On the counter was a pitcher of water and empty glasses and I filled one with water and held both glasses up to the light and asked my wife which one was wine. She could not tell the difference and neither could the barista.
     It was the custom of the day to dilute wine with water and this may be the most important clue of all. Jesus may have arrived with only one Greek amphora or two Roman amphorae of a flavorful white wine. The wine Jesus provided was poured into the absolution jars to fill them to half full and then the jars were topped off with water by the servants to produce the customary drink. It may have been at this point that John noting the servants drawing water from a well and pouring it into the absolution jars and seen the wine poured in and from its clear color assumed it too was water. When the headwaiter was offered a sample and declared it choice wine John, witnessing only what he assumed was water entering the jars, reasonably assumed it must be a miracle.
     What actually happened at the wedding at Cana may never be known with certainty but it is reasonable to assume that the “miracle” may simply be an ordinary event that was misinterpreted by the witness and author.

 




















     Picture – 1 Unripe grapes the 1st of May

 

      


















                         Picture - 2   Grapes ready for harvesting in late September.





















          Picture – 3  Carbon Dioxide gas being produced by fermenting grape juice

     There are other expanations involving the clarification of red wine that improves the taste and also removes the red color. This can be done with either charcoal, skimmed milk or egg white. The book ‘The Evolution of Genesis’ discusses these techniques in detail but white wine is the better explanation.

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The Final Resting place of Noah’s Ark

     The tradition that Noah’s ark landed upon Mount Ararat is the result of not paying attention to what the Bible clearly states. Supposed C.I.A. photos of a mysterious ship like shape on Ararat, claims that the ark was found but the photo evidence was lost in the decent from the mountain, samples of wood supposedly taken from the ark but shown to be of a relatively recent age. The book of Genesis of the Anchor Bible Series, the King James Bible and the Torah all state that  the landing site was not on Mount Ararat singular but in the mountains of Ararat plural indicating a mountain range or foothills.


King James Bible Genesis 8:4 –
“Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.”

Anchor Bible Genesis 8:4 -
“In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the Ararat range.

Torah Genesis 8:4 –
So that in the seventh month of the seventeenth day of themonth, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

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The Feeding of the Multitudes 

From the Gospel of John Chapter 6, Verses 1-15 in the Anchor Bible Series, as translated by Raymond E. Brown, SS, Professor of Biblical Studies, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, N.Y.
1- Later on Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee (to the shore of) to Tiberius,
2-  but a large crowd kept following him because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
3- So Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.
4- The Jewish feast of the Passover was near.
5- When Jesus looked up, he caught sight of a large crowd coming toward him; so he said to Philip, “Where shall we ever buy bread for these people to eat?”
6- (Actually, of course, he was perfectly aware if what he was going to do, but he asked this to test Philip’s reaction.)
7- He replied, “Not even with two hundred days wages could we buy enough loaves to give each of them a mouthful.”
8- One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, remarked to him,
9- “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and a couple of dried fish, but what good is that for so many?”
10- Jesus said, “Get the people to sit down.” Now the men numbered about five thousand, but there was plenty of grass for them to find a seat.
11- Jesus then took the loaves of bread, gave thanks, and passed them around to those sitting there, and he did the same with the dried fish- just as much as they wanted.
12- When they had enough, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments that are left over so that nothing will perish.”
13- And so they gathered twelve baskets full of fragments left over by those who had been fed with the five barley loaves.
14- Now when the people saw the sign(s) he had performed, they began to say, “This is undoubtedly the Prophet who is to come into the world.
15- With that Jesus realized that they would come and carry him off to make him king, so he fled back into the mountain alone.
            A possible answer to this ‘miracle’ requires understanding that when the people left their village and traveled to meet Jesus they would have done the sensible thing and ‘packed a lunch’. Dried fish and bread were the staples they most likely would have brought with them in addition to perhaps a wine sack of wine or water. The young lad that offered up the fish and loaves of bread was typical of what a person in those days would have carried with them knowing that they would be gone for most of the day and there were no other source of food or drink. When Jesus ask his disciples to gather up the remains they were gathering up fish and bread that the people had brought with them and were answering Jesus sermon of helping the poor. There was no miracle other than that which the author John mistakenly perceived.

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The Miracle of Jesus Walking on Water

          Jesus leaves his disciples and walks toward Capernaum some ten miles away on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. His disciples take their boat and commence fishing and later row toward Capernaum. When they reach the near the shore it is niht time and in the darkness they see a figure walking toward them that they recognize as Jesus and he appears to be walking on water. They are at first frightened and then mystified as to how this can be. Peter answers Jesus call and steps out of the boat into deep water and Jesus has to rescue him.  Others have tried to explain this miracle by offering the possibility that there was an unusually cold spell that froze the Sea of Galilee along the shore and that Jesus was walking on ice. The problem with this explanation is the disciples in the boat certainly would have recognized that there was ice and that is what was supporting Jesus.
          A recent episode of “Turn On” featured a way of walking on a liquid. A large trough was filled with a mixture of water and corn starch that formed a gooey paste. If one slowly placed their hand in the goop it acted like a liquid. If one struck it wit the fist it acted like a solid and resisted penetration. The actors could walk on the surface if they placed their feet down forcefully. If they stopped moving they would sink. The mixture of corn starch and water has the property of acting as a liquid and also as a solid. Although this demonstration presented an interesting phenomenon it is certain that the Sea of Galilee did not contain corn starch as corn starch is made from corn and corn came to the Middle east from South America nearly fifteen centuries later.
          There are small insects that can walk upon water by utilizing waters surface tension. A massive heavy body of a human cannot support walking on water. For Jesus to have appeared to be walking on water he must have had a solid surface under him. It is possible that Jesus was walking in very shallow water right next to a sharp drop-off which Peter happened to step into. A more probable answer is found by reviewing a map of the area around the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum such as that shown in Map 1. The map shows clearly that there were breakwaters and piers in the 1st century. A wind was blowing and it was dark out and Jesus was merely walking on a pier or breakwater that was hidden from view by wind borne waves washing over the surface. When Peter exited the boat he stepped not onto a solid surface but into deep water.

                     



          

























 







 Map 1 Northern part of the Sea of Galilee showing locations of docks and breakwater 

           structures of the 1st century. 

                            courtesy of Mendel Nun  www.thehouseofanchors.com
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The Shroud of Turin

          Several television documentaries have been made of the testing of the Shroud of Turin, the supposed shroud that covered the body of Jesus. In ---- a photographer took a photograph of the shroud and was amazed that the negative revealed the face and body of a man. For centuries believers had accepted that this was the burial shroud of Jesus and now the negative image revealed the face of what was presumed to be the face and body of Jesus. Many skeptics were not convinced suspected the shroud a fake. Eventually in ---- the church finally allowed the shroud to be examined scientifically. A group of scientist convened at the   The conclusion was that the shroud was produced in the 14th century. Others have labored to prove that the evidence was flawed and that the shroud was genuine. The website Creationtips  http://www.creationtips.com/shroud.html lists 12 reasons to suspect that the shroud is a 14th century forgery. I agree with some and add a new reason to believe the shroud is 14th century forgery.
1) The Shroud of Turin is a 14 foot 3 inch by 3 foot 7 inch continuous linen sheet that the body lays upon and is then folded up to cover the top of the body from the head to the feet. The Biblical text clearly states that Jesus body was wrapped in cloths, not a single cloth. Jewish burial customs of that time required the body to be wrapped with strips of cloth and the Bible says nothing of Jesus being wrapped in a shroud. See John 19:40 “Then they took the body of Jesus and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.”
John 20:5 – And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did
not go in. 6 – Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 – And the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying
with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. The plural word ‘cloths’ does not fit with the singular shroud.
2) Creationtips states that ‘Recent discovery of a cloth in Jerusalem, dating from the time of Christ, was of a simple two-way weave and not the twill weave developed over a thousand years later and used in the production of the Shroud of Turin.”  Cloth in the twill pattern have been found in the ancient salt mines of Hallstatt, Austria and are dated to at least 200 BCE so that argument is not valid..
See:   http://greatshroudofturionfaq.com/History/Greek-Byzantine/herringbone2.html 
http://fu-berlin.academia.edu/SusannaHarris/Papers/487835/Cloth_Cultures_in Prehistoric_Europe_the_bronze_age_evidence A_from_hallstatt
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/shroud _of_turin
3) Creationtips further states that Jesuit priest Robert A. Wild expressed surprise that the bloodstains showed no trace of smearing after all the movement the body would have endured in transporting to the tomb. However, it is unknown how much time passed before Jesus body was finally wrapped in linen and the blood may have already dried and thus would not smear.
4) Wild does make a very valid observation that the arms cannot cover the genitals unless the elbows are supported or the wrists tied; neither of these appear in the shroud.
5) According to the Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13762a.htm
In 1389 the Bishop of Troyes appealed to Clement VII, the Avignon Pope then recognized in France, to put a stop to the scandals connected to the Shroud preserved  at Lirey. It was, the Bishop declared, the work of an artist who some years before had confessed to having painted it. The pope, without absolutely prohibiting the exhibition of the shroud, decided after full examination that in the future when it was shown to the people, the priest should declare in a loud voice that it was not the real shroud of Christ, but only a picture made to represent it.
Some, however, suspect that the Bishop of Troyes was jealous that pilgrims were going to the small town of Lirey rather than contributing to the construction of the cathedral in Troyes.
6) There is considerable dispute about the radio carbon-14 tests that indicate a date for the shroud of 1260 – 1390 AD. I find it difficult to believe that those taking the sample for testing would have taken a sample from a repaired part of the shroud which would indeed give a date in the early 14th century.
7) The most telling evidence, that the image on the shroud is a forgery,  is observing that when a cloth is lain over a body it doesn’t float flat above and parallel to the body it drapes over the body covering not only the top of the body but also the sides. If the shroud is picking up images of the body it will include the sides of the body as well as the top. When the shroud is laid flat on a table the sides of the head would fold out revealing the ears in a plan view or certainly the head grossly inflated. The body, arms and legs would also increase in size. In the diagram below the figure on the Shroud of Turin would apply only if the shroud was above the body as shown in the left hand figure. A shroud will drape over the body as in the figure to the right and when laid flat will show an enlarged distorted view. This is not the case with the shroud as it portrays a man with normal dimensions and therefore the Shroud of Turin is definitely a 14th century fake.

 

























                      Shroud floating above                           Shroud draped around body