Tour Destination - Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem

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Tour Destination - Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem
Norman A. Rubin

Many of my articles written for Associated Content had used informative material from Bible Lands Museum current and past exhibitions and from their extensive archives. The curators of the museum were quite forthcoming and I appreciated their kind assistance and guidance. Now I would like my readers to learn about the museum and their aim and objectives.

When he bought an ancient cylinder seal way back in 1943, Near Eastern scholar Dr. Elie Borowski (1913-2003) never suspected he was sealing his future. For that seal was destined to be the first in a remarkable collection, which has swollen over the years to over 1,400 examples.

What started as an academic's hobby became the passion of a life time - ultimate leading to Jerusalem, where Borowski's collection plus more than 300 other relics form civilizations of the biblical era, have gone on show in a new museum built to his exact specification. The Bible Lands Museum is located, aptly enough, between Jerusalem's past and present; between the shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are kept, and the Knesset, Israeli parliament.

"The future of mankind has its roots in the past," said Eli Borowski, explaining both his fascination for these ancient artifacts, and his collection's significance to the general viewer. The seals form the nucleus of the museum, while the rest of the collection includes a wealth of objects either donated or released on permanent loan.

A treasure trove of history, the museum is a good starting point for any visitor arriving in Israel to explore sites mentioned in the Scriptures. Bible in hand, one can join the Exodus while examining artifacts from Ancient Egypt; "these are the names of the Israelites who entered Egypt... " (Exodus 1:1) Moving on to another gallery, one imagines the thunder of battle and clash of arms while looking at the implements of war: "A sword for the Lord and for Gideon.." (Judges 7:20). The Prophet Elijahs mockery of the Canaanite god Baal, the promise of a 'New Jerusalem' by the Prophet Isaiah, Jeremiah's warning of the punishment for false religions, and Ezekiel's prophesies against the nations. All are brought vividly to mind by exhibits reflecting traditions, rituals and religions of the cultures of the period.

All the peoples mentions in the Bible are represented there: Philistines, Canaanites and Arameans, Hittites and Elamites, Phoenicians and Persians, Romans and Greeks. Each of the twenty galleries of the museum brings together finds from different regions, explaining interactions between ancient nations of the Near East through their seals, ivories, mosaics, sarcophagi and stelae.

One gallery, for instance, is devoted to the migration of eastern Mediterranean populations in the twelfth century BC. So while the Israelites are depicted conquering Canaan, the movements of the Philistines, Sardians, Sicilians and others (the Peoples of the Sea) are traced to the probable roots in the regions of the Black Sea and ancient Greece.

Although is dedicated to ancient times - from the hunting and gathering society of the prehistoric Neolithic period of 6,000 BC, to Rome's empire-building during the early Christian era and of the Byzantine Empire, the museum makes full use of modern, state of the art technology. In the gallery devoted to Symbolic Communications, an interactive computerized exhibit shows the many different uses of seals, illustrating 3000 years of glyptic art.

In fact, you could not find a more user-friendly ways of getting in touch with the past; "And see the Land what it is and the people that dwelleth therein (Numbers 13:18). As a visitor to the museum you will come away enriched with greater knowledge of biblical events and the understanding of the Bible's influence on Western civilization and world events

For further information contact:
Bible Lands Museum
Museum Row, 25 Granot Street,
P.O Box 4670,
Jerusalem 91046 , Israel
Tel: 972-2-5611066
Fax: 972-2 5638228
E-mail : contact@blmj.org: URL: http://www.blmj.org/

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