Earlier this year I visited Israel’s Timna Park for the first time in years. Most visitors to Israel never see the southern part of the country since most of the biblical record occurred farther north.
So I thought I’d share a few photos, video, and maps to give you a taste of this seldom-seen site in southern Israel.
Between the copper mines, the formations called “Solomon’s Pillars,” and a replica of the Tabernacle, there’s plenty to see.
Let’s take a look.
A Moving Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
This time-lapse video was published the same month I visited Timna Park (March 2014). The beautiful photography captures well the spectacular landscapes offered by this beautiful part of Israel.
(Note to your ears: Unless you enjoy the rock group Strangeways, you might mute your audio and play some Mozart instead.)
Patches of black on the red, brown, and white of the Arava cliffs betray the presence of heat even more intense than that furnished by nature. —Jerome Murphy-O’Connor (The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide)
The beautiful Nubian sandstone formations called “Solomon’s Pillars” are Timna Park’s best-known attraction. If you’re surefooted, a climb up these formations offers a rewarding view for hikers of all ages.
This Google Street View at Solomon’s Pillars gives you a sense of the beauty of this area.
Beside and behind the pillars rest ruins from Egyptian idol worship, complete with a carving of Ramesses III offering a sacrifice to the god Hathor.
The Lord promised the Hebrews after they entered the Promised Land, they could dig copper out of the hills (Deuteronomy 8:9). Nowhere is this better seen in Israel than in the Timna Valley.
Here are some of the oldest copper mines in the world, dating to the Chalcolithic period (3500 BC). Visitors today can see the quarries and carefully explore them.
- The copper slabs dug from these pits and caves were made into bronze tools and weapons.
- Some archaeologists believed that Solomon dug copper here, but more probably he mined at Punon, or modern Feinan.
- Until the 1970s, the Timna Copper Mines—an Israeli company—quarried copper from the Timna Valley.
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Timna Park’s Tabernacle
In Timna Park, a full-scale replica of the Tabernacle stands in the very wilderness where Moses and the children of Israel wandered for forty years. The model is reproduced in exact accordance with the specifications outlined in Exodus 40:34-38.
A Christian group offers tours of the model and educates guests on its various pieces of furniture as well as the rituals involved in the annual Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—when the sins of the people fell upon a sacrifice.
The book of Hebrews likens these elements to the Messiah. Read these verses out loud and ponder:
Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. —Hebrews 10:19-23
We may have hearts sprinkled clean, and while we rejoice in our freedom from sin, we never should forget our debt to Jesus.