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Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem is the world’s only museum devoted entirely to the history of the Bible and the Ancient Near East.

This museum displays a rare and unique collections from the lands of the Bible.

It has 20 galleries with thousands of artifacts and pieces from cultures such as ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Assyrian, and Israelite, and more.

The collection draws reaching from Afghanistan in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and the Caucasian mountains in the north to Nubia in the south.

The core exhibition displays a collection of ancient art and archaeology tracing the roots of monotheism.

The permanent exhibits gives greater appreciation and understanding of the biblical stories in the context of human history.

Museum presents temporary exhibitions, weekly lectures on archaeology, history and the Bible, and popular cultural events.

The best way to see the museum is with one of the free guided tours daily.

Check out the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem webpage for information on visiting hours, ticket prices, free guided tour hours, and how to get there by bus.

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PERMANENT EXHIBITS

The Bible Lands Museum takes visitors through the Ancient Near East to explore the people and civilizations in the Bible. 

INTRODUCTORY GALLERY

The entrance to the galleries features a large illuminated map showing the boundaries of the lands of the Bible.

Visitors can explore the areas covered by various ruling empires, trace the journey of Abraham, or study a time-line illustrating major historical events according to region and date.

The artifacts on display represent each of the 20 galleries of the main exhibition.

FROM HUNTER TO URBAN DWELLER

This gallery depicts the development of society from hunting and gathering until the dawn of civilization.

THE COMING OF CIVILIZATION

The first urban settlements evolved in the fourth millennium BCE.

Seals and amulets in the gallery represent concepts and beliefs in Mesopotamia at this time.

SYMBOLIC COMMUNICATION

This gallery features seals and 6,500 years of glyptic art (carving done primarily on precious stones).

Seals used in trade and commerce are one of the earliest examples of communication.

LITERATE VOICES, THE STORY OF WRITING

This gallery chronicles the development of written communication from its earliest forms: cuneiform, hieroglyphic, and alphabetic writing.

The development of writing was a revolutionary advancement which enabled a more cohesive culture across the ancient Near East.

THE PRE-PATRIARCHAL WORLD

This gallery features tools, documents and vehicles of the merchants of the ancient Near East.

In the third millennium BCE, Mesopotamia was the center of an international commercial system.

It reached from India in the east to Syria and Anatolia in the west.

THE SUMERIAN TEMPLE

This gallery shows the religious life of Sumer, in southern Mesopotamia.

The Ziggurat of Ur model and small religious statues depicts the world  of the gods and their relationship with mortals. 


OLD KINGDOM EGYPT

This gallery displays artifacts that show the great importance the Egyptians assigned to the afterlife.

A model of the royal burial grounds at Giza is situated at the center of the gallery. 

GENESIS 14, THE AGE OF WARFARE

This gallery illustrates that story with a variety of weapons and representations of warriors from the Early and Middle Bronze Age.

Genesis 14 tells the story of the war of the four kings against the five kings.

THE AGE OF THE PATRIARCHS

This gallery shows the cultural background of the Patriarchs in the lands of the ancient Near East.

Abraham’s belief in one God may have emerged from contemporary religious beliefs existing in this region.

A unique cuneiform tablet illustrates temple worship in the month of Shabatu (Shvat) in the land of Abraham’s birth.

PASSAGEWAY

Located in this corridor at the top of the stairs is a headless, life-size statue of Ramesses II, perhaps the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

The passageway also features a the cover of a Ramesses-era sarcophagus made from rose granite.


WHEN ISRAEL SOJOURNED IN EGYPT

This gallery features artifacts from the New Kingdom period in Egypt and its northern neighbors (Canaan, Syria and the land of the Hittites), the time period reflected in the story of the Exodus.

Scholars and archaeologists still debate the exact route and date of the Israelites journey from Egypt, and the gallery explores some of their opinions. 

THE SEA PEOPLES

The Egyptians called the Philistines and other groups originating from the Aegean world “the Sea Peoples,” and some of their tools are on display here.

During this period, the Israelites settled in Canaan. 

THE ARRIVAL OF THE IRANIAN HORSEMEN

This gallery chronicles the invasions of horse-riding nomads from the steppes of Asia into Iran during the 14th century BCE.

Elam, in southern Iran, was at the height of its power in the twelfth century and its influence spread across southern Mesopotamia.

STONES OF ARAM

During the first millennium BCE new city-states were established in northern Syria and eastern Anatolia.

The Bible mentions some of these city-states, such as Aram of Zoba, Aram of Damascus, Aram of Beth-rehob.

The artifacts displayed here exemplify the Neo-Hittite culture.

ISRAEL AMONG THE NATIONS

This gallery explores culture of Israel, Judah and their neighbors during the First Temple period, including a detailed model of Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period.

Seals bearing “theophoric” names derived from the word for God, such as Jonathan, Adonizur and Adoniyahu, illustrate the importance of monotheistic religion in everyday life.

Relics from Israel’s ancient neighbors include exquisite carved ivories from the palace of Hazael, king of Samascus, and in-depth display on the West Semitic Gods.


ASSYRIA, THE ROD OF MY ANGER

This gallery centers on the Assyrian Empire, despoiler of the kingdom of Israel.

A relief from the palace of Sennacherib shows the Assyrian policy of mass deportation.

After Assyria conquered Israel, the kingdom enacted mass deportations against the ten tribes of Israel, scattering them across the world. 

This gallery also includes artifacts from Assyria’s rivals at the time—Elam, Babylon and Uratrtu.

THE SPLENDOR OF PERSIA

The richness of the Persian Empire, presented as background to the story of the Book of Esther, is the central theme of this gallery.

The displays reflect the wealth and magnitude of the Empire, a tolerant regime, which allowed the Jews of Babylon to return from their exile and rebuild their temple.

The gallery also depicts the customs and banquets of the Persian royal house.

HELLENISTIC DOMINIONS

After Alexander the Great’s empire splintered into separate kingdoms, and his generals fought to carve out their own dynasties.

Judea fell under the dominion of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, and was later conquered by the Seleucid dynasty of Syria. 

The artifacts in the gallery portray the events of this period, including the Maccabean Revolt.

ROME AND JUDEA

In 63 BCE Judea became a client state of the Roman Empire and in 70 CE, after the Jewish War, it became a Roman province.

Important pieces include the Jewish sarcophagus from Jerusalem of the Second Temple period, and the elaborate Christian sarcophagus from Rome of the fourth century CE.

Mishnaic Judaism, early Christianity and the last vestiges of paganism are also on display.

ROMAN AND COPTIC EGYPT

The gallery describes the fading of Egyptian culture during the period of Roman and Byzantine rule.

Intricate burial wrappings replaced mummification. With the rise of Christianity, the Egyptians stopped embalming their dead.

SASSANIAN MESOPOTAMIA — HOME OF THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD

Under the rule of the Parthians and Sassanians, the flourishing Jewish communities in southern Mesopotamia created the Babylonian Talmud.

On display are Jewish magic incantation bowls and elegant silver vessels from the Sassanian period.

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