The ancient city of Avdat is the most preserved Nabatean's city in the Israeli desert of Negev. Located in the top hill right way between Beer Sheva and Eilat, it ruins is really impressive. It street, building, corners and squares are very well preserved.
Avdat was the principal stop station ancient caravans of camels that which transports incense and other precious commodities from Petra in the desert of Jordan to the port of Gaza.
The first King of the City built this monumental city during the Herodian period and called it after his name, Obada, in Hebrew, Avdat. Archeologists found in the city important buildings, a Roman Government Villa, Churches of Byzantine Period, the Largest Wine Press in the Desert, Camels Han and the biggest Acropolis. Avdat was also declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
During the Byzantine era, between the 5th and 6th century, a citadel and a monastery with two churches were built on the acropolis of Avdat on the top hill. The city includes important churches, Saint Theodore's Church is the most interesting Byzantine relic in Avdat.
In the church, marble tombstones was inserted in the floor are covered with cleared Greek inscriptions. St. Theodore was a Greek martyr of the 4th century. The Monastery stands next to the church and nearby a lintel is carved with lions and it marks the entrance to the castle.
As you stand among the ruins of the Negev Highland city of Avdat, the echoes of the bells tinkling on the bridles of the camels that passed this way in their caravans of hundreds, bringing the riches of the East – frankincense and myrrh – to market via the Mediterranean. Avdat was founded by Nabatean traders, the masters of those caravans as a way station on this Incense Route. Long before, the Israelites had wandered near here through the Wilderness of Zin.
At the visitor center a short film will introduces you to the mysteries of this site. Then you’ll visit a luxurious ancient bathhouse with a dressing room, two steam rooms, a furnace and a 210-foot-deep well. At the top of the city, you’ll discover a third-century guard tower with a Greek inscription, and a Nabatean shrine to their god Oboda (after whom Avdat was named). This temple eventually became a church, whose pillars frame a magnificent Negev deserts cape.
Source: Israel Ministry of Tourism
With the monarchy, Negeb activity increased. Saul and David fought the Amalekites (1 Sam. 14-15; 30), and Solomon established a naval outpost at Ezion-geber (1 Kgs. 9:26). In the 8th century, Uzziah reinvigorated the Negeb, reestablishing the Ezion-geber trade. Transshipment of copper and other goods from Ezion-geber required the establishment of royal forts to safeguard the routes (2 Chr. 26:10). A latter 7th-century building boom can be attributed to either Manasseh or Josiah. In its final years, Judah increasingly lost control over the Negeb to the Edomites. Edomite names, ostraca, and cult sites appear throughout the Negeb (e.g., Qitmit).
Archaeological evidence from the Persian and Hellenistic period is almost totally absent. Written sources discuss the presence of the Nabateans, but few remains of these tent-dwelling people have been found. By the turn of the eras, the Nabateans had come into their own as spice traders and merchants. The Petra-ʿAvdat-Gaza road was built, along with caravansaries to guard the frankincense and myrrh route. Nabatean cities and forts were constructed, trade flourished, and agricultural projects were even introduced. Ultimately, the Romans annexed the Negeb and its highlands to Palestina Tertia. In the Byzantine era, the area experienced its greatest flowering. Cities expanded, churches were built, monasteries founded, and settlement increased.
“NEGEB,” Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, 955.
Roman Villa in Avdat and Shivah
Houses usually followed a plan that arranged the rooms around a courtyard. A stairway on the outside of the house led to the upper stories. A stone or timber projected out from the wall at intervals and supported the staircase. This architectural technique is known as corbeling. The walls and ceiling were plastered, and arches sometimes supported the roof. Houses at Avdat and Shivta used arches that came out from the walls to form the roof. After placing thin slabs of limestone over the arches, the builders plastered the entire roof. In the lower city of Jerusalem, houses constructed with small stones were crowded closely together. Yet they still maintained small courtyards.
“ARCHITECTURE,” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, paragraph 1506.
The blessing and curse here have played out repeatedly in history. The nations or groups (plural: “those”) who have blessed Abram or his descendants have been blessed by God. The individuals (singular: “him”) who have cursed Abram or Israel have been “cursed,” coming eventually to a bad end. This, however, is not a blank check for the actions of unbelieving Israel, as if the nation could do no wrong or deserves no criticism or has no accountability for its actions. It is a general ongoing promise. Acts 3:25 and Gl 3:8 indicate that all the families of the earth are blessed in the availability of salvation through Jesus Christ, and Gl 6:16 refers to the church as “the Israel of God” through which, by implication, that blessing is extended.
Ted Cabal, ed., The Apologetics Study Bible, Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007, paragraph 712.
In referring to “the people [Abram] had acquired in Haran” the Bible is not sanctioning slavery. “Acquired” may refer to household servants, which wealthy families of the era had, rather than to slaves. Furthermore, even characters whom the Bible views favorably do not always act in accordance with what God approves. In evaluating their actions, we must recall that God did not reveal His will in its entirety at the beginning, but rather gradually throughout the course of biblical history. Biblical narrative often conveys the divine and human authors’ evaluation of a character’s actions implicitly rather than explicitly, not by denouncing the actions but by recording their outcome. The disgrace resulting from Abram’s lie in verses 12–13 is an example of this.
Some have supposed the note “At that time the Canaanites were in the land” (see note on 13:7) means that in the author’s day they were no longer there. If so, Moses could not be the author. But “that time” is clearly not being contrasted to the author’s time but to Abram’s time. The point is that when God made His promise to Abram the land was already occupied.
Ted Cabal, ed., The Apologetics Study Bible, Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007, paragraph 713-714.