Shivta is one of Nabatean cities in the Negev in that it is not located on a main commercial route from Petra to Gaza, the city is located in the border between Israel and Egypt. It was also unwalled, and thus may be regarded as a large agricultural town in the desert of Negev.
Shiva have many ruins from roman period, dating to the period of Shivta’s founding in the first century BC. Most of the remains, however, date from the Byzantine period, between the fourth and seventh centuries AD. The water source of the city was a incredible ancient urban planning, building the streets in the northern part of the city so that they drained water directly into large reservoirs.
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 Shivta, 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
A main attraction in the park is the Colt house, used by the archeologists led by H. Colt (son of the famous American gun manufacturer), who dug at Shivta from 1933 to 1934. Over the entrance is an inscription in ancient Greek that translates: “With good luck. Colt built (this house) with his own money.”
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.