I will take a break from current geopolitics and focus on an ancient topic with biblical significance. This topic was just examined in the January/February issue of National Geographic History, an excellent magazine to which I subscribe. I attempted to find this article on the internet and came up blank. For that reason, I will cite small portions of text from the article. Those who are not subscribers may find this issue in a public library, and it may also be obtained for nominal cost on-line (first link). The article is entitled: Palmyra, Cosmopolitan Crossroads by Francisco Del Rio Sanchez. I recommend it!

Palmyra was briefly in the global eye when ISIS took control of the Mideastern region which includes the ancient city of Palmyra. Palmyra had many elegant and intricate ancient buildings, statues and artifacts which clearly exhibited Palmyran life in the distant past. ISIS thought these marvelous piece of art and engineering from the ancient world were irreligious so they destroyed many of these priceless examples of an ancient culture that dates back to the times of the Roman and Parthian Empires (and earlier).

The article points out that the original name of Palmyra was Tadmur, and that it was founded in the second millennium BC. It is easy to read over this and not realize the significance of that statement. King Solomon of the ancient United Kingdom of Israel ruled in the approximate time that the second millennium BC transitioned to the first millennia BC. This would roughly be about 1000 BC. I Kings 9:18 and II Chronicles 8:4 record that among Solomon’s many building projects “he built Tadmur in the wilderness” KJV. The name has a variety of spellings in written works, but the Tadmur that Solomon built and Palmyra are the same city. The phrase that it was built “in the wilderness” is quite appropriate as Palymra/Tadmur was located in a desert region of Mesopotamia. Its location included an oasis to provide a critical water supply (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, 1985 ed., p. 1015). Solomon located this city as a critical rest and resupply stop for caravans traversing the ancient East-West trade routes that would be called the “silk road” when it extended all the way to China in later centuries. Tadmor/Palmyra is located over a hundred miles northeast of Damascus, Syria.

The aforementioned magazine’s article states that “Palmyra’s lingua franca was Aramaic, a Semitic language…” Aramaic was closely related to Hebrew, and Aramaic is found in the Christian Bible. Harper’s Bible Dictionary (Ibid, p. 43) identifies several passages in the Old Testament that “are written in Official Aramaic,” and it also cites several words of Aramaic in the New Testament. When it is understood that Palmyra was in a contested zone where the Parthian and Roman Empires met, it can be understood why Aramaic was its lingua franca. The Parthians were transplanted members of the ten tribes of Israel whom the Assyrians had carried captive to a region south of the Caspian Sea (II Kings 17:6). That verse uses the term “cities of the Medes” which were located just south of the Caspian Sea. The Israelites would have carried the Aramaic language into Asia where it flourished in both Palmyra and in parts of Parthia.

The article also affirms a point I made in my printed book, Parthia–The Forgotten Ancient Superpower and my E-book, The “Lost” Ten Tribes of Israel…Found!  In those books, I examined the trip of the Wise Men to visit the young Christ child and wrote that it was impossible that three kings from the East laden with treasures could have traveled a long distance alone to Judea without a massive armed escort and very likely thousands of support people traveling with them. Travel in the ancient Mideast was very dangerous as the trade routes were infested with bandits, robber barons, etc. The National Geographic History article reinforces the points I made. It stated that it took “months” to organize a trade caravan, and that it had to travel with an “armed militia commanded by a trusted and experienced warlord.” The Wise Men almost certainly were in just such a heavily-armed caravan heading to Jerusalem. The dangers of robbers were so great that the City of Palmyra even created its own military “rapid response forces” to help merchant caravans navigate the trade routes safely. The caravan including the Wise Men had to be especially large and well-armed in order to frighten King Herod and the entire population of Jerusalem (Matthew 2:1-3). As my books make clear, the Parthian Wise men were high-ranking “Senators” of the Parthian Empire and had the right to be escorted by thousands of regular Parthian military soldiers whenever such Wise Men traveled. The Wise Men almost certainly traveled through Palmyra on their way to Judea to visit the Christ child. The story of the Wise Men arriving in Jerusalem is a most fascinating one when understood in its true historical context. I’ve included excerpts from my books and some of my posts which address this subject in the second link and third link.

One last thing about the city of Palmyra. The article states that the main temple in the city of Palmyra “was very similar in shape and layout to the Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem.” It is not surprising that Palmyra’s main temple was so similar to the Temple of God in Jerusalem because it was Solomon who built the temple in Jerusalem and who also built Palmyra into a prominent city. However, the temple in Palmyra was for centuries dedicated to Bel (the pagan god, Baal, of the Bible).

There is a great deal of secular historical information which greatly enhances our understanding of biblical narratives when they are analyzed together. My  printed set of 4 books correlates many secular historical sources with biblical narratives and prophecies from the time of Abraham throughout all historical periods and into today’s world. The E-book does the same thing from the time of King David to the present. If you read them, you will see just how accurate and interesting biblical narratives really are! These books can all be obtained at the home page of my website, www.stevenmcollins.com.

  1. https://www.etsy.com/listing/1640994283/national-geographic-history-january?gpla=1&gao=1&&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_us_e-books_movies_and_music-books-zines_and_magazines-magazines&utm_custom1=_k_EAIaIQobChMI6vmx8uXlhQMVkwOtBh2ApQw1EAQYASABEgK56_D_BwE_k_&utm_content=go_1843970761_75209207492_346429113767_pla-316646169991_c__1640994283_12768591&utm_custom2=1843970761&gad_source=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6vmx8uXlhQMVkwOtBh2ApQw1EAQYASABEgK56_D_BwE
  2. https://stevenmcollins.com/unappreciated-facts-about-the-three-wise-men-who-visited-the-christ-child-2/
  3. https://stevenmcollins.com/parthia-gets-some-respect-in-the-mainstream-media/