Afqa Cave

For More Photos Visit: Afqa, Aphek, LEBANON

Aphek, biblical; Afqa, Afka, modern arabic; Apheca, greek.

The word Aphek comes from a word meaning strength. And this would have to be a word aptly describing not only the strength of strategic position, but the torrents of water that burst from the base of the cliff at Afqa. I was absolutely soaked by walking within 50 metres of the cave from which the limestone filtered, snow cold waters issued out from, and less certain whether it was this soaking that finally did my spare camera body in.  Afqa is a spectacularly beautiful place, with a natural amphitheatre stretched out across the face of the cave, and the gorge of the Nahr Ibrahim that carries the fresh waters to the Mediterranean some distance to the west. The freshness of the water was not surprising as after we left this location we drove through drifts of snow higher than the roof of our car en route eastward to the Beqa.

The location was the northern limit of the inheritance of Asher Josh 13:4, placing inheritance of the tribes a considerable distance north.

The legend of Adonis was to be born here. Greek mythology has the son of Cinyas the king of Cyprus seducing his daughter Myrhha who gave birth to a tree (Myrrh) which after a period of time gave birth in turn to Adonis. The son was raised by Aphrodite (whose origins are near Paphos in Cyprus) causing jealousy with her lover Ares. Adonis was gored in the groin by a boar sent by Ares to kill him, and later died by the origins of the nahr Ibrahim. Each year Adonis is allowed to be resurrected (seen throughout the area by the red poppies or scarlet anenmones known as Adonis flowers) and the changing of the water at Afqa into a red colour (by erosion of the red soils with the rising torrents). The legend continued in this town in the construction of a Greek and  Roman temple, the ruins of which are visible across the road from the fountain.

This myth is based on earlier stories, both Egyptian as indicated by Lucian, but more particularly in the legend of Tammuz,a Babylonian legend mentioned in the bible in Ezek 8:14.  The hebrew תַּמּוּז means spring of life and name of the 10th month of the Jewish calendar, and roughly around July in our calendar. It is a Sumerian form of Dumazid which means son of life.   Tammuz was considered the month in which there was resurrection, and the women would weep and mourn the absence of their lovers, and the feast of Tammuz was a festival riot celebrating the opportunity of newly created sons. This licentious form of festival was hidden within the hearts of Judah, and the prophet after digging through the wall was to see the abomination of their hearts. Tammuz was a cohort of Ishtar who was likewise worshipped as the queen of heaven Jer 7:13. The festival of Tammuz under the Babylonians marked the arrival of the summer solstice with a six day funeral mourning to mark the decline of daylight hours, and it was this mourning that was observed at the very door of the temple in Jerusalem.  The Babylonian festival was known to be celebrated in Haran and also at Byblos (biblical Gebal).

Tammuz is commemorated in a day of fasting, as on the 17th day of Tammuz the walls were  breached by Nebuchadnezzar’s forces, and the only Jewish tradition celebrated and concluded during a declining moon. This is the fast mentioned in Zech 8:19, which the prophet indicated would be changed to a time of delightful celebration of deliverance. The three weeks that follow this day became known as the mourning between the straits, that is leading up to the time at which the first and second temples were destroyed on the ninth of the month Av in 586BC and 70AD respectively. [Jewish tradition also has the report of the ten unfaithful spies Num 13, the overcoming of the Bar Kokhba.

revolt at Betar 135AD and the renaming of Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina 136AD as all happening on this day]

Incidentally the 2006 war in Lebanon was called in arabic circles as the Tammuz war, because of the time of its commencement.

The feast of Tammuz highlights the value of the resurrection of Christ. Here was  son who was resurrected on real values. It was a son whose resurrection was declared as being powerful because of his real obedience to the values of his father, and a demonstration of real love of sacrifice because of his honour of his father. This was not a resurrection because self-centered personal affliction or self-centered personal licentiousness. It is a resurrection that calls all to say if one has died, then all are dead [if a man with superb values needs to die, then where are we?] and now if he has been raised, then we celebrate a life of raised values with him.,35.89117&spn=0.002773,0.008562&t=h&z=18&vpsrc=6

  1. Fuller, John Mee (1864), Essay on the Authenticity of the Book of Daniel pg 200,1