Photo: Haim Zach
• Curators: Dr. Elie Borowski and Dr. Joan Goodnick Westenholz
• Design: Clifford LaFountaine
• Location: -2nd Floor
The Bible Lands Museum takes visitors on a journey through the Ancient Near East to explore the people and civilizations who populated the Bible.
The late Dr. Elie Borowski and his wife Batya founded the BLMJ in 1992 and their priceless collection of ancient artifacts forms the bulk of the museum's permanent collection.
This website includes a small selection of the Museum's artifacts. Check back often as the museum is constantly uploading new digital archives, to engage a wider audience to learn more about the daily life of people who lived during the Biblical times.
The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem brings visitors on a journey through the fascinating world of the ancient lands of the Bible, tracing history from the dawn of civilization through the roots of monotheism and early Christianity.
The collection draws from the vast geographic area reaching from Afghanistan in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, from the Caucasian mountains in the north to Nubia (today's Sudan) in the south.
Explore how civilizations like the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Hittites, and Phoenicians, lived in the Fertile Crescent, the cradle of civilization, and the importance of Israel and Canaan at the crossroads of history.
This website will provide a brief introduction to the galleries of the BLMJ's main exhibition.
However, we look forward to welcoming you in person to visit the BLMJ, to wander through the exhibitions at a leisurely pace and explore these topics in depth.
Visitors to the museum are immediately greeted by three displays with items from the sons of Noah which illustrate the biblical concept of the unity of humankind.
The entrance to the gallery also 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 Anne and Joseph Ternbach Gallery
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.
The Ana and Abraham Portnoy Gallery
Seals used in trade and commerce are one of the earliest examples of communication. This gallery features seals and 6,500 years of glyptic art (carving done primarily on precious stones).
LITERATE VOICES, THE STORY OF WRITING
The development of writing was a revolutionary advancement which enabled a more cohesive culture across the ancient Near East. This gallery chronicles the development of written communication from its earliest forms: cuneiform, hieroglyphic and alphabetic writing.
THE PRE-PATRIARCHAL WORLD
In the third millennium BCE, Mesopotamia was the center of an international commercial system, reaching from India in the east to Syria and Anatolia in the west. This gallery features tools, documents and vehicles of the merchants of the ancient Near East.
THE SUMERIAN TEMPLE
The Zeev Reuben Borowski Gallery
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
The Egyptian artifacts in this gallery emphasize 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
The Harriet and Leon Pomerance Gallery
Genesis 14 tells the story of the war of the four kings against the five kings. This gallery illustrates that story with a variety of weapons and representations of warriors from the Early and Middle Bronze Age.
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.
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. He sits majestically, regally arranged to allow his enemies to grovel at his feet. The passageway also features a the cover of a Ramesses-era sarcophagus (ancient stone coffin) in 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. Aram of Zoba, Aram of Damascus, Aram of Beth-rehob, all mentioned in the Bible, are examples of such city-states. 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 a models of Sennacherib's palace and the city of Babylon, along with artifacts from Assyria's rivals at the time—Elam, Babylon and Uratrtu.
THE SPLENDOR OF PERSIA
The Lily and Nathan Silver Gallery 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.
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; 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 Rachel and Moshe Schoenberg Gallery
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
The Rabbi Mordecai and Sylvia Green Gallery
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.