Most Christians imagine John the Baptist preaching and baptizing on the banks of the Jordan River. Now, thanks to archaeological detective work, Christian visitors are able to fill out this picture to include John’s youth.
Archaeologist Dr. Shimon Gibson believes that a cave uncovered in 1999 bears evidence of Christian presence from John’s time until the eleventh century. Among many fascinating finds at the cave, which groups can arrange to visit, is a 2.5-foot-high wall carving of a man with an upraised arm, holding a shepherd’s crook and wearing a rough garment - possibly depicting John.
One tantalizing theory is that this is the cave where, according to legend, Elizabeth sheltered John from Herod’s murderous soldiers (Matt. 2:16).
A cave with an uncanny resemblance to this one appears on a Byzantine-era Holy Land souvenir found in Italy, a disk bearing the words “Blessings of the Lord from the refuge of St. Elizabeth.”