Sorry I have not posted in a while. Here is the next entry..
Thursday September 6, 2018
All of the information, the history the tour guide shares is hard to contain and mentally process, unless you are already familiar with it. The Roman occupation, the Greek influence on the Roman culture, the Byzantine period, the constant expelling and returning of the Jewish people, the Muslim invasion, the Crusades, etc. etc.
The day starts departing Jerusalem. First, we head south, descend toward the Dead Sea through the Judean desert. Bedouin, desert people still live there. They still herd their sheep and goats in the desert. I happen to see one young lady on a horse herding her family's flock. How they find their way in a wilderness with no apparent landmarks to follow is amazing. Quick stop at sea level for a photograph and then continuing on. The Dead Sea is 1200 meters below sea level. It is the lowest point on land.
We pass by the city of Jericho, the oldest city on earth. Towering over the city is what is known as Temptation Mount. It is believed to be where Jesus spent 40 days and nights being tempted by Satan. We don't go into Jericho - it is ruled by Palestinians and is not part of our tour.
Our first extended stop of the day is Be'it Shean. It is the ruins of an old Roman city built by Palladin. Roman engineering is impressive to say the least. One can see the main north-south road through the city, the theater believed to be able to seat 3000 - 4000 people in its prime. The city was devastated by an earthquake. Excavations have uncovered columns that fell. The place is magnificent.
After lunch it's on to Nazareth. There we visit the Church of the Annunciation, built over the place believed to be where the angel announced to Mary she would bear the Messiah. As one would expect from lots of Catholic influence, there is much veneration of Mary all around.
Nearby, within walking distance, well practically next door, is the Church of Joseph. This is built over where it was believed that Joseph lived. On the outside wall is a commemoration of Polish soldiers killed in World War 2. Below the church a typical Jewish ritual bath was discovered many years ago.
From there it is on to Kibbutz where we will be overnight. We are near the Sea of Galilee. On the way we stop in Safed, city of the Kaballah. Kaballah is Jewish mysticism, a sect of Judaism popular among some celebrities. It is also an artist's colony and one of the 4 holiest cities in Judaism.
Arriving finally in our hotel in the late afternoon. From our balcony we have a great view of Mt. Hermon, the highest point in Israel. The mountain is shared by Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.
The day has been long and rest is welcome. The sites are amazing, inspiring. Much of what I have believed in Scripture is even more alive than before. What the next day holds is exciting (to say the least).