Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 2

**UPDATE** Pictures have now been added!

Still no sorry. My mom and my sister are hopefully bringing me a camera card reader but they did not arrive tonight as scheduled. Yep....they missed the flight to Israel because of a late connection.


We haven't been able to talk to them, but I believe they would have known before they left Detroit that they were not going to make their connection to Israel. I assume they chose to go so that they would not have a chance of another late connection the following day. Last we heard, they were having fun touring Philly and had been in a hotel overnight. Hopefully we will see them tomorrow night.

We started out by heading toward the Golan Heights. It is a mountain range (or I guess you could say very high hills). At any rate...when you read in Bible stories about the Israelites falling into idol worship and setting up idols in the high places, that is what it means. It's actually up in a high place--in this case, the Golan Heights. Makes sense. :)
Golan Heights

We stopped briefly at the site where the Beatitudes were preached by Jesus. Unfortunately, there is a huge tourist attraction there and I couldn't see the actual hillside very well. I did poke my camera through the fence for a few photos. I kept thinking about my friend, Bowie Grant, who memorized the entire passage and performed it at church (and didn't skip a beat when his fake beard started dangling off his face...).
Don't be wearing shorts or bringing your guns!
This is possibly the hillside where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. You can see the Sea of Galilee at the bottom.

Panda wanted to hang out here for awhile, but we didn't have much time.
There are three cities where Jesus ministered often and did many miracles. Two of them were mentioned in a negative way in Scripture. Jesus said, "Woe to you Korazin ! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in your city had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in dust and ashes." Matthew 11:22

Today we saw the rubble that the two cities have become.

Korzin was the first place we saw. It was excavated and left as is--not a toursity area, thank goodness. There are remains of houses there and a synagogue. Our guide did a little reinactment of what it would have been like when Jesus came there to teach. TO.THAT. VERY. SPOT. Oh amazing. I will explain it better when I have the pictures to go with it. (Kids...panda went to Jewish school there, but he didn't learn much Hebrew. He said it was too hard.)

The rubble, fenced off now, but trees and flowers still grow there.

Front steps leading up to the synagogue

Our guide did a re-enactment of where Jesus would have taught in this synagogue. He is standing on a small platform, where the Torah would be read. There were four readers daily (I think?) and the readings were scheduled. So each day, in every synagogue throughout Israel, the exact same passages would be read. This platform was on the right side, just inside the front door. My dad is seated on a rock chair--which is where a leader/reader would sit. I am not sure the order--or which of the 4 readers would sit there.

This is a view from the front door of the synagogue, and all that is left of the pillars.

Here is a better view of the platform.

To the left of the front door, would have been a wooden box which would have contained the scrolls of the Torah. Since it was made of wood, it did not survive.

Inside one of the homes. This is a window. Windows were not for looking out. They were high in a wall and were used for light and ventilation.

We saw flowers like this all over Israel. Beauty amid rubble.

Another view inside a home. They were quite small and each arch separated a section. Each section was only about four feet wide, so not sure what how they used the long narrow rooms.

View looking out from the back of the village.

Random flower growing in the rubble.

We saw these huge thistles all over Israel. The Bible mentions them a lot and they are so much larger than our thistles in the U.S.

A rather haunting view of the remains of the village. The only life comes from plants.

This was a ritual bath where women would cleanse themselves from their monthly uncleanness. The water was so gross...full of bugs and stagnant. Our guide said it wasn't much cleaner in Jesus' day. Ewwww....

We then visited Dan, the spot where King Jereboam set up two places for the Israelites to worship idols so that they would not travel to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. The kingdom had just split into two--Israel and Judah. Jereboam was the new king of Israel and he wanted to keep his subjects close. The alter that he set up is still there! It is just the foundation, but there are metal posts showing how high it would have been. Interesting side note...the tribe of Dan led Israel into the worst idolatry of any of the tribes. In Revelation 7, when the tribes are brought back from being spread all over the world, there is a list with the number of each tribe that is being brought back. Dan is not listed.

The large alter that was built to sacrifice animals in the 'high places.'

There were Syrian bunkers still in this area--not far from the alter. In the 1967 war, the Syrianlost this land. The Syrian snipers used to sit in these bunkers and shoot Israeli's at will. You can see how easy it would have been.
Inside a bunker that we walked through.
Here you can see on the right, the still intact bunker, the plains in the middle and the mountains of Gilead (Jordan) at the top. Imagine giving Israel only the plains. How would they protect themselves? They wouldn't.
Another view of the bunker, the plains and the mountains in Jordan. Everything is so close together. It's a very small piece of land.

(Kids...panda met another little friend here. He was a bunny and his family was from Australia. His family was doing the same thing with him that we are doing with Panda, so we took their picture together. Bunny was with a different tour group, so today was probably the only day we will see him. He was the Kids Club mascot for their church back home.)

We also got our first look at the Jordan River. I was completely amazed by it. It's a part of the river that is actually kind of tributary that flows into the Jordan--considered part of the Jordan. It was flowing extremely fast and was full of rapids--but only about 8-10 feet wide. The part that amazed me was the color. It was a beautiful shade of turquoise where the water bubbled over the rocks. It reminded me of the colors of sea glass. I don't know if my camera will do it justice. I hope so!

(Panda wanted to go swimming but I told him that he has to wait until we get to the Dead Sea because he won't need a life jacket there. Do you know why? See if your teacher knows--and if he/she does not, maybe you could look it up.)

Toward the end of the hike there was a Canaanite gate that had been excavated dating back to the time of Abraham. In fact, Abraham had come through that actual gate when he entered Canaan! Can't wait to show you the pics of that!

This would have been Abraham's view of Canaan. Double click on the picture to enlarge.

We stopped for lunch and this is typical fare...


Panda and I were feeling the same way about this bottle of Coke.
Don't be judging me! { bottles...on a very hot day...ahhhhhhhh}

We traveled all through the Golan Heights as we made our way to the next point of interest. It was to Caesarea Philipi. We toured the sight of the pagan Pan temple. At this temple, there is a huge cavern with a deep pit. When people were convicted of a crime, they were thrown to their deaths. The pit was called Hades. It was in view of this place that tradition says that Peter stated that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus then answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not yet revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matt. 16:17-18) So when Jesus said it, He was not only referring the actual Hades, he was also referring to the pagan culture--that it would not overtake the Kingdom of God. Cool, huh?

It was also there that Jesus healed the woman who had been bleeding in Mark 5.
Rocky cliff that was the Pan Temple. The dark oval is "Hades."
Close-up of the opening 'Hades.' The pit itself was impossible to photograph because it was too dark.
Panda is glad he doesn't have to go into the pit.

No matter how dark the human mind can get, there is always God's beauty to see.

We also stopped at a very touching military site where Israel held off a surprise Syrian and Egyptian attack in 1973, on the most sacred Jewish holiday of the year, called the Yom Kippor War. The Israeli tanks were outnumbered 9-1. Not only were the Jews grossly outnumbered, but the Russian-made Syrian and Egyptian tanks were far better equipped with amenities like night vision. The war was over in a few days. It was a total miracle that they were able to stand their ground and hang on to their territory. They even counter-attacked and conquered some Syrian land. They eventually gave it back, however. There were still tanks sitting out in the field where they had been left by the Syrians. If you look on a map, you will see how tiny the country of Israel really is and how they are surrounded by Arab countries who want to wipe them off the face of the earth. Saudi Arabia does not even put Israel on any of their maps and calls them the small Satan and the US the big Satan. Nice. None of the Arab countries will trade or buy anything from Israel so it is difficult for them. It is obvious that God wants this little country to survive and it is only by His hand that it continues to do so.
Pretty scenery on the way
'Bulls of Bashan"

Israeli flag at the Memorial site

Syrian and Egyptian tanks came across this plain to attack Israel.

Russian made, Syrian tank sits abandoned on the hillside, forever a reminder of what happened here.

The land is fenced off with 'Danger! Mines!' signs everywhere. We were told not to step over the low fence for any reason.

My brother stands with his Flat Stanley next to an Israeli tank at the site.

Our last stop of the day was Bethsaida---also a heap of rubble. This was the site of several famous miracles--Feeding the five thousand, healing the blind man, and walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee. It was not touristy, so I was able to take photos of the actual hill where the feeding of the five thousand most likely took place. It wasn't until 1987 that the location was proven to be Bethsaida. You won't find the Sea of Galilee at the bottom of the hill in the photos because the Sea was larger in Bible times. There may also have been a series of estuaries that connected Bethsaida to the Sea. The city gate was found, as was one of the idols of a goat. The idol was actually a large flat stone with the face of a goat carved into it.
Carving of the Goat Idol
This is the hillside where Jesus fed the 5000. The Sea of Galilee is off in the distance.
Another shot of the hillside

Panda wants some fish and bread, too!

Bethsaida--now a heap of rubble and never rebuilt.

The Apostles Peter, Andrew and Phillip were from Bethsaida. Also David, when he was fleeing from King Saul, hid out in Bethsaida for awhile. Bethsaida is in the territory of Geshur. David married the daughter of the king of Geshur and she eventually gave birth to Absalom. Later, when David was king, Absalom rebelled and went to live with his grandparents in Bethsaida.


Holly said...

this is SO amazing Karin!! How is your hubby at home feeling with his leg??

Sharon said...


Kristin Ferguson said...

This is SO educational and fascinating! I'm going to have my kids read it and count it as history for the rest of the school year! :)

Glad you're getting to see a lot and experience this!

trustandobey said...

Amazing , Karen!!! Any other blonds around????
ps-loving the history...can't wait to see the photos!