Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee
I have one hour to get this cranked out...so I will do my best. :) Internet is not free here and I have been paying $8 per hour.
My mom and sister arrived safely this afternoon! So happy to see them. My sister brought my card reader so woohoo....I can see my pictures.
We started the day by taking a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee! It was amazing. Looking at the sunrise over the lake today, I could almost imagine Jesus and his disciples there on the shore after a night of fishing. We had a devotional, sang some praise songs and then one of the crew sang some Jewish songs for us. He made us stand up, hold hands and dance in a circle around the deck of the boat. It was so much fun! We pretended to know some of the dance steps but I'm sure we fooled no one. ha.
shoreline of Galilee
Next, we went to Capernaum. This is the city where Jesus lived at Peter's house for 3.5 years. The temple foundation that was there is the one from Jesus' day! There is a temple built over it, but the foundation is clearly visible. In the photo, the black part is the old foundation.
Capernaum was mostly excavated and left as it was except for a Catholic church built over the site of Peter's home. You can look down into it from a glass floor but I couldn't get a good photo. Peter's home was less than 100 yard from the synagogue. His home was quite large and it was apparent that Jesus and his disciples lived there because there was enough room for all of them. It was amazing to think that Jesus had walked those very same streets. Capernaum sits on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee and is beautifully lush green with many beautiful flowers.
This side of the synagogue is the school. Only boys were allowed to go to school.
This is looking out the front of the synagogue. Peter's house is directly across the ruins (the saucer thingy is the round church built on top of Peter's house). The ruins between the synagogue and Peter's were other homes, probably lived in by prominent people.
If you look closely, you can see the Menora at the top of this post. That is how the archaeologists know whether a temple is Jewish or pagan.
View of the synagogue from across the 'street.'
Next we went to the Jordan river where some members of our group were baptized. One of them had just accepted Jesus as his savior this morning! His wife was so excited--and they were both baptized together.
Had to stick my feet in the Jordan! :)
After lunch we visited Beth-shan, a pagan city that is astonishingly large and built at the base of Mt. Gilboa. There was so much still intact. Beth-shan is also the city where the Philistines killed King Saul and his sons, cut their heads off and fastened their bodies to the city wall. The city wall was on the top of a mountain and could be seen for miles. Many in the region would see that something big had happened and want to know what it was. The men of Jabesh-gilead, whom Saul had rescued years before, were living directly across the valley from Mt. Gilboa, in what is now the country of Jordan. When they heard what had happened, they snuck over in the darkness and stole the bodies from the wall and took them back to to Jabesh-gilead . You can read the story in 1 Samuel 31.
The city wall is at the top of Mt. Gilboa. You can just barely see it in this picture. I think if you double click it will enlarge the photo.
Roman bathhouse...this is the steam room. The little pot-like things you see were heated with water, creating steam for all those sitting there.
We drove through more of the Golan Heights which then became Mt. Gilboa. In the valley you can see the Jordan river and on the other side of it is the mountain range of Gilead. The country of Jordan is on that side of the Jordan river. You can easily see it. This is the part of the land that our President just told Israel yesterday to give to the Palestinians. If you could see it, you would be even more horrified. The Golan Heights overlook a valley. The Syrian snipers used to sit in their bunkers on the Golan Heights and pick off the Israelis at will. And why would they want to subject themselves to that again? I could go on but I am really going to bite my tongue. Let me just say...I stood with Israel before this latest incident and I will continue to stand with them. And I am seriously embarrassed by the treatment that our country has been giving Israel lately.
We continued on toward Samaria and Jericho. One sidenote about Samaria... The Samaritans at the time of Jesus wore white robes. One day when the Samaritans were coming toward him, Jesus told his disciples that the fields were 'white for harvest.' The double meaning was that not only are people ready and needing to hear the good news of Jesus Christ, but specifically, the Samaritans--half Jew/half Arab were needing to hear the good news. For the Jewish people at that time to hear that message would have been a bit shocking since they thought that Jesus had only come to save them. They did not realize that He fully intended to pay for the sins of the entire world, not just the Jews'.
We circled Jericho in our bus, but didn't stop. It is no longer a walled city but it does have a preserved part of the old wall. It is lived in by the Palestinians so we weren't able to go there.
The Mountains of Gilboa eventually turned into the wilderness. I had always pictured 'the wilderness' as a desert. Flat with lots of sand. Well....it does have lots of sand, but it is mountainous and breathtaking. I haven't seen the Grand Canyon, but from the pictures I've seen, I think the wilderness mountain region here is kind of similar, just on a much smaller scale. There is nothing there. No water. No grass. This is where John the Baptist lived. This is where Jesus went on a 40 day fast and then was tempted by the devil. And toward the end of the afternoon, we arrived at the Dead Sea--still in the wilderness, surrounded by mountains that look like sand but are actually rock. There we saw the caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. SO COOL!
At some point in the day, we entered the West Bank. I do not remember if it was before or after the Dead Sea scrolls. So much information to absorb every day! This is also territory that the Pres wants Israel to give to the Palestinians.
I'm going to post this now because my hour is almost up. I will try to go back and keep adding photos as I am able. It's really late tonight and I need to get to bed. We are