JANUARY 10-11, 1998

A New Experience

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There were 14 of us that lined up at the airport on Saturday, January 10, 1998.  In the picture above, Irvine Osborne is kneeling, (next row, l-r) Scott Landrum, Eddie Campbell, Francis Kimmett, Don Stewart, Paul Gregoire, (back row, l-r) Harold Mosely, Steve Achord, Cecil Camp, Mike Sharp, Randy Driggers, and Jeff Hathorn.   John Gibson and I are not pictured.

2curious.jpg (8252 bytes)We survived the trip from New Orleans to New York and then to Tel Aviv.  When we got to Tel Aviv, we endured a hail storm of Biblical proportions but we made it to the Carmel Hotel in Netanya and enjoyed making the above picture with our tour host, (front left) Bennie Ruth Goodman and our experienced Israeli guide, Gilla Triebich (front center, kneeling).  John was in this pictue.   He’s on the back row in the center.

They got me (Clay Corvin) in the mugshots before we ate supper at the Carmel.  The meal was excellent.  Their bread and salads were great.

The food was good.  They took care to put it in a visually pleasing arrangement and as you can see Don Stewart is working hard at experiencing it.

Irvin said that he enjoyed the desserts the best.

The trip took about 30 hours from New Orleans to the Carmel Hotel.  I don’t think any of us slept much on the airplane.  We were worn out.  So, after a good meal and some excited conversation we all headed to our rooms.

We had a severe thunderstorm all night.

7doncarmel.jpg (6951 bytes)Our rooms were comfortable and the storm didn’t disturb us.  Don Stewart enjoyed his stay at the Carmel Hotel.

We were all excited about our Monday journey.  It was a restless night for several.

Caesarea to Megiddo

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We were early for breakfast.  The rain hadn’t stopped and we were excited.  It was going to be a great day.  Discovery, new sights, and the presence of the Lord.

2busatready.jpg (8964 bytes)It looked ominous when we walked out of the hotel.

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We had a pressure packed week ahead of us and bad weather would really cutback on our trip.  However, it was not to be.

We knew that Israel needed the rain and they got a lot of it but it was mostly at night.  Our trip was blessed with exceptionally good weather.

Answered prayers often go unnoticed.  I noticed the Lord’s answer and am grateful for all that we were able to do.  The trip was superb and all the praise and honor go to the Lord for the blessings that we experienced.  Thank you Lord.

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6theaterconv.jpg (6493 bytes)Gilla gave a thorough introduction to Caesarea.  We continued our talk in the theater and then after we completed the presentation, everyone went around looking at the ancient theater of Caesarea and taking pictures.

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9medi.jpg (3785 bytes)We looked at the Mediterranean when we went from the theater to the Crusader City at Caesarea.

The waves were really kicking up.

The Crusader City of Caesarea is built over the ancient port of Caesarea.   Herod did a phenomenal job of building the port at Caesarea.

Paul was imprisoned in this general area (Acts 23:23).

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11stevedry.jpg (4497 bytes)Steve committed to do the video for our trip.  This would be his third time to do our trip video and he was determined to keep dry and warm.

He is standing in front of the Cesarean Harbor near where Paul would have landed when he sailed into Caesarea.  This was the largest Harbor on the Israeli Coast during the time of Rome’s control.

10drymoat.jpg (5885 bytes)Many people are surprised when they come to Caesarea and look at the Crusader ruins to find that the moat was a dry moat.

When they remember how little water there is in this land it makes good sense.  It would be impossible to keep a wet moat full.

15crusadercity.jpg (8795 bytes)The weather was still cold and threatening.   We walked up from the harbor to the main entrance of the Crusader City.  Many of the stones in the road were from Roman times.

The Crusaders where great builders.  Caesarea is a real witness to their building skills.

During the time of the Crusaders, Caesarea was a well fortified city but much smaller than in Roman times.

We can often see through ancient eyes as we experience the present.  It requires a few moments of thought and a rememberance of how things might have been.   Our eyes are such wonderful gifts from our creator.

We lingered at Caesarea for a short time, but not long.  We hustled to the aqueduct that dates to the Roman era and then turned north to Mount Carmel.

We had surprises waiting for us on Mount Carmel.  It was snowing.   Really snowing.  There were a lot of people out playing in the snow.

Muhraqa on Mount Carmel is the location of the Carmelite Monastery of St. Elijah, which commemorates the slaying of the prophets of Baal by Elijah.

18Elijah.jpg (4796 bytes)In 1 Kings 17 we are presented with the activity of the Lord among His creation.  The story of Elijah’s conquest of the pagan prophets is an excellent picture of God working through His followers.

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I liked the altar in the Chapel.  The stone is unfinished.  The place has a real sense of the outdoors.

There is an observation deck on the top of the building.  When the sky is clear, you can see the entire Jezreel Valley.

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We left Muhraqa and traveled south to the ancient city of Megiddo.

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The approach to Megiddo is impressive.  This is a strategic location of the Ancient Middle East.

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megiddoent1.jpg (8052 bytes)Tel Megiddo was an  important city   as early as 3500 BC.  It was occupied until 400 BC.  The city was at one time owned by Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites and several other civilizations.   This location controlled traffic between Mesopotamia and Egypt on the Via Maris.

We entered the Tel from the new northern gate entrance, about 100 feet from the former ramp entrance to the site.  Note that this is a large, well preserved, archaeological site.

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We walked most of the site and thought deep thoughts about how things change.  Often, what we think we are seeing is changing before our very eyes.   Revelation 16:16 says that the Lord isn’t through using this place.

The group walked through the water tunnel dug by King Ahab and then stopped at the cafeteria on the site for lunch.  It was a typically good Israeli meal.

Our next stop was about 30 minutes north to Sepphoris.

We did make a quick stop at McDonald’s for coffee enroute.



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20chillyatseph.jpg (8339 bytes)Sepphoris, known as Zippori, was the traditional birthplace of Mary.  It is located on highway 79 about 2.5 miles west of Nazareth.

A Jewish community existed at this ancient site from the early first century BC through the middle ages.  The Jewish high court was located here during the 3rd century.

Although not mentioned in the New Testament, Jesus almost assuredly walked on these Roman streets.

22romanroad.jpg (6596 bytes)This is an overpowering site.  The evidence of antiquities is awesome.  The sight of Nazareth on the hill and the historical wealth of this city presents a powerful image of Roman times.  This location is an important place for serious pilgrims to visit.  I always make sure that I get to Sepphoris.

21monalisa.jpg (3458 bytes)On the hilltop at the site there is a Roman villa.  This picture is mosiac on the floor of the dining room.  The picture doesn’t do the mosaic justice.

I enjoy this pastoral setting and as long as you are up wind from the Moshav’s dairy, the smells are fresh and pleasant.

We loaded the bus after a lingering walk from the Roman street, several gulping drinks and binging on ice cream bars, and a few others making quick work in the souvenir shop.  We headed west to the Israel Coast and Old Akko.

23oldakkostreet.jpg (9429 bytes)We got off the bus near the El-Jazzar Mosque and began our city walk.  I love walking through the ancient streets of Akko.  It is a beautiful place and an exciting experience.  Join us in a few of the views.

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25backstreet.jpg (9867 bytes)The side streets and backstreets of Akko are beautiful and mysterious.  Real people live here.  They seem friendly and are kind to visitors.

26friedmannbakery.jpg (6615 bytes)These folks at the bakery remembered us from November when we told them we were Chris Friedmann’s friends.  Steve brought greetings back to Chris.

We especially enjoy the market but it was getting near the end of the day and it was closing.

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We did stroll through the maket but then headed across the city to the waterfront.

29akkoharbor.jpg (5826 bytes)What a beautiful view.  It was gorgeous.

31wornoutgrpakko.jpg (9498 bytes)We had been out and on the road and sightseeing since early in the morning.  The day was ending and we were a long ride from Tiberias and worn out.  It was a great first full day.  I think that even our guide Gilla was tired.

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The ride to Tiberias was comfortable and uneventful.  I love riding across the Galilee in the late afternoon.

We arrived at our hotel, the Jordan River at about 7 p.m.  It was a welcome sight.  They messed up our reservations but straightened them out.   There are other more enjoyable accomodations in the Tiberias area.  I would strongly recommend the Ron Beach or Nof Ginosar.  If you are looking for an adventure and don’t mind a little longer ride each day, Ein Gev Holiday Village on the east side of the Sea of Galilee near Kursi is a delightful place to stay.  Their food is excellent.

To Dan and Back

We finished our Israeli breakfast and went uptown in Tiberias to the boat dock near the Chinese restaurant.  We would take one of the “Jesus Boats” across the Galilee to Ginosar.

The Sea of Galilee is the largest fresh-water lake in Israel.  It is fed mainly by the Jordan River and drained by the Jordan River.  It is in the shape of a harp, large in the north and much smaller in the south.  It is mentioned in Numbers 34:11 and Joshua 13:27.  The lake for the survival of the people of Israel.   It is their primary water source.

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The weather on the lake was chilly and forbidding but the water was smooth.  The trip was enjoyable.  I think that this was the best trip across the Galilee that I have taken.

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Good conversation, oohs and ahs and the typical joy of a boat ride.   It was fun.

jmikeinIDF.jpg (2998 bytes)When we were a good bit of the way to Ginosar, the engines were turned off and we had a devotional time.

I continued to be impressed with the personal devotionals that the members of our group shared.  They expressed the Lord’s blessings and importance in their lives.  JOY.

jpaulquestion.jpg (4601 bytes)There was a time for questions of our Israeli guide.  Although she wasn’t a senior citizen, she had many years of experience (20 I think) and was willing to field all of our questions.  The view encouraged thoughts and images about New Testament times.  Since several of our group are scholars, they had a lot of questions about Israel.

The boat ride was a worthwhile part of our journey.  I will not forget that on future trips.

We left the boat at Ginosar and traveled further north around the lake to Tabgha. We were just east of the Tiberias-Rosh Pina road.  The Greek name for Tabgha is Heptapegon, meaning “seven springs”.  This is the traditional site where Jesus performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30-44 and Matthew 14).

1TABGHA.jpg (8308 bytes)It is a place of beauty and peace.

The present church, the German Benedictine Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes was dedicated in 1982.  It is a reproduction of a Byzantine church from the mid-5th century AD.

1TABGHAgarden.jpg (8135 bytes)I love the date palms in Israel.  You may note that I take a lot of pictures of them.  This particular tree is expansive and pretty.  Enjoy.

2primacypeter1.jpg (9080 bytes)Immediately next to Tabgha is the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter.  It is built on the edge of the water and commemorates the appearance of Jesus in John 21.

Gilla was looking for a book that she had brought.  We were still asking questions.

2primacypeter2.jpg (5539 bytes)We gathered on the shore to listen to the story.  Steve taped the event and we listened.

2primacypeter3.jpg (5759 bytes)Scott shared form the New Testament story.

2primacypeter4seashore.jpg (3576 bytes)We walked on the shore and thought of that time.

Jesus is Lord.

About 2 miles east of Tabgha is Capernaum, “The Town of Jesus”.

Capernaum is an ancient fishing town on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The site has been uninhabited since the 8th century AD.  Jesus settled here after he left Nazareth (Matthew 4:13).

3capernaumsynagogue.jpg (6538 bytes)  The partly restored synagogue in Capernaum is dated to the latter part of the 5th century AD.  This is not the synagogue that Jesus taught in but may be over the original synagogue of Capernaum.

3capernaumsynjohnteach.jpg (8124 bytes)John led in our devotional in the synagogue.

Near the synagogue is the traditional location of the House of St. Peter.   There is a spaceship like edifice suspended in space over Peter’s house.

Jesus taught here, called most of disciples here and worked many miracles at this place.

The Franciscan Order acquired this site in 1894.  Their mission in the Holy Land is to acquire and preserve sites sacred to Christianity.  This location is an important place for Christians to visit.

3capernaumolivepress.jpg (6851 bytes)This olive press is made from volcanic basalt.  It’s advantages over limestone created an export industry for this area in ancient times.

On a low basalt hill about 2 miles north of Capernaum is the town of Chorazin.  This was one of the largest Jewish settlements in the Lower Galilee in the time of Jesus.  It is mentioned in Matthew 11:21 and Luke 10:13 as a city where Jesus preached.

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They had a significant synagogue at Chorazin.

4chorazinharold.jpg (6167 bytes)Harold led our devotional in the Chorazin synagogue.

This is well preserved village.  It gives a sense of the size and shape of a typical village around the Sea of Galilee.

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4chorazinpottery.jpg (4159 bytes)Pottery at Chorazin.

We completed our visit to Chorazin and headed north.  Our tour turned north and we traveled north on Route 90.  We passed the McDonald’s at Rosh Pina without stopping.  I always enjoy that stop but we had too many miles to go this day.   We went up the Hula Valley all the way to Kiryat Shmona and turned right on Route 99 to the Dan Nature Reserve where we would stop for lunch.

5dancafeteria.jpg (4783 bytes)The Dan Cafeteria is a great place to stop for lunch.  The place is clean, the food is good and the people are friendly.

We ate too much and talked too long but we had a good time.  Also, several were beginning to show the wear and tear of the plane ride and the fast paced two days of touring that we had done.  We were moving slower.

5dangate.jpg (2813 bytes)When we left Dan, we stopped for a quick picture of the ancient gate at Dan that dates to the time of Abraham.

6caesareaphilippiov.jpg (4320 bytes)Banias, which we know from the Biblical account as Caesarea Philippi, was not far from Dan.   This was a cult center dedicated to the worship of Pan, the son of Hermes.   This place was the site of hedonistic worship that was too hedonistic for even the ancient Greeks.

Herod’s son, Philip, renamed this place Caesarea Philippi to distinguish it from his father’s city of Caesarea.

6caesareaphilippinature.jpg (3794 bytes)This is a place of water and natural beauty.  We enjoyed the forest walk and the water sounds.

6gideon.jpg (5238 bytes)Gideon, our driver, did a good job of getting us to where we wanted to go.  We are grateful for his careful driving and attention to our transportation needs.  Thanks!

Commanding a strategic point on the Via Maris where trade routes from the north, east and west joined to enter the Promised Land is the huge ancient tel of Hazor.   In the 18th and 13th centuries BC, Hazor covered 200 acres.  It was an important trade city in the Middle East.

7hazor1.jpg (3392 bytes)Tel Hazor was built and rebuilt a total of 21 times.

This picture is the eastern edge of the upper city of Hazor.

Hazor is mentioned in Joshua 11:13.

7hazor2roadaouth.jpg (3018 bytes)The view south from the Upper City is awesome.  It gives some indication of the strategic location of the tel.

7hazor3ww.jpg (5828 bytes)The water system was developed by King Ahab and is as complex as his water tunnel construction at Megiddo.

This is a view of the Solomonic gated entrance to Hazor.  This particular type entrance has three rooms on each side of the entrance.

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Time was now important.  We planned to get to the Mount of the Beatitudes before 5 p.m.  We made it.

8mtbeatitudes.jpg (6189 bytes)This site is operated by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  This building was designed by the Italian architect Barlozzi and is octagonal.  Each of its eight walls commemorate on of the Beatitudes.  The mosaic floor is decorated with symbols of the seven virtues of man referred to in the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5:3-11.

8mtbeatitudes3contemp.jpg (3794 bytes)The gardens are beautiful.

We paused for a devotional.

8mtbeatitudespalm.jpg (5198 bytes)Gorgeous palms.

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We were overloaded with seeing the Biblical events and our personal experiences of the day.  I assured several that when they returned home that many of the emotions of this day would return at various times that they were reading Scripture.   This journey to the Holy Land is a lifetime experience that stays with us for the rest of our lives.

Up To Jerusalem

Today, we turned our attention towards Jerusalem and left Tiberias on Route 90 South.  Yardenit is our first stop.  It is located just before   the place where Route 90 crosses the Jordan River.  It is a picturesque location with huge eucalyptus trees and quiet greenish water.  Yardenit is a place of safe access to the Jordan River for Christian pilgrims.

1jordanriverbapt.jpg (6005 bytes)Many groups have devotional and baptismal services at this site.  The baptism of Jesus by John (Matthew 3) is traditionally believed to be further south near Jericho, but this location is a good place for Christian groups to memorialize their Holy Land visit.

Just a bit beyond Yardenit we passed Degania, the very first kibbutz.   It was started in 1909 by Jewish pioneers from Eastern Europe.  They worked hard and turned swampland and rocky soil into a beautiful farm.

We traveled south for about 20 minutes on Route 90 and turned right on Route 717 climbing the mountain to Kachav Hayarden (The Star of the Jordan).  This location is better known to us as Belvoir (beautiful view).  This is the location of the most invincible fortress in the Holy Land.

1belvoir.jpg (3056 bytes)The view of the Jordan Valley is breathtaking.  On a clear day, you can see Mt. Tabor, Sea of Galilee, hills of Samaria, the Golan, Mount Hermon, and the Yarmuk valley which is the border between Syria and Jordan.

The road up the mountain to Belvoir is a narrow one-lane and winds back and forth up the mountain.  We have driven up in a driving rain on one occasion and I would not recommend that again.  We had substantially decent weather this day, even though it was rather cloudy.

belvoirmodelrqex.jpg (10038 bytes)Belvoir was a large fortress that was completed essentially as the diagram shows by the Knights Hospitallers in 1168 AD.  Note the inner castle that provided safety for the knights from their mercenaries and serfs.  This was ultimately a contributing factor for their defeat.

1belvoirlook.jpg (2616 bytes)Saladin finally conquered the fortress in the spring of 1191 and permitted the defenders to march out of Belvoir to Akko.  The castle was completely destroyed in the 13th century when there was some concern that the Crusaders might return.

We joined together in our morning devotional looking out across the Jordan Valley.  It was a memorable event.  One could almost see the history before our eyes.

1belvoirrandybennie.jpg (3210 bytes)We completed our visit and headed back to the bus.  Randy and Bennie Ruth arrived first.

Bennie Ruth represents Vision Travel, our tour host, from Miami Florida (1-800-654-4544) operated by Nina Meyer.  They do a great job.  Thanks folks.

Randy is Director of Development at NOBTS.

Bet Shean is 8 miles south on Route 90.  It has been continuously occupied for more than 5,000 years.  The town is surrounded by water and receives rainfall on a regular basis.  Several members of the group climbed to the top of the tel in the background.  Our seminary was involved in the digs on the top of the tel that date to Old Testament times.

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Bet Shean has a beautiful colonnaded street as pictured above that dates to the Byzantine period.

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This was a large and important Roman City.  It had many significant buildings and was the focus of economic activity for the area.  When you walk through the open areas and up and down the streets you get a real sense of the majesty of this city.

2Betshean3theater.jpg (5505 bytes)The upper part of the theater is missing but it was designed to seat 5,000.  This is a beautiful theater and certainly rivals the theater in Caesarea.  There were many dramatic presentations presented on the stage of this theater.  It was a very popular venue.

The group climbed to the top of the old tel.  This is the city where Saul’s body was hung on the wall (1 Sam. 31:10).  It is mentioned as a part of Solomon’s empire (1 Kings 4:12).

More coffee and water and all the other things one does before a long ride.  We loaded up and drove down the Jordan Valley.  We would quickly pass out of beautiful green surroundings to desert.  It is a stunning experience as the beauty of the land unfolds.  Hills rise on both sides of the Jordan.  First were the hills of Samaria that soon gave way to the hills of Judea.  The Old Testament unfolded before us.  Also, to remember that this was often the way that Jesus would travel back and forth to Jerusalem increases the value of the drive.  Wow.  I love this trip.

3jerichofruit.jpg (5514 bytes)It didn’t take but about an hour and a half to get to Jericho.  This was the prettiest sight there.  A lot of building is going on but the place is pretty grim.  I don’t know any of the answers to all the questions that the people of this area are asking.

3teljericho.jpg (2706 bytes)The Tel is fairly undeveloped and begs for a new excavation.  None in sight as far as I know. There isn’t much to see but a lot to think about.  We walked the area and looked around.  As you can see by the picture below, this was an area where Jesus traveled.  The Mount of Temptation isn’t far from Jericho.

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We left Jericho and traveled down to  the Dead Sea.  We would return here on Friday but today we would visit Qumran, the home of the Essenes, maybe.

4qumran.jpg (4012 bytes)This is the entrance area to the site.  They are doing a lot of work on their snack area and site entrance.  The cafeteria here is excellent and we enjoyed a good meal after we completed our site visit.

4telqumran.jpg (4077 bytes)The ruins are situated on a little plateau on the north-west shore of the Dead Sea.  It is easy to visualize the austere dedication of the people that lived at this site.

4qumranscrollcave.jpg (4166 bytes)Immediately to the west of the archaeological site are the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  This is one of those caves.

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South of the plateau, the terrain is rugged and spectacular.  Note the erosion.  This is a combination of wind and water erosion.

We left Qumran and went up to Jerusalem.  We transitioned about 3,900 feet in altitude (1,080 feet below sea level to 2,820 feet above sea level) in approximately 25 miles.

We went to the Lion’s Gate (St. Stephen’s Gate) first.  We entered the old city on the eastern side of Jerusalem with a view towards the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives.

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We have passed the halfway point in our Israel trip and now we have arrived in Jerusalem.

5ststephensgate.jpg (3687 bytes)The road from halfway down in the Kidron Valley looks easy to walk up in this picture.   It isn’t.  The walk is strenuous.  Our focus now would be to travel through the Old City of Jerusalem to all of the sights on the Via Dolorosa.  This is a memorable experience.  The key thing to remember is that the traditional sights may not be what they say they are but the real thing is a stones throw from the traditional sight if the traditional sight isn’t the actual place.  This is Jerusalem, the place where the prophets were murdered.  The city that God said He loved.

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We sang in the Church of St. Anne.  The echoes are heart touching and the sounds spine tingling.  It was good!

6Stanne'spool.jpg (7801 bytes)Immediately outside of St. Anne’s is the Pool of Bethesda.  Jesus performed miracles in this place.  He lives and because He does we can.  “Jesus loves me!”

6viadolorosaroadsign.jpg (2565 bytes)I love the street signs.  We are here.

6viadolorosa1.jpg (5635 bytes)We are journeying on the Via Dolorosa.

6viadolorosaeccehomo.jpg (4649 bytes)Jeff is talking every step of the way.  He brought a real zip to the trip.  “Go get ’em killer!”

6viadolorosahonkingcar.jpg (6901 bytes)The folks are hugging the wall here while a speeding motorist passes.  The narrow streets carry a lot of traffic all of the time.

6viadolorosamarkyvonne.jpg (3893 bytes)Yvonne our TWA host and Mark her husband are discussing the events from the time of Christ as we travel along the Via Dolorosa.

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We had had a long day and it was nearing a close.  The bus would be waiting for us at Jaffa Gate to take us to our hotel.  It had been a long ride and lots of walks since we had left Tiberias this morning.  We had experienced the route that Jesus would often take from Tiberias up to Jerusalem.  Every time we read the accounts of John the Baptist and Jesus’ ministry in the New Testament our mind’s eye will be alert to the nuances of the Middle East.  When we read of the travels of various prophets and patriarchs in the Old Testament, we will have a much clearer understanding of what was happening.  We can be grateful to God for the blessings of this day.


We entered the walled city at the Dung Gate.  The weather was beautiful.  Our first interest today was the Temple Mount (Haram esh-Sharif).   Gilla is detailing the layout of the Temple Mount during the 2nd Temple period.

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The view of the Temple Mount from this location helps to understand the layout from that 2nd Temple period.

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The gray dome is the El Aksa Mosque.  This is an important Moslem worship center.  It has a long and varied history dating back to its completion by Omayyad Caliph El-Walid in 715 AD.  It was damaged by fire in 1969 but has been beautifully restored.

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Above, we see our group preparing to go into the El Aksa Mosque.   This requires one to leave shoes and equipment outside so someone must watch the stuff.   Note the stuff watchers, Steve, Gilla, Bennie Ruth and Don, with me taking the picture.

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Our group completes their visit into the Mosque and as always I line everybody up for a picture.

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The second important building on the Temple Mount is the Dome of the Rock.

1tmplclay.jpg (5224 bytes)Clay is pictured here in front of the preparation fountain for those going into the Mosque.  They clean their feet at this place.  In the background is the Dome of the Rock.

The building dates to 691 AD and is the first major sanctuary built by Islam.  It commemorates the night visit of the Prophet Mohammed.  This is believed to be the location of Mount Moriah, the location of the visit by Abraham and Isaac for the sacrifice directed by the Lord (Genesis 22).

David bought this location and located the Ark of the Covenant on this site.  Solomon built the first temple here on the Temple Mount (1 Kings 5-6).   Jesus was often in this area.  He was presented in the Temple (Luke 2:22), disputed with the scribes (Luke 2:46), cast out the merchants (Mt. 21:12) and tempted by Satan on the Temple Mount.

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2dunggate1.jpg (4874 bytes)A better view of the Dung Gate that exits the Jewish Quarter next to the Temple Mount area.

We exited the Temple Mount the same way we came in.  We were interested in visiting the Western Wall before we left the Jewish Quarter area.

2templemtentrance.jpg (4468 bytes)I am always a little amazed when I visit the Temple Mount.  The entrance area is nothing more than a makeshift ramp up to this sacred place.  I don’t know the reasoning for this but then am not required too.

2wwclay.jpg (2633 bytes)Clay, standing in front of the Western Wall.  The stones that form this western support for the Temple Mount area are huge.

It is easy to see the majesty of this support wall.  One must review history to understand its importance and value.

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A stone up close with the prayers pushed in between any available space in the wall.

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This is an upward view from the bottom of the wall.

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A look back at the Western Wall as we depart for the Mount of Olive.

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We went around to the Garden of Gethsemane.

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“He went with them to a place called Gethsemane”  (Matthew 26:36).  The place of the olive press.  He prayed earnestly at this place (Lk 22).  They arrested Him here.

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He walked across the Kidron Valley through the Valley of  Decision   to His judgement and then to the cross.

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A look back at the Mount of Olives with the Church of All Nations in the lower left.

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We visited the overlook but it was overcast.  Now we traveled the five miles down to Bethlehem.

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This entrance into the Church of the Nativity was done this way on purpose to keep the horses ridden by the soldiers out of the Church.

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The interior of the Church of the Nativity is beautiful and ancient.   The traditions relating to this edifice date back to the 6th Century AD.

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This is the traditional location of the birth of Christ.

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4courtyardchnativity.jpg (6411 bytes)The courtyard of St. Catherine’s Church is next to the Church of the Nativity.

4hallwaychnativity.jpg (5083 bytes)Adjoining St. Catherine’s Church is a cloister.

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We spent some time at the Church of the Nativity and then headed back toward Jerusalem.

Our guide, Gilla, had a surprise for us.  We detoured around Har Homa to Migdal Eder, a field of shepherds.

4shepherdsfieldgrp.jpg (9027 bytes)Note the shepherds led by Harold.

Steve led us in a devotional.

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In the distance.

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Rough terrain.  Quiet beauty.  A shepherd field.

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Water means life in the desert.  An ancient well.

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We head back to Jerusalem.  We have more to do this day.

Jerusalem-More to Do

Choices are a part of life.  Everyday we choose the kind of day we will have, the places we will go and the things we will do.   Many times our choices are influenced by how we feel or who we are with.   Today, our choice for ending the day was based on two key places that are related.   St. Peter in Gallicantu and the Upper Room on Mt. Zion.  St. Peter in Gallicantu is the place which Christians have venerated since the 6th Century as the location of Caiaphas’ house and where Peter denied Jesus (Mark 14:66-72). 

1Jesusroad.jpg (8091 bytes)Jesus would have been led up this road to Caiaphas’ house on the right.  The stones are from the Roman Period.  This is the stepped road down to Siloam and would have been used when traveling across the Kidron Valley up to Caiaphas’ house.

The courtyard in the upper right of the picture is Caiaphas’ house at St. Peter in Gallicantu.  Our group was impressed with the stepped Roman Road.

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We walked down the stepped road toward Siloam.

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The view of the stepped Roman road from the bottom is impressive.

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St. Peter in Gallicantu is an impressive edifice.  I am impressed with the stained glass windows in the auditorium.

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We visited the Upper Room on Mt. Zion.  Mt. Zion is thought to be a more likely location for Caiaphas’ house because it is at the top of the hill.   Luxurious homes from the Herodian period have been found near this location.

7upperroom.jpg (4084 bytes)How much can we say about the Upper Room.   When we arrived, a charismatic group was completing a worship service.  They were very focused on their worship of Christ.  The level of emotion was high.  I was reminded that we often take precious experiences and images from our lives too lightly.  Lord help me to pay more attention to my brief time here on earth.

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The Upper Room, Cenacle, has an uncertain tradition.  It is possible that the tradition relates to the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles in the Upper Room.  We weren’t as concerned with the archaeological surety as we were with the memories of the Lord’s concern for us.  This place always stirs me to think about the final hours of the life of Christ.

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I stopped Irvin on the way out to get a picture.  The Upper Room is up the stairs and the Tomb of David is around the corner below the upper room.

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We visited at Moshe and Dov’s shop on Tifferet Street in the center of the Jewish Quarter.

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Dov at the counter.

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Our group is buying stuff.  Shopping is important!

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We left the old city behind.  The day ended too soon.

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Friday would be a long day.  Thursday was just great.

Down to the Dead Sea and Back

Masada is located on the eastern slopes of the Judean Desert between En Gedi and Sdom.  It is in an isolated area of the Dead Sea, immediately east of its steep slopes.  The top of Masada is approximately 1,300 feet above the Dead Sea and is about 50 acres in area.  Herod chose Masada as a refuge from potential enemies.  Herod built beautiful palaces for himself and visitors to his wilderness refuge.  A Roman garrison occupied the fortress after Herod’s death.  

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The cable car currently stops 80 steps short of the top.  It is still a bit of a challenge when it is wet to navigate the steps to the top.

02tothetop.jpg (2926 bytes)If you choose not to use the cable car there is an ascent called the Snake Path that one can use to climb the slopes.  It takes about an hour if you are in good shape.  Take water whatever shape you are in.   Remember this is desert.

When you get to the top, the large land area is a bit shocking.  We generally take the short route that gets to all the major structures on the top but you may want to take the long route which adds about an hour to the tour.

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Masada is important because of its importance to the nation of Israel.   It is a symbol of their commitment to stay.  They are here and here they will stay.

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The residence structure above is located in the center of the area.

04johnlookingforshade.jpg (3791 bytes)John is holding up a wall while he listens to our guide share about Masada.

05mosaic.jpg (5078 bytes)Western Palace mosaic.

Steve and the group are approaching a small church built by monks during the Byzantine period.

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07claybyzch.jpg (2141 bytes)This is Clay posing in the Byzantine Period church.

The look down toward the Roman ramp built during the siege of Masada by the Romans is a bit dramatic.  It is a long way down.

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A short break for questions and conversation.

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Good view of the group that walked down to the Northern Palace area.

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We bid Masada fond adieu.  We had to go down in separate cable cars so some of us took pictures of the first bunch going down.

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When we left Masada, we headed down to Ein Bokek for lunch.  It is located on the shore of the Dead Sea and is a growing Dead Sea tourist center.  Lunch was good.

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The journey up from the Dead Sea to Arad is spectacular.  The views to the east and the change in the mountain is dramatic.  The road is literally cut out of the mountain and is a hard climb for a vehicle.

Tel Arad is located about 5 miles west of modern Arad.  It has a commanding view of the northern Negev and the Southern hills of Judea.  The king of Arad would not let Moses and the Children of Israel pass through here (Numbers 21:1, 33:40).  Joshua conquered the king of Arad (Joshua 12:14).

There are actually two settlement locations at Tel Arad.  The lower settlement is from the Canaanite city (3150-2200 BC) and the upper settlement pictured below which was established about 1200 BC.

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The temple shown below is located in the northwestern corner of the citadel.  It is important for what it reveals about the temple worship in Jerusalem, and syncretism in the Hebrew society.

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The group is assembled on the upper level within the citadel and looking south into the Negev.

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16clayarad.jpg (4687 bytes)I always find myself impressed with Tel Arad.  This is a place that has a long history and this area has been reborn in modern times.  I enjoy walking through the citadel and thinking of the events of the Old Testament that were played out here.  This was an important place in ancient Israel.

The group gathered at the temple.

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We were heading back toward Jerusalem.  The short winter days were causing us to hustle across the southern Judean desert.  We waved at Beersheba on the horizon as we passed.  Hurrying, we turned north to Kiryat Gat and then journeyed southeast to Lakhish.

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Lakhish is a critical location for the Israelite Kingdom of Judah.   It is in the rolling hills of the Shephelah and is a strategic city for defense.   Everybody that warred with Israel traveled by here.

The king of Lakhish had joined the 5 king coalition that marched against Gibeon and Joshua detoured southwest to defeat the city in two days (Joshua 10:1-32).   The city wasn’t fortified when Joshua attacked it in 1220 BC.

Rehoboam built the first fortifications here in 928 BC.  Lakhish was the southern most of the line of forts protecting the western flank of the kingdom of Judah (2 Chr. 11:5-12).  During the reign of King Amaziah, Lakhish was the most important city in Judea next to Jerusalem.

An earthquake occurred here about 760 BC (Amos 1:1; Zech. 14:5).   Sennacherib made Lakhish his base in the invasion of Judah in 701 BC (2 Kings 18:13-17).

We really wanted to stop by Maresha and Bet Guvrin but couldn’t stop.   We were heading toward the battle of David and Goliath in the Elah Valley.   Highway 38 was a much traveled road for the armies and peoples of old.

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The day was long.  The walks and ride were tiring.  We picked up some rocks from the river bed and headed to Jerusalem.  We have now traveled from Dan to Beersheva.  Another good day.

Out and about in Jerusalem

Today was a day of discovery.  We would walk the streets of Jerusalem without a particlar goal other than discovery and history.   A day for sampling the ambiance of the Old City.

01newgate.jpg (6161 bytes)You can see the early morning light cascading across the New Gate on the northern side of the Old City of Jerusalem.

We walked across the hills from the King’s Hotel to the Garden Tomb.   It was a memorable joy to listen to the sounds and look at the sights of Jerusalem.   So much going on, even on Shabat.

02gardentomb.jpg (5603 bytes)There were a lot of people at the Garden Tomb, even at the early hour of 8:30 a.m.

We toured the Garden Tomb area and had an excellent time with the Lord in a quiet place off the main path.

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A very beautiful place.

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Tom Brimmer waits to lead our group at the empty tomb of Jesus.  This is a place for remembrance and remorse.  A sad and joyous event.

Quiet paths and well manicured gardens are the hallmark of the Garden Tomb.

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We left the Garden Tomb and headed for the Old City.  Our first stop would be at the Damascus Gate.  Our goal was to climb to the top of the walls and take the Ramparts Walk around to Jaffa Gate.

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Damascus Gate is where a lot of the Arab population of Jerusalem enter and exit.

07grpdamascus.jpg (4858 bytes)Our group is set to go on the Rampart walk.

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We visited the museum below the Damascus Gate area.  The group posed in the northern part of the Cardo that extended all the way through the Old City in Roman times.

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16mamila.jpg (6732 bytes)We can see the Shoulders of Hinnom and the King David Hotel at the top.

The entrance to Jaffa Gate is quiet.  Not a lot of traffic this time of day.

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The Suk.

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Steve and Francis enjoying an excellent lunch.

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Jeff, Irvin, John and Paul across the aisle.

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Mark, Yvonne, Scott and Randy completing their lunch.

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25omar.jpg (3680 bytes)Omar Bakri is the owner of Omar’s Souvenirs  in East Jerusalem.  He is the premier olive wood carver in Jerusalem.

Omar’s shop is on this street in East Jerusalem.

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Tom Brimmer at Omar’s.

When we left Omar’s, we traveled back into the Old City through the Herod Gate, just a short distance east of Damascus Gate.

Traveling towards the Temple Mount, we pass Abu Shukri’s.  Local lore says that when Jordan controlled this part of Jerusalem, the King of Jordan had hummus and falafel sent regularly at lunch from Abu Shukri’s.

Aquaduct at Caesarea

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