Our Trip to Israel

The Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee

The excavation of Herod's palace in Caesarea on the Mediterranean is very extensive. They've even uncovered an indoor swimming pool. I always thought that was just a funny line from Jesus Christ Superstar - I didn't realize he really had a swimming pool. The black mesh covering at the sites is a relatively new addition to excavation sites.

The reconstruction of a mosaic floor in one of the buildings found in Caesarea. This is in one of the main street areas. The building is believed to be a synagogue or some other public building. This work is going on under one of the black mesh covering. This allows workers to continue with some jobs even after the hot summer weather has set in.

Canaanite sanctuaries to Baal were located in the Carmel mountain range. Here we see a statue to the prophet Elijah in his victory over the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel. From Mt. Carmel we could see down the Jezreel Valley. An impressive sight were the jets taking off from air strip in the distance. You could see them on the ground and then they seemed to magically appear out of thin air. We found this to be a typical blend of the ancient and the modern throughout Israel.

A temple excavation on Megiddo showing the outer courts and the Holy of Holies. Although we saw the traditional triple and many other traditional features, the most impressive feature was the commanding view of the valley below. From Megiddo we could see Nazareth across the valley on the next set of hills. This is believed to be the location of the final battle known as the Battle of ARMAGEDDON. Armageddon means "mountain of Megiddo." This is the only New Testament reference to Megiddo.

One of the things that our guide told us was that most place names in Israel have been transliterated into so many different languages, that there were numerous (correct) ways of spelling most place names. The other thing that he mentioned was for almost every incident in Jesus' life, there were at least two places in Israel that commemorated the incident or claimed to be the exact location in which it took place.

He gave us a scale for use during our tour to facilitate our understanding the relative accuracy of place locations.

A "1" meant that from biblical record, we could know this was the exact place something happened. (Example: If the Bible said "the Mount of Olives" or "the Jordan River," then we know exactly where the Mount of Olives or the Jordan River is - but maybe not the exact spot on the Mount or the River that something happened.)

A "2" meant that from tradition (from the 4th or 5th century) or from excavation, we could be relatively sure that something occurred in a particular location or somewhere nearby.

A "3" meant that there is really know way of knowing the location, but this seems to be a reasonable guess or at least is the place traditionally celebrated.

A "4" meant that to think the thing actually happened in this location was preposterous.

A view of modern day Nazareth. Nazareth is a large thriving city in the modern world - not the sleepy little village where I pictured Jesus growing up. Notice the reinforcing rods on the unfinished rooftop. Taxes on a house do not have to be paid until the house is finished.

This is Zippori (also know as Sephorris), a Greco-Roman city located within walking distance of Nazareth. It contained all the comforts of modern life for the 1st century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is believed that this could very well be a place where Jesus found employment as a carpenter/day laborer.

In the middle ground notice the rock-strewn fields. Just above them you can see where the fields have been cleared of the rocks those same rocks are used to line the fields making a natural fencing. This picture was taken traveling from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee.

This is a view of Mt. Arbel. It guards the passage from the Plain of Gennesaret to the Sea of Galilee. This area of Galilee was a center of Zealot activity during the 1st century. Zealots used caves located in the cliffs to hide and to strike out at the Romans.

 

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