On Sunday we took the time to tour around the Galilee area. First of all we visited Capernaum--we saw the ruins of this fishing village that Jesus lived and taught in. There is a church built on the area that tradition has it Peter had his house. We also saw the remains of a Synagogue built on the remains of the original Synagogue that Jesus would have taught in. One could image Peter and the others on the shore of the Sea of Galilee as Jesus called them to be his disciples. As you looked across this north end of the Sea of Galilee you could see the general area where Jesus sailed to and then cast the demons into the pigs. It certainly brings the biblical history alive.
We then visited the Mount of Beatitudes--supposedly the area where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount and near the area where Jesus fed the 5,000. One could look across from this point and see Migdol--the town where Mary Magdalene came from.
From there we went to Caesarea Philippi where we saw the ruins of Herod's 1st Palace--he was the King who ordered the Israelite babies up to two years of age killed in his attempt to kill Jesus. His palace was built on the remains of a Greek Temple. We also saw the ruins of the palace of Agrippa 2nd.
It was here in Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked Peter "who do you think I am" and then Jesus answered Peter--see Mathew 16:18. It is quite stirring to stand in this place and think back to biblical times and these events of history recorded in the Bible.
After this we went to Mt. Bental (most tourists wouldn't get to visit here). There is a military bunker on the top of the mountain overlooking the border with Syria. In the 1967 war, Israel captured the Golan Heights. Then in 1973 Syria invaded Israel with 1500 tanks. Israel was taken by surprise--but the Israeli army eventually pushed the Syrian troops back and came within firing distance of Damascus. A cease fire was then agreed to. From this mountain one could see the Syrian town of Kunetra. We could also seen an abandoned Syrian town that was basically demolished during the war. There is a military bunker on the top of this mountain that tourists are allowed into--but it could be reactivated if necessary. On a nearby Mountain there is an active military installation that monitors the border. One can see why the Golan Heights is such a sensitive area. I have attached one photo of Mally and I standing with an "Israeli soldier"--we joked that we had to black out the soldier for security reasons!
We then drove along the Syrian border past the United Nations complex. We viewed a large Syrian military installation that had been destroyed and at various places there were warnings about active mines in areas--there were also shelters along the road that people could get into if there was any gun fire etc.
We then arrived at the Sea of Galilee and went for a swim (see photograph). The water was VERY warm. In the mornings the Sea is like glass--but later afternoon it is quite rough with lots of waves. One could imagine a storm causing terrible waves for Peter and the others--and then the Lord stilled the storm.
For our evening meal, we went to a "Kibbutz" that had a restaurant on the shores of the Sea of Galilee--it was a beautiful evening looking across the Sea at night--one of those special evenings we'll always remember.
You probably think we are just having a good time on this trip! Well, we did hit the road running and I spoke for the first week in various places--so we need a couple of days off!
Today we traveled to the Jordon River north of the Sea of Galilee. We then went rafting down the river--at one stage we got out of the raft and went "body rafting" in the Jordon river (see photograph). We didn't realize how narrow this river is.
After the Jordon, we traveled to Megiddo--this is a Tel where there is 25 feet deep of archaeological artifacts--the most important archaeological site in Israel they say. There was a Canaanite city--other cities - Solomon built a city here, also King Ahab and the Assyrians. It was a very important site re: guarding who entered this area--trade routes etc. It was fascinating to visit the ruins--of course their dates are wrong which also can cause problems about how they've interpreted things. The most astounding part was the tunnel that was built so people could get water into the city when it was under siege--an unbelievable engineering achievement for that time.
We then traveled home and had a typical Israeli meal with our hosts! Great food.
On Tuesday we are visiting Masada and the Dead Sea--we're told we are going to swim (actually FLOAT) in the Dead Sea--also Ein-gedi (a spring where King Saul was sleeping and David came and cut off a piece of his clothing).
Yes--I am giving more lectures--I'm speaking at a Christian Leaders conference on Friday. I still have a lot of preparation to do. The more I understand the culture and the more I understand how people think etc.--the more it enables me to be more effective in my speaking.
Ken and Mally