Tuesday, January 17, 2006

ISRAEL - DAY 20 = LAST POST

We just spent the last two days in Jordan. It was a crazy way to end the trip - too much to see in too short of a time. But it was great to hike into the Petra Valley and see the amazing tombs carved right into the sandstone. We were only able to spend three hours there, so we just saw the first part of the tombs and the beginning of the city. Not any biblical history going on there as it was built by the Nabateans who were active from the 4th century BC till Rome came and conquered Petra around 100 AD.


While in Jordan we went to the traditional peak of Mt. Nebo where Moses died and was buried by God. Unfortunately it was a hazy day, so we didn't get a really good view of the Promised land from there, but we did see the wilderness of Judea and the Dead Sea from there.

Here are Bill and Shawn with a sculpture of the bronze serpent - on Mt. Nebo.

And to end this short online journal of our journey in Israel and Jordan - a sunset...

Friday, January 13, 2006

ISRAEL - DAY 17

We have been on a whirlwind of a tour in the North of the country this past week. Here are a few of the highlights:



This is part of the aqueduct built by Herod the Great at Caesarea on the mediterranean sea. Caesarea is amazing... where there was no port, Herod built one along with a beautiful oceanside palace, a huge theater, temple, racing track and city. This was definitely one of the most amazing ruins we've seen in the "north". Biblically this is mentioned - one of the main events was when Paul was brought here secretly in the night (he actually spent the night in Aphek and came here the following day) when it was discovered there was a plot to kill him. He was imprisoned here for 2 years before taken to Rome.


This outline of an altar marks the place and the size of the altar Jeroboam built after Israel divided into two kingdoms. The steps behind it lead up to the high place where he probably placed the golden calf. This was a sobering day to see the place where such idolatry occurred and where Israel sinned against the Lord. I was impacted by the size of the altar... there are some stairs to the left of it which would have been used to get to the top. (Posing for perspective is Jen - a girl we've gotten to know on this trip.)

Here Bill and I are standing in front of the springs at Banias - the place where Caesarea Phillipi was built. Behind us is the location the pagan temples were built. (Another sobering day to see more idolatry.)

Bill is the wee little head you can see in the water to the right of Shawn who only went in up to his knees in the Sea of Galilee.

For dinner last night we had "St. Peter's" fish. Here it is before I ate it:

... and after!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

ISRAEL - DAY 11


We are back in Jerusalem after our tour down south. This morning we got up before the sun and watched it rise while we hiked up to the top of Masada. What an amazing rock it is and the view of the Dead Sea and the Jordan rift was spectacular.
The morning also included a float in the Dead Sea (I can't say "swim" since it is practically impossible to do anything but float!) We are a little hard to see in this picture, but that is me on the left and Bill is second from the left.
Computer use is limited so this will be a short day.

Friday, January 06, 2006

ISRAEL - DAY 9

Today is the day scheduled for going into Egypt in order to go to the traditional spot for Mt. Sinai (there is a debate as to exactly which mountain it is.) I opted out and stayed at the hotel for a day of rest. Yesterday I started feeling weary, so we decided I'd recharge my batteries by NOT climbing the 2000+ ft to the top of the mountain! They were driven to a monastery at about 5000ft elevation and from there will be climbing 3700 stairs to the top. Elevation is 7000+ft.
I've had a slow morning in Eilat. This is a tourist city geared for both Israelis and Europeans seeking sunny beaches. A lot of water sports etc go on here too. It is the middle of winter, but right here the weather is just right. I just got back from a walk along the boardwalk in short-sleeves - there are people swimming and sunbathing. The boardwalk is like a upscale Venice Beach without all the crazy people!
There is also a mall which I went into and had a freshly squeezed orange juice. In order to go into all malls in Israel you have to go through security - a metal detector and police who look into all bags. It is worse than Colombia - but understandable since malls are where suicide bombers like to go.
I am using a computer in the hotel lobby - it is all in hebrew, so everything is right to left and there are error messages which pop up and I just guess which of the options to click!!!
Another interesting non-biblical observation is that there are a lot of Russian jewish immigrants in Israel. I've seen the Russian flag a lot down in this South part of the country. It was also one of the languages which had simultaneous translation going on at the church we visited last Sunday.
Today is Friday, so everything will be closing early this afternoon in preparation for the Sabbath. Although I don't know how much Eilat will slow down - it is very "western" and touristy.
Yesterday we drove down here from Beer-Sheva where we had spent the night in a youth hostel. We saw the more recent well of Beer Sheva (=well of the treaty) dating to 12th century BC. Also saw some amazing ruins from Canaanite, Israelite and Nabateans eras. Probably most impacting was our "wanderings" in the wilderness. It is so barren and desolate out there. Dry with canyons and other amazing landscapes. We spent a few minutes out there in the wilderness of Paran where Ishmael became a great nation and where later Moses brought the Israelites through on their way to the promised land. We read Deut. 8 where God tells them about the prosperity they will have in their new home and talks about them remaining faithful when they have plenty. They had to learn to trust God to provide when it seemed impossible in the barren wilderness - and then in times of wealth they forgot Him and were unfaithful. Challenging for us to think about who or what we are depending upon - both in times of barren wanderings and plentiful comfort.
Well... I am off to have a sandwich with the rest of my orange juice on the balcony of our hotel room overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba (or Gulf of Eilat).

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

ISRAEL - DAY 6

This is a typical sheepfold, currently not in use. We saw this as from a viewpoint of the town of Michmash near the pass which Jonathan scaled the cliffs and proceeded to defeat the Philistines who had taken the town.

We have just finished the first part of our class here in Israel - the Jerusalem area and the CentralBenjamin Plateau. We really do feel like we know the layout of this part of the country and how it relates to the biblical events that happened here from Abraham, Joshua, David/Solomon, Hezekiah, & Jesus' times. We have had a really great instructor. He is an American who has lived and studied here in Israel for the better part of 2 decades, so he really knows the geography, history and archaelogy of the area.This morning we had the test and then they gave us the rest of the day off, so we've been taking it easy. First we walked around the ramparts of the city walls... from the GWe have just finished the first part of our class here in Israel - the Jerusalem area and the CentralBenjamin Plateau. We really do feel like we know the layout of this part of the country and howit relates to the biblical events that happened here from Abraham, Joshua, David/Solomon, Hezekiah, & Jesus' times.We have had a really great instructor. He is an american who has lived and studied here in Israel for the better part of 2 decades, so he really knows the geography, history and archaelogy of the area.This morning we had the test and then they gave us the rest of the day off, so we've been taking it easy. First we walked aroundthe ramparts of the Jaffa Gate to the Lions (or St. Stephens) Gate. They don't let you walk on the walls surrounding the Temple Mount though. It was probably 2 or 3 miles. Beautiful day and beautiful view.
Yesterday was also a gorgeous day... we went west to the Gezer-Tel (Tel = a mound/hill of dirt that is an ancient city in ruins and now an archeological dig). From there we looked down on the Aijalon plains and up to Jerusalem. We also had a good view of the Central Benjamin Plateau. From there we drove to the high place where Solomon asked God for wisdom (Nebi Samwil) - it really is a high place - you could see Gibeon, Gibeah, Ramah as well as the Mt. Olives and Jerusalem.
In the afternoon we headed east towards the Jordan Rift Valley and ended up at Jericho which is the oldest city in the world. We saw a very old city tower (estimated date 7000BC - debateable cause of flood date) and the place where the walls fell down in 1400 BC. Very cool. We also saw Herod the Great's summer palace. That man has amazing constructions.
We drove back through the Judean Wilderness... what a bleak and very lonely place.
We are both holding up well and thoroughly enjoying this experience. It has been a very fast pace and we do a lot everyday... barely a moment to catch your thoughts and really meditate on what we are seeing. I am sure there will be time for that when we get back!