We started off in Tel Aviv looking at a tel (a mound of dirt that has ruins buried in it) of a Philistine village.
We saw an “industrial” wheat press and then a normal home style wheat press that the women would use to make wheat every day. An interesting fact to note: the skeletons that they found of women in those days had pretty much no knee caps because they spent their life on their knees making wheat. K was kind enough to demonstrate how it would work for a woman in those days even though she’s allergic to the stuff (not hard work, wheat).
We also saw the ruins of a Philistine temple. This is the same style of temple that Samson destroyed (Judges 16:29-30). You can see in the picture, the two central pillars are right next to each other, exactly as is recorded. However, Samson did this at a temple in Gaza and we decided not to go there this trip.
We traveled from Tel Aviv up north to Caesarea Maritima (by the Sea). This was a city built as a the major port along the Mediterranean Sea by Herod the Great (he was great because he built a lot and he killed a lot – including his own wife and some of his sons) This is where Peter ended up after his vision at Joppa. He met Cornelius, a centurion, who was the first Gentile Christian (Acts 10). A few other highlights:
There are not many places where Pontius Pilate’s name is recorded in history. Therefore, many scholars argued that he never existed and helped prove the Bible is faulty. That is until they found the cornerstone of Herod’s palace and saw the engraving of Pontius Pilate’s name.
Herod built a massive dock that was an architectural masterpiece for its time. He had an outer dock and then an inner dock. This is a picture of the inner dock which is now dry land. This is where ships would have come to load and unload and where Paul most likely boarded a ship to head to Rome.
Finally, this this the aqueduct built by Herod to bring water 8 miles from a spring at the foot of Mt. Carmel to the port city.
We stopped for lunch at a village lived in by the Druze. They are an arab religious community that lives in Israel that believe in reincarnation and serve in the Israeli army. Our guide told us that, because of their belief in reincarnation, they are very good soldiers. I ate falafel for lunch and enjoyed it. In fact, I did not eat one cheeseburger the entire trip. Very impressive for me.
After lunch we headed to Mt. Carmel. This is where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a competition between their gods and God. God won (1 Kings 18).
After that we traveled to Megiddo. It was one of the 3 strong chariot towns built by King Solomon. It is located at a strategic location for travel. On one side are the hills of Samaria and on the other is Mt. Carmel. Megiddo is the passage way through. Also, this looks out over the Jezreel Valley, otherwise knowns as the valley of Armageddon. Standing on the hill of Megiddo looking over the Armageddon Valley our guide pointed out the location of about 10 biblical stories in a minute to us. It was unbelievable and happened so fast that I didn’t get a chance to write any of them down.
King Ahab had this tunnel built to get to a spring for water. To get to a water source at Megiddo you had to go down a hill to the spring. If you were under attack, walking down an exposed hill is not very safe. So King Ahab had this tunnel built and blocked up the other entrance at the foot of the hill so they could safely go and get water.
This is Mount Precipice at the edge of Nazareth. There are two interesting things about this place. One, tradition says that this is where the crowd took Jesus when they wanted to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:16-30). Don’t worry, they didn’t throw him off. You can see the steepness of the cliff in the picture. Two, it’s amazing to think about the fact that Jesus grows up in a city overlooking the Armageddon Valley and all the Old Testament stories that happened right around there.
After this we drove through Cana (the place of Jesus first miracle – water to wine – in John 2) and ended up at Kibutz Ginosar, where our hotel was located, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was an unbelievably overwhelming day. I had a few minutes to reflect on everything standing on top of Mount Precipice and the main feeling I had was one of wonder. This day alone was worth the price of the trip. It took the black and white of reading my Bible and added color to every aspect of it.