The third day of the trip was one of my favorite days so I thought I’d go ahead and write this one. We arrived at Kibbutz Ginasor the night of second day and had a bonfire on the beach at the Sea of Galilee with a group from Ireland. Kibbutz were originally sort of like a commune and many of them are now hotels throughout Israel.
We woke up the next day and went to see “The Jesus Boat.” That is what they call it but they do not really know if Jesus actually road in this boat but it is from the first century. After this, we took our own little boat ride onto the Sea of Galilee. We stopped right in the middle of the sea (which is really about the size of a lake) and our tour guide, Isaac, pointed out Tiberias on one end of the sea and Bethsaida on the other. He said that between these two points, we were looking at where Jesus spent the majority of His ministry. We saw the Mount of the Beatitudes and the likely spot where He multiplied the fish and loaves. All this while we were in a boat on the water on which He walked. It was overwhelming and suddenly the stories I have heard all my life had a setting.
We got off the boat in Capernaum and saw Peter’s house there, where Jesus likely stayed, as well as a synagogue from the fourth century built on top of a first century synagogue in which Jesus taught. There were a lot of ruins uncovered in Capernaum; it was easy to imagine what it must have been like 2000 years ago.
From there, we went to the top of the Mount of the Beatitudes which now hosts a Catholic church. A little old nun came and shooed us away as their mass was beginning. We were able to see the hill on which Jesus taught and how he likely stood at the bottom and people sat on the incline of the hill. We were not able to do this but we are told that if someone stands at the bottom and talks in a normal tone, those all the way up the hill would be able to hear them easily.
Later that day, we went to Caesarea Philippi and Mt. Hermon (both quite near Syria and Lebanon). We closed our day with baptisms in the Jordan River. D, being the only “official” pastor on the trip, had the honor of baptizing some of our group members in the Jordan River.
The next day we headed to the ruins at Bet She’an. Of all the ruins we saw, this was the one where you were really able to see the most. So much had been uncovered. It was overwhelming as we walked up to see the large pillars, amphitheater and the main walkway through the middle of town. The shop floors and walkways were covered in intricate mosaics and marble. There was enough uncovered to let your mind fill in the missing pieces and Bet She’an must have been a pretty amazing place in its day before it was ruined by an earthquake.
On our way to Qumran, we stopped to look out over Jericho. Qumran is the location where many of the Dead Sea scrolls were found and it was home to the Essenes. The Essenes were a Jewish sect comprised of only men. Dan and I had a good time exploring Qumran:
After Qumran, we headed to the Dead Sea which D was greatly anticipating. It was not quite warm enough for me to be convinced to go for a “float” but Dan took full advantage of the experience. I served as the group photographer and ventured in up to my knees. I am quite glad I did not go any further because the water burned my (very sensitive) skin. We were told that German doctors write prescriptions for their patients with skin disorders to go to the Dead Sea. Not only is the water supposed to be great for your skin but because you so far below sea level, the ultraviolet rays cannot harm to you. No sunscreen necessary.