A Travellerspoint blog

Day 5 - Jordan River Baptism, Ein Gedi, Qumran, and Masada

Well here we are on Day 5, and this morning we head out of the Galilee region and down the entire length of the country to end up in Eilat. Its 350 miles - not a lot by U.S. standards, but its all they have here!

We started the day out by riding about 90 minutes south of the Sea of Galilee, to a baptismal spot on the Jordan river. There is a bigger, nicer, newer spot for this right south of the Lake - and it has much cleaner looking water. However, this spot is much more authentic, with less people and is closer Geographically to the Biblical accounts. It is also right across the river (I'd guess 30 feet) from the country of Jordan - so we were warned don't cross those ropes in the water or you might not come back!

But kidding aside, we had a wonderful little service with 8 of our number being baptized.


Next we headed further south to Ein Gedi... this is a finger that runs up into the mountains from lower down near the dead sea, and it is very green due to it being one of the few water sources coming from the mountains, which creates several areas of waterfalls. Based on this, we know that this is the exact area where David hid out from Saul, and cut the cloth from the hem of his garment... its an "A" site, and in addition, its beautiful... and there are Coneys (Hyrax)!


Moving even further south, we visited Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Next time someone tells you the Bible is inaccurate because its been translated too many times by mankind, tell them that in fact the Dead Sea Scrolls contain fragments from all of the canon, and even a COMPLETE version of Isaiah circa Jesus time... and it can be read today and matches the current translations.


Finally, we stopped at Masada, Herod's great fortress that was later used by the Zealots and besieged by the Romans. After a long time of encamping below and building a ramp (seen in the pics), they eventually breached the gate - only to find that all the Zealots had killed themselves to avoid being killed and their wives and children used as slaves. There is an old movie that tells the story if you want to know more... but the fortress itself is an impressive archaeological site. By the way - I wish we could claim we climbed the mountain via the "snake path"... but no, we used the ultra modern day tram made by a Swiss company that builds trams in the Alps.


Ok thank you again for following along with us... more on Day 6 soon!

Posted by Comp Ministries 06:16

Day 4 - Caesarea Maritima, Megiddo, Mt Carmel, and Akko

Well, Day 4 was yesterday.... today as I sit here we all prepare to move on to our next hotel and phase 2 of this grand journey, which will be a couple of nights on the complete opposite end of the country (check a map... Tiberias to Eilat and everything in between in one day!).

As a result, I'm going to keep my typing to a minimum so I can pack and eat and not be the leader who was late for the bus - never a good thing. So here we go...

First off, morning of day 4, we visited Caesarea Maritima. It was a great city which went through many different phases - built by Roman, into the hands of Crusaders,, conquered and destroyed by Muslims, and into a sleepy little village in the Byzantine period, all the while beset by many earthquakes. But Paul set sail from here, which is the significance to us.

Caesarea is an ancient ruin set right next to a modern community, including the largest coal/natural gas powered plant in the country. The aqueduct here carried water from miles and miles away, and was engineered at a 1% drop rate to keep the water moving... amazing in a time of no computers. There is a hippodrome here for chariot races, and a theater for performances (bring the food and drink, some of them lasted for days!), all set right on the shore of the Mediterranean...


Moving on, we visited Megiddo, a once thriving city on the edge of the Jezreel Valley, aka the Valley of Armageddon. The most interesting thing about this city is the water system, which allowed them to outlast sieges by bringing water into the city by an underground tunnel that ended at a hidden spring,


Our next visit was to Mukhraka, which is a monastery placed at the top of Mount Carmel where Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal. And won, if you don't know the story. But from here, you can see an amazing and expansive view of the Valley of Armageddon.


And rounding out the day, we went to the coast to visit Akko, sometimes called Acre, and a pretty amazing crusader fortress and "underground city". An amazing place, where one could wander for hours and hours. All it really needed was a great round table (as opposed to the wooden picnic tables :-(


Ok thats it for Day 4... we arrived in Eilat today for a little mid-tour break, so as tomorrow is only a half day of touring and the rest of the day is free, I should be able to get Day 5 (today) and half day tomorrow (Day 6) uploaded, and then we're all caught up!

Thank you again for following....

Posted by Comp Ministries 14:10

Day 3 - Nazareth, Sephoris, Ein Harod, & Beit Shean

Well here I am on catch-up-blog-day, and I'm on to Day 3. Which for us, was today.

We started out the day at a "Nazareth Village." This is a reproduction of a village as it would have been in Jesus time, complete with some character actors going about their daily business... and in the background of a couple of the pics you can see modern Nazareth. We saw how the people dressed, animals they had, how an actual olive oil press worked, and an example of what a synagogue of the day would have looked like since all the ones we'd seen so far were in ruins.

Ignore the fact that the shepherd looks like he just wants to go home and play on his X-Box... the people there were great. And also, the picture of the Roman Soldier was supposed to show how they dressed at the time. But I included it because, lets all admit it, he's pretty creepy. Oh, and "Rachel" caught me taking a picture of her with my mom, and gave me... the look. Sorry Rachel!


Next we went to see the Sephoris archeological site. We saw a synagogue as well as the home of a very rich person, both of which had floors covered with amazing mosaics... including one that has been called the "Mona Lisa" of the middle east.


Our next stop was Ein Harod, where the Lord helped Gideon pick his small force of fighting men. We know this is an "A" site (about as verified as it can be historically) because its the only spring in the area where we know the event took place. So its pretty amazing to see...


And finally, we ended the day at Beit Shean, a MASSIVE excavation site... a complete city really, complete with theater, roadways, shops, and even a public latrine. Walking in through the gates and seeing it is breathtaking. Biblically, its the city where King Saul and his sons were hung on the walls after they were killed.


Ok... that catches us up, and I'm tired - the bus comes way too early in the morning. But thank you again for reading, and Day 4 coming soon!

Posted by Comp Ministries 10:18

Day 2 - Dan, Banias, Nimrods Castle, and the northern border

Ok... so I am VERY sorry for not starting this blog off on a great foot. The hotel we are staying in has free wifi (a rarity over here) and thats great... but it comes at a price. It means EVERYONE is using it, and the already slow internet and bandwidth have made things... difficult to say the least. I was able to type, but not able to successfully upload pictures, which... well lets be real, no one wants to hear me type, you all want to see the pictures.

But I believe (hope, pray, cross fingers, all of the above) that I have the issue defeated by making the file sizes on the pictures smaller, so they will actually upload. Sooooo... I apologize for the less than great resolution, but hopefully its better than nothing!

Also, since I am catching up and hoping to publish days 2 (yesterday) and 3 (today) both this evening, I will be short on the typing and long on the pictures. And then in the future, being all caught up, I will work into a happy medium with both. So thank you again for your patience!

Ok here we go.... we woke up on Day 2, and headed north out of Tiberius toward Dan, and the headwaters of the Jordan River. In Dan we saw Abrahams Gate, which is literally a near 4000 year old mud-brick gate that Abraham would have actually walked through... and we're looking at it... think about that! Also at Dan, our very own Lisa Reslock spoke to us and, continued at Banias / Caesarea Philippi (where Jesus asked "Who do you say that I Am?"), and gave a personal testimony which was so great! Ask your friend/family member to tell you about it when they get home.


Also at Dan, we could look across into Lebanon and see the village where Hezbollah has lobbed rockets into Israel, as well as a few burned out tanks.


From Dan and Banias, we went to see a crusader castle... not really Biblically significant, but really great! Admittedly, I like castles so this was a selfish addition to the schedule... but everyone else seemed to like it and let their inner knight in shining armor out... so yay castle!


Finally, we went way, way north to the border of Syria. In the picture you see a UN encampment in the foreground, and a Syrian town (around the lake) in the background. Having seen the Lebanese border and the Syrian border in less than an hour, it brings home how small and vulnerable Israel is...


Ok, back for more tomorrow, thanks for reading along!

Posted by Comp Ministries 08:02

Traveling, Traveling, Arriving...

We head out to the Holy Land, and spend our first day in the Galilee


Hello All!

Thank you so much for traveling with us, virtually as least, as we visit the Holy Land and begin to walk in His steps. The trip over was long and grueling, but went smoothly! I took a day to recuperate from the trip over, I hope you won't begrudge me that, and waking up this morning on "Day 2" I wanted to begin to update you on on our progress and what we're seeing, so here I am.

The trip over was long, but the 787 "Dreamliner" we rode on was very comfortable (for economy class on an overseas flight, that is). But the trip was smooth, security was smooth, and we arrived on time in Tel Aviv to meet out guide Gilla.

Yesterday, we woke up at about 6:00 when we got our morning "wake up" call... well, I say this in quotes because many of us had been awake since about 3am due to the time change haha. Moseying down to breakfast, we were treated to the "dairy meal" breakfast (due to Kosher "laws", meat and dairy are separated... so dairy in the am and meat at dinner). Breakfast is great, and this is coming from a non-breakfast person... lots of cheeses, great bread, and hummus (a personal favorite, I live on it when I come here), and then it was off to the bus by 7:45.

We had planned a ride across the Galilee on a replica of an ancient fishing boat, but "Storms" on the sea (pretty much it was a little windy and too wavy for us landlubbing tourists, Jesus and the Disciples would have laughed at us!) ) so we moved that to the afternoon, and we went to visit the site where the Sermon on the Mount is commemorated. It is NOT an "A" site (we don't know for sure it occurred here), but the topography of the place matches the Biblical account, and so it has become the place where pilgrims come to remember and event.

After a short service, we walked the ground and then moved on to Khorazin, a very ancient and well explored archaeological site. It was one of the cities mentioned by Jesus as rejecting his teachings, and so we believe he was definitely there - he or his disciples or both. And the synagogue there is very complete relatively, and gives us a good idea the size and scale of a typical synagogue.

Moving on from Khorazin, we went to Capernaum, something of Jesus "home base" in the Galilee region, and also home to the house of Peter. This is also not quite an "A" site, but Gilla describes it as a "strong B+" because the church there is built over a house, and this is typical of important sites here in Israel... when they want to remember something, they build a church over it, and do so through the ages... so where the church is is typically where whatever they were commemorating was actually located. And here, there is church after church built on one old stone house (now just stones on the ground, the outline of a house), so we believe this belongs to Peter.

Moving on once more to the Nof Ginosar kibbutz (more on those later), we saw the ancient fishing boat recovered and restored from 2000 years ago... it is from Jesus time! I won't go into how they did this when they found the boat in 1986, you can google it and find videos... but to see a 2000 year old boat and know it sailed on the Sea of Galilee (really a lake by the way, only 8 miles wide) at the same time the Lord did is amazing!

Finally, speaking of sailing, we went on our own ancient (diesel powered haha) fishing boat, and crossed the sea back to our hotel. We stopped in the middle and my mom, Joyce Mehl (our trip chaplain) spoke of Jesus and the storms we face with His guidance and protection - even when it doesnt seem like it!

After that, it was back to the hotel for the "meat" meal, off to bed... and here we are at the start of Day 2!

Last thing because i must head down to breakfast now or face being late to the bus and shamed by my group... you may be asking yourself, "why are there no pictures here, I want to see pictures!"

Well, the internet here is very spotty and generally costs money, but it does not at this hotel. Which is great on the one hand, however there are some large groups here, and as yet I have not been able to successfully upload a picture. I have been "googling" and I believe I have a solution, but I don't have time to try it now... so I PROMISE I will work on figuring it out tonight, so you can see what we are seeing.

In the meantime, my inadequate words will have to suffice... Lord bless and keep us in your prayers as we head out for day 2!


Addendum - I am going to try to upload some pictures now sorry its out of order...


Posted by Comp Ministries 20:12 Archived in Israel Tagged day 1

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