Friday, April 28, 2023
Shabbat Shalom from the shores of Galilee! It was an eventful day, which means I am exhausted. Not sure how far I will make it through this journal. I put over 12,000 steps on my step counter today, so my knee enjoyed it’s icy relief tonight. Fortunately, I remembered my knee support brace today. The stones at Dan are always quite treacherous (and hard on the knee).
We had another great day. The weather was lovely, but the clouds hid Mt. Hermon most all of the day. But we started the day rather early, a 7:15 start I believe. Manhal (our guide) wanted to be at Hazor when it opened (like it is going to get crowded?). But we complied and made it to Hazor before they had even opened the gates. We were the first ones in, shock. We did some map reading (I did some map reading). Then we walked the site and caught the highlights. I love to read Joshua 11 and then point out the evidence of the fire from Joshua’s day on the walls of the large palace space. To burn a city was rare back then (why not just take it over). So the burning of Hazor – and the evidence of a fire that you can almost touch speaks volumes to the truth of God’s Word.
Back on the bus and we were on our way through the most dangerous part of the trip (I didn’t say anything of that sort out loud). We were headed up to Tel Dan, passing Kiryat Shemona, the city within the sites of Hamas north of the border We survived.
We arrived at the Tel Dan parking lot to a sea of buses and so many people hanging around one another looking for leadership. We headed to the restrooms, hoping to skip in front of these large, gathered groups. That didn’t happen, but somehow, we sidestepped most of the people and were off on our own. That didn’t last too long as we soon caught up to a group and decided to take the easy path to the main city gate. The gate was overwhelmed with tourists, so we decided to head back around the gate from Abraham’s day. That’s always a lovely surprise to folks as we ready Genesis 14 and wonder about the possibility that Abraham had walked through this gate. We had some moments of quiet before another group arrived, but it was nice to think about the significance of this mud-brick gate as it touched the story of Abraham.
Back around to the main archeology of the site, the high place of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12, I think). There were thundering herds at the high place, so we just stood on the high ground and told the story of Israel’s sin (shock). Back around to a surprisingly empty main gate.
Back to the bus and off to Caesarea Philippi (Banias). We told the story of that place from the Gospels and then walked around the pagan remains of the Roman temple worship.
Time for lunch. But by now we had skipped ahead of the crowds and had the Druze lunch special almost all to ourselves. Not sure the Druze bread was a huge hit, but I enjoyed it. The sun was covered by clouds and the wind had picked up. We all had were wearing our sweatshirts and ate inside, not on the patio. My white chocolate Magnum bar for dessert was delicious.
We had been working toward our boat ride on Galilee all day. That was the driving force keeping us moving – and forcing the early start to the day. The start time moved from 2 pm to 3 pm to 3:15 pm (after some lengthy negotiations). Manhal then checked how long it would take to get to the dock and the time shortened from what a guide had said the day before. We now had plenty of time.
We explored Mt. Bental. It was really cold up there. But we could see the consequences of the Six Day War. There is an abandoned Quneitra and a modern Quneitra. There is a UN outpost (well, an abandoned one and a modern one). But the views were great.
Back on the bus and down we went. When we arrived for our boat ride we were all wearing something warm, but everyone outside was in shorts. Hmm. Yes, we had dropped to 700’ below sea level and the weather at Galilee is usually tropical. The jackets came off and we went to tour the Jesus Boat, do a tiny bit of shopping, and then head to our 40 minutes on the Sea of Galilee.
Those were once again very precious moments together on the Sea. The wind was blowing and there were a few white caps, but we enjoyed the story of the stilling of the storm and its implications. We spent some time of quiet reflection – a much needed few moments after this hectic day.
We had done so well managing our time, we stopped in to visit Magdala to save some time on Saturday. The thundering hoards had returned. We managed a nice little visit to this very new site. We even got some time down on the shoreline to enjoy the quiet and the lake.
Back to the hotel for a delicious dinner. It is shabbat and the streets are quiet. I can hardly stay awake so that means it’s been a grand day. We visit the site around the lake tomorrow. So much to see with so little time to see it all. Good night.