We are just back from the day up in the north of Galilee. It was a really nice day, at least as far as the temperature was concerned. There was a lovely cloud cover which kept us from roasting. It didn’t help the views at all, but it did make the day bearable.
The wake-up call came at 6 pm sharp (as I had asked). No one complained about the early call, so I guess that was fine with everyone. The sky was exceptionably gray and we couldn’t see half way across the lake. I got ready and went early to breakfast (like right after it opened at 6:30). Half my group was already there – and many from other groups as well. So, I didn’t avoid the masses. It wasn’t too bad, and I had a lovely breakfast.
Back to the room for the preparations for the day and then it was on the bus at 7:45. We left fairly on time. Only 16 today, one stayed back to rest up a bit. Kevin did a great devotion from Matthew 11 as we headed out to Chorazin. We had a really nice visit to the third of the three cities cursed by Jesus. It’s always nice to visit all three in one trip so folks can picture it all in their minds after they are back home.
Then up to Hazor. One of my favorite places to visit. I enjoy reading the passage from Joshua 11 and then watching Andre explain how the evidence of fire is visible in the ruins. The veracity of the Word is underscored, and our trust of the written text renewed. It was a great day to be in Hazor, as the cloud cover made it all quite bearable. It was beginning to clear a bit so it wasn’t quite so gray.
Then it was off to Tel Dan. We skirt the edge of the Hulah Valley and pass Kiryat Shmona. Of course, these are the miles in which get the most shelling should Hezbollah decide to lob some things over the border. All was quiet today.
We then had a lovely visit to Tel Dan. The river (fed by a spring) was flowing quickly and just lovely once again. The lush terrain is in stark contrast to what we will see tomorrow, but that will have to wait. There was a large tour group at the high place of Jeroboam, so we had our explanation off to the side, then circled around to view the high place from above. Then we went the back way to the Canaanite Gate. That is always stunning to read Genesis 14 and the account of Abraham coming up to Laish (Dan) and defeating the king of Laish and rescuing Lot. This mud brick gate structure is about the oldest thing we will see on the trip. Then we headed to the main gate of Dan and talked about the significance of the city gate in ancient culture. And in that area was found the stone with the inscription proving the existence of the “house of David.” What a day – remnants of a fire at the hands of Joshua to the stone with its first mention of David outside the Bible. Amazing day.
Then it was off to Caesarea Philippi. Andre had pointed out that at the city gate of Dan Gila (the 2008 tour guide) had passed by. I missed the exchange, but he said we’d meet up in Caesarea. He was not wrong. I was able to, with great subtlety and care, take a couple of pictures of Gila to share with the family. She followed us to our lunch spot too, but I avoided any contact.
Back to the important data – we had a nice stop at Caesarea Philippi. There was a decent amount of water flowing from the springs and we read the Matthew account and gave some free time to wander about the cultic site.
Back to the bus and on to lunch (it’s now pretty late – after 1 pm – so we are hungry). We begin our trek up the Golan Heights to a Druze village for lunch. We had eaten there last trip – and folks really seemed to enjoy it. You had a choice: falafel, schnitzel, or lebna (special large and thin bread with yogurt and olive oil with spices). I chose the lebna…as it is unique and oh so delicious. Most had that and enjoyed lunch. I ate outside. With the altitude it was just lovely and cool, with a breeze that was refreshing.
Back to the bus and on to Mt. Bental. It was technically not on the itinerary, but we such good little travelers today that Andre added it to our stops (we were ahead of schedule). Mt. Bental overlooks Syria so it is a great place to get some geographical perspective to the modern history/wars of Israel. We couldn’t see to the suburbs of Damascus (40 km away) and we could barely make out Mt. Hermon – but it was enjoyable nonetheless (they like the coffee shop for sure). But a few times we heard some loud booms. Not sure what they were exactly, but they were not for practice. No one seemed to mind, but I’m not sure that was really true. It was a long way off, though.
Then we drove through the Golan Heights, and the acre after acre of farm land. We eventually stopped at Kfar Haruv (Peace Vista). I can’t seem to get there when the gift shop is open (it’s usually really nice). Today is Shabbat, so again it was closed. The view was nice, no great. The haze and clouds seem to be in retreat and we can see the sun. But still, we could only see silhouettes on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
Back to the bus and down the winding hairpin turns get us back to the Sea of Galilee. We will gather for dinner at 7, and then I think some will walk into town after dinner. Not sure if I am up for that – but I will probably go anyway. Just because. Didn’t get a dip in the Sea of Galilee this trip, but I guess that’s a reason to return. I was too exhausted the first night. The skies were too threatening the second night. And tonight? Well, it is sort of sunny, but by the time I finish typing I’m sure there won’t be time before dinner. And I just don’t feel like going thru all that trauma to get into the water and cleaned up for dinner.
So far it has been another great day. Everyone is doing really well and enjoying each site we visit. Andre is a rock star and our driver (Abed) is doing a great job as well. We head south in the morning and our time in Galilee is coming to a close. That is always a sad moment, but there is nothing like Jerusalem!