Wednesday, May 3, 2023

6:11 pm

I have a few minutes before dinner to get the journal started for Wednesday. The weather is warming up, but it was still mostly comfortable. We had a great breakfast (as usual) and were on the bus at the shockingly late time of 8:00 am. What a life of leisure today.

We took off to the north, headed for Shiloh. We passed our share of checkpoints and there was not much traffic (our direction) and we made good time.  The landscape of Samaria is once again unique to what we have seen so far. Hills and valleys.  Valleys and hills. Terraced landscapes for agricultural production. I love the drive. You can see across the Jordan Valley, to Amon beyond.  It was a bit too hazy to make out much, but it is interesting, nonetheless. We could see the outskirts of Ramallah to the west of us. It takes about 90 minutes to get that far into Samaria (today…under the Palestinian Authority). It is in Area C, so the Israeli’s have control over for defense.

Arrived a bit early and enjoyed another map moment. We had passed Bethel and some other cities along the way, so it was nice to put the pieces together on the map.

We then wandered through the site. They have an amazing holograph of the Tabernacle, which was very informative and so well done. There is a Byzantine Church built over the spot some consider the “home” for the Tabernacle in Shiloh. The Tabernacle stayed in Shiloh longer than anywhere else – 369 years.

At the top of the hill, overlooking where archeology says the Tabernacle was, we watched a great movie of the biblical history of this site. The we walked down to the site, where we talked about the presence of God in the Bible…from Genesis to Revelation. Then we strolled back to the bus. Oh wait, there was a shopping opportunity at the reception area. We really haven’t done too much shopping, so it was appreciated.


8:17 pm

I am ready for bed with after a satisfying meal. And a surprise.  I met with the rep from NET (the local tour company). She comes each tour to find out how things are going.  We had a nice chat over dinner, and when she found out which room I was in she insisted that they upgrade me. I was very embarrassed – but now I have a very large room.  Moving rooms is hard mid-stay, but they even had someone to help me.  I am getting settled, thought we just have four nights left. Oh well.

Where did I leave off? (while I am typing I am trying to get a health update on my dad, with COVID, this is quite interesting).  Anyway, after Shiloh we headed farther north.  With current security issues, we had to bypass Nablus, which means no Mt. Gerizim, no Jacob’s Well, no Tel Balata (place where Joshua made the people commit to following God). Instead we bypassed Nablus and headed to Samaria (Roman Sebastia).  I think we got a bit lost, but Ahmed did a great job locating the Tel eventually. Poor kid had never been there.

It was 12:15 pm when we arrived, so I opted to have lunch first. This is usually the best lunch of the trip. And I think it was again.  The place is owned by a family with deep ties to Alabama, as in the Crimson Tide. I overlooked that flaw. But we enjoyed wheat soup, Palestinian “pizza”, chicken, makluba, and a delicious Palestinian dessert.  Paul Weber wrote down all of the names of the dishes, but he’s not around right now. All I know is that it was delicious and we were the only ones around for lunch.

The folks did a little shopping at the store there, and then we headed to visit the Tel. It was getting quite warm (in the 80’s) and there wasn’t much shade as we made our ascent. But once we made it to the top, the breeze kicked in and it was lovely. We saw ruins of the Herodian city (Sebastia), which included a theater and monument to Augustus (only the giant staircase is left). Then around the corner we saw the remains of Omri’s palace.  Omri made Samaria his capitol and was the father of Ahab, the scoundrel.  I enjoyed the many vistas of the hillsides of Samaria.  It is so different from Galilee and the coast. I loved it.

Back to the bus and our journey “home.” Traffic was difficult, but it was just a very, very, very slow truck holding up everyone on this two-lane road. We made it through all the checkpoints and got back to our hotel, always a welcome moment.

I think it was a good day. They are getting exhausting, and tomorrow will prove to be quite long I think, but rich with new experiences. We are on the bus at 7:30 am (is this group great or what?). They are so cooperative and want to see as much as they can while they are here.  I think there feet will fall off when we board that plane on Sunday morning.

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