DAY 7 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 6
Today we headed north to the Golan Heights. Leaving again at shortly after 7:30, we first drove from the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee to the NE corner. Climbing in the bus into the Golan, we looked down to the Plain of Bethsaida. Although the location of Bethsaida is in question, this was still where the feeding of the 5,000 took place (John 6).
From here we drove to nearby Gamla (“camel”). This city was the first city defeated in the First Jewish Revolt by the Romans in 66 AD. Among the ruins is a 1st century synagogue. Although we could not actually drive down to it, we got a good view of it from above. Jesus no doubt taught here! Perhaps “Judas the Galilean” was from here (he led a revolt in 6 AD. See Acts 5).
Katzrin (Qatzrin) was the next site we visited. This was a “Talmudic” village (3rd – 7th century AD). Here we sat in the reconstructed house of “Rabbi Abun.” We read from Mark 2 and could see the story come to life! We rejoiced that Jesus has authority (Hebrew – “S’mekah”).
Driving north we drove to the border with Syria. We heard Shlomo speak about the 1967 and 1973 wars and the extreme importance of the Golan Heights to Israel’s security. Close by in a Druze village, we enjoyed lunch.
In the afternoon we visited Mt. Hermon, Israel’s highest mountain (7,300 feet). The mountain is mentioned a few places in the Bible (Psalm 142:5-6, 33:1-3; Song of Solomon 4:7-8). Perhaps the “Transfiguration” took place somewhere on the slopes of the mountain too (Matthew 17). This is also where Israel’s ski resort is. We took the ski lift up and down, enjoying a spectacular view. 4 in the group hiked down the trail.
We then descended from the Golan to Dan. On the way, we passed by Caesarea Philippi, remembering that it was “in this region” where Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16). This was a pagan city, one of which Jesus would not have entered. On the other hand, Dan is a nature preserve today as well as an archaeological site. This is one (and the largest one) of the three tributaries of the Jordan. We walked through the forest, taking time to reflect along the quiet sounds of the water (Psalm 42). We saw the “high place” set up by Jeroboam (1 Kings 12), continuing a pattern of disobedience set in the time of the Judges here (Judges 18). We also saw a Middle Bronze “mud-brick” gate, perhaps one that Abraham walked through (Genesis 14:14).
We ended the day by driving u the Naphtali mountains to Misgav Am. The view of the Huleh Valley below is great from here. We also looked into Lebanon (1/2 mile away). We read 2 Samuel 20 (about Abel Beit Maacah located below) as well as heard modern history about Lebanon from Shlomo.
We drove back south the Nof Ginnosar for dinner and a free evening. It was a great day, with sun and very comfortable temps (80s).
DAY 8 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 7: ARBEL, CAPERNAUM, CHORIZIM, MAGDALA, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES