DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13:
Today we left Jerusalem. After breakfast and loading the bus, we read from Zephaniah 3 as we drove towards yet another region of the Bible, the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah. The day would be again sunny and warm, with temps around 90.
Our first stop was Gezer. Located along the Aijalon Valley (Josh 10), this Canaanite & Israelite city was an important one in the days of there Bible. We saw various ruins, including a Middle Bronze (Canaanite) tower, gate, and water system, and an Iron Age (Israelite) gate attributed to King Solomon (1 Kings 9). We also read from Ecclesiates 3 about how God has in control all our seasons of life. We also saw the famous standing stones of Gezer and were invited to be “living stones” to those around us.
Driving south from here to the Sorek Valley, Beth Shemesh was our next stop. We read from 1 Samuel 6 here about the return of the Ark of the Covenant from Philistine hands. Samson (Judges 13-14) was also from this area, and he took his wife Deilah from near by Timnah. We saw ruins dating from the Israelite period through the Roman period. Some descended into an ancient cistern here.
Next, we visited Kh. Qeiyafa located along the Elah Valley. Here we read from I Samuel 17 about the story of David and Goliath. We could see the entire story unfolding before our very eyes in the narrow part of the valley below. This relatively new archaeological site has two gates, perhaps being the city of Shaaraim (“two gates”).
Following lunch, we entered the site of Beit Guvrin (called Maresha during OT times and served as a home of Micah the prophet). Here we walked into two caves one a columbarium (for pigeons) and the other the Bell Cave. We read from Micah 1 & 5 about his words of both warning and promise. Shlomo played his recorder once again and we enjoyed singing a couple of songs as well.
Lastly, we drove to Lachish. Located at the southern end of the Shephelah, this was both a Canaanite and Israelite city. It was a city taken first by Joshua (Josh 10, 12). During the divided kingdom, the Assyrians attacked the city in the end of the 8th century BC. 115 years later, the Babylonians destroyed the city. Lachish was one of the two last-standing cities of Judah (Jer. 34:7). Within this double-walled city we saw two gates and the palace (perhaps built be Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:9).
From here we drove about 50 minutes to Beersheba, the primary city here in the Negev of Israel. We checked in, enjoyed some relaxing time (including the pool), dinner, and a free evening.
DAY 12 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14: BE’ER SHEVA, SDE BOKER, WILDERNESS OF ZIN, MACHTESH RAMON, ARAD, KFAR HANOKDIMby