DAY 9 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11:
For those who did the 9 day tour, they returned from Israel early in the morning. After going through US Customs, everyone boarded their domestic connecting flight back home.
For those who stayed in Israel for the optional 5 day trip, we started out once again at 7:30 on what would be another predictably sunny. Highs would be in the 90s this afternoon in the Judean Desert.
Our first site was Shiloh the location of the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant for 369 years. On the way to Shiloh (about 20 miles north in the Hill Country of Samaria), we tried to stop at Kh. Maqatir (identified by many now as Ai in the story of Joshua 7-8 and the second city conquered by Joshua). We saw the site from the distance. Arriving at Shiloh we climbed the tel and watched a high-tech presentation about the biblical history of this site. We saw ruins dating from the time of Joshua through the time of the Judges.
Shiloh was destroyed by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4). We read from 1 Samuel about the call of Samuel, the prophet. We also remembered the words of warning mentioned by Jeremiah that referenced Shiloh (Jer. 7). We walked down to the location where the Tabernacle once stood and where young Samuel heard the voice of God. It was special!
Leaving Shiloh, we drove back south and eventually east past Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14) and through the Desert of Pareth. This was where Jeremiah hid the linen belt (Jer. 13). We drove all the way to Jericho for lunch. We saw shepherds, sheep & goats, and even gazelles along the way.
Returning west, we arrived at the Wadi Qelt. We first overviewed the St. George Monastery built into the high cliffs. We considered some of David’s psalms written in the context of this desert (Ps 61, 63). Some on the group then hiked down all the way to the monastery with some even hiking east on the trail leading to Jericho. It was a unique experience.
We returned to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and a free evening.
DAY 10 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12: OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEMby