DAY 6 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 19: WADI QELT, SHILOH, BETH SHEAN, GALILEE
Once again, we left the hotel shortly after 7:30 following breakfast and check-out. We woke up to no power in the hotel due to the unique storm in this Jericho area last night at 4 am. Today would be a day of driving through the Judean Desert, the Hill Country of Ephraim/Samaria, the Jordan River Valley, and finally to the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. The weather was rainy at times throughout the day, especially the further north we went, with temps very cool/cold in the 40s – 50s.
Judean Desert- Wadi Helt & Desert of Pareth
Our first stop was Wadi Qelt and the heart of the Judean Desert. The view of this “wilderness” was spectacular even though we were there with wind and rain. We heard the words of Isaiah 40. It was here where this OT prophet “prepared the way” for the coming of God’s promise and redemption! About 700 years later, John the Baptist proclaimed the same words as he prepared the way for the Lord’s coming! From here we uniquely drove through another area of the Judean Desert referred by Jeremiah as the Desert of Pareth (Jeremiah 13). This wadi (dry river bed) was gushing with water! As we drove we stopped for very nice panaramic views of this unique region as well as for the dozen or so gazelles we saw along the way. We also drove through the area of Michmash, the location where Jonathan defeated the Philistines (1 Samuel 13).
Driving north of Jerusalem we past by Bethel where Abraham built an altar (Genesis 12, 28). It was around here where it started sleeting! Arriving at Shiloh, we walked through the rain climbed the tel and enjoyed a vey good presentation of the stories that took place here. Samuel was called by God here (1 Samuel 3). The Tabernacle, which stood here for 369 years, was destroyed by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). We saw a few of the ruins from ancient Shiloh as well as the area where the Tabernacle most likely stood! During a wonderful break of sun, we paused to pray in celebration of the holiness of this area and God’s call upon our lives!
Our last stop of the day was a massive archaeological city located on the edge of the Jordan Valley called Beth Shean. On the way, we stopped to see huge flocks of sheep and goats along the road. The rain and flooded wadis in this generally dry area of the Samaritan Desert was exciting to see. We explored much of the Roman city here. The excavation of Beth Shean is the largest in Israel.
We saw the bathouse, Roman street, many stone pillars, the theater and even the public latrines. A number in the group climbed the OT tel where Saul’s body was hung (on the walls, 1 Samuel 31).
Sea of Galilee
Driving north to the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee and then around the western side of this fresh-water lake, we arrived at Nof Ginnosar, our kibbutz-hotel for the next four nights. Along the way we enjoyed a rainbow over the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. Following check-in, some relaxing time, and dinner, we enjoyed a time of gathering down on the water’s edge.
We are looking forward to spending three full days here in the north!