DAY 3 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS
Today was our first full day here in Israel. While the visualities due to hazy skies was very limited today, the temperatures were mild, with highs in the low-mid 70s.
Leaving the hotel around 7:45, we drove north in the Coastal Plains to Caesarea. This was a city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. Located on the Med Sea shoreline, we saw some of ruins left from Herod’s day. This included the theater (most reconstructed), the palace, the hippodrome, the Temple of Augustus, and the harbor. We also saw many mosaics from the Late Roman Period. In the theater made these biblical connections: Acts 9-10 (Peter and Cornelius), Acts 12 (Herod Agrippa), Acts 21 (Philip) and Acts 26 (Paul). Paul would sail into (after his mission journeys) and out of the harbor here (to Rome). We also the Crusader part of the city, and the aqueduct (built by Herod) that brought fresh water into the city.
Driving northeast, we ascended to the top of the Carmel Range. At a place established by the Carmelite sect of the Catholic Church called Muhraqa (“burnt offering”), we read from 1 Kings 18. Here, Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal and Asherah. We also read from Isaiah 35 and Song of Songs 7 that refer to this mountain range. While the view from the roof of the chapel was very limited by the hazy sky, we recalled the many stories that took place in the Jezreel Valley below (Deborah & Barak defeating Sisera on Mt. Tabor – Judges 4-5; Gideon defeating the Midianites on the Hill or More – Judges 6-7; Saul and his 3 sons dying on Mt. Gilboa – 1 Samuel 31; and the Nazareth Ridge where Jesus grew up). We enjoyed lunch at a near by Druze restaurant.
Driving down to the Jezreel Valley, our next stop after lunch was Megiddo. This is a 35 acre archaeological site that spans about 2,500 years with over two dozen levels of occupation. Megiddo was a strategically-located city that guarded the entrance into the Jezreel Valley from the south. It was a city taken by Thutmose III (Egyptian pharaoh in the 15th century BC) and later on also by Joshua (Joshua 12). Still later, Solomon re-fortified the city (1 Kings 9). Climbing the site we saw three gate structures, stables, and the Canaanite altar area. Overlooking the valley (e.g. Armageddon),we also read from Rev. 16. We celebrated that in the end times, God as the final word!
Precipice of Nazareth
Driving across the Jezreel Valley, our last stop was the precipice of Nazareth. From here we could at least see the Hill or Moreh and Mt. Tabor. We read from Luke 4 (Jesus teaching in the Nazareth synagogue) and John 1. We were invited to come and see Jesus anew! We also enjoyed a time of journalling and reflection in this quiet place.
From here we drove through the outskirts of Nazareth and through Cana to get to our hotel on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner followed by a gathering down by the water’s age.
DAY 4 – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12: ARBEL, CAPERNAUM, CHORAZIM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, MAGDALA