DAY 3 – TUESDAY, JUNE 12: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, BETH SHEARIM, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS
Today was our first full touring day here in Israel. While we dearly missed the 14 who were delayed from Chicago to get here, it was a great day! We were greeted with sunshine and temps in the low 70s, and highs in the 80s.
Leaving the hotel at 7:30, we drove north to Caesarea. This was a city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. Unique, after hearing about biblical connections to this city (Peter – Acts 10; Herod Agrippa I – Acts 12), Phillip (Acts 21), and Paul (Acts 26) while sitting in the reconstructed theater, we we poured upon! It never rains in Israel in June… but it did for about 15 minutes. After watching a video about the city, we saw the palace, the hippodrome, the area of the harbor, and the Crusader part of the city. Before leaving, we saw the aqueduct that brought water into the city from the Carmel Range.
Carmel Range/ Muhraqa
Driving form the Sharon Plain, we climb the Carmel Range. Upon arriving at Muhraqa, the highest peak of the Carmel, we entered a small chapel. Here we read from Isaiah 35, Song of Songs 7, and 1 Kings 18 (Elijah). Fro the roof of the chapel we saw our first of three views of the Jezreel Valley below. The visibility was very good for this time of year. We ate lunch at a Druze restaurant near by.
Driving down into the Jezreel Valley, Megiddo was our next stop. This was our first OT archaeological site, complete with over two dozen occupation levels spanning about 2,500 years. Climbing the tel (“ancient mound”), we saw three different stone gates, horse stables, a train bin, among other ruins. We remembered the stories of Thutmoses III who captured this city in the 15th century BC prior to Joshua’s conquest. Solomon would eventually re-fortify the city (1 Kings 9). We left the site by walking down 180 steps through the water system.
Because of a big traffic jam and lack of time, we could not make it to Sepporis near Nazareth. However, we stopped at Beth Shearim instead. This was where some of the early Jewish leaders int eh Talmudic Period (3rd- 7th century AD) were buried. It was a large underground necropolis!
Precipice of Nazareth
Our last stop of the day was the Precipice of Nazareth. With a great view of Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 7) Mt Gilboa (1 Sam 31) and even the hills of Gilead to the east. We read from Luke 4 and John 1 ad were inited to “come and see.”
Driving through Cana (John 2), we arrived at our hotel in Tiberias. We enjoyed dinner together before retiring for the night. We also were delighted to hear that the “missing 14” from Chicago finally arrived in Israel tonight after 50+ hours of travel!