DAY 6 – THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8: KINNERET CEMETERY, BETH SHEAN, SHILOH, JERICHO, DEAD SEA
Today we left the Sea of Galilee area. Once again, the sun warmly greeted us, with very nice temps in the afternoon around 80.
Driving to the southern end of the lake, we first made a brief stop at the Kinneret Cemetery. This is a cemetery that dates back to the days of the earliest of Jewish pioneers coming to the land and settling the land through the establishment of kibbutz (e.g. communal way of life). A famous Ukrainian Jew, Rachel Bluwstein is buried here. Shlomo shared about kibbutz life and about Rachel. Her poems are still used (and sung) still today. She died in 1931. He picture appears today on the new 20 shekel bill.
Contining south in the Jordan Valley, Beth Shean was our next site. In the days of the Old Testament, it was on the walls of this city where the bodies of King Saul and his sons were hung (they died at nearby Mt. Gilboa, I Samuel 31). Later, the city developed into one of the Roman cities of the Decapolis. At this massive site we saw many mosaics, the bathhouse, the colonnaded street, the public latrenes, and the theater. Many in the group climbed to the top of the Old Testament site for a view of the Roman city below.
“My favorite site today was Shiloh! Just to think that we actually got to stand on the same ground of the Tabernacle where young Samuel did when he heard the voice of God calling him! It really felt like holy ground!” – Tour Member –
Hill Country of Samaria/Shiloh
From here we took a unique route through the Hill Country of Samaria. We passed by Shechem (Jacob, Gen 34), Sycar (John 4) on the way to Shiloh. This city served as the location for the Tabernacle for about 310 years (during the time of the Judges). At the site we saw a replica of the Tabernacle (not yet opened to the public). Near the spot where the Tabernacle once possibly stood, we read from 1 Samuel 3 about young Samuel hearing the voice of God. It was amazing and moving to stand on this same holy ground.
Desert of Pareth / Jericho
Leaving Shiloh, we drove through past Bethel (Gen 12, 28) and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14) to the Desert of Pareth. We read from Jeremiah 13 as we descended down this part of the Judean Desert. We even saw a few small gazelles. Continuing east, we arrived at Jericho. After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we climbed the Old Testament site. Looking east we could see on the horizon Mt. Nebo (where Moses died, Dt. 34), and the area of the Jordan River (where Jesus was baptized, John 1). To the south we also could see the area where New Testament Jericho was located (the home of Zacheaus – Luke 18 and Bartimeus – Mark 12). This served as the winter palace for King Herod. As for the OT site, we saw the very stone retaining walls on top of which the mud bricks were placed. When the shofars blew, it was the mud brick wall that came tumblin’ down (Joshua 6). We celebrated the accuracy and truth of Scripture!
We ended the day by driving to Ein Bokek at the southern end of the Dead Sea. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner. Some in the group went down to the Dead Sea for a quick float in this unique body of water. Most plan on floating tomorrow morning.