DAY 6 – FRIDAY, MARCH 22: KINNERET CEMETERY, BETH SHEAN, SHILOH, JERICHO, JUDEAN DESERT, JERICHO
Today we left the Sea of Galilee area and drove to the southern end of the Dead Sea. In between we visited a few sites that once again connected us directly with the Bible. The weather was again warm, with highs in the 70s again.
Our first stop was not on the itinerary but was a special one. We stopped at the Kinneret Cemetery, a place where some of the earliest Jewish pioneers are buried. One particular grave is a single lady from the Ukraine who died in 1931. Here name was Rachel. Today she is known for the poems she wrote. Her picture is even now displayed on the new Israeli 20 shekel bill!
Leaving the Sea of Galilee area and driving about 20 miles south in the Jordan Valley, our next stop was Beth Shean. This was a huge Roman city. Prior to this in the days of the Old Testament, the city was Canaanite (even with Egyptian influence). It was on the walls of this OT city where the bodies of Saul and his sons were hung (1 Samuel 31). In the Roman part of the city we saw many things, including the bathhouse, colonnaded streets, the agora (forum), public latrenes, and the theater. Some in the group climbed up to the top of the OT tel for a great view of the city below.
From here we uniquely drove through the Samaritan Hill Country. We passed near Shechem, Mt. Gerazim, and Mt. Ebal (Gen. 34, Joshua 24). This is also the location for Sychar (John 4). We also saw a number of shepherds in this region. The wild flowers were again in full bloom too. Arriving at Shiloh, we walked up the tel and saw a brief movie about the history of the site. We read from 1 Samuel 2 (the call of Samuel) and Jeremiah 13. Scott also showed us some of the excavation of the site.
“Leaving the Galilee area was a bit sad but I know there is so much more to see here in Israel. We covered a lot of territory today. My favorite site was Jericho. Just to see the ancient city and know it really happened here was incredible. It happened just like the Bible said it did.” -Tour Member-
Contining south from Shiloh we enjoyed a unique road leading us through a part of the Judean Desert called Parath. Coming from Jerusalem, Jeremiah hid a linen belt in this part of the desert (Jer. 13). The uniqueness of this arad region is quite remarkable.
Driving further east we arrived at Jericho. Located in the Jordan Valley, this Canaanite city was the first one conquered by Joshua (Josh. 6). Climbing the site, we first looked east across the Jordan River. We recalled the stories of Moses (Mt. Nebo, Dt. 31-34), the crossing of the river (Josh. 3-4), Elijah’s fiery chariot and Elisha’s purification of the spring of Jericho (2 Kings 2), and Jesus’ baptism (John 1). New Testament Jericho was located just south about 1.5 miles. Bartimeus and Zacheaus lived here. This was also the location of King Herod’s winter palace. He died here in 4 BC. Standing on the southern end of the site we saw the stone retaining walls that are still standing. It was the mud-brick wall on top of this stone wall that came tumblin’ down when the shofar was blown.
Dead Sea Hotel
Driving about an hour south to the southern end of the Dead Sea (in Ein Bokek), we checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner. We are looking forward to floating in the Dead Sea tomorrow morning and spending all day in the desert!