DAY 8 – MONDAY, JANUARY 20: GAMLA, QATZRIN, OLIVE OIL FACTORY, SA’AR WATER FALLS, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN
Today we had to change around our program once again because of the rain (sometimes heavy!) and dense fog on the Golan Heights. While we enjoyed a few very brief breaks of sun here and there in the afternoon, the morning was cold and dreary, with highs in the 50s.
We left our hotel once again at 7:30 following a full breakfast. Driving northward first, we then turned east to ascend the Golan Heights. We made a brief stop overlooking the Plain of Bethsaida and the northern end of the Sea of Galilee before arriving Gamla. This was a Jewish site located six miles east of the northern tip of the lake. We enjoyed one very brief break in the fog to allow us to see the ruins. We could see the walls and towers of the city as well as the 1st century synagogue. Although Gamla is not mentioned in the Bible, it is likely that Jesus would have taught here (see Mt. 9:35).
Through the heavy fog we next drove to Katzrin (also spelled Qatzrin). There was an ancient Talmudic village here (3rd-7th c. AD). Among the interesting ruins we saw many stone houses. One of these houses was fully reconstructed. We all gathered in this house and read from Mark 2. While it was a story that happened in Capernaum, we could envision the story well. Jesus displayed His authority (s’mekah) in not only healing the paralyzed man physically, but also forgiving his sins! Mark 2 is a remarkable story of transformation.
Olive Oil Factory
While in Katzrin we stopped at an olive oil factory. It was interesting to see how this common ancient use of harvesting and preparing olives is still done today. We enjoyed sampling and buying some of their products.
Sa’ar Water Falls
Because of the dense fog up on the Golan Heights causing limited visibilities, we did not drive to the Syrian border. Rather, we drove north along the lower Huleh Valley to the Sa’ar water falls. With the amend of rain Israel has received the last two weeks, the water falls were impressive! In the summer this is completely dry.
“I pledged to myself that I wasn’t going to left the rain rob me of another great day! We saw some more great sites that helped me understand more connections with the Bible. Dr. John also shared a few life-lessons that spoke to my heart too.” -Tour Member-
Close by is Caesarea Philippi. The Banias Spring starts here. In Jesus’ day, this was a very pagan city. A Temple of Augustus was here. The god Pan was also venerated here. Later, a Temple of Zeus, Nemesis, and a shrine to the dancing goats was built here in the grotto area. We read from Matthew 16, for it was in the region of this city where Jesus asked the most important question, “Who do you say I am?” Peter is the one who responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!” Jesus promised that not even the Gates of Hades (e.g. Gentile cities) could withstand the forward advancement of the kingdom!
Nature Preserve & Tel Dan
Our last stop of the day was to the nature preserve & archaeological site of Tel Dan. We first walked along the largest of the tributaries of the Jordan River, the Dan Spring. Again, the water flowing here was impressive. The trail we hiked led into the archaeological site. On the steps of the high place, we read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12. The pattern of disobedience displayed here by the Danites and by Jeroboam led to the end of the northern kingdom of Israel (destroyed by Sargon II in 722 BC). Standing now in pouring rain, we overlooked the border with Lebanon. Shlomo stared with us the current geo-political status with this northern neighbor. As we left the site, we saw a mud-brick gate that dates to the Middle Bronze period (probably after the time of Abraham), and some of the ruins of there gate area of the Iron Age/Israelite period.
From here we drove back to our hotel for dinner and another free evening. On the way we enjoyed a wonderful full rainbow over the Huleh Valley. It was another very wet day, we still had a great time visiting these sites.
DAY 9 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 21: REFLECTION DAY: BOAT RIDE, MT. OF BEATITUDES, ARBEL CLIFFS
Today is a “reflection day.” We will have intentional times of group discussion and silent meditation. Our focus for the day is the kingdom teaching of Jesus from Mathew 5-7 and Matthew 13-14.