May 2018 Extensive Israel Tour Summary – Day 9

DAY 9 – SUNDAY, MAY 13: SEPPORIS, NAZARETH PRECIPICE, MEGIDDO, CAESAREA, JERUSALEM

(Theme of the Day: Learning to trust God in our battles)

Today we checked out of our hotel in the Galilee. Leaving shortly after 7:30, we headed to our first site on what would be another very nice day (with a mix of sun and clouds, good visibility, and temps in the high 70s).

Sepporis

Mona Lisa Galilee

The “Mona Lisa of there Galilee” mosaic at Sepporis

Located in the Lower Galilee, Sepporis was our first site. This was a huge Hellenized Jewish city in the time of Jesus and served as the capital city of the region. Here we saw beautiful mosaics, including the Nile and Mona Lisa of the Galilee mosaics. This was a cute that flourished through the Roman period. We also saw a small theater. Even though not mentioned in the Gospels, Jesus must have visited this city, especially while growing up only 5 miles away in Nazareth.

Precipice of Nazareth

Nazarerth

Precipice of Nazareth

Close by is the city of Nazareth. It is predominately an Arab city (who are Israeli citizens) of about 80,000 today. Driving through the edfe of this city, we arrived at the Precipice of Nazareth. Here we enjoyed our first of three views of the Jezreel Valley. We saw Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31), and Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18). We considered the story of 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 worship and reflection here as well.

Megiddo

Megiddo

The excavations at Megiddo

Driving across the Jezreel Valley, we visited Megiddo. This is an archaeological site that has over two dozen levels of occupation over a 2,500 year period (from Early Bronze to Israelite). Climbing the tel (ancient mound), we saw three gates complexes( from both the Canaanite and Israelite time period), Solomon’s stables, a Canaanite stone altar, and a grain bin (9th century BC) among other things. Looking out upon the valley (Armegeddon) we recalled Revelation 16 and celebrated that God has the final word in the end times! We exited the site through the water system.

Mt. Carmel/Muhraka

Jezreel Valley

The Jezreel Valley

Following lunch at a place owned by Druze, we made a brief stop at Muhraka. Here we gathered in a small chapel and read from Isaiah 35, Song of Songs 7, and 1 Kings 18. It was here God displayed His power and glory to Elijah. We enjoyed singing in the chapel too! The roof of the chapel provided us a marvelous last view of the Jezreel Valley below.

Caesarea

Caesarea

Hippodrome at Caesarea

Our last stop of the day was Caesarea. Tis was another huge city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. Sitting the the theater, we read from Acts 10, 12, 21, and 26. Both Peter and Paul proclaimed their faith boldly here! We also saw the palace and hippodrome. Before leaving the site, we enjoyed seeing the aqueduct that was used to bring water into the city from the Carmel Range.

Jerusalem

Western Wall

Jerusalem Day at Western Wall

From here was drove about 2 hours to Jerusalem. Traffic was heavy heading into this capital city of Israel. We checked into our hotel, enjoyed dinner and then an optional walk to the Western Wall. It is both exciting and historic to be here for Israel’s 70th Anniversary tomorrow and the moving the the US Embassy to Jerusalem!

DAY 10 –MONDAY, MAY 14: JERUSALEM, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

(Theme of the Day: Jesus and His redemptive plan)

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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 3

DAY 3 – TUESDAY, MARCH 13: CAESAREA, CARMEL, MEGIDDO, SEPPORIS, PRECIPICE OF NAZARETH, TIBERIAS Today was our first full day of the tour. We enjoyed the sun all day long, with highs in the mid 70s. Perfect! Caesarea Leaving the hotel at 7:30 after a great breakfast and checkout, we drove north to Caesarea. This was a city located right on the Mediterranean coastline by Herod the Great in 22 BC. We started in the Roman theater. We read about Peter (Acts 10), Herod Agrippa (Acts 12), Philip (Acts 21), and Paul (Acts 26). Walking through the rest of the site we saw the palace, the hippodrome, many mosaics, a few statutes, and the harbor area. We exited the site … Continue reading

Day 10 Trip Summary – January 2018 14 Day Israel Tour

DAY 10 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 23: NAZARETH, MEGIDDO, MT. CARMEL, CAESAREA, JERUSALEM

This morning we left the Sea of Galilee area. Following breakfast, checkout, and loading, we left shortly after 7:30 this morning. The weather changed from our last three sunny days. Today we had off and on rain and sun the entire day, with high temps in the low 60s. Thankfully at most sites, we avoided the heavier rains. Rain is predicted the rest of the week for Jerusalem.

Precipice of Nazareth

Mt. Tabor

Mt. Tabor in the Jezreel Valley

We drove to the region of the Lower Galilee towards Nazareth. Going through Cana (John 2) and the outskirts of Nazareth (Luke 1), we arrived at the Precipice of Nazareth. Here we enjoyed our first full view of the Jezreel Valley below. On our way to the overview, we saw a number of mandrake plants (Genesis 30, Song of Songs 7). Looking out to the Jezreel Valley, we could envision all of these stories unfolding: We read about Deborah and Barak battling on Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), Gideon fighting the Midianites on the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Saul and his sons dying on Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31). We also read from Luke 4 about Jesus teaching in the Nazareth synagogue. We were invited to “come and see” (John 1) Jesus in the light of His Messiahship.

Megiddo

Megiddo

Tel Megiddo

From here we continued through the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo (Har Megiddo in Hebrew), which gave its name to Armageddon (Revelation 16). This site has over two dozen archaeological layers spanning a time period of about 2,500 years! After seeing the model of the ancient city, we climbed the site. We saw some of the many ruins here, including three gate structures, storage rooms, a sacrificial altar, and the grain silo. We read from Rev. 16 and celebrated that in the last day, God has the final word! We exited the site by walking down 180+ steps through the water system. The engineering of this system was extraordinary!

Mt. Carmel

Mt. Carmel

The Jezreel Valley from Mt. Carmel

Driving southwest, we climbed Mt. Carmel, a mountain range about 13 miles long that separates the Jezreel Valley with the Sharon Plain. After eating lunch at a Druze restaurant, we arrived at a place called Muhraqah (“burnt offering”) near by. In the chapel we read the OT story about Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18).  We also read from Isaiah 35 and Song of Songs 7. We sang a few songs here as well, celebrating the awesomeness of God! Walking to the rooftop of the chapel provided us our third view of the Jezreel Valley below.

Caesarea

theater at Caesarea

The theater at Caesarea

Our last site of the day is located on the shoreline of the Sharon Plain. Caesarea was a city built by King Herod in 22 BC. He was indeed a great builder. Starting in the theater, we read from Acts 10, 12, and 26 (Peter, Herod Antipas, and Paul). Walking north we saw the palace (where Paul was bound?), the hippodrome, many Roman mosaics, and the areas where the Temple of Augustus and Herod’s harbor once stood. We exited the site through a Crusader gate. Before leaving for Jerusalem, we briefly stopped at the aqueduct.

It took about 2.5 hours to drive through the Tel Aviv area and up to the Hill Country of Judah to Jerusalem. Traffic in Jerusalem was backed up because of Vice-President Pence being here today. We arrived at our hotel, checked in, and enjoyed dinner together. Following dinner an optional walk was offered to the Western Wall. 16 went on the walk. To see this most holy site for the Jews today at night was amazing!

We are looking forward to three full days here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel!

DAY 11 –WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24: JERUSALEM, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

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Oct-Nov 2017 Egypt-Jordan-Israel Tour Update – Day 11

DAY 11: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8:

This morning we left the Sea of Galilee area. After breakfast, we loaded up the bus and began our drive south through a few more of the regions of the Bible. The day would be another sunny one, with highs in the 70s. We read from John 1 as we left the hotel and were invited to “come and see”  Jesus anew!

Precipice Nazareth

Precipice of Nazareth

Precipice of Nazareth

Driving through the Lower Galilee and driving through the outskirts of the city of Nazareth. Arriving at the precipice (an adjacent hilltop of the city), we walked to the edge and enjoyed our first full view of the Jezreel Valley below. From here we could see Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 7), Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31), and Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18). We read from Luke 4 about Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue of Nazareth. We quietly listened to The Lord’s Prayer before leaving.

Megiddo

Megiddo

Some of the Canaanite ruins of Megiddo

Driving across the Jezreel Valley, we arrived at Megiddo, a large archaeological site on the SW side of the Jezreel Valley. The site has over 24 layers of ruins spanning about 2,500 years. Megiddo was strategically located on the main natural pass into the valley. It was so important that Thutmose III said, “…to capture Megiddo was to capture 1,000 cities…” After seeing a model of the city, we climbed the tel (ancient mound) and saw three gate structures, a storehouse/stable, a Canaanite altar, and even a grain silo. On top of the tel we read from Revelation 16. We celebrated the fact that God has all of redemptive history in His capable hands! We are on the winning side where God has the last word! We then exited the site by walking down into the amazing water system (180 steps down, 80 up). It was quite impressive to see.

Mt. Carmel

We drove to Mt. Carmel where we had lunch. Nearby we visited Muhraqa, a place remembering the story of Elijah. We read from 1 Kings 18 about God’s amazing intervention in his time of crisis. It was against all odds that Elijah defeated the 450 prophets of Baal. From the top of the chapel we gained yet another view of the Jezreel Valley below. We also enjoyed singing together in the chapel.

Caesarea

Sunset Med Sea Isral

Sunset at Caesarea on the Med Sea

Our last stop of the day was Caesarea. Located along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, this was a city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC. In the reconstructed theater we read from Acts 10 (Peter) and Acts 26 (Paul). Philip the evangelist lived here (Acts 21). Walking from the theater, we saw the hippodrome, the harbor area, statutes, and many mosaics among other things. Upon leaving, we made a brief stop at the Herodian aqueduct that brought water into the city from the Mt. Carmel range. The sunset was spectacular over the Med Sea!

From here we drove about 2 hours to Jerusalem. Arriving at our hotel, we enjoyed dinner followed by an optional walk to the Western Wall. We are thrilled to be in this capital city of Israel for 3 full days!

DAY 12: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9: CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SOUTH-WALL EXCAVATIONS, YAD VASHEM, ISRAEL MUSEUM

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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 6 Summary

DAY 6 – SATURDAY, JUNE 17:

Caesarea Theater

The theater at Caesarea

Today was another sunny day, with temps around 90. The breeze all day long made it comfortable. Checking out of the hotel, we drove north to Caesarea. Located in the Sharon Plain on the shoreline of the Med Sea, this city was developed by Herod the Great in 22 BC. The city served as the major harbor in the area. Sitting in the theater, we considered the bold witness of both Peter (Acts 10) and Paul here (Acts 26). Other people from the Bible (e.g. Phillip who lived here 20 years, see Acts 22; and Barnabas and Titus (who must have also passed through this city, see Galatians 2) were connected to this city as well. Herod’s grandson also died here (Acts 12). In addition to the theater, we saw the palace (where Paul was most likely tried), the hippodrome (for horse races), the Crusader part of the city, a few marble statutes, and the area of the harbor.

Driving inland, we ascended to the peak of Mt. Carmel. This is actually a 13 mile mountain range. In a small chapel called Muhraqa, we read from 1 Kings 18 about the story of Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal. In an awesome way, God revealed Himself that day! We also considered other passages that mention this area (Song of Songs 7, 2 Kings 4, Isaiah 33 & 35, and Jeremiah 50). From the rooftop, the view was wonderful. We looked down into the Jezreel Valley. We could see the Nazareth Ridge, Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

Megiddo

The Megiddo Water System

Following lunch (at a place owned by Druze), we drove down into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo. Archaeologically, this ancient city has more than two dozen levels of occupation spanning about 3,000 years. Megiddo was a strategically-located city guarding the main entrance into the valley. Climbing the site we saw three different ancient gates, a stable, an altar, and a grain silo. From here we also could see Nazareth, Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, and Mt. Gilboa. We remembered Revelation 16 (“Armageddon”) and rejoiced that in the final day when Christ returns, God will have the final word!

Driving across the Jezreel Valley, we arrived at Sepporis. This was the main Jewish city in the days of Jesus in the Lower Galilee. We saw many mosaics, including the famous Mona Lisa of the Galilee.

Precipice of Nazareth

The precipice of Nazareth

We ended the day at the Precipice of Nazareth. Located overlooking the Jezreel Valley, this was the “backyard” of Jesus when growing up. We read from Luke 4 and John 1 about Jesus’ ministry and were invited to “come and see” Jesus anew!

From here we drove through Cana (John 2) to our hotel located on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. We enjoyed dinner together. Some walked down the water’s edge before retiring for the evening. We will spend three nights here at Nom Ginnosar!

DAY 7 – SUNDAY, JUNE 18: GOLAN HEIGHTS, GAMLA, QATZRIN, MT. HERMON SKI LIFT, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN, ABEL BEIT MAACAH

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Biblical Israel & Jordan Tour, March 2017 – Day 3 Summary

DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15:

Theater in Caesarea Israel

The March 2017 group in the theater of Caesarea

Today was our first full day in Israel. We were greeted with a sunny morning and mild temps. After breakfast we loaded the buses up and set out for Caesarea. This city built by Herod the Great in 22 BC was quite impressive. Sitting in the theater, we “connected the dots” with the Bible by reading from Acts 10 (Peter), Acts 12 (Herod Agrippa, Herod the Great’s grandson), and Paul (Acts 26). We also enjoyed singing here. Here in Caesarea we also saw the palace, the hippodrome, the harbor, mosaics, and part of the Crusader city built here in the 12th century AD. Before leaving the site, we saw the aqueduct that as used to bring water into the city from the Carmel Range.

Driving up to the Carmel Range, our next stop was to a Carmelite chapel located at the highest peak called Muhraqa (“burnt offering”). We read the story about Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal from 1 Kings 18. Other references were also shared about Carmel (2 Kings 4, Isaiah 35, Amos 9, and Songs of Songs 7). From the rooftop of the chapel we enjoyed our first view of the Jezreel Valley below. From here we could see the Nazareth Ridge, Mt Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

The valley of Armegeddon

The Jezreel Valley, Israel

Following lunch at a restaurant owned and operated by a Druze family, we visited Megiddo. This was a massive Canaanite and Israelite city in biblical days. Thutmose III, the Egyptian Pharaoh, conquered it. So did Joshua (Joshua 12) about 50 years later. Climbing the tel (“ancient mound”), we saw three gate structures (Middle Bronze, Late Bronze, and a Solomonic gate), stables, a Canaanite alter, and an Israelite granary. As it began to rain, we left the site by descending down 180 steps to the ancient water system.

After some heavy traffic, we finally arrived at Sepporis. This was the primary city in the Lower Galilee during the time of Jesus. Dogging the raindrops, here we saw some beautiful mosaics, one called the Mona Lisa of the Galilee. Towards the end of our visit, we were blessed with a beautiful rainbow over Nazareth!

Mona Lisa of the Galilee

The “Mona Lisa of the Galilee” 2nd century AD mosaic at Sepporis

We ended the day on the precipice of Nazareth. In full view of Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, and the Jezreel Valley below, we read from Luke 4. However, the lightning and rain storm shortened our gathering in a hurry as we quickly returned back to the bus. But to see Jesus’ “backyard” while growing up in this area was really special!

Driving to Tiberias we checked into our hotels and enjoyed dinner together and a free evening. Despite the afternoon rain, it was a great first day here in Israel!

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, MARCH 16: GAMLA, QATZRIN, MT. HERMON SKI LIFT, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

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January 2017 Pastors Israel Tour – Day 3

DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25:

Caesarea Theater

The Caesarea Roman Theater. Both Peter and Paul would have been here (Acts 10, 26)

Today was our first full day here in Israel. The weather would be overcast most of the day, with highs in the 60s. Leaving the hotel around 7:40, we drove north to Caesarea. Located along the Med Sea coastline, this was a city built by King Herod in 22 BC. Sitting in the theater, we read from Acts 10 (Peter & Cornelius), Acts 12 (Herod Agrippa), and Acts 26 (Paul’s bold testimony). Walking from the theater to the rest of the excavations we also saw the palace, the “Pilate Inscription” (found in 1961 in the theater), the hippodrome, the Crusader city, and the harbor area. The Apostle Paul used this port several times.

Next, we ascended up to the top of Mt. Carmel, a mountain range that overlooks the Jexreel Valley. We read from 1 Kings 18 about Elijah defeating he prophets of Baal here. We also remembered the stories of Elisha (2 Kings 4), and the romantic words of Song of Songs 7. The view from the top of the chapel of the Jezrel Valley below was limited, but we could at least see the Nazareth Ridge (Luke 1,4), Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), and Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

Canaanite Gate at Megiddo

Canaanite Gate at Megiddo

After lunch at a nearby Druze restaurant, we drove down to the Jezreel Valley and visited Megiddo. After view a map of the region highlighting the importance of this ancient city as well as a archaeological model of the tel of Megiddo, we climbed the site together. We saw three gates (Canaanite and Israelite), Solomon’s “stables”, an Early Bronze altar, and an Israelite granary. We read from Revelation 16 and celebrated the victory we have in Christ when He returns! We left the site by descending down through the amazing water system.

Crossing the valley, Sepporis was our next visit. This was the primary Hellenistic-Jewish city in Jesus’ day. Here we saw beautiful mosaics, including the famous “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.” We also saw the Nilometer moaic.

Mona Lisa of the Galilee

The “Mona Lisa of the Galilee” mosaic at Sepporis

Our last stop was the Precipice of Nazareth. The view from here provided our last perspective of the Jezreel Valley. Once again we saw Mt. Tabor, the Hill of Moreh, and Mt. Gilboa. We read from Luke 4 about Jesus’ synagogue encounter. We also were invited to “come and see” Jesus anew (John 1). We enjoyed a time of quiet reflection.

Driving through Cana (John 2), we arrived at our hotel called Nof Ginnosar located on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner and a brief gathering down at the water’s edge.

It was a great first day!

DAY 4 – THURSDAY, JANUARY 26: ARBEL, CAPERNAUM, SEA OF GALILEE BOAT RIDE, YARDENIT, MT. OF BEATITUDES

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January 2017 Israel Tour – Day 3

Aqueduct of caesarea

The Aqueduct of Caesarea

THURSDAY, JANUARY 12

Today was our first full day of touring. The weather was perfect, with sunny skies and a high in the upper 60s. We were also thankful that by the end of the day everyone who had flights canceled were able to join us! Following breakfast and checkout of the hotel, our first stop was Caesarea. Located along the coast of the Med Sea in the Sharon Plains, this city was first built by King Herod in 22 BC. As we sat in the theater, we “connected the dots” with hat happened biblically here – both Peter and Paul shared boldly about their faith (Acts 10, 26). Paul also sailed in and out of the famous port here as well. Besides the theater, we saw the replica of the “Pilate Inscription” (found in 1961), the palace, the hippodrome (for horse races), the harbor/port, mosaics, the Crusader moat and gate, and the aqueduct.

Driving to the Mt. Carmel Range, we visited Mukraqah, a Carmelite chapel located on the highest peak of this mountain range. We read from 1 kings 18 about the story of Elijah defeating the 450 prophets of Baal. Other references to Mt. Carmel were also mentioned – 2 Kings 4 (Elisha), Isaiah 35 (“the splendor of Carmel”) and Song of Songs 7. We enjoyed singing Amazing Grace from the chapel. Ascending to the top of the roof of the chapel gave us our first view of the Jezreel Valley. Here we heard about the many stories from the OT that could be seen from here – Deborah/Barak & Mt. Tabor (Judges 4-5), Gideon & the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7), Saul & Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31), and Nazareth (Luke 1, 4). We ate lunch nearby at a Druze restaurant.

solomon's stables at megiddo

Solomon’s stables at Megiddo

Driving down into the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, we were fascinated at the vast archaeological ruins here. The city was strategically located and served as the city that guarded the main entrance into the valley from the southwest. Thutmose III even said that to “capture Megiddo as like capturing 1,000 cities!” After seeing the model of the “tel” (ancient mound), we walked through the excavations. We saw numerous gate structures (Middle Bronze, Late Bronze, Iron Age/Israelite), Solomon’s stables, a sacrificial altar (Early Bronze), a grain bin (Israelite), and an impressive water system. Climbing down to the water tunnel was remarkable! We read from I Kings 9:15 and Revelation 16. The Jezreel Valley is also called the Valley of Armageddon.

Next was Sepporis. This was the primary Jewish city of the Lower Galilee during Jesus’ time. Located only 4-5 miles from Nazareth, it is no doubt that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus visited this city. Here we saw amazing mosaics, one referred to as the Mona Lisa of the Galilee.

precipice of nazareth

On the precipice of Nazareth

Our last stop was the precipice of Nazareth. Arriving just at sunset, the view from here was terrific, With Mt. Tabor, Hill of Moreh, Gilboa and Mt Carmel in front of us, this was the “backyard” of Jesus while he grew up. We read from Luke 4 and John 1 and were invited to “come and see” Jesus. It was a very special and quiet moment here.

Driving through Cana, we arrived to the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee to Nof Ginnosar, our home for the next four nights. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner together and a free night. Some enjoyed walking down to the water’s edge. With a full moon, it was quite beautiful! It was a great first full day here in Israel.

DAY 4 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 13: GOLAN HEIGHTS, GAMLA, KATZRIN, BENTAL, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

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Oct-Nov 2016 Israel Tour – Day 6

DAY 6 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5

November 2016 Israel tour group on precipice of nazareth

The Precipice of Nazareth

Today was another perfect weather day, with full sun once again and with highs around 80. Because of the annual bike race around the Sea of Galilee (1,000s of bikes!), we had to leave our hotel at 5:45 a.m. Because they closed the roads all morning, we also had to adjust our program.  So following an earlier breakfast, we departed the hotel and drove to Nazareth.  Here we drove to the top of the precipice of Nazareth for our first great view of the Jezreel Valley below! The view was wonderful, as we could see many of the stories of the Bible come to life from here (e.g. Deborah & Barak vs. Sisera at Mt. Tabor, Judges 4-5; Gideon & his 300 men vs. the Midianites on the Hill of Moreh,Judges 6-7; Elijah vs. prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, 1 Kings 18). But this was our first chance to consider the life and ministry of Jesus. Rejected in Nazareth (Luke 4), we were invited to “come and see” Jesus within the context of his hometown. Despite Nathaniel asking, “What good can come from Nazareth?”, Jesus came to be the Savior of the world!  Here on the precipice we also enjoyed a time of worship and reflection.

water system megiddo

The Israelite water system at Megiddo

Driving across the Jezreel Valley, we came to Megiddo. This is a large archaeological site with over 24 laters of ruins spanning about 2,000 years. Megiddo was a strategically important city that guarded the major route into the valley. Thutmose III, the Egyptian Pharaoh, even said, “to capture Megiddo was like capturing 1,000 cities…” Here we saw 3 sets of city gates, Solomon’s stables, a Canaanite high place, and an Israelite granary. We read from Revelation 16 about “Armageddon.” We left the site by descending down through the impressive water system.

From here we drove back towards the Sea of Galilee, specifically to the northwest corner of the lake. The site we visited before lunch was Magdala. Here we saw a 1st century synagogue, one of only seven found in Israel. Mary “Magdalene” was from here. It is highly likely that Jesus taught from this synagogue during His Galilean ministry. We also enjoyed blending our voices in singing in the meditation chapel built on the grounds.

Synagogue at magdala

The 1st Century synagogue at Magdala

Following lunch we visited the ancient boat (found in 1986). The boat dates to the 1st century, and was no doubt the size of a fishing boat back in Jesus’ day. We also enjoyed our own boat ride out on the lake. We enjoyed a time of worship. We also paused to reflect upon the storm narratives from Mark 4 and Matthew 16.

Chorazim was the next site. We saw a 3rd century AD synagogue here built with basaltic stone. This city sits high above the Sea of Galilee on this NW corner. It was one of the three cities condemned by Jesus (Matthew 11, along with Capernaum and Bethsaida). We read from Matthew 23 that mentions the Moses’ Seat that was found here.

capernaum synagogue

The 5th century synagogue at Capernaum

Close by down at the water’s edge is Capernaum. This city served as the “ministry base” for Jesus. Sitting in the 5th century synagogue, we read from Mark 1 & 2, Luke 7, and John 6, all references to Jesus teaching and ministry here. We also saw the “traditional” house of Peter as well as the 5th century octagonal church built around it.

Our last stop was on the top of the Mt. of Beatitudes. As the sun set, we listened to the words of Matthew 5 in both Hebrew and English. It was a beautiful time of quietness sitting together on rocks with a marvelous view of the lake below.

We returned to our hotel for dinner and a free night. It was another great day!

DAY 7 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6 – GOLAN HEIGHTS, GAMLA, KATZRIN, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

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6 Chamber Ancient Gates of Israel

lachish gate

Reconstruction of the 6-chamber gate at Lachish (credit: www.dailymail.co.uk)

Ancient gates in biblical days played a very important role. While most ancient cities were walled (some even had a double wall – e.g. Jericho, Lachish), special attention was paid to the gate structure. After all, with how fortified ancient walls were built, usually the most vulnerable part of any city was the gate area. This is one reason why gates were eventually built with six chambers!

Prior to the invention of the chariot (the “tank” of those days), gates were typically narrow. The Middle Bronze/Canaanite gate at Megiddo, for instance, was not only narrow but also had a zig-zag or turned entrance. This allowed for soldiers to position themselves at the high corners of the gates to defend an advancing enemy. The narrowness of the gate also restricted how many enemy soldiers could attack the gate at one time.

solomonic gate at gezer

6-chambered gate at Gezer. This was built by Solomon.

However with the advancement of a more sophisticated and wider 6-chamber gate, an advancing enemy now faced a new challenge. This challenge included facing numerous defenders strategically positioned both in and on the chambers of the gate. This meant that if the enemy penetrated the outer portion of the gate, he would face additional defense positions (sometimes even an inner set of gates), exposing him to crossfire from two, three or more positions. In other words, these chambers served as quarters for the regular garrisons dwelling in the towns as well as arsenals of weapons for the population in times of war.

megiddo gate

6-chamber Late Bronze/Canaanite gate at Megiddo

Archaeologists have found such 6-chambered gates at cities such as Gezer, Lachish, Kh.Qeiyafa, Megiddo, Hazor, Samaria, and Dan. As we match the biblical record with what has been found archaeologically, it is interesting that when we are told that Solomon re-fortified the three cities of Gezer, Megiddo, and Hazor (all located at strategic crossroads, see 1 Kings 9:15), 6-chamber gates have been found dating to His time. It is quite impressive to see these actual gates built by Solomon!

During peaceful times, gates were used as a place of community gathering. It was where judges and kings made decisions on behalf of the people (see Ruth 4 where Boaz met with the city elders at the gates of Bethlehem). It was a place of commerce and trading. It was where court was convened, and public announcements made. If you recall, it was also at the gate at Shiloh that the priest Eli waited for news regarding the ark and to hear how his sons fared in the battle (1 Samuel 4:18).

qeiyafa gate

6-chamber gate at Kh. Qeiyafa (Elah Valley in the background, where David fought Goliath)

In Proverbs 1, wisdom is personified and the gate is mentioned: “At the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech” (verse 21). Words of wisdom were shared at the gate.

On every Israel tour, we see at least a few of these 6-chambered gates. At some cities these gates have been reconstructed, while at other cities only the bottom few levels of stones remain. At two cities that we’ll see on this upcoming tour next week (Gezer and Qeiyafa), a drainage channel was even built below the gate.

Seeing these gates helps us to re-live the Bible!

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