DAY 9 – MONDAY – MAY 27 – GOLAN HEIGHTS – DAN – CAESAREA PHILIPPI – NIMROD – BENTAL – QATZRIN – GAMLA
We began the day by driving north to the Golan. On yet another sunny day, the entire day was spent in this northern region of Israel. Our first stop was the nature reserve and archaeological site of Dan. Here we enjoyed the refreshing waters of one of the sources of the River Jordan. We walked through this quiet national park and impressive Old Testament city, including a Middle Bronze gate that Abraham must have seen when he passed by this city (then called Laish, Gen. 14). We even saw a baby viper snake (?) on the pathway. Nearby is Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Mt. 16). While Jesus probably did not enter this very pagan city, it was in this region where Jesus revealed for the first time what would eventually happen in Jerusalem, namely, his death and resurrection.
Further east in the Golan Heights is the unique site of Nimrod, our third stop. Here we explored this Crusader castle built in the 13th century AD. It was fun walking around this huge fortress complete with tower, a cistern, and massive stones. Following lunch at a Druse place, we traveled to the eastern edge of the Golan to an old military base called Bental. Here we looked into the town of Quneitra in southern Syria. Yoni shared with us some amazing stories that took place in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War.
We return back toward the Sea of Galilee to see a few more sites, including Qatzrin, a partially reconstructed Talmudic village. Here we saw another synagogue as well as a Talmudic house, probably the same type of house that Jesus would have known in the 1st century. Our last stop of the day was another unique site as well, a 1st century city called Gamla. This was a Jewish city that was taken by the Romans during the Revolt in the 60’s AD. It fell in 68 AD. It became known as the “Masada of the north.” A few hiked down to one of seven 1st century synagogues in Israel. We drive back to our hotel. Most enjoyed going for a swim again in the warm waters of the Sea of Galilee. On such a warm day, we wondered if the disciples would have done the same?
After dinner we enjoyed a group gathering on the shoreline. The lights of Tiberias were lit up across the lake as well as he lights of Safed and other Israeli towns. This is our last night here. Tomorrow we spend the night in Jerusalem!