DAY 5– WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18
It was another great day, with sun and temps around 65-70. Today we headed to the Golan Heights. Driving from the NW corner of the Sea ofg Galilee to the NE corner, here we began our ascent to the Heights. Overlooking Bethsaida, we read from John 6 about the feeding of the 5,000. It most likely took place in the valley below us. From here we continued to the plateau of the Heights to Gamla (the “Masada of the north”). It was here where the First Revolt (in 66AD) was met by a strong Roman challenge. The city fell to the Romans, with thousands killed. From a distance we saw the synagogue (only one of seven 1st century AD synagogues found in Israel to date)
Nearby was Katzrin. Here we visited the Talmudic village. We entered the reconstructed house of Rabbi Abun where we read the story from Mark 2 about the healing of the paralytic man who was lowered to Jesus through the roof. We celebrated the s’mekah (authority) of Jesus in forgiving our sins.
Driving further north, our next stop was Ben Tal, an volcanic hill top on which was an old Israeli military base. With wonderful visibility, we looked across the Huleh Valley all the way to the Hills of Naphali to the west. Looking north and east, we also could look many miles into the country of Syria. Kuneitra, a military city, was only a few miles away.
Driving west, we stopped for lunch on the foothills of Mt. Hermon (a snow-capped mountain of 7,300 feet above sea level). The restaurant is owned by a Druze family. Following lunch, we continued to Caesarea Philippi (also called Banias). One of the three tributaries of the Jordan river is here. This is also a city mentioned in Matthew 16. We heard the words of Jesus, “Who do you say I am?” The Mt. of Transfiguration story of Matthew 17 probably also took place in this area.
Coming down of the Heights, we visited Dan. We walked through the nature preserve along another of the three tributary’s of the Jordan River. We stopped by the water’s edge and enjoyed listening to Shlomo’s recorder playing and for a time of reflection. We read from Psalm 42 and sang “As the Deer” together. We continued walking to the archaeological area of the site. While sitting on the steps of the pagan high place, we read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12 about the “pattern of disobedience” displayed here by King Jeroboam.
We ended the day by climbing the OT tel of Abel Beit Maacah. This is where Pastor John excavated last July. We read from 2 Samuel 20 about the rebellion of Sheba (the city is also mentioned in 1 & 2 Kings 15). The city is located to day on the Lebanon border.
We returned to our hotel for dinner, followed by gathering on the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee for a nice time of worship and sharing.
It was another great day here in Israel!
DAY 6– THURSDAY, MARCH 19
We plan to visit the Mt. Arbel, Magdala, Chorazin, Capernaum, the Jesus Boat (and boat ride on the lake), baptism in the Jordan River, and the Mt. of Beatitudes.