DAY 8 – MONDAY, JANUARY 23: GAMLA, QATZRIN, BENTAL, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN
Today we spent the day primarily in the Golan Heights. This region extends 38 miles east from the southern end of the Sea of Galilee up to the slopes of Mt. Hermon and the Syrian border. Sunny skies were enjoyed all day long again, with temps around 70, although a little cooler in Mt. Bental. We left the hotel after a hearty breakfast at 7:35, reading Mark 8.
We drove once again around the northern part of the lake and began our ascent to the Golan Heights. As we climbed we stopped briefly to look down to the Plain of Bethsaida where the Feeding of the 5,000 took place (Luke 9). Once we arrived at Gamla, we walked to the overlook of this camel-hump shaped city. This was a city that was destroyed in 67 AD in the 1st Revolt against the Romans in 67 AD. Among the ruins discovered was a 1st century synagogue here where Jesus may have taught (Matthew 4).
Further north is Katzrin. Here is an ancient Talmudic Village that dates from the 3rd-7th centuries AD. Among the ruins we saw the synagogue and house structures, including a partially-restored house. However, in the completely reconstructed stone house we gathered to hear the story of Mark 2. Pastor Kevin also shared about the Luke 5 Adventures ministry.
Continuing northward, we stopped for a brief stop to look over into Syria. We climbed with the bus to the top of Mt. Mental, an old military outpost used in the 1967 war. The view into Syria, including the city of Kuneitra, was fairly good despite the haze.
“It was yet another great day as we drove north to the Golan Heights. It was interesting to be able to look across the borders into Syria and Lebanon. The sites we visited really connected us to the Bible, especially reading the Mark 2 story within the stone house at Katzrin.”
Driving past the partially snow-capped Mt. Hermon, we drove down off the Golan Heights we visited Caesarea Philippi. This was a pagan city in the days of Jesus that included temples to Augustus, Zeus (Jupiter), and Nemesis. The Pan deity was especially honored here. It was good to see that recent excavations of the Augustus Temple revealed amazing mosaics and other structures. The Banias Spring begins here, one of the three tributaries of the Upper Jordan River. It was in the region of this city that Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16).
Our last site of the day was Tel Dan. We walked through the beautiful nature preserve along the Dan Spring. We stopped by the water to hear Shlomo play another song on his recorder. We also read from (and sang) Psalm 42, As the Deer. We continued our walk to the culture center. Here, Jeroboam built an altar and set a golden calf on the high place. Sitting on the steps of the high place, we read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12. We also overlooked the border with Lebanon. Before leaving, we saw the Canaanite mud brick gate and the Israelite gate complex.
We drove south along the Huleh Valley back to our hotel, passing the Canaanite city of Hazor on the way. Once again, we enjoyed a huge dinner and a free evening.