Ahh, peace and quiet.
After two nights of blogging from a very loud and boisterous lobby at the Gai Beach Hotel in Tiberias, I am able tonight to write this entry from my room at the Crowne Plaza in Jerusalem. It was getting a little difficult to deal with the constant parties at the resort, which is one of the most popular around the Sea of Galilee
But while it makes for less of a headache when working, leaving the Galilee area was very bittersweet. The sights that our group has been able to see in our first three days in Israel have truly been breathtaking. One could spend months in the northern area of the country and still not take in everything.
Still, staying was not an option, and we began to make our way toward Jerusalem. That made today a day of transition as we saw sights that are between the two major areas of the country. Our first stop was Mt. Tabor, one of the highest points of the Jezreel valley. It was so high in fact, that we had to disembark from the bus and board small vans for the trip up the steep, winding road. On the summit is a Catholic church, and the shot below is from the inside.
From there it was on to Tel Megiddo, which was one of the chariot cities of King Solomon. It is a very strategic point in the Jezreel Valley, and every battle that has been fought here has involved this area. Dr. Crisp spent some time teaching about the significance of this site and the Jezreel Valley (better known as the Valley of Armageddon) in prophecy.
After lunch, we traveled to Gideon’s Spring, the site where Gideon whittled down the Army of Israel for battle against the Midianites in the Old Testment book of Judges. This grotto is where the spring starts and the water flows out. In the time of Gideon, it was more like a small river, but now it’s little more than a trickle.
Next it was the ruins of Bet She’an, which was one of the Roman cities of the Decapolis. I was a history minor in college, and for someone like me, this is beyond fascinating. The antiquities that have come from this site are almost too numerous to count. In fact, it is the most well-preserved Roman city in the world, but the most amazing thing is how accessible it is. You actually get to sit in a mini coliseum, walk through the Baths, stroll down the main street. You can almost imagine what it was like 2,000 years ago.
The last part of the afternoon was spent in the almost two-hour trip to Jerusalem. I managed to snap the shot below out the bus windows during that trip. Those are hills in the area of Jericho at the bottom.
Before we got into Jerusalem proper, we made a quick stop at an overlook over the Jericho Valley. The views were just incredible. However, both coming and going, we had to deal with Bedouin merchants who didn’t want to take no for an answer when it came to their wares. Still, it was worth it to see sights like this.
It was time now to make our ascent into Jerusalem and our last stop before getting to the hotel was at Mt. Scopus. From there, you get a view of the entire city. The sun had almost completely set by the time we got there, and while the picture below isn’t the greatest, I did want to share the view of God’s City that we saw.
Tomorrow will be big. On our first day in Jerusalem we will be going to the Temple Mount area, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the Rabbinical Tunnels underneath the Western Wall. This is one of my favorite days of the trip.
More, as always, to come.