Israel! Petra, Jordan


The word Petra is Greek for rock.

Several Bedouin families live in caves here, and are the vendors at the beginning of the area, as well as at the bottom of the Siq. They offer camel rides and these carts for the ride down to the treasury. Several of our group took them… we chose to walk so we could see more, and stop as we were going down the canyon.

The road to the treasury connects to the Kings Way, the main “spice route” or trade route.
The terrain was different as we walked down. This part was more yellow sandstone. Notice in this picture, the purplish mountains. We saw those from our hotel. The second from the left has a white spot on top…. this is a monument where Moses brother, Aaron, is buried.

Tombs were sealed by building a wall, with the base being covered with water. There were several carvings by man,
this one called the Obelisk Tomb

as well as carvings by nature along the way.

Djinn Blocks, which are tombs or memorials to the dead, are also along the way.

At the entrance of the Siq, Navatine reenactors were performing.

An archway spanned the entrance until 1895 when it collapsed.

Water channels run along each side of the gorge. They held clay pipes that carried fresh water to the city from springs.

Along the way was remains of a large than life Camel Caravan Relief, carved in 100-50BC. It depicts a group of camels and drivers entering Petra.

I can see why God talked about not worshipping other gods. It seems like they were prevalent! Several carvings and godblock niches to honor these other gods were along the cliffs.

On the way, several Bedouin children approached us to sell jewlery and postcards. Paul left his hat with one of them…..

Some parts of the gorge was narrower than other, all overwhelmingly tall!

There was more evidence of water systems

and steps carved along the way

When you get to the end of the gorge,

the view of the Treasury is stunning!

Bullet holes can be seen in this carved urn, which is said to contain hidden treasure

There are more layers unseen below, still to be escavated!

As the road curves to the right of the Treasury, following the road revealed many more carved monuments.
On the left, the Street of Facades built 50BC-50AD, is rock-cut tombs which are arranged in ascending street-like rows along the cliff face. The colors and grain were beautiful.

Then the 7000-seat Roman Theater

On both sides of the road were Bedouin vendors

On the right side, as we walked down the road, up on the hill were the Royal Tombs:

The Urn Tomb

Silk Tomb

Corinth Tomb

A close up of one of the columns shows the colors of the rock.

and the Palace Tomb which is very wide.

a herd of goats…. could not see what they were eating! Looked like all rock to me~

The Colonnaded street 100-200 AD

The Great Temple

Hadrien Gate

Another view from the Hadrien Gate, looking back down the road, along the Colonnaded street, with the Royal Tombs on the hillside.

The Byzantine church is currently being uncovered

and painstaking work is being done to clean the tile.

Because the sun was higher in the sky, on our return walk back up the Siq we were able to see different colors than on the way down.

Some of our group hiked even further, to the Monastery, which is the largest monument in Petra.

I found this web site that was really interesting and had some great pictures, especially of some of the archaeological park we did not see:

This was definitely one of the top places we visited!!

Israel! Bet Shean, Jordan

After leaving the Ginosar, we passed more groves and saw where the Jordan River leaves the Dead Sea at the south.

and left the Golan Heights area

and arrived at the Bet Shean National Park.
Major excavations have been going on since 1986, which have uncovered only about 10% of the city.

The most impressive structure was the 7000 seat theater, with a row of ornate and richly decorated imported granite and marble columns

The ruins included the bathhouse

and public bathhouse toilets

“Palladius Street”, a long colonnaded street originally built during the Roman period.

This shows the original Roman road, with the renovate floor during the Byzantine period, 600 AD.

A circular concourse surrounded by porticoes served as the commercial center. It was referred to as the Sigma by an inscription.

One of the rooms included this mosaic medallion depicting Tyche , guardian goddess of the city.

Saudis ruled the area for 100 years, then 749 it was completely destroyed by earthquake, which buried the city.

possible temple site

This was a very large city, and I am amazed at what is being uncovered.
The pillars were impressive

Looking down “Silvanus Street”

This shows only a portion of the site, and a portion of the ongoing excavation

and more public toilets!

I think what impressed me the most is that it gave a view of the lifestyle and the beauty of the city, as well as the advanced workmanship of the era.

After leaving Bet Shean, we crossed the border to Jordan. Since our driver and guide were Israeli citizens, they could not cross with us. They dropped us off at the border and we walked across to Jordan. After going through customs, we met the new bus driver and our new guide.
Jordan is about the size of Indiana. Sunni-Muslem are the majority. They feel tribal rule is best, with monarchy over parliament. Their flag colors represent white for peace, red for the blood shed, black for the dark period, 7 verses of Koran and green, the color of heaven. Jordon is one of the top three mosic builders. Each color used is a different oxide or mineral. Navatine glass is most used and is very light. Queen Nor set up a foundation to encourage pruductivity of mosaic arts and there is no export tax.

The area was mostly farmland and rural.

and more camels

colorful trucks and

Bedouin tent homes.

We passed Mt. Nebo, where there is a memorial cross to prophet Musa (Moses), thought to be buried in this area.

We stopped for lunch, having a great Jordanian buffet meal

We stayed the night at the Petra Marriott, which was really very nice!

And another fantastic buffet at night,

and more food buffet for breakfast!

The guys were glad to get no kosher food at breakfast! This meant there was sausage and bacon!This

This panoramic picture from the hotel looks toward where the ruins are located,

and the village surrounding them.

The Jordanian people are known for their tile work, which was displayed around the hotel.

The next morning we headed for the famous treasury ruins….. and here is my first view!

More on the next blog!

Israel! Gospel Triangle and Sea of Galilee

Our day started with visiting what is referred to as the “Gospel Triangle”. It includes the towns of Capernaum, Korazim, and Bethsaida.
Capernaum was Peter’s hometown and the base for the Lord’s Galilean ministry. He performed more miracles here than at any other single place.

Outside of the synagogue, black stone can be seen as the original layer; the second time it was built with white stones

Luke 7 refers to this synagogue as built by a Roman centurion!

This church was built over Peter’s home. We were there during a service so were unable to see inside.

Korazim was the next town we visited

the Mikva, a ritual cleansing bath would have been covered with a wooden building.

The Temple looked like it was impressive

with replica of the stone column that held the Torah

and replica of the seat of Moses

and Bema stone, used for public reading of Torah

Bethsaida has only been partially excavated by the University of Nebraska for the past 20 years. So far they have not found the Synagogue.

As we walked, we saw the Jujuba tree. This tree has thorns, thought to be used in the crown of thorns.

At the entry of the city, the standing stone, a Bull, is the moon god

This is the traditional site where the possessed swine ran into the Sea of Galilee in Mark 5. It is the only place along the sea where there is a hill.
We had lunch, which included soup, salad, Tilapia fish, and dessert, at En Gev, on the Sea of Galilee

While there, we saw five Huckabee tour buses, although we did not actually see him

After lunch, we loaded the boat

and crossed the sea to our hotel at Ginosar

Tiberias through the clouds

A view of Kibbutz Ginosar from the sea

and museum next door, which houses an ancient boat.

The boat ride was a great way to end a beautiful day!

Israel! Dan, Golan Heights, Cesarea-Phillipi, Syrian Border

As we traveled north, we went through Hazar, an ancient city where Joshua fought, and City of 8, where every house has bomb shelters due to the frequent bombing from Lebanon. It seems like it is so natural to the residents, they accept these bombings as residents of California accept earthquakes, Florida accepts hurricanes, and the midwest accepts tornadoes!

We traveled through Golan Heights, Israel’s military defense line.

Dan was our first stop of the day. This city is the northernmost city of Israel in the Old Testament. (II Chron. 11)
After walking along a slippery, narrow pathway,

and letting the teenage member of our group go “ape”,

we came to the main spring that feeds the Jordan River.

At the top, we came to the temple where King Jeroboam set up a golden calf.

From here we could see the Lebanon and Syria borders.

The circle to the bottom left of the first picture was where they would have cleansed the animals to be sacrificed.

There were also rusted remnants of the six day war in 1967, including tanks and bunkers.

On our return trip, we saw the remains of the Canaanite gate,

Banyas Falls was our next stop…. the site where it is believed Psalm 42 was written. It is a strong, flowing waterfall that goes into the Jordan River.

I even saw a good jeep restoration project for Paul.

The Temple of Pan, otherwise known as the gates of hell, was an interesting site. It was a Roman pagen worship area. It is all about worship…..of other gods….
Including Pan,


Nemesis (goddess of vengance and justice)

and the sacred goats.

Pan was half goat, half human. It is said to have scared people at night, causing them to PANic, and then takes them to hades.
Other than the erie reminder of satanic worship, the place had a calming Herman River Springs

with a trail that led us through an ancient 1st century Roman bridge,

past an old flour mill and water fall.

And the first century palace of Agrippa II.

The pillars mark where the temple was located.

Paul couldn’t help trying to fix it!

This is as far north in Israel that Jesus came, noted in Matt. 16:13.
This was called Caesarea Philippi, and later the Arabic mispronounciation of the name, Banias, caught on, then gradually became Panias, a small farming village. It was one of the sites captured by the Israel Defense Force in 1967.

Nimrod Fortress was built nearby by the crusaders in the first century. It was well fortified!
They were zealots who murdered priests and Moslems. It is said that they smoked hashish prior to going into battle, thus were known as “hashasins”, which became our present day word, “assassins”. They were the AlQuada of the year 1200.

This is a memorial to those killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

The Syrians had 1400 tanks to Israel’s 178. The war was started by a surprise attack on one of the Jewish most holy days. This is now one of the quietest borders since. Along the Golan Heights 85 mile border, Israel occupied and has since kept the buffer zone. Syrians want it back, and does not even acknowledge Israel being there. With all of the countries against Israel, the whole border of the country becomes a front line in war.
This site is located at the top of the Valley of Tears, now known as the Valley of Blessings
An abandoned Israeli tank overlooking the valley

Bunkers built at the base of the hill.

Russian-made Syrian tank sits at the top of the hill, where it was stopped by Israelis.

Throughout our travels, we saw Mt. Herman from different angles, always from the bus. This was the best view, and I could take the picture from outside the bus! It is the traditional place of the transfiguration of Jesus.

We had four more days after this day, so there will be four more blogs on Israel. From Dan to Beersheva was the name of our tour. This was the farthest point to the north that we went. I Hope you aren’t bored! While writing about and reviewing places we went, I am even more in awe of how much we had the opportunity to see!!

Israel! Cesarea, Megiddo, Nazareth, Galilee

We headed north from Jerusalem on our 7th day in Israel….with Cesarea the first stop. It was the capital city known as “little Rome”. Herod was appointed by the Romans to facilitate Roman rule in 22 BC. This is where Peter proclaimed the good news to the Roman centurion, Cornelius. This area could be the place Paul was sent for his trial in Acts 25.

The grand theater would most likely be where Herod Agrippa, Herod’s gandson, was announced (Acs 12),

and the hippodome sports arena

which even had public toilets….

the palace was built right on the Mediterranean Sea

with bathouse

and vaults (the bank of the day)

and surviving tile work

Lots of shells along the beach

and beautiful clear water! I think this place had the greatest ambiance and would make a great resort!! Complete with views of the Mediterranean Sea!
The synagogue,
Part of the ancient aquaduct still exists!

Camels along the road as we go north.

Megiddo sits in the Jezreel Valley, the location for the future gathering of the nations at Armageddon.

There have been 26 layers of cities found on this mound.

This tunnel /well was built by Ahab

The ancient route from Mesopetania to Egypt can be seen.

From the Mount of Precipice, we could view Nazareth

It was amazing to me that Nazareth is so close to this valley, the valley of Armegiddon! I did not realize that before.
Red roofs are old Nazareth,
Mt. Tabor

and the Jezreel Valley from the opposite side, looking toward Megiddo

We spent the night at Kibbutz Ginosar, right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. A group from Tel-aviv settled here in 1934 and in spite of conflicts have survived, with “its uniqueness as a community of solidarity”.

Again, another wonderful buffet!! With lots of choices!

our room.

sunset view from the room,

We stayed here two nights, so was able to also get a sunrise as well!

Israel! Jericho, Jordan River, Qumran, EnGedi, Masada and Dead Sea

Although we spent the night in Jerusalem, we left in the morning to visit
several areas outside the city. On the outskirts, along the way, we saw left over, rusted tank, a remnant of the 1967 war,

bedouin camps, (there were some in the south as well, but did not post pics.),

and just outside Jericho, wild camels
and sheep.

Our first stop was Jericho.

This is the traditional Sycamore tree Zaccheus climbed! Taken from the bus, otherwise, I would have had to get Paul to climb up it for me!

From the top of the hill where old Jericho ruins are, were great views of the “new ” city.
This one with Jordan river in the background

and this with the Dead Sea in the background.

Very little excavation is being done here, and they claim there is “no archeological basis” for the Jericho walls, and the story is viewed only as an oral tradition.

A monastery is built into the mountains (Mt. Temptation) above.

A side note about our group. Our group ranged in age from 17 to 85!! The trip was very demanding physically. Marlene had had a stroke within just a few months prior to the trip, and was so pleased to still be able to come! Periodically on a walk, John would pick her up and help her keep up with the rest of the group. There was such a sweet spirit with the whole group!

On the way out of Jericho, we saw the American paid traffic lights(in a round about! And little traffic!)
drove along the American paid highway, and saw the American paid prison, complete with mosque…….

As we approached the Jordan River, 9400 foot Golan Mountains can be seen in Jordan

The churches are funded by Russians

The Jordan is fed by waters descending from Mt. Hermon.
It really is a very muddy river!

Many people get baptized here, though none of our group did.
Joshua 3 & 4, nothing happened until the priests put their feet in the water…. a picture of stepping by faith!! I had to put my feet in!!
Military presence was on both sides of the river.

A lot of the Jordan river is diverted from the Dead Sea for agricuture. Farming is a contrast to the surrounding desert!

The Dead Sea is receding 12″ per year due to diversion of the Jordan River for agriculture.

Qumran is where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. It is thought that they were hidden in pottery jars in the caves, intending to return for them later.

Ritual bath site

and latrine.

No one has lived here since 68AD, when it was destroyed. Temperatures of 110 degrees and little water made it hard to live.
It is located just above the Dead Sea. The earth’s lowest point is at 1371 feet below sea level. It is the deepest hyper-saline lake in the world at 1083 feet, with a salinity of 30%

The white is salt, not waves!

Directly under the Dead Sea is a shift in continents, between the Syrian and the African continents. There are earthquakes every year. A divide in the mountains is part of the Kedron Valley and can be walked all the way to Jerusalem.

We saw Ahava headquarters, one of the major makers of products and cosmetics from the minerals of the Dead Sea, through the bus window.

En Gedi, where David hid in a cave when running from Saul was our next stop. ( I Sam. 23 , 24) Psalm 7, 42, 57 and 142 may have been composed by David here. One of our group was baptized here. Time prevented us from going all the way to the end, where another, larger waterfall was located.

we saw several of these cute Rock Hyrex

The next stop was Masada, Herod the Great’s winter palace, considered impregnable. This is an historical, not Biblical site. He built it to escape from Cleopatra! His buildings were all ahead of the times in terms of strength and amenities.

Tile floors still visible

as well as wall tiles
Steam bath, where water was heated outside, slaves pumped steam into pipes, heating the floors and room

Views from the top were phenomenal!

I think this was my favorite view!

Although we could take the tramway both ways, quite a few of our young, brave guys took the pathway down. (Including Paul!)

We ended the day at the Dead Sea….. no, we did not go all the way in, but several of our party did!

In fact, our group floated so well, they were able to do a little acrobatics!

We returned to Jerusalem for one more night before moving on!

Israel! 3rd day in Jerusalem

I started the day with chocolate cake for breakfast!!! Loved the food in Israel! Could you say no thank you to this?

Damascus gate (picture taken from bus) was built 600 AD165. On the other side of this gate is the mall with blue lights I posted earlier. Quite a contrast!

We found out the reason for our change in schedule was that there were riots at the Temple Mount. So it is on the schedule for today. Visitor can come to the Temple only as tourists, no Bibles are allowed, and no praying (although the rebel in me came out and I prayed, with no outward appearance of doing so!)
There was definitely a military presence (yes I asked if I could take this picture…)

As we entered, we noticed there were several groups of people praying and having studies. We were told they were Muslims, prepared for any unrest.

These arches are located above the Western wall

I got a little too close taking this picture, and was told to move on… I guess under the arches is considered part of the inside, the parish mosque, a holy area, where only Muslim were allowed (guess that is what I get for secretly praying!)

Up close to the golden dome was awesome!

The side
From the back of the dome (north side)

This is Mt. Moriah! David purchased this property, 32 acres, and built the City of David on one side. (II Sam.)
Solomon later built the temple, (I Kings 6) which was destroyed, then Hezekiah rebuilt it.
Abraham prepared to offer Isaac here, where the Dome of the Rock sits (Gen. 22)
This is the actual foundation stone under the placed cut stone

This is the eastern gate known as Gate of Eternal Life. It was sealed in 1541, plus blocked on the other side by a Muslim cemetery

….think it will stop our Awesome God?

John Deere is in Israel as well…
It amazed me how pedestrians and vehicles travel the same very narrow streets! Along one, we saw this door, with a sign that indicates it is Mary’s birthplace

We left by the Lions gate,

We then went to the Mt. of Olives.
There was at least one “first” a day so far, and it got to be a joke….Pastor Rick told us this was the first time he had walked up instead of down to the Garden of Gethsemane!

Actually this garden was a surprise to me, not as I had imagined it would be. It is really an Olive plantation. They are not natural to Israel, but they need no water, so grow well.

The Church of the Agony is located in the “garden”,

as is the traditional site of the tomb of Mary.

At the top of the Mt. of Olives, we had a great panoramic view of Jerusalem I could only imagine listening to Jesus speak here! (Matt. 24-25)

We could even see our hotel, the top, middle, tallest building

I need to insert the picture of the lobby here, since I took it later in our stay and posted another picture earlier! It was very modern, beautiful place to stay!!

Next we visited the Israel Holocaust Museum. An interesting fact to me was that the word holocaust comes from referencing burnt offerings, meaning “whole thing”. Makes you stop and think of the application of this word to the activities.

It is not as large as the museum in Washington, DC, but just as moving. The building itself was different, and since we could not take pictures inside, the exterior pictures will have to suffice.
The museum criss-crossed between rooms over this middle hallway.

In another building housed the children’s memorial
One and a half million jewish children were killed, and in this building there are 12 candles lit each day. Prisms reflect 1.5 million points of lights to representing these children. As you walk through, the names, ages, and place of birth are being read 24/7, which takes 3 months to go through the whole list….. very moving.

There is also a grove of memorial trees, one of which is dedicated to Corrie Ten Boom and her father and sister.

The Garden Tomb was our next stop.

In 1894, a Christian foundation purchased the property that holds the tomb that fits the description and is next to one of the two spots said to be Golgotha. (Previous blog showed the church built where the other place could be)

This place is next to the traditional hill with the skull. It was a stone quarry, now a bus parking lot, not part of the property owned by the foundation.

We ended our last day in Jerusalem with a private communion service in the garden. What a wonderful experience to sit in this area, surrounded by such historical Biblical places.

Israel! 2nd day in Jerusalem

Our schedule was changed a bit today, due to unrest. Another first according to Pastor Rick~
On our second day in Jerusalem, we visited the City of David. II Sam 5.
This is the support wall for David’s palace. II Samuel 5
Once the Royal Quarter, this city was destroyed by the Babylonians. II Kings 25:8-10. When Jerusalem was rebuilt, it was in the upper part, leaving these ruins outside the city. This wall was built by Nehemiah!

Gihon Springs are located below the city

This was a very narrow tunnel!

Hezekiah Tunnel was used to channel the spring water along the eastern slopes of the Kidron valley and to fill a reservoir to create the pool of Siloam

This was uncovered just prior to WWI, thought to be 2000 years old, built by Harod the great. Muslims now own the adjacent area, which was part of the original pool. Excavation is needed to get the whole pool, but the Muslims will not allow it. While Bethesda was larger than I expected, this one was smaller. This is located at the end of the Wall street (previous blog).

At the beginning of the Canaanite Tunnel, (I may be confused and switched the names… we went through two tunnels, one right after the other) further excavation is being done. This one was below the city.

Besides being narrow, it was very rough, original stone walkways.

And original roof!

When we got out, Paul saw some guys working on some rockwork…. he really wanted to join them! Make it a MMAP project!! He did make a suggestion, which they used and it worked better for them!! Doesn’t it look like he is just about to go ask if he can play, too??

We walked on to the Jerusalem Archaeological Park next, going through the Dung Gate

where original steps have been unearthed.
This is the remains of the Double Arch and the Triple Gate, which has been blocked up.

This picture of the site was taken from the Mt of Olives. I want you to get the size of this…. it is the site of the Pentecost. Acts 2. It is “one place”, which in Hebrew designates the temple. This is the only site where 3000 people could be baptised within a reasonable time, in the bathing ponds to the left in the picture, below the steps….this is where the Christian church started! And we were actually there!

Then we turned the corner, to Jerusalem’s main street and we were walking where they KNOW that Jesus REALLY DID walk! The remains of Robinson’s Arch is in the top right corner

Some places they say he could have walked; but at this site, these are the actual stones he would have walked on. We had to walk there barefoot!!
It is that feeling we had everyday!!

We visited the Burnt house museum( no pictures allowed) giving us an overview of the Roman destruction in 70 AD and Temple Institute allowing us to view treasures of the temple (again no picture allowed)

We ended the day with a visit to the Israel Museum which had the dead sea scrolls (no pictures allowed inside) and a fabulous model of the city.

Notice the red roofs at top of picture, indicating the priests lived, and the fish shaped walls, and the City of David, with pool of shiloam just outside, in the foreground.

The Jewish Quarter marked by the two towers,

and the Pools of Bethesda

This gave us our bearings of where things were, and the relationship to the temple mount.

As I write this and review my pictures and notes, I am so in awe of the fact that we were actually able to visit Israel! Watching CNN, I am glad we are back in U.S.A.

Israel! Jerusalem

Our first stop in Jerusalem was the Western Wall.

As we approached the gate, there was a Bar Mitzah ceremony taking place, a first to see this here, according to Pastor Rick!

At the beginning of the tour of the tunnels, our guide used a model to describe the construction of the temple, with the Ark of the covenant set upon the Foundation Stone itself.

There was also a model that included original bridges and the additions of current buildings

There is ongoing excavation

This was under an original bridge

This is the original foundation of the western wall. In the original Herodian construction, the blocks are cut so carefully that each fits the adjoining blocks, with a recess of about .75 “, which gives additional stability to the Western Wall.

We walked along the original (Western) Wall Street, below the existing patio area of the western wall

The blocks ranged from 2 1/2 ton to 500+ tons for the largest

The water aqueduct became narrow

then opened into a “room full of water”

This archway would have been open during Jesus time.

We walked through part of the Old City

to get to the Bethesda Pools, John 5. The top part was built in the 12th century, bottom by the Byzantine. It was quite a bit larger area than I had expected!

St. Anne’s Basilica is located in the same area as the pools.

A highlight was singing there with the fantastic acoustics.

We walked along the Via Delarosa

to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The site is verated as Golgotha, one of two possible sites. The church was built over cisterns by crusaders in 1300’s.
The inside of the church was overwhelming due to its extremely ornate features.
The alleged place where he was crucified

Paul reaching down to touch the top of the rock that was in front of the cross.

Stone where Jesus body was washed.

The Sepulchre

and a cave that had these two tombs

This church is shared for worship by 5 churches, including



We had lunch and walked through the Jewish Quarter

and came out the Zion Gate (Border of Judah and Israel)

Bullet holes are present from wars in 1948 and 1967. Keyholes in the wall for arrows are all along the wall.

St. Peter in Gallicante, a French catholic church, is built on the site of Caiaphas home.

The church is built into a rock (on the right of picture, and on the other side of the chairs you can see a bit of it!)

with an underground dungeon

Original steps from Biblical times
and other ruins below the church.

A statute commemorates Peter’s denial and immediate regret, Luke 22. Our guide explained “greeting with a kiss” has different kisses. Slave to a master would kiss the feet of the master, while a younger person would greet an older person with a kiss on the arm. Peter’s kiss to Jesus was that of an equal.

From here, there was a great viewing spot of the Kedron Valley.
Rioting and resulting smoke on Mt. of Olives

The potter’s field, which, as prophesied, has not been built on.

Panoramic view of the Kidron Valley

We were able to see an authentic tomb, which explained a lot about the culture of the day. When a person died, they were put in a cave for a year. At the end of the year, the family came back to get the bones and move to a large hole close by, together with ancestors. Christ would have been prepared on a table, put in a niche for only a few days then would have been moved. That is why they came to the tomb.

Scripture talks about being buried with fathers, excuses that one can’t follow Jesus until they bury father (could be a year). Now I understand what it means. This was a custom until 500 years after Christ. They thought he was hidden in another part of the cave, but It was a new cave, so no other bones were in there. Seeing this cave, which would have had a roof, explains so much.

Saw these officers taking a shield off the window of their vehicle. Probably been at the Mount of Olives!

Seeing the presence around the city is both comforting (to know they are prepared) and unsettling (wondering what they are expecting). It makes me think of the fact that it seems like every 20 or so years, there is a war here….

One evening while in Jerusalem, our host had a representative from the Jerusalem Cornerstone Foundation (JCF) come to speak to us one evening about the work they do. Our tour was through this organization. It is a Christian charity committed to spreading the gospel through biblical study and acts of mercy. We were delighted to listen to the testimony of a spunky Australian who came to Israel to “Love the Jews”. She describes herself as an ordinary person with an extraordinary God, who makes herself available. What a testimony!

Israel! Tel Arad, Hebron, Bethlehem, Herodion, Judean Mtns

Our second day was just as busy. We left Beersheva in the morning and our first stop was Arad. Arad is an ancient city, dating back to 3000 BC, built on layers as a lot of the cities are. In Numbers 21, it is called Horma.

On top of the fortress mound, there was a temple,

and the lookout tower that overlooked the Canaanite city. It was so cold and rainy, we did not go down to the city ruins, but I just took a picture from the top.

The Negev plains were below (we are to the north of Beersheva, so it is farmland).

We continued on to Judean mountain, where we had snow! (Again, another first according to Pastor Rick!)
Abraham lived in the capital, Hebron. (Gen 13:18). And David ruled as king over Judah fom Hebron. Over the years there has been so much conflict in the area.
In 1929 during WWI British Jewish families settled Hebron, then were killed by Arabs. Arabs controlled until 1949, when Jordan became the occupying presence. In 1967 after the 6-day war, Israelis returned. In 1991, it was shared but now is a Muslim town again. 1991 there was a negotiation with 3 zones, 1) Civilian Palestinians, 2) Mutual, and 3) Israel. It has not been implemented yet, and in 2011, the 2) Mutual was cancelled.

Herod the Great was one of the greatest builders in the history of the Holy Land. He built a shrine over the Cave of the Patriarchs, or the Cave of Machpelah, the burial site of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. The only Matriarch missing is Rachel. Genesis 23 tells of Abraham purchasing the field as a burying place. Records in Genesis tell of them being buried there.

This is considered the second holiest place to the Jewish people, and many still come to pray and leave prayer notes

Another place he built was the Herodion, which was one of his most impressive constructions.

The fortress was on the upper city and a palace on the lower city. Water cisterns consists of an underground network of tunnels from the first and second Jewish revolts against Romans.

This opening is from the courtyard to draw water up. It was a little eerie to be where the water actually was.
A panoramic view of the fortress…..hope you can see it okay! I cannot figure out how to make it bigger, but it does give a better overview of the structure.

I think what amazed me about all of the ruins we saw was the scope and size. The ingenuity, time and labor that went into these structures was truly unbelievable.
All of the views were fantastic…… NE to Jerusalem
SW to Bethlehem
E to the Dead sea ( Hope you can make it out, it is just passed the mountain ranges)

As we continued to Bethlehem, it continued to snow.
The bus driver graciously pulled over for the benefit of these disadvantaged CA folk who do not get to see snow!!

One of the highlights for everyone on the trip was our encounter with a Romanian group of Christians at Ruth’s Restaurant in Bethlehem (Best Falafel we had!!) We had just finished eating and another group on the other side of the restaurant started singing “Blessed Assurance” in their language. Recognizing the tune, we joined in English! They all stood up and came over and we sang some more, including “Hark the Harold Angels Sing”

After lunch, we visited the Basilica Nativity,
where the Manger and birthplace of Christ is enshrined.

The door was really short… to prevent horsemen from riding in!

The inside was almost distracting to me, considering this is honoring the place (a stable) Christ was born.

The Greek,

and Catholic

each have a place to worship here.

To me, this scene in the courtyard was more of a depiction of his birth!

As we walked away to get on the bus, we passed the Stars and Bucks! Starbucks was in Israel for about 6 months, but the coffee was not strong enough for them. Seeing Paul’s coffee, I can understand…. the spoon could stand up in it!

We spent the 3rd-7th nights in Jerusalem at the King Solomon Hotel. This is in the lobby.

Again, our room was fabulous!
And we had a fabulous view of the western wall of old Jerusalem!

The Leonardo had a great buffet but the King Solomon had an even better (if that could be….) one.
Salads galore
Desserts and main dishes And just as much or more for Breakfast, including desserts!!

Since we still had no luggage, we decided to get a few things at a mall close to the hotel
When we got back, of course, the luggage was waiting for us! Insurance that the weather will now warm up for us, since we have our rain coats and umbrellas!
There was rioting at the Dome….our guide was good about changing our schedule due to the unrest, and we felt very safe!