Hannah and Je together

Monday, 20 January 2014

Israel Trip Eleventh Day: Ramallah, Shechem, and Samaria

Today we moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth.

Israel Checkpoint

Israel Checkpoint

We had to go through the checkpoint because we were going out into Palestinian area. These checkpoints are horrible. But the worst is yet to come. We went to Ramallah to meet Mrs. Jean Zaru. Ramallah is founded by Christians, and still Christians are dominant. And it is rule that the mayor must be Christians from the old days. Ramallah also has many industrial and commercial businesses. Ramallah also works as the de facto capital of Palestine. It is not one of the tourist attraction, so people there gave us very curious eyes. Ram means high place and Allah is God. So Ramallah is Divine Heights.

Jean Zaru

Jean Zaru

Mrs. Jean Zaru is a Quaker. She is very active for the human rights of Palestinians, and also for the Palestinian women. In that way, she is kind of unique. People we met so far work for the general Palestinian, none for the specifically women. But as we all know, women tend to be weaker in many ways including physically and sexually. Consequently if women are exposed to same level of violence as men, they are way more vulnerable. And that is way we need to protect and help them more. Some people believe providing numerically same thing is fair, but I do not. Providing different things so that everybody can live equally is fair and that is my social justice. I would like to write about it later.

Land of Gibeon

Land of Gibeon

When we passed by on the bus, our local guide George identified us many different places. This one is land of Gibeon. It comes in Joshua 9. The people here deceived Joshua as if they were from the land of far far away.

Bethel

Bethel

This is Bethel. Bethel means house of God, and the story comes in Genesis when Jacob fled from his brother, he slept here and saw a ladder or stairway reaching to the heaven and the angels up and down.

Shiloh

Shiloh

This is Shiloh where Samuel stayed and ordained two first kings; Saul and David. And most importantly this is where the ark of covenant stayed. Shiloh means ‘his’ in Hebrew, and was dedicated place to God.

Mount Blessing and Cursing

Mount Blessing and Cursing

This is two mountains of Blessing (on the left) and Cursing (on the right) which Joshua summoned and arrayed people there and asked them to choose which God they would serve. This is in the land of Shechem. Ancient or Biblical Shechem is now called Nablus. Romans built this city at A.D. 70 after they conquered Jerusalem and named it Neopolice, new city. And the name became Nablus.

Jacobs Well Church

Jacobs Well Church

In the place where the Jacob’s well is, there is a Greek Orthodox Church and is so beautiful.

Jacob's Well

Jacob’s Well

Under the Church, we found the Jacob’s well. And just in case you may not know, the photo-shooting is forbidden. And again, our McCormick group got special permit again. I think God is really with us. I drew some water myself and tasted. It was good and I was amazed the well is functioning well even after 4,000 years of time. As you may know this is the well that Jesus met a Samaritan woman and talked.

Joseph's Tomb

Joseph’s Tomb

Then we went to Joseph’s tomb. There is no archaeological evidence on this as usual for holy places. But it is said by tradition. And the tomb itself is covered with nice stone, and nobody knows what is in there. The stone is supposedly built by Muslims because its direction is toward Mecca.

Town Kids

Town Kids in Samaria

Then we drove to Samaria, the capital city of Northern Kingdom of Israel. The original capital was another place, but the famous evil king Omri moved the capital to Samaria, and Ahab also reigned here. Our group had lunch there but I skipped the lunch and walked around the village. And I sat there and thought watching the mountains around: Some place are identified and marked as holy, and some not. Why and what makes the difference? The holy rock does not made up of some holy molecule. I think that is holy because someone did some holy action. We people makes some place holy or evil. Our action and our deed is most important thing.

Roman Basilica

Roman Basilica

Herod the great built a roman city in Samaria and named it sebaste – August in Greek. This is roman style Basilica where people gathers and do some business.

Theatre built by Herod

Theatre built by Herod

This is theatre. And there is ancient horse racing track built again by Herod (not in this photo). The track is now just a flat field.

John the Baptist Church

John the Baptist Church

By tradition, it is believed that John the Baptist’s head is buried here, and crusaders built a Church for him.

Palace of Omri and Ahab

Palace of Omri and Ahab

This is part of the Palace where the evil kings of Omri and Ahab lived.

View from the Samaria Top

View from the Samaria Top

We went to the top of Samaria so that we can have some nice view. According to a boy from the village, we can even see the Mediterranean sea on clear days. In biblical times, all and every important place is always the highest point in the whole area.

August Temple

August Temple

This is the August temple which Herod built to flatter August, the roman emperor. August is a god, and a son of god (which is Caesar).

Where Jesus met ten lepers

Where Jesus met ten lepers

After the Samaria, we moved to Nazareth. And at some point, our local guide said that we are running on the same road where Jesus met ten lepers.

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Until now we were in the West Bank, and Nazareth is in Israeli land. And there is a checkpoint (we may say it border). And it was horrible experience waiting and stuck in the traffic. And when we got there finally, three soldiers with machine guns came up on the bus. They asked our local guide and Ted many questions in separate place. And they also checked everybody’s passport with actual face. They were not that kind, but I believe it was their maximum kindness. They would act way more horribly to Palestinians. I am glad that I experienced this at least once and I cannot imagine the lives of Palestinians who go through this everyday and even twice a day.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Israel Trip Eighth Day: Lachish and Beersheva

Today, we left the White Sister’s guest house and brought everything into the bus. Our first destination was Lachish.

Ark of the Covenant stayed here for 18 years

Ark of the Covenant stayed here for 18 years

On the way, the local guide told us that the picture above is where the ark of the covenant stayed for 18 years in the time of David. You may remember that when the ark came back to Jerusalem, David danced and became (half) naked.

David and Goliath

David and Goliath

Then we also stopped at a point where David and Goliath fought. The picture above is where the Israelites were camping.

Green Green on the west

Green Green on the west

So far, I’ve never seen the west of hill country before because we went to east side only such as Qumran, Jericho, etc. And first day when we landed on Ben Gurion airport, it was already dark so I could not see anything. On the east side, everywhere is almost wilderness. And today, I was so surprised that the west of hill country is so green. It is such great contrast.

Lachish Wall

Lachish Wall

At last we went to Lachish. Lachish is the city at the border of Southern Kingdom of Judah, and was conquered by Assyrians in the time of Hezekiah.

Lachish from down under

Lachish from down under

If seen from down under, it is just another same hill. It is not impressive at all. But you need to go up to find out why it was very important place.

Altar of the Sun

Altar of the Sun

On the way up to the Lachish wall, we saw the temple of Sun built by Canaanites before Israelites came.

View From Lachish

View From Lachish

Once you come up to Lachish, you know why it is so important. You can have 360 degree view which means you can control the area. It was Judean military camp and after it conquered, it became Assyrian military base. And even geographically, it is the connecting point between Mesopotamian and Egypt. It is very important place for strategical purpose.

Gate of Lachish

Gate of Lachish

This is the city gate of Lachish. It has three gates and a few chambers where the elders were and where people brought their issues to them.

Lachish Ramp by Assyrians

Lachish Ramp by Assyrians

This is the remain of the Assyrian ramp. I wonder when the Israelites in the Lachish looked down on the Assyrians working and building the ramp, what would they have felt and thought? And what would they prayed for?

Regular size Espresso

Regular size Espresso

And then we went to highway resting area where McDonald’s is with other restaurants. I just had an Espresso coffee. It was good and it was 10 NIS, but it was really small. That cup is half-size of my palm.

Military Training

Military Training

I saw the military training or doing something a few times. In the resting area, three or four Apache helicopter was hovering around. I even saw a tank travelling on the highway. Of course, this is the land of conflict.

Well of Beersheva

Well of Beersheba

This is the well of Beersheba where Abraham made treaty with the people there, basically saying, “I’ve good to you. So be good and nice to me and to my descendants.” So it is mutual treaty to be nice each other. Now where is the mutual treaty gone?

Bench at the Beersheva Gate

Bench at the Beersheba Gate

This is the bench between the city gates in the time of Boaz. This is the bench where Boaz sat with ten elders of the town.

Beersheva Downtown

Beersheba Downtown

This is half or one thirds of Beersheba from the higher point.

House remain on the wall

House remain on the wall

This is the remain of the house built upon the city wall of Beersheba. Rahab in Jericho also had a house on the city wall. I think marginal people would have lived on the city wall because it would be dangerous and scary in time of invasion.

Where they store rain water

Where they store rain water

This is the water reservoir. It is so deep and even down there, there are much space to store water from the rain.

Hagit Beck, Jewish activist

Hagit Beck, Jewish activist

Then we went to Hagit Beck, a Jewish lady in the very nice town of Omer near Beersheba. She is an activist and volunteer member of Machsom Watch. We heard many interesting things from here.

Hyundai Bethlehem

Hyundai Bethlehem

In the town of Bethlehem, I saw a Hyundai. It is always nice to see Korean companies doing well around the world.

Nazi Dental Lab

Nazi Dental Lab

This is the dental lab right next to the Hotel. We all were surprised by the name of it. Is it what I think it is, or just a personal name. If it is just a personal name, is his/her name just happened to be like this or by purpose?

Saint Gabriel Hotel

Saint Gabriel Hotel

This is St. Gabriel Hotel. It is very nice and beautiful. The dinner was buffet, a very very nice one. But my room mate experienced very bad thing here. Well….

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