Hannah and Je together

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Second Day – Two Shepherds’ Fields and Virgin Mary’s Well

I’ve been to Catholic (Franciscan) Shepherds’ Field twice, once with McCormick group last January, and the other by myself last month.  But there are three Shepherds’ fields in Beit Sahour – Franciscan, Greek Orthodox, and I think Baptists.  But everybody told me the third is not worth visiting, so I just gave up.

Before I left home this morning, I asked my hosting lady the way to Orthodox Shepherds’ field.  She explained me but I was not 100% sure, so I asked her to pick the point at the google maps.  And below is what happened:

Map is alien language to women

Map is alien language to women

Her verbal explanation was correct, but not her map picking.  I am wonder how she cannot read the map of her own town where she was born and lived for about fifty years.  She is now living in this house for eleven years and the Orthodox Shepherds’ field is about half mile.  And I remember that 80 per cent of the arguments with my wife are about the map reading.  Are women not supposed to read maps?  But women’s brains are better at linguistic abilities.  That makes even.

Greek Orthodox Shepherds' Field Gate

Greek Orthodox Shepherds’ Field Gate

When I was approaching the Orthodox Shepherds’ field, the gate was closed, but before I got there, a group of tourists went there and I was able to sneak in there with them.

Greek Orthodox Church Building

Greek Orthodox Church Building

This is the church building.

Ceiling of the Greek Orthodox Church

Ceiling of the Greek Orthodox Church

I am not 100% sure but all the Greek Orthodox church building I visited has a few things in common.  Among them, one thing interests me is that in the dome part of the sanctuary has the picture of Jesus looking down.

To the cave of Greek Orthodox Shepherds' Field

To the cave of Greek Orthodox Shepherds’ Field

Outside of the church building, there is a way to the cave.

Sanctuary in the cave

Sanctuary in the cave

When I went down the stairs, it was another sanctuary.

Shepherds' skulls

Shepherds’ skulls

And there were skulls displayed.  There is a sign saying that this is the tomb of the shepherds.  The cave and the floor mosaics are from 5th century.

Barbarian Destruction

Barbarian Destruction

Above and around the cave, you can see the ruins of the three ancient church buildings.

To the Virgin Mary's Well

To the Virgin Mary’s Well

Then I tried to go to the Franciscan Shepherds’ field.  I followed the street sign, but I’ve got lost and I went to around the downtown Beit Sahour.  I am wonder if I can call it downtown.  It is kind of city centre, and old city.  But it is higher on the hill.  Anyway, I realised that I am quite close to the Virgin Mary’s Well, so I decided to visit there first.  I asked a few people mixed with Arabic and English.  “Bti’araf wen Virgin Mary’s Well?”  People did not understand my English part – Virgin Mary’s Well.  So I used google translator.  Still people did not understand.  Finally I showed the picture of the street sign of Virgin Mary’s well.  “Bti’araf wen hada?” (Do you know where is this?)  Then people showed me with finger and it was just right there.  I checked the google translator, and noticed that it shows quite different Arabic from the street sign.  Google may translated literally and Arabic name may not be exact translation.  Jerusalem in Arabic is il-Quds which means “The Holy.”  And Damascus gate is Bab il-‘amud which means “Gate of the pillar.”

Virgin Mary's Well

Virgin Mary’s Well

There were several ladies (probably volunteers from a church) and one of them told me that Virgin Mary drank from this water.  The water is not from the rain, but from the spring underground.  They used to have full of water, but now they drained it for maintenance.

Entrance to the Franciscan Shepherds' Field

Entrance to the Franciscan Shepherds’ Field

Then I walked back and went to Franciscan Shepherds’ field.  I actually asked several people on the way there.  I’ve already been there twice, so I was not interested actually in seeing it again.  But the reason I went there is to know where exactly it is.  When you go there by taxi or bus, you may not really know where it is, but I walked there, and I know the location on the map in my brain.

To the Excavation site

To the Excavation site

I went inside and right before I left there, the sign above drew my eyes – the archaeological excavation site!

Ruin of the Ancient Church

Ruin of the Ancient Church

There are some ruins and remains of ancient church.

Deep Caves in excavation site

Deep Caves in excavation site

And there are more caves down there.

Ruth Restaurant

Ruth Restaurant

This is the restaurant near the Franciscan Shepherds’ field.  McCormick group may recognise it because we ate lunch there when we visited the shepherds’ field.  The land around the Franciscan Shepherds’ field is believed to be the Boaz’s field, the grandfather of King David.  And consequently the restaurant’s name is Ruth.

To my impression after seeing both Shepherds’ Field,  I think the Franciscan knows what the tourists expect to see.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Israel Trip Thirteenth Day: Hazor, Dan, Banyas, Tabgha

Today was field study day without any speaker.

Wall of Hazor

Wall of Hazor

We went to Hazor first. It is one of the strong fortress which Solomon built to strengthen his kingdom. Just as other ancient sites, it is also built upon older town, and it has twenty different layers. Among the layers, scholars found total black layer which means it was burnt totally. Not just a small fire, but total destruction. And the date matches with Joshua’s invasion.

Burnt and Broken Stones

Burnt and Broken Stones

These are some of the remained burnt stones. They are very strong stone, but in the great fire, they broke like this.

Biggest Source of Jordan

Biggest Source of Jordan

Then we went to ancient location of the tribe of Dan. And we found the beginning of Jordan river. The sound was so good. This is from Ezekiel 43.2: “and his voice was like a noise of many waters.”

Dan Trail

Dan Trail

Then we had nice hiking through and along the trees and forest.

Altar at Dan

Altar at Dan

We found the altar and worshipping place built by Ahab, so that people in northern kingdom would not go to Jerusalem to worship God. The iron bars marks the actual size of original altar. It is so huge. And behind the altar, we can see the elevated site where Korean people from Hanaro Church sat. It is like Ziggurat and it is typical to be with the altar.

Israeli Gate

Israeli Gate

Then we found a Israelite city gate, probably built by a Northern king.

Canaanite Gate

Canaanite Gate

If we go around the Israelite gate, archaeologists found and dug Canaanite gate. It is at least 1,000 years older than the previous Israelite gate. And possibly Abraham went through that gate.

Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon

This is mount Hermon. It is Psalm 133.3: “As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” And many people believes that this mountain is where Jesus transfigured himself.

Zeus Temple

Zeus Temple

Then we went to Banyas. Its name in Jesus time was Caesarea Philippi, and is under the Mount Hermon (so-called Mount Transfiguration) in Golan Height. This is the temple of Zeus. There are many temples for Pan, sacred goat, and August of course. It is built by Herod. Wherever we go, we hear the name of Herod at least once a day.

Cave in Banyas

Cave in Banyas

This is a cave there. And probably somewhere around here Jesus asked his disciples who does the people say he is. It is from Matthew 16.13: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”

Roman Bridge

Roman Bridge

People began to go back to the bus, and I ran farther with D’Angelo and Eileen as far as we can run. We saw more of the Herod’s structure, and saw this roman bridge.

K-Bab, Original Taste of Galilee

K-Bab, Original Taste of Galilee

We stopped at a highway rest area and went in K Bab, “Original Taste of Galilee,” to find out it is one of the best restaurants we been to so far.

Heptapegon Church

Church of Multiplication

Then we went to the church of the multiplication where Jesus blessed two fish and five loaves to feed five thousand men (without counting women and kids). The church was built upon a rock which you can see under the table. And it is believed that Jesus put the loaves and fish on the rock to bless.

Floor Pattern

Floor Pattern

This is ancient church built upon another church. And we found some so beautiful floor mosaics even from 4th century. The courtyard was one of the best place to enjoy the peace and meditate. They have an olive tree in the centre, and running water with beautiful sound and lots of Koi fish. Koi is Japanese word for the fish, and at the same time, it means love, too.

Papyrus

Papyrus

We found the famous Papyrus in the courtyard too, where the word ‘paper’ came from.

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And my favourite – flowers.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Israel Trip Fourth Day: Ein Gedi, Qumran, Dead Sea, and Jericho

Today was the very first day that we went to the east side of the hill country, and we saw the wilderness.

Wilderness of Judah

Wilderness of Judah

East of the hill country is dry with just 4 inches of rain whole year. It is because of Foehn wind. When we came close to the dead sea, the wilderness ended and flatbed was spread out in front of us.

Flatbed near the Dead Sea

Flatbed near the Dead Sea

Finally we met the famous dead sea.

Dead Sea

Dead Sea

We ran along the Dead Sea shore, and there are so many dates plantations.

Dates Plantation along the Dead Sea

Dates Plantation along the Dead Sea

The Bible says about the honey a lot, and the thing is there are no bees and consequently there are no honey. And the guide said Bible mentioned possibly about the dates honey. In this area, people make honey out of fruits, and among them, dates honey is the most common thing.

Date Tree

Date Tree

I thought it is palm tree such as Coconut, but the local guide said it is date tree. And when I went to Jericho today, I tasted a date, and it was so sweet. I think that was the sweetest date I’ve ever eaten. I have no idea why, but all the fruits here in Israel has far much better taste.

Thorn Tree

Thorn Tree

We arrived at Ein Gedi, and the very first thing welcomed us was this tree. It is Jujube tree, kind of thorn tree. Many people believe the thorn crown of Jesus was made out of this species of tree (not this tree). The t horns are not only sharp but also very long.

Lower Fall

Lower Fall

On the Ein Gedi hiking route, I saw three falls, and this is the first one just after the entrance, named lower fall. See how the Ein Gedi is dried and deserted.

Dead Tree next to the fall

Dead Tree next to the fall

The tree is just next to the fall and is dead. When King Saul pursued after David to kill, David fled and hid himself in this Ein Gedi and most probably he saw the same or similar thing that I saw today. He probably projected himself to those trees. His psalm sings, “like a tree planted by the water.” I now think it is not just beautiful poetic expression, but the reality and to him it was the matter of life and death. He had to choose to be one of the two trees, and the situation was hopeless. He must have thought that the only chance to be the green tree is to stick to God.

Watching the Dead Sea from Ein Gedi

Watching the Dead Sea from Ein Gedi

If you see the picture above, it is green only along the water. Everywhere else is dry and dead.

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Fall of David

This was our destination – the Fall of David. After here, we headed back.

With Paula Hiebert

With Paula Hiebert

Paula is my Biblical Hebrew professor at McCormick Theological Seminary and wife of Ted Hiebert. She also is a wonderful OT scholar, studied at Harvard University for her doctoral degree.

Caves of Ein Gedi

Caves of Ein Gedi

There are many caves in Ein Gedi, and maybe David hid himself in one of those caves. After Ein Gedi, we headed to Qumran where the famous Dead Sea Scroll was found.

Replica Jars of Qumran

Replica Jars of Qumran

These are the replica of the jars which contained the scrolls about two thousand years.

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Community Rule Scroll

Qumran was actually a community of even 1,000 religious men. Whoever can join but there was three years probation. The life there was very strict, and the scroll above was the Community Rule scroll.

Scriber's Desk

Scriber’s Desk

The member’s daily life is full of religious works, including copying the scripture. This is the scriber’s desk.

Ritual Bath Site

Ritual Bath Site

One of the religious thing was ritual bath. Ritual bath itself was not unique to this community but Essenes emphasised very much, and they had several ritual bath sites when they didn’t have enough water even to drink. Above photo is the actual archaeological site of their ritual bath.

Qumran Cave No. 4

Qumran Cave No. 4

This is Qumran cave No. 4 and is most important cave. It may not be impossible, but highly unlikely that there would be another scrolls to be found, because they searched the entire vicinity thoroughly. At Qumran site, there was a huge group of Korean tourists, and I heard the leader said, “I said SIT DOWN.” Some local people said that they see more Koreans than Jews in Israel, and I also saw a Korean signs in Jericho. We had lunch at Qumran.

Dead Sea Kalia Beach

Dead Sea Kalia Beach

After lunch, we went to Kalia Beach of the Dead Sea. Paula and Ted used to live in Israel for a year and she today told me that she can easily recognise that the water level of the dead sea lowered a lot. Our guide said that the dead sea is dying. It is so sad that everywhere I go, they say the nature is dying. When I went to see the glacier on Rocky Mountains in Canada, the guide said that the glacier is dying. I am afraid in one or two generation, if the guide would just say to the people that ‘it used to be dead sea,’ or ‘it used to be glacier here.’

Sticky Mud!

Sticky Mud!

The mud was so sticky and it tried to take my shoes off all the time. I tasted the water expecting the saltness but I tasted extremely bitterness. And several seconds after, I began to taste the saltness. And I thought about the Elisha’s miracle in Jericho. People appealed to him that the spring water was too bitter. I guess that was because the spring was connected to the dead sea. And Elisha put salt into it. The water is bitter because of too much salt, and he added even more salt. It is crazy and non-sense. His treatment doesn’t really make any sense. But it worked. Likewise, I think, God’s way and Christian’s way is crazy and non-sense to other people’s eyes. But if God helps us, we can do miracles.

Floating!

Floating!

I actually wanted to take a photo holding a news paper or something, but I could not find any. There was a lady who refused to go in because she cannot swim. So I told her the body floats automatically. It feels like someone pushed me up from inside the water.

Dead sea is about 430 metres below sea level, and it is very warm. So we enjoyed semi-summer weather today. The Dead Sea contains high percentage of salt and diverse minerals, they sell the mud for lady’s skin. And I feel my skin got softer and better after the bathing.

Zacchaeus climbed this tree

Zacchaeus climbed this tree

We went to Jericho, our final destination for today. It is believed that Jesus called Zacchaeus down from this tree. I hope everyone can meet Jesus and be called by Him.

Peacock in Jericho

Peacock in Jericho

We went to a very important archaeological site, and there were so many peacocks. They reminded me my honeymoon at Hawaii.

Camel in Jericho

Camel in Jericho

And I saw a camel. Unlike the public image of Israel, I haven’t seen any camel until today. I don’t think even that camel is not for transportation but for fun ride.

Mount Quarantania

Mount Quarantania

The mountain on the back is the Mount Quarantania which means forty, and is also called Temptation Mountain. It is believed that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights and tempted at this mountain.

5000 BC

5000 BC

This is 5,000 BC, so it is about 7,000 years old.

Layers of time

Layers of time

This is the layers of time. Black layers mean the fire destruction.

10,000 BC Tower

10,000 BC Tower

This is the tower built around 10,000 BC and consequently it is 12,000 years old. And this is one of the earliest building of the human history. Actually Jericho is THE OLDEST CITY in the world.

Fortress of 1,900 BC

Fortress of 1,900 BC

This is the fortress and walls behind for fortification built around 1,900 BC. The buildings in ancient Jericho was built with mud bricks and you can see them in the photo. So far the archaeologists failed to find the Jericho wall that Joshua destroyed. Some scholars say that Israel did not really come and destroyed, but the city automatically emptied by themselves even before Israelites came. Some scholars believe that we just did not find the right one yet.

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