Hannah and Je together

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….

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Israel Trip Sixth Day: Mount Olive, City of David, Gethsemane, Shepherds Field and Home Demolition

Today we went to Mount Olive first time.

View from Mount Olive

View from Mount Olive

In the picture above, you can recognise the dome, and probably the temple wall. In front of the temple wall, you can see the Kidron Valley, and on the left side, you can see that famous Hinnom Valley.

Another View from Mount Olive

Another View from Mount Olive

This is a nice view with the Golden Dome from the Mount Olive. Jesus probably saw the similar things, except the Golden Dome and the houses in the north and west. He saw and wept. I was awed at this sight. Living in Seoul and Chicago, I am very much accustomed to the skyscrapers and giant buildings, and still awed at this. I cannot imagine how much the ancient people would have been awed at this. It is said that the Herod’s temple is the largest temple in the history (as a single platform temple). This view from Mount Olive is amazing. On the Palm Sunday, Jesus went into the city riding on a donkey. Mount Olive is on the east of Jerusalem. Shouting crowd, Palm branches, East, Sun on the back… everything indicates Messiah.

Gethsemane from Mount Olive

Gethsemane from Mount Olive

This is the Gethsemane from afar. It is very close to the city.

Necropolis, the city of the dead

Necropolis, the city of the dead

This is necropolis. In Israel’s burial custom, they put the dead body in the tomb and wait until it is totally decayed leaving bones only. Then they collect the bones and put them in a stone box with the name. In the necropolis, you can see all the bone boxes. And they put some perfume on the dead body so that it does not smell too much when the family comes to collect the bone. That is why Jesus said the lady was preparing for his funeral when she put the perfume on him.

Solomon's Wall

Solomon’s Wall

Then we went to the south side of the temple wall, just under the Al Aqsa Mosque. And this is the Solomon’s temple wall remains.

City of David

City of David

City of David was our next destination.

Royal Toilet Bowl

Royal Toilet Bowl

This is the toilet bowl from the Palace of David. It must be personal rest room for very important person, probably a king. You cannot say that David did not use it. It also has running water.

City of David, Image

City of David, Image

This is nice picture showing the City of David and the Temple in the OT times. The bottom half is the picture of modern-day at the same place. The white big thing in the middle is David’s Palace, and I can understand how and why David saw the bathing scene.

Water System

Water System

And we went to the water system, kind of secret one. They went to this passage to carry the water.

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Then we saw the Canaanite Wall next to it. David and his commanders saw this wall. And the Canaanites stood a blind man and a lame man to mock David. That means not only ancient Canaanites had crude sense of humour, but also they were so confident about their wall.

Hezekiah Wall Image

Hezekiah Wall Image

At the drawing above, the left side is Canaanite Wall. And the right is Hezekiah’s protection of the spring. And the Hezekiah’s tunnel (for water) is underground from the spring into the city.

Canaanite Tunnel

Canaanite Tunnel

David must went through this tunnel.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel

Not all, but some of McCormick group went through the Hezekiah’s tunnel. It is actually water way. Hezekiah knew that the Assyrians coming, and the people inside the wall needed water, so he dug the water way so that they can get fresh water without going out of the city.

Water in the Tunnel

Water in the Tunnel

You can see the water is still flowing, and I actually tasted – surprisingly it was good.

Siloam

Siloam

At the end of the tunnel, we met the Siloam where Jesus healed the blind man.

Gethsemane Basilica

Gethsemane Basilica

Then we went to Gethsemane. It is the Basilica (or Church) of Agony.

Olive Trees

Olive Trees

Next to the Basilica, there is still a garden, and the biologists say those olive trees are more than 2,000 years old which means, Jesus must have seen them.

Jesus was arrested while he was praying here. Standing here, I realised that this Gethsemane is the middle point between the city and Judean wilderness. If he wanted, it is 100% possible for him to flee to where David fled. But he did NOT which means he meant his death and sacrifice.

Inside the Basilica

Inside the Basilica

Inside the Church is so beautiful. The ceilings, windows, front patterns, drawings… and everything.

View from Gethsemane

View from Gethsemane

This is the view of the temple mount and the golden dome from the Gethsemane. It was not zoomed. It just shows how close it is to the temple. Until now, I had no idea when I was reading the Bible without any knowledge of geography even though I read the maps. When Jesus was taken from the Gethsemane to the temple, and to the Pontius Pilate, and to Herod, it sounded to me like from Kansas city, to Chicago, and to Washington D.C. How can they travel in ONE day? But now I experienced and knew the distance and everything, it makes sense.

Mango Juice

Mango Juice

We went to Bethlehem and had lunch at Palestinian restaurant. See the bottle that it is filled up to the top. In America, the bottles always has some room in case of freezing. And here, this means that there is no chance to freeze.

Chicken Pita

Chicken Pita

This is chicken pita, and it was super delicious but pricier than that I expected – 40 NIS. I may skip the lunch tomorrow.

Shepherds' Field

Shepherds’ Field

Then we went to Shepherds’ Field where the angels came and told the shepherds about the birth of the Saviour. There are three places recognised as shepherds’ field, but this is Catholic one. This is the rock where the shepherds rested and probably saw the angels.

Shepherds Field Church Inside

Shepherds Field Church Inside

Inside the Church is quite beautiful and small. The acoustic is very good, but I think it was better at the St. Anne’s Church.

Shepherds Field Church Outside

Shepherds Field Church Outside

In the shepherds’ Field Church, anything down is shepherd and anything up is angel.

Terrace Agriculture

Terrace Agriculture

While we were moving on the bus, our local guide George explained us about the oldest way of agriculture. It was making a terrace as seen on the picture above. Here, the land is chalk. They dig the chalk in a row shape, and put good soil on it, and plant. And the chalk does not absorb the water, so the water flows down to the next terrace. Then you can just water only the top row. On the sites like this, it is easy to find some good soil, some chalk and bad soil, the rocks, some thorns. And this is perfectly fit with the parable of Jesus.

Palestinian Area

Palestinian Area

Then we met Chaska(?) from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. She is very passionate and energetic Jewish woman who works and fights for the human rights of Palestinians. The photo above shows the ghetto Palestinian area without any trees. I actually drove through there, and it was so crappy, dirty, and all infrastructure was so bad, and not maintained by the government at all.

Jewish Area

Jewish Area

This is Jewish area. There are lots of trees, and high buildings. And above all, she said, Jewish area anywhere is identified by the landmark of cranes which means continuous development.

Jewish and Palestinian Resident

Jewish and Palestinian Resident

Israel government builds Jewish settlement in the heart of the Palestinian area. Here the front row is Jewish apartment which is nice and does not have any black water tank. They get enough water. Far back of the photo, you can see  the small black dots which are the water tanks. Because the government does not work on the infrastructure, they have to connect the water by themselves while they pay the same amount of water bills. And mostly they connect too many on one pipe and the water pressure drops down. That is why they must install water tanks.

Separation Wall

Separation Wall

Many, actually most of the Palestine communities are separated by the giant walls and disconnected from the neighbouring community. And they don’t have the freedom to move. This is the separation wall in Jerusalem.

House Demolition Site

House Demolition Site

This is the scene of home demolition. Israel government does not allow the Palestinians new house building permit. But they have to build. And later Israeli government give them warning of demolition. And then later suddenly they come around 1-3am and destroy the house. It is total operation with the demolition team, military, and police.

In my opinion, Israel government simply want them just disappear.

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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