Hannah and Je together

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Ninth Day – Bethlehem and Jericho

I was supposed to go the Negev desert Safari tour.  But when I was picked up from the hotel, I realised that the desert tour was cancelled and they tried to put me in the Dead Sea and Masada tour which I did two days ago.  So I refused and they finally put me to the Bethlehem and Jericho tour.

Church of the Shepherds' field

Church of the Shepherds’ field

We went to Beit Sahour, where I was last night to see Mara with George.  I thought the Shepherds’ field was in Bethlehem last January tour, but I now know that it is in Beit Sahour, the neighbouring town.

Star of Nativity

Star of Nativity

There was not much things to see because I’ve been already there before.  I just took this picture of shining star in one of the caves.  The guide said that it is believe that the three magi stayed in this cave and did not go to king Herod.  And this shepherds’ field is actual the field of Boaz, the grandfather of king David.

Milk Grotto Church

Milk Grotto Church

In Bethlehem, we went to the Milk Grotto Church before we went to the Church of Nativity.  It was nice because the Milk Grotto Church was not covered by last trip.  They believe that the holy family hid in this cave.  And when the Mother Mary was feeding baby Jesus, she slipped a few drops of her milk, and it changed the colour of the rock permanently into white.  So the rock down the cave church is all white.

Church of Nativity

Church of Nativity

Last time, we went to the Church of Nativity, but we were not able to actually go down to the star spot where they believe Jesus was born.  Today, we were also supposed to wait at least two or three hours, but the tour guide divided our group to make it smaller than eight people in a group.  Then the controlling police officers let the small group go in through different entrance.  So we went in without waiting eve five minutes.

Christmas tree in July

Christmas tree in July

We also went to the Catholic Church, and out side of the Catholic church, they made the small tree or bonsai like a Christmas tree.

One thing I found out today is that Jewish tour guides are not allowed to lead the tourists in Palestinian area.  So our Jewish tour guide stayed in the mini bus, and we met local Palestinian tour guide for the entire Bethlehem tour.  Well, I think it is better to have Palestinian tour guide as the McCormick group did last January.  Having George Filmon was very good, I think, in many ways.  He can guide people in both Israel and Palestinian area.  We were able to hear the view-point from the Palestinian side, and he is not actually bias.

Bedouin

Bedouin has satellite dish

On the way to Jericho, we saw many Bedouin homes, much more than January.  If you see the picture above closely, you can see the house animals in the upper part of the photo, and most of them are staying in the shadow because the sunlight is more than even the animals can bear.

11000 year-old tower

11000 year-old tower

It is good to see again the 11,000 years old (the oldest) structure in the world ever found so far.  Those are the very first bricks that humans made.  Because of the invention of bricks, the town and city were made possible.  It is literally the revolutionary invention.

Jericho updated in April 2014

Jericho updated in April 2014

The Jewish guide said something shocking to me.  He said that by the recent excavation in Jericho, the Bible was proven to be truth.  Then I found the new explanation board which is newly updated – 2014 April, which is after McCormick group’s visit.  I need to research more about this.

Elisha's water

Elisha’s water

Then I drank some water at the Elisha’s water fountain.  I would not say more about this because I wrote about it already in the first trip to Jericho.

Mount of Temptation

Mount of Temptation

Then we went to closer to see the Mount of Temptation where Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights, then was temped by Satan.

Zacchaeus' Tree

Zacchaeus’ Tree

We also stopped at Zacchaeus’ tree.  As everybody knows, small Zacchaeus climbed up this tree to see Jesus, and Jesus called him down and stayed his house that night.

Taking Dove

Taking Dove

So I had not that bad day today even though the plan was completely ruined because my original tour was cancelled.  It is not bad to visit the same place again.

But when I came back to Jaffa gate, I saw something unusual.  I found a few people caught the doves, and they just took it.  And the weird thing was that the dove did not fly or flee, it looked quite easy to catch.  I do not know why they take it.  Do they eat it?

After supper, I heard the sirens a few times which means Jerusalem is under rocket attack.

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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