Hannah and Je together

Monday, 20 January 2014

Israel Trip Tenth Day: Church of Nativity, Refugee Camp

Today was another lecture day.

Stars and Bucks

Stars and Bucks

We walked to the Nativity Church from the bus terminal, and I thought I found on the way ‘Starbucks.’ But it was not.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

In front of, or between the Bethlehem Peace Centre and the Nativity Church, there was a huge Christmas tree. I wonder if it lights up at night. I saw so many tourists here from all over the world; I could recognise some of their languages such as Chinese, Korean, English, French, Spanish. And there were more languages that I could not recognise. I just thought how much Jesus has been contributing to local economy just by being born here.

Church of Nativity

Church of Nativity

This is the Church of Nativity, basically built by Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great (Personally, I don’t like ‘the Great’ part). Helena built this Church, and later Persians came and destroyed all the Churches over 95% of them. When they came to this Church, they saw a paining – three magi offering to Baby Jesus. And the magi were dressed as typical Persians. And the army thought, ‘Wait a minute… this building must have something to do with our ancestors.’ And they left it. This story reminds me how cultural diversity is important.

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If you see the three pictures, you can see the original huge gate at first picture. And then little bit smaller but still cargos can go in and out. Last one is current door and is low so that everyone bows down whenever they go in and to be humble.

Church of Nativity Catholic Sanctuary

Church of Nativity Catholic Sanctuary

The original place built by Helena and repaired by Crusaders is owned by Greek Orthodox. And next to it, Catholic Church is attached.

Jerome translated here the Bible into Latin Vulgate with the help of Paula and her daughter

Jerome translated here the Bible into Latin Vulgate with the help of Paula and her daughter

Catholic Church is of course commemorate the birth place of Jesus. But they also has another purpose – Jerome. If you go down to the basement, you can see the rooms where Jerome stayed and worked. In the picture, Left two persons are Paula and her daughter, the helper of Jerome. Jerome is the only Church Father who studied Hebrew in order to translate the Bible into Latin. And to help him, Paula and her daughter also learned Hebrew and Greek, and eventually they became or fluent in both language than Jerome.

Key to Home

Key to Home

This is one of the refugee camp. The key on top of it means the key to going back home.

Graffiti on Separation Wall

Graffiti on Separation Wall

On the wall, there are lots of graffiti. And the streets are so dirty with overflowing garbage.

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On the wall, along with other graffiti, I found John 3:16 in Korean. It struck my head. Yes, God loves them so much. God loves these persecuted people so much so that He sent his only Son so that they can live.

Lajee Centre

Lajee Centre

There is Lajee Centre. I don’t know what exactly is this, but they have a library for children (where we were sitting), and computer lab, and a few more.

American History

American History

Surprisingly, they have whole volume of American history.

Blocking Entanglement

Blocking Entanglement

They are surrounded by separation wall. Out of the wall used to be their farming field, and work place. But they most of them lost their job. To Jerusalem it used to take 10-15 minutes and now it takes more than 2 hours thanks to the Israeli checkpoint.

Bethlehem University

Bethlehem University

We went to Bethlehem university. It has beautiful buildings.

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh spoke about his perspective of Palestine’s future and history. Interestingly, he is biologist and biology professor. He said if American government moves in the right way, the illegal occupation of Israel would end within two weeks. Well, that might be true since US government give about 2 million dollars to Israel every single day. But the thing is American politicians cannot live without the money from the Jewish lobbyists. And if Obama calls Israel to stop it, he may not be a president the next day.

Lawyer Raffoul Rofa

Lawyer Raffoul Rofa

After lunch where we had before on the day of Shepherds’ field, we came back to school for another session. Mr. Raffoul Rofa is a lawyer, working at St. Yves, a Catholic centre for human rights where 20 staffs working including 8 lawyers. They’ve been working for people with family reunion issues and house demolitions, and the likes. For house demolitions, they’ve got only one permit so far for fifteen years with thousands cases. And even the one was a school building built by US Aid. US Aid pressured the US federal government, and US government told Israel government. This is why they’ve got permit not because they fought in the court.

Rimon Kando Shop

Rimon Kando Shop

And then we had some time in the souvenir shop. I also bought something.

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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