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.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Forty Third Day – Bethlehem and Beit Sahour

I study in Bethlehem University in Bethlehem, and I stay in a family house in Beit Sahour.  I walk back and forth everyday.  One way takes about 50 minutes.  Both Bethlehem and Beit Sahour are very small town, and it would be more natural if they are one city.  The house where I stay is located in the other edge of Beit Sahour which made my walking longer, but if I walk from downtown Beit Sahour to downtown Bethlehem, it takes around or less than 30 minutes.  You can imagine how tiny those towns are.

Christians are easily found in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour

Christians are easily found in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour

Because of the close vicinity, there are many similarities in both towns, and they make one economic zone with Beit Zala, which is located on the other side of Bethlehem.

But there are quite many differences between the two towns – much more than I expected.

The both towns have huge amount of Christians.  It is mainly because of the special location.  Bethlehem is the birth place of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of Christian religion.  Beit Sahour is where the shepherd’s fields are – the place where the angels appeared to the shepherds and noticed the birth of the Saviour.  But the Catholic is the majority among Christians in Bethlehem while Greek Orthodox is the majority in Beit Sahour.

They both speak Arabic, but they speak in different ways.  Their pronunciations are different, and words and expressions are also different.  People say that they can tell 100% if a person is from Bethlehem or Beit Sahour when they hear his or her speaking.

For example, kalb is dog and qalib is heart in Bethlehem.  But the pronunciations are opposite in Beit Sahour.  So if Sahouri (people of Beit Sahour) says, “take my heart,” it sounds like “take my dog” in Bethlehemite’s ear, and vice versa.  Even the verb conjugation is different.  For 2nd person masculine singular of the verb “baqol,” one says “btoqil” and the other says “btaqol.”  When they say “I don’t know,” Sahouri says “Ma baraf,” while Bethlehemite says “barafish.”

Because of this language variation, they say that they have different dialect even in those close towns – just thirty minutes of walking distance.  This means there were very few moving between those two towns in the history.  As you may know, it is Bethlehemites who makes fun of Sahouri, not the other way.  If you think about it, it is crazy – people in Hyde Park and in Woodlawn speaks different English.

And they both have very clear identity of their own as Sahouri and as Bethlehemite.  Not to mention that they both have very strong identity as Palestinian.

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.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

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