Hannah and Je together

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Israel Trip Sixteenth Day: Mount Carmel, Caesarea

Though we have one more day, today is actually the last day in this trip because we will leave the hotel for airport at 1:30 AM.

St. Gabriel Hotel Church at Nazareth

St. Gabriel Hotel Church at Nazareth

Before we left the St. Gabriel Hotel in Nazareth, I went to the Hotel Church. It was not that huge one, but beautiful one. It is not used currently.

Elijah on Mount Carmel

Elijah on Mount Carmel

Then we went to Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel is not just one peak of mountain but a whole range, and we went to the highest point where the Carmelites are living. This is the prophet Elijah’s statue in the yard.

View from the Mount Carmel

View from the Mount Carmel

This is the view from the top of the Mount Carmel eastward. If Elijah competed with other prophets of Baal on this spot, he would have dragged them down to the valley on the picture above (according to Old Testament professor Ted Hiebert). This is such a beautiful view. On clear day, we can see the Mediterranean sea, Nazareth, and whole area.

Caesarea

Caesarea

Then we went to that famous Caesarea. Caesarea is built by Herod the great, named after, of course, Caesar. Herod wanted non-Jewish totally Roman city.

Theatre

Theatre

This is the theatre. You can see the two levels of seats in the restored theatre, but originally there were three levels, containing total five thousand people. It also has many exits for emergency. And they filled the lower part of the stage and floated small boat for the marine scene.

Original Seat

Original Seat

In the picture above, you can easily identify which is original and which is restored seat.

Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate

Caesarea is one of the important sites for Christians including Peter’s visiting Cornelius. And there is one more thing for Christians; Pontius Pilate, the name which Christians cannot forget. This is the replica to show what was found. Here we can identify “Tiberius,” the name of the emperor. “…tius Pilatus,” part of the name of Pontius Pilate, and “Praefectus Iudaeae” which means Prefect of Judea.

Carsarean Harbour

Caesarean Harbour

This is the ruin of the ancient harbour.

Hippodrome of Herod

Hippodrome of Herod

There was one more entertaining thing beside the theatre – Hippodrome, the Formula one in the ancient days. This is very impressive to me because of the movie BenHur.

View from the restaurant

View from the restaurant

Then we had lunch all together at the Port Cafe at Caesarea, and this is the view from the restaurant.

Aquaduct to Carsarea

aqueduct to Caesarea

Caesarea was built by Herod, but August borrowed him architects which means this city was not only Roman culture, but also Roman technology. When we say Romans, we always think about two things: Roman Road and Roman aqueduct. Consequently Caesarea also had two aqueducts. And this is one of them.

Depth of the Aquaduct

Depth of the aqueduct

The aqueduct was connecting the city from the spring in the mount Carmel. And the depth of the aqueduct reaches my waist and if we consider the water was constantly flowing, the amount of water was huge.

Beach boy

Beach boy

And I enjoyed the beach of Mediterranean sea. Sadly after I came out of the beach, I cut one of my toes on the asphalt.

Seasons Hotel Lobby

Seasons Hotel Lobby

Then we drove to the Seasons Hotel in Netanya. This hotel is very good. I stayed at crappy hotel in Nazareth for many days, and I cannot even stay one full night at this awesome hotel!

View from the room

View from the room

This is the view from my hotel room.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Israel Trip Fourteenth Day: Zippori, Mar Elias School, and Nazareth Village

Today, we first went to Zippori or Sepphoris. I have no idea where I can find this in the Bible.

Water Reservoir

Water Reservoir

This is the water reservoir little bit far from the city. It is very deep and big. It can contain more than one million gallons of water.

Roman Paved Road

Roman Paved Road in Zippori

This is Roman paved road, and still well-preserved. According to Roman recording, there was not even enough space to put needle between the stones. And the road is always two wagon width for the marching of the legions and slightly arch shape so that it can drain water to both sides. Roman architect used to say that the stone is their friend and the water is their enemy.

Not only the road, but also there were so beautiful mosaics along the road side.

Nile House Floor Mosaic

Nile House Floor Mosaic

We went into Nile House which is one of the public buildings. It contains so many beautiful floor mosaics.

Zippori Theatre

Zippori Theatre

This is a theatre. I wonder if the show was free and open to public or they charged in some way.

Toilet in private Mansion

Toilet in private Mansion

And we went into an ancient mansion. The picture above is private toilet. And the Greek writing is “to health.” Talmud has a Q&A: “How do you know some is rich?” “If he has a privy near the dining place, he is rich.” So the owner of the mansion must have been so rich having this flushing toilet near his living room where I saw the “Mona Lisa of Galilee.”

Zodiac in the Centre of Zippori Synagogue

Zodiac in the Centre of Zippori Synagogue

Then we went to a synagogue. It was also very beautiful. But the zodiac mosaic in the CENTRE of the synagogue shocked me. All other floor mosaics are related to Torah and/or Judaism, but why the ancient Jewish people put the pagan zodiac in the centre of the synagogue?

The city of Zippori is so well-preserved because it was destructed by earth quake and never rebuilt. And the city of Pompey was also so well-preserved because of the volcano. Same is Qumran. They were threatened, so they put the scriptures into jars and kept them in the caves. The community itself was completely destroyed. It may not proper to say in this way, but their disaster and catastrophe is our blessing. Because of their disaster, many things were able to be preserved, and now we can study them.

Director and Teacher of the Mar Elias School

Director and Teacher of the Mar Elias School

Then we went to Mar Elias school. The Christian school in small town of Ibillin near Nazareth. It provides education to any students including Palestinians, Arabs, and so on. They used to have Jewish students too, but none now. One of the building was funded solely by the ex-president Bill Clinton.

Kids in the class

Kids in the class

After we heard from the director and teacher, we went into a classroom. It was Hebrew class taught by Jewish teacher. And I was told that this school is the only one where Jewish and Arabic (or Palestinian) teachers teach together. The kids are typical kids – laughing a lot and noisy, happy. It was my happiest day just watching the kids being kids.

Girls who love Korea

Girls who love Korea

When we were leaving the classroom, the girls came and asked me if I am from Korea. I said, “I am from Chicago, but I was born and grew up in South Korea.” They were so happy and asked me to take picture together. And then they talked about a few Korean TV shows and signers which I did not recognise because I do not keep track with the Korean culture. I just felt wow!

Church near the school

Church near the school

Then we went to the Church next to school. If you see it from the side, you may recognise it is ark (boat) shape.

Stairway to the church

Stairway to the church

On the stairway, Jesus’ preaching on Matthew chapter 5 beginning “Blessed are…” is written in four languages of English, French, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Church door

Church door

This is the Church door. You may recognise the children around Jesus are actually from all around the world. And the two boys standing a bit farther than other kids are a Jewish boy and a Palestinian boy. The smaller boy is wearing Kipa on his head, so he is Jewish. This scene is that the Palestinian boy is bringing Jewish boy to Jesus.

Inside the church

Inside the church

This is the inside of the Church. The church is so beautiful, made out of donations not only money but also talents. Each piece was all made. The church has partition which blocks people going to the holy place. It is their tradition.

Shepherd and Sheep in Nazareth Village

Shepherd and Sheep in Nazareth Village

Then we went to Nazareth Village, kind of living museum. The sheep were in the cage with the door closed. According to Daniel, the Nazareth Village guide, During the day time, the door is open but the shepherd is standing on it in first century then, no sheep can go out, and no one can get in. This is John 10.7: “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.”

Tomb Gate

Tomb Gate

This is the replica of a typical first century tomb. They said that they have actors on the Easter morning, playing the resurrection scene from the Bible. If I have another chance to be in the holy land and if it is during the Easter time, I would be good to come and watch the play. And this is small replica, so the actual door stone would be much bigger.

Daniel on Wine Press

Daniel on Wine Press

This is upper part of the wine-press. People tread on the grapes and the juice flows down to the lower part which gathers and contains the juice. In the first century, they must tread on the grapes with barefoot lest they crush the seed which makes very bitter taste. According to Daniel, the wine-press is under the terrace field while the threshing field is above the terrace which is the top of the hill. That is why Gideon was threshing in the wine-press so that he can hide. This is from Judges 6.11: “and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the wine-press, to hide it from the Midianites.”

Watch Tower

Watch Tower

This is typical watch tower in the first century.

Olive Oil Press

Olive Oil Press

This is an olive oil press and there is olive grinder next to it. To grind the olive, they used a huge mill with heavy millstone. Usually donkey moved the millstone, but today I volunteered and moved it as if I am a donkey even wearing the yoke. They crushed all the pits because even pits contains oils. You can see three places to tie stones in the wooden arm of the press. They pressed three times, first with just one stone, then it makes best and purest oil sometimes called as virgin oil. It is cleanest, and they donate them to the temple in Jerusalem. Second time, they use two stones to make not the best but still good oil and used it for human for every possible use. They pressed the olive with all three stones for the last time to make dirty and crude quality oil, not usable for human body but they used it as lamp oil.

Carpenter and Sister

Carpenter and Sister

These people are dressed in first century Galilean. He acts as carpenter and showed us some first century skills. She also showed us how to make thread out of the sheep wool. Her name is Hannah.

First Century Synagogue in Nazareth Village

First Century Synagogue in Nazareth Village

This is first century Jewish synagogue. Unlike the other later synagogue we’ve seen so far, it does not have the seat of Moses or the scroll place. Daniel said that the synagogue literally means gathering, and served like that. People gathers, prayed, studied, talked kind of town centre. It was not religious centre until the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. One think I like in the synagogue is the pillar on the corner. The other side of the pillar is 90 degree which makes the pillar heart shape. Not only here, I’ve found those pillars in many other synagogues on actual archaeological sites. When Jesus or any other disciples including Paul went into a synagogue, they might have seen similar synagogues like this.

Daniel is kind of interesting person to me being a messianic Jew, believing in Jesus as messiah. George said there are many divisions in messianic Jews, and many of them does not think Jesus as God.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Israel Trip Eleventh Day: Ramallah, Shechem, and Samaria

Today we moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth.

Israel Checkpoint

Israel Checkpoint

We had to go through the checkpoint because we were going out into Palestinian area. These checkpoints are horrible. But the worst is yet to come. We went to Ramallah to meet Mrs. Jean Zaru. Ramallah is founded by Christians, and still Christians are dominant. And it is rule that the mayor must be Christians from the old days. Ramallah also has many industrial and commercial businesses. Ramallah also works as the de facto capital of Palestine. It is not one of the tourist attraction, so people there gave us very curious eyes. Ram means high place and Allah is God. So Ramallah is Divine Heights.

Jean Zaru

Jean Zaru

Mrs. Jean Zaru is a Quaker. She is very active for the human rights of Palestinians, and also for the Palestinian women. In that way, she is kind of unique. People we met so far work for the general Palestinian, none for the specifically women. But as we all know, women tend to be weaker in many ways including physically and sexually. Consequently if women are exposed to same level of violence as men, they are way more vulnerable. And that is way we need to protect and help them more. Some people believe providing numerically same thing is fair, but I do not. Providing different things so that everybody can live equally is fair and that is my social justice. I would like to write about it later.

Land of Gibeon

Land of Gibeon

When we passed by on the bus, our local guide George identified us many different places. This one is land of Gibeon. It comes in Joshua 9. The people here deceived Joshua as if they were from the land of far far away.

Bethel

Bethel

This is Bethel. Bethel means house of God, and the story comes in Genesis when Jacob fled from his brother, he slept here and saw a ladder or stairway reaching to the heaven and the angels up and down.

Shiloh

Shiloh

This is Shiloh where Samuel stayed and ordained two first kings; Saul and David. And most importantly this is where the ark of covenant stayed. Shiloh means ‘his’ in Hebrew, and was dedicated place to God.

Mount Blessing and Cursing

Mount Blessing and Cursing

This is two mountains of Blessing (on the left) and Cursing (on the right) which Joshua summoned and arrayed people there and asked them to choose which God they would serve. This is in the land of Shechem. Ancient or Biblical Shechem is now called Nablus. Romans built this city at A.D. 70 after they conquered Jerusalem and named it Neopolice, new city. And the name became Nablus.

Jacobs Well Church

Jacobs Well Church

In the place where the Jacob’s well is, there is a Greek Orthodox Church and is so beautiful.

Jacob's Well

Jacob’s Well

Under the Church, we found the Jacob’s well. And just in case you may not know, the photo-shooting is forbidden. And again, our McCormick group got special permit again. I think God is really with us. I drew some water myself and tasted. It was good and I was amazed the well is functioning well even after 4,000 years of time. As you may know this is the well that Jesus met a Samaritan woman and talked.

Joseph's Tomb

Joseph’s Tomb

Then we went to Joseph’s tomb. There is no archaeological evidence on this as usual for holy places. But it is said by tradition. And the tomb itself is covered with nice stone, and nobody knows what is in there. The stone is supposedly built by Muslims because its direction is toward Mecca.

Town Kids

Town Kids in Samaria

Then we drove to Samaria, the capital city of Northern Kingdom of Israel. The original capital was another place, but the famous evil king Omri moved the capital to Samaria, and Ahab also reigned here. Our group had lunch there but I skipped the lunch and walked around the village. And I sat there and thought watching the mountains around: Some place are identified and marked as holy, and some not. Why and what makes the difference? The holy rock does not made up of some holy molecule. I think that is holy because someone did some holy action. We people makes some place holy or evil. Our action and our deed is most important thing.

Roman Basilica

Roman Basilica

Herod the great built a roman city in Samaria and named it sebaste – August in Greek. This is roman style Basilica where people gathers and do some business.

Theatre built by Herod

Theatre built by Herod

This is theatre. And there is ancient horse racing track built again by Herod (not in this photo). The track is now just a flat field.

John the Baptist Church

John the Baptist Church

By tradition, it is believed that John the Baptist’s head is buried here, and crusaders built a Church for him.

Palace of Omri and Ahab

Palace of Omri and Ahab

This is part of the Palace where the evil kings of Omri and Ahab lived.

View from the Samaria Top

View from the Samaria Top

We went to the top of Samaria so that we can have some nice view. According to a boy from the village, we can even see the Mediterranean sea on clear days. In biblical times, all and every important place is always the highest point in the whole area.

August Temple

August Temple

This is the August temple which Herod built to flatter August, the roman emperor. August is a god, and a son of god (which is Caesar).

Where Jesus met ten lepers

Where Jesus met ten lepers

After the Samaria, we moved to Nazareth. And at some point, our local guide said that we are running on the same road where Jesus met ten lepers.

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Until now we were in the West Bank, and Nazareth is in Israeli land. And there is a checkpoint (we may say it border). And it was horrible experience waiting and stuck in the traffic. And when we got there finally, three soldiers with machine guns came up on the bus. They asked our local guide and Ted many questions in separate place. And they also checked everybody’s passport with actual face. They were not that kind, but I believe it was their maximum kindness. They would act way more horribly to Palestinians. I am glad that I experienced this at least once and I cannot imagine the lives of Palestinians who go through this everyday and even twice a day.

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