Israel Trip – Day 04 – November 9 – Wednesday

Our morning started REAL EARLY today.  Our alarm went off at 4:00am, we showered and met up at the bus at 5:00am.  Mount Arbel is real close to our hotel, Nof Ginosaur.  In fact you can see our hotel from the top of the mountain.  After a half hour bus ride, we were up at Arbel in the dark.  Pink skies beginning to lighten up faced us as we hoofed our way uphill to the peak.  Mount Arbel gives you the most magnificent view of the Sea of Galilee.  They say that if you stretch out your arms while looking the Sea of Galilee, that 90% of Jesus’ ministry lies between your two arms.  Slowly the sun began to peak over the Golan Heights as we watched a glorious sunrise.  After some time to gawk and gaze at God’s handiwork, we hiked back down to the bus and headed back to Ginosaur for a big Israeli breakfast.  I had scrambled eggs, a cinnamon roll, croissant, potatoes, and I’m not going to tell you how much I actually ate!

Our next stop was Chorazin.  Jesus didn’t have very kind words for this city located along the Sea of Galilee.  He had preached and performed miracles, but these people went on their merry way ignoring the Son of God.  The city is now a pile of ruins – black basalt rocks piled everywhere.  There was a black empty mikvah – a ritual bath.  Foundations of houses, city streets, and a fairly large synagogue are what remains.  The synagogue gives a fairly good idea of what religious life was like in the first century.  It’s possible that Jesus even preached in this place.

Our next stop was Tel Hazor.  I was looking forward to this stop – one I’ve never been to, yet last year I was teaching through Joshua and we talked about the King of Hazor, Jabin,  building an alliance to fight Joshua and the Israelites.  It is a magnificent site.  On top of this “tel” was the ruins of Jabin’s palace.  We are pretty sure it was dated back to Joshua’s time because of the evidence of fire – this was one of the cities that Joshua burned to the ground.  Another cool aspect of Hazor (pronounced hat-sore) is the ancient water system.  It’s like the water system in Jerusalem and Megiddo – where there is a large deep hole dug into the ground with stairs carved into the stone for the servants to go down to the spring to retrieve water.  I was winded after descending and climbing all those stairs!

Next was Tel Dan, the historical northernmost part of Israel.  It’s both a scenic nature preserve as well as a huge archaeological site.  Green trees grow along the rushing water that comes out of a huge spring – water that is coming underground from Mount Hermon, water that forms one of the three tributaries to the River Jordan.  It’s a gorgeous place.  Historically, Dan was infamous for the idol worship that got a hold in this place.  There was a temple with a golden calf and all sorts of bad stuff.  Ancient city ruins, some dating back to the time of Abraham.

David led us in worship and I gave a short Bible study about Dan’s false religion and encourage the people to not be a “Dan Fool”, but to worship God the way He wants to be worshipped.

On the way to lunch at Kfar Blum, our bus developed an odd problem – the rear door wouldn’t close so our bus driver drove extra slow to the Kibbutz, where he was able to fix the problem.  Our bus driver’s name is Gabriel, he’s a real angel.  We call him Gabby. Lunch was another delicious buffet with too many things to choose from.  We had chicken, potatoes, beef, vegetables, salad, and of course just a little bit of dessert … or three or four desserts.  Kfar Blum is always a treat.

Our next stop was a quick trip to the Banias Falls – we squeezed in an extra treat, and run, and lots of stair steps, but a gorgeous water fall.

Then on to Banias itself, sometimes known as Caesarea Phillippi.  The pagan population had built a famous temple to the god Pan, and some of the ruins are still there.  It’s in a cave there that the pagans used to sacrifice goats, a place that some have suggested are the “gates of hell” that Jesus said would never prevail against the church.  David said that we have now been to the gates of hell and back.  There is also another huge spring, one of the other three tributaries to the Jordan River at this spot.

We finished up our touring in the afternoon with a drive through the Golan Heights.  This is the area northeast of the Sea of Galilee, captured in 1967 from Syria during the six day war.  We saw the border with Syria.  I’d tell you more, but I was beginning to nod off on the bus!  It’s hard being an old man.

We’ve finished dinner now, and after posting this update, we are seriously thinking about going to bed!