Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2005 at Caesarea. This was the first stop on our travel adventure. We are standing on the east side of the aqueduct at Caesarea Maritima. The aqueduct was first built by Herod the Great, the founder of Caesarea. Later, the second century Roman emperor Hadrian build a second aqudeuct. I'm sure you know that this is on the Mediterranean coast.
Tel Dor on the Mediterranean. The region of Dor became one of Solomon's administrative districts (1 King 4:11). This site appears to be easy to find when one looks at the map, but it has been cut off by a new major highway and we found it difficult to locate. If you look closely you might see some of the ancient walls.
November 4 -- Jordan River. This view of the Jordan River was made near the site of Bethsaida, north of the Sea of Galilee. The name Jordan means "descender."
A Chance Meeting at Bethsaida. Bethsaida was the home of Peter, Andrew, and Philip (Jn. 1:44). As Leon and I began to make photos, Ben Witherington arrived at the site to make some plans for a TV shoot for a Christmas Special for CBS. Dr. Witherington is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. Leon made our photo at the "house of the fisherman." Excavations at Bethsaida have revealed evidence of the Iron Age as well as the Roman period.
"Upon this rock." Caesarea Philippi is the area where Jesus was confessed to be the Christ (Mt. 16). Recent excavations have brought to ight temples dedicated to the god Pan. This is the source of the River Banias, which is one of the main sources of the Jordan River.
November 4 at Hazor. We encountered a lot of rain today, especially at Dan and Hazor. Still got some decent photos. This one shows an olive press installation at Hazor from the period of the Divided Kingdom. We made other stops at Chorazin and Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee.
I learned a couple of things. My Tilley hat really is waterproof, but my jacket, which was supposed to have been waterproofed by the cleaners, is not.
|November 5 at En Harod. The weather was great today. We had a few sprinkles as we left Tiberias, but it soon cleared off. We made stops at Bethshean, En Harod, Jezreel. We traveled through the Jordan Valley past Jericho, and up through the Wilderness of Judea to Jerusalem. This photo was made at the Spring of En Harod where Gideon gathered his men to fight the Midianites.
|Mount Gilboa. This photo was made from atop the tel (mound) of ancient Bethshan (Bethshean) looking west toward Mount Gilboa. King Saul was fataly wounded by the Philistines in this mountain. The Philistines took his body, decapitated it, and hung it on the wall of Bethshan (1 Sam. 31). The tree trunk here, now long dead, has become somewhat of a symbol of the tel.
|November 6. Jerusalem. This morning, after a period of worship, Leon and I went to the Mount of Olives and waited a while for good opportunities to get photos of the city of Jerusalem. This photo, made by Leon, captures almost the entire length of the eastern wall of Jerusalem. It was bright most of the day but cloudy.
Pool of Siloam. At the newexcavation of the Pool of Siloam from the time of Jesus we felt fortunate to meet up with Professor Ronny Reich, the excavator of the site. I had heard him speak several times at SBL meetings in the states.
Jesus told the blind man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam (Jn. 9). The water in the pool comes from Gihon Spring through the tunnel dug in the days of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:20; 710 BC).
|Wednesday, November 7. It was raining in Jerusalem off and on much of the day. We did several things inside: visited the Rockefeller Museum, when through the tunnel from Canaanite (Jebusite) times, etc. This photo shows the sloping tunnel, called Warren's Shaft, which led down to the water supply of the city.
Todd Bolen takes us for a lunch time stroll. We met up with Todd Bolen and some of his Master's College IBEX students who were helping with the archaeological work at Warren's shaft. Todd took his lunch break to show us, and a few of the students, the tombs of the kings in the city of David excavations, and En Rogel where Adonijah tried to make himself king and successor to David (1 Kings 1:9).
Todd also operates bibleplaces.com. Take a look at the website. Sign up for his newsletter. And, I also suggest you consider buying some of his photo sets.
|The Judean Wilderness. In order to get away from the rain in Jerusalem we spent some time in the wilderness of Judea. The colors are constantly changing in these rugged badlands as the light and shadows play across the landscape. The scenery changes by the minute when there are clouds. What appears to be a road is a wadi.
|The Wall. This is a stretch of the wall being build by Israel to separate the Israeli settlements from the Palestinian territories. This section of wall is in the vicinity of Bethany.
|Sunset at the Dead Sea. The sun sets early, around 5:30, at this time of the year. We enjoyed the beautiful colors on the land of Moab across the Dead Sea. The heavy clouds which dropped no water on the Wilderness of Judea look as if they will give the Land of Moab a good soaking.
Tuesday, November 8. Today we visited Jericho, the city of Palm trees (Dt. 34). The city is also known for the episode of Zaccheus climbing up into the sycamore tree to see Jesus (Lk. 19). This old sycamore is located in the center of modern, Palestinian Jericho. This sycamore is a member of the fig family. It is not the tree we know as sycamore in the USA. Amos was a grower of sycamore figs (Amos 7:14). There is a palm to the right of the sycamore.
We also visited En Gedi, but were only able to walk a small portion of the trail due to a rock slide that had closed part of it. We saw one ibex and several rock badgers.
|Date palms were a common plant of Israel in Bible times, as it is today. The trees grow in abudnance in the Jordan Valley. These different varieties of dates were for sale at a fruit stand near Jericho. When David brought the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem he gave "a cake of bread and one of dates and one of raisins" to each person present (2 Sam. 6:19).
|Date palms growing on the shore of the Dead Sea. We can see the mountains of Moab across the Dead Sea. The distance is about 10-12 miles.
|Wednesday, November 9. Today we visited the Shephelah (Lowlands), and the coastal plain of Sharon. We visited Emmaus, the valley of Aijalon, Gezer, Gath, and Lachish. We also visited a park near Lod called Neot Kedumim. There we saw examples of many plants of Bible times. The photo to the right shows a wine press cut in rock. See Matthew 21:33 and Isaiah 5:1-7.
Sunset at Lachish. Our days have been long, but today was the longest. We got up at 6 a.m. and made it to Lachish just before sundown. I worked in the excavation here in 1980. My late friend, Phil Roberts, worked in this gate from the Babylonian period.
We have been making between 250 and 300 digital photos most days. Back in the days of slide film I would probably make about 400 to 500 photos during an entire tour. Of course many of the photos now are duplicates and some are photos of signs. This saves taking notes.
is now (10:25 p.m.) being reported of the bombing of three hotels
Thursday in Israel
we noticed nothing different.
|Thursday, November 9. Hezekiah's Tunnel. This morning Leon and I walked through the famous tunnel cut by King Hezekiah about 710 years before Christ (2 Kings 20:20). We had to wait a while for a European TV crew to complete some filming. We took out time in an effort to make some photos suitable for using in our teaching. The photo to the right shows the water about 12 inches deep. We entered the pool at the Gihon spring and exited at the Byzantine pool of Siloam.
|The low point in Hezekiah's tunnel. Leon had to bend down to make it through several portions of the tunnel. You can see from the color of his pants that the water was much higher at some points, especially near Gihon Spring.
Herodian Family Tomb. In the afternoon we went to the Holyland Hotel to see the moden of "Second Temple Jerusalem." We always take our groups there to give them a good idea of the city at the time of Christ. The model is now is terrible condition and is being cut apart so it can be moved to the ground of the Israel Museum. We made very few photos and even asked for our money back. We got it and an apology of the condition.
Later we visited a rock-cut tomb with a rolling stone that is identified with the Herodian family.
|On Jordan's banks I stand. This photo was made a few days earlier south of the Sea of Galilee. The river flows through the country of Jordan for most of the distance from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.
At this time
(Saturday) I am in Prague with Robert and Tami Hodanko. We spent
We did not visit
many of the places normally visited by tour groups. We tried to get