10-12-18 From the Galilee to Jerusalem

After a sunrise service with dawn breaking over the Golan Heights across the sea of Galilee, we prepare to leave our hotel at the Kibbutz Nof Ginosar to view more sites closer to the Mediterranean coast before moving on to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

First stop is Megiddo. The first mention of this strategic fortification (so far as we know today) in from about 1400 BC during the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose where it was an outpost of the Egyptian Empire. In the pic, Doron explains to us why Megiddo is so critically placed astride the Jezreel valley along the Way of the Sea between Damascus and Egypt.

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The interactive model in the visitor’s center gives a brief demonstration of the status of the archeological exploration that showed Solomon’s (10th century BC) fortifications to be the 17th in a series of fortifications stretching back to the Canaanite period, each built on top of the preceding one.

The plaque gives a brief description of the City of Megiddo as it relates to the Bible. For etymology nerds like myself, Har Meggido is the same place that is called Armageddon in the book of the Revelation. In Hebrew Har means mountain, so Har Megiddo is mountain of Megiddo. There is no letter H in Greek (the one that looks like H is actually the vowel Eta and the H sound is represented by a breath mark over the first vowel or diphthong in Greek), so words starting in H often drop the H. As a neuter noun, it has to end in the letter N because otherwise the O ending would look like a masculine noun in the dative/instrumental/locative case of highly inflected Koine Greek. Therefore Har Megiddo becomes Armageddon in Greek. Of course the word Armageddon has picked up all kinds of not necessarily biblical meanings in our world today.

Excavations has uncovered the stairway leading up to the main gate of the fortress in Solomon’s day.

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Ancient cities being built one on top of the other, it becomes tough to sort out which layer of strata belongs to which epoch and which one to emphasize for the tourists, so most of the displays are geared toward showing the city either in the Solomonic period or the period of the Northern kingdom of Israel after it’s division under Jeroboam.
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Megiddo’s commanding view over the surrounding countryside can been seen from these pics. Pastor Brad, a retired ELCA pastor, now part time chaplain is in the third shot next to the flags. He was a GREAT addition to the trip, and was able to play #1 support for Pastor Dave’s exhausting duties.

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Pastor Dave’s 14-year-old son Josiah was our group’s resident prankster as he was continually looking for ways to burn off excess energy, if not by climbing on things, then by annoying Pastor Brad or attaching snap-links to our baggage.

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Helpful plaques are posted around in Hebrew and English to explain what it is you’re looking at.
This last part of the tour was perhaps the most interesting. It describes how a water supply system was developed and brought inside the protection of the walls, then its entrance as bricked up to camouflage it from would be infiltrators. Thus providing the fortress with a supply of fresh water in case of a siege while hopefully avoiding the fate of Jebustie Salem/Jerusalem when David’s men utilized the Gihon Spring to capture the city.
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After Megiddo, we head off up Mount Carmel where a Church marks the spot of Elijah’s epic battle with the priests of Ba’al as recorded in 1 Kings 18.

he Kishon brook is just visible in the valley below Mount Carmel where the prophets of Ba’al were slaughtered after their god failed to send down fire and consume the sacrifice the way the true God did. The brook is in the foreground where it emerges next to a road under the highway overpass. In the second pic the Mediterranean is just visible in the distance where a cloud arose from the sea announcing the end of the drought in Elijah’s day.

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after Mount Carmel, we head down to Herod’s specially built city of Caeserea Martitima (not to be confused with the Caesarea Philippi built by his son near Dan). The magnificent aqueduct was constructed to provide the city with fresh water before being buried under the sand until recently uncovered.
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Herod’s massive theater has also been recovered and restored and is again the venue for concerts and plays today. In the Book of Acts, Herod Agrippa received the adulation of the crowd and because he agreed to pass himself off as a god, he was struck dead and eaten by worms. This is the spot where it transpired.
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Ruined statuary and capitals of fallen columns are evidence of the intrusions of the invasion of the iconoclastic Muslims in the 7th century.
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We move on to the remains of the once great harbor itself. Now mostly a beach for vacationing tourists and locals. Jackie and I, being Floridians from the land of beaches decide to forgo the incomprehensible pleasure of getting our feet wet and covering everything with sand.

This is a copy of one of the stones recovered from what had been paving stones used by subsequent builders in the post-Roman world. The original is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. It’s a stone with Pontius Pilate’s name carved into it from the time of Jesus; again stifling the voice of critics who had maintained that Pilate was a fictional character in the fictional story presented in the four gospels.

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We make a brief stop in Tel Aviv (actually Tel-Aviv-Yaffo) or what had once been the city of Jaffa, near the place traditionally assigned to Simon the Tanner, the friend of Simon Peter where he had the vision allowing him to go off and visit the centurion, Cornelius.
We arrived in the holy city of Jerusalem as the sun was setting. From our perspective south of the Temple Mount we hear the Shofars announce the arrival of the sabbath with the setting of the sun as the lights simultaneously start to come on in the city. We were welcomed into the city by the Order of Melchizedek which was the way Abraham was welcomed  by Melchizedek to Salem which is now Jerusalem. (Gen 14:17-18)
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Categories: Israel 2018