March 24, 2016
Now that we’ve returned from our study tour you’ll hopefully be able to talk to one of us in person about what we saw, heard, learned, and experienced!
Below is a wrap up video that serves as a nice summary of the trip and a reminder of all that we did.
March 17, 2016
We explored the Rabbinic Tunnels where we could see the rest of the western wall of the temple mount that is buried beneath the ground. Coming out the other end we were at the roman fortress site and stood on Pilates pavement where Jesus was flogged. We then walked to Pool of Bethesda described in John 5.
March 16, 2016
City of David—David captured the fortified Jebusite city around 1004 BC. Joshua had tried to capture it before but was unsuccessful. David’s capture of the city was written in 2 Samuel 5:6-9 and nothing was said about the battle so it could be that the Israelites won without a fight. There is a lot of speculation on how they may have done so, but the most recent findings have shot down those theories. Regardless, David captured this stronghold and established his throne in this city in the area of the tribe of Benjamin. This sent a strong signal to the other tribes since David, of the mightiest tribe of Judah, set up his house in the weakest tribe of Benjamin. This helped David unite the disparate tribes of Israel into a great Kingdom. There is strong archeological evidence that this was the city of David and also where Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern in Jeremiah 36-37.
March 15, 2016
I have not said anything about the food or lodging but we have had plenty of excellent middle eastern food. I love the hummus, shwarma, falafel, and the many fresh vegetables that are typical of the area. The people are friendly and the food is excellent. Also the last two nights in Ein Gedi, we stayed in a beautiful resort in the oasis. After a day of sight seeing, it was so relaxing to go into the hotels hot mineral water then jump into a cool water pool then into a sauna. We all loved the setting and the services there.
March 14, 2016
Ein Gedi is a magnificent oasis just a short distance from the Dead Sea, providing interesting biblical background as well as interesting fauna and history. This is the only oasis in the area and was most assuredly the area where David hid from Saul after he killed Goliath, since it would be the only place that has sufficient water for David to survive as well as rugged terrain with many caves for him to hide. The area has many steep cliffs as well as gorges while only a 3 day mule trip east of Jerusalem. David probably wrote a number of Psalms while hiding in this area and Ps 69 is obviously written about the flash floods that come here approximately once a year. Dan explained that the desert is covered with a layer of very fine dust (glist) from Egypt and the grains absorb water and binds the grains together. So even a very light rain can cause these particles to make an impervious layer on the ground. So if a second rain comes, the water does not go down into the ground but it flows on top of this layer which, combined with very steep rocks, can turn even a small rain into a very dangerous flash flood.
March 13, 2016
On the way south along the western Sea Galilee border, we passed through beautiful scenery with calm, blue sea on our left (east) and interesting fields of date palms, mangoes, and other tropical fruits interspersed with cliffs with caves, cemeteries, and small villages. Continuing along the southern Jordan River that divides Israel from Jordan.
March 12, 2016
We drove north on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, which is 600 ft. below sea level. On the way to Dan, we passed a valley that was a swamp before Israel returned to the land. They were able to drain the swamp by blasting through a path to the Jordan River to help drain the swamp. It is now a beautiful and fertile valley that provides a lot of Israel’s fruit: cherries, apples, peaches, etc., as well as citrus and almonds. You can tell the difference between Israel and Lebanon or Syria because Israel is green while their neighbors land is brown because it has been overgrazed and under-cultivated. Mt Hermon is very prominent in the north and it provides the border of Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. It is still snow capped today and they are still skiing on it. Mt. Hermon is made of limestone and because water will create carbonic acid, pores and fractures occur over time and create channels for the water to flow. When the volcanoes erupted in the area, they pushed the basalt under Mt. Hermon, causing it to rise as well as creating an impermeable basalt layer under the mountain. This causes the water run-off to go into the mountain and then out of it through springs. The springs are very pure because basalt is an excellent filter.
March 11, 2016
Today we saw the beautiful modern church with the unique altar and an amazing dig showing. The church was established by a Franciscan congregation in Mexico. They liked the location because of its beauty but during the normal archeological assessment before building the church they found a significant archeological find of a Jewish synagogue. It could be the earliest synagogue ever found and was most likely constructed in the 1st century AD or earlier. So it was in existence at the same time as the Temple which refutes some peoples view that the synagogues were built only after the Temple was raised in 69-70 AD. They have only done maybe 15% of the excavation but there were some interesting finds including a rock that depicted the wheels that would be used to carry the Ark of the Covenant. There were reliefs on the wall that may be a representation of the Temple. It will be very interesting to come back in a few years and see how this site has changed.
March 10, 2016
The first day was to set a foundation for understanding the present history of the state of Israel. We continued that theme with one more visit today –to the Atlit Detention Camp where the Jewish “illegal immigrants” were detained in barbed wire enclosures during the 1940’s when they were caught trying to immigrate to Israel without a “white paper” invitation certificate.
Other events today were Caesarea by the Sea, eating in a Druze village, visiting the Nazareth precipice where Jesus avoided an angry crowd, and our drive to the Sea of Galilee where we will spend three nights.
March 9, 2016
We got in to Tel Aviv around 10:30pm last night with little problems but little sleep on our flights from Houston to Istanbul and on to Tel Aviv. The airport in Istanbul was very busy and we had a long bus ride from the plane to the terminal to catch our connecting flight. The Turks are not very well organized.
Tel Aviv, the name is a combination of the old (Tel=an old archeological mound with many layers of history/civilizations) and new (Aviv=Spring or new life). And that is definitely the case. It is a modern new city that was started in 1909 by a German Jewish settler, Elle Weiss, with 6 kids in the sand dunes not far from the Mediterranean Sea. Our hotel is the Dan Panorama and it is a nice, clean modern hotel with a view of the Sea. Unfortunately, where we are there are only rocks and no beach.
February 23, 2016
Our trip to Israel will be here before you know it!
Once we’re on the ground in Israel, we’ll post periodic updates and photos. Check back often or get update notifications using the subscribe options on this page.
We’ll be sharing our travel experiences online with you, our friends and family, to not only bring you along on the journey with us, but to also solicit your ongoing prayer and support. Most of us on this trip have been preparing mentally and spiritually for what will be a life-changing experience in the land. We’re also preparing physically as we train our bodies to handle all the time we’ll spend on our feet walking. So please pray that we would be diligent in our preparations and we would all be ready to learn what God has to teach us!