Hello from Israel!
We have arrived safely in the Holy Land! Our bus is full and our hearts are ready. We hit the ground running after our long flight. As we departed the airport heading for lunch, Miriam, our wonderful tour guide, reminded us that Israel is a supernatural country. I have a feeling we’re going to be reminded of this the entire time we’re here!
We stopped for lunch in Modi’in, a town outside of Tel Aviv. Miriam shared that Modi’in is a duly planned modern community and you could see the developers’ hard work in the way every structure and road was laid out.
As we drove to our first site she handed out samples of dried dates. Dates are a major specialty from Israel, which is always identified as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Miriam suggested that the sweetness of the dates could reference the use of “honey” from that promise.
We passed a few ancient cities on the way down to the Valley of Elah. Tel Gezer built by King Solomon and Bet Shemesh near where the Ark of the Covenant was returned after it had been captured by the Philistines.
Situated near the International Coastal Highway and guarding the primary route into the Israelite hill country, Gezer was one of the most strategic cities in the Canaanite and Israelite periods. Gezer is a prominent 33-acre site that overlooked the Aijalon Valley and the road leading through it to Jerusalem. The tell was identified as biblical Gezer in 1871 by C. Clermont-Ganneau who two years later found the first of many boundary stones inscribed with the city’s name.
A border city between Judah and Dan, Beth Shemesh was given to the Levites. Beth Shemesh was the most important Israelite city in the Sorek Valley as it watched both east-west traffic through the Sorek Valley and north-south traffic along the “Diagonal Route.” Recent excavations have shown a thriving city here from the Middle Bronze Age through the Iron II period.
When we arrived at the Valley of Elah, Jim Showers, executive director of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry shared a devotion from 1 Samuel 17, the true account of David vs. Goliath. While we toured the Valley of Elah and Tel Azekah we saw the area where the Jewish army was gathered against the Philistines and ultimately where David defeated Goliath. The site was breathtaking as we looked across the valley on top of Tel Azekah. Miriam pointed out to us the stream where David chose the 5 stones to throw at Goliath. We learned that the stones David chose were stones about the size of a lemon or small apple.
Tel Azekah and Elah Valley
The Brook Elah is famous for the five stones it contributed to the young slinger, David. Some surmise that David chose five stones instead of the one needed in case he needed to face Goliath’s four brothers.
If you think about it, when David took on Goliath it really put David on the map. You see in 1 Samuel 17:34 and following that David trusted in the God who delivered him from lions and bears. The Lord gave David the victory over Goliath and in turn emboldened the Army of Israel. This was due, ultimately to God’s sovereignty and David’s faith in the God of Israel. We were reminded that the Lord still does great things today!
Next we headed to the ancient port city of Joppa or as it’s known today, Jaffa. This city has had a Jewish presence since the days of the Bible. King Solomon floated timbers used to construct the Temple in Jerusalem down from Lebanon to Jaffa (1 Kings 5). Miriam also shared with us from Acts 10 about Peter at Simon the Tanner’s house and the vision the Lord sent to him of the sheet filled with unclean animals. God’s command to “rise, kill, and eat” was so completely foreign to the mind of Peter, a Jewish man. The instruction Peter received from the Lord led to the gospel message coming to the Gentiles, as Cornelius sent for Peter to come to him. Cornelius heard the gospel message and before Peter was even finished Cornelius was born again! What a wonderful reminder of the power of God.
We also learned about The Siege of Jaffa which was fought between France and the Ottoman Empire back in March of 1799. There is some interesting archeological studies happening in Jaffa. We were able to see a Gate to an Egyptian fortress that has been excavated.
We arrived at the Dan Panorama hotel in Tel Aviv that looks over the Mediterranean Sea around five o’clock. We were all pretty tired from our travels to Israel and our amazing day of touring. Our luggage was brought to our rooms and we had a couple of hours to rest before dinner, which was amazing and much needed!
(I could not get any pictures as my phone was in need of a charging I will add some food picks as we go along)