Calvary Church Israel Study Tour

February 6-17, 2017

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Old Testament Beginnings!

Today was our first full day in the land of Israel. We began with a delicious breakfast in the hotel where many enjoyed some different options like herring, gnocchi, olives and cheesecake in addition to some staples of cheese, scrambled eggs and cereal. Coffee was the most sought after item on the menu with everyone feeling a bit overwhelmed from the long travel.

FINALLY UNITED - the California and Michigan groups are together at last and we are getting along splendidly. It has been a pleasure for me (Eric) to get to know many of these wonderful people.

Today was a journal through some Old Testament favorites. We went to Gezer where we saw the Aijalon Valley and talked through Joshua 10 and the incredible story where God made the sun stand still so that Israel could defeat their enemies. The interesting bit we learned was that this allowed the Israelites to fight with the sun at their back and the enemies would have the sun in their eyes.

Gezer

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 tel 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.

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Then we made our way to Beth Shemesh which is a place that you might not have really heard about but from there you can see from left to right - Timnah, Sorek Valley, Zorah, Eshtaol and Keriat Jearim. Zorah and Eshtaol was the place where Samson was born. TImnah is Delilah's home. The valley lies between them both. Everyone could picture where this famous story took place and won't ever read it with the same eyes.

Beth Shemesh

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.

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After that we drove down to Azekah - another place you've never heard of but it sits above a valley called Elah where a boy named David fought a giant called Goliath and became a young man. We headed down to the actually brook where David found his five smooth stones.

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.

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Finally, after lunch we visited Beth Guvrin and the Bell Caves of Maresha for some amazing history and archaeology. Check the pictures to have your mind blown. The caves had some great acoustics for a little singing.

Tonight we sleep by the Dead Sea!

Beth Guvrin (Maresha)

Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park is a national park in central Israel, 13 kilometers from Kiryat Gat, encompassing the ruins of Maresha, one of the important towns of Judah during the time of the First Temple,[1] and Beit Guvrin, an important town in the Roman era, when it was known as Eleutheropolis.

Archaeological artifacts unearthed at the site include a large Jewish cemetery, a Roman-Byzantine amphitheater, a Byzantine church, public baths, mosaics and burial caves.

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