Calvary Church Israel Study Tour

February 6-17, 2017

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The Romans are Coming!

We spent today in Rome! Well, not actually in Rome but in two Roman cities of the Decapolis. The first of these was Bet Shean.

We entered the back gate of the site in the pouring rain. We questioned whether or not we should do the hike but we persisted and made it through. We placed ourselves in the mindset of a child from a small village near Galilee (like Chorazin or Capernaum) and we were traveling to Jericho and then Jerusalem, but on the way we pass the opulent city of Bet Shean. You can't help but feel overwhelmed and astounded by the beauty of the ruins of this city, let alone the actual city during the first century. We left the simplicity of God, family and community that we had by the Sea of Galilee and we are now being enticed by all that Rome has to offer. It turns out that most of us Americans are living in "Rome" today.

Beth Shean

Located 17 miles (27 km) south of the Sea of Galilee, Beth Shean is situated at the strategic junction of the Harod and Jordan Valleys. The fertility of the land and the abundance of water led the Jewish sages to say, “If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then its gate is Beth Shean.” It is no surprise then that the site has been almost continuously settled from the Chalcolithic period to the present.

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After exploring this city we made a quick stop at Bet Alpha where we saw a 4th Century mosaic that has the Ark of the Covenant over the wheel of the zodiac. We discussed whether or not this was syncretism and compromise or was this a symbol that YHWH God is above all other gods. Any thoughts?

Then we made our way to a swimming hole that was near where Gideon would have shrank his army down to 300. This spot is a natural "warm spring" and several of us were able to swim even though it was a cold and rainy day.

Our day ended in Susita. This city lies on a hill just above our hotel on the east side of Galilee. It was another Roman city of the Decapolis and is possibly the spot or near the spot where Jesus cast out the legion of demons from a man into a group of pigs and sent them into the sea.

We had some relaxing time at the hotel at the end of the day before we begin our journey tomorrow to ascend into Jerusalem.

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