Don't forget to not forget, the battle is the Lord's
Don't forget to not forget, unrepentant pursuing of sin will always lead to spiritual /physical destruction
Don't forget to not forget, it is our heart God is after
Today was a full day filled with excitement and a number of different biblical and historical sites! We started the day on an earlier note with wake up time at 6:30, breakfast at 7:15 and on the bus to Kiriath-Jearim by 8:00. The trip to our first site was a short 5 minutes down the road from the hotel.
At Kiriath-Jearim, we learned about the Ark of the Covenant and the different meanings of the items that were in the Ark. You can get an understanding of the significance of Kiriath-Jearim by reading 1 Samuel 4:1-7:2. We were able to see a recreation of a synagogue, wine press, burial site, threshing floor, and watch tower/harvest home. All amazing things to see and be able to finally put an image to Scripture. It makes it come alive in incredible ways!
Our next stop was at Beth-Shemesh and we read the story of Samson as this was the region that he was from. Beth-Shemesh was the place that the cows in the 1 Samuel story brought the Ark of the Covenant before it was taken to Kiriath-Jearim. We talked about how Samson was supposed to be raised a Nazarite yet continued to disobey God. The connection was made to Jesus who also came out of Nazareth and obeyed God fully. Both being judges yet one was sinful and the other perfect but God used them both for his glory. The scenery was stunning and although pictures tell a thousand words it only tells part of the story.
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.
Azekah was the next place on our trip today and this was the place where David defeated Goliath. A story that most have heard but to be able to see the battle lines, where it took place, where the Philistines fled and to be able to pick up stones from the same place that David probably took his stones from is a memory that will not be quickly forgotten. We had the chance to read and discuss the story of David and Goliath and dwell on the faith that David had as compared to the rest of the Israelite army because he knew that God was with him.
Azekah (Heb: עזקה, ʿazeqah) was a town in the Shephelah guarding the upper reaches of the Valley of Elah, about 26 km (16 mi) northwest of Hebron. The current tell (ruin) by that name has been identified with the biblical Azekah, dating back to the Canaanite period. According to Eusebius' Onomasticon, the name meant "white" in the Canaanite tongue. The tell is pear shaped with the tip pointing northward. Due to its location in the Elah Valley it functioned as one of the main Judahite border cities, sitting on the boundary between the lower and higher Shephelah. Although listed in Joshua 15:35 as being a city in the plain, it is actually partly in the hill country, partly in the plain.
After a very nice lunch prepared by Eli and some time to stretch our legs, Dan took us to the top of a hill where the ancient city of Maresha once sat. Underneath this ancient city once sat are the Columbarium caves that were used to raise doves for fertilizer and sacrifices. This was a fun place to see as the cavern was huge reaching probably 30ish feet at the ceiling and room for a few hundred people to fit. This is also the place that is the probable birthplace of Herod the Great.
This was the final place on the journey before making our way to the hotel almost 2 hours away on the south side of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth. The Dead Sea is an amazing place being made of many types of minerals and 33% salt making it so that you always float. After getting situated in our rooms, most made it down to the hotel pool which pumps Dead Sea water into the pool so that you can feel like you are in the Dead Sea. It is such an interesting experience yet one that I believe everyone thoroughly enjoyed. We gathered for dinner shortly after and once everyone had filled themselves to the brim on the hotel buffet, we made our way back to our rooms for the night.
This was such an amazing day and I can't believe that this was only our first day of sights! Thank God for such a great group of believers that can share in the experience of the Holy Land together.
At the beginning of each post there will be a few "Don't forget to not forget" phrases. This is something that we are doing on the trip for each site and I thought that it would be a neat thing to share with y'all.
In Christ Alone,
Featured Signature Tour
Sep 3-14, 2023
Experience Israel for 11 days in the context of biblical history and personal faith.