Sizzling in Galilee!
Trip Start Jul 06, 2010
8Trip End Jul 24, 2010
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Temps were in the mid 90's in the shade as we set out from Tsipori this morning to review another section of the Jesus Trail. According to tradition, Tsipori was the home town of Mary, mother of Jesus, and a likely place of later employment for Joseph and his son, Jesus, in their trade as builders or construction workers. One of the revelations of the journey so far has been that the translation of Jesus’ occupation from the original Greek as "carpenter" is apparently a bit narrow. It's likely that the trade encompassed other building-related skills and Tsipori, as regional capital at the time, would have been the likely place for Joseph, Jesus, and his brothers to find work – just a 6 kilometers walk across the valley from the much smaller Nazareth.
We visited the archeological site of ancient Tsipori late yesterday afternoon and were impressed! The mosaics were exquisite; the ceremonial purification mikveh baths carved from stone were fascinating; and we were intrigued by the more recent Crusader practice of cannibalizing earlier civilization’s building material, including a sarcophagus as a watch tower cornerstone. But the highlight for me was the cisterns located about a mile from the town. Aqueducts are one of the engineering wonders of the ancient world. In this case, water was delivered to the cisterns which, at just a few inches higher in elevation than end users in Tsipori, piped huge amounts of water to this city of 18,000 people.
Having concluded that Tsipori was a worthy anchor point of our program in Galilee, we embarked today on a trail northeast from Tsipori to Cana, site of Jesus’ first miracle. Using a map of “The Jesus Trail”, we found remains of the aqueduct that fed Tsipori, then trekked through pine forests towards Mash’had, an Arab town that lays claim as both the birthplace and final resting place of the Old Testament prophet, Jonah.
A couple of hours, and several liters of water later, we arrived in Cana. Though contemporary experts disagree on the actual location of the Cana referred to in the Gospel accounts, we were heartened to arrive at our objective – two churches built on the site identified by 4th century Christians as the likely place where Jesus bailed out the wedding coordinator by converting ordinary water into connoisseur-quality wine.
By the time we arrived, my interests were more focused on finding a cool place to sit and rest, and re-hydrating with a little modern day beverage, preferably ice-cold. We found a pleasant sandwich shop run by a friendly Arab couple who told us “We love Americans”, and proceeded to shower us with Arab hospitalities, including a ride back to our car for less than the cost of a taxi. In the process we learned that they are Greek Orthodox Christians living as a minority in an Arab Muslim community as Israeli citizens in a Jewish country.
Mount Arbel was our next stop. This dramatic precipice juts up above the coast of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) with stunning vertical cliffs dropping over 1300 feet! The rock faces are honeycombed with caves used in the 1st century BC by Hasmonean rebels to resist Herod the Great and the power of Rome. This period of the story of Judea is full of dramatic accounts of underdog Jews rebelling against bad boy Roman legions and their surrogates among Herod the Great and his prolific family of Judean power brokers. In this case, Herod’s team apparently lowered soldiers in baskets from the top of the cliff to surprise and overpower the rebel Jews, who usually chose a self-inflicted death to capture by the enemy!
The final segment of a full and simmering Galilean planning day involved scouting a section of the Jesus Trail in the fertile plains below Mount Arbel at 600 feet below sea level! Fortunately, we were able to save time (and sun-zapped energy) by navigating our minivan between lush orchards of mango and orange and olives. When we could drive no further, we split our team in two; Terry and I walked between banana plantations towards the shore of the Sea of Galilee while Russ and David drove around to meet us at the Jesus Boat museum. By the time we rendezvoused, it was past 6 pm, and the museum was closed.
Tomorrow, however, promises to be another sizzling day in Galilee, and we hope to hitch a ride on a cruise across the Sea of Galilee, and visit this famous 2000-year-old boat.