Laid Back Day

Trip Start Aug 31, 2010
Trip End Sep 12, 2010

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Flag of Israel  , Galilee,
Saturday, September 4, 2010

Don't get the impression we didn't do anything today.  We just spent a little more time on the bus getting there and a little more time talking and walking when we did.  After seeing the hotel fill up with Israelis for the Sabbath, we left this morning at 8 AM for a 40-minute drive up to Tel Dan Nature Preserve.  This area is a beautiful area so different from the rest of Israel, complete with thick forest where the headwaters of the Jordan River are found.  The sound of running creek water was refreshing in and of itself.

This Preserve is the site of Tel Dan, a tel being an archaeological mound that contains numerous levels of ancient civilizations who built on top of one another.  The walk through the woods takes you to the site where King Jeroboam built an altar to prevent the northern ten tribes from going to Jerusalem to worship (the story is found in 1 Kings 12).

From there, we went on to the area known in Jesus' time as Caeserea Philippi.  Jesus took His disciples there for a retreat and talked to them about who He was as described in Matthew 16. When you see the topography of this area, it adds to your understanding of what Jesus said to Peter when He declared that Peter and his confession of Christ are the rock upon which the church would be built.

We walked from the site to a Lebanis Restaurant (yes, the spelling is correct) for another lunch of falafel, schnitzel or schawarma.  We ate outside next to a running brook that feeds into the Jordan.  From there, we drove to Banyas National Park, which figured prominently in the Israeli wars with Syria in 1967 and 1973.  Our guide David shared stories of being a tank platoon commander in his generation's war with Lebanon in 1981 (every generation here seems to have their own war).  David was transparent in telling about the horrors of war and the price Israel has paid to defend itself from its enemies since 1948.

Along the way in the bus, David also talked to us about modern Israeli history and the relationship between Jews and Christians in Israel, which has not been good since the first century.  Everyone had a chance to ask questions both on and off the bus. We lingered at the national park coffee shop and had a great time of fellowship and refreshment. Today was definitely cooler and breezier than yesterday.

We drove back down from the north to Tiberias and went to the Diamond Factory, a jewelry store here in Tiberias.  60% of the world's diamonds are cut here and the Factory gives you a brief tour and shows a movie about the diamond industry.  Of course then you come out into a showroom where you can buy discounted jewelry that is duty free when you return to the States.

Tonight eleven of us are going to a kosher Chinese restaurant near the hotel, which is a custom of mine since I first came to Israel in 1994.  Tomorrow it is time to check out of Tiberias and move on to Jerusalem for the remainder of our time in Israel.  On the way up to Jerusalem, we are going to visit the Roman ruins at Bet Shean, the Qumran region where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and take a swim in the Dead Sea itself. You won't want to miss tomorrow's pictures.  In the meantime, here are some pictures from today.  Enjoy and please know that all on the team are doing well, happy and learning a lot. 
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