On the Road in Israel

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

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Some of the team went to the Pagoda on Saturday night, which is a kosher Chinese restaurant.  We had great food and a good time together.  We spent today doing the most driving we will do in Israel. We left Tiberias at 8 AM, with everyone still in high spirits and marveling at what we have seen and done. 

Our first stop were the ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins at Beit She'an, about 30 minutes south of Tiberias.  This site was one of the 10 cities in Jesus' time referred to as the Decapolis (deca in Greek is 10 and polis is city).  Visitors to Beit She'an are treated to a reconstruction of the city so that you leave with a good understanding of what life was like in a Roman city.  Beit She'an is mentioned once in the Bible in 1 Samuel 31, so it did exist in ancient times, but is best known for its Roman ties.

The only drawback was the heat. Even at 9 in the morning, we were all soaked with sweat through our shirts when we were finished.  What do you do with this kind of heat?  You seek out shade, drink lots of water and have a popsicle or two along the way.

From Beit She'an, we drove a few minutes to the spring of Harod, which is mentioned in Judges 7 in connection with Gideon.  The team rested in the shade and put their feet in the spring as David our guide read us the story of Gideon.  There was a goofy dog who wandered close to our group and he delighted some as much as the shade and water as he frolicked in the stream!  Then it was time to pile back on the bus, after a bathroom stop.  Our philosophy is to use any toilet you see whether you need it or not; you don't know when you will see one again!

From the spring, we had a 75 minute drive to the Qumran area, which is in the magnificently desolate Judean wilderness.  It was in this general area that David fled from King Saul's wrath, but mostly the area is known because the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves throughout this area. The Dead Scrolls are so significant because they contain ancient fragments of the Old Testament books that let us know our modern versions have remained true to the ancient texts.  More on them later in the trip.

At Qumran, we ate lunch and shopped at a store known for its skin care products that use the minerals from the Dead Sea.  After all that, we got back in the bus for one more visit to a beach along the Dead Sea.  There most people changed into their bathing suits and went to float in the Dead Sea!  What fun everyone had, even thought it was about 110 degrees.  Not only do you float in the Sea, but you also smear the Sea bottom mud on your skin and then wash it off. Once off, your skin feels like velvet.

By then, it was 4:30 and time to head up to Jerusalem. You always head "up" to Jerusalem no matter what direction you are coming from because Jerusalem is the 'high point' of life in Israel. When you pull into the city, the guides put on a recording of the song, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" and it is moving, even if you have done it many times.  We arrived at the Regency Hotel and checked in just in time to have dinner.

Tomorrow we spend the day in Jerusalem, which includes a visit to the southern steps of the Temple, steps that Jesus certainly would have used to enter in His time.  There will be much more to report, so please tune in for tomorrow's update.  Till then, know that the team misses you all . . . but not too much!
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