HAZOR, DAN & CAESAREA PHILIPPI

Sunday, March 7 Reported by Sharon Franklin

It's 5:45 and we are on our way to a sunrise service by The Galilee. Wrapped in blankets to ward off the early morning chill, we watch the fishermen as they pull in their nets. Their location right next to our outdoor church, after a night of fishing, seems providential.

We read from John 21, where Jesus appeared to his disciples and prepared breakfast for them after they had spent the night fishing, very close to where we were sitting. Tom told us how the fisherman thunks the water and uses a lamp at night. The fish are attracted to the light. We have THE LIGHT and we need to let it shine. Our voices weren't ready to make melody but as the sun rose over the hills we tried to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. What a beautiful way to begin the Lord's Day!

We meet for breakfast a short time later. We are served a plate of vegetables, cheese rolls and coffee. Scrambled eggs are served later.

At 8:00am we board our bus for a trip "Back in History." Our first stop is Korazim. "Woe unto you" cursed city by the sea. The miracles done here did not make the people repent. We visited the temple area. No idols were allowed because God dwelt in the temple. We saw the chair by the entrance where the priest sat. It is believed that Jesus worshiped here.

As we travel north we can see the snow on Mt Hermon. It's the tallest peak in Israel and the head waters for the Jordan river. We stop next at Tel Hazor. It's walls are made of old mud bricks. It was a great city conquered by Joshua , destroyed by fire and rebuilt by Solomon. As we walk around the ruins we can see that the excavations here are ready to resume as soon as the excavation season and all of the volunteers arrive. Gordon tells us this is where archaeologist Amnon Ben-Tor is looking for an ancient library of clay tablets.

At the reconstructed olive press in the ruins of some iron age buildings, Tom explained to us how the olive oil is extracted by placing stones on top of the crushed olives. One stone would release the finest oil (virgin) used in the temple. Add another stone and this oil was used in the homes. Add another stone and this oil was used for cleaning and finally lye or soap making.

We took the steps that led down into the ancient well of Hazor. Imagine doing this on a daily basis. Laura counted 157 steps as we made our way back up to the top. Now that's exercise!

A sonic boom from a jet shocked us back to the present and we realized how close we are to a military zone. Lebanon is just a few miles to the north. Tom explained that eucalyptus trees were planted in the area for cover and protection by the farmers during the war. They also help to hold the moisture and the soil.

At Kiryat Shmona Tom had an errand to run while we waited in the bus. Gary tried to blow the rams horn he bought while we waited. Then we decided to pass the time by singing songs like "Father Abraham had many sons." Before long Tom returns with a variety of cookies for us to munch on. They are a welcome treat.

On to Tel Dan. We see the oxidized field stone Jeroboam used to build the city walls. We walk through the forest preserve and alongside one of the five springs that supply the drinking water from Mt Hermon to the valley below. We see the high place where Jeroboam erected the Golden Calf. Jeroboam's stone altar is now topped by a modern metal reconstruction with horns on the four corners. We look across the valley into Lebanon and see the cows grazing in the fields near by. We also see the bronze-age mud brick gate to the city where Abraham would have entered. We stop at the Tel Dan restaurant for a lunch break. Connie and I share a picnic bench with tourists from Fresno, CA.

Nearby is Banias or Caesarea Philippi. There is a large cave where the spring gushes out forming a river that supplied the water for Harod's palace and his many pools. The British built waterways as a resource for electricity and a feed mill. We took a walk along the river to a water fall. Along he way we walk through a tunnel under the road, in what once was a palace probably built by Herod Agrippa. It too is still under excavation. The path was long but the wild flowers were beautiful and abundant. The view of the falls was worth the trek and the bus was waiting just up the steps.

David, where are you? We must stick together. After much searching, Tom notifies the authorities and we took off for Nimrod's Castle. It's hard to leave and not know if you are safe. It's 4:10 and the gates are closed to this Crusader fortress, so we stop along the road to get pictures. We can see bunkers and tanker tracks in this military zone; reminding us of where we are. Dave has been located! Back to the parking lot and a prayer of thanksgiving.

We have time now to visit the Lebanon border. It is patrolled by the Israelies. A clerk returns Terry's overpayment for a cap and encourages us to spend that money on ice cream after our tour. Prices are very reasonable. Back at Amnon Holiday Village we share our dining room tonight with a large group of area young people full of energy and laughter. They must be on a school field trip.

At 8:00 we enter the bomb shelter that also serves as a synagogue. Jim Gerrish speaks to us about Bridges For Peace and the work they are doing. They have a program where volunteers can stay, learn and then reach out to help others. Christians need to know about this land. Jesus did not stay in Jerusalem but went throughout Galilee ministering to the people. Finally, I return to the sea for another glimps of Tiberias, twinkling in the night, to end my day!

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