Posts Tagged ‘Nazareth’

Arbel, Tiberus, Hazor, Nazareth, Jezreel Valley, Tel Jezreel, Bet Shean, Qumran, En Gedi (Photo Summary for the past week, last Tuesday – this Wednesday)

August 2, 2013

We have been covering a lot of ground over the past week, mostly in northern Israel, but some in the south as well.

Here are some photo highlights.

Mt. Arbel, in Northern Israel-
This is one of the interesting features on the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee.  It pairs with Mt. Nitia to form a pass which has been used over the ages to pass from areas west of Galilee (such as Nazareth) to the sea and locations north of the sea, such as Capernaum.  The first photo is from the top of Arbel, looking down on the Sea of Galilee and the second photo looks from Arbel across the pass to Mt. Nitia.  You can see the trail going around Arbel disappearing around the side of the mountain where the cliff drops off to the pass in the valley floor.

From Mt. Arbel, overlooking the Sea of Galilee

From Mt. Arbel, overlooking the Sea of Galilee

Looking from Mt. Arbel across the pass to Mt. Natia

Looking from Mt. Arbel across the pass to Mt. Nitia

Tiberias Mosque, in the city of Tiberius on the west central shores of the Sea of Galilee –
While not ancient, this beautiful old Mosque stands tucked away in one of the shopping centers of Tiberias, one block from the sea-front promenade.  It is the Al-Amari mosque, built in the 1730s. Tradition holds that its construction was funded by the local Jewish population, who was thankful for the sheik’s protection.  Had we not stumbled through a corridor looking for a shortcut, we would have never known it was there.

Al-Amari mosque, in Tiberias.

Al-Amari mosque, in Tiberias.

Tel Hazor, ancient mound north of the Galilee region-
This tel is packed with many good layers of ancient history and is mentioned numerous times in Old Testament accounts.  This first photo is of current excavations going on there.  Wish the excavation crew had been there so we could ask them about the walls in the photo (we were there in the afternoon, while most dig sites are active in the morning).  The second photo is looking out of the Solomonic gates at Hazor.  These gates date to the 10th century B.C. and are similar to those found at Megiddo and Gezer.

Excavations at Hazor

Excavations at Hazor

Solomonic Gates at Hazor

Solomonic Gates at Hazor

Nazareth, Central Northern Israel, on the northern edge of the Jezreel valley-
We briefly popped into the city of Nazareth.  Most people visit Nazareth and its large churches built over “Holy sites;” however, we were looking for excavations unearthed just a few years ago with
construction of a new building.  The excavations are pictured below and show 1st century architecture (contemporary with the time of Jesus).

First-Century Dwelling at Nazareth

First-Century Dwelling at Nazareth

Jezreel Valley-
View of the Jezreel Valley from the El-Muhraqa (Carmelite) monastery. The Jezreel Valley is the defining feature which cuts at a southwest angle across the northern portion of Israel.  Many accounts of ancient history play out in this valley as it creates a focal point of travel, trade routes, and military movement throughout ancient (and modern) history.

View of the Jezreel valley a few miles from the coast

View of the Jezreel valley a few miles from the coast

Bet She’an, at the southeast end of the Jezreel Valley, bordering the Jordan River valley-
With extensive occupation from Canaanite to Byzantine times, and times in-between (Egyptian influence, Philistine, Israelites, Greek/Hellenstic, Romans) this is an impressive ancient site with vast remains at the bottom of the tel, mostly from the Greeks and Romans. From Roman baths, to colonnaded streets, to a theater with seating for 7,000, this ancient city has it all.  This photo is from the tel (Canaanite/Israelite portion) looking down on the Greek/Roman/Byzantine remains.

View from the tel at Bet She'an, looking down at mostly Hellenistic and Roman ruins

View from the tel at Bet She’an, looking down at mostly Hellenistic and Roman ruins

Tel Jezreel-
On the southern edge of the Jezrell Valley, just up the valley from Bet She’an, is the ancient tel of Jezreel.  Unlike many of the popular sites, this tel is not in a controlled access national park, it’s just
a roadside stop.  We walked around on the top of this site (now a cow pasture) looking at what ruins were there.  Here is a photo of some of the ruins on the tel (not sure what they are or what time period they are from).  After the fact, we found out that there were current excavations going on this year, concerning Iron Age areas of the tel. We certainly didn’t come across recent excavations where we were walking around.  Many, including those who have excavated here in the past, associate this tel with the Iron Age settlement associated with Jezreel of the Biblical account, connected to Ahab, Jezebel, and Jehu, all of the Divided Kingdom period of Israel’s history.

Ruins at Tel Jezreel

Ruins at Tel Jezreel

Qumran, on the top of the western edge of the Dead Sea-
After this we wrapped up our travels in the northern part of the country and move south (directionally and elevation), down to the Dead Sea.  Our first stop was Qumran, where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  Below is the typical cave photo you see from the Qumran National Park.

Qumran Cave

Qumran Cave

Ein Gedi, moving down the western Dead Sea coast-
Our next stop the following day was the springs of Ein Gedi.  This is often associated with the Wilderness of Engedi, where Saul and David had interaction in 1 Samuel 23 & 24.  It is also mentioned at later times in other sources, such as Josephus, when he talks about the siege at Masada, mentioning other villages that were plundered about the same time.  The terrain here is rugged and the springs and waterfalls bring an oasis to the desert.  The first photo is from the top of the largest waterfall in the series of waterfalls in the national park of Ein Gedi (this is a lot higher than it looks in the photo, note the Dead Sea in the distance….it’s hazy, but you can see it).  The water is flowing just under the first photo and the second photo is the view from the bottom of the falls.  It was about a 45-minute hike up to the top, not bad, except that it was up the side of the ravine and it was about 90 degrees (at 8 a.m.).  By the time we were done with our 4-hour hike around the park, it was about 100
degrees (12:30 p.m.).

View of the wadi David at En Gedi, looking toward the Dead Sea

View of the Wadi David at En Gedi, looking toward the Dead Sea (standing just above the “David Falls”)

View of the waterfall from the bottom

View of the waterfall from the bottom

It was a busy week, to say the least 🙂

From Caesarea Maritima to Tiberias…in a Day!

September 6, 2012

So! Today was a busy day–we left Netanya bright and early and arrived in Caesarea Maritima (aka, Caesarea of the Sea).

Now, this is quite the fascinating area. Built by Herod the Great between 25-13 BC, this was an important social and political hub for the next several hundred years. Herod, due to his understandable love affair with Rome, named the port city after Augustus Caesar. The actual site we visited contained the ruins of the theater, the palace, the Praetorium, and the hippodrome right on the Mediterranean Sea.  This theater is actually one of the sites that may be where Herod was stricken as he spoke before his adoring Phoenician audience to the cries of, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man!” (Acts 12:21-23)

A noteworthy archeological find here is the Pilate Stone. This is a slab of marble discovered under a step in the theater (having been repurposed from an earlier dedication). Most of the words have been worn away, but we can still read that Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea, had dedicated…something…to Tiberius Caesar. This gives us tangible evidence of Pilate, backing up the 4 gospels’ account, as well as Josephus (Jewish historian) and Tacitus’ (Roman historian)–placing Pilate as a historical figure during this era. The actual stone is housed in the Israel Museum, which we hope to be seeing next week.

Herod Theater Caesarea

Herod the Great’s Theater, Retrofitted with Modern Equipment

From the theater, you can stroll down the promenade in front of the hippodrome and amphitheater. It’s fun to tie our stories together, so here’s one: When Vesuvius erupted in 79 BC, wiping up Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Pliny the Elder, it also created a tsunami which swept down as far as Caesarea. The wave took out half of the seats there in the amphitheater, and you can still see them today, laying rather pitifully along the beach.

Seats Herod Hippodrome

Seats Herod Hippodrome

While Caesarea Maritima was built nearly on top off or in the water, it did not have a natural freshwater source. So, how did Herod fill his private swimming pool? Through the aqueduct he built, bringing water from the foothills of Mt. Carmel–about 8 miles away.

Herod Aquaduct

Herod the Great’s Aquaduct from Mt. Carmel

After that, was a quick jaunt to Mt. Carmel, to the traditional location of what may be one of my favorite Bible stories–Elijah v. Prophets of Baal. This particular location is considered a possible site, due to its proximity to the nearby mountains (Moreh, Tabor, and Gilboa), the Kishon brook, and the valley of Jezreel. The only issue is that it is quite a ways from the closest source of water that one would have after a 3-year drought (being the Mediterranean). Our guide, Ferrell Jenkins, suggests that often large amounts of water would be kept in store for religious use, and so there would have been some on hand.

Carmel View Jezreel

View from Carmel, Hill of Moreh, Tabor, and Mt. Gilboa beyond the Jezreel Valley and the Kishon brook

We visited Megiddo afterwards, climbing up to the top of the tell, or hill of ruins. In this case, 26 layers of ruins have been discovered on this site, beginning around 7000 BC. This is a strategic location, on the trade route known as the Way of the Sea. Whoever controlled Megiddo controlled access to this route, providing a wealth in taxes and goods. Solomon kept a chariot city here, as well as Ahab, who did a lot of work on the place. Most notably, he developed a water system to protect the city from siege. He had a shaft sunk 115 feet down, opening into a 330 foot tunnel leading to water. We were able to climb down into it, and it was deliciously cool compared to the bright sun outside.

Another notable incident at Megiddo was the death of Good King Josiah. In 609 BC, Pharaoh Necho marched up from Egypt to aid the Assyrians in a final pitched battle against the rising Babylonians. In order to prevent this alliance, Josiah intercepted Necho here at Megiddo. It went badly–Judah was defeated. Josiah was killed, sparing him from seeing the fall of his nation. The Israelites forever after associated this as a place of decisive battles and grievous loss, which Jehovah calls to His people’s minds in Revelation, when He names the site (Harmegedon) for the figurative final battle in which His people would emerge as victors.

Tell Megiddo Jezreel

Tel Megiddo with a View of the Jezreel Valley

After a stop at the Nazareth village, a lovely recreation of 1st century Nazareth (during which the my hat blew off like a piece of chaff floating on the wind, and was rescued by the kind shepherd before the goat could get it), we ended our day here on the shores of Galilee. But more on that tomorrow.

Shepherd Nazareth Village

Shepherd in the Nazareth Village