S: Israel - March 2010 Photo Album I
FC: Israel March 2010 with Ann Nibert and Sharon Olyphant Photo Album I
1: At 11:05 AM, March 8, 2010, Sharon Oliphant and I departed Fort Myers International Airport and arrived Tuesday morning, March 9, 2010 at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel Following 15 hours of travel and looking a little tired, we were still very excitied to begin our journey of Israel, the Promised Land of the Bible. Israel is located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea: bounded on the north by Lebanon, on the northeast by Syria, on the east and southeast by Jordan, on the southwest by Egypt, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea. | Tuesday, March 9, 2010 Tel Aviv, Israel
2: The ancient seaport of Joppa (Jaffa) was our first stop. It is one of the world's oldest harbors and the site of the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale. From Joppa, we could see our hotel on the beach of Tel Aviv.
3: Following a tasty lunch, we checked into the Leonardo Plaza in Tel Aviv. | That evening, our entire group of about 600 people gathered at another hotel for dinner. Portraying a shepherd, Reg Grant gave us an overview of tomorrow's travels. Reg serves as a professor of Pastoral Ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary. | Ann enjoyed a walk on the beach and putting her toes in the Mediterranean Sea.
4: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the very old seaport of Caesarea was built by Herod the Great in honor of Caesar Augustus about 25 - 13 BC. | Our group gathered in the Roman Amphitheater of Caesarea for a special service and history of the area.
5: With songs and stories, Reg Grant as King Herod, Steve Green and Chuck Swindoll portrayed what life in Caesarea might have been like during the time of Jesus. As the adminstrative capital for the Romans, Caesarea represented the official seat of government for more that six centuries. Pontius Pilate lived here during Jesus's time. Paul was imprisoned here. | Reg Grant | Steve Green, music ministry | Chuck Swindoll, is senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church, chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, and chairman and teacher for Insight for Living. | Daniel Rosenblum Tour guide for Blue Bus 8
6: The Roman Aqueduct carried water from Mt Carmel through Jezreel Valley. On top of Mount Carmel, the statue of Elijah depicts the killing of the prophets of Baal. It was here that the idols of men were pitted against the living God of heaven and with God's help Elijah destroyed the prophets.
7: Also known as Armageddon, it is said that the last great gathering of armies will take place here on the "HIll of Megiddo" in Jezreel Valley. Solomon understood Megiddo's strategic importance and used this city as a defense post. The heavy haze over Jezreel Valley is the result of the wind blowing over the desert to the south of us. | Megiddo - 3000 BC | Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel and English is a required subject in school. All Street and road signs are in the three languages.
8: Water supply is crucial to the survival of a city under siege. Megiddo's water source was at the bottom of the hill, concealed from outside. | The tunnel to the Spring is 30 meters deep or 183 steps. Magiddo is comprised of an incredible 26 layers of settlement built on top of each other for over 35 centuries. The layers represent every period of Israel's ancient history.
9: Late afternoon, we arrived at the Caesar Premier Tiberias Hotel in Tiberias. From our room, we had a lovely view of the Sea of Galilee. | Later, we gathered around the pool of another nearby hotel for dinner. | Tiberias
10: After checking into our hotel, we enjoyed a walk around the harbor on the Sea of Galilee. Following the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70, Tiberias became a central location for schools of rabbinic study. | Tiberias was built around 20 AD by Herod Antipas in honor of the Roman Empire Tiberias.
11: The Rock Hyrax looks like an oversized guinea pig. This cute furry mammal is quoted three times in the Bible.
12: Thursday, March 11, 2010 A beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee greeted us this morning. Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred around the Sea of Galillee. | The Church of The Primacy of St Peter | was built over a flat rock know as the Table of Christ.
13: We placed our hands in the water and selected a pebble from Sea of Galilee | Peter's atonement for thrice denying Jesus in Jerusalem.
14: Multitudes from all of Israel and her neighboring regions traveled to Galilee to see Jesus. He delivered his most famous sermon on a "mount" or hill beside the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. | The Mount of Beatitudes
15: The ancient Galilee boat is an actual fishing boat from the time of Jesus. Carefully rescued from the water, this boat is believed to be the only one to survive through the centuries. | "Man in the Galilee" Museum
16: Before continuing to Nazareth, we had lunch at this pleasant restaurant and a whole fish from the Sea of Galilee was served to each person [who wanted] for lunch. Arriving In Nazareth, we learn that the Arab section represents 60% of the population, while 40% are Jewish.
17: The Nazareth Biblical Village portrays life as it had been for Jesus growing up in the safety of this out of the way village. During this period, he was know as the carpenter's son.
18: Here, we saw examples of how work may have been done during the time of Jesus.
19: was a thriving ancient fishing village and was frequently mentioned in the Bible as Jesus' main base at the beginning of his ministry. | Capernaum
20: Matthew refers to Capernaum as Jesus's "own city". By choosing Capernaum, Jesus selected a city that had a constant flow of people who could carry his message to many places. Because of its location, Capernaum housed a portion of the occupying Roman army.
21: It was here on the shores of the Sea of Galilee that Jesus called fishermen Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be apostles. Here, Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to be an apostle. More of His miracles were performed here than in any other city. The structure to the left is believed to be the House of Peter,
22: Members of our group were baptized in the Jordan River. In a land where water is life, the Jordan River weaves a thin lifeline from the far northern summit of Mount Hermon to the southern wasteland of the Dead Sea. Less than 50 feet wide most of the year, the Jordan River represents great transitions in Biblical History.
23: Looking into Syria from the Golan Heights. | Looking to Sea of Galilee from the Peace Overlook. | Friday, March 12, 2010 | During Biblical times, the Golan Heights was called Bashan, the refuge. Located now in northeastern Israel, the Golan Heights was under Syrian control from World War I to 1967. The Syrians had military bases and frequently shelled the Israeli Kibbutz and fishing boats. During the Six Day War, June 1967, Israel captured the heights and about 30 new settlements were established.
24: Traveling past old Syrian military sites and through Arab villages, we see some of the Druze people who chose to remain following the Six Day War. The Druze faith began in the 11th century. We also passed by the remains of Nimrod Fortress which was built in 1228 AD by the Muslims. The "Danger" signs for land mines do not go unnoticed.
25: Caesarea Philippi was the northern most extent of Jesus' ministry. The cave is said to be the birthplace of the Greek god Pan and became the center of pagan worship. Pan is the half man, half goat god of fright. During the 3rd century BC, a sanctuary was built to Pan. See the artist interpretation at lower right.
26: Banias Spring begins at the base of Mt Hermon and flows powerfully for 3.5 km leading to the impressive Banias Waterfall. It is the northeastern most source of the Jordan River.
27: Tel Dan "the King made two calves of gold...and he set one in Beth-el and one in Dan" [I Kings 12:28-29] From Dan, we look into Lebanon. After leaving Dan, we dined at a nearby Kibbutz.
28: Very early morning, we sailed out on the Sea of Galilee. Our boat was then moored together with seven other boats for a beautiful and inspiring service by Chuck Swindoll. | This experience was the most powerful and peaceful moment of our journey. Each of us carried a pebble and were asked to remember a sad event in our lives. We imagined that event was transfered to the pebble and dropped silently into the sea. | Saturday, March 13, 2010
29: Following our adventure on the Sea of Galilee, we left Tiberias to continue our journey south towards Beth-shan | As we sailed towards shore, we had a lovely view of our hotel, Caesar Premier Tiberias.
30: Beth-shean "Gate of Paradise" | "If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then its gate is Beth-shean. Beth-shean was the center of Egyptian rule in the northern part of Canaan during the late Bronze Period. Rebuilt by the Romans in 63 BC, it was strategically located at the junction of the Jordan Valley and the Jezreel and Harod Valleys.
32: Once there lived an impressive man without equal among the Israelites. His name was Saul, a man who was the people's choice for king. Sadly, King Saul killed himself during a battle with the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. The story was told by Reg Grant and Chuck Swindoll.
33: Beth-shean left us with a feeling of being in Rome.
34: Behind us is the Spring of Harod where God promised Gideon a great victory built on trust. The spring still flows today from the mouth of a cave at the foot of Mount Gilboa. We continued our trip through the Jordan Valley and passed by Jericho on our way to the Jordan River. For our safety, Jericho was off limits. | Passing through this checkpoint, we entered No-Man's Land. At this point, only a narrow piece of land and the narrow Jordan River separated us from Jordan.
35: In the West Bank area, we passed an occasional Kibbutz. Kibbutz is the Hebrew word for communal settlement and first was founded in Israel in 1948. The society, usually agricultural, is dedicated to mutual aid and social justice. | After passing through the second checkpoint, we received a military escort to the Jordan River.
37: Directly across the Jordan River is the Orthodox Church of Saint John the Baptist. Once again, we notice how narrow the Jordan River normally is. While the young Israeli Defense Soldiers watch the activity on the Jordanian side of the river, the Jordanian soldiers watch us. We were surprised to see the Israeli soldiers dressed in heavy military garb in 105 degree temperatures. Simply stated, it was extremely hot!
38: According to tradition, this site is the most likely spot for Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. This is also considered to be the spot where the Israelites crossed the Jordan River when they entered the Land of Canaan. "Joshua led the children of Israel across the river on dry ground to enter the Promised Land" "Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan on dry ground before Elijah was taken up into Heaven"
39: Our group from Blue Bus 8 | With Ann are Daniel, our excellent tour guide, and Mosha, our very talented bus driver
40: Once nomads, the Bedouins have transitioned to a semi-nomadic lifestyle and still live in poverty. As we continue our drive towards Jerusalem, we saw several Bedouin tent sites and their herds of goats. We also saw a stray camel or two.
41: Late in the afternoon, we arrived in Jerusalem. Before continuing to the Regency Jerusalem Hotel, we stopped at an overlook for our first view of the spectacular Dome of the Rock. | Jerusalem, Israel
42: As we began our day, we passed children on their way to school. | Our first view of the southern portion of the Jerusalem Wall was beyond expression. Gathering on the south steps of the Jerusalem Wall, our group of 600 enjoyed an inspirational service complete with phenomenal history. | Sunday, March 14, 2010
43: The above model represents the Second Temple. The Second Temple rose on the same spot as the first about 70 years later and was completed in 515 BC. In 20 BC, Herod the Great enlarged the Temple Mount, but it was once again destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. | Jerusalem, one of the worlds oldest cities, was officially founded in the 10th century BC by King David at the site of the present-day Dome of the Rock. David's son Solomon built the First Temple about 960 BC to house the Ark of the Covenant and as a place to worship. The city has served as a holy pilgrimage site ever since. Standing for nearly 400 years, it was destroyed by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in 585 BC
44: As we sat on the south steps, we listened to Reg Grant portray Simeon, an aged man of piety, patiently waiting for the coming of the Messiah. | Jerusalem has a very large police and military presence. As we adjusted to this cultural change, we felt very safe. | Chuck Swindoll and Mike MacKrell, our bus team representative, have a great sense of humor.
45: Solomon's Temple was built atop the Temple Mount in 10 century BC and was destroyed in 586 BC. The second Temple was rebuilt by King Herod in 515 BC and destroyed in 70 AD. There are two sets of gates located in the south wall, | which are now blocked off. Of the double gates (western Huldah Gates), you see only one side, since the other is blocked by the Crusader building. During the time of Herod's temple, this entrance was the main entrance. Then to the right, we have the triple gates (eastern Huldah Gates). David Klingler. another bus team representative, showed us how to identify the original blocks with a marginal dressing or chiseled border from King Herod's period.
46: From the Southern Wall, we can see the Mount of Olives and the largest Jewish Cemetery in the world. | The lower part of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount is said to be the original wall of King Solomon's Temple. The Robinson's Gate with one remaining arch is still visible above the excavated ancient street.
47: The Western Wall is a section of the supporting wall of the Temple Mount, which has remained in tact since the destruction of the Second Temple. It became the most sacred spot in Jewish religion because of its proximity to the Holy of Holies. | All Jewish young people must serve in the Israeli military upon completing high school.
48: In 1004 BC, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established his capitol. Under King David's rule the people of Israel where united. The City of David was the birthplace of Jerusalem. To the left is the Tomb of David. Coenaculum is located directly above. | The City of David
49: During the War of Independence (1948), this area of the Jerusalm Wall was pockmarked with bullet-like holes from a hail of gunfire. | The Coenaculum is the traditional place of the "Upper Room" where the last supper with Jesus and his disciples was held. This is also the site where Jesus established the rite of the Eucharist. | "If These Walls Could Talk"
50: Dug around 700 BC during the reign of King Hezekiah, the tunnel was designed to protect the city's water supply during the time of a siege. The 131 foot deep and 1748 foot long sloping tunnel winds from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam. | Hezekiah's Tunnel beneath the City of David
51: The Southern Wall of Jerusalem (above) from the City of David. Here, we are looking at a Muslin neighborhood. | Olive Columns Sculpture, topped with live olive trees and a floating orange tree by Israeli artist, Ran Morin | Bethlehem can be seen in the distance. It is currently governed by the Palestinian National Authority and due to political unrest, is considered unsafe for tourists at this time.
52: From the hilltop above the largest Jewish cemetery, we have a fantastic view of the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount, the Eastern Wall of the City, Palm Sunday Road, the Mount of Olives, Dominud Flevit (the Lord Wept), the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Church of All Nations. | Tim and Susan Kral, Colleen and Mike MacKrell | Monday, March 15, 2010
53: The Garden of Gethsemane | Another view of the southern steps of the Wall of Jerusalem , where our special service took place yesterday. | Susan enjoyed a camel ride. | The Muslim cemetery is located between the Jewish cemetery and the Golden Gate.
54: is the oldest and most famous Islamic monument (7th century AD). It is built over sacred stone believed to be the site that Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac. The Dome was originally made of gold which was later replaced with aluminum and gold leaf. Turkish tiles adorn the exterior. | Dome of the Rock
55: The Eastern Gate or Golden Gate | It is through this gate that Christians believe the Messiah will return. The Jewish people also believe the Messiah will come through this gate, but for the first time.
56: The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives contains tombs of the illustrious dead of the nation over the course of 3000 years. Following Jewish tradition, small stones are placed on the graves as a sign of respect. Originating in Biblical times, stones were added to the graves to protect the body. | Garden of Gethsemane | It is believed that some of these olive trees are old enough to have existed during the time of Christ.
57: Beside the Garden of Gethsemane, is the Church of All Nations, also known as the Basilica of the Agony. It enshrines a portion of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest. | The golden dome of the Church of Saint Mary Magdalena shines above the trees on the Mount of Olives . The church was built in 1888 by Tsar Alexander III in traditional Russian style.
58: To reach the Church of Saint Ann, we entered the Muslim Quarter through the Lion's Gate | The Lion's Gate
59: Romanesque style 12th century Crusader church is known for its perfect acoustics. Throughout the day, Pilgrim groups from many parts of the world arrive just for the opportunity to sing. Their music was beautiful. | Church of Saint Ann | Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the cripple is just steps away from the Church of Saint Ann. | Our tour of Israel will be continued in Album II | Album by Ann Nibert