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Israel - Page Text Content

S: Israel and West Bank 2011

BC: Next year in Jerusalem!

FC: Israel and the West Bank Mediterranean Semester 2011 | Amanda Campbell Westmont College

1: January 12th to February 11th, 2011

2: Jerusalem | Jerusalem, the holiest city on Earth, is a place of obvious discord. Five calls to prayer a day were reminders of the religious tension in the city. Despite this oppressive feeling, Jerusalem was also a place of deep inspiration. No where else did I feel as close to Biblical characters as I did here, where I walked upon stones laid centuries ago and sat on stairs constructed prior to the fall of the Temple.

3: The Old City is made up of four quarters: Muslim, Jewish, Armenian, and Christian. We explored new sections each day, including each quarter within the Old City and the two sides outside of the walls.

4: This is said to have been the home of King David. Though they have no direct proof of this, it was amazing to walk through and upon pathways that were laid in the 8th Century BC. | One of the most amazing features of the City is Hezekiah's Tunnel. We were able to walk through the tunnel, which is about a third of a mile long, finally reaching the Pool of Siloam. | City of David (Modern-day Silwan)

5: Men chiseled the tunnel from both directions, and, incredibly, reached each other. Pictured below is the point at which the men met. | Then Hezekiah worked hard at repairing all the broken sections of the wall, erecting towers, and constructing a second wall outside the first. He also reinforced the supporting terraces in the City of David and manufactured large numbers of weapons and shields. 2 Chronicles 32:5 | As often happened on our trip, our professor Bruce took the opportunity to read scripture and share some thoughts on the importance of a particular location. We were blessed by his knowledge and wisdom throughout the trip.

6: We wanted to explore Hinnom Valley, or Gehenna, as it is called in the Bible. This is where the inhabitants of the Old City would dump their trash. The trash would decompose and burn, thus creating the "fires of Gehenna." | We trespassed along the trip a few times, mostly due to encouragement from Bruce. This time we were hiking to see the tombs in the valley, which lacked bodies but retained their creepiness. | Valleys of Jerusalem

7: From top: Cemetery, Bruce the explorer, East Jerusalem, view of a minaret from our convent, Gehenna, walking to Gethsemane

8: Masada

9: We awoke at 3:30am to hike to the top of Masada, a famous Jewish fortress. As we climbed to the top, the sun rose behind us over the Dead Sea. | We spent a couple of hours exploring the deserted Jewish fortress before setting off for the Dead Sea.

10: The Jews built an amazing city atop this plateau. This was the final holdout in the First Jewish War, and ended with a mass suicide according to Josephus. | Exploring Masada

11: The Dead Sea | The Dead Sea is famous for its healing minerals. We swam around for a while and then found a mud hole and covered ourselves from head to toe. Afterwards our skin felt soft and refreshed. | You do not actually swim in the Dead Sea, but float due to the high salt content. It was fun to lay down or stand up and float without effort.

12: Ein Gedi | And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Ein Gedi. 1 Samuel 23:29 | Next was Ein Gedi, where David hid from Saul.

13: Qumran | Our final stop of a very long day was Qumran, the original location of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A group called the Essenes lived there for many years, though it is unclear if they were the ones who hid the scrolls. We were able to see some of the caves in which the scrolls were found as well as the ruins from the Essene city.

14: Tent of Nations

15: We slept in this cave, though it was so cold no one was able to sleep much. Here we realized the trip would require resilience and patience. | The Tent of Nations is owned by a man named Daoud, a Palestinian whose family has owned this farmland for over a century. He has won legal battles in Israeli court over the land but continues to fight for the right to stay. We planted trees near the house, leaving our own mark on the land.

16: Bethlehem | Bethlehem is a popular stop for Christians. We were welcomed into the homes of Palestinian Christians for homestays. This is the Church of the Nativity, which commemorates Jesus' birth. The entrance was made so that all who enter must bow to pass through the doorway.

17: The church was a battleground in 2002 during the Second Intifada. We could see the bullet holes in the wall of the cloister from Israeli snipers. Members of Hamas took over the church, taking fifty clergy hostage in the process. Eventually the assailants left the building and were exiled to Europe and the Gaza Strip. | This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18 | This hole is said to be the exact place of Jesus' birth.

18: Though Jerusalem is only thirty minutes away, many of the people in Hebron are not allowed to visit or are only allowed to enter a few times a year. Jerusalem is the center of medical technology and economic opportunity, so this restriction can be a barrier to health and success for the Palestinians. | Hebron | Hebron, mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament, is the location of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Abraham and others are said to be buried. For this reason, both Muslims and Jews view the city as a holy site. At the Tomb, there is a mosque and a synagogue with a fence in between. So Jacob returned to his father, Isaac,in Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac had both lived as foreigners. Genesis 35:27

19: Israeli settlers moved to Hebron and were followed by Israeli soldiers to protect them. These settlers are acting against the expressed wishes of the government and the majority of Israelis. They are occasionally violent, but mainly just obnoxious. They have forced the Palestinians to close their main market area and they throw trash on the main street from their homes above. You can see the gate above the road that Palestinians put up as protection. | We were invited for tea in a shop in which unemployed women make and sell woven goods. Jessica, Alyssa, Kacie, and Rachael

20: Jericho and the Mount of Temptation | We took a trip to Jericho and the possible location of the Mount of Temptation. We refrained from hiking this time, instead taking a tram to the top. There was a unique convent built into the rock commemorating Jesus' rebuke of the Devil. | Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. "I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them," the devil said, "because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me." Jesus replied, "The Scriptures say, 'You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.'" Luke 4:5-8

21: Above: view from the convent; Left: The convent; Right: a Sycamore tree on the main street in Jericho. | There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich.He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. "Zacchaeus!" he said. "Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today." Luke 19:2-19:5

22: Ramallah | Ramallah is the de facto capital of Palestine, home to leaders of the PLO and many politically active groups. On the left is the tomb of Yasser Arafat, former leader of the PLO. Guards stand by at all times. Below is a college student with whom Paige and I spent the night as a short homestay. She is a Muslim woman attending the university nearby.

23: Ramallah looked like a typical Middle Eastern city. It was crowded with men and cars, the streets were fairly dirty, and there was very little color anywhere. While there, a protest broke out over the Palestine Papers. We left quickly, though there was no real danger.

24: Nablus | Nablus was one of the most violent cities in the Second Intifada. It remains one of the most politically extreme areas of the West Bank. | Cody dancing in a hookah bar. A television show was filming that night and Cody was on a local channel the next night. | This dessert is made of corn starch, cheese, and sugar water. It was a bit strange, though delicious. | The streets of Nablus are often narrowed to this point because the city cannot expand outward.

25: These posters are on walls and lampposts throughout the city. They are a constant encouragement to the Palestinians to continue their fight. Here we saw the devastating effects of the Palestinian propaganda on the lives of the Palestinians. In this poor city with a refugee camp filled to the brim with third generation refugees, we wondered what, if anything, could cause an end to this situation. | According to our guide, everything that had ever gone wrong was Israel's fault. Israel was to blame for the lack of employment, education, and progress in the city and throughout the Middle East.

26: Jacob's Well | This church is said to have Jacob's Well in the basement. We were able to drink water from the well, though they would not allow us to take pictures. As we were leaving, the caretaker asked for a donation, which Bruce was happy to provide. Our Muslim guide was angered by the request and called the police. | Bruce stayed until the police left to make sure the caretaker would not be punished. | Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, Please give me a drink."... | "She said to Jesus, "You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?" Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water." John 4:5-7, 9b-10

27: In this nearby city is a village of Jews who broke from Orthodox Judaism and who follow all of the practices of the Old Testament, including animal sacrifices and ceremonial cleaning practices.The Chief Priest showed us around their museum and told us about their traditions. | This man is the 146th descendant of Adam according to his genealogy chart.

28: Nazareth Village | Watching a woman make yarn out of wool | Walking through the olive trees | Above: Making olive oil via rolling grinder Right: Making olive oil via stomping

29: Jesus used quite a bit of vineyard imagery in His parables. Here in Nazareth Village we were able to see many of those images played out in reality. We will all remember the tour guide/pastor who drew our attention to the many manifestations of Jesus' teachings.

30: Day One of the Hike - Nazareth to Cana | Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day. There, too, the people were amazed at his teaching, for he spoke with authority. Luke 4:31-2 We left Nazareth and set off on the "Jesus Trail", created by American hikers who wanted others to be able to follow the path of Jesus across the Galilee. We packed our backpacks and shipped our luggage off to meet us when we completed our three day hike.

31: We stayed at a goat farm the first night. Great food and showers were welcome after a long day of walking.

32: The Sea of Galilee splayed out before us. It brought us hope that we were making progress toward our goal. We'd walked about half way at that point, but coming down from such a high point took far more time than walking up. | Day Two of Our HIke - Horns of Hittin to Cliffs of Arbel

33: You can see the Horns of Hittin in the distance as we stand atop the Cliffs of Arbel. Brooks is waving goodbye as we prepare to descend the cliff.

34: Day Three of the Hike - Arbel to Capernaum

35: We made it! These cliffs <---- are the cliffs of Arbel that we climbed down. It was a long trek but we finally arrived in Capernaum.

36: The Sea of Galilee is cold in January. It is lined with shells rather than sand. We scheduled a boat tour, but there was a storm and we were unable to board the ship. I can see why the disciples would have been worried. | We arrived at sunset to see the gates of our destination locked. We had hoped to gain entrance but unlike every other location in the Middle East, the town closed on time, five minutes before we reached it. | C a p e r n a u m

37: It was a heady feeling, knowing the role of the Sea in Jesus' teachings and walking along the shore. | One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, "Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for men!" And they left their nets at once and followed him. Matthew 4:18-20

38: In the Golan, the northernmost point in Israel | Israel annexed the Golan from Syria in 1967. It remains a political issue to this day. | Golan Heights

39: A tank left in the Golan from the 1967 war | It had rained the day before, creating a dirty but spectacular series of waterfalls.

40: Acco | Our first view of the Mediterranean Sea

41: We were able to eat at this restaurant on the water after a day of exploration. The view was phenomenal.

42: Caesarea Maritima Roman Ruins that are partially under water

43: View of the ruins at Caesarea Maritima

44: A downpour cut our tour short. Hail followed by rain preceded a mad dash to shelter. The shopkeepers didn't appreciate our use of their storefronts as safe havens. We relocated to a coffee shop for an impromptu discussion of Israeli politics. | Cody, Riley, Alyssa, Bruce, and Sarah | Tel Aviv

45: The building on the left is the location of a suicide bombing in a discotheque in Tel Aviv. Twenty teenagers were killed and many more were injured. Hamas was responsible for the attack, though other Islamic groups took credit at the time. The club serves as a reminder of the violence of the Second Intifada.

46: There are seven gates to the Old City. All but one, the Golden Gate, are in use. We went through all six at various times, but we used Damascus and Jaffa gates most frequently. | Back to Jerusalem | We explored many religious sites including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the supposed place of Christ's death.

47: These olive trees can live up to 1000 years. The oldest one there now is over 500 years old. | This was taken from a church near the garden of Gethsemane. | They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, "Sit here while I go and pray." Mark 14:32

48: Ramon Crater | I almost died but my friends were nice enough to snap a picture before coming to my rescue.

49: As we prepared to leave Israel, we traveled to this phenomenal natural crater in the Negev. | Rain and sun rays made an impressive background.

51: The Group | Rachael, Hannah, Paige, Kelly, Alyssa, Jenny, Sarah, Jessica, Sam, Mandi, Kacie, Kendra, Eric, Matt, Brooks, Cody, Nick, Marshall and Riley

52: The Leaders | Bruce | Sarah | Matt | Bruce, Sarah, Matt

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