Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

The Dead Sea

The lowest place on earth is where you’ll find the Dead Sea. It is a breathtaking place–but beware, she doesn’t offer up her secrets easily. Before letting us go swim in the Dead Sea, the tour guide gave us a 20-minute lecture on the techniques for floating and the dangers to be aware of, mostly dealing with the salt content of the water.

The Sea of Salt, as it is known in Hebrew, is not easily navigated. Because of the toll the salt content of the water takes on boats, the Israeli military no longer patrols the waters with boats.

Despite its difficulties, the Dead Sea is treasure trove of minerals and chemicals and is a magnet for tourists seeking its healing properties.

To the eye, it is yet one more beautiful sight in a land filled with beauty and history. Nearby are some important other places to visit such as En Gedi where David fled from Saul, Masada, a place of great significance to Jews, and Qumram, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

Sunrise on the Dead Sea, Israel
Resort at the Dead Sea, Israel
Resort at the Dead Sea, Israel

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Pool of Bethesda

In John chapter 5, we find recording of a healing by Jesus where the many healed never asked to be healed.

Here’s the story:

“[T]here was a Jewish feast (festival), and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew (Jewish Aramaic) Bethesda, having five porticoes (alcoves, colonnades). In these porticoes lay a great number of people who were sick, blind, lame, withered, [waiting for the stirring of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down into the pool at appointed seasons and stirred up the water; the first one to go in after the water was stirred was healed of his disease.]

There was a certain man there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?” The invalid answered, “Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am coming [to get into it myself], someone else steps down ahead of me.”  Jesus said to him, “Get up; pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man was healed and recovered his strength, and picked up his pallet and walked.

The healing took place at the Pool of Bethesda. Attached are the some photos taken on a recent trip to Jerusalem.

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Caesarea Maritima is nothing if not visually striking, situated along the west coast of Israel between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The Mediterranean Sea provides a stark contrast with its beautiful blues and greens to the white stone ruins of long-gone civilizations.

Caesarea Maritima was the Roman Capital of Judea at the time of Jesus. It was the headquarters for Pontius Pilate, who officiated over the Roman trial of Jesus. It was also the place where Paul was imprisoned for two years before being transferred to Rome.

But for me, a non-Jew, the greatest importance of Caesarea by the Sea is that it is where Cornelius, a Roman soldier, and his family came to be the first recorded Gentile believers to receive the gospel, be save, be filled with the Holy Spirit and be baptized.

Ruins of harbor
remains of marble statutes
Hippodrome (site of chariot races)

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Take a look at the slide show of Old Testament Jericho. Click the link below.


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Touring the Holy Land

In addition to reading the blog on this site, you can check out the Rooted in His Word facebook page for additional photos and slide shows of the various sites we are visiting.

Shalom from Israel!

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Crossing from Jerusalem to Jericho via the Ascent of Adummim, the ancient road that connected the two cities, one can almost imagine what a spectacle Herod’s Jericho Palace would have been to those coming over the last hill and looking down onto a beautiful stone structure and gardens designed and built by Herod the Great and still in use at the time of Jesus’ journey to Jericho recorded in Luke 18:35-42 (Jesus’ healing of blind Bartemeus) and Luke 19:1-10 (Zacheus)

New Testaent Jericho – ruins of Herod’s Jericho Palace

At the time of Jesus, it is unlikely that Jericho was a city. More likely, it was a Roman Estate, a customs and immigration point. This would explain the presence of both Zacheus (a Jew collecting taxes for the Romans from those wishing to go to Jerusalem from points east) and blind Bartemeus who would have been in Jericho hoping to shake loose some Shekels from the traders and political elite passing through on their way in or out of Jerusalem.

All that is left today of Herod’s Jericho palace is ruins, but with a little imagination, one can picture the great palace, gardens and pools, a lush oasis in the middle of the Judean desert.

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Bethlehem is a city with well-documented Biblical history. It is not only the birthplace of Jesus Christ, but it was also the home town of King David and the hometown of Naomi, who returned with her daughter-in-love, Ruth, who later married Boaz, another Bethlehem native.

Bethlehem and the surrounding areas were also very strategically located. Given its location and proximity to Jerusalem and Jericho, Bethlehem attracted the attention of master builder, Herod the Great.

In another post we’ll take a look at the magnificent palace he built nearby and which bore his name, but for now, we will consider the Pools of Solomon, another building project likely initiated or completed by Herod the Great.

This series of 3 pools has nothing to do with King Solomon but everything to do with moving water from the generous springs of Bethlehem via aqueduct to fill the pools of Herod’s palaces around the area including the palace in Jerusalem.

Solomon’s Pools (upper), Bethlehem
Solomon’s Poos (lower), Bethlehem
Solomon’s Pools (lower), Bethlehem

As a testament to his architectural prowess, the pools are largely intact today.

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