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Posts Tagged ‘Herod the Great’

Have you ever been to the Mediterranean Sea? It is beautiful. The seaport of Caesarea is on the coast of the Mediterranean, and it is spectacular although most of what is left of the man-made harbor and the ancient city is only ruins. The varied blue hues of the sea captivate. I have been to Caesarea on several occasions and most recently when I was there, the sea was rough and tempestuous as compared to earlier visits. Below are some of the photos I have taken on my visits:

 

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Caesarea Maritima

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Caesarea Maritima

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Ruins of Herod’s Port at Caesarea

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Caesarea Maritima

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Caesarea Maritima

The photos below are from my visit in 2020. The sea was very different that day than I had seen it in the past.

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In Caesarea, no natural harbor existed. It was Herod the Great, the master builder, who built a huge man-made harbor here. It was a great feat of design and engineering. Unfortunately, Herod’s structure was no match for the forces of nature.

Caesarea has a new visitor’s center which opened last fall which features a short movie about Herod and provides lots of interesting information about Caesarea.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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Hebron

One of the places that I was able to visit on my recent trip to Israel was Hebron. Hebron, considered the first Hebrew City, is located in the Judean mountains south of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). The location is important to the Jews because it is the burial place of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives. (See Genesis 23)

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The building at Hebron was built by Herod the Great, one of his many building projects across the land. He also built a palace in Jerusalem, a palace in Jericho, a palace on Masada, an entire harbor at Caesarea Maritima and Herodium, where he was buried. However, the building at Hebron is the only structure built by Herod the Great that is still in tact.

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The graves of the patriarchs are believed to be in caves below the structure. Because the Jews must share the building with the Muslims, with each occupying one half of the building, it is difficult to do further exploration or excavation to find out what is below the building.

As we were leaving the building, an afternoon prayer service was beginning. The Jews living in Hebron are mostly Modern Orthodox, but Orthodox Jews from other parts of the country visit Hebron and spend time there in prayer and study.

Not unlike the Temple Mount and Western Wall, police are stationed at the entrance for security.

The tombs are a short distance from the actual Tel of the ancient city of Hebron. One of the upcoming posts will be dedicated to the Tel itself.

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On a hill overlooking the Dead Sea, Herod the Great built a palace. It is not really a site of any religious significance for Christians, but it is an important site to Jews, especially Israeli Jews. The story of Masada as the final stand for a band of zealots became a focal point for later generations.

For the student of history and culture, the ruins of Masada are a wellspring of information about Herod the Great, both his engineering genius and his paranoia. He built several palaces across the Holy Land, but Masada offers some very special things such as the extensive system for catching and keeping water, as well as the 3 tiered palace structure. Masada is also a site of interest to those fascinated by battle strategies and/or the Roman war machine.

The stories of Masada make for great drama. It is definitely worth visiting the site if you are in the south of Israel. Luckily, it is no longer necessary to hike to get to the top. A tram will take you in a matter of minutes from the bottom to the summit.

The following is a slide show from Masada:

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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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